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  1.    #1  
    I am currently on Verizon in the middle of a 2 year contract.
    I'm willing to break that, and consolidate my account and my wife's (ex-Att now cingular) onto one bill.

    I put off getting the T650 from Sprint because I knew GSM was coming. I finally got mine from Vienna last week.

    Here are my issues, which I am sharing because I think it gives a good overview of the choices for new users.

    Cingular - data plan now costs $44.99 for PDA users. But, they have a faster speed (EDGE).
    TMobile - affordable at $19.99/mo but speeds are slower. Coverage not as good as Cingular or Sprint, in the NYC area.
    Sprint - cheapest flat rate data at $15, but it's not GSM.

    One advantage of the unlocked GSM phone is that you can switch carriers at will, but every carrier requires at least a 1 year contract, so I don't see that as much of an advantage anymore. TMo charges $200 to break the contract, VZW is $175.

    So, I've had my GSM 650 sitting in the sealed box for a week. I've been to the Sprint store twice to see/chat but they have been too busy to see me in the course of my lunch hour two days in a row.

    I am leaning towards selling the GSM and going with Sprint, but I can't say that I see a sprint phone I'd like to get for my wife either. Why is CDMA technology so darn clunky?

    Feeback, suggestions welcome.
  2. #2  
    Quote Originally Posted by danix
    So, I've had my GSM 650 sitting in the sealed box for a week.
    Can't offer you much advice on carriers, since that's pretty much a personal choice. However, I would recommend that you at least get the thing out of the box now, charge it up, and use it awhile to see if you have any hardware problems. The Palm Store will reship a replacement within the first 15 days without question, but between days 16 and 30 your only option is to return it for a full refund. This also means that you need to decide if you're going Sprint before the 30-day money-back grace period expires.
    Palm Pilot Personal -> Palm III -> Palm IIIx -> Visor Prism -> Clie TJ37 -> Treo 650 -> GSM Centro
  3.    #3  
    That's a valid point, thanks. I didnt even want to open it since I figured it would have more value for the next owner if I decide to sell it. I supposed I could call for a replacement on day 14 to ensure it's brand new
  4. tcatnat's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that EDGE is not everywhere. If that's one of your deciding factors make sure there is EDGE where you are going to spend most of your time.
  5.    #5  
    Right. If I go with Tmobile, there is a lower price for unlimited internet, but it's slower than EDGE. Cingular has EDGE but they jacked their prices up. Sprint again looks like the winner there, but it's not GSM.

  6. #6  
    Well, I was a Tmobile customer. I wasn't able to buy an unlocked 650 for less than full retail, so I switched to Sprint. (Mostly because I *hate* Cingular with a passion. No offense to those who like 'em. I just don't.) So far, after all of 36 hours of having it in my possession, I like my choice. However, I am by no means a "power user" in any sense of the word. All of my electronic devices have more features than I'll ever actually put to use.
  7.    #7  
    Local shop offered me a new T650 on Cingular for $325 (2 year plan) but said they would have to put me into the PDA plan as even though they still have the old brochures, Cingular no longer accepts the old plan at all on new accounts.
    My other option is to buy a pair of regular phones with Medianet unlimited at the current rate, and put the SIM into my unlocked T650.

    That, or Sprint. I wish I lived in Europe, this is ridiculous.
  8. #8  

    If you are used to the high quality CMDA voice quality from Verizon you are going to hate any GSM carrier. Cingular and ATT used to have the best coverage with their old TDMA networks, but honestly their GSM network pretty much blows for stable calls/data sessions. Tmobile and Cingular also love to rape data customers for access. With Sprint you get even higher voice quality than verizon, and you can jump into the 10 unlimited vision plan.
  9. #9  
    My advice would be to first ask people around you about their experience with phone carriers in the places you spend most of your time. AT&T's GSM service simply did not work in my home office even though their maps show me in an area of great coverage. Then try one out at various times of day driving and walking around the places you spend time.

    Also, don't believe the carriers promises about new towers and faster speeds coming any day now. For me, widespread reliable coverage for voice and data is more important than higher bandwidth in a few locations.

    Here's my carrier selection tale:

    I was a long time AT&T customer (10 years or more) and travel all over the US. Their TDMA network coverage was the best I could find and rates were good. They rented me a GSM phone for trips to Europe and I could take my number with me.

    One day my phone died and I went to the AT&T store for a replacement. The best phones with all the fancy features were GSM models so I tried one. Coverage and call quality were unacceptable. Assuming it was the phone I tried three different brands and used each for a week or so. It was so bad I actually had to use a pay phone several times. Calls would be dropped for no obvious reason. Signal strength went up and down even with the phone sitting on my desk.

    On my way back to AT&T to trade the last GSM phone for my old TDMA model I stopped at Starbucks and happened to notice a Sprint store next door. I wandered in and asked the sales guy what was new. He went in the back room and came out with a Treo 600 that had just arrived the day before. I left the store as a Sprint customer and have been (almost) completely happy. I upgraded to a 650 the day they came out. Call quality is great, coverage is good even in unlikely places when I'm skiing or hiking, data bandwidth is acceptable given the great portability.

    Good luck.
  10. DHart's Avatar
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    I have been a customer of three of the carriers (VZN, TMO, CNG). My wife has been a Sprint customer. As far as a selection of a carrier, it is like most decisions - no one choice is the best for everyone. You need to evaluate what is most important to you. The value that a carrier offers is directly linked to the quality and coverage of its network, how good their customer service is, and how good their technical support is.

    Coverage means how widespread the network is. Two primary factors determine the "quality" of a network - data transmission speed and bandwidth. CDMA technology in the US is ahead of the other primary radio transmission technology, GSM. However, GSM technology is by far the dominant technology in the world, accounting for about 70% of all networks. In other parts of the world (Europe), GSM networks are far superior to both the GSM and CDMA networks in North America. You will see people here talk about how this carrier or that carrier's coverage "sucks". These reports are all anecdotal - not scientific. They happen to be in an area where that carrier's network is "weak" - meaning the carrier's bandwidth in that particular area is thin. The bandwidth a carrier offers in a specific area is determined by tower density, the version of the technology employed (Analog, PCS, 2G, 2.5G, 3G, GPRS, EDGE, HSPDA, EVDO, etc.), the geographical terrain, AND THE POPULATION DENSITY in the area. The "pipe" for voice and data transmission offered by a carrier is finite, so if the number of people using the pipe exceeds the capacity at any point in time you get dropped calls and slow downs in data transmission. Hence, you get conflicting reports from people here about how a particular carrier "sucks" or is "awesome".

    A primary question you need to answer is "Where will I need to use my phone?" If you stay in one area, the choice of CDMA vs GSM is not important. If you travel to foreign countries, the best bet is GSM (which means CNG or TMO). If you travel to foreign countries, the next question is "Will an unlocked phone be a good choice?" The answer is yes, IF you don't care that people in your home area will not be able to call on your home phone number. With an unlocked phone, you can buy a SIM with prepaid minutes from a local carrier and slip it into your phone. If you need to retain your home number, you are stuck with paying the high international roaming rates of your carrier.

    The other factor in the "Where will I use my phone?" is "How good is the network in my home area (where I will use the phone the most)?" You probably already know the answer to that question.

    Another factor is "how good are the customer service, customer policies, and technical support offered by the carrier?" Like it or not, this should be a factor in your decision. You WILL spend more time on the phone than you anticipate with the customer service and technical support people of your selected carrier. The offerings vary greatly from one carrier to another. Ratings are published by industry groups. The ratings below are my perceptions and what I have read of the industry group ratings.

    I am more familiar with GSM networks than CDMA so take my evaluations with a grain of salt. I feel I do have more knowledge than the casual user, however. The division of my company that I work for is a primary supplier to several core network OEM's that build the networks for all of the providers. Our primary customer is the dominant supplier of GSM networks in the world and the patent holders of most GSM technology. In the course of working with the OEM's I have met with representatives in Sweden, Finland, Mexico and the US.

    So here's a rundown of my perception of each carrier's strengths and weaknesses:

    1. VZN - CDMA technology - has the most advanced and the most widespread network in the US. CNG may have more customers (when combined with AT&T), but the Verizon network is the best in the US. Verizon is also the most expensive IMHO. They seem to know they have the best network and charge accordingly. Customer service and technical support are adequate.

