Dusk of AT&T Wireless, Dawn of the Orange Splat
When I was cleaning up the liquifying Haloween pumpkins off of my porch a couple of days ago, they were kind of like Orange Splats when they hit my garbage can, sort of like the Cingular logo. But that’s not the point of this blog entry.
The mobile phone is a very personal thing. While I have a number of Nokia models here at home that I’ve used over the years, and others have other types of phones they like, what’s clear is that the concept of being able to communicate with anyone from practically anywhere using a device you carry on your person is a concept that resonates with a large percentage of the population in developed nations. The “mobility” concept resonates deep enough in myself that I carry my phone with me even in the house. For personal contacts, I almost never give my landline number, I give them my cell phone. Why? If my cell phone rings, I know it someone wanting to talk to me.
One thing I’ve noticed about people who have a stronger attachment than average to mobility is that they tend to get ansy about anything that might affect their ability to use their mobile device in a way that suits them. This includes the rate plans and “benefits” they get from their wireless provider. These are also the kind of people that are always on the lookout for the best deal, at least when it comes to their mobile phone. I can speak definitively about this group since I can include myself among them.
One thing that the AT&T Wireless/Cingular merger is doing is creating a whole lot of chaos as people scramble to “lock in” their current rate plans–plans which are seen as more favorable than anything Cingular currently offers. They are renewing their contracts for two years to ensure that “The New Cingular” can’t touch them for at least two years–at least if they don’t to forfeit an early termination fee.
One thing people like about their AT&T Wireless plans is free incoming text messages. With SMS spam on the rise, the thought of paying for a text message you didn’t ask for is unpalatable to many. Every other carrier charges for inbound and outbound text messages, albeit at a lower rate than AT&T Wireless charged for outgoing rates.
The really unpalatable thing about “The New Cingular” is that anyone who switches their rate plan after 15 November 2004 will be required to purchase a new phone. This is primarily because in order to deal with the combined networks, they will need to use new 64k SIM cards and phones with ENS enabled, which will supposedly allow for seamless handoffs between “AT&T Wireless” and “Cingular” towers as well as provide the ability to treat both networks as “Primary” networks, using the towers that are least loaded. Rumours are that AT&T Wireless customers like myself will be given a trade-in value on our existing handsets, though no “official” word has been given in that area.
The other “rumour” currently circulating is that former AT&T Wireless customers will be given major incentives to get off their old AT&T Wireless plan and onto a proper “Cingular” plan. Most people aren’t holding their breath, which is why they are locking in their “best deal” prior to Monday. It remains to be seen what new rate plans, if any, will show up on Monday, and what incentives us former AT&T Wireless customers might be given.
To me, the biggest benefit from the merger has already started, and that’s the larger mobile-to-mobile calling area and calling circle. Though the official word on the New Cingular site is that it will start on Monday, several reports have surfaced that it started early. Since most of my co-workers either have Cingular or AT&T Wireless, it makes it a no-brainer to use my cell phone to call their cell phone. It’s free for them, free for me, a cost savings to my employer. Makes having unlimited mobile-to-mobile a lot more attractive of a thing than in the past.
Oh well, I should stop obsessing about things I have no control over and just go to bed.