T-Mobile lowers unlimited GPRS fee

by Todd Ogasawara

Those of us of a certain age (Jurassic Coders) remember when dial-up analog modem services charged by the hour for online access. And, there was a surcharge for using a faster 9600bps (not Kbps or Mbps) modem. It forced us to limit our online usage and constrained the kind of services that could be used on a budget.


Wireless data access (CDMA/CDMA 1XRT and GSM/GPRS) in the US forced those same constraints on wireless users until today. Until today, I paid $19.99/month for 10 megabytes of data access using T-Mobile's GPRS service. Then, I read a note on PocketPCThoughts.com that said T-Mobile changed their GPRS plans today to a single plan that charges $29.99/month for unlimited data-only service or $19.99/month if you have a $29.99[or more] voice plan.


It took a couple of phone call attempts to T-Mobile's customer service to find a representative who knew about the new plan and could help me. But, once I found that person, it was confirmed that I could switch from my old plan to the new one and that the change would take effect in two hours.


This completely changes the way I will use my Pocket PC Phone Edition to access data using GPRS. I'm already thinking of how I can benefit from increasing my on-the-go web and email access.

What kind of changes will you make in your T-Mobile GPRS data usage now?


13 Comments

anonymous2
2003-06-11 14:24:22
Thanks
Thanks for the info.
Mark
theoldmoose
2003-06-11 14:28:37
Actually, CDMA 1XRT has been unlimited for some time, now
Sprint PCS Vision service (which is what they monikered their data service for their handsets) was, until recently, $10 a month for unlimited max 144 kbps service (typically about 50-60 kpbs). This seems to be the best kept secret for cellular data connectivity in the industry. They recently upped that rate to $15 a month, by bundling 'premium' services that as far as I can tell, no one really wants. At $15, it's still a great deal.


What was even better, was that a couple of handsets (the Samsung A500 among them, which I own) sold by Sprint sport a USB client connection, that coupled with an adapter cable, would allow you to wirelessly surf with your laptop. It was really great being able to check my email and keep up-to-date on various web sites while riding the Amtrak from Ann Arbor to Montana. The Sprint signals persisted as far as Fargo, ND., with almost solid coverage the entire way. Unfortunately, Sprint has not wired the remainder of ND or MT, yet. But it was fun (and useful) while it lasted.


Considering that Sprint also markets an expensive PC card ($300) and data service (unlimited now for $80 a month, I believe -- the price keeps changing, trying to compete with current market prices), Sprint re-wrote their handset terms of service (*after* they sold me the connectable handset *and* the required data cable [now removed from their stores and website] *and* the software [which is *still* available on their web site for customers to download for free]) that forbids anyone from connecting their Vision-enabled handsets to a PDA or laptop. Sprint seems to be concerned that someone that uses a PDA or laptop will consume much more bandwidth than a handset, with its tiny screen and miniscule memory.


Sprint threatens to terminate accounts of anyone caught hooking their handsets up. So far, there have been no documented first-person accounts of anyone being terminated for actually doing so, and most folks agree that if they behave themselves (not set up any Kazaa servers, for instance) that casual PDA or laptop usage will be tolerated, and so far, this seems to be the case.


Connecting to a PDA is problematic, still, because most (all?) PDAs do not sport a USB host port. There is now a couple of companies that claim to have CF cards with USB host connectors on them, but I've not seen one myself, yet. The first had only PocketPC drivers (I'm a Linux user, myself). Thankfully, a company just announced a card bundled with drivers for my Linux-based Zaurus, although it is only available in the EU at the moment. It will be fun checking it out, as the Zaurus has a much nicer screen (320x240 viewable in direct sunlight) and browser (Opera) than the WAP-only browser supplied on the A500 handset, which also suffers from only 256Kbytes of memory.


Come to think of it, Sprint sells the Samsung i330, which is an integrated Palm PDA and cell phone. I wonder if their terms of service would forbid a customer from using the built-in Blazer browser on their Vision service? Naaah...

toddogas
2003-06-11 15:20:28
Actually, CDMA 1XRT has been unlimited for some time, now
Hey, thanks for the Sprint PCS unlimited CMDA1XRT info. The last time I looked (a few months ago) they were on a metered plan. This is great news. This will help us all develop and use more and better wireless services.


Does the Zaurus support Bluetooth? If so, I believe Sprint PCS sells or will soon sell a Sony-Ericsson handset with Bluetooth (the first CMDA Bluetooth phone in their line).

theoldmoose
2003-06-12 09:36:18
Actually, CDMA 1XRT has been unlimited for some time, now
No problem. Like I said, Sprint's marketing of their service as 'Vision' seems to undermine getting the word out that it really is a good deal, and can be used for more than sending tiny, poor quality pictures of your rat to your mom (re: recent commercial -- fine print sez: Images and sound clips simulated -- you betcha' 8-).


The Zaurus supports Bluetooth, after a fashion. If you follow the Affix project at http://affix.sourceforge.net/, you will find references to Zaurus Bluetooth ipk's at http://affix.sourceforge.net/feeds/unstable/zaurus/.


Also, there is a QT-based front end, found at http://affix.sourceforge.net/afe/.


