Thursday, July 05, 2007

Maybe I won't wait another year

by Ken Houghton

Courtesy of the Freakers Blog, David Pogue notes that T-Mobile has made Starbucks an even better Place to Be:
Here’s the basic idea. If you’re willing to pay $10 a month on top of a regular T-Mobile voice plan, you get a special cellphone. When you’re out and about, it works like any other phone; calls eat up your monthly minutes as usual.

But when it’s in a Wi-Fi wireless Internet hot spot, this phone offers a huge bargain: all your calls are free. You use it and dial it the same as always — you still get call hold, caller ID, three-way calling and all the other features — but now your voice is carried by the Internet rather than the cellular airwaves....

O.K., but how often are you in a Wi-Fi hot spot? With this plan, about 14 hours a day. T-Mobile gives you a wireless router (transmitter) for your house — also free, after a $50 rebate. Connect it to your high-speed Internet modem, and in about a minute, you’ve got a wireless home network. Your computer can use it to surf the Web wirelessly — and now all of your home phone calls are free.

You know how people never seem to have good phone reception in their homes? How they have to huddle next to a window to make calls? That’s all over now. The free router is like a little T-Mobile cell tower right in your house.

I said Chez DeLong that being short the iPhone is probably at least a short-term productivity gain. Now it looks as if it's a cash savings as well.

If it turns out that FiOS was my least utile utility purchase of the year, I'll be very happy.

Tom Adds: The Freakonomics game just linked to Pogue, so it can fall to me to excerpt the most freakonomic part of the story:
Have T-Mobile’s accountants gone quietly mad? Why would they give away the farm like this?

Because T-Mobile benefits, too. Let’s face it: T-Mobile’s cellular network is not on par with, say, Verizon’s. But improving its network means spending millions of dollars on new cell towers. It’s far less expensive just to hand out free home routers.

Furthermore, every call you make via Wi-Fi is one less call clogging T-Mobile’s cellular network, further reducing the company’s need to spend on network upgrades. [emphasis added]
Take a look at t-mobile's map. It looks like Madison is included. Sort of. As a roaming place. Which, according to their site, means nothing at all in terms of cost of calls. But if you then go ahead and inquire about setting up service, you get the nice message telling us that we are not covered. So what does this say about the scope of their service? Or am I missing something?
Welcome back, Nina!

Maybe the T-Mobile deal is better for non-Madisonians. Or maybe they don't have their cellular and Wi-Fi divisions well-enough connected.
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