For those who don't want to read my long explanation of where I'm coming from with this question, my main concern is if people are still successfully using Cingular's $20/month Media Net for Bluetooth modem connections for their laptops, and if this is still a reasonably safe thing to try to get away with.
I've got a new smart phone on order -- a Qtek 8500 (aka HTC "Star Trek", aka i-Mate SmartFlip). I'm going to be dumping Verizon so that I can go with a GSM service and have a world-capable phone (not that I travel all that much, but it's nice to be prepared, and the Qtek 8500 is quad band with EDGE).
I've been paying only $45/month to Verizon and getting both voice and data service using my Motorola V710, connecting the phone via Bluetooth to my Mac laptop. Needless to say, I was shocked when I talked to someone at Cingular and found out that getting similar service from Cingular was going to cost me nearly $100/month (Laptop Connect Unlimited at $60 when combined with a $40 voice plan). I can't see going with anything less than "unlimited" as it doesn't take very long to go through 50 MB of data, so trying to save money with a lesser plan, and then getting slapped with a big bill if I run over 50 MB, hardly makes sense.
Since Cingular was so expensive, I looked into T-Mobile. It looks like I can get voice and data for $70/month there. ($40 Get More + $30 T-Mobile Total Internet). That's still more than my current $45/month with Verizon, but the more I've researched the matter, the more I think I've been getting away
with making data connections, and that my current plan doesn't officially support data use apart from mobile web. (So much for what the salesman told me when I bought the phone.)
I was all set to go with T-Mobile until I started looking into signal coverage here in southern NH. Cingular has significantly better coverage, and while using Cingular I could roam using T-Mobile's towers, but not vice-versa. This made me begin to wonder about the whole enterprise, and if I should just give up on GSM and stick with Verizon and my old phone for now.
A little more research has shown that a lot of people seem to be using Cingular's $20/month Media Net Unlimited plan, and although tethering to a laptop is not officially
supported on that plan, it appears to work quite well for many people. I've read a couple of horror stories about people suddenly getting huge bills for data usage, but these appear to be related to Cingular totally losing track that these people had any data plan whatsoever, not a direct result of tethering their laptops.
I am a little worried that using Media Net could be slower, or that I'd find out that some TCP ports are blocked and that I won't be able to use all the same web services I can use with an official Laptop plan (such as connecting to my company's VPN).
For me, the data connection capability isn't something I need very often, but when I want it, I really want it. I can't justify spending $60/month for my needs, but $20-$30 is within the acceptable range.
I very much doubt I'll set off any alarms due to my usage patterns or total data transferred. I could easily exceed 50 MB/month, but I certainly won't be moving gigs of data, and I will seldom have a data connection going for more than, say, 3-6 total hours/month.
Leaving out the notion of $100/month Cingular plan -- I'm just not going to go there -- which of these options would people here recommend:
- Go completely legit with T-Mobile at $70/month, but suffer reduced coverage.
- Go with Cingular, and take my chances that Get More + Media Net Unlimited will do the job for me without causing me much billing or penalty grief.
- Stick with Verizon for now and wait for the GSM carriers' official plan rates and terms (as well as T-Mobile's coverage) to improve.
- Forget about foreign travel, accept that I live in a CDMA world, cancel my current GSM phone order before it ships, and go EVDO with Verizon.