Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I was pleasantly surprised to find an unlocked HTC G1 phone, also known as the Android Developer Phone (in the box) underneath the christmas tree. 

Timing could not have been more perfect as I had been exploring smart phones. Honestly I had been leaning towards the iPhone, because it has Exchange support, required to access my emails at work. I wish my company had never made the move to the proprietary Exchange technology. 

But when I opened the box with a cool geeky Linux powered opensourced Android phone, I was overjoyed. (I already found a couple Android Exchange connector applications.)

The ADP supports GSM, GPRS/Edge, 3G, WIFI, Bluetooth : connection galore. I was on the internet via WIFI in a heartbeat. Gmail, Calendar, RememberTheMilk, Twitter and Facebook worked fabolously (although I am still hoping for an Android native RememberTheMilk application). 

Since I already owned the phone I thought all options were open for a wireless voice/data plan. Wrong

(1) 3G is not 3G . When GSM came to the US, consumers won. You could take your GSM phone from one carrier to the next and shop around. This was true as most phones were able to support various GSM frequencies. Now with 3G, carriers have their monopolies back. AT&T 3G uses a different UTMS band than T-Mobile. It took me a while to find the 3G details about the G1 phone or about the carrier networks: 
Android developer phone specs: quad-band GSM; UMTS on 1700Mhz and 2100Mhz (bands I and IV); works with T-mobile. AT&T uses bands II and V
As a result, 3G for me ment T-Mobile 3G. Let's hope that phone UTMS chips will become quad band UTMS and the consumer will reign again. 

(2) Internet-only plans are not internet-only. With my own phone in hand, I boldly stepped into the T-mobile phone store to get an internet only plan. I still have my old GSM phone and needed to figure out what the best way to transfer my family plan over. Apparently nobody had been that foolish to request this as it was a mystery how to do this. Eventually, after the T-mobile rep spent more than 30 minutes on the phone with their own back end support folks, were they able to set me up for month-to-month internet only ($39.99). If only it were true. I waited for 24 hours to have it all kick in and yet no internet. The reason: I had a G1/ADP. Those require a special internet plan, which is only offered as an add-on to a voice plan. Gotcha capitalism!  I quickly figured out that trying to get internet only was futile (I envisioned the limitations in the activation/setup menus.)

Today I am finally fully empowered: voiceplan, internet, GPRS/Edge, 3G, SMS, and even their favorite five. As we start 2009, the world is at my fingertips!

No comments: