cell phone companies can suck it

I have a cell phone. It’s 4.5 years old. It works great. It makes phone calls. Woo-hoo. It’s the same phone number I’ve always had… which means it’s an Austin area code, though (as you may have figured out by now) I live in California. When we move to Fremont, I’ll be in the same area code as Berkeley, and Leslie tells me you can call all around the bay locally anyway, so I’ve been looking into getting a new phone/carrier.

It’s obnoxious to have to pay monthly for something–I despise bills on general principle. But it’s fair: they provide a service month-to-month, and I pay for it. But why on holy earth do I have to sign up for a year with one of these evil companies? And why do I have to buy a phone from them? And why can’t I take my phone with me when I leave one company and go to another? I’ll tell you why: because American cell phone companies are an evil cabal created to milk the people of This Great Nation of their money and their very souls.

I considered going with Virgin’s offering, where you buy a phone and pay by the minute with no contract or bill at all. This would be cool, and seems economical up to maybe 300min/mo. I’m not sure it would work out to be financially advantageous if I had no land line to back it up. Still, no contract and no bills seems awfully nice to me. You don’t even have to give them your name, you can buy the phone with cash and refill it with cash. Cypherpunkness, here I come.

On the whole though… how did we get suckered into the current state of things? Most places try to get you to sign 2-year contracts now. 2 years?!?! In europe, you buy a phone, get a little card, and pop the bad-boy in. Period. You want a new phone, buy it, pop the card in, and all your numbers and settings and everything are there. You can sell your phone. You can get pre-paid cards to go in your phone. You can borrow your friend’s phone for 5 minutes and pop in your card to make the call. Why can’t this sanity make it across the pond? Sigh.

One of the reasons American companies do the lock-in is because they heavily subsidize the cost of the phones. This is because, for some reason, it’s important for your cell phone to browse the internet and take pictures and send email and make coffee and all sorts of other worthless crap. Guess what? I pretty much want to just make phone calls! So you can go ahead and leave out the color screens and the singing songs and the flashing and dancing and spare me the stratospheric price point and all it entails. The geek inside me wants to be interested in fun little features, but the homunculus of reason knocking around my head balks at being cowed into a 2-year contract for some silly little plastic noisemaker that could enable me, theoretically, play tetris while surfing the web while bluetoothing around while driving my car at speeds fatal to any pedestrians who have the misfortune to get in my way. And the ability to do this (from what I’ve seen out on the road recently) is becoming more and more critical to a modern lifestyle. And I’m nothing if not modern.

Cell phone companies are just thing to bring out the Luddite in me.

2 thoughts on “cell phone companies can suck it”

  1. You can buy unlocked phones in the US that you can take to any carrier that has a compatible network. The trouble is that these phones are easily 3x more than you would pay for them normally. One nice thing about T-Mobile is that they will give you the unlock code any of their phones if you are a subscriber. So you can use it on any service. Of course to get one of their phones for cheap/free you’ll have to sign a year contract but after that you could go anywhere you please.

  2. I agree. I was thinking today of buying an old startac motorola. that was a good phone. it worked and was a good size. but i am sure that they would give me hell if i tried to hook it up. probably saying it wouldn’t work with our new service bla bla bla. cell phone companies suck period! I may just get a beeper. stupid razor rokr cellpone geeeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *