Tag Archives: cell phones

Are Text Messages an Antitrust Issue?

Text messages cost 20 cents to send, even though they use a fraction of a penny of bandwidth. What gives? Antitrust authorities want to know.

Over at The American Spectator, I explain that it is likely a case of unbundling:

Maybe phone companies are unbundling texting from their other services. That way the only people who pay for text messages are the people who use them. If phone companies don’t have to provide texting service for people who don’t want it, they can keep costs down and charge lower prices.

This is much more fair to customers:

Why not just give all customers unlimited texting and charge a higher monthly bill? That would punish people who don’t text, such as this writer. By eschewing the flat rate and tolerating a few texts per month from family and friends who haven’t been properly trained, non-texters can save $50 or more per year.

Monopolists (and oligopolists) don’t behave that way. Companies competing against each other on price do. Trustbusters are forgetting something else, too. If a monopoly exists at all, it is very temporary.

It turns out that a young company called Beluga makes a free texting application for smartphones. Few things are as temporary as monopoly (or oligopoly) power. Since Beluga bypasses the texting cartel, you can have unlimited texting without the $5 monthly fee. Think of it as Skype for the text messaging set.

Read the whole article here.

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Cell Phones Don’t Cause Cancer

Over at the Daily Caller, I debunk the fear that long-term cell phone use can cause brain tumors. San Francisco and Maine already have warning label regulations on the books. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced federal warning label legislation. Here are the main reasons they’re wasting their time:

-Activists promoting the scare only ever mention brain tumors. But you hold your cell phone in your hand. You hold it next to your ear and your jaw. Why no mention of those cancers? Suspicious.

-Most phones only emit one watt of energy. The human body generates about a hundred times that much energy during normal, everyday activity. Adding a single watt to that baseline does nothing to contribute to the DNA damage that can lead to tumor growth.

-Cell phone photons are so weak, they fall short of DNA-damaging energy levels by about a factor of 500,000. So you might have something to worry about if you strapped half a million cell phones to your body. That would be getting crushed to death, not cancer. Phones don’t operate at cancer-causing frequencies.

Cell Phone Cancer Scare Refuses to Die

Some people are scared that cell phones cause brain tumors. There are enough of these bedwetters that San Francisco just passed a new law to “require all retailers to display the amount of radiation each phone emits.”

For most phones, that’s roughly one watt; the legal limit in the U.S. is 1.6 watts.

Studies have yet to find a link between cell phones and brain cancer. The main reason is that it is physically impossible; one watt of radiation just isn’t enough to cause any tissue damage.

The human body naturally generates about 100 times as much energy at rest, and 1000 times as much during exercise. One measly watt isn’t enough to affect anything.

One wonders why the bed-wetters are only worried about brain cancer; cell phones are held in the hand. And unlike the brain, which is shielded by hair, scalp, and skull, the hand is completely unprotected from cell phone radiation. If cell phones did cause cancer, activists should be at least as worried about skin and bone cancers in the hand.

But they aren’t. One reason is that those cancers don’t sound as scary as brain tumors do; it’s harder to get people worked up and frightened.

The other reason is that cell phones don’t cause cancer. Not in the hand. Not in the brain. Not in the face, the, jaw, or any other body part might take the brunt of the single watt of energy our cell phones emit.

Regulation of the Day 96: Health Warnings on Cell Phones

The state of Maine and the city of San Francisco are considering requiring warning labels for cell phones.

Perhaps some warning labels are in order. After all, few things are more annoying than people SPEAKING AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE INTO THEIR PHONE ABOUT WHAT’S FOR DINNER when a normal tone of voice will do.

But these warning labels have nothing to do with letting people know that their phones can make them look like jackasses.

No, the labels warn the credulous that their phones emit electromagnetic radiation. Otherwise known as light waves. Some people believe that this causes brain cancer.

Brain atrophy, maybe. But cancer? Most studies have found no correlation, let alone causation.

Something else to consider: the demographic group far and away most prone to brain cancer is also far and away the least likely to use cell phones – the elderly.

Hmm.

Cell Phones, Cancer, and Certainty

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CNN reports: “Last summer, Dr. Ronald Herberman, then director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, issued a warning to about 3,000 faculty and staff, listing steps to avoid harmful electromagnetic radiation from cell phones.”

“Electromagnetic radiation” is a fancy way of saying light waves.

Herberman has been on his cell phone crusade for a while now; I diagnosed him with a severe case of The Certainty last year.

Still, let’s assume he’s right that cell phones cause tumors. What actions should be taken? I present the following CDC data on leading causes of death as a way to guide our priorities:

Heart disease: 631,636
Cancer: 559,888
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 137,119
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 124,583
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 121,599
Diabetes: 72,449
Alzheimer’s disease: 72,432
Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,326
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 45,344
Septicemia: 34,234

Deaths from cancer attributable to cell phone use? Zero. There is an important lesson to be learned here.

Think of it like this: every dollar and every hour of researchers’ time spent investigating cancer risks from cell phones is money and time not spent curing heart disease. Or cancer itself. Or stroke. These “big three” combine to end more than a million lives each and every year.

Which is a better use of limited research resources? Herberman, by bringing funding and attention to a non-issue, is quite possibly costing lives that could otherwise be saved.

The Certainty has very high costs. In Herberman’s case,  measurable in lives.