I gave my Nexus One to Susan, so I was without a phone for the last week. Well, that isn’t accurate; I was without a handset device. Today I remedied that, so let me explain my setup.
The number on my contact page is a Google Voice number. I’ve had it since it was Grand Central, because back in the day I used to sign up for everything. Oh, so young and full of energy back then! Anyhow, the reason I freely give out my number is because I am normally identified as male, which unfairly cuts out most of the creeps on the web from calling me, and also because the service treats phone calls like any type of messaging, which includes being able to block people and mark them as spam, etc. Pretty neat stuff, actually.
When I bought the tablet I sent out a message to my contacts that my number had changed. I gave them my GV number instead of the assigned number from T-Mobile. I was hesitant about this at first, because I don’t like giving Google any personal information. However, I can say the same thing of T-Mobile. I don’t trust Google, but I despise T-Mobile and all the major mobile carriers. But I will get to that in a later post.
It turns out that the decision worked out well, since now I could text with people from my phone, tablet or any web browser. Calls I get to the GV number are automatically routed to my phone. That almost doesn’t matter, since I hardly make or take calls except from three people (Jason, after each good episode of Naruto or Bleach, Kevin, while he is driving around for work, or I am walking to pie, and Susan, because she is awesome).
The important thing for me was having the data plan on our phones, and being able to connect my tablet to my N1 but making it a wireless access point. An interesting side note, when the manager of the local T-Mobile store asked me why I didn’t buy a data plan with the tablet, I told him I connected it to my phone. He asked me if that still worked, because I should get a message that says I need to buy a new plan. I blinked at him; it is obvious that he doesn’t understand what is happening in his industry. It was nice to leave the tablet home sometimes, like when I walked to the corner store and wanted to read my feeds while in line, it was just easier to carry. But for the most part I very rarely leave the house without the tablet (which is a Galaxy Tab, the 7-inch version, which is the perfect size for me).
So, when I no longer had the N1, my configuration had to change a little. Putting my SIM card into the tablet lets me send and receive text messages to the number, but I can’t connect to the data network. I’ve gotten all kinds of half-assed excuses as to why that is, including a line of reasoning that went all the way up to the government not allowing tablets to use the same frequencies as smart phones. Okay, whatever. The point is, I could make calls except through a web browser, and I couldn’t connect to the internet on the tablet while abroad (without wifi).
Not being in a contract means we pay full price for our devices, but it also means that we can move our plan options around with a minimal amount of fuss. Susan and I are on a family plan with shared minutes, text and data. So I turned off the data on our plan, leaving just voice and text. Then I turned on data just on her line, and bought the cheapest Nokia (2330) they had for my voice line. So, I can make calls on a dedicated device, and I need to charge it about once a week.
After that was taken care of, I bought the data plan they sell for the tablet, which is $40 a month (they have a cheaper one for $25, but it is capped at only 200MB, and I know I go past that each month). Now my tablet is on the network wherever I go, including the Transbay Tube. Really, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a signal (except my house, for some reason, but I have wifi here).
All in all, our monthly bill goes up about $15, and we will probably cancel that out when we drop the text portion or our plan, after a Google Voice trial for Susan, to make sure it works well enough. Also, as soon as a stable ROM image is released for my tablet, I will flash it and try the smart phone data plan again, to see if it works. If it does, I will switch back to our shared plan with data.
I can do all this because of three primary circumstances:
- I am not dependent on voice communications for anything besides leisure, and even that is a marginal percentage of the communications I have with my tribe.
- We are not in a contract. I've been told that it would be more complicated, but still doable, if I were in a contract. I don't think so. I can add features and drop features without paying any fees (besides line activation, which is waived in my case [AAA discount]). Contracts are how the carriers screw over lower income customers.
- Phones are becoming more and more irrelevant to communicating. These network technologies are disruptive, and the monopoly that the carriers have over the cultural tendency is slipping.
My child will be able to talk to me anytime they want, and without needing the infrastructure the carriers own. We will have alternatives and open standards that change the way we route packets. In the meantime low-level employees will suggest that the government mandates they charge their customers differently for each class of device.
Time for them to join the publishing and music industry; adapt, or get out of the way.