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Cellphones Wireless Networking Hardware

AT&T Wireless Network Is Open Too 122

Posted by Zonk
from the me-too-is-fine-by-me dept.
narramissic writes "Following last week's much-heralded announcement that Verizon Wireless would open up its network, AT&T is making it known that its wireless network is also open to outside devices. 'By its nature, GSM technology is open,' said Michael Coe, an AT&T spokesman. 'Customers could always use GSM phones not sold by AT&T on our network. We can't guarantee the performance of the device, of course.' AT&T will start to publicize that information through salespeople at AT&T stores, Ralph de la Vega, CEO of the company's wireless business, told USA Today."
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AT&T Wireless Network Is Open Too

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  • Customers could always use GSM phones not sold by AT&T on our network. We can't guarantee the performance of the device, of course.

    I assume they mean those with a roaming agreement, right and even then there might only be one roaming slot open for data services in any given area. Plenty of times I've been geocaching with a friend in some Cingular/AT&T area and one of us would have GPRS data on our T-mobile Sidekick and the other would not. I'd have to disable/enable the radio in one unit at a time
    • by sherms (15634) *
      Look at the good side, if they are successful others might follow suite. Our business is getting hammered by Sprint/Nextel I spend most of my time on the phone correcting their mistakes. If it works in range of the business we're in, it would still be great. There is a lot I could do with an open network.

      Sprint/Nextel work better when beaten with a 4x4.

      Sherm
      • How exactly is AT&T open?

        You can sign up for an unlimited data plan, but:
        -you can't stream music to your phone. Or access the iTunes store from your iPhone. Music bits are different from other bits?
        -you can't forward the bits to your computer. Bits destined for your laptop are different from phone bits?
        -you can't do VOIP using your phone. Audio bits [again] somehow interfere with phone bits?
        • by nxtw (866177)
          You can actually do all of those things on AT&T. Whether they want you to is the issue at hand. The idea is that those who are more likely to use more "unlimited" data will pay more for it.

          you can't stream music to your phone.

          My AT&T phone came with XM Radio streaming software. I can use the included Windows Media Player to stream just about any mp3/wma stream, or download third-party software to do so. And I can download third-party software to stream Sirius if I desire.

          Or access the iTunes sto

    • Re:I suppose... (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wSLACKWAREorf.net minus distro> on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:54PM (#21613933)

      I assume they mean those with a roaming agreement, right and even then there might only be one roaming slot open for data services in any given area. Plenty of times I've been geocaching with a friend in some Cingular/AT&T area and one of us would have GPRS data on our T-mobile Sidekick and the other would not. I'd have to disable/enable the radio in one unit at a time to gain GPRS.

      So yeah, guaranteeing the performance of the device might entail not having data at all.


      Actually, what happens is carriers "certify" phones to work on their network. YOu may wonder why you can buy Model X of a phone, and find that it doesn't have features while other Model X's do. Some of these features include things like call timers (carriers disable them since they like to charge from the moment you hit Send, rather than the moment the call is actually connected), byte timers (carriers can charge for every byte, including OTA packet headers and such), button color (the Send and End keys *MUST* be of a certain shade of green and red...), and so on.

      But what they mean is that since it isn't tested by them, if you call customer service saying your phone doesn't work, they'll say "too bad, so sad". By its nature, GSM carriers cannot test every phone that appears on its network, and in any complex spec, there's bound to be areas where things don't work. Like taking a tri-band phone into a place only serviced by 850MHz GSM.

      As for roaming - carriers are stupid if they don't allow people to roam. Roaming is a huge profit center for a carrier. (What, you think it really costs them 5 cents to transfer 1000 bytes of data?).
      • Re:I suppose... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mr_Silver (213637) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:36PM (#21615377)

        Actually, what happens is carriers "certify" phones to work on their network. YOu may wonder why you can buy Model X of a phone, and find that it doesn't have features while other Model X's do. Some of these features include things like call timers (carriers disable them since they like to charge from the moment you hit Send, rather than the moment the call is actually connected), byte timers (carriers can charge for every byte, including OTA packet headers and such), button color (the Send and End keys *MUST* be of a certain shade of green and red...), and so on.

        I think I should point out again that in the rest of the world, carriers do not do this kind of stupid stuff.

        This is an example [o2.co.uk], it's a mobile device designed entirely by a network operator. None of this slap-windows-mobile-on-it rubbish, this is a BREW based handset (running the MSM6280). All the features and functionality have been explicity detailed, designed and managed by O2 .. and guess what?

        • It has a fully functioning bluetooth stack so you can send and received any content you like
        • It even supports A2DP and AVRCP.
        • You can set any supported music file as a ringtone, you can bluetooth it off the device directly from the music player if you want
        • You can send and receive vcard and vcalendar files
        • You can access the device in mass storage mode and pull off your pictures or video, or put some on, or set them as a wallpaper
        • You can synchronise your contacts and calendar using the supplied software with Microsoft Outlook
        • It supports SyncML 1.1.2
        • It has a fully working Java runtime environment. You can download and install unsigned Java applications if you want.
        • It has a full XHTML browser which you can use to access the web.

        Only in the USA do carriers have such a massive control over their phones. This is a prime example of a device which could have been massively crippled from birth - but the operator deliberately chose not to.

        • by VP (32928)
          AT&T Wireless is one of the better carriers in the US in that regard. All the features you listed are available in many AT&T branded phones, and obviously are available in third-party bought GSM phones. Verizon is the carrier with the most restrictions in their devices, which are due to the closed nature of CDMA networks...
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ncc74656 (45571) *

            Verizon is the carrier with the most restrictions in their devices, which are due to the closed nature of CDMA networks...

            I don't think you can blame CDMA for Verizon crippling features on its phones. Sprint uses CDMA too, and it doesn't pull any of the crap that we hear about Verizon.

            • by romiz (757548)
              Sprint uses CDMA too, and it doesn't pull any of the crap that we hear about Verizon.

              But the only reason why they CAN do it is CDMA. You cannot do it with GSM, because the only device directly related to the operator is the SIM card, and not the mobile phone itself. Consumer lock-in is designed into Qualcomm's technology, whereas GSM may have been conceived by various companies with various means and various goals, but enabling competition was a basic principle of the system.
              • by ncc74656 (45571) *

                But the only reason why they CAN do it is CDMA. You cannot do it with GSM, because the only device directly related to the operator is the SIM card, and not the mobile phone itself.

                That makes no sense...you're not saying that all of a GSM cellphone's firmware resides in the SIM, are you? If AT&T, T-Mobile, or whoever can apply a theme to a phone's UI (and they do...my T610 had a magenta-colored theme that screamed "T-Mobile"), there's nothing stopping them from mucking around elsewhere in the phone'

                • by romiz (757548)
                  I agree that the mobile phone can be locked with an operator; but this is not a part of the standard, and the widely distributed unlocking tools prove that it can be undone. The converse, however, does not exist in GSM and exists in CDMA - you expressly can move your account from phone to phone with the SIM card without any operator intervention, whereas you cannot do so between CDMA operators, and I don't expect it to happen anytime in the future, because that feature is completely opposed to the lock-in c
    • by athakur999 (44340)
      No, I think they mean you could use a phone acquired from somewhere besides AT&T, stick your SIM card in it, and not have any problems. As far as I know all GSM providers will allow their users to use any GSM device with their SIM card. Whether the GSM devices they provide can be used with other providers is a different story.

    • by zieroh (307208)
      ]I assume they mean those with a roaming agreement
      No, that's not what they meant. What they mean is that you can put an AT&T SIM card into just about any GSM phone and, assuming the frequencies line up, you can use that phone on the AT&T network. I've used many GSM phones on my AT&T account, using my AT&T (ne Cingular ne PacBell Wireless) SIM card, and they just work, regardless of whether AT&T sold the phone or certified the phone.

      If the frequencies don't line up, you're out of luck, bu
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Vegeta99 (219501)

        I've used many GSM phones on my AT&T account, using my AT&T (ne Cingular ne PacBell Wireless


        nee PacBell nee Bell Telephone nee AT&T =)
    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      There's a difference between customers of other carriers roaming on their network and their own customers popping an AT&T SIM into any phone that supports the correct GSM bands (The U.S. bands are shifted slightly from the European ones, so European phones will only work in the U.S. if they support the extra bands - most phones nowadays do, quadband GSM is the norm and not the exception for new devices.) and work fine.

      What Verizon said is "any customer of ours will be able to use any device approved by
      • Hell it will probablly work even if the phone isn't FCC approved (it won't be legal but that is another matter)
    • by azenpunk (1080949)
      no, i have a 3'd party, unlocked motorolla on AT&T now. theres not really much they can do to prevent it, i think they are legally obligated to allow it. but i could be wrong. either way it's been allowed for a while. the trouble is making up your mind to pay $200 for a 3'd party phone or getting your phone unlocked from the old provider.
    • What you are talking about is whether or not you have ACCESS to the network. Obviously, you need to somehow PAY AT&T to get access to the network.

      What AT&T (and Verizon) are saying is that they will make it possible to use devices on their network. Currently, Verizon is very restrictive about what devices can work on their network. Basically, you MUST buy your phone from Verizon and it MUST be one of the phones they authorize.

      In the case of AT&T you were always able to buy another GSM device and
    • Re:I suppose... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sparks23 (412116) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:58PM (#21615719)
      I think what they mean by 'open' is that any AT&T customer with an unlocked GSM phone can use that phone on the AT&T network. Which is true; I could take an AT&T SIM and put it into my unlocked O2 Xda IIs, and be online with AT&T just fine. This is true of any GSM network by definition, which I think was AT&T's point.

