One of the puzzles of this world is why European phone revenues per customer are so low - and sustainably so. If there were any sign that these would rise then European telecom stocks would be a steal... but alas no sign...
Part of it is clearly usage. If you are French there is just a much narrower range of services on your phone for you to use. The average Frenchman with a smart phone uses less than a fifth the data of an American - and at least part of the reason has to be that there is less content in French.
Sitting in a cafe in Paris (even possibly a Starbucks) and seeing the usage you think that will change. The young speak English or at least use the net like Americans.
Data usage can't be all of it. Data speeds in most of Europe suck compared to the US or Telstra in Australia - and you will use the phone more if it delivers you information faster and more reliably. Better service costs more to provide - but average revenue per user is so much higher in America it more than pays for that.
But some of it has to be the special incompetence of European phone companies. They make Comcast look like customer friendly people. Truly.
I have an O2 [ie Telefonica] sim-card I use in Europe and with an Australian credit card it is simply impossible to top up. Telefonica are so obsessed with credit-card fraud risk (simply controllable by using PayPal for instance) that they refuse revenue opportunities. Fat ones from people who are price insensitive and need data everywhere.
There is a special place in hell for management of European phone companies - the people that will ensure that Europe disconnects itself from the new world. If you need a reason why Europe will lose in any new economy look no further.
Having spent thirty minutes unsuccessfully trying to top-up I am wishing for a new Spanish inquisition. Actually I am expecting one [if only so I can link the Monty Python sketch...]
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