Phone Smart A Wi-Fi Alternative When the Network Gets Clogged
By BOB TEDESCHI The New York Times September 24, 2009
Talk about falling short of expectations.
In the last year, millions of people have snapped up new smartphones, filled them with apps and promptly found out that they couldn't actually use them.
The problem? Either the much-hyped 3G pipeline was clogged with other users, or the cell connection wasn't even good enough to ring the 3G bell in the first place. AT&T users have had it the worst, thanks to the network's iPhone data hogs.
Carriers are quickly adding high-speed network capacity, but in the meantime, AT&T and T-Mobile are throwing another lifeline to customers in the form of Wi-Fi. Both are making it easier to connect to wireless hot spots with their phones, in an effort to deliver fast data and clear calls in areas where neither might be possible.
In this respect, AT&T has been the most aggressive of any carrier. The company said this month that customers with a Windows Mobile phone could now connect freely at any of the company's roughly 20,000 hot spots.
AT&T claims to sell more Windows Mobile phones than any other carrier, and with the introduction of Windows Mobile version 6.5 next month and new Windows phones like the HTC Touch Pro2, it stands to sell more. Now all Windows Mobile users can duck into a Starbucks, among the many other locations with AT&T Wi-Fi, and the phone will automatically route data and calls over a high-speed Internet connection.
Many people with iPhones and AT&T BlackBerrys don't know it, but this perk has been available to them for months. The difficulty, of course, is finding a free hot spot when you need it.