I Just Wanted To Give You My Money, T-Mobile…

T-mobile logoI’ve been in the market for a couple of smartphones. Specifically, one iPhone 6 Plus for myself and one iPhone 6 for my wife (and fellow GNC contributor) Jen. I was all set to purchase the new phones from T-Mobile earlier this week. But the utter failure of T-Mobile’s website lead me to buying from a competitor instead.

When I logged on to the T-Mobile site, I was immediately greeted with this message:

T-Mobile website browser warning

 

I was using the latest version of Safari on an iMac running the latest version of OS X. And yeah, I get it. Safari is often a bit of a thorn in the side of web developers. But, come on. It’s 2015. Macs are everywhere and many Mac users (including me) prefer to use Safari. Upon seeing this message, I knew I was in for trouble. But I carried on, anyway. I closed the browser warning message and clicked the “Shop” link at the top of the T-Mobile site.

From there, I selected a silver iPhone 6 Plus and continued on thru the rate-plan selection process, which went OK. Then, I went to add the second phone and that’s when the process started to fail. When the iPhone 6 screen loaded, it never gave me an option to buy the phone. I was stuck. I went back to my shopping cart to try and resume the process, and after much lag I was eventually given a “Processing Error” page that told me something had gone wrong, to wait a few minutes and try again.

So, I waited a few minutes and tried again with no luck. I waited a few more minutes and made another attempt. Still nothing. I’m not sure how many times I repeated this process before I started getting frustrated. I imagine at this point, most people would’ve given up. I guess I’m stricken with some sort of weird combination of patience and stubbornness. But, the thing is, I really wanted to buy these iPhones from T-Mobile.

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Get a New Device Every Year with AT&T Next

AT&T logoAT&T is offering something new. It is called AT&T Next. At first glance, it looks like a way for AT&T customers to get a new smartphone or tablet every 12 months. It seems they are trying to attract people who strongly feel that they must have the newest, hottest, version of technology as soon as it comes out. Of course, these types of offers always have fine print that you should read.

Some key points are:
* Requires 20 month 0% APR installment agreement and qualifying credit.
* Requires you to get wireless service (voice & data for smartphones/data for tablets)
* If you cancel before the 12 months is up you must pay the remaining balance on the device.
* You must select a device from their list of qualifying devices.
* You cannot upgrade until after you have paid a minimum of 12 installment payments.
* You cannot upgrade unless your device is in good and functional condition.
* You have to purchase a new device/wireless agreement and service plan when you upgrade a device.
* There is a $35.00 restocking fee for smartphones, or a 10% restocking fee for tablets that are returned.

I can see where AT&T Next would be interesting for people who want to stick with AT&T for more than one year. You will have a monthly installment payment added to your bill for 12 months. If you decide to keep the device, the installment payments will end after 20 months. It is kind of like renting your tablet or smartphone instead of buying it (or like doing a rent-to-own type of thing).

On the other hand, I can see some problems. If the newest version of a smartphone or tablet hits the market before your 12 months are over, you are still going to have to wait before you can upgrade to it. That may annoy some people who chose AT&T Next because they thought it would put the newest devices in their hands immediately.

Frontline Airs Exposé on Cell Tower Deaths

Before you get too excited about the whole cellular radiation debate, which is mostly debunked by the way, this in-depth report was about tower workers falling to their deaths due to poor regulation of safety issues while climbing these monstrous metal towers (climbers are 10 times more likely to die than construction workers).  Frontline aired the show on PBS May 22nd and the entire episode is now available for streaming on their web site.

To nobody’s surprise all of the cell companies refused comment during the show.  In fact, we learned that virtually none of them have even been fined by OSHA for any of the accidents.  They are above responsibility thanks to layers of protection they have put between themselves and the actual contractors who do the dirty work.  Incidentally, many of those workers make around $10 per hour to climb hundreds of feet, mostly unprotected because that allows them to climb faster and get more jobs done.  One of the worst offenders turns out to be AT&T, who pushed hard for fast work to be done during their iPhone expansion.

While one retired AT&T executive did talk with the show, the other interviews are with contract companies and the actual workers.  You can watch chapter 1 of the episode in the embedded video below.  A word of warning – there are a few graphic images of bodies laying at the base of towers.

Watch Cell Tower Deaths on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

AT&T Taking A Shot At Ad-Supported Free Wi-Fi

For the price of watching an ad every 40 minutes, AT&T wants to give you free Wi-Fi (in the Dallas-Fort Worth Int'l Airport...for now)

AT&T is taking a shot at free, ad-supported Wi-Fi for travelers spending time at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Gigaom.com reported earlier this month that AT&T will provide free wireless network access starting in September of this year to the nearly 60 million travelers that pass through DFW each year that are willing to suffer a 30-second video ad for every 40 minutes of Wi-Fi usage.

According to Gigaom.com, the specifics of the deal are still a bit sketchy. The type of devices this service will be made available to will likely depend on whether the actual ad can be served to that device – for example, a laptop, smart phone, or tablet.

The question then becomes, as Gigaom.com proposes as well, if this is a successful venture for AT&T, then how could they leverage the strength of their existing Wi-Fi hotspot infrastructure across the country to build out this ad-supported network.

Personally, I would sit through a short ad every 40 minutes for free Wi-Fi. If the only other alternative is paying exorbitant rates to connect my laptop or device to the Internet, I would suffer a lot more advertising than that.

Also, think about this as an opportunity for advertisers – plenty of services and products would do well to reach thousands of people sitting in airport terminals. If managed right and fully scaled, AT&T could generate some significant ad revenue from this.

Image: Airport Terminal Computer from BigStock Photo