Entries Tagged as 'Cellular'

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.


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.

Donate Your Cell Phone

There are at least three great reasons to donate your old cell phone:

  1. It keeps your handset out of a landfill — generally most organizations will make sure that your old handset is either provided to an individual or family for use or is sent to a recycling center to be handled properly
  2. It will help others, either by having a cell phone available to them, or through the monies that the recycling produces.
  3. It will be tax deductible.

Here are some suggestions for places to donate




Originally posted 2010-11-22 02:00:35.

Straight Talk

Four people I know have now switched their cellular phone service over to Straight Talk “pre-paid” service (largely because I’ve pointed it out to them).  Two used AT&T, one used T-Mobile, and one used Cellular South.

All of them basically switched for the similar reasons — they were being charged too much for too little.

I’ve considered switching a number of times; but I’m one of the few people with a Smart Phone who actually use the features (I just don’t know if I could get along without data services and GPS — Garmin GPS).

Straight talk offers two plans — UNLIMITED for 30 days $45; or 1000 minutes, 1000 SMS/MMS, 30GB for up to 30 days $30.  Most people probably don’t need the unlimited plan, and if you only expect you’re going to go over once in a great occasion you can buy the $30 plan and just pay again in less than 30 days (as long as it takes you at least 20 days you still ahead), and you can switch back and forth between the two plans at will (if you can predict your usage) — or even lay out for a month.  And of course, there’s no contract.

Straight Talk is a service of Trac Fone; but a model that’s much more like MetroPCS and Cricket; though since Straight Talk is a MVNO using Verizon Wireless as the carrier you can use the service any where in the continential United States where Verizon Wireless has digital service (which is just about any where there’s a paved road).

If you’re looking for a fancy phone, or data features you’re not looking for Straight Talk; in fact, only MetroPCS really offers you full data features (you can take your own smart phone to their network and have them flash it — it does need to have the SPL released; or you can buy one from them — but MetroPCS uses their own network and fills in coverage using some Sprint services as well; but you’re restricted to your MetroPCS service area, which doesn’t work well if you travel).

If what you’re looking for is a cellular phone, or a replacement for your land line even, Straight Talk might be a great deal for you.

You can order the phones online; you can pay for service online; you can even have your service auto-renewed online… or you can purchase phones and/or service cards at Wal-Mart.  You can even port you existing wireless or wire line number to Straight Talk (you can thank the FCC for that).

Just keep in mind that the hand sets are “low end” — they won’t tether to your computer, and to do any type of synchronization (that’s a bad word to use, since you’re probably going to have to move contacts, etc one-by-one or at least manually) you may well have to use Bluetooth (though the Samsung SCH-R451C $99.99 will work with a USB cable to give you access to the phone as a USB data device — and it supports up to a 2GB uSD card).

There is one higher end hand set offered by Straight Talk; the Samsung SCH-R810C $328.99; it’s higher price get’s you a touch screen (only — no keyboard), but really nothing substantially more than the Samsung SCH-R451C, and it’s not available in most areas.

Straight Talk offers a 30-day money back guarantee on handsets; but no refund on airtime…

Visit the Straight Talk website, or your local Wal-Mart for more information (or to purchase one)… it’s your money, get some value for it.


Originally posted 2010-04-10 02:00:30.

Straight Talk AT&T APN (Android)

Once you get your new Android phone and pop in your Straight Talk AT&T micro SIM card you’ll need to change the APN in order to make MMS work properly…

The first APN below should have been populated from the SIM (you’re just going to remove MMS from the profile); the second APN will actually provide the MMS capability.


First APN for talk, text (SMS), and data (default):

Name: Straight Talk (or whatever you want)
APN: att.mvno
Proxy: Not set
Port: Not set
Username: Not set
Password: Not set
Server: Not set
MMSC: http://mmsc. cingular. com
MMSC proxy:
MMS port: 80
MCC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication Type: Not set
APN type: default,supl,mms   ***remove mms***
APN protocol: IPv4
Bearer: Not specified


Second APN for MMS Service:

Name: Straight Talk MMS

APN: att.mvno

skip down to MMSC: http://mmsc.cingular.com

MMS proxy: proxy.mvno.tracfone.com

MMS port: 80

MCC: 310

MNC: 410

Authentication Type: Not set

skip to APN type and enter: mms


Originally posted 2013-03-04 15:00:19.

Verizon Wireless

Like most cellular communication companies, Verizon Wireless leaves it up to the consumer to find their billing errors.

Last month I called Verizon Wireless right after the AllTel/Verizon merge was complete; and I told the representative that at the end of the call I would have ONE Verizon account; and that that would be achieved either by combining my two numbers (one previously Verizon, one previously AllTel) into a single account without making any changes to the plans OR terminating the old Verizon account.

Originally Verizon had required all AllTel customer to convert to a Verizon account to make ANY changes to their account, but they softened that policy when they found it was just as easy (and cheaper) for many AllTel customers to switch to another cellular provider than switch their plans to a current Verizon offering (I for instance would have to pay more for what I have and would lose six of my eleven “My Circle” number [that’s the numbers I can call airtime free regardless of the network they’re on] and would have to pay for text messaging and data dongle use [Internet access for my laptop]).

The customer service representative was certain he could combine the accounts, because they’d been told they could; however, after several tries (and munging the information on both accounts) he was unable to combine the accounts and “terminated” the service on my old Verizon phone.

