Steven Hughes over at Lockergnome posted about a co-worker that suddenly lost his free WAP/GPRS access through T-Mobile. A self-described “crack addict”, he signed up for T-Zones at $4.99/month in order to get his wireless data fix.
Steven speculates about whether offering free wireless data access for a limited period of time is a tactic to get customers “hooked”, then start charging them. I don’t think T-Mobile is up to anything as nefarious as that (especially since I still have free access, as do others), but he makes an interesting point.
Personally, if I were a wireless data provider, I would do exactly that. Give away free access for a couple of months, so people can learn exactly what it’s like, and what it can do for them. I know that once I tasted the sweet nectar of being able to send and receive email, IM, and surf the web anytime, anywhere, I became a “crack addict”, too. I don’t know if I could go without wireless data access (GPRS or otherwise) now, so T-Mobile has pretty much got me as a guaranteed customer if they ever take away my free GPRS.
Oh, I posted the following comment in response to Steven’s Lockergnome post, but it doesn’t show up on the page anywhere, so I’d like to repeat it here:
I’ve been following this issue on my site, www.tinyscreenfuls.com. I’ve posted several times on the issue. I’m a T-Mobile customer that uses a lot of GPRS. It seems that the free GPRS access is still available to some, depending on what device you’re using, and how you access their network.
My current device is a Moto MPX200 Smartphone (I’ve had the T-Mo Sidekick and Pocket PC Phone Edition, too). When I configure it to make a GPRS connection with “wap.voicestream.com” as the APN (Access Point Name), I can connect to web and email (IMAP) just fine.
A couple of weeks ago, T-Mo removed the port restrictions on the free WAP APN connections, so I could use MSN Messenger, too. I was previously paying for the $19.99 GPRS plan, with no port restrictions. Since the ports opened up, I dropped my GPRS plan, and was happily using the free access.
Since Sunday night, I wasn’t able to log on to MSN Messenger, though web and email still worked fine. I guess they put the port restrictions back in place. *sigh* However, web and email still work for free.
In short, if you’re making a GPRS connection (not WAP), and accessing HTTP or email (not WAP pages), the free access should still be available.
If this isn’t the case for you, or your experience has differed from mine, please post a comment on my site (www.tinyscreenfuls.com). Oh, and if you work for T-Mobile, and know for sure what the heck is going on, please post or email me, too.
So, if anyone reading this is using T-Mobile’s GPRS access, paid or otherwise, or if you work for T-Mobile and have the inside scoop on what’s going on here, sound off in the comments section below. I’m dying to know the whole story.