Blog Post

Helping to Ease AT&T’s Network Pains — Goodbye iPhone!

Last week I detailed how I’m retooling my mobile toolkit and today I took another step towards simplicity. I just got in from a trip to the local AT&T (s t) and T-Mobile stores and I’m essentially down another phone. That’s good for AT&T since their CEO, Randall Stephenson, today said that the carrier handles half of data traffic generated in the U.S. No need to thank me, Randall — just doing my part to ease the network congestion. Technically, AT&T didn’t even lose the account, but I’ll explain that in a few. For now, suffice it to say that I’m only going to carry one phone again. Last month, the Palm Pre (s palm) went away and today for the first time since July of 2007, I have no iPhone (s aapl).

What I did was actually a little convoluted though and here’s where AT&T still comes out ahead. I found a location that had both an AT&T store and a T-Mobile shop within walking distance because I had a unique situation. I wanted to port my AT&T number over to my Google Nexus One (s goog), but I didn’t want to close my AT&T account. That’s a problem because porting a number from one carrier to another generally shuts down an account. I couldn’t do that because my wife also has an iPhone with AT&T on the same family plan. So I really wanted to port my number from AT&T but then have them assign a new number to my iPhone. This would allow me to avoid the ETF on my line so that one of our kids — who is now ready for a phone — could use my iPhone 3GS for the remainder of the contract. Like I said — a little convoluted.

[related-posts align=”left” tag=”iPhone”]In the end it actually took two trips to the same AT&T store, but it all worked out. T-Mobile snagged my AT&T phone number in five minutes, which was key for me. I’ve had that number for nearly 10 years. While in the T-Mobile store, I increased my month-to-month plan from $59 to $79 a month in order to boost my minutes from 500 to unlimited. AT&T then assigned my iPhone a new number which is what my step-daughter will use when her birthday rolls around next week. Yes, she’s getting a used iPhone 3GS, but I have no doubt she’ll be happy. And Randall Stephenson wins as well, since technically, AT&T didn’t lose a customer. Of course, I wouldn’t expect my step-daughter to use gobs of 3G bandwidth, so AT&T probably comes out ahead on this deal.

It may sound like I’m leaving the Apple ecosystem and its mobile platform, but I’m not. The fact is, I only use the phone function of my iPhone about 1% of the time and I have a perfectly good phone with Google Voice in the Nexus One. As mentioned in my toolkit post last week, I’m going to give the iPad a serious look to see if it will meet my work needs, which are activities like blogging, browsing, email and reading RSS. If I find that it will work, I’ll likely grab a Wi-Fi unit. If not, I’ll wait for an iPod Touch refresh which I expect to hit in a few months. This way I can still enjoy the platform and the apps I’ve purchased over the past two years. And there’s simply no point in buying an iPad with 3G when I have a perfectly good, nearly new Verizon MiFi on a month-to-month 3G plan. That little gadget offers online capability to the iPad, iPod Touch, my netbooks, notebooks and more.

So goodbye for now iPhone. Maybe I’ll see you again real soon in a larger package!

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

How AT&T Will Deal with iPad Data Traffic
Company Profile: AT&T
Company Profile: T-Mobile (free)

11 Responses to “Helping to Ease AT&T’s Network Pains — Goodbye iPhone!”

  1. Wow, you have too many wireless contracts!

    I made the exact same switch as you but now I am a Nexus One user who is debating returning the Nexus One due to touch screen issues and going back to the iPhone. Are you getting any of these issues with your and just putting up with them or do you actually have a Nexus One without the touch screen issues?

  2. vikram

    Hey how did you do that ? i am trying to the same thing by porting my number to tmobile and getting a new number for my iPhone on Att,so that i don`t have to cancel my contract.

    Can you please give me some pointers ? because this is getting really frustrating for me by talking to the ATT rep on the phone again and again

    • Michael

      This I want to know too. I’m considering leaving Big Blue myself, taking my number with me, but don’t want to drop my line yet. If not details, some tips on doing this would be helpful.

  3. How did you port your number over to Google Voice? I have parked my old (AT&T CallVantage) VOIP phone number at Call Centric waiting for number portability to come to Google Voice. Is it finally here?

  4. The iPad with out 3G does not come with a GPS chip. I know for most people this won’t be a big deal, but I’m going on a road trip this summer with some friends and the iPad is going to be the prefect planing and logging device(hoping for an iPad version of trip journal).
    Also for boaters with the right case, iPad will kick ass. As a hiker I can see using it on long trips, since the longer battery life and bigger screen will help with planing a route and recordeing a track while it’s in my back pack.

    • Correct, that’s the other missing feature in the Wi-Fi model. I can see why you might want GPS in the iPad based on your examples, not to mention other location-based web services. I’m content to use the GPS in my phone as needed, so I can get save the $130 price difference.

      You also got me thinking back to when I used to backpack on a regular basis. 50-milers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire were a staple of our treks. Back then, I thought it was cutting edge to carry a cell phone for emergencies and hope for a signal, if needed. And today we’re talking about carrying ARM-based computing devices! ;)

    • Pete have you considered the Notion Ink Adam? I believe it has AGPS. If the iPad was available last month I would have bought it. Now I see ths Adam and the Hanvon that was shown at CeBIT. Now more likely I will wait till the iPad is at the store to test out. I think for those that use the Google Ecco System could easley fit right into a Adam Tablet. ;)