PermaLink T-Mobile's EDGE service03/11/2006 09:46 PM

Some of you know that I dumped AT&T (now Cingular) several years ago.  Recently, I changed up to using a device that makes use of EDGE service, and here's what I've seen so far.

The T-Mobile MDA is holding up well, and I've been doing some testing to see what kind of effective throughput I can get out of the thing.  When I was with AT&T Wireless (now part of Cingular), I was paying $12.99 a month for a piss-poor 4 megabytes' worth of transfer.  Yeah.  By the byte.

I moved to T-Mobile, and picked up a package where I pay $20 a month for unlimited data transfer.  The speed used to be OK with my old Sony T610, which is not an EDGE-capable phone, averaging around 35kbps.  The new MDA, which handles EDGE, has clocked in at anywhere from 130 to 171kbps.


Suddenly, visiting from a handheld is a reasonably tolerable experience.  What's interesting about their GPRS service is that there are times I can actually get a usable connection even though I can't actually make a voice call.

Now, just to bust on Cingular, I have to point out that even now, they offer incredibly crappy data plans, the majority priced by the byte.  At Lotusphere a few years ago, I talked with an AT&T Wireless guy just before I switched to T-Mobile, and he pointed out that they offer exactly one "unlimited data" plan, and it's... $79.99.  Now, to their lame credit, they also offer a "PDA Connect" plan, which is unlimited data usable only by a PDA (so, presumably, you can't do what I do, and bounce your laptop off your phone and eat bytes that way), and even that is $44.99.

All Cingular appears to have done is take AT&T Wireless' crappy plans and inane, convoluted website, stick a Cingular logo on it and toss it back out there.  No wonder everybody but Cingular is doing well with mobile data devices.  Verizon offers an unlimited-data plan for $50 a month, though admittedly, it has a strictly pay-as-you-talk setup for voice calls, so if you need both voice and data, I still think T-Mobile would be cheaper.  They don't offer that many cool phones, though... they really want to push you toward Blackberry.

Sometimes I just like it when I make a choice and it keeps working out well.

By the way, if you want to know how to use your Windows Mobile 5 smartphone or PDA as a wireless Bluetooth modem under Mac OS X, take a look at Justin Blanton's site and blog where he explains how to do it.  He has instructions for both Cingular and T-Mobile, and has a link to an iPAQ driver which works with the T-Mobile MDA and other related WM5 devices.
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2. Turtle03/13/2006 01:02:58 PM

Short answers:

Yes, I've been using the unlimited data for years and EDGE for two weeks.

Yes, it works as a BT modem for an Apple... if you wanna try doing it with Windows, search the web and there's probably a way to do it (or just plug it in with a USB cable and use the Windows Modem thingie).

Seems like you'd be OK on the aboveground sections of your commute, but anything subterranean, all bets are off.

What I've noticed about most data-capable phones is that if you're on a data connection, you can turn around and initiate a call, but if you're on a voice call and you try doing data, it hangs up the voice connection (rather annoying). I have no idea what happens if you're on data and someone calls you. It's never happened.


3. Greyhawk6803/13/2006 11:55:52 AM

So you ARE using the $20 a month EDGE service with the phone right now? And it IS working as a modem for your laptop?

I commute an hour on the train each way to Chicago every day, and being able to suck data into the laptop in an unlimited fashion would be VERY cool.

When you are using data, can you send/receive calls at all?


P.S. Thanks again man, you're doing all my initial testing FOR me.

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