Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘T-Mobile’

Starbucks to dump T-Mobile, offer almost-free wi-fi

Posted by Fred on February 11, 2008

Starbucks_Coffee Starbucks has announced that it is dumping T-Mobile in favor of AT&T to power Wi-Fi access at its 7,000 company-owned stores.  With the move, Starbucks is moving closer to free wi-fi, but is not quite there yet.  Wi-Fi will be free for AT&T customers, and it will be free for two hours per day for Starbucks Card holders (Starbucks Cards cost only the value you put on them, so that’s pretty much everyone in the world).  This has allowed Starbucks to claim they’re offering “free” access, and caused the coverage to skew that way , but it’s not really true.  Everyone else will pay $3.99 for a two-hour session or $19.99 per month for unlimited access at Starbucks and any other AT&T hotspot.  This makes it quite a bit cheaper than the existing plan – T-Mobile charges $39.99 for unlimited national access, although it does offer a $9.99 DayPass, which may be a better deal than the two-hour AT&T pass if you plan to use the service for more than four hours in a day.

Given the incremental cost of providing wi-fi, there’s little economic justification for charging $2 per hour for wi-fi.  It’s nice to see Starbucks getting cheaper, but there remain plenty of free alternatives.  Panera provides free wi-fi at about 1,200 cafes, and local options abound. In Richmond, you can get free access at Bakers Crust, Captain Buzzy’s, Coffee Nostra, the Daily Grind, Stir Crazy, Ukrop’s and probably a whole bunch of other places. The java’s better at most of those places, too.

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T-Mobile shows how to hurt your customers and decrease profits

Posted by Fred on January 23, 2008

I’ve complained before about AT&T’s idiotic crippled implementation of Java, which prevents customers from installing and using any application that needs to access the Internet.  According to Gearlog, T-Mobile is no better:

The V8 is a 500 Mhz, Linux-running powerhouse with two gorgeous screens. I know application developers who would love to write software for it. But as with all of their feature phones, T-Mobile forbids any third party Java applications from being installed on the device. They’re basically trying to sell it as an overpriced voice phone, which is like buying a Voodoo PC to run Microsoft Word, or getting a car with a V12 to drive to the store. It makes no sense. (I gave it an Editor’s Choice anyway, for the voice quality. Go figure.)

T-Mobile’s idiotic, incomprehensible and self-defeating policy only gets stupider with time. I get it: they can’t build a 3G network, so they’re going to pretend data services don’t exist. But the lack of 3G hasn’t stopped the iPhone from taking over the multimedia universe, and T-Mobile has a far better position in Wi-Fi than AT&T does. If T-Mobile stopped arbitrarily barring third party applications from feature phones it wouldn’t make them a data leader, but heck, it’d be a start.

These carriers are still operating with the mindset of a monopolist, in which the customer is beholden to the provider for all services, and any third-party competitors should be blocked.  AT&T and T-Mobile keep their customers from installing Opera Mini, and do everything possible to boost their own for-pay services, such as TeleNav. Comcast’s new TiVo DVR strips out anything that could conceivably take revenue from Comcast, such as Amazon Unbox downloads. It makes perfect economic sense, but it’s terrible for the customer.  They don’t want to hear it, but these companies are infrastructure companies that should supply the capability for customers to use any product or service they choose.  They should be dumb pipes. Instead they’re just dumb.

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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: Choose Us, We Suck Less!

Posted by Fred on December 3, 2007

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson doesn’t think of Verizon’s promise to (sorta) open its network:

Stephenson also used the event to scoff at Verizon’s splashy Nov. 27 announcement that it plans to open its network to hardware and software not sold by the company. AT&T, he declared, is “probably one of the most open networks in the world.””We have thousands of people developing into our architecture today. All of the handsets we sell are Java-equipped. Who doesn’t know how to develop into Java, right?” Stephenson said. “If you want to buy a handset on our network without a contract, fine. Just pay retail price for the handset. Right? The only reason we make people sign a contract is if we’re subsidizing it heavily.”

He added, “[All carriers] are all going to be open over time.”

OK, let’s count the errors and misstatements in that excerpt. All AT&T handsets are Java-equipped? Nope.  The iPhone doesn’t have Java at all.  Plus, many of the handsets AT&T sells are crippled.  My Blackjack has Java, technically.  But I can’t run two of the most popular third-party Java applications on it (Opera Mini and Gmail) because the phone asks for permission every time either application needs to send data outbound (i.e. all the time).  May as well not have Java at all.  Applications that I buy from the AT&T store work just fine, of course.

The only reason they make you sign a contract is if they are subsidizing a phone heavily?  Also nope.  The iPhone isn’t subsidized by AT&T at all and you still have to sign a contract.  It’s probably true that AT&T is more open than Verizon (not open at all) or T-mobile (less open, and even more restrictive when it comes to Java).  It’s also probably true that all networks will eventually be open, either by market dynamics or governmental fiat.  Everything else Stephenson says is just blatantly untrue, and amounts to “choose us – we suck less.”

[via Engadget Mobile]

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AT&T rolls out 3G in Richmond

Posted by Fred on November 13, 2007

At some point yesterday, I noticed that my Blackjack was showing this:

3g.png

Up to now, I had to got to Alexandria to get 3G service from AT&T.  This is great news, as I really miss having the high-speed service when I return from DC.  The 3G penetration seems to be pretty good, too. I have 3G in my house and in my office.  It would have been nice to have during the playoffs, when I used MLB’s mobile site to keep track of the scores.  Now I may even using WM5’s internet connection sharing feature around town when Wi-Fi’s not available.

With that said, AT&T still sucks.  Here’s my current list of gripes:

  • Still no WM6 upgrade for the Blackjack.  The delay is completely ridiculous, and with the BJ2 coming out, there’s no reason to think AT&T will release it any time soon. Yes, there are leaked ROMs, but no thanks.  And I won’t drop more cash on a BJII just to get Office Mobile and HTML mail.
  • Coverage is still weak.  I often take the Amtrak from Richmond to DC, and frequently have no signal at all between Ashland and Fredericksburg.  The coverage map says I should have a signal, but I don’t.  Meanwhile, my fellow travelers who are on Verizon and Alltel chat away (I don’t want to talk on the train, but I would like to get online).
  • The data plans are still too expensive.  AT&T insists that the Blackjack is a PDA, not a smartphone, so you have to go with a PDA Connect plan, which starts at $45 for unlimited data.   The Smartphone Connect plan is only $20 for unlimited data.  AT&T’s price is roughly comparable to Verizon, which charges $45 for unlimited data or $80 for data plus 450 minutes. With T-Mobile, you pay $40, but that also appears to include unlimited T-Mobile hot spot usage, which you’d pay an additional $20 to $40 a month for.

I’d really love to drop AT&T, but even a prorated ETF would cost too much.

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