What moblie service to get, part 2

adrian cockcroft adrian.cockcroft at gmail.com
Sat Mar 10 01:11:05 CET 2007

I've had Cingular unlimited for a year or two on a Treo 650. The basic
plan (national roaming, and a bunch of minutes with rollover) is about
$40/month, then the unlimited data plan adds $35, and with a few text
messages (which are extra charge) added on top my monthly bill is
about $80. I got a big discount on the Treo650 for a two year commit
to this. The SIM card does work in other phones, I have used it in a
Treo600, Nokia 6682 and have no doubt that it will work in an OpenMoko
or homebrew phone.

I use the internet a lot from the Treo, it's EDGE speeds, good enough
for keeping up with a lot of email, google maps and basic browsing,
although its slow. Coverage in the SF Bay Area is good enough and has
been gradually getting better over the years. I had T-Mobile for a
while, and had worse coverage but much better customer support.

I hope this helps,

On 3/9/07, Erik <esw at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> I agree that this should be in a FAQ somewhere, because it's something
> lots of US free-your-phone users need to know.  It isn't OpenMoko
> specific, but definitely relevant.  I already wasted ^H^H^H^H^H^Hspent
> some time looking in to this so I'll share what I've found:
> 1. I believe Cingular prepaid can do GPRS data.  This would normally
>    be excellent news.  Except that its $0.01 per kbyte. [!!!]  If you
>    get the max bitrate that works out to something like $4 per minute!
>    So "spending minutes" to use data would be a bargain.
> 2. But I'm not holding my breath that I will be able to just spend
>    voice minutes getting infrequent data access from a prepaid plan.
>    A cellular telephone voice connection is extremly highly compressed
>    in ways that sound ok for speach, but ways that mean very little
>    data would get through if you tried to use standard modem codings.
>    Plus, the little cpu in the thing couldn't really be expected to do
>    the decoding.  Perhaps someone could do a great hack with a
>    self-powered modem on the headphone port, looping back into the
>    unit via a bluetooth-to-serial dongle.
> 3. Data plan it is.  You can't add a data plan to a prepaid card.  So
>    either you have a prepaid voice card + data plan card, or you suck
>    it up and sign up for a voice plan as well.
> 4. Cingular differentiates plans based on what kind of phone/interface
>    device you have, and how you intend to use it.  The cheapest is
>    smartphone, the next is pda, the next is laptop.  And to use one of
>    their locked smartphones or pdas as a bluetooth modem you have to
>    pay an expensive extra $$ per month "tether" fee.  My guess is that
>    all data plans work in all unlocked devices... but maybe I'm wrong
>    and theres a whitelist on the simcard.
> 5. It seems to be a grey area, using a phone that they don't provide.
>    I can see a good argument for calling the OpenMoko a SmartPhone.
>    Which is great 'cause theres a $20/month unlimited data plan for
>    smartphones.  But there's no way to limit whether you can use it
>    for tethered/laptop data access so who knows if they'd want to slap
>    the tether fee on you. "just in case" fortunately I don't think
>    they're that clue-full.
> 6. It seems that you can only order a plan [get a sim card] with a
>    phone.  That's not such a financial problem if you're just getting
>    a cheap voice plan, because there are lots of cheap/free after
>    rebate voice phones you can get and not use.  But to order a data
>    plan from Cingular [of any of the tweleve types] you have to order
>    a phone that is valid for that plan.
> 7. So to get a SmartPhone unlimited plan [$20/month... unlimited data
>    not bad imho] you'd have to also buy a smartphone. [$150]  There's
>    a $100 rebate on the cheapest phone, but who knows if you'd
>    actually get the rebate.  And who knows if it'd actually work in
>    the neo.
> 8. I'm not even sure that you can have a data plan without a voice
>    plan.  Seems like at the very least you might not get the
>    smartphone rebate if you don't get the rebate.
> Good luck, please share what else you find!  You are indeed not the
> only one trying to figure all this out!
> -erik
> ps.  A reasonable default, if you need a phone right now, is to buy a
> cheap prepaid phone and use that for the couple months until it
> becomes more clear exactly what plans work with the neo in the US.
> That way you're not locked in... and you have a sim that you can use
> for voice testing at the very least with the neo.  That's what I'm
> going to do when/if my 4year old phone [on sprint month-to-month/no
> contract all its life] croaks before i get a phase 1!
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