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PCS / Mobile / Cell SERVICES & Basics?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm wading my way thru the very dense & entertaining threads on phone technology, about which I confess to be an utter moron (tho - hopfully - a trainable one), and I gotta say a big Thankew to Belle & Gambit & Harald (and New and...).

In all the discussions so far (and no, I'm not done), there are 2 big gaps that I keep falling into.

One is: getting up to speed on all the buzzwords/acronyms/technology issues. To correct this, I'd like to ask the phone-savvy to post their favorite links to help me (and other like me (are there any?)) with basic orientation & real news from the trenches. Please?

The other is, there's been little-to-no focussed discussion of phone service providers.

This is important to me because my ONE m-phone experience (a one-year contract w/ Voicestream, now T-Mobile) was so traumatic (and expensive!!!) that I've refused to carry a phone ever since (ie, for the last 3.5 years).

So the wheel turns, and i find myself with a growing list of reasons why a new m-phone would be a GoodThing(tm), and techno-lust is only one of them.

So I've been grazing thru the offering from the big players (except VS/T-Mobile - I can't imagine voluntarily doing business w/ them ever again), and I'm totally underwhelmed by the offerings. The only PSP (?) that's been recommended to me is Sprint, but I hate the selection of phones I see for them.

Can we get a discussion of providers, or pointers to such? I'd like to know who's happy w/ what, and why.

I'll ask questions if I have to, so make it easy on yourselves & co-operate!
If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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post #2 of 12
Well, I'm sure it's nothing personal against you with T-Mobile/VS. Times change, and from the big forums I go to, it seems like T-Mobile is garnering the biggest following, has the coolest phones, and these days has the best customer service you're going to find, a diamond in the rough there. You're missing out!

BTW, Sprint charges you for everything, and 'Claire' is horrible.

As far as learning about stuff... I learned some at my job, and the rest with my friend Google. You just have to know a reputable and informational site when you see one. Be sure to check out <a href="http://www.howardchui.com/" target="_blank">http://www.howardchui.com/</a> , <a href="http://www.phonescoop.com/" target="_blank">http://www.phonescoop.com/</a> , and <a href="http://mobile.burn.com/" target="_blank">http://mobile.burn.com/</a> -- great sites for news/info in the industry.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!
art may imitate life, but life imitates tv.
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art may imitate life, but life imitates tv.
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post #3 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by bradbower:
<strong>
BTW, Sprint charges you for everything, and 'Claire' is horrible.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Oh god, I can't even believe they call Claire a help system. That help system answers all of 30 predefined questions. God forbid you need to ask a question that isn't on the list, because I spent 30 minutes trying to find a link to email my question to no avail.

Anyhow, I think pretty much every company at least tries to scam you into a contract somehow. You buy a new phone, change your plan, etceteras... instant new one year contract! I just changed my plan with Sprint, and I'll be damned if I didn't have to sign on for another 12 month tour.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by bradbower:
<strong>Well, I'm sure it's nothing personal against you with T-Mobile/VS. Times change, and from the big forums I go to, it seems like T-Mobile is garnering the biggest following, has the coolest phones, and these days has the best customer service</strong><hr></blockquote>
Hey, Brad!

Never thought Vstream was out to get me, personally. It's quite the tale o' terror, tho - any consumer's murphy's-law nightmare.

Their CS people were good even then - it was the 90-minute wait to get thru to them that really capped my whole experience.

That said, I kinda burned my bridges on the way out (so I could actually GET out - kinda like gnawing off my own leg...).

Anyway, MANY thanks for the links - I've been messing w/ Google, but I like to hear from actual people about what they find useful. I've also really enjoyed reading your phone thread!

As for specific questions, here's one: is it true that a cellphone can only be used w/ the provider you buy it from (or not)? I have a Nokia from my VS fiasco days & it ought to work just fine (paid $250 & used it for a year), and as much as I'd like to get a fancy new phone, I can't bring myself to just throw this one away.
If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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post #5 of 12
Usually I think this is the case... the more enlightened people can correct anything I get wrong... many of the cell phone are locked in with a certain provider, unless you can find a way to unlock the phone so that they can use different provider's sim cards, or something like that. There's usually links and software downloads to unlock certain phones if you Google search for em.

Amazon seems to offer great deals on just about every phone right now, so once you're set on a particular phone check their prices/rebates out... I just got a Samsung S105 (T-Mobile), and after rebates it should end up being free. Not too bad for a color phone.
What the problem is?
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What the problem is?
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post #6 of 12
Well, CDMA phones only work with CDMA providers and GSM with GSM providers, of course, but beyond that it can go either way. Most CDMA phones are only capable of being used with the service you bought them for, and you can pretty much only use the phones that they allow you to use on their service. GSM phones, however, can be used on any GSM network (and even a CDMA network with a CDMA SIM card), just take the SIM card out of one handset and put it in another, or go buy a prepaid SIM card and put it in the handset, etc. You can use any GSM phone that you can stick your SIM card into to access the GSM network under your subscriber, whether they have approved it or not, as long as it is working. The only thing about that, is that some dealers and GSM service providers sell phones that are "locked" to using only certain providers' SIM cards, so you have to call in to that provider and get the SIM subsidy unlock codes for your phone (a number calculated based on the SIM # and IMEI/phone model #s) to take that setting off, most of the time. T-Mobile/VS does this for free for subscribers and it usually takes less than 1 day. Don't know about Cingular or AT&T's policies on this.

BTW, I can't imagine any reason you would have "burned your bridges" with VS. It's been years, we've changed to a new company with new philosophies, things have improved all around, we've done a whole credit rerating and have a new system for that, and as long as it's been more than 90 days there's no reason you can't do another new activation. If you really might be interested in T-Mobile, just try.

I've been looking very closely at Verizon the past few days, and their rate plans trick you into thinking they're better, the T720s are intentionally broken by Verizon to take away functionality, and they're only cheap because Verizon is discontinuing them. Plus Verizon doesn't seem to care much about retaining customers, because they know they have the best coverage of all the five giants, which doesn't bode well for them IMHO. So much for Verizon.
art may imitate life, but life imitates tv.
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art may imitate life, but life imitates tv.
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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Gee, Brad - sounds like you work for T-Mobile!

On your advice, I did some extra poking-around; turns out that, rather than VS changing its name, it's been bought by Deutche Telekom.

That alone gives me the confidence to put them back on the list - and even @ the top of the list!.

I never had a problem w/ the plan I was on (which was basically exactly the same as the current $40/mo plan, only 400 minutes instead of 600); what got me was that after a few months, they un-bundled the extended voice-mail & unlimited nights/weekends from my plan, and began charging me an extra $10/mo for EACH of those "options".

Add to that $150 in extra charges for less than 2 hours of roaming use - making local Atlanta calls while IN Atlanta, my service was picked up by a company 200 MILES AWAY in Albany (ALBANY???) - @ premium long-distance rates - routed to Colorado and back to Atlanta, again by way of Albany, w/ top-dollar LD charges for each leg - PLUS the typical usurious "roaming charges" on top of that...and, of course, $60 for my $40 plan... :eek: <img src="graemlins/surprised.gif" border="0" alt="[Surprised]" /> <img src="graemlins/oyvey.gif" border="0" alt="[No]" />

With typical CS hold times of over an hour, I eventually gave up trying to get any of this corrected - just spat & paid. I wrote letters, I sent e-mails, I protested in person @ the office where I signed up, and all I accomplished was to get $10/mo dropped for the extended VM - which meant, of course, that they dropped the E-VM - which meant, of course, that I could no longer change the VM message callers would hear. Tis change went into effect while I was in Atlanta (like I mentioned) so I didn't notice until I returned to CO; and for the last 5 months of my contract,therefore, my VM recording informed callers that I'd be out of town until the end of January...unfortunately, since this was my business phone, by the end of February my business had dried up completely.

When I moved out of Voicestream territory @ the end of my contract, they wanted to charge me a $200 cancellation fee, PLUS an additional $120 for 2 months "regular" service (ie, the time between when I moved & when I got them to acknowledge the move & my cancellation/non-renewal). I refused to pay, accusing them of highway robbery & predatory business practices; I threatened to sue them for fraud & material misrepresentation, AND for damage to my business, AND for 8+ months' worth of overcharges.

They insisted that every penny was 'fair, justified, and authorised by the contract', but - as a 'humanitarian gesture' (or some other such kraap), they would not attempt to collect "my debt".

By that point, I was devoting most of my time & energy to helping my best friend or 20 years while she died of cancer, and even THINKING about V-stream made me nauseous (sp?), so I dropped it.

If THAT's not burning bridges, then I guess bridges just don't burn anymore.

On another note, in another thread, you mention 'taking advantage of T-Mobile's great holiday promotions'. I saw nothing on their website to suggest that there werre any promotions running, so where would you suggest I look? Like Belle, I'm in lust w/ the new Sieman phone(s) - but seriously doubt I'll be able to talk myself into a $500 phone (not after an expensive holiday season like this one!), so if there's ANYTHING going on that would reduce the cost of these dazzling blue-toothed beauties, I wanna know!

