Entries Tagged as 'Cellular'

Un-unlimited Data

Last week Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg confirmed that Verizon would be discontinuing it’s unlimited data plans in favor of tiered data plans (similar to what AT&T introduced with the iPhone 4).

I’m expecting T-Mobile and Sprint will use this announcement to their advantage, since both of those carries still offer unlimited data (and at a lower price than Verizon ever did).

Also, Verizon’s move to end unlimited data just as the smart phone market hits critical mass may also catapult carries like Cricket and MetroPCS to major expansions since they’re far more likely to find large numbers of subscribers eager to dump the expensive plans offered by carries like AT&T and Verizon.

For the moment Verizon still offers their $29.99 unlimited data plan — so if you think you might want a smart phone in the next few months you might be wise to go ahead and do your upgrade now if your contract permits it, and remember that you can purchase a used CDMA phone with a clean ESN (meaning it has not been reported lost or stolen and the terms of the contract / account it was on were satisfied / paid) and have it added to your account with the unlimited data plan without incurring any extension to your current contract.

Keep in mind that when Verizon launches it’s 4G (LTE) services at the end of the year it’s very likely that they will not offer any unlimited data and will require a plan change to use the enhanced services (meaning you won’t be grandfathered into the unlimited data once you move to 4G).

For me, this is yet another reason I’ll dump Verizon in a heartbeat when I have an alternative.

Originally posted 2010-10-03 02:00:36.

Cellular Carriers and Plans

In this day and age you have a choice of a fair number of cellular carriers… actually there aren’t that many carriers in any one geographic area, but there are quite a few resellers.

Nation wide the big cellular carriers are:

  • Verizon (CDMA)
  • AT&T (GSM)
  • Sprint (CDMA)
  • T-Mobile

Regionally there are a number of others:

  • AllTel

And of course there are a number of resellers:

  • MetroPCS (limited areas, unlimited plans, resells Sprint)
  • Boost (pre-pay, resells Verizon)
  • TracPhone (pre-pay, resells Sprint)
  • Virgin Mobile (pre-pay, resells Sprint)

And a new kid on the block:

  • Helios (I believe they actually resell Sprint, but I’m not sure)

The question is always which carrier and plan is best for me?

That’s a difficult decision, let me illustrate some things to consider by characterizing the service I have and why…

I have an AllTel PDA phone (Motorola Q) because AllTel offers a very competative price on PDA service, unlimitd nights and weekends (nights start at 7pm), free in-network service (important because most of my relatives have AllTel service), and provides lots of free features (unlimited text, unlimited data, ability to tether to my laptop, no charge for roaming — you do tend to roam on Sprint, but do roam on Verizon and other carriers when there’s no AllTel or Sprint service).  And AllTel provides “MyCircle”, which is a group of number (on any network or land lines), the plan I have provides for 10 numbers.

Essentially, this service saves me a great deal of money by making most of my calls airtime free because of the nights-and-weekends, in-network, and designated airtime free numbers.

 

In addition I also have a Verizon cell phone because I have so many friends nationwide that have Verizon numbers (it saves them airtime charges, and allows me to carry an account that has a very low number of minutes).  Verizon, though, charges for just about every additional feature — so the plan always ends up costing more than you expect.  Of course I also get a 19% discount on my services (because of a Corporate Discount program I was able to take advantage of).

 

My point in going into the above, is there’s a lot of details you need to consider other than just the number of minutes… who do you call, when do you call — are there any special features that you can take advantage or — are there enhanced services you need or want — do you travel…

My advice would be “profile” how, when, and how much you use your current service, then look at all the carriers and figure out what service would cost.

For instance, if you rarely travel and don’t want to have a landline you might find that MetroPCS gives you the absolute lowest cost service…

Whereas, if you only use your cell phone very rarely, you might find that one of the pre-paid plans give you the absolute lowest cost service (the major carriers also offer pre-pay; but selecting a pre-paid plan requires you understand minute expire and charges, and most pre-pay providers offer more than one pre-pay option).

Lastly, remember that there are taxes charged to your cell phone based on where you specify your billing address and primary useage area.  Many pre-pay providers don’t charge extra for the taxes (they obviously build it into their billing model)… but other carries do.

There’s no way you’re going to avoid the federal taxes on your phone; but your cellular company might be charging you a number portability fee (consider that when comparing carriers), and the location you base your service and billing address greatly effect the local taxes (for instance, the City/County of San Francisco access an $8.00 cell phone tax per line).  You’ll often find you can save a substantial amount of money by using an alternate service / billing address.

 

Let me know if there are any glaring omissions or mistakes!

