Monday, October 01, 2007

T-mobile or T-rex?

The dinosaur of wireless companies and the ridiculous expense/luxury-tax on true wireless internet (not yet obtainable to even a tech-savvy consumer).

For some time, I have been curious about using upgrading my existing T-mobile service into the world of full wireless internet. hahaha - this was a thought in futility as I, instead, learned all about the outdated infrastructure of T-mobile and the high price of all wireless companies in the realm of broadband access.

1. Currently, T-mobile has only an EDGE network which runs at about 90 -135 kbps. Almost every other major carrier sports a 3G network, allowing speeds around 300 kbps.

2. There are rumors that a 3G T-mobile network is now ready for launch sometime in the near future. However, it is apparently on a different frequency then current phones (1900 mhz instead of the more common 1700 and 2100 mhz [european]) so new phones/PDAs will need to be created before it can work with mobile devices. Plus, there is no exact launch date yet. The slow down may be due to some government related entanglement involved in freeing up the 1900 mhz frequency according to this article.

3. The new T-mobile combo phone/PDA (the T-mobile Wing - see video review here) is really not a great improvement over the 2005 T-mobile MDA ( video review here) that I currently have. The new Wing does have Windows Mobile 6 (which is itself apparently not a great improvement either) but no real upgrade in processor speed (201 mhz vs. 195 mhz), SDRAM (both 64 mb) or onboard flash memory (128mb in both). Most of the improvements seem to be in things I don't really care much about - nicer design, better color, square keys on keyboard, and a bigger menu button. Plus, the camera went up to 2.0 megapixels with an 8X zoom - whoope-dee-f*'s still a crappy plastic lens and a crappy camera that should only be used in odd situations (spy photos while looking busy at work!) or emergencies (you get in a car accident with no camera handy, etc).

4. I would like to make the transition to full wireless company networking - e.g. get rid of the cable modem if possible to obtain non-801 dependent wireless access.

5. My options are to stay with T-mobile and move around the network like a dinosaur with arthritis or to eventually make a switch to another company when our current T-mobile contract expires at the beginning of may.

6. I will first consider the options to stay with T-mobile in hopes that 3G shows up by May but will also examine networking possibilities with AT&T/Verizon/Sprint since they seem to be far far ahead in that arena. Especially AT&T which has produced the exceptional 8525 phone/PDA combo that definitely outperforms the T-mobile Wing and will be adding Windows Mobile 6 later this year.

7. I only consider Windows Mobile OS-based in this review. I have a personal preference for this type of phone, which are also usually designed with the slide-out QWERTY keyboards. No Palm Treo models are considered.

8. What am I looking at here? The ability to convert our house to non-cable modem internet access on the 2 laptops and having a fast and efficient PDA/phone for work.

a. T-Mobile Wing: Price w/contract renewal = $300
b. 2 Sony Ericcson Laptop Network Card s = $150/card = $300 (listed as $199 on web, but phone rep verified $150 price)
c. Internet Access Price per month = $50/laptop X 2 ($100/month for, essentially, dial-up speed!)
d. 2 Year Total Cost = $3000

10. AT&T
a. 8525 Smartphone: Price with contract = $350
b. 2 AT&T Laptop Connect Cards: Free with 2 year contract (AT&T also offers ability to use your smartphone as a modem to get to the 3G network)
c. Laptop Connect/Data Connect Internet Access Price Per Month = $60/laptop with 1 $5/month discount for a voice plan ($115/month)
d. 2 year total cost = $3110

a. Spring Mogul by HTC Smartphone: Price with contract = $300
b. 2 Sprint PX-500 Network Cards: $10/card with 2 year contract = $20
c. Unlimited Broadband Mobile Connection Plan = $60/laptop X 2 = $120/month
d. 2 year total cost = $3200

a. Verizon XV6700 Smartphone: Price with contract = $300 (slightly outdated, Mobile 5.0, plans for new one?)
b. Verizon PC5750 PC Card: Price with Contract = Free
c. Unlimited Data Plan = $60/laptop X 2 = $120/month
d. 2 Year Total Cost = $3180

10. Additional Costs OVER Existing Roadrunner Cable Modem Service
a. Do not need to include cost of T-mobile Wing -- if no changes were being made to internet service, I would still buy a wing (excluded = $300) - so this is not really an extra cost.
i. The adjusted cost over 2 years with that considered-credit then is as follows
T-mobile = $3000 - $300 = $2700
AT&T = $3110 - $300 = $2810
Spring = $3200 - $300 = $2900
VERIZON = $3180 - $300 = $2880
b. Roadrunner Cost Per Month
i. Currently have Digital Combo Package = Cable + Roadrunner = $79/month
ii. Digital Cable Alone is $60/month
iii. Thus, the Roadrunner incurred cost = $19/month
iv. We would keep basic cable if we canceled the internet, thus, our bill would only derease by approximately $22/month (when taxes are included)
v. The savings of 2 years of this service decrease = $22 X 24 = $528
c. The additional cost after 2 years of cellular-company based wireless is
i. T-Mobile = $2700 - $528 = $2172
ii. AT&T = $2810 - $528 = $2282
iii. SPRINT = $2900 - $528 = $2372
iv. VERIZON = $2880 - $528 = $2352

11. 2 Year Costs PER Laptop
a. T-mobile: Network Card $150 + Internet Access $50/month ($1200) = $1350 - $528 = $830
b. AT&T = Internet Access $55/month ($1320) - $528 = $792
c. SPRINT = Network Card $10 + Internet Access $60/month ($1320) = $1330 - $528 = $802
d. VERIZON = Internet Access $60/month ($1440) - $528 = $912

In May, I will likely just "upgrade" (not much of an upgrade) from my current T-mobile MDA to the T-mobile Wing - mostly for mechanical reasons (my MDA takes a daily beating and it is starting to show). With two computers, you just pay way too much for the internet access - essentially paying more than double what it's probably worth. Anyway, with one computer, things are a little more attractive (as low as a $792 luxury fee to have this service if you go with AT&T).

With more than one computer and still high prices, another 2 years as a T-mobile customer is likely (will go to 10th year of T-mobile at that point I believe). I'm not happy that this company hasn't made infrastructure upgrades and I'm even more unhappy that the cost of true wireless seems ridiculous compared to the traditional cable modem/wireless router/hit up paneras approach I currently employ. My guess is that this may be cheaper and easier in a few other countries out there.

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