      Verizon's making a big fuss about 'okay, we are going to let people use phones they DIDN'T BUY FROM US on our network! WOW!' And AT&T's response is, 'Congratulations, welcome to the world of things GSM customers take for granted.' (Which, yes, is a little silly that GSM networks will make a deal about how you can use phones they didn't sell you on their networks, but will lock down any phones they do sell you so you cannot use them on other networks.)

      Roaming for customers of other networks is a whole different -- and often, more depressing -- story.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      I assume they mean those with a roaming agreement, right and even then there might only be one roaming slot open for data services in any given area.

      There are a few ways of using a GSM on a network:
      - If your already have an agrement:
      - Roaming agreement between the host network and your provider.
      - Buying a temporary agreement or a pay as you go and put into your phone. Of course these requires an unblocked phone.
      - Buying a unblocked phone off the hi
      • CDMA on the other has various levels of incompatibility and in all cases requires a phone call to the operator to get the account switched over to the new phone, even if you are on the same network.

        I watched an amusing situation as my roommate tried to change some phones on his Verizon account due to this crap.

        He has a friend on his account, and she bought a new phone. He went to get her line switched over to the new phone and somehow the (apparently new) Verizon rep at the store switched things wrong and her new phone got his line, her old phone kept her old line, and his phone lost service. They only tested calling out on the new phone I guess, so he didn't notice this until a few hours later. A

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:47PM (#21613831)
    Why, our networks are also completely open to the NSA as well.

    AT&T followed up the statement with:

    We enjoy so much freedom it's almost sickening. We're free to choose which hand our sex-monitoring chip is implanted in. And if we don't want to pay our taxes, why, we're free to spend a weekend with the Pain Monster.
  • The thing that always drove me nuts was that they lock their phones up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by langelgjm (860756)

      My last two phones have been bought off of eBay, unlocked, with no branding or disabled features of any kind. Both worked without a hitch on AT&T (and Cingular, at that time), though I don't use data services, so I can't speak to that.

      As for the phones they sell you, I've heard that if you ask nicely, and have an account history with them, they will unlock your phone for a legitimate reason - e.g., if you are traveling overseas for a few months. Again, I didn't have to do this when I was abroad, since

      • by ptbarnett (159784)
        As for the phones they sell you, I've heard that if you ask nicely, and have an account history with them, they will unlock your phone for a legitimate reason - e.g., if you are traveling overseas for a few months.

        Not as long if you are still under contract. I've been with SBMS/Cingular/ATT since 1992, and they refused to unlock my phone for an international trip (so I could use a pre-paid SIM card) because I had 6 months left on my contract.

        I should have dumped them at the end of my contract. But, s

      • by Coopjust (872796) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:12PM (#21614173)
        AT&T Customer service will submit an unlock request if you meet two criteria:
        -You have been a customer for 90+ days
        -You have no outstanding issues with your account

        I met both of those criteria, said I was going to Italy, and requested "subsidy unlock" codes for 4 phones. 1 week later, four emails and voice mails, completely free and easy. All the phones worked (I couldn't test one, I didn't have a second 3G SIM to test with).

        It's not that hard, but you have to ask nicely, correctly, and meet the criteria.
        • by Coopjust (872796)
          Also, I'll turn off my Karma bonus to add that I was only 6 months in a 2 year contract for two of the phones. The other 2 were 1 and 1/2 years in a 2 year contract.

          So, yeah, they do unlock customers in contract. That won't save you from the ETF though...

          The only issue I've heard is that, if you have phone insurance, they might give you trouble unlocking the new phone. They put the old phone on a AT&T blacklist, but I've read that AT&T does not list them on the worldwide IMEI DB blacklist, so
        • Why should i have to ask nicely that MY phone be unlocked?
          • by absurdist (758409)
            If you got it from ATT with your contract, it's heavily subsidized. (My Treo 680 from ATT was $79.99 with a 2 year contract.) You are, of course, free to pay full price for an unlocked phone, and relieve yourself from the unbearable burden of having to ask nicely.
      • by dwillden (521345)
        I do the same thing. If I hadn't consolidated my account with my wifes, I would be sitting on year number five without a contract. When a phone is wearing out, I just ebay a replacement (for much less than what the stores would want), slip the sim from the old one to the new one and keep on going.

        I don't waste time with the AT&T stores or people, I just move the card over, and continue. Neither of us are real heavy users, so we haven't needed to upgrade our plan other than when we consolidated the
  • Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan,jared&gmail,com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:49PM (#21613869)
    For other devices, "we will unlock the device when customers fulfill their contract; we will also unlock the device if the customer pays full price for the device," he said. "The iPhone, however, is an exception. The iPhone is exclusive to AT&T in the U.S."

    Translation: Yeah, yeah openness or whatever the buzzword is, but we still gotta turn a profit. If it's any consolation I hear they are really easy to unlock on your own.

    I don't blame AT&T. Apple signed the agreement and now AT&T is due their profits. However, it is quite a marvel to see the dustorm Google kicked up. Competition, when you can get it, is a powerful thing.
  • I call bullsh*t (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gambit3 (463693) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:50PM (#21613881) Homepage Journal
    I couldn't even get a phone locked to the OLD ATT (ATT Blue, for those counting) unlocked by them to work on the NEW ATT (formerly called ATT Orange, or Cingular). It was a phone I bought FROM THEM, and that I'd been using for three years. I liked it. It had long battery life and was sturdy.

    I just wanted to change my plan (I was LONG out of contract) and to use the same phone with the new plan. They refused, and even told me to go to "one of those stores at the mall" and pay to have it unlocked. I very kindly told them what they could do with themselves, and switched carriers.

    Open my foot.
    • by gambit3 (463693)
      By the way, this experience happened a scant two months ago.
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Then you talked to an idiot CSR. I did the same thing about two or three months ago as well. Old blue phone, moving to an orange iPhone plan and wanted to be able to have the old phone as a backup. Call them again.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Better yet, use the automated online form. That way, there's no potentially incompetent CSR to muck up the works. That's what I did. One week later, I had my unlock code. Unless there's some fundamental technical limitation as other people mentioned, so will you.

    • by peragrin (659227)
      I know the AT&T cingluar to AT&T switchover hasn't gone all that smoothly though i do have one question was your old Phone GSM? If it was I would ahve gone to one of their stores, said I want to use my old phone and my current contract and when they started to as for payment for unlocking yelled at them.

      Most of the stores I know would have unlocked the phone for free, but only if your there.
    • I had the same problem. When they became Cingular I was told that I would have to buy a new phone and be considered a new customer (I don't have the best credit in the world at the moment). I reminded them that I'd been a customer for 5 years. They reminded me that they didn't care. I use T-Mobile prepaid now, and it's about half as expensive as my plan was, and it's my only phone. I guess they felt they had enough customers that they could afford to treat half of them like crap.
    • by emj (15659)
      I think you fail to understand what it takes to unlock a phone, if it really was that old as you say it's no wonder they had no rom upgrading kit available.. Maybe it sucks but it's very understandable..
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The "Old AT&T Wireless" was not a GSM system. When they merged with Cingular they went to an all GSM system (you probably had an TDMA phone). That old phone would be incapable of working on the current network. The old AT&T systems are completely separate - the start a new account on the GSM system. I had the same issue (although, it was explained to me much better).
      • by meatspray (59961)
        Negative, It might not have been gsm in your area but I had a Nokia 6620 on AT&T long before Cingular. What ticked me off was getting the third rate treatment after Cingular took over. I had picked up a sony vaio with an integrated edge data modem. Cingular took over ATT and was sending me two bills. I asked for the accounts to be merged, they told me i'd have to scrap my old phone number. I told them I'd like it ported they said sorry it's the same company. I unlocked the phone myself and took it to
        • Cingular took over ATT and was sending me two bills. I asked for the accounts to be merged, they told me i'd have to scrap my old phone number.

          Interesting information and thanks for it - good to know.

          I've had cell service with them (as Cingular) for years, and the home phone has been with SBC on my wife's name. When all of the mergers went through, they offered to merge the bills and reduce the rate by (I believe) $2. BUT: because the phones were set up under two different names, and SBC, AT&T and

      • by kurtras (65722)
        Wrong. Cingular Blue (the old AWS) was GSM in plenty of markets.

        Do some research next time.
      • by Tintivilus (88810)
        "Old" AT&T Wireless had already stopped selling TDMA phones before being purchased by Cingular. I know plenty of people who had (fewer who have still) pre-Cingular AT&T SIMs and they always cause fits in customer service reps. Apparently their system makes it hard to discriminate between AT&T Wireless ("blue") and AT&T Mobility ("orange") accounts. I think it wasn't until after the buyout that they started really pushing TDMA customers to replace their phones.
      • by gambit3 (463693)
        Um... no, the old ATT WAS a GSM network (though they did have some parts of their network that were REALLY old and were analog). I should know. I worked for one of the big GSM Network makers... and ATT used a lot of our equipment in the Northeast, especially Seattle.

        I know what you're talking about, but I'm not talking about that service. My service was definitely GSM, and my phone was also a GSM phone, just locked to the old ATT GSM network. Network incompatibility was not excuse for them
    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      As another person said in a reply, there is a good chance that this was a technical limitation and not a policy limitation. The phone was probably just so old that they didn't have the equipment/documentation to unlock it any more. (And as another person said, the Old ATT->Cingular transition was pretty rough.)

