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What are the Best Cell Phone Services in the US?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the and-what-is-it-about-them-that-you-like dept.

Communications 239

James Hewfanger asks: "Cnet.co.uk has run an article on the five best cell phone services in the UK. These include a text-based service that gets you the number of a licensed cab company in London, Google Maps and Gmail on your phone, a service that can tell what artist and song you're listening to, an online service that backs up all your cell phone contacts and a text-based service that answers any question you can throw at it. What, however, are the five best cell phone services in the US?"

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Only 5 (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285934)

More like what are the only five cell phone services in the US. There's Verizon, US Cellular, Cingular, T Mobile, and Sprint and that's about it.

Re:Only 5 (1, Offtopic)

linuxtelephony (141049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285994)

There's also Alltel (or is that Altel?) and in some of the rural areas there may be a few independents left, but for the most part they've all been swallowed up. Just about everyone else resells service on one of these 6 (Verizon, US Cellular, Cingular, TMobile, Sprint, and Alltel).

Re:Only 5 (3, Insightful)

clonehappy (655530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286062)

Out of about 30 comments, only 3 or 4 people have even bothered to skim the story. It's not asking about cellular providers, it's actual phone-based services (location-based, web, etc.). I know no one ever reads TFA, but please at least RTF summary.

Re:Only 5 (0, Offtopic)

Jacer (574383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286516)

Go-go rural providers! www.midwestwireless.com Decent prices, but very terrible features, and an all around lackluster selection of phones.

Re:Only 5 (0, Offtopic)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286548)

Also, there isn't any "best cell service". Maybe you can do this in the UK, but America is far too large to have a single greatest service. You may find that only one or two providers even have a usable signal in your area. And pretty much ALL of them will put you through hoops. I have had a cell plan (with a large discount via my employer) for almost 18 months now and I have had to call them EVERY SINGLE MONTH to clear up problems. One month they might double charge me. Another month all of the services I shut off ($2.50 for voice activated calling, $20 for unlimited internet, $15 for unlimited text messages, etc) will end up back on my bill, even though I don't want them.

It's sad to say, but even cable television providers have greater scruples and ethics and service than cell phone providers.

uh (1, Offtopic)

heyyou_overhere (1070428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285938)

i don't know... the one that lets you call other people wirelessly?

Re:uh (1)

porkUpine (623110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286020)

I use my phone to call people... sorry, I don't buy into all of the extra "services" designed to get me at $0.10 here and $1.00 there.. So, Cingular/AT&T works fine for me...

Re:uh (1)

porkUpine (623110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286030)

Oh, BTW I am posting this using my Cingular data card :) $49 unlimited 3G access...

Re:uh (4, Funny)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286754)

I use my phone to call people... sorry, I don't buy into all of the extra "services" designed to get me at $0.10 here and $1.00 there....

next post.....

Oh, BTW I am posting this using my Cingular data card :) $49 unlimited 3G access...

*head explodes*

Uh....WOOSH! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286028)

I think you all are missing the question. It's what services you can access THROUGH your cell-phone plan. NOT what cell-phone plans are good. So what services do you all access that makes your cell-phone more useful?

Re:Uh....WOOSH! (3, Insightful)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286114)

I think you missed the parent's point. Some of us are just looking for one that lets us make calls. Period. The cel phone would be useless without it, and anything else isn't valuable enough to waste our money on. Nothing more useful than that.

Re:Uh....WOOSH! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286164)

"I think you missed the parent's point."

No I didn't miss his point. It simply was irrelevent.

"Some of us are just looking for one that lets us make calls."

All of the services mentioned in the story are OPTIONAL.

Re:Uh....WOOSH! (0, Flamebait)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286756)

woah, wait, what are you doing outside of the kitchen?!

AT&Tular (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285942)

Cingular Wireless/AT&T Wireless is good for many regions, offering GSM with TDMA fallback for users who need it. Verizon is good if you can handle the CDMA with Analog fallback for everyone, often falling back to analog.