Originally posted 2008-05-12 12:53:27.

SyncMate v3

Eltima has released version 3 of SyncMate; this version includes an app for direct Android synchronization.

I’ll be doing a full review of it in the near future; but for those of you that are extremely happy you might want to consider upgrading.

If you purchased the expert edition you’ll have to pay to upgrade; if you use the free edition you won’t have to pay.  Also not you’ll have to re-establish your synchronization settings, the upgrade doesn’t migrate them.

http://mac.eltima.com/

Originally posted 2011-01-19 02:00:29.

Citi Mobile SM for Cards

Citibank has rolled out a mobile banking application for many phones on most major cellular carriers.

Personally I’m not sure why we’ve gone to a model where vendors seem to believe we need all kinds of applications to do simple things that could be done through a web browser… perhaps that’s an unfortunate side-effect of the iPhone craze (or perhaps better said as crazies).

I think it’s great that banking institutions are thinking about ways to provide services to individuals who have cellular data plans, but I think it’s unfortunate that we can’t just use simple standards — after all, the point is to enable the flow of information, not to make an application that people play with like a game.

To use the Citi Mobile application, you need a supported handset on a supported carrier, and you have to sign up, download, and activate it through the Citi “My Account” web portal.

Originally posted 2009-01-28 01:00:03.

Apple – Double or Nothing?

Yesterday Apple announced another record quarter in sales.  In fact, iPhone sales doubled in Q4 2009 (a good holiday present for Apple).

Tomorrow Apples announces a new tablet computer (at least that’s the rumor of what they will announce).

Google has a lot of ground to catch up with Apple in the phone market, and it certainly doesn’t appear that Apple is going to just stand by and wait for them.

I guess the one thing that Apples numbers show is that there is money to be made in economic hard times if you’ve got something people want.

Originally posted 2010-01-26 01:00:44.

Smart Phones

If you’re looking for a smart phone, you’ve got lots of great choices now.

Whether you’re interested in an Android based phone, a Windows Mobile 6.5 based phone, or holding out for a Windows Mobile 7 based phone you really want to take a look at HTC.

I believe HTC phones are available on all the major US carries, and most all the smaller regional carriers (your selection might vary).  Internationally you can purchase an unlocked GSM version — and several of the HTC handsets are multi-band, multi-format.

HTC innovated the smart phone interface; and the worlds most popular smart phone (the Apple iPhone) appears to have “leveraged” off the work HTC did years before.  What, you thought Apple created that gesture based user interface all by themselves?

HTC built the first Android based phone; HTC released the first Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (and supplied upgrades for a number of Windows Mobile 6.0 phones); and it looks like HTC will release the first Windows 7 phone (there are already rumors).

Other than the Motorola Droid (which HTC already had shipped a similar phone) HTC phones are the “hot ticket”.

I have an older HTC phone — the 6850, aka Touch Pro — and I love it.  It’s been upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 and works well.

A smart phone provides me with the ability to keep my contacts synchronized (without having to attach my phone to my computer), get quick answers on to questions on the Internet, be alerted to email (or read and send email for that matter), use mapping software (or act as a full blown GPS since I have Garmin loaded as well), check fuel prices, check the weather, and tether my laptop when I can’t get a free WiFi signal.  I guess I could use my phone for a multimedia player (video and audio); but that’s not a requirement for me (but you could — and I’ve played with streaming audio and video to my phone, so I wouldn’t be limited by the 8GB flash card I added to it).

Today smart phones are a viable solution for people who want more than just voice communications in their pocket, and don’t want to carry multiple devices.  Over a decade ago my friends and I “dreamed” of a convergence device that would give us PDA, data, and cellular all in one — today that dream is a reality.

Originally posted 2010-01-14 01:00:20.

Limited

Tomorrow Apple releases it’s newest iPhone (it’s a 4G model, so it won’t be on AT&T — and is rumored to be on Verizon) and AT&T discontinues offering an unlimited data plan.

Yep — no more $30 unlimited smart phone data plan from AT&T…

While AT&T says they will decrease pricing for light users what’s likely to happen is that many users will exceed their data plan allowances and end up paying more than they used to.  Heavy users will probably be switching carriers.

Currently AT&T says that 98% of it’s customers use less than 2GB per month of data; I find that a little hard to believe, but I guess if they attract predominately “showcase” customers who don’t really have any reason to have a smart phone other than status — sure… but if that’s true, why would they have all the massive problems with over-subscription that they have and feel compelled to make a change?

And if iPhone users jump from AT&T they’re likely to jump to the 4G carrier that offers the newest iPhone — of course, they’ll probably need to do it soon, Verizon is also considering getting rid of their unlimited data plans — of the big three only Sprint has announced that they are not considering moving away from their unlimited offerings.

