Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We're Going "Wireless"

By now you should have noticed we have changed our name to "Wireless Noise".  It's the web URL we wanted a few years ago and it finally became available.  The term "cellular" is so 80's, and it's fading from favor. "Wireless" is more relevant to the spectrum of discussion here.  Wi-fi and similar technologies are indeed not cellular.

While "Mobile" has become the norm in other countries, "Wireless" is how we talk here.  We mention it today because soon we will change our URL to, which means many of the links to specific articles on this site won't work, and you'll eventually need to change your Favorites and Bookmarks.  Hopefully we won't lose any friends or visitors. You know, it's all about being connected... wirelessly... right?

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Cheapest Broadband Stick

Our use of cellular broadband is mostly by tethered air card.  Wi-fi fulfills almost all of our mobile wireless needs but there are several times in the year where we need to resort to a cellular air card.  Looking for the cheapest broadband access without a contract yielded few options.  Over the years I stuck with my T-Mobile Rocket USB Stick and was relatively happy with buying 1Gb of data for $30 for a month.  As usual, I keep looking for a cheaper way to get my wireless features.  I looked at SIMple Mobile who offers 750 Mb at $25 and Virgin Mobile's 500 Mb at $20 for monthly access.  Yes, there are other prepaid choices, but I refuse to buy less than a month's worth of access and most prepaid carriers charge much more.

This weekend T-Mobile will start offering new prepaid broadband plan prices that make their service a bit more appealing.  While they have increased their bottom plan from $10 to $15, and now for 300 Mb of data instead of 100 Mb, it's the middle tiers that make us happy.  They now offer 1.5 Gb of data for $25 and 3.5 Gb of data for $35.  The $50/5 Gb plan stays the same.  These prices are good for other broadband device users and normally, T-Mobile delivers at or near 4G speeds.  Oh yes, we can also get Discounted T-Mobile Refills!

In the big picture, T-Mobile could have rocked the wireless world with even better prices...even AT&T offers a $5/50 Mb plan.  But for those of us who live in the Prepaid world, even a small price reduction makes us smile, and indeed willing to use our 'sticks a little more, and maybe our other broadband phones as well.  It's a crumb, but I'll take it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Prepaid Updates

This past week we (OK, mostly I) have been completely updating our Wireless By the Minute web site that helps you switch from cellular that requires a 2-year contract to Pay-As-You-Go, or Prepaid.  The larger wireless carriers are becoming more competitive with their Prepaid offerings and we try to keep track of what you can do with your existing wireless phone.

One of our new areas of interest is how to Switch your iPhone to Prepaid which has become much easier now that AT&T will provide the unlock code for your iPhone after your 2-year contract.  AT&T will also let you convert to their own Prepaid GoPhone as well. The conversion involves just putting in a new Micro-SIM into your iPhone to utilize a Prepaid, and often cheaper and still 'Unlimited', wireless provider.  We found almost a half-dozen prepaid providers that will support your iPhone, most of which use the same AT&T network. 

One of the these Prepaid services is SIMple Mobile, a SIM-only provider that does NOT use the AT&T network.  They re-sell service on T-Mobile which is excellent, but it is not compatible with the broadband features of the iPhone.  It works, slowly.  This week American Movil, the owner of TracFone and a few other Prepaid services, announced they are buying SIMple Mobile.  This may introduce a new wrinkle in the Prepaid game, but we can't exactly figure out how since American Movil already offers SIM's through NET10 and Straight Talk.  Well, the more the merrier.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Alltel & Commnet: Alive & Well

Atlantic Tele-Network (ATNI), the owners of Alltel Wireless and Commnet Wireless released a fairly rosy financial report for the 1st quarter of 2012.  ATNI reports some growth but they are more pleased with the reduction in the rate of losing customers. They show growth in the Prepaid segment but they don't report how much is attributed to Alltel or the new Choice Wireless. This strength in the prepaid area should be bolstered by their new plan to offer the "U" Prepaid in cooperation with US Cellular at Wal-Mart stores in each carrier's local coverage areas.

One of the brightest spots is in the "wholesale" branch which is primarily operated by Commnet Wireless but also should include roamers on the Alltel network.  While Commnet was forced to reduce some of their incoming roaming rates, they benefit from the increase of data usage in all of the ATNI Coverage areas.  ATNI also has wireless operation in the Caribbean.

This means, for the time being, ATNI, Alltel, Commnet and Choice should be able to survive as an independent cellular company, and Wall Street agrees by bidding up the company's stock. One of the company's 'secrets' is that they have gone from being a thorn in the side of the national carriers, to an operating partner, including 'filling in' coverage in areas where other carriers fear to tread.

If they can make the money-work, so can the net-work.