Re:AT&Tular (1)

clonehappy (655530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286080)

Just for clarity, even though the parent is way OT, I haven't fallen back to Analog on Verizon's network since 2002, while driving through the Mojave desert. YMMV.

Re:AT&Tular (1)

Mike_ya (911105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286384)

Verizon seems to be phasing Analog out.
Verizon contacted my mom and wanted her to switch off of her analog phone plan to I guess GSM, because her phone would soon stop working, so they said.
She just dropped them, picked up a phone from t-mobile and 1,000 minutes good for a year for under $100.
For a phone to carry just in case, it seems to be a deal.

FIDO Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285950)

Unlimited calls anywhere, anytime... $45/month. This plan is no longer available since they were bought out, but it was grandfathered. Old plans are going from $400-800 on craigslist.

Anything similar in the USA?

on the cheap (-1, Offtopic)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285952)

The best pre-paid cell phone service in my opinion is Net 10, 10 cents a minute, you just have to buy 300 minutes every 2 months. No free nights and weekends though. All the other pre-paid plans are $.20 - .25 a minute.

Re:on the cheap (5, Funny)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286022)

I dunno, I'd have problems going with a service called Net 10. I'd be worried that their phone calls wouldn't be routeable.

Re:on the cheap (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286050)

300 minutes every two months is 1800 minutes a year, at 10 cents a minute that becomes $180/year.

T-Mobile's PAYGO gives you 1000 minutes on a $100 recharge card and the minutes don't expire for a year. Unused minutes roll over and are good until the new expiration date. You have to buy the $100 card to get the 10 cents/minute rate. I know, It's still 10 cents a minute, but if you are, say, my father, and you don't even use 1000 minutes in a year, paying $100/year beats paying $180/year.

Also, I don't think I've ever heard of a pay as you go plan that does free nights/weekends.

And something else...Net 10 lies about competitors (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286204)

rates. Or at least T-Mobile's. Net 10's competitor comparison page: http://www.net10.com/compare.jsp?nextPage=compare. jsp&task=compare [net10.com]

For T-Mobile, A $100 recharge card gets you 1000 minutes. You don't need to spend $250 to get this. Buy a phone, or just a prepaid sim card, whatever, and redeem a $100 card and you'll have 1000 minutes. It's been like this for a number of years (I got my phone 3 or 4 years ago, I got my dad his phone about a year and a half ago, and I just got my uncle one for giftmas), so Net 10 can't claim this is some recent happening and that their page is out of date. If you purchase a smaller quantity card, you're going to get a worse rate on the minutes. But if you're the sort of person that thinks far enough ahead to check out the per minute rate, you can probably handle some basic math like "cost of card / # of minutes = cost per minute." There is no hidden fee (except state tax, DOH), and there is no requirement to purchase cards that cost more per minute.

I'm not affiliated with T-Mobile, I swear.

Re:on the cheap (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286208)

I think you're getting your plans confused. T-Mobile doesn't do rollover for the prepaid. That's Cingular's "Pay As You Go" plan. Though to use the rollover minutes, you have to buy another block of minutes first. T-Mobile's plan is called "To Go." Unfortunately, Cingular costs a flat fee of 25 cents/minute. T-Mobile costs scale depending on how much you buy - from $0.30/min for the $30 card down to $0.10/min for the $100. Each have different quirks to the length of their minute expirations. But $100 gets you minutes on both that don't expire for a year.

Cingular also has another plan that is $0.10/minute and unlimited mobile to mobile but the catch is that if you use the phone at all on a given day, there is a minimum of $1 worth of charges. Kind of a silly plan unless you almost never use your phone.

Other companies have different prepay plans (and Cingular has yet another type as well). But they all suck and are generally for people who have credit so bad they wouldn't be able to sign up for a regular contract.

I was torn between Cingular's and T-Mobile's. The rollover was appealing, even with the higher price. Eventually it came down to the fact that I was already on T-Mobile and the phone I wanted was a tri-band. Cingular and T-Mobile do not operate on the same band and therefore some non-quad-band phones only work on one or the other.

I'm very satisfied with the deal, especially considering that I was maxing out my previous $40/month plan at about 90 minutes. That worked out to $0.45/minute...

Re:on the cheap (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286254)

From T-Mobile's Prepaid FAQ:

To help ensure that you never lose your unused minutes, T-Mobile will send you a text message when your account is within 5 days of expiring. That way, you'll have plenty of time to refill your account and carry forward any unused minutes to your new expiration date.

That sure as hell sounds like rollover to me.

I couldn't get the page to load, so I had to use a google cache. The original URL is:
http://www.t-mobile.com/templates/faq.aspx?PAsset= Pre_Pop_FAQ [t-mobile.com]
Alternatively, I just found this support page loads fine:
http://support.t-mobile.com/knowbase/root/public/t m22448.htm?A2L.SERVICE=Plan [t-mobile.com]

Re:on the cheap (1)

lostrckstr (893937) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286478)

I have T-Mobile To Go, and it definitely has rollover... T-Mobile has one of the best all around prepaid plans. by the way, you don't have to have a bad credit rating to go prepaid. It's called saving money and not wanting to sign the next two years of your life away...

Verizon PP (1)

Dog135 (700389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286284)

I use Verizon's Prepay. (inpulse) It's 10 cents a minute too. But Verizon has the best coverage of all the services. The downside is they charge $1 a day. But for me, the better coverage is worth it.

TellMe (1-800-555-TELL) (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285954)

News
Driving Directions
Sports
Travel (flights, hotels, ...)
Movies (via fandango)
Weather

All voice activated with very good support for keypad.

Historically they had free directory assistance.
at times they had traffic information, it's now 511 (run by them)
They run 1-800-555-1212 (toll free directory assistance)

Google (4, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285980)

Text anything to 46645. That's the only such service I use.

Re:Google (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286120)

I'm cheap. If a free phone call to 555-1212 can't do it, never mind.

Re:Google (3, Informative)

nickj6282 (896871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286894)

I use this a lot, and it's fantastic. I'm on a text plan so I don't worry about the cost (google doesn't charge anything). You have to be with one of the major carriers though, when I tried to use this on US Cellular [uscc.com] it wouldn't work because they don't support the five digit text numbers. Google SMS [google.com] is a great way to get info on the go and has been my "yellow pages" for a long time.

On the subject of other cell services, I used to use Infone [wikipedia.org] before they went under at the beginning of last year and I haven't found anything like it yet to replace (other than google SMS). They were good because they'd give you directions and phone numbers and anything else you'd ask for and even text the info back to you so you'd have it.

Also, Cingular has their MediaMax data plan for $20 a month. This gives you unlimited mobile web from your phone, which is useful for grabbing an email or two on the road. But what they don't tell you is that you can use this as a dialup connection for your laptop/PDA if you have a phone that will work as a modem. I can connect to my Motorola SLVR via bluetooth (or USB) and get online anywhere on my notebook. It's slow as hell, but IM and browsing work OK through it.

Jesus christ (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286974)

I've never known about that before. So I googled the number and found more information [google.com] . Thanks dude! You just changed my life.

Best of The Best (0, Offtopic)

Joosus (620029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285982)

I'm personally a fan of my current cell phone plan. It may be Verizon, but it has its perks. The part where my company picks up the tab makes it the most desirable plan on the market to me. Saves me bucks and allows work contacts to call me at 4am if they so choose. I believe that's what the ancient Greeks called win/win.

Re:Best of The Best (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286918)

Actually, Ancient greeks called "win/win" when they fucked a little 10 year old boy up the ass, then he sucked the shit off their cock. But what you do on the company dime is your business, pedo.

We have those here? (4, Funny)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286000)

The only services of that type that I've seen mentioned in the US are download services for ringtones, games, etc. I don't think most Americans really use their cell phones for anything but making phone calls, taking the odd photograph, and configuring to play loud, annoying, horribly distorted snippets of Backstreet Boys songs whenever someone calls you.

Re:We have those here? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286070)

Yeah, stupid Americans. I hate this country. I wish we were more like Europe, because everything is better over there. They're so elite... like me, and you too, my friend.

