March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 11.04.04
From the Desk of Eric M. Zeman: Mobile Data on a Diet
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I admit it. I am a geek. Why else would I spend my days writing about mobile technology and my evenings playing with that very same technology? Well, because itís kind of fun, thatís why. And also because I am not one to keep up with the Joneses. I am Mr. Jones. The latest and greatest? Had it for breakfast yesterday.  

By Eric M. Zeman




With all the amazing WLAN data plans out there, you’d think I was a card-carrying member of whatever wonderful association it is that subscribers to those plans join. Alas, I have no real, business need (so far…) for all-I-can-eat data, especially at $80 per month. So how’s an Internet/e-mail/device junkie like me going to get my fix when I’m stranded in rush-hour traffic on Route 80? Since I’m a Verizon subscriber, that fix comes in the form of Verizon’s Mobile Web service.

All the major carriers have some form of mobile Web service offering for customers, usually for a fee of approximately $5 per month. Mobile Web services allow you to access content right on your Web-enabled phone, including: news, sports, travel, entertainment, money/trading, games and your own bookmarks. Though hardly a full browser-based surfing experience, these mobile Web offerings permit users to take a peek at e-mail (usually POP3 accounts like Hotmail, Yahoo!, AOL and MSN), browse the headlines and in some cases read stories for all the subjects mentioned above.

With Verizon’s Mobile Web, I was able to look up movie times, make sure I wasn’t going to get stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the theater and then scan the news while I waited in line to buy tickets. Once in the theater I passed the minutes until show time by checking my Yahoo! accounts and mulling the latest Dark Tower novel by Stephen King on the very slimmed-down version of Amazon. While I haven’t actually made a purchase yet with my phone, Verizon claims it is easy and secure. I’ll let you what my experience is if/when I take that step.

The one real detractor from all these plans is that you have to use regular air minutes to access the content. If you have unlimited minutes each month, great. But if you’re anything like me and are restricted to 400 anytime minutes per month, those minutes spent browsing the Web can can ring up faster than you can say additional fees.
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