Cell phone plans are changing

If you’re a cell phone plan geek (and certainly someone out there is, right?), last week was pretty interesting for you. First AT&T announced they’d be eliminating one plan and halving the data limit on a more expensive plan. Then T-Mobile followed up with their announcement of going to a single post-paid offering. This unlimited plan has some limits, which the EFF is looking into for a possible net neutrality complaint.

Moore’s law is an observation of the count of transistors on an integrated circuit over time, but it has been more broadly generalized to apply to many aspects of technology. Of particular note is the general trend of a technology to become significantly cheaper over time. This does not seem to be the case in the world of mobile phone service, which should be an immediate red flag for anti-consumer behavior.

I compared my current T-Mobile bill to my hypothetical bill under the new “T-Mobile One.” We pay $50/month for the unlimited talk/text plan, plus $20/month for my line (which includes unlimited data) and $15/month for my wife’s line (6 GB of data per month). The total bill before taxes and fees comes to $85/month. With T-Mobile One, we’d pay $120/month ($130 if we don’t autopay). This $35/month increase adds service that I’d pay just $5 more to get and also takes away the ability to use my phone as a WiFi hotspot (without being throttled to 2G speeds or paying an additional $3/GB).

I’ll admit that I don’t use my phone as a hotspot, in part because the coverage is questionable (or non-existent) in a lot of places that I might want to use it. But I’m already overpaying for data: my wife uses a few hundred megabytes a month and I average around 1 gigabyte or so. Only in July of this year when I was out of town for three of four weeks did I use more than 6 GB, and even then it was only 8 GB.

Perhaps if T-Mobile were going to put that extra money into expanding coverage, I’d be more inclined to go along with their plan. Instead, if I were to switch I’d get the same level of technology for a higher price. That’s not how this is supposed to work. It’s not clear at this point if existing customers will be able to keep their current plan. I assume in the short term that will be the case. If I’m forced to change at some point, I’ll have to go with a different carrier. If I’m going to get raked over the coals on price, I might as well get coverage.

The first few weeks with the N900, part 2

This is part 2 of my review of the N900.  Part 1 includes “Unboxing”, “The screen”, “Connectivity”, “Web browsing”, and “The camera and other multimedia goodness.”  Part 2 includes “E-mail, calendar, contacts, and instant messaging”, “Other applications”, and “The phone.” Continue reading

The first few weeks with the N900, part 1

Three months to the day after I first wrote about the N900, Nokia’s newest smartphone ended up on my desk.  Since I’ve talked so much about it on Twitter (and since I had to lobby my wife aggressively to let me buy it), I think I owe the world my review.  I get the feeling that this review will end up focusing on a lot of the negatives, but don’t misunderstand me: I really like this phone.  The N900 is great phone with a lot of potential, but it is currently an early-adopter’s phone.  I’m generally not one to play the early adopter game, but this time around I couldn’t help myself. Continue reading

It’s a bad week to be AT&T

AT&T, like any other large company, has had it’s share of bad news.  Things like delayed support of MMS on the iPhone and complicity in warrantless wiretapping caused a stir, but nothing like the week the telecom giant has had so far this week.

On Sunday, AT&T began blocking traffic for img.4chan.org one of the most influential DNS entries in all Internetdom.  If you’re not familiar with 4chat, that’s a good thing.  Just know that’s where things like LOLcats and federal charges come from.  The best and worst the Internet has to offer.  Although some might not admit it, everyone who maintains an Internet presence lives in fear of angering 4chan and the Anonymous legion.  Apparently, someone at AT&T forgot their fears.  Wired later reported that AT&T was actually responding to a DDoS attack from 4chan, that was in turn a response to a DDoS from an unknown source.  Will this fact stop the b-tards from seeking revenge?

Perhaps they won’t need to.  Someone at AT&T seems intent on doing that to themselves.  Some poorly coded PHP exposed the files on www.research.att.com to the public on Monday.  Not just the files they wanted you to see, but things like /etc/passwd, the /proc filesystem, and so on.  While is it doesn’t appear that any sensitive customer or corporate data has been exposed, it certainly has given a potential attacker a lot more information than a normal web server should expose.  It is a very basic, simple mistake with broad consequences.

As of Monday evening, the ban hammer had been lifted from 4chan, and the www.research.att.com web server was blocking external traffic, presumably to guard against further exposure until they fix…the glitch.  The end result of this appears to be mostly bad karma on the Internet with little in the way of actual damange, but AT&T has had a rough week.  In fact, word Tuesday is that the removal of Google Voice-enabled apps from the iTunes app store is AT&T’s fault.  Can anything go right for them?