Re:We have those here? (1)

Nex (23489) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286550)

But if you have fast unlimited phone net access, why use phone-specific services that you have to pay extra for anyway? I use google maps and all the rest, and they're free. I use telnet to my shell account on my phone as well. I use slingbox to control my tivo at home and to watch movies in waiting rooms or parking lots. And to watch live tv of course. Phone I use is the ppc-6700 under evdo - I get high speeds pretty much everywhere I go with a few minor exceptions, have done for about a year now).

Special little services for the phone? That's so 2005. I remember the old sidekick with misty eyes and yeah, I used some weather and traffic services via text messaging, because the net on that beastlet was so SLOW.

No more. Now it's slingbox, and a little skype once in a while for those long distance calls.

Services indeed. That's so euro.

"Zey haff besser cell fonez schtuff, ja?" NOT. Nex

Re:We have those here? (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286622)

Yeah, I've had a Treo 650 for about a year and a half and I only use it for phone calls. In fact, I've shut off all of the other services and disabled downloads and everything else. The only thing I didn't shut off was text messaging, in case people need to reach me that way (maybe five messages a month). I use about 2,000 minutes a month, but I don't use email or web browsing or calendaring or any other crap. I used the camera once or twice in the last couple of years, but I couldn't be bothered to figure out how to copy the images over to my computer. Not to mention, the Palm OS software for the Treo was ridiculously stupid, so I didn't bother with it. I used the note-taking facility a few times, too -- because I didn't have a pad of paper handy.

If the person is not asking what "cell services" are best in the united states in as much as "what cell phone company should I go with", then I'm not sure what the poster is expecting. There aren't really any services. There are services where you can pay $10 for a ringtone or a dollar a day for really insultingly stupid jokes and a few other things, but they're usually just poor scams to work you out of your cash and are very difficult (or so it seems) to shut off once you have been snared into them.

If I want to use email or something, I have a laptop. Or a desktop. If I want to talk to someone, I could peck away at a stupid qwerty keyboard the size of a credit card or I could just press a button to call the person directly and... I dunno... TALK to them. Really can't imagine what kind of services people would *want* on their phones. *shrug*

Verizon? (0, Offtopic)

saxoholic (992773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286018)

I have verizon, I've never been anything but happy with their service. In my area I tend to get better service than cingular does. I'm not too sure about sprint. At this point unless you're in the middle of nowhere whatever plan out of sprint, verizon, and cingular meets your personal needs the best is probably the best option. Coverage in most areas is probably going to be rather consistent. If you're in a rural area, though, there's going to be a difference. I visited Nebraska last year (don't ask my why... there's nothing to see there) and I was roaming the whole time.

Re:Verizon? (2, Insightful)

saxoholic (992773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286026)

And aparently i've gotten so used to reading slashdot that not only do i not read the article, i don't even read the summary. :-P

there are 5?!? (0, Offtopic)

absolutenot (956461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286024)

For national plans, there aren't but about 5 that I can think of... Verizon, Sprint, Cingular (ATT), Alltel & T-Mobile .... so wouldn't that mean they all can claim "top 5" status by default?? Telecom consolidation FTW.

Re:there are 5?!? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286040)

No, he means like services you can use via phones like Google Mobile, those joke things, ringtones, etc.

OH... Services.... I'm an idiot (2, Insightful)

absolutenot (956461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286136)

ugh... i'm an idiot... perhaps I should read TFA before posting like a dumbass... oh well... live and learn I would plug my favorite, but Verizon cripples everything remotely decent about my phone and I'm not going to pay through the nose to make my phone do something non-phone-like.

Re:OH... Services.... I'm an idiot (1)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286704)

I'm also an idiot as I posted something along similar lines. Maybe we're just trying to discuss the larger issue that kind of gets in the way of these other services.

how do they do that?? (2, Informative)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286044)

"
Hearing a song and not knowing who sings it or what it's called can be very annoying. Fortunately, Shazam provides a service that lets you hold your phone up to any song playing and it will then text you back the artist and track name in a matter of minutes.
"

"How does that work?", I wonder....clever stuff. ...and, again...

