Entries Tagged as 'Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)'

Galaxy Nexus

I got a new handset today… a Google (Samsung) Galaxy Nexus.

My Motorola Droid (A855 — the original one) was getting a little dated and running way too slow for me.

I was originally thinking about the Motorola Droid 4, and held out until that was released to make up my mind (I really liked the idea of a physical keyboard); but when I found that Motorola pulled GSM support (added in the Droid 2 Global, and kept in the Droid 3) as well as used a crappy display (compared to the Droid Razr — which the Droid 4 is basically a Droid Razr with a keyboard) I decide it just wouldn’t satisfy me.

I considered switching from Verizon to a pre-paid GSM plan and getting the Galaxy Nexus GSM model, but one of my Google friends had gotten the Verizon CDMA model from Google and offered to give it to me (I guess I can consider it a birthday present — and again, THANK YOU very much), so I decide to go ahead and try it.

I’d already confirmed with Verizon that my plan (unlimited data) wouldn’t require any changes to support an LTE handset (woot)… so when the phone arrived today I called up and activated the handset and SIM.

The handset has a stunning display… there’s just no way to describe it without seeing it, the 3.65″ Super AMOLED curved display is wonderful.  And of course with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor and Ice Cream Sandwitch (ICS – Android 4.0) it’s about as “new” a handset as you can get.

Technically (by the map) Verizon doesn’t have LTE at my home, but outside I do get a weak LTE signal (and let me tell you, a weak LTE/4G signal is way faster than a good CMDA/3G signal)… it’s not really an issue that I don’t get LTE at home, just slightly West of here there’s stable LTE coverage, and hopefully Verizon will continue their 4G build out in this area.

Next task will be to root the phone so that I have unfettered access the power of Android 4.0.

Google Galaxy Nexus

Originally posted 2012-04-13 02:00:35.

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.

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.

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.

GSM Hacked

Computer security researchers have reported that GSM phones (the cellular protocol used by most of the world — roughly 80% of all cell phones) can be cracked with a relatively small amount of hardware and free Open Source tools.

The weakness exploits the older 64-bit A5/1 algorithm not the newer 128-bit A5/3 algorithm.  However, it should be noted that most GSM providers have been slow to update their networks and do not currently employ the more secure 128-bit encryption standard.

The result is that conversations carried on GSM networks can be overheard and recorded.

No such weaknesses exist in the CDMA protocol; nor would this indicate a potential vulnerability in LTE.

Karsten Nohl, a German computer programmer, claims he demonstrated this weakness (and published the code) to encourage GSM carriers (and manufactures) to take serious the poor security that is currently in place.  ESTI (the standards organization behind GSM) claims that this hack (while legitimate) is too complex and would in fact not give hackers the ability to listen in on phone calls.

Originally posted 2009-12-29 02:00:50.

Straight talk about cellular service

I’ve been a Verizon Wireless customer for a very very long time, and except for a short flirtation with MetroPCS (or as it’s often called — GettoPCS) I’ve been reasonably loyal.

But that’s about to change.

This week my Google/LG Nexus 4 arrived as well did an AT&T SIM card (through Straight Talk available on-line or at Wal-Mart).

I have an old Verizon plan, unlimited for a reasonable price (roughly $82 with tax after my 20% discount through a previous employer); and I had a Google/Samsung Galaxy Nexus S2, so I enjoyed LTE (in areas where Verizon had LTE service).

With Straight Talk, I’ll get unlimited AT&T services (MVNOs don’t generally have access to LTE) for $45 per month plus tax; but wait, until 18-Feb-2013 Straight Talk is offering a $2.50 reduction on your monthly service if you sign up for auto-pay (if you currently have Straight Talk with auto-pay, cancel your auto-pay and immediate set it back up to take advantage of the discount). Note, the $2.50 discount does not apply to your initial service payment, that’s going to be $45.00 plus taxes even if you immediately sign up for auto-pay.

I activated the SIM (you don’t actually even need a phone to activate a SIM card, you use a “serial number” they provide with the SIM card to register everything, then just pop it in the phone) on Thursday morning (yesterday), didn’t want to do it Wednesday night after returning from Mardi Gras (even though the phone and the SIM were laying on the front porch — sleep was more important).

And voila, it works — and it works well.

Straight Talk actually offers service on all four major networks: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

For AT&T or T-Mobile you simply need an unlocked GSM phone and the SIM for the network you would like service on (purchased through Straight Talk / Walmart). Or you can just purchase a handset with a SIM installed directly from Straight Talk / Walmart. Note, if you go with an unlocked GSM phone, there will be a couple settings you’ll have to change on the handset to have full function with the network; but those are well documented online.

For Verizon or Sprint you must purchase a handset from Straight Talk / Walmart that works on the network you choose. You can purchase a used Straight Talk handset on Craigslist or eBay, but remember that if it’s marked as stolen or lost, you might not be able to activate it.

And… the cost of the service is the same, regardless of what network you’re on, and the service is unlimited (keep in mind unlimited in cellular speak doesn’t mean what it does in the rest of the English language, if you use abusive amounts of service you’re likely to get throttled or terminated).

Now what’s the catch — well… you deal with Straight Talk customer service rather than the network’s customer service (let’s face it — they’re all horrible, and hopefully you’ll never need to deal with them at all); you don’t have access to partner or roaming, only the network you actually have service with (which really doesn’t matter generally unless you travel to fringe areas — and if that’s the case, stick with what works); you don’t have a contract (oh, wait, that’s not a catch); you own your handset outright (though Straight Talk does offer insurance on handsets they sell; or you can do what I do and pay for the service with a credit card that provides some level of cellular handset insurance coverage free).

And yeah I hear all of you — what about the iPhone… well, Straight Talk will sell you one (and Walmart has 0% financing so you can spread out the payments over a year), or if you’re going with AT&T or T-Mobile service you can just purchase a GSM handset from the Apple store or buy one used.

I’ve actually been considering switching for about a year; originally I was fixated on going with Verizon service since it was the only carrier I trusted, but times change. AT&T has been busy building out it’s network and increasing coverage, Verizon has been busy reinforcing the fact that they don’t care about their customers and re-tuning their towers to support LTE data services (and apparently forgetting that some people still want to make voice calls).

Now your mileage may vary, and the downside of choosing Verizon or Sprint is that you’re stuck with the selection of handsets offered by Straight Talk (which isn’t the latest and greatest — other than the iPhone 5); with AT&T or T-Mobile you can choose any handset (by just getting the SIM).

I don’t think this is the end of traditional wireless carriers, after all, Straight Talk depends on them for the actual service, but pre-paid unlimited plans like this truly seem to be the most economical way to have cellular service; and you don’t have to miss out on the latest and greatest equipment (with GSM service), all you have to do is front load the cost by buying the handset outright.

My guess is with more consumers buying handsets outright, the price of handsets will actually moderate closer to what they really cost, and not carry a surcharge to support the deep discounts the manufacturers give to cellular carriers to woo them to offer their handset.