T-Mobile sells a line of smartphones collectively called the
SidekickTM. In Spring 2009 they offered
an attractive (to me) pay-as-you-go plan for Sidekick. The terms are/were
USD $0.15 per minute for voice, and $1.00 per day for
including SMS. No ports
were blocked, and
(3G) technology is used in
locales where the infrastructure has been installed.
Quite a number of G1 and iPhone users, including myself, have had good results using the various Sidekick plans.
However, starting about 2009-08-10, T-Mobile blocked ports 80 and 443; they require that Sidekicks access web sites through their proxy. It does the WAP thing and also suppresses images, in line with the capabilities of the actual Sidekick. The consequences for a G1 (or iPhone) user are these:
I have not seen any forum postings that say that initial activation of the G1 can or cannot be done through the T-Mobile proxy. In theory it should work . . .
Other ports are not blocked (so far), and in particular, e-mail continues to work, send and receive.
If you don't like what their proxy does to web pages, you can use a different proxy. I set up my own Squid web proxy, which was successful, including most (but not quite all) sites that use SSL and/or cookies. While I have not heard that T-Mobile has blocked the standard Squid port, 3128, I used a nonstandard port for safety.
Google Maps gets the map tiles via HTTP on port 80, but due to a crock in the API it refuses to obey the global web proxy and cannot get maps from its servers. See Android bug 3764 for more details.
A VPN such as
by Wade Mealing (in the Android Market) can provide a route for Google
Maps, but this solution has its own useability issues. At least T-Mobile
has not blocked the
AH protocols and the
ISAKMP port (500) used by the
Android bug 3803 for more details including the procedure to compile
the needed kernel module.
So what am I to do for data transport? My choices are:
Continue with the Sidekick plan and live with its restrictions. Pro: Other plans are more expensive with features that are wasted on me. Con: If T-Mobile is unable to evict the non-Sidekick users, they may block more ports. It's a pain to run web traffic up and down my DSL connection when I use my Squid proxy. The VPN has serious useability issues.
Get a voice plus data plan from T-Mobile. Apparently the cheapest one costs about USD $50/month (before taxes), compared to $30/month for the Sidekick. Pro: This is the least hassle. Con: It galls me to shell out money to the weasels for services I'm not going to use.
Revert to AT&T. Pro: I get to punish T-Mobile for their weaselly behavior, not that they will notice, or care. Con: AT&T is even more weaselly than T-Mobile; their price for data on pay as you go plans is exorbitant; and for the G1 they can only provide EDGE (2G) technology, not UMTS (3G).
My eventual choice:
GoPhone pay-as-you-go plan, using the
feature pack for data
at USD $20 for 100 Mbytes. The package expires in 30 days, and since I
never come close to using that much data, effectively I'm paying $20/month:
less than on T-Mobile. For voice there are several options, but given the
small amount of voice chat that I do, the $0.25/minute plan costs me the
least. If a period of high voice usage can be anticipated, it is accepted
practice (accepted by the carrier) to change to a more favorable plan,
do the special activity, and then change back, possibly even on the same day.
I'm not getting UMTS (3G) service, but I figure that 2G that works is better than 3G that doesn't. Now that I can get to Google Maps reliably (if a little slow), every day when going home from work I check which of two routes is less congested.