"
if you have a question that you need answering, AQA is the mobile service for you. AQA, which stands for any question answered, is a text-based service that literally answers any question you can think of. We asked it 'which was better, a CMOS or CCD sensor?' -- amazingly it came back with a half-decent answer.
"

In the words of Captain Darling himself, "Clever. Clever. Clever.".

I wonder if it's scalable.

Re:how do they do that?? (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286310)

Does the RIAA know about this?

Re:how do they do that?? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286378)

> In the words of Captain Darling himself, "Clever. Clever. Clever.".

Well, was very clever of me. I was feeling quite smug really, but unfortunately, I was wrong. The quote would correctly be attributed to Lt. the Honorable George Colhurst St. Barleigh. I know you all knew that, but it had to be corrected, if only for the record.

I'm so embarressed.

Re:how do they do that?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286566)

I briefly worked for AQA so I know how it works. The questions are answered by real, human researchers. They can see a list of unanswered questions, grab one, research it and answer it. All previous answers are stored so they can also search the database for existing answers (the software automatically picks out sensible keywords from each question to facilitate this). As for scalability, they just keep hiring more researchers (they're paid per question).

Amtrak (1-800-USA-RAIL) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286052)

Talk to Julie, she can help you get a rail ride just about anywhere in the US. All voice driven, you can guess ahead through prompts and charge via credit card.

After TellMe and Amtrak, most other services aren't very interesting (and I miss both TellMe and Amtrak as I'm in Europe, where we instead have various incomprehensible systems).

Re:Amtrak (1-800-USA-RAIL) (2, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286928)

A "rail ride"? isn't that where some bloke buggers you up the arse while you're in the loo trying to spend a penny? Thanks, but no.

jajah (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286090)

jajah.com must be one of the most useful services if you are calling internationally. I am calling to Europe routinely from my cell phone for something like 4 cents/min to landline or 17 cents/min to cell, and it could be free if I wasn't lazy. It is an internet-initiated callback service, and they have a java app that lets you to initiate a call directly from the phone, without the access to a computer.

Flurry (3, Informative)

sbyrnes00 (940041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286102)

Flurry - (http://www.flurry.com) Mail and news on my phone. Also useful are: Google Local (http://www.google.com/gmm) Maps on my phone. Opera Mini (http://www.opera.com/products/mobile/) Web browsing on my phone. EQO (http://www.eqo.com/) VoIP and IM on my phone. Note that these all work with data services from Cingular and Sprint, but T-Mobile has recently started preventing the use of these services on their phones unless you buy an "unlimited" plan. Verizon either charges a few dollars a month for them or doesn't have them available in the first place. If you have Boost mobile service, you should also check out Loopt (http://loopt.com) - a service that lets you tell your friends where you are.

Uhhh...GSM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286116)

Cingular...or maybe T-Mobile. Simply because there's absolutely no point whatsoever having anything but a GSM phone if you travel internationally.

Verizon has the best network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286142)

They have a service where they put transmitters on a whole lot of people and have them follow you around.

We can't tell (0, Offtopic)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286178)

The confluence of provider-provided phones and 1-2 year contracts makes it hard to switch. Networks have a useful life of around 5 years so the best we can do is take a survey and hope it's not biased. I'd love it if contracts went away and if phones were decoupled from providers but I think that'll happen right around the beginning of porcine aviation.

Re:We can't tell (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286212)

There are some startup cell phone companies (such as Cricket) which are devoid of contracts. I would not be willing to put money into them surviving long - if they're crap, they'll die. If they're not crap, the other companies will attempt to murder them up some dark alley. Or switch the customers to another carrier. (Yes, that's illegal. Doesn't seem to stop any of the regular telecos any - they do that all the time.)

Re:We can't tell (1)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286778)

Cricket has been in phx for at least 5 years.

