T-Mobile, My Preferred Carrier

With a little more than 1 month, I have come to actually enjoy my new T-Mobile service. While the phone was pricey, I wanted to get something that was better than my Razr. I could have got something cheaper, but I chose my 8320 because of the QWERTY keyboard. I used to rely on Vonage, and AT&T for a combination of my home, and cellular service. I used to set up where Vonage set Simul-ring to ring my cellular – so I could choose which phone to answer, and make it so a person would only have to deal with one phone number. I still wanted to provide with one phone number, and I would have used my Grand Central number, but the service has this annoying call presentation. This is to me, a stupid decision by Google, which I hope they correct.

So if I wanted to have just one phone, my options were Cricket which been there and done that. Maybe Cricket got better, but I wasn’t going to waste my money to risk it, especially since a Razr from Cricket is about $250. The other option was T-Mobile with the Hotspot@home service. I chosen T-Mobile with the HotSpot@home service, and I would go into detail of why.

First, I needed to choose a phone. Only T-Mobile phones with wifi can be used. Have a HP iPaq 510, you are SOL even though it would work perfectly under a technical standpoint. There were a few phones that were not going to be a choice even though they were reasonable after rebates. However, I am not going to pay money to get lesser quality. This means my new choice would compare to the Motorola Razr. So, my only choices were the RIM’s SmartphonesĂ‚ that were offered by T-Mobile. I chosen the 8320 which is aka the Curve.

Next, my minute options. I don’t use the cellular calling much as I believe in the cell phone as a tool. Therefore, I don’t need a lot of cellular minutes. Also, the only qualified plans are those with MyFavs. This gives me 5 phone numbers (with the exception of 800 or premium call numbers). In my case, I have the following

  1. My brother’s girlfriend (also his home)
  2. My brother
  3. Port Authority (Public Transit info line)
  4. A friend
  5. Another friend

Most of the time I would call when I am on a cell phone would be to these people. Anytime I call them, or they call me – it is free no matter what.

Now, to assure that I do not have to get a lot of minutes. I got the cheapest minutes, but I needed to assure I am not counting minutes when I am home. This is where the HotSpot@home addition comes in. Not only can I make unlimited calls from home, but I can make unlimited calls from my brother’s, and any other place that I have wifi access too. If the hotspot requires a web browser login – you’re SOL. I actually tried to connect my blackberry to a hospital that requires this type of login, and I could never get it. I also tried it to the library with failure all because of this browser login. Also, any T-Mobile Hotspot automatically connects. This might be software driven which might explain why only T-Mobile GSM/Wifi phones would work.

Now, I also have a notebook PC. It runs on Vista, and even despite the 2Ghz CPU, and 4 GB of memory, it could take a few minutes to boot up. This could be a pain when I just want to look up a phone number, or a web page. The phone has an unlimited blackberry plan which includes unlimited web browsing, email, and Instant Messaging. SMS is always extra. I have a 200 message add-on which I sometimes use to send a twitter, or to send a message when it is more convenient.

While I am sure that I could strip down my services a bit, let’s see what $85/month gets you. First, unlimited wifi calling. This is equivalent to me hauling my VOIP adapter, and a cordless phone everywhere I go. I also have to of course have access to the router, and all of that other infrastructure related stuff due to having a hardware VOIP device. Remember, I can not only make free calls from home, but from any wifi connection to the Internet I have access too. Also, how many people do you know that has a home phone that can use a Bluetooth handsfree set. And when you are tapping away on the keyboard, washing dishes or anything else that may require both hands, a handsfree set is a valuable tool. Next, when I am not in a wifi spot, I can make up to 300 cellular minutes worth of calls with unlimited night/weekends. Also, I have a smart phone, which means mobile browser (using Opera), and email (using the built in one, but switching to gmail). I also have an address, and a phone book. I use Outlook to sync important contact details, and therefore could use a PC to do the editing, and I sync every morning. And while it could be a media player, I prefer my 30GB player over the at best 8GB microSD card for $70. Besides, it would be a more drain on the battery, and I do not want to loose my only phone before I shut it off for the night. And I only have one number, one voicemail, and one device to deal with. Before, I had two phone numbers, two voice mails, and two different phones to deal with.

This set up is lacking in the areas that most cellular providers (at least in the US) have. One, no ACR. Therefore, I may get private callers, and would normally have to ignore them unless they harass, and then I would give them one warning to unblock their number. I simply want to know who I am talking to before I talk to them. It would be good if a provider offered ACR to automatically send them to voicemail. Call forwarding counts against your minutes just as three way. I don’t rely on these things, but it is still a pain. And $1.50 + airtime for a directory assistance call is painful on the pocket -hence, one of the reasons for unlimited data where I could look the number up. And of course, contracts, and termination fees. I feel these should be illegal. A company should have customers based on the company’s worth. If the service dropped dramatically, you can only call customer service, and complain over and over.

In the end, I have decided to let my brother use the old AT&T number as long as he pays the bill, and I would drop my Vonage lines tomorrow. Even despite the flaws, the T-Mobile with the HotSpot@home addition is a good alternative to those that are struggling with multiple numbers, deciding home vs. cell, or trying to keep the cell bill down. So, sorry AT&T, and Vonage – you simply would not meet my needs.

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