      I see quotes in the article about AT&T unlocking phones for customers out of contract (or paying full price for the phone), I'm not sure if that's a change or "the way it has been", but the t
      • by R2.0 (532027)
        "People have been unlocking their Tilts right and left with zero hassle."

        Sory - I read that as "unlocking their Tits" and flashed back to the horrors of rear hook bras, and the difficulty removing them in a suave manner.
    • by azenpunk (1080949)
      the old AT&T had a different network than the new AT&T. when cingular took over they slowly removed the old equipmetn and anyone with the Nokia brick slowly lost bars of service as this happened. the old and new AT&T wirless providers are not compatible. they were assholes about the change though.
    • I couldn't even get a phone locked to the OLD ATT (ATT Blue, for those counting) unlocked by them to work on the NEW ATT

      What's wrong with what they told you? You can have your phone unlocked at the mall. AT&T probably doesn't even know how to unlock an old model.

      When AT&T says that their networks are open, it means that you can use unlocked devices on their network. And you can: I've been doing that for years, and it works like a charm.

      I very kindly told them what they could do with themselves, a
  • As much as Google gets skewered for not living it's motto of "do no evil" and some of the questionable privacy practices of the company, I LOVE what their android/spectrum bid announcements have done to the cellphone industry. The existing giants seem to be falling over themselves to show how customer-friendly, competition friendly, ect. they are. It's really laughable.
  • Pretty much any phone is only defined by whether its based of the CDMA type techs or the GSM type techs, and regardless of who the carrier is, the phone will work. The thing is salespeople have been trained for years to rebut requests to do so with lines concerning it being "unsupported" or to just simply start with "its not a phone for our network". On the CDMA side of things a least, if you have the lock codes, you can activate it anywhere. I do not know GSM too well myself, but i believe billing and acco
    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:26PM (#21614387) Journal

      On the CDMA side of things a least, if you have the lock codes, you can activate it anywhere

      Not exactly. In order to provision a CDMA phone the carrier needs to put the ESN [wikipedia.org] of the phone on your account. They can easily refuse to complete an ESN change if the new ESN represents an unapproved phone model.

      With GSM you don't need to involve the carrier to switch phones. All you do is move your SIM card. The only provision on GSM for blocking phones that I'm aware of is the ability to use the IMEI Database [gsmworld.com] to blacklist [wikipedia.org] certain IMEIs [wikipedia.org], typically those belonging to stolen phones. In theory, if your phone is reported stolen it will be added to this blacklist and become a brick unless the IMEI is changed. In practice, not all carriers honor this database.

      I wonder if the carriers will be nice enough to let us bring our own phones (presumably paying full price for them and avoiding any carrier subsidy) and get service under the same terms as anybody else, but without a long term contract with ETF? Somehow I kind of doubt it -- wonder what the justification for contracts will be when people pay full price for the phone?

      • by ahecht (567934)
        Up until last year, Cingular would let you sign up for service with only a 1-month contract, but you had to really fight with them to get them to do it (I went through 4 customer services reps before I found the magic word COAM, which stands for Customer Owned and Maintained Equipment). However, as of January of this year, CIngular requires a minimum 11 month contract. Therefore, if you have an existing phone, you're better off getting the free phone with your 1 year contract and selling it on eBay (reselle
        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          T-Mobile has an option called FlexPay [t-mobile.com], which provides for almost all of the advantages of post-paid service, without needing a contract (if you pay full price for the phone).

          They are the only (major) American carrier with anything like this though and that's a crying shame IMHO. Why the hell do I need to be locked into a contract for the benefit of having phone service? And don't anybody come back and say "prepaid" as an option -- most American prepaid plans are a joke for anything over and above "keepin

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PortHaven (242123)
      Not sure if that is totally correct? At least with CDMA...

      If I recall correctly, Verizon and Sprint (both CDMA tech) use different megahertz frequencies. So the phone also has to be capable of operating at both frequencies.

      - Saj
    • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@nOspaM.cornell.edu> on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:34PM (#21614491) Homepage
      "On the CDMA side of things a least, if you have the lock codes, you can activate it anywhere."

      Not true. Even if you have the MSL code to unlock programming, Sprint always had an ESN whitelist. If a phone was not in that list, they would activate it. Sprint also MSL-locked all their phones with random codes (stored in a database so only they could activate them, of course.)

      Verizon, on the other hand, used an MSL lock code of 0000 on ALL phones. Didn't matter since Sprint would refuse to activate them. If you could get the MSL unlock code for a Sprint device and change it to 0000, you could activate Sprint phones on VZW though - for the 6-9 month gap between Sprint releasing the Treo 650 and Verizon releasing it, this is how VZW customers got Treo 650s. (Although I hear VZW may have started ESN whitelisting policies too sometime since 2005.)

