I've been notified my carrier will no longer support my existing
> wireless. (It's time to retire it anyway, the coffee can I use as the
> sounder is rusting out*.)
> It's down to Verizon or Cingular. Any thoughts on whose is better
> today? Things are changing so fast that one carrier who was good
> yesterday may be lousy today.
> Shopping for a new phone is frustrating. First, my current plan,
> perfect for my needs, is only $20/month and feasible new plans are
> $40/ month. That bugs me. There are cheaper plans, but with so many
> strings attached it's not worth it.
> I learned that when you use the phone during peak times, your offpeak
> "anytime" minutes still drops as well.
> Secondly, I've had more honest treatment from shady used car salesmen.
> From the carrier's own stores, one told me I could pay $35 a month but
> had to get a new number (why????). One said minimum of $20 for a new
> phone, another said $10 for a new phone, and online it is free! They
> want me to buy a fancy Blackberry. They tell me a phone has features
> that it doesn't have.
> I've talked to friends, but nobody knows what they actually pay or
> anything about their phone. It seems they're happy to pay whatever
> ($50 or more) every month. Some have family plans.
> Naturally I want reliability. The literature isn't up to date since
> it points to analog as a backup when digital won't work. Analog is
> gone so that's irrelevent. If the digital doesn't work, the phone is > dead.
> Another issue is the "activation fee" ($35). I presume if you
> pressure them they will waive it?
> Another issue is accessories. I need a protective case, a charger for
> home. Aren't these included with the phone?
> BATTERY: With my original phone I bought an extra battery as a spare
> and I'm glad I did. But with modern phones is an extra battery still
> needed when the phone is rarely used? Do the batteries run down even
> when the phone is off?
> Likewise, I got a car charger which is critical to me since I can use
> the phone in the car even when the batteries are low or dead. But
> perhaps new batteries will last better and that won't be necessary.
> Batteries seem to run: standby -- 240-336 hours, digital talk 4-6
> hours. Any particular value to look for?
> * For those unfamiliar with the reference, in the days of Morse Code
> telegraphy, the faint clicks of the sounder were amplified by a metal > coffee can.
> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And I might add, in the days of party-
> line phones, galvanized wash tubs served the same purpose: to amplify
> the clicks of the bell clapper on the other-parties phones. Speaking
> of idiotic television commercials pertaining to cell phones, I am
> now seeing one from Cellular One. For a mere fifty dollars per month, they
> will sell you a phone on their 'statewide plan'. For fifty dollars per
> month, you are then allowed to make unlimited calls within your state.
> Is that supposed to be a good deal, or what? Note I said 'Cellular One'
> NOT 'Cingular Wireless.' PAT]
Much like you I was pretty frustrated with the "big" wireless providers. So I turned my back on the lot of them and bought a "TracFone". It's pretty bare bones -- it rings and you answer it. There's no way you can use it to determine when high tide in Honolulu will be or what the winning lottery numbers are. But it gives me reasonable coverage (here in Portland, Oregon) and the price is reasonable (~33 cents per minute but no contract, no big termination fees). I can't vouch for its' nation wide coverage or how much roaming costs or what texting might cost. But I went to the store, bought a phone for 25 bucks and an hour of airtime for $20 and I was off. That was several months ago and I'm still happy! "Recharge" the minutes from time to time and you're all set!