AT&T's Fiber Bluff

AT&T up to their usual antics again. Scamming, promising and under delivering. I'm just glad to have gotten off their internet and television service. Can't wait to disconnect my mobile phone service from their crappy "unlimited" LTE plan.

Before you get too excited, you need to understand that this is a bluff of immense proportion. It's what I affectionately refer to as "fiber to the press release."

Ever since Google Fiber came on the scene, AT&T's response has been highly theatrical in nature. What AT&T would have the press and public believe is that they're engaged in a massive new deployment of fiber to the home service. What's actually happening is that AT&T is upgrading a few high-end developments where fiber was already in the ground (these users were previously capped at DSL speeds) and pretending it's a serious expansion of fixed-line broadband.

via DSLReports

T-Mobile Unleashed Is NOT So Cheap

At this time, my Early Termination Fees (ETFs) with AT&T are $155 for a line thats due in September of this year. Thats a prorated amount down from $350 in case you're wondering. Let me back up. If you've been following me on twitter, I've been fed up with AT&T's false advertising that sold me a few years ago for a service that CLEARLY said "Unlimited Data" for $30. I use FaceTime quite a bit,1 stream my baby monitor from hundreds of miles away, and sometimes just soak up youtube so yea, I'll easily go over 5GBs a month and trust me, hotel WiFi is horrific! I hate that they expect me to use it in place of a service that I pay for! So back to the story.

If I sell my Apple iPhone 5 64GB White to T-Mobile for $300 and they pay my ETF at $155, that's "$455" in my pocket. The only way they will "Unleash" you is if you trade in your phone, no exceptions. Then I have to buy a FULL priced mobile phone, desirably an iPhone 5s 64GB, for $799. That means, I still have to shell out $344 so that's not that bad of a deal right? That's actually incorrect. Let me explain. I'd be shelling out $499 for my new phone after the trade-in credit followed by a Mastercard Gift Card in the credit amount of $155 in approximately 8 weeks. So I'm out half a grand to "unleash."

tmobile unleash

If I can wait, and probably will, for just six more months, I can unlock my iPhone 5, sell it on the market for maybe $400 or more, then buy a full priced iPhone 6. So yes, I'm still out $399 but, here's where I could save. I could then bring it along with me to T-Mobile, and pay nothing leaving me with just the $70 Unlimited 4G Everything Plan plus a $10 SIM kit. When it comes down to it, I'll be out money obviously later in the year with me upgrading my phone but ideally, I'd rather T-Mobile just pay my ETF now and I bring my current iPhone 5 with me. That's what the deal should have been in the first place.

disclaimer: I signed a 2 year contract with AT&T for a subsidized iPhone 5 so ultimately, with the "Unleash" deal, you still end up paying full price for the device. I could save a bunch of money and purchase Google's Nexus 5 for $349 unlocked online instead but that's a whole other story of iOS vs. Android, etc. I'm not going to go there just yet.

And yes, it's pretty awesome that with the unlimited 4G Data you get an additional 2.5GB of tethering capability.

  1. I use FaceTime about 1-5 minutes almost every couple of hours for a total of 30-60 minutes a day. Sometimes, I'm on for 20 minutes in a row. 

Letdown of an iPhone 5 Experience

After guiding a good friend through his iPhone 5 activation, I told him that it would make for a good story. Here is Manoj Osuri's first 48 hours with his iPhone 5. My initial iPhone 5 experience has been less than ideal, to say the least. It's not that I think it's a bad phone…it's actually pretty awesome, now that I've gotten it working. But it was the "getting it working" part that really tainted the experience.

So one of the things I love about iPhones (and my limited experience with Apple products in general) is how quick and easy it normally is to go from opening the box to enjoying the new device without skipping a beat. I pre-ordered phones for my wife and myself. When they arrived over a week earlier than we initially expected, it felt like Christmas came early.

We both turn our phones on, see that it prompts us to sync it with our iTunes, and run straight to our computers. My wife has an HP running Windows 7, and I have an early 2008 MacBook Pro. Within a couple of minutes, my wife has her phone up and running without any problems. I, on the other hand, get a message saying that my phone cannot sync to any iTunes lower than 10.7. I don't think this is more than just a minor annoyance, but when I try to install it, I find out it won't run on my operating system. I do realize that my OS is old (OS X 10.5... I have no idea what animal that corresponds to in Apple's feline nomenclature), but I kept up with all the available updates, and I don't think it's right that I would be forced to buy a new OS in order to use my phone. A big reason why I spent about 4 times as much money on a laptop 4 years ago was because I was put under the impression that my computer would not go obsolete in a few years. I assumed that paying for new operating systems every couple of years would not be involved in keeping my computer relevant. Luckily, since I'm pretty close to being computer illiterate, Elijah was able to help me get OS X 10.6 installed on my computer, but the process took up my entire afternoon and early evening. While all of that was happening, I had my old phone backing itself up on iCloud (which in hindsight is probably something I should have done before). It took nearly as long, but at least I was able to get my phone working that evening. And because the activation of my new phone had technically started, I had no usable phone the whole time.

After going through all of this, I definitely lost most of my excitement over my new iPhone. Getting this phone was not nearly as awesome of an experience as when I got the 3G or the 4. I guess it really left a bad taste in my mouth that, compared to my wife's setup process, I felt like having an Apple computer made things way harder on me than if I had had a PC. And to make things worse, my story still isn't over….

Now this part is definitely not a knock on Apple, but rather a terrible experience with AT&T. That night, my wife and I went to an AT&T store to combine our separate accounts into a family plan. As I expected, I had to change my number since she has a North Carolina number, and I have a Maryland number. Since NC is considered to be in same regional market as Georgia (we live in Atlanta) it made more sense for me to change my number to an Atlanta area code, and have her keep her old number. (Not to mention that she had to deal with enough hassles with changing her name after we got married, so it was my turn to take one for the team!) So after combining our accounts, I started texting my friends and family my new number. I realized something was wrong when every group-text failed to deliver. (Yes, I checked my settings to make sure it was enabled). So having to text all of my contacts my new number individually added to my annoyance with my new phone. The following day, when I left our condo (and our wifi) I saw that my phone would not connect to the internet. I could still call and text (as long as it wasn't a group text), but no internet. At first I thought it was another phone issue, but after investigating a bit further, I start to think that my data plan never got reactivated after getting the new number. That was confirmed when I called AT&T. The person who helped us at the AT&T store the night before somehow missed that step. But in a way, it was a blessing in disguise, because not only did she forget to reactivate my data plan, but she never actually set up our family plan. She just put both of our individual accounts on the same bill. I probably wouldn't have caught that for a while since I use auto-pay, and we would have ended up paying a lot more than we were supposed to. And I'm not 100% sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if having no active data plan was the reason why I couldn't send group-texts. So most of another afternoon was wasted setting up my new iPhone 5.

All that said, I am happy with my new phone... it's pretty awesome. And while I wasn't really expecting to be blown away by it, I did expect to at least have a fun and exciting experience when I got it. And thanks to all the issues I had, the "new iPhone experience" definitely wasn't fun or exciting.

The Most Popular iPhone 5 is...

According to Sprint's website, the winner is the 16GB iPhone 5 with shipping times posting two weeks out while the 32GB and 64GB show delivery dates of September 21st.  The other two US carriers, Verizon and AT&T show dates of 9/26 and 2-3 weeks ago respectively.  Maybe Verizon has a larger allotment of iPhone 5s Fives?

Of course, if you do chose Sprint, you won't be able to make calls and surf the web simultaneously so chose accordingly. If you're like me and live in San Diego, I don't even see a roll-out date for Sprint LTE so until then, I'll be sticking with AT&T.

Online iPhone 5 Pre-Order Fiasco

For some reason, Apple thought that handing out online reservation tickets would be a great idea. It was a complete and utter disaster that prevented me from ordering any of my phones and now I might be stuck waiting in line if I want the new iPhone 5 on day 1, September 21. Yes, it could have been AT&T's fault due to carrier processing on subsidize costs and eligibility, but that's doesn't matter.  I hated every minute of it.  None of the "reservations" say that they phone will deliver by the 21st but instead say 2 week shipping.  I logged into Verizon Wireless website where 2 hours after this whole ordeal took 3 minutes to go through and complete. I'm just waiting for my confirmation that I'm moving from one crappy company to the other "pompous, more expensive because we know we can be" carrier.  Hopefully the grass is greener on the other side.

Here are some images that you'll enjoy that pretty much depicts what I went through.


On the Way to Kos-tah Ree-ka

I'm on DL353 from ATL-LIR (Liberia, Costa Rica) travelling with Matty P in row 4! What an awesome way to start out the trip on first class with a short rib meal and New York cheesecake. We planned out a 3 day / 2 night trip on the whim and are basically just winging it. Should be a blast though as some of the plans are coming together slowly but surely. A captain recommended me to use a company called Aviapas which is owned by an American women and her Costa Rican husband so we thought we would give it a try. So far so good in that she found us a $45/ night hotel at Playa de Hermosa and their trips seem definitely doable budget wise. AT&T charges $2.29 per minute without the international rate plan ($5.99 month) which would lower the cost to $1.99 / min. Basically, you would have to break 20 minutes of talk time just to make it worth while. Text msging is defintely the way to go at 0.50 each way or better yet, I could find a wi-fi signal and try out fring! Data roaming is $0.0195 per KB which the operator told me would be quote a bit if I pulled up a YouTube video. She advised that one should turn off data roaming, push services, fetch services, 3G and any other extra curricular dealios on the iPhone in order to avoid any crazy charges. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you could "purchase" 20MB for $24.99 which I think is a ridiculous ripoff. I wish that they just had a plan skmiliar to the Blackberry International pacakge. Oh well, I guess try still have a lot to learn...hopefully they will listen.