T-mobile for me... (0, Offtopic)

cliveholloway (132299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286182)

  1. GSM - I have family in the UK. Grabbing a new card when I get there for $40 makes a lot of sense over $2 a minute per call
  2. Pay as You Go - I hate phones, so rarely use it. Works out about $10 a month for 90 minutes.
  3. Cheap ass Nokia phone [t-mobile.com] - $30 (including $35 of air time). If I lose it, I don't care.

Re:T-mobile for me... (1)

Sploff (681023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286572)

T-Mobile for the same reasons. I actually discovered a neat trick on the Pay-as-you-go: if you pay up $100 in one payment, you get überlord status and all you minutes will last for a year. Presto: a mobile phone plan for $90+n*$10 for n years. -- It almost feels like being home in Europe :)

Really -- you Americans are getting ripped of on your phone plans. Market economy my ***.

Re:T-mobile for me... (1)

TobascoKid (82629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287258)

GSM - I have family in the UK. Grabbing a new card when I get there for $40 makes a lot of sense over $2 a minute per call

Do you mean $40 for T-Mobile UK SIM card? They're now £5 (~$10), with £5 pounds worth of air time (ie, they're free). And Vodafone are doing free SIM cards if you order them online (at least they were recently) - even if you buy them in a shop they're still only £5. I think pretty much every other provider in the UK is also in that $0-£5 price range. You'd have to look hard to find a UK SIM card for £20, and if you did find such an expensive SIM then you're probably be being ripped off.

Do SIM locked T-Mobile US phones work with a T-Mobile UK SIM card (and vice-versa)?

Degrees of bad (0, Offtopic)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286196)

Almost easier to make a worst of list since none of them are impressive. The worst experience I had was with Sprint. I was with them five years ago and found that in the San Fernado Valley, LA, half the valley wasn't covered. That's pretty miserable for service. Every service I've used has had holes in service and dropped calls. I'm often calling from one cell phone to another so it's tough to tell whose service is causing the lousy connection. Service has gotten cheaper but quality hasn't improved over the years. In some senses it's gotten worse. I think most people would prefer better service than more features.

Best five services in Japan... (3, Informative)

KNicolson (147698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286290)

1. Deco Mail: most of the new phones now have HTML mail and large libraries of animated emoticons and the like - wifey's has over 1,000, plus lots more downloadable free. They can also be forwarded to PC mail clients and displayed successfully.

2. NaviTime: doesn't just tell you where to go, but copes with which exit from the subway station to get, if a taxi would be faster than trains, even which carriage to board to be closest to the exit!

3. Napster: well, maybe not.

4. iPot: mobile phone in granny's kettle so you can get an email if she doesn't use it for a day.

5. Anti-bullying kiddie phones [wireless-watch.com] : junior points camera at bully/perv, sounds the alarm, and parent gets a photo plus GPS coordinates, etc.

Re:Best five services in Japan... (1)

cliveholloway (132299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286428)

OK, word association exercise. Think about the meaning of iPot.

Now read this sentence:

4. iPot: mobile phone in granny's kettle so you can get an email if she doesn't use it for a day.

Hands up if you had to read it three times to get what it was actually about because on the first two reads you thought it was some kind of weird stoner talk?

This is japan he's talking about.. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287316)

with japanese products that have any english phonetics you can be almost guaranteed their names (or titles in the case of media) have only loose connection to the proper english meaning...

their society has a habit of borrowing english in the same way we borrow french or latin.

this said.. iPot, the new accessory from apple, connects to your computer for storing your weed with flawlessly monitored and controlled humidity and temperature, for the discriminating ganja enthusiast!

Re:Best five services in Japan... (0, Troll)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286702)

Please go somewhere else to tell stories about your 'wifey'. Ok, shnuckums?

Re:Best five services in Japan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286836)

Please shut the fuck up. Thank you.

Re:Best five services in Japan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18287136)

Wow. All those things sound horrible, except navitime, but that doesn't sound incredibly unique (at least in the Netherlands we have something similar).

uhm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286292)

There aren't 5 good cell phone services in the US. Sorrry.

