Monday, January 25, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.
"They f*** you with cell phones!" says Joel Kodner, one of the most outspoken members of our South Florida Twitterverse. He's quoting Joe Pesci's character in Lethal Weapon 4, who was ranting about poor reception, dropped calls, and the rapidly decreasing size of the gadgets themselves. That was 12 years ago -- imagine what he'd have to say today in regard to data plans, rollover minutes, hardware/network exclusivity, and so on.
The entire industry seems focused on profiting not by offering unparalleled service and functionality but by confusing, frustrating, and contractually imprisoning the customer.
The iPhone is currently the world's top-selling portable. It's been limited to just one carrier, AT&T, but if the iPhone makes itself able to be available to other carriers, and that's going to bring new complexities.
Given the number of problems that AT&T has had with the 3G network and so forth, it's not surprising that the iPhone would expand its network compatibility.
For people like me, though, this may be a whole new era of overages. Once it's no longer clear that your iPhone buddy is using AT&T, it may become harder to control those minutes. People have talked about how horrible Sprint is with its overage charges, and friends have speculated how AT&T would be with this. None of us has directly dealt with this, so it's up in the air.
I'm perplexed about how the network providers can charge for minutes but have unlimited plans for data while the small, pre-paid companies often have unlimited everything packages so you have no minute worries.
So the people who sign no contract, make no promises, and get basically the same service are being treated better than those of us who signed up for a contract and are binding ourselves to an agreement with the phone carrier? It's amazing there hasn't been a consumer uprising over this.
And while we're talking about phone-based rebellion, why do we put up with the ridiculously mixed-up area codes? For instance, from my phone, I can call many 561 numbers by just dialing ###-#### without entering the area code. Others require that I put in 561 or even 1-561, despite using the same phone and same carrier to make all these calls.
How does that make sense? If a phone is in the 561 area code and someone dials another number in this same area code, shouldn't the prefix and number be all that's needed? Why all the shuffling with needing area codes or not needing them? It's annoying and unnecessary.
There need to be major changes to our communication technology, though it seems that no one is in a hurry to do so. With all of the attention spent on smart grids for power here in Florida, you'd think someone would be mentioning smart grids for wireless phones too.