The CF card that I have though (Brainboxes BL-565), is not in the currently supported cards list, so it is not plug 'n play to the PCMCIA scripts. I've tinkered with it some and gotten the driver to recognize the card by forcing insmods, but not taken the time to wrestle things into place, so I don't have to type a bunch of commands into the terminal app to get it up and running. At one time, I had a PPP/dial-up connection running with a Windows desktop system that was running the standard Widcomm softare you find bundled with nearly everything.


Rumors have been rampant for quite a while about Sprint releasing BT-enabled phone(s). It would be nice if they actually did bring one out, finally, but when I last talked with them, they stated that Bluetooth was an 'advanced' feature and too complex for their customer base. That might more properly translate to, 'we don't know how to support this, so we are going to ignore it'.

gbshuler
2003-06-12 09:46:37
Sprint PCS and Sony-Ericcson
I visited the Sprint PCS web site and saw no mention of Sony Ericcson phones.
http://www1.sprintpcs.com/explore/PhonesAccessories/Phones.jsp


However, Apple recently announced new iSync 1.1 software. The accompanying web page hints:


"..The latest version expands support for the pioneering Sony Ericsson Bluetooth lineup to include the sleek new T610, the T608 for Sprint PCS, and the powerful P800.. "


Source: http://www.apple.com/isync/


This implies Sprint PCS might be offering the T610, T608, and P800 soon?

gbshuler
2003-06-12 15:30:23
What is the 20 cents/minute calling fee?
I see the T-Mobile Internet Unlimited plan costs $29.99 per month, but there is a "20 cents/minute calling" fee also.
http://www.t-mobile.com/plans/default.asp


What is this extra per-minute fee for?


I am thinking of signing up (free after-rebate Nokia 3650 from Amazon.com right now). Is the $29.99/mth in addition to the $39.99/mth for a typical 600 minute talk-only plan?


Thanks

toddogas
2003-06-12 16:49:55
What is the 20 cents/minute calling fee?
First, I am not associated with T-Mobile except as a customer of their service. That said, my understanding is that the $29.99/month unlimited plan is for people who only use the data service and that the 20 cents/minute calling fee is probably for use those times people on this plan make a voice call.


If you have a voice plan that is $29.99 or greater per month, the additional cost for unlimited data is $19.99/month.

toddogas
2003-06-12 16:54:50
Sprint PCS and Sony-Ericcson
The first and last mention of the Sony-Ericsson T608 Bluetooth-enabled phone was in the Sprint PCS April 29, 2003 press release:


Sprint Signs Agreement with Sony Ericsson for Exclusive Distribution of the First CDMA Mobile Phone Featuring Integrated Bluetooth™ Technology


I have not heard/read anything since then though.

anonymous2
2003-06-15 14:52:49
How I will change
hey $19.99 for wifi now $19.99 for gprs - thats all the data I need for$40/mo great deal-I still will use mostly wifi when on road -much faster - my time is money -great to have gprs in a pinch though and when I am not near a hotspot
anonymous2
2003-06-15 14:54:54
cdma and spring vs. gsm
I do business in europe, cdma is a non starter- unlimted on gprs is great - but who needs it ? when i do work I sit down - wifi works best for me in office and out - now that T-mobile has both thats great
anonymous2
2003-06-21 23:17:15
Actually, CDMA 1XRT has been unlimited for some time, now
I have the T-Mobile $29.99 unlimited Internet service, using a Handspring Treo 180 PDA/phone, and its great!
Very easy to work with and connection was flawless. And as soon as I convinced the clerk at T-mobile that they had this new rate plan for Internet, they checked and my phone was working and I was out the door on the 'Net in under 10 minutes!
I already have a wireless phone (NexTel) thru my employer, so the data-only plan worked well for me. And the Treo platform, whether you choose 180/270 for GPRS, or 300 for 1xRTT, is a very nice PDA/phone combo, highly recommended.
I know someone who has a Treo 300 with Sprint service, and yes, it may be a bit faster on average, but at over twice the price, certainly not work the premium for my circumstances, the T-Mobile GPRS service does fine.
The biggest surprise, however, was discovering the awesome software PdaNet by June Fabrics.(weird name) It basically allows you to use the Handspring Treo as a wireless modem with your laptop or PC! Great software, worked flawlessly, very easy. This just makes my purchase of the Treo and GPRS service that much better, now that I can use it while sitting at the airport with my Tablet PC.(when there's no WiFi available)
J
anonymous2
2003-06-24 13:19:36
Sprint PCS and Sony-Ericcson
I asked at a sprint store yesterday (24/June/03) about the T608 and the guy said that he had heard of the phone but said he thought the release date had been pushed back by up to 6 weeks. I told him I had heard that it was supposed to be out sometime this month, and he reiterated that it had been pushed back. So, that will put it sometime in late july.
anonymous2
2003-10-18 12:42:56
Actually, CDMA 1XRT has been unlimited for some time, now
The t608 will be the ONLY sony phone for Sprintpcs. It will be available next month for Telematics and .com purchases only. This will be the only bluetooth enabled phone sold in 2003. The price will be $230 with no rebates. There have been software problems with this phone so the retail release date has been pushed back.