      A general thing with CDMA devices is that your account is tied to your phone's ESN. To change devices, you must activate the new device with your provider, deactivating the old one. (There is a standard for SIMs for cdmaOne/CDMA2000 devices, but I have yet to see a phone that used this, at least not in the U.S.)

      You are correct in that all account/billing/identification info for GSM phones is stored in the SIM. It is indeed standardized. If a phone supports the GSM bands used in the U.S. (they differ from Europe, but quad-band GSM phones are the norm and not the exception nowadays, especially for higher-end devices.), you can just pop in a U.S. SIM and go. The one exception is that phones can be locked to only accept SIMs from one carrier, so you need an unlocked phone if you want to use a device not sold by the carrier. Examples of phones not sold by any U.S. GSM provider but usable on the U.S. GSM networks include the HTC Advantage, HTC S710, HTC S730, and some of the GSM HTC Touch variants. (Although older Touches were only triband GSM, same for the 710 I think.)

      Note here that while the phones sold may not be open (may be locked), the network NEVER locks out particular devices (at least I have never heard of such a thing happening.)
      • by Andy Dodd (701)
        If a phone was not in Sprint's whitelist they would NOT activate it. Missed the "not". :)
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:09PM (#21614127)
    I never really liked many of the phones that AT&T/Cingular/whatever sells in their stores. The last three or four phones I've owned I've always bought from places other than AT&T and I've never had any problems with them. One big reason I do this is because I want a GSM phone that will work outside the US. I recently went to New Zealand and Australia, and if I had an AT&T provided phone it wouldn't have worked down there. My current phone, a Motorola V360, worked great down there with local SIM cards I bought. I always make sure I get a quad-band GSM phone for this specific reason.

    The only real advantage to buying a phone from a carrier is that it'll come fully configured to operate on their network. When I buy non-branded phones I have to set them up myself. It's basically entering information for voicemil access, WAP gateway, and similar things. It's easy enough to find out most of this information though. Just do a quick Google search of your carrier & phone and you'll probably find numerous forum posts describing how to do it.
    • by xaxa (988988)
      I set my phone up for these services (MMS, web etc) by putting my phone number in the Virgin Mobile (UK) website, I then received a text message with "data settings", which I allowed to do its stuff, and all the settings were applied. I don't know if features can be disabled doing this...
    • I think the phones can be configured over the air, I haven't looked into this but when I placed a new SIM(other carrier) in my Nokia E50 the wap gateway and other settings were there.
    • Tmobile has a policy of allowing you to use the GSM phone of your choice on their network. (And yes, I found it in writing on their web site.) And they don't make any effort to prevent you from installing stuff on the phones they sell. This has been true since way back when I signed up with Omnipoint 8 years ago, and then Voicestream, now Tmobile.

      I've been surprised that these announcements by Verizon and AT&T have been getting any attention, since this is seriously old news to me.
  • is still too low when it comes to roaming services and customer care. If they actually were a little more friendly when a customer comes in and wants a certain service (like buying a prepaid WITHOUT a phone) they would get a lot more credit on friendliness.
  • AT&T's network is GSM, any unlocked GSM device can be used on it. But access to the network must still be purchased. Android is geared toward creating standard, open devices. That's two different things. AT&T is trying to cash in on buzz for "open" but as far as I can tell, there's not good reason Android and GSM are incompatible.
  • Knowing that the AT&T network was GSM, I bought a relative a nice GSM phone. After all the expense (including a two year contract where I purchased the phone), he did not end up using it. Why? Because AT&T refused to enable GPRS for his phone even when he called customer service.

    So, yes, the network can use GSM, but do not get a phone with any features because AT&T will not let you use them.

    • Re:Except for GPRS (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:51PM (#21614725)
      I call BS. First of all, you don't enable access for the phone. There is no filtering based on your IMEI or any such nonsense. It is enabled in the HLR, and guess what? EVERYONE has access to the wap.cingular APN regardless of their plan unless they specifically ask for it to be disabled. You say you got locked in or 'he' got locked in or something to an agreement. If you got a 2 year agreement on an AT&T Wireless/Cingular Wireless/ATT Mobility phone, you can damned well be sure that the apn/wapgw/homepage/mmsc settings were preconfigured. Data drives revenue (kb usage, ringtones, downloadables etc).

      A simple google search would have told you all you need to know about setting up your phone for data usage. Since you're obviously too lazy, let me tell you how now:

      Configure the data connection:
      APN: wap.cingular
      User: WAP@CINGULARGPRS.COM
      Pass: CINGULAR1

      Wap Gateway:
      IP Address: 66.209.11.32
      Home Page Url: http://device.home/ [device.home]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tintivilus (88810)

        Indeed, this works for any phone or even a tethered laptop. The biggest implication of this announcement is that the data plan tiers are likely to fall away -- the only real difference between the $20 "MEdia Max", the $30 "Smartphone Max", the $40 "PDA Personal Max", and the $60 "DataConnect Unlimited" data plans are the device you tell them you have when you activate the service -- featurephone, smartphone, PDA, or data card.

        Any EDGE or HSDPA data device functions quite happily at full rate with the $20

    • by B1 (86803)
      I bought an unlocked Nokia E70 a while ago, and have no trouble using it with the AT&T GPRS/EDGE network.

      The phone does have to be set up with the appropriate settings to 'log on' to their network though. At least with Nokia, I was able to get the settings sent to my phone over the air from Nokia's website--they had settings for a wide range of models and carriers. You might even be able to do the same directly from the AT&T website as well.

    • Yes, you can get GPRS/EDGE on unsupported hardware. You just have to search the proper GPRS/data settings for your particular device and configure it manually. Not one foreign phone that I have ever attempted to configure has failed. Even some unsupported phones can be automatically configured over-the-air from AT&T's website.

      I think the point of this exercise is that if you want to use unsupported hardware, you had better know how to use it. That's why this only affects us geeks, and the masses sti
    • I bought a relative a nice GSM phone. After all the expense (including a two year contract where I purchased the phone), he did not end up using it. Why? Because AT&T refused to enable GPRS for his phone even when he called customer service. So, yes, the network can use GSM, but do not get a phone with any features because AT&T will not let you use them.

      I just got back from a week in the USA. I bought a Cingular/AT&T SIM card and stuck it in my Nokia E61i. GPRS worked straight out of the box,

  • T-Mobile has been doing that for years. The thing is, as another user pointed out, there is no guarantee that one of $carrier's branded phones will actually work, but speaking for t-mo, their tier 3 department seems to have some pretty decent tools to make it work. Some things don't work much of the time for non-branded phones (like downloading content from their internal wap site), but otherwise things tend to work.
  • Well I thought this was the case about a year ago. I had an old unlocked T-68i that was originally on T-mobile. My company had switched to ATT and I had switched and gotten a new phone, a T637. The only problem is, I had lost this phone, and my company was unable to get me a new phone for over 2 weeks. (Corp accounts have to go through a different service, can't use stores). Anyhow, I went to an ATT store and asked them if they could just sell me a sim and activate it in my T68i for the next few weeks u
    • You must have done it wrong. I said that my phone got "stolen" (read lost), and they gave me a sim card for $30. Also if you beg, you can sometimes get it for free (I've lost my phone on many occasion).
  • Slow news day..... This is atleast 3 days old now.

    This is a plain PR release to attempt to on up Verizons PR release. There is no different between the ATT today and the ATT prior to the PR release. They have always had an open network, the ATT platform is another story, its pretty closed (ATT platform == ATT customized firmwares and such), and they love to exclude wireless if they can, and generally refuse to unlock the phones they sell, unless you beg.
  • I'm not going to beat the horse I killed in the Verizon thread last week (or was it the week before?) but suffice it to say that I won't be using AT&T ever again if I can in any way help it. I'd link to a comment or two there but I can't find the story, let alone comments.

    I'm looking to US Cellular, any thoughts on that?

    -mcgrew
    Today's journal is NSFW [slashdot.org]
  • Take a look at Joel Spolsky's "Strategy Letter V": http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html [joelonsoftware.com]
  • I know from experience as I have used non-Cingular/AT&T devices for a few years now. Most recently is the Sony Ericsson K790a, soon to be the K850i. And they are VERY quick to blame any problems on your device.

    In particular, the Blogger function of the K790a is not working for me anymore. Blogger says it's my carrier, AT&T says it's Sony Ericsson's fault, and they won't help me to even troubleshoot to provide info to SE since it's not one of their phones.

    My next step is to lie to them and say it'
    • by VP (32928)
      Did you make a copy of the APN, with the AT&T proxy removed? This fixes quite a number of issues...
      • by LoadWB (592248) *
        Friday I received my replacement phone from SE. It was able to create and post to a new blog. I then used the provided token to claim the blog and merge it into my original. I'm thinking that the problem was related to Blogger having locked the old device in their system, but not copping to it.

        Ah, well. I guess that's the kind of support you can expect from a free service. I just hope it doesn't happen again.

        In regards to the proxy info, I pretty much only use that profile for the built-in NetFront bro
  • While AT&T allows any device to be used, they won't give you a break on the service price even though you they don't have to 'recoup the cost of the hardware'. When I went into an AT&T store two months ago they said that the only benefit I would see by purchasing my device elsewhere was to cut the contract length from 2 years to 1 year. If I use my own hardware, I don't see why they should need anything more than a valid credit card for which to reliably bill me for service. The telephone and cable companies don't require contracts for service!

    Of course, they also have prepaid plans, but a monthly plan with more peak minutes than I'd ever use is the only way to get the free nights/weekends that I do use.