Come on people... (3, Informative)

todesengel (722281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286296)

Do people not even read the /. summary any more? The question is regarding the top cell-phone based services, not cell-phone carriers.

Verizon! (3, Funny)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286300)

I like the "Teaching remedial math to call-centre employees" service that Verizon recently offered. I think it's got a great future.[/snark]

And on that note... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286322)

What's the best five ways to be burned alive?

The problem and solution to cellular communication (2, Interesting)

mrnick (108356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286326)

Cingular has the most customers. This means that chances are highest, than with any other cell provider, that when you call someone's cell they will be on network which doesn't eat minutes since on network minutes are free. The only reason I would switch from Cingular is if I moved to an area where I received poor signal. I used to work for Cingular, all be it in their network security division that had little to do with their cellular products. While working there I learned much about how cellular companies operate in general.

A good example of this is expansion of cell sites. When a cell provider puts up a new tower or rents space on a tower they only provide the latest communication protocol from that tower. The justification for this is attrition. They are making the older signals obsolete. This will have you buying a new phone and committing to another 2 year contract. Luckily I have an HTC 8125 world phone that supports all the frequencies from 900 Mhz to EDGE. So, when I am in areas with older cell tower deployments I'll get signal, maybe not the latest and greatest but signal none the less. And until they start using a more advanced protocol beyond edge I benefit with all the new infrastructure (increased coverage area).

What I see as the biggest problem in cellular communication is redundancy. Cingular builds towers and T-Mobile builds towers along with all the major carriers. Even though there may be towers within a few blocks of each other. What I see as the solution is to separate the development, deployment, and management of the towers and their respective cell areas from the service that you choose to use. This way you choose a provider based upon features and cost rather than coverage since every service would have the same coverage. If all the cell towers in the US were brought under the control of a single company and a single communication protocol was agreed upon. The towers could be redeployed in such a way that there would be no gaps in coverage nationwide. The only places you would have trouble getting a signal would be if you were somewhere truly remote like say Mt. Whitney (the tallest mountain in the continental United States).

Nick Powers

Re:The problem and solution to cellular communicat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286390)

Cingular's motto is "the fewest dropped calls". I think they can legally say this because, in order to drop a call, you must first connect successfully. I wonder what their successful connection rate is.

Re:The problem and solution to cellular communicat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286532)

Cingular's motto is "the fewest dropped calls". I think they can legally say this because, in order to drop a call, you must first connect successfully.

I've heard that they managed this by lowering the quality level at which the tower will drop the call.

Re:The problem and solution to cellular communicat (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286614)

The carriers don't bother owning most of their own towers. They just lease space from one of the big tower conglomerates. American Tower is one.

All the carriers do this and it's no big deal. Most of the differences in coverage are just because not every carrier wants to be on every tower. They could, most of the time. But it doesn't always make sense for various reasons.

Sometimes the carriers to own their towers and guess what? They lease space out to the other guys too. It goes back and forth a lot more than the "us verus them" advertising would indicate.

Anyway, even if you took all the existing towers and linked them up coast-to-coast you still would not have coast-to-coast coverage. There are major parts of the US without any cell coverage from any carrier. Not just the uninhabited areas out west, but rural areas too. Ironically, both sorts of places which might actually benefit from coverage.

Once you get outside major cities or off major interstate highways, cell coverage drops to nothing pretty quick.

There never will be coast-to-coast coverage, by the way. Many of those vast unserved areas lack the wired infrastructure (phone lines not to mention electric power) to backhaul cell calls, so towers in the middle of nowhere would require HUGE investment in providing power (imagine miles of electric lines strung just to serve cell towers) and wirelines, or huge investments in microwave relay towers and booster stations. You're talking about a few hundred billion dollars to serve all that coast-to-coast territory, to serve relatively few customers. It will NEVER return a profit on that investment so it will simply never happen.

What it will take is another generation or two to finally give us a global phone of some sort which gets around the limitations of the cell tower systems we have today. I am not talking about today's satellite phones. They're not the answer. We need something that works anywhere, and everywhere, and unfortