Monday, November 23, 2009

iPhone Has Found A New Player

We have been looking at changing our increasingly expensive accumulation of 'electronic necessities' to see if we could take advantage of some of the 'bundle' packages the phone, TV and Internet Service Providers are offering.

We were using AT&T for our home phone, Verizon for our cell phones, Comcast for our ISP, Direct TV for our satellite TV and Comcast for our cable TV. Yea, satellite and cable TV. A little overkill is what we think too.

But get this, we've had 450 minutes of family cell phone minutes and rarely ever used over one or two minutes per month between us. And we don't text messages at all. We concluded it was more horsepower than we needed, especially now that Judy has given notice of her intentions of retiring in June 2010. One good cell phone will be enough, possibly with a pre-paid backup cell phone for emergencies.

Next, we were paying more than a few bucks for cable TV because when we originally signed up for High Speed Internet services the only carrier in our area was Roadrunner. They required that we purchase at least their basic cable TV service in order to qualify for their Internet service. Comcast took over from Roadrunner and does not require the basic cable service. We just never got around to changing it, mostly because we can see cable programs on other TV's throughout the house, including on my computer.

Finally, we were paying a goodly amount for our home (land-line) phone service because we didn't want to worry about long distance bills. Well, we could have talked for a very long time being charged by the minute and probably had money left over.

So we decided to try Vonage. They were one of the first to offer the new computer/internet based VoIP telephone servces. (That was a few years ago.) Their price is certainly right. After taxes and stuff it was only going to be about $34 a month and came with unlimited local and long distance calls. We also liked it because it had some neat features we could turn on or off as we wanted. But then we learned that their service was not compatible with our Brinks alarm system. Plus, it slowed our Comcast Internet download speeds to the point of 'crawl.' By then we had had enough.

Back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, we wanted an iPhone, with the emphasis on "wanted" rather than "needed." Only place to get one is ATT so by the time we finished talking to a salesman we had agreed to go with their ATT Uverse package that gave us TV, Internet and telephone services. And we could apply a promotional credit toward the iPhone, essentially making it free.

Then things started getting complicated. We heard that ATT's Uverse would not work with our alarm system unless (too technologically complex to understand) and we might have to change our phone number because we still had Vonage.

We suddenly realized that we could lose our phone number and our email addresses we had had for many years if we changed, not to mention possibly losing Internet connection speed and TV viewing in each room unless we paid a fee for a box in each room. By then the costs savings by switching was gone and we ended up with less service.

We went ahead and got the iPhone but tomorrow morning I'm calling to cancel all the other plans for converting the telephone and television to ATT Uverse. Instead, we're probably going to cancel Direct TV (satellite) and increase our cable TV services. Meanwhile, we will disconnect Vonage and ATT will re-install basic land-line phone services here at home, mostly to keep the Brinks alarm system working. Any long distance calls will be charged but we have lots of minutes on our iPhone we can use for that.

If it doesn't work for us in the long run, at least we will have given it our best shot of getting the right services for our money. And we learned a lot in the process.

Live and learn...

Meanwhile, we have our new iPhone and love it. It is absolutely amazing what all it can do with the apps we've downloaded (mostly free and one for $ .99). And it is a pretty decent cell phone (which could be a plus one day).

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