Well, I just received the bill for the service — and interestingly enough I was billed an entire month… not just a few days.  Why?  Well simple, they didn’t terminate the account, they suspended it in order to let it age out to the end of the billing period — of course I had no service from Verizon… well, unless you consider billing a service.

How horrible unethical (and illegal)…

Needless to say I just got off the phone with a Verizon representative and gave him two options — put through a bill adjustment, or I’d file a charge back with my credit card company (don’t think there would have been much of a problem with that).  I’m not sure how he arrived at the “adjustment” figure — but then again, I don’t have an advanced degree in cellular telephone billing mathematics… I seem to be getting about half my billed amount back rather than three quarters — but when they generate another bill I’ll review what they’ve done.

The thing I really hate about having to put so much time and energy into “fixing” problems that companies like this cause (and I believe it’s intentional since they know most people won’t put any effort into fixing these fraudulent charges) is that it costs time (which is money).  So the question is, why isn’t there a law that requires companies to PAY consumers for their time when a consumer invests their time to resolve an issue that a company has caused through no fault of the consumer at say two times what the consumer normally is paid (or at least two times minimum wage).  And, of course, these companies should have to pay 21% interest on any excess charges they’ve made.

Originally posted 2009-08-08 01:00:16.

AT&T + T-Mobile = Just Say NO

On 20 March 2011 AT&T made a public offer of $39 billion to Deutsche Telekom for the purchase of their cellular operations in the United States — better known by their brand name T-Mobile.

It’s anyone’s guess is they can get this acquisition through the regulators; but one thing is for sure with AT&T taking the low-cost national competitor out of the running we’re probably not going to see cellular prices come down — and we’re very likely to see them go up.

T-Mobile and AT&T both operate GSM 3G and plan to offer LTE 4G services; they chose different enhanced 3G data services and they own different spectrum (the frequency they operate on).

Why AT&T wants T-Mobile is simple — larger customer base, more spectrum; the translates into lower cost per customer, and the ability to grow.

And, this acquisition will make AT&T the largest cellular provider in the United States… close to 130 million subscribers, leaving Verizon Wireless a distant second — and Sprint so far back they can’t even see the race.

There will still be a number of regional carriers that operate GSM networks; but once AT&T can set roaming rates they won’t have much trouble killing off the competition.

AT&T has tried to sweeten this deal with it’s pledge to cover 95% of the population of the United States with it’s LTE 4G network… of course I have to point out that that will leave huge rural areas of the country with no 4G service (pretty much the same ares that currently have no 3G service).

My advice — just say NO — and let your elected representatives hear that from you over and over starting now.

Originally posted 2011-03-26 02:00:54.

Sprint 4G Surcharge

So I was looking at Sprint devices, plans and coverage — they have the Samsung Galaxy S 4G handset, and their model includes a slider qwerty keyboard (I really like keyboards on smart phones)… of course we’re talking about Sprint’s network, which has marginal service in this area and no 4G within about 300 miles (and likely no 4G for a very long time any where around here) but the interesting thing is they still insist on charging a $10 4G surcharge for plans on 4G phones even when the phone is used in 3G service areas…

Personally I feel that if a cellular company is going to charge me a surcharge for enhanced speed (and features) that I should be getting those features…

I don’t think I’d be too keen on Sprint for anyone of a number of reasons…

Let’s see, first and foremost would be a horrible experience with Sprint and Sprint’s billing practices when they first started.  And their CEO can keep apologizing about it, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t tend to try Sprint unless they offered me a deal that was just incredible (and charging me for a service I’m likely never to get isn’t a way to make me feel like it’s a deal I can’t refuse).

Then there would be the fact that their service and coverage here is abysmal — even worse than AT&T!!!  In fact, their service is so spotty they actually caution you about it on their web site when you go to browse phones and plans.

Then, they choose WiMax rather than LTE (like the rest of the world).  Though since they’re depending on Clearwire for WiMax services and Clearwire has been showing more and more interest in LTE (and ditching WiMax — which probably doesn’t make Intel happy) who know if Sprint will actually really keep rolling out WiMax or shift to LTE.

Anyway; I like the Galaxy S… but I’m holding out for HTC to make a high end Android phone with a slider and I’d prefer it to be a CDMA/GSM/LTE handset.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 02:00:34.

Simple Mobile

For those of you who live in areas where T-Mobile has good service, perhaps the best deal in cellular might be Simple Mobile; you can either purchase a GSM phone from them (the price is of course not subsidized that includes one of their SIM cards), or just purchase a mini, micro, or nano SIM card from them for your unlocked GSM phone.  Monthly rates are $40, and that includes unlimited voice, unlimited SMS/MMS, unlimited 3G data, and up to 250MB of 4G data — all on T-Mobile.

I haven’t tried the service, mainly because T-Mobile coverage isn’t very good in this area; but again, if T-Mobile coverage is good where you use your cellular phone this should be one of the least expensive ways to get an unlimited plan.

If you already have a GSM handset that you’ve satisfied the contract on, there’s no question you can save money by switching; if you haven’t just subtract the cost of the monthly feed form your current monthly plan and then divide the cost of the phone by the difference (that’s the length of time it will take before you start saving money).


Originally posted 2013-03-18 08:00:10.