After the Santa Clara County Fire Department called them out, Verizon finally came clean and did the right thing. Last week, it was reported that they were throttling the data speeds at 25GB for all of the firefighters rendering their internet connection useless. I'd be pretty upset if my house burned down over what Verizon did.
Last week, Verizon did not even offer essential service for first responders. Their solution was to throttle. When challenged about this, management stated that they treat these cases on an individual basis and the SCC FD should have called customer care and explained the situation. They actually did call in and were told that the Government Unlimited plan they chose, was limited to 25GB of 4G data speeds. They were never offered another solution other than an up-sell to a much more expensive plan that would increase their 4G data allotment.
Well after having this issue added as an addendum to California's fight with the FCC over Net Neutrality, Verizon knew they better fix this problem. Apparently they are going to offer a new "unthrottled" unlimited plan and Essential service for First responders. They have also removed all restrictions and throttling for both the Mendocino Firefighters and those in Hawaii. It's a shame it took a horrific fire to get this stupid policy rectified.
Santa Clara County Firefighters were critically hindered by Verizon when fighting the Mendocino fire. How you ask? Well, Verizon has publicly stated that they will throttle their customers' Unlimited plan speeds after 25 GB of monthly usage, regardless of being an Government entity, as do Sprint and AT&T.
The Santa Clara County Firefighters utilize the internet to track fires and determine where they need to deploy resources. Obviously, when you are a first responder trying to save lives and property, having your data speeds suddenly slow down to totally useless dial-up modem speeds is not acceptable.
Santa Clara officials are furious at Verizon over this. In my view, you cannot blame Verizon for doing what they clearly stated that they will do. I would personally blame the head of IT at the Fire Department. As consultants for public sector organizations, the first thing we do is verify whether the carrier has special first responder access programs. If they do, we get them preferential treatment so they are not blocked or slowed down. If there are no programs available, we generally recommend T-Mobile because all of their plans, consumer, corporate or government, exclusively offer 50GB per line, per user, before throttling. Having been done this same road personally with Verizon in the past, their solution was to buy a more expensive plan that increased the data capacity. As an unbiased consultant, I told my client he could pay more with Verizon to increase his 25GB per user allocation or just port to T-Mobile for the same costs and get 50GB per user. No brainer!
My opinion is after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rolled back net neutrality, Verizon, AT&T, and all the big Cable players are back to doing what's best for them, not the public. This is exactly why we offer wireless consulting services. Not all Unlimited plans are the same or even close. You are better off finding out about this stuff ahead of time, not when lives and property are at stake.
On August 21, T-Mobile subscribers who visit their T-Mobile Tuesdays application will get one year of FREE Pandora Plus music. Between offering FREE Netflix and now FREE Pandora Plus, TM is declaring war on the other carriers.
On top of Pandora, TM has also just partnered with Live Nation. They are the largest owner of concert venues in the US and own Ticketmaster. Well, TM has a special deal for for their subscribers that will make them feel like Rockstars. It's a bit long, but to here all the latest T-Mobile offerings and benefits, you can see the launch here.
All of the above combined with their new TEAM of EXPERTS approach of customer service makes T-Mobile the dominant carrier. They have been porting in 2-1 AT&T and Verizon subscribers which is staggering. The uncarrier strikes again!
Don't you hate calling companies for support but never getting to talk to a human being. You first get greeted with the "Please listen carefully as our menu has recently changed." Then, if your lucky, you'll get the "please enter your extension at any time, for a company directory press 9. Sometimes you get the...
Did you know that the most common answers can be found on our FAQs page at www....".
This is called call deflection and the reality is most companies giving customer support do not really want to speak directly with their customers. There is no guarantee that you will be successful if you do get a human being. Many companies just transfer you to another department or even worse, to a call center overseas with people that you cannot understand that don't really seem to care about your issue.
No wireless company is perfect and that includes T-Mobile. They do come closest to getting it right though. After all, they were responsible for making all the other carriers abolish contracts, offer Unlimited Plans, FREE global data and texting and more. They were the first company to eat taxes and fees on many plans too. Nothing is funnier than listening to TM CEO John Legere and team lambasting dumb and dumber (Verizon and AT&T).
As of 8-17-18, TM has vowed that you will be greeted by a TEAM of EXPERTS, 24/7. They are doing away with the voIP IVR system that every company (including mine) uses. I sure hope they can pull this off. Next to T-Mobile, Verizon is pretty solid and consistent with customer support.
Maybe "old guys" do rule after all. Now that I'm semi-retired, I'm beginning to realize that I must have been semi-retired for the last decade. After all, I've been surfing every morning before work all along. The only thing gone is the guilt in knowing I should be at work. My buddies know that my hearing is going and I don't see as well as I used to. It's not personal, or out of spite, if I should take off in front of them. I was hoping that my seniority might count for a few set waves at the premium California point breaks but apparently that is not an included geezer perk.
Believe it or not, there are some cool benefits to "being old". Nothing too painful about surfing at "Old Man's" at San Onofre or getting to surf my favorite 600 yard tropical longboard point with Corky. Yeah, I found a few restaurant discount deals too but there is something else available that I thought was pretty neat.
Apparently, If you are 62 years of age, there is a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass with a deal that sounds too good to be true. but it's real. I just made a one-time payment of $90 and will never have to pay for this again for the rest of my life. If that wasn't amazing in itself, this seniors pass works at over 2,000 sites Nationwide at all Federal parks. I just got mine in the mail this AM. In a perfect world, it would also work at California State Beaches but it doesn't, I already tried it. That being said, I've been dying to go to Yosemite and some other National parks.
The above Seniors pass covers entrance fees at National parks and wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees (day use) at National forests, National Grasslands, and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the army Corps of Engineers. Go to https://store.usgs.gov/pass to get yours. You can buy me a beer of give me a set wave if you enjoy this as much as I will.
Some wireless carriers offer seniors plans and other off-sheet non advertised plans. There has been an enormous amount of unlimited plan competition which has resulted in the introduction of several types of unlimited plans. All offer Unlimited voice, text, and data domestically. The difference is some also have international capabilities and include 4G hotspots. Whether your a senior or not, if you are paying over $30 per line, you're likely being ripped off.
While I absolutely hate iTunes and refuse to use it, I do love my music. Up until now, I've exclusively relied on Amazon's Prime Music. If you're a T-Mobile subscriber, it will pay for you to go to your T-Mobile Tuesdays application on this coming Tuesday. That's because TM will be giving away a FREE year of Pandora Plus, on that day only.
If that wasn't cool enough, this past week, TM also inked a deal with Live Nation to offer special concert pricing and upgrade perks to TM subscribers. For $25 per ticket, they offered me a selection of concerts in Orange County and San Diego area. Remember, Live Nation owns Ticket Master so this could make going to concerts less painful.
Discount tickets ($25 each) are now available to T-Mobile Subscribers
I love this time of the year for a number of reasons. For the last decade, Apple announced their new iPhone models the first week of September. They usually ship to the carriers two weeks later. In the old days of wireless, manufacturers would unveil new models at the CES, CTIA and Mobile Congress wireless industry shows. Well, Apple changed all that. Several manufacturers still launch at the Barcelona show but not Apple. It's no secret when Apple makes their announcements, so their competition loves to pre-empt their releases with their own new models. With the possible exception of the exploding Galaxy Note 7, this strategy has worked quite well. I was using a Samsung Galaxy S8+ for the last 6 months and felt it blew the doors of my daughter's iPhone 10. I didn't like having to lock it before putting in my pocket. With my iPhone, the worse case scenario was maybe butt dialing the last person I called. With the S8+, it would launch applications on it's own. I was worried it was going to buy something off e-bay without my knowledge.
That being said, if you lock the device before pocketing, problem solved. Once again, Samsung is going to steal Apple's thunder. I suspect it will be their new Samsung X model. Find out on August 9th, right here. There has been speculation from our main Apple inside analyst that prices will drop "bigly" on the new three X models. On the other hand, since these devices are all made in China and subject to new trade tariffs, this might offset any price cuts. Regardless, my experience has shown that it is a great time to buy a current model as they usually drop $100 overnight in September.