Thanks again for sharing so much of your time & research w/ us!

[ 12-16-2002: Message edited by: Capt. Obvious ]</p>
If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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post #8 of 12
It's great that you're bouncing back after horrendous troubles with VoiceStream, Capt. Obvious. It sounds like the phone contract nightmare from hell.

My biggest question involves the general reliability of the signal on GSM networks. I've looked into both ATT and TMobile (@ Brad's suggestion) and found that both barely cover I-81 stretching through Northeastern Pennsylvania. I might need it to work in places where the signal just isn't at. I have no way of testing the service and since it's still new around here, I know of no one who can vouch from experience. Nevermind those shady teenage salespeople who are just looking for their next big commission. Maybe I'm being cynical and reserved about spending a good deal of money over the next year on a service contract. I don't know. I think I will just wait out on GSM for now.

Anyway, I went into my first service contract ever a few days ago. I found a good deal on Amazon.com for a free Motorola V60i phone with ATT Digital Advantage. It certainly sounds like a good deal- I don;t know. Comes in anytime from the 19th-24th. Good luck with your searching!
post #9 of 12
Yeah, it seems like Amazon is selling all cell phones at ridiculous prices... I think I saw you mention Bluetooth, they sell the Sony Ericcson T68i for $25 after rebates I think, you may want to check that out. I think the phone is a bit too small, but it's had extremely good reviews from users on Amazon.
What the problem is?
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What the problem is?
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by MCQ:
<strong>Yeah, it seems like Amazon is selling all cell phones at ridiculous prices... I think I saw you mention Bluetooth, they sell the Sony Ericcson T68i for $25 after rebates I think, you may want to check that out. I think the phone is a bit too small, but it's had extremely good reviews from users on Amazon.</strong><hr></blockquote>
Ya, seems Amazon is teh place for phone deals (these days, at least). Went by a T-Mob actual place - the phones all loook so big in the web-pix, but they're suitably TINY in-hand.

I actually like that, even w/ MY eyesight .
If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by ShawnPatrickJoyce:
<strong>It's great that you're bouncing back after horrendous troubles with VoiceStream, Capt. Obvious. It sounds like the phone contract nightmare from hell.

My biggest question involves the general reliability of the signal on GSM networks. I've looked into both ATT and TMobile (@ Brad's suggestion) and found that both barely cover I-81 stretching through Northeastern Pennsylvania. I might need it to work in places where the signal just isn't....

Anyway, I went into my first service contract ever a few days ago. I found a good deal on Amazon.com for a free Motorola V60i phone with ATT Digital Advantage. It certainly sounds like a good deal- I don;t know.</strong><hr></blockquote>
Can't comment on the deal, duh, but was looking @ the ATT fine print, and it certainly SEEMS to say that LD & roaming charges will apply. I may not travel so much, but after my experiences I want NO EXTRA CHARGES.

Fact of life w/ cells - there ARE just some places where the signal isn't. Not a GSM problem per se. I talk to friends, folks in line @ stores, even stop people in parking lots - EVERYONE has dead spots in their coverage, no matter what the service, how much the phone, or who's the provider. Either you can live w/ it or you can't.

Love to hear about your experiences as they rack up.

Happy Yule to all!
If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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If yer gonna bother with thinking different, swing for the fences.
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post #12 of 12
The way I understand it, GSM (aka T-Moble, ATT Wireless GSM) is different than TDMA/CDMA ("Regular" US cell phone service)- in fact it's so new in some areas that it barely covers only certain major highways if you live outside a major metropolitan area. The thing with GSM is that if you don't have a signal- there is no roaming charge you just don't have service there. Cool phones, cool service, bad for my area right now it seems.

Anyway I've been using the free v60i now for a few days and I just love it. 29.99/mo for 350 a/t, unlimited n/w, free l/d. My local calling area includes scranton, binghamton, williamsport, erie, pittsburgh, harrisburg, philadelphia, baltimore, washington d.c., dover, atlantic city, newyork, new haven, hartford, providence, boston, and concord. That's not too shabby. My only complaints are with the phone company itself and how they never give you an accurate estimate of how many minutes you use on the phone. A call that lasts 1:22 should be added to the total call time as 2 minutes rather than 1:22 because it counts as 2 minutes when you get your phone bill. Hmm. It's nice to be mobile finally.

[ 12-21-2002: Message edited by: ShawnPatrickJoyce ]</p>
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