What moblie service to get, part 2

Mike fromlists at talkingspider.com
Sat Mar 10 01:43:42 CET 2007

OK totally excellent info Erik thanks.  (You MIT alums beat us CMU alums 
sometimes I guess.)  The openmoko people definately need to address this 
stuff. A couple questions inline,

Erik 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.

Is there really such a thing as a "data plan card" ?  I can't find that 
on the gophone section of the cingular site. It only lists:

$15	30 days
$25	90 days
$50	90 days
$75	90 days
$100	365 days

> 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.

I have a feeling that both tmobile and cingular are going to do whatever 
they can to prohibit the openmoko phones.  And I'm thinking the cheaper 
"smartphone" data plans will only work on cingular's devices, right? 
Like the device has to do something in order to be able to make use of 
it- some technical limitation?  Otherwise I don't know why cingular 
sells two different plans, the "smartphone 5mb" is $9.99 and the "Data 
Connect 5MB" is $19.99. I don't get how else they'd be different. Would 
the neo be compatible with both? Who knows?  I hope someone from the 
openmoko project reads this thread.

> 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.

OK, you're saying no matter what plan I sign up for with cingular, even 
prepaid, I have to buy a phone from them too, right?  I can't like, go 
on ebay and buy a cheap used phone and still sign up with cingular, even 

The one useful piece of info I may have then, is to tell you about the 
service I have now.  I have ecallplus.com, which resells cingular.  They 
have a few GSM plans, and you can bring your own phone...  So if your 
sprint phone breaks you may have a cheaper path to GSM through them for 
your holdover.

> 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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