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Prepaid phone prevents poverty?

Maybe I'm daft, but wouldn't a prepaid mobile 'phone help avoid telco-induced poverty?

http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/millionaire/30108?

This is the sort of deal that should be discussed in High Schools.
Permalink trollop 
April 27th, 2007 12:18am
Going to the media also helps against telco induced poverty.

Notice that the 26,000 wasn't paid.
Permalink Colm 
April 27th, 2007 12:39am
How can someone run-up $1800 in phone charges in less than one day anyway? Is there some sort of service you can call and get $1000 billed and Western Union arrives with $850 ten minutes later or something?

Even if you call Nigeria at $1 a minute that's $60/hr, so you'd have to be talking all day long.

Hm... maybe that explains it. If you are a poor immigrant and want to call your family back home, you just walk through a starbucks, notice a phone laying on a table while the owner is in the bathroom or buying a scone, and you walk off with it.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 27th, 2007 1:45am
And with that, you answered your own question.
Permalink Colm 
April 27th, 2007 1:58am
Yeah, it's pretty obvious now. If you stole a phone and called friends or relatives in the US, you'd be tracked down and arrested pretty quickly since it would be easy to figure out who you were that stole the phone. So, no one will steal a phone to make domestic calls, they will only steal a phone to make overseas calls, which is going to be too much trouble for law enforcement to untangle, so they don't bother and you are safe.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 27th, 2007 2:34am
Or you call a $4.95/min "premium-service" number in Nigeria or Romania and the called party cashes in along with the telco. Everybody gets a cut except for the unfortunate owner of the 'phone.

I have a prepay. So I lose a few dollars in prepaid calls if I don't recharge the account before they are confiscated. Max exposure I see this way is 30 bucks or so.
Permalink trollop 
April 27th, 2007 2:47am
In general prepay is more expensive than contract. You have to weigh the risks. If you're careless with your phone (not a judgment call - some people are/some aren't - they're not bars of gold) then yes, it could be worth it.
Permalink Colm 
April 27th, 2007 5:16am
Actually pre-paid phones have a considerable effect in poverty reduction. Not only directly but indirectly; you can act as a communications center and resell calls at a small profit (you can get loans to buy the phone from the Grameen bank in BanglaDesh). Your callers, or those that have a mobile phone of their own can do many things. If they are farmers or fishermen they can call contacts in the fish or vegetable market in the capital to find out the current price for their produce, and thus avoid been ripped off in negotiations. Even cycle rickshaw drivers in India often have mobile phones so that their preferred customers can call them when they need a ride.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
April 27th, 2007 6:03am
>Your callers, or those that have a mobile phone of their
>own can do many things. If they are farmers or fishermen
>they can call contacts in the fish or vegetable market in
>the capital to find out the current price for their produce,
>and thus avoid been ripped off in negotiations.

That's what I really like about them. For all the pro-capitalist types bleat about government intervention, it's mobile phones that really free up the market by easing the free flow of information.
Permalink Colm 
April 27th, 2007 8:08am
A few years ago I had my phone cloned while in Washington DC (I had left the analog portion of the phone turned on. Ooops), and someone ran up over $500 in calls to Montreal.  Sprint took care of it.

I was also wondering if these people could file claims with their homeowner's insurance.  Or failing that, deduct it on their taxes (30% back is better than nothing)
Permalink xampl 
April 27th, 2007 9:11am

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