Mobile Tech

My Blackberry Idea

BlackBerry 8830 World EditionFor a while now, my love for smartphones has been quite pronounced. However, after spending a weekend with various BlackBerry devices (keeping myself out of the “BlackBerries” vs. “BlackBerrys” debate for now), I have realized just how useful and thoughtful those smartphones are. So I came up with an idea which could potentially (but doesn’t really) get me a BlackBerry and only spend pocket money on the device itself.

To put things in to perspective, my current cell phone is serviced by Boost Mobile’s pay-as-you-go plan, which is just about the most I can afford. Keeping that in mind, it would be outrageously expensive and almost impossible for me to have my own voice plan from Sprint and have the BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service, which includes email and, depending on the price level, unlimited Web access), for two simple reasons:

  • I am not of age to sign contracts (my age < 18)
  • I don’t have a consistent source of income (the largest sum of money I ever made was from a summer job)
  • I don’t have access to nearly enough money (it’s all in the bank, in my savings account nonetheless – and I don’t even have a checking account yet!)

Aside: Please don’t leave comments saying that when I grow up I’ll be able to enjoy this stuff. I get enough of those speeches at home from my parents.

Continuing, as I humored about earlier, my uncle got a BlackBerry 8300 World Edition from Sprint a short while ago. Realizing that I can’t afford to pay for my own voice plan from Sprint (or sign the necessary contract yet), I figured I could do what my uncle did for his BlackBerry: Buy my own BlackBerry device, and add another line and another BIS account to their family plan. In total, the deal would cost me about $50 a month, plus taxes and fees, which comes out at slightly more than $600 a year (more than a third of my earnings from last summer, which I plan on spending on something – I’d like it to be service for a BlackBerry). And I’d probably be keeping my Boost Mobile phone, still paying my $20 plus sales tax (no other taxes or fees though, since it’s prepaid service) every 90 days.

Now as any person would expect, my dad says that this would be too much of an investment, with very little ROI. He also said that I shouldn’t go digging into my savings account, which is my money for life. Being an irrational teenager, and one from a modern era at that, I highly disagree. But when it comes to money, I almost never get my way.

Getting a BlackBerry is a nice, but unfortunately, expensive idea. I really don’t have a business justification for it. But who said being cool (and connected) wasn’t going to cost me? For now, a smartphone is just a figment of my imagination, but I sure hope it doesn’t stay that way for long.

Quick Guide: Types of Cellular Networks

The wide variety of cell phones available today come in many sizes and shapes, and offer many different features. However, many of these phones share similar underlying architectures, in the form of three network technologies. Here’s a quick introduction to the three cellular networks in the United States.

  • CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) – network technology used by Verizon and Sprint. Phones that operate on CDMA networks do not have SIM cards, which means they are tied to the carrier they are programmed to. The 3G data service provided by CDMA networks is called EvDO (Evolution Data Only / Optimized). CDMA networks are most common in the US, with little roaming ability overseas.
  • GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) – network technology used by AT&T (formerly Cingular) and T-Mobile. Phones from carriers using GSM networks use SIM cards (small memory cards that hold carrier connection information and the user’s contacts), which allows users to switch an unlocked phone (which involves entering a code to untie the phone from its designated carrier) to another GSM carrier’s network. The two 3G data services provided by GSM networks are HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) and HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access), and the 2G service available is EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution). GSM is the most popular type of network in Europe.
  • iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) – network technology used by Sprint Nextel (and its lessees, including Boost Mobile) and smaller regional carriers. iDEN phones use SIM cards, allowing users to swap their service between unlocked iDEN phones or phones with the same carrier subsidy. iDEN-powered networks provide the unique push-to-talk walkie-talkie feature, in addition to voice and data services. Currently, iDEN networks do not provide any 3G data service, only slower data services are supported.