Would you make a one time payment to me of $100 if I could guarantee to save you over $500 per year or more, every year on your wireless plan? Of course you would! The reason we can do this is we have recently found that 95% of all personal and business plan users are getting ripped off with regular wireless plans. After spending 28 years activating thousands of phones for all of the major carrier, nobody knows them better.
How can we guarantee this? Discretionary credits, Off-sheet retention plans, military discounts, and non advertised non-commissioned plans combined with our wireless industry knowledge and carrier resources. Dr Wireless clients only pay $30 per line for Unlimited data. If you are paying more, why?
I've been in the wireless industry long before Smartphones. I saw IBM launch their "Watson" about 10 years too soon. Research in Motion developed a new messaging technology and device called the BlackBerry. NOKIA launched their E61 Smartphone which actually supported Blackberry and GOODLink Exchange server technologies. This model also offered SIP dialing, voice-to-text, wifi, wifi dialing and lots of features before their time. It was their confusing operating system amazing features, and confusing layout that doomed them. Cingular Wireless allegedly would not touch this model as it offered features built-in that they wanted to sell as bolt-ons. Palm clearly had the best calendar application. They also smartly grabbed the MLS real estate vertical by developing an application that would unlock the realtor lock boxes at open houses.
BlackBerry had business and government accounts because IT managers wanted devices and OS that were secure and easy for them to manage. RIM's legendary and proprietary 'QWERTY" keyboard made text entry a piece of cake and they licensed it to all the other device makers. For those who don't know how they got the name for that. Look down at your keyboard and read the first row of letters. Nobody did secure messaging like Blackberry.
My speculation is neither saw Apple's original iPhone as a threat. Research in Motion seemed content to keep making Qwerty keypad models as did PALM. Today Palm is out of business. For the most part, Research in Motion no longer makes Blackberry devices either. They still own hundreds of patents and remain relevant in the industry. That leaves Apple against Android. Apple clearly offers the better operating system. It's far more stable, policed, and less likely to allow users to download virus infected applications. Android OS though is often favored by application developers and IT experts as it is open source and easier for developers. The android hardware is certainly more advanced than APPLE's in most cases and a fraction of the cost. It's bad that China has $150 brands you never heard of that do more than a far more expensive iPhone will. After all, for every 1,000 phones sold in China, only 25 are iPhones. It's worse that Apple actually buys the majority of their AMOLED screens not just from China - but their largest rival, Samsung. This likely explains why you cannot buy an Apple iPhone with an AMOLED screen for under $1000. Did you know that Samsung has offered not just AMOLED, but SuperAmoled on their models since the S3, about 6 years ago? They are on the S9 now. For those who are unfamiliar with SmartPhone screen display technology, our friends at Samsung sum it up very well right here.
I had been using a Samsung Galaxy S8+ and an iPhone 6s+. There is no question that the S9 blows the doors of the iPhone 6s+ in processer speed, display quality and features. If only this device had Apple's iOS. I could go on for ever with comparisons but the reality is this for me. While the iPhone had a bad habit of but dialing the last person I taljeds to while in my pocket, the Samsung S8+ would launch applications on it's own. I was worried it was going to buy something on e-bay or Amazon without my knowledge. Therefore, I have decided to pick up a used iPhone X for now.
T-Mobile seems to take great pride in disrupting the wireless status quo and is at it again. This time, they will be introducing a new "budget" Unlimited family plan. I cannot divulge the details quite yet in writing but will say, I won't be moving from my current T-Mobile One plan for a number of reasons (Tax, fees, international, 4G hotspot etc).
I do think I can say that their T-Mobile One Plus buy-up is certainly much better than ever as their 4G LTE hotspot allocation just doubled to 20GB per month with their One Plus option. Anyone with a dedicated iPad or computer line might want to utilize their SmartPhone as a hotspot and save a few bucks.
I recently did a post that stated, according to Ming Chu Kuo, the dude who breaks all the Apple secrets before they do officially, Apple phones will experience a big price drop. There certainly seems to be good evidence that this would be a smart move. That may have been before the POTUS started the new trade war with China. After all, where do you think all those iPhones come from? What we can be sure of is that Apple will launch a new budget X model or two utilizing an improved LCD screen while the flagship models will sport the brighter and sharper Amoled screen technology.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.