    For the record, I ended up leaving Verizon for Unicel and love the service, the price, the plan features (free incoming calls and texts), and they don't do any locking of hardware at all. Now if only we can prevent Verizon from buying Unicel...
    • by j_sp_r (656354)
      What's so special about free incoming calls and texts (SMS)? It's quite normal around here, I think nobody would buy paying for incoming calls here.
      • What's so special about free incoming calls and texts (SMS)? It's quite normal around here, I think nobody would buy paying for incoming calls here.

        That's because you're too busy paying three times as much for your outgoing calls.

        • by Zaitor (946692)
          Interesting

          I pay 0$ for incoming calls, I pay 0$ in subscription fee, I payed 0$ in start-up fee and I pay 0$ for the first 142 minutes and 99 sms every month.
          I do pay a lot for everything over those limits. However I have yet to go above the monthly free min/sms. So far the only thing I have paid for is the phone itself. How cheap are your outgoing calls?

          In my case, the min above the 142, is 1,5 NOK per min, that is 0,27249 US$ acording to Google. I could get a subscription that I pay from the first min, (
          • I pay 0$ for incoming calls, I pay 0$ in subscription fee, I payed 0$ in start-up fee and I pay 0$ for the first 142 minutes and 99 sms every month.

            Well, either there are undisclosed costs or this is a marketing tactic based on the assumptuion that you are going to use a lot more than 142 minutes per month. Either way that's not telling us too much about the overall market.

            What you need to look at is the total cost paid by all phone users for incoming and outgoing minutes.

            Please tell me what is the "norma

      • What's so special about free incoming calls and texts (SMS)? It's quite normal around here, I think nobody would buy paying for incoming calls here.

        In the US, just about all mobile service (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile,...) is billed per minute of air-time or per SMS-sent/recieved, regardless of the originator. If you are on a mobile phone calling another person on a mobile phone, then you are both paying for the call.

        Its also common to have national plans where you aren't charged differently for calling close by or several thousand miles, unlike land-lines which generally have free incoming calls and differential pricing of outgoing calls depe

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Get a prepaid phone. Transplant the SIM card from your prepaid phone to the phone you want to use.
      • Get a prepaid phone. Transplant the SIM card from your prepaid phone to the phone you want to use.

        Except that the prepaid rates cost more than the "monthly plan" rates.

        I don't have a home phone, so over the past six months I've averaged just over 400minutes on the phone each month with a max of 540 minutes, about half incoming and half outgoing. As well, about half is on nights and weekends, and half is during peak hours.

        Since none of the prepaid SIM cards I've found provide free incoming calls or free off-peak, I'd be billed for every one of the 400minutes. At the best rate I've seen ($0.10/min) that

    • Not locked huh?

      Well just ask Verizon why you can't transfer files using OBX (bluetooth) then?

      Oh, cause they disable OBX file transfers thats why.

      Verizon cripples the software on their phones. Just go to PhoneScoop.com, look up your phone and see what features are disabled. You might just be shocked.

      And when will they ever get a calendar app that works? Allows trnsfers to others, and my pc/yahoo account?

  • ...who anxiously await the release of OpenMoko's unlocked phone. I can't wait to get my hands on a Neo, now that I know networks in the US will support it. Who wants an iPhone tied to AT&T, when you can have a phone that runs on all GSM networks and runs Linux?
  • This applies to devices they sell too, voice or data. GSM is supposed to work better than that. I'm so happy to be an ex-Cingular (now AT&T) GSM voice customer.

    # Worst network ever.
  • People here praise Verizon for "opening" up their handsets, but lambast ATT for operating with any GSM device that works in their spectrum. It's reminds me of when Red Hat moved to RHEL, they got all this bad press, but when Sun releases OpenSolaris, along with the paid version they've always had, they're heralded as a leader in FOSS. Personally (I hate to say this) I agree with ATT. I've stayed with them, refusing to buy a device that was under complete control of the carrier. I've always had the abili
  • This news, along with recent news about Verizon opening their network, and about Google bidding for the 700 Mhz spectrum, not to mention the announcement of Android and the Open Handset Alliance, all sounds very promising. However, does anyone have any ideas how (if at all) this will affect the Canadian wireless market? I recently moved back to Canuckistan after living in the States for a number of years so I have first hand experience with wireless carriers in both countries. I can tell you that wireles
  • I agree GSM is more open and that it has many advantages, but at least for high speed data you need to go with Spring or Verizon in the United States. It's not that way in most places, but in the US GSM 3G coverage just plain sucks. Cingular is working on expanding their 3G HSDPA/UMTS coverage but right now it's just in a few metro areas. They don't even have all of New York City Covered! Not even the whole area of the biggest damn city in the US. Verizon and Spring have pushed EVDO pretty well out in

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