April 19, 2011

Beyond Thunderdome (Or, Why I'm Staying in the Walled Garden)

I got a kick out of reading a colleague’s column this weekend when I discovered that our editorials for the May issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine were on a similar subject.

While I wrote about my frustration with AT&T regarding an iPhone-related issue and mentioned my plan to get a new iPhone through Verizon, he extolled the benefits of his new HTC (News - Alert) Thunderbolt, his ability to enjoy 4G service in some areas as a result and his comfort level with the decision of not going with a new Verizon iPhone.

While attending COMPTEL (News - Alert) in Las Vegas recently Erik was pleased to discover that the Thunderbolt lives up to name in terms of the speeds at which it delivers data. He writes, “when I activated the mobile hotpot capability … the results were nothing short of amazing, with connectivity and transfer speeds putting 3G to shame (even when you discount the volume of 3G users typically on a 3G network at a tradeshow).”

That was great, but Erik also mentions in the piece his concern as he headed back to the home office in Connecticut that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But – good news – he goes on to say that, “the Thunderbolt itself is far from mundane, still downloading and running apps and browsing the Web faster than your average mobile device.”

Better yet, he notes that Verizon’s rollout plans indicate the area around TMC headquarters is planned for LTE rollout by the end of the year and that trials may already be under way.

All of the above, Erik says, are just further proof that people considering switching to the Verizon iPhone will be well served to ponder their options before making a decision. He adds that “the biggest flaw of the Verizon iPhone is ‘it’s a 3G device in a 4G world.’ Apps are apps, and you’ll get them whether you go Android or iOS. But, speed is another story, which is why I got the Thunderbolt when it launched, knowing I was heading out to Las Vegas – a 4G market – a few days later, and could try it out immediately.”

That’s cool. It sounds like a great device and a good connectivity experience, with an even better connectivity experience to come. I would certainly follow Erik’s lead if I were a BlackBerry (News - Alert) user or a user of just about any other device than the iPhone.

I’ve had an iPhone for a couple years now. But, as I mention in my May INTERNET TELEPHONY column, I busted my iPhone earlier this year, so need to get a new one. AT&T wouldn’t agree to let me upgrade to the new iPhone without shelling out more than $400, so my plan is to move to Verizon and its version of the iPhone when my AT&T contract expires.

As I wrote, “Under different circumstances we may have just waited for the contract to reach the point where we could upgrade with a reasonable cash infusion, but I was headed to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress the next week, so I needed a phone.

“So, we went home, where my husband dug up his old iPhone. We put my number on his new iPhone and his number on the old iPhone. That, we agreed, would allow us both to continue to use the devices with which we were most comfortable (and me to have a decent camera), Meanwhile, we would wait for our AT&T contracts to expire and, when they did, take our business to Verizon Wireless (News - Alert).

“Bad idea. When we plugged in the phones to recharge and sync, our entire address book disappeared. That was especially problematic for my hubby, who coaches two sports teams. So, in case he was having any second thoughts about dropping AT&T, those ideas had at this point disappeared altogether from his mind.”

The plan is still to move to Verizon and the iPhone.

The reason why I’m not checking out other smartphone options is that I have a big library of apps, movies and music from iTunes that I have invested a lot of money in and want to continue using. Not only that, but we can share that content between my Apple (News - Alert) TV-connected television, my two Macs and our two iPhones, and have been doing so for a few years.

So, for me, the selection of my smartphone is primarily linked to the content and the apps, and not as much to the speed. But, then, I’m not as frequent a traveler as Erik; I tend to work at home a lot more and use my Wi-Fi/cable modem connectivity rather than the cellular network.

Apple has been successful in secluding me and the other two Berniers in my household to its wall garden. And, to tell you the truth, my husband, daughter and I have been pretty happy here – that is, until AT&T gave us a hard time about the upgrade.

So the plan is to move to Verizon and get its 3G version of the iPhone, which some studies have shown in tests perform on par with 4G devices.

Edited by Jennifer Russell