    2. Sprint - VZN junior - CDMA technology - smaller network than VZN. Recently announce merger with Nextel. Nextel uses a third, unique, radio transmission technology - IDEN. It has enabled the Walkie-Talkie conversations (known as PTT - Push To Talk) we are all familiar with. With it you can connect rapidly to other Nextel users from Canada to Mexico - at no additonal cost. But the Nextel network is limited in geographic coverage compared to others. IDEN technology is perfect for work groups who need to talk to each other many times per day. It will be interesting to see if and how Sprint uses IDEN. VZN claims to have PTT also, but it is a poor imitation which is almost unusable because of the built-in delay in transmission. Customer service is below Verizon. Technical support is adequate.

    3. TMO - smallest GSM network - parts are co-shared with CNG. The best customer service and technical support in North America. The TMO network technology lags behind CNG in implementation.

    4. CNG - Largest and most technically advanced GSM network in North America. In the process of merging with AT&T. The worst customer service and technical support in North America. If you need to make calls to and from Mexico, CNG offers the best network and cost. The merger with AT&T is (expectedly) causing a lot of chaos and confusion in the customer service ranks about plans and policies. If you deal with Cingular and encounter an obstinate customer service rep, hang up, call back until you get one you can work with. If you are a current AT&T customer, you can buy a 650 from Cingular and get the discount on the phone because the merger is not official yet.

    I use CNG because of the low cost of calling to, from, and within Mexico. One of my current projects is the network buildouts for TelMex (the largest wireline provider in Mexico), TelCel (the largest wireless provider and a division of TelMex), and Telefonica Moviles (the second largest wireless provider). So, in spite of the lousy customer service and technical support, I use CNG because money talks, as they say.

    There are many other factors that could affect your decison. I am sure others will chime in with their thoughts. This is just my .02 cents.
  11. #11  
    I would go with Sprint because for an extra $5 or $10 per month, you can go month to month with no contract. That, with the $15 data plan make it a great deal. If you travel a lot, just get a 2nd GSM Treo 600 on ebay for $300 and use it only outside US with prepaid SIMs.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by danix
    Local shop offered me a new T650 on Cingular for $325 (2 year plan) but said they would have to put me into the PDA plan as even though they still have the old brochures, Cingular no longer accepts the old plan at all on new accounts.
    Mine was $325 / 1 year at a "all brands" store so "work ';m a little"

    As for the PDA plan , forget brochures and all that stuff, not necessary. In a Cingular store or on the web, you get pushed into the PDA plan cause they know you have a 650. But buy at an "all brands" store and they don't tell Cingular what kind of phone you bought.

    I can log onto the Cingular site at any time and add any one of those data plans Media Works, MediaNeet, etc....they are all available to be added with a single click of the mouse. it's pretty the phone and wait for your account to show up on the web. Get used to the other functions of the phone and make sure it's working and you are not gonna return it. THEN, go onto the web site, log into MYAccount, slect Features, selct "available features" and any darn data plan they offer.
  13. #13  
    Why do people say that unlimited data is $44.99? I called in to cingular and got a unlimited data plan which was only $24.99.
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by technomarina
    Why do people say that unlimited data is $44.99? I called in to cingular and got a unlimited data plan which was only $24.99.
    Cause if you add a few bucks to the most expensive plan it sounds better ?

    here's a pastie from their web site:

    Data Connect 20MB $34.99
    Data Connect 10MB $24.99
    PDA Connect - Unlimited $39.99

    MEdia Net - Unlimited $24.99
    MEdia Net - 8 MB/month $19.99
    MEdia Works $19.99

    First three are "suppossed to be" for PDA / for Internet capable phones but, of late, CSR's seem to be giving away the MediaNet and Works plans even when they know you have a 650. I think the plans were set up to hit PDA user a bit harder but I wonder if too many people are saying ""screw that, I will go to to Sprint, they "default to the MediaNet stuff.

    For a while if they knew you had a 650, they steered you to the PDA plans.....and 9 outta 10 CSR's would do this and the other i guess was poorly trained. Way back 3 weeks ago <grin> , the strategy was buy the phone at a brick and mortar "all brands" store and then wait a few days before activating any data plan you wanted yourself via the web site. Now it seems everyone is getting whatever they ask for.