Seems fundamentally wrong to me when it appears that more and more companies offer unlimited voice services that companies would start pay-as-you-go data services (when they have traditionally been unlimited).

Oh well, yet another reason to hate your cellular carrier…

Originally posted 2010-06-06 02:00:53.

I’m a valuable Verizon Wireless customer…

Or so says an email an email I got from them last week asking me to take a survey on why I hadn’t taken advantage of my ability to upgrade my phone.

When the email came in I was on the phone talking to one of my friends; and besides, email is intended to be dealt with when it’s convenient…

About two hours after the email came in, things settled down and I had some time while I was waiting on the computer to finish a backup — so I clicked the survey link.

To which I got a web browser window (that adjusted down the size of my preferred browsing window) to tell me that the survey had been closed.

WOW — I’m glad I’m a “valuable” customer, I would hate to think how “un-valuable” customers would be treated.

Let’s see…

First, I never authorized Verizon to send me any type of email other than email specifically dealing with my account (a survey in no way deals with my account — and is clearly a marketing effort), so this email would be classified as SPAM (that’s UCE – Unsolicited Commercial Email).

Second, any legitimate survey sent out would certainly have more than a two hour response time; after all, it’s not like they would know I was anywhere near the computer.

Third, I’ve already told Verizon I’m not interested in a “free” phone since I’m not interested in a new two year contract.  And frankly there should be laws against calling something free when it’s got all kinds of strings attached.

Fourth, Verizon certainly doesn’t need to send me a survey to know how I feel about them — I consider them a crappy company like all cellular providers.  And obviously, Verizon know it’s a crappy company that is afraid it couldn’t keep customers without resorting to tricking and coercing them into long contracts by selling them equipment which is locked and crippled.

I say it’s time for an open wireless system with open handsets — where like the wire line market, wireless providers cannot force you to purchase a device from them, and they have to compete without all these tricks and fine print.

Certainly Verizon (like other cellular companies) have worked very hard to make sure that I as a customer will look out for my interests, and jump to any provider that offers me reasonable service at a reasonable price.

Customer loyalty?  Well, that’s about as rare as customer service in the cellular industry!

Verizon Wireless

NOTE: Verizon Wireless sent out a new survey email the next evening (even after I explicitly “unsubscribed” from the email list used to send the original one) with “CORRECTED LINK” added to the subject. Once again I got the message:

This survey link is no longer valid. Thank you for your time and consideration in trying to complete this survey.

Originally posted 2010-07-25 02:00:31.

Smart Phones

I have a great deal of respect for what Apple’s ability to re-invent itself and market form (over function) to the masses… and I’ve underscored many times that *nix based operating systems will likely never gain critical mass until they have a cohesive environment for the user (as Apple has done with it’s Unix based OS-X).

But respect doesn’t mean I’m going to “drink the Kool-Aid” and believe everything Steve Jobs tells me.

Clearly Jobs does an exceptional job creating devices with glitter and glitch and making the gullible believe that Apple pioneered the technology and that consumers simply cannot get along without purchasing it (and purchasing a new upgrade every time a new bell or whistle is added).

The bottom line is Apple creates nothing… Apple puts a shinny new coat of paint on existing technology, brands it, markets it, and calls it their own.

Apple isn’t driven by innovation, Apple is driven by greed — almost makes you wonder what inadequacies Steve Jobs is trying to compensate for.

And certainly (as I’ve posted) the iPhone is one of Apple’s greatest charades!

Serious smart phone users wouldn’t consider an iPhone as anything more than eye candy; both Windows Mobile and Android devices are far better choices for a serious user.

The next time you walk down the street and see someone sporting an iPhone don’t laugh too loud you might give them a complex — I fear most iPhone users are like Steve Jobs, and feel a little inadequate.

Originally posted 2010-06-14 02:00:25.

Verizon Wireless Features

# Features

#MIN (#646) – Check current month’s unbilled airtime usage.

#BAL (#225) – Check your current account balance.

#DATA (#3282) – Check your current monthly usage of TXT, PIX and FLIX Messaging

#PMT (#768) – Make a payment

 

* Features

*228 – Over-the-air Program / PRL (roaming) update

*611 – Customer service

*70 – Cancel Call Waiting (during call) – *71-123-345-6789

*71 – No Answer/Busy Forward – *71-123-345-6789

*72 – Always Forward – *72-123-345-6789

*73 – Cancel Forward

 

I’ll try to update this list as I find more.

Originally posted 2011-08-11 11:00:34.