    Cingular provided information for this story for PC Rag and the Treo is featured in the article so I would expect that Cingular is not working all that hard to get peopel in the PDA plam.....I mean it almsost seems as if they will try and get away with it if you let them, but if you whine a bit, they will give you the Media stuff.,1759,1770749,00.asp

    "There are several phones available with EDGE, and if you have one of them and a voice plan, unlimited EDGE costs an inexpensive $24.99 per month as part of the MEdia Net add-on plan, even if you use your phone as a modem for your laptop. This plan, in our opinion, is the best way to go when using EDGE. Cheaper plans are $2.99 per month for 500KB of data, $7.99 for 1MB, and $9.99 for 2MB."
  15. #15  
    What is the difference between these two?

    PDA Connect - Unlimited $39.99
    MEdia Net - Unlimited $24.99

    It sounds that i have the MEdia Net sense i am only paying $24.99. I also have a voice plan also.
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by technomarina
    What is the difference between these two?

    PDA Connect - Unlimited $39.99
    MEdia Net - Unlimited $24.99

    It sounds that i have the MEdia Net sense i am only paying $24.99. I also have a voice plan also.
    Er.....$15. I don't mean to be sarcastic but that is really what it amounts to for the most part. There's some VPN something or other that you will find threads about if you do a search. Basically my guesses so far have been:

    - it was an attempt by Cingular to discourage bandwidth abuse say from people using their Treos to stream web audio 18 hours a day.
    - they might figure out a way to reserve Edge for PDA Plan users only (have no idea if technology available to do this...many here have said no)
    - They will take the $39 if they can get it but will "settle" for the $25 rather than lose a customer.
    - they have no idea what the H-E-double sticks they are going to do and are spending all their time resolving merger issues so that haven't quite figured out what the heck way to go yet.
    - if I go downstairs and have a cocktail or two, I bet I can come up with more.
  17. #17  
    There is a difference according to a post I have read on this forum. Cingular offers a compression technology for mobile web clients that supports this feature (they call it Data Acceleration) and it has different data connection settings (different apn, username, etc in the carrier profile).

    The exact performance gains I cannot vouch for (they claim 2x faster which is reasonable since most data that will be downloaded on the mobile devices - email, web pages, etc. are uncompressed) since I don't subscribe to the pda plan (only the media works), but I can confirm that the connection settings do not work for me (as well as others who were posting on that thread w/o the pda plan) and are most likely provisioned for those who pay more.

    I can confirm that I have seen speeds approaching 80kb/s using the dslreports test on my phone which is considered EDGE, so you are not losing that capability by signing up for media net. however, you might want higher speeds thru compression so it might be worth it for you to subscribe to the pda plan.
  18.    #18  
    OK, I'm still shopping
    Two questions:
    1) If I buy a regular Cingular phone and get Media Net at $19.99 then pop the sim into my Treo, will it work for the same sites and at the same speed as the $44.99 plan? Local shop says no.

    2) With Sprint, what is considered "abuse" of tethering under the vision plan? If I tether for 45 mins in the AM and again at night, is anyone going to have a cow?

    Speculation required on both issues, I know, but that's what we're here for.
  19. DHart's Avatar
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    Not sure about Sprint, but the local shop answer re Cingular speed difference is BS. Many here have documented that there is no speed difference.
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by danix
    1) If I buy a regular Cingular phone and get Media Net at $19.99 then pop the sim into my Treo, will it work for the same sites and at the same speed as the $44.99 plan? Local shop says no.
    Stay out of Cingular shops <grin>. Go into a brick and mortar "all carriers" store. Buy your Treo.....use it as a phone for a few days until your account shows up on Cingular web site. Go in to your account, select add features, select Media need for phone swappie "tricksy hobbits" stuff.

    And you'll save money in the "all carriers" store.....Cingular store wanted 2 year contract and %50 more. Being able to offer "competition" in the same store seems to make pricing and dealing between the carriers more agressive.

    As for the what they know and what they can control issue, I don't know....seems to me it wouldn't be hard to put something in say a firmware update that detects what account type you have and limits speed internally to the device.....but again, some one would figure out a hack within a few months.

    I people with "unlimited data" plans can be listening to their Treos like an Ipod with an FM radio.....streaming audio all day long off some web site and if they wanna have any bandwidth left, methinks they gotta either eventually put a dish on every other house or or put some controls on the service.

    Phones have long worked on multiple bands.....if one band wasn't available it picked up another...seems a manufacturer could stop a phone from picking up on a band if it wanted to. If a phone system can detect "caller ID", it seems it can also monitor and control the signal to that ID. Whether the technology to do it could be made cost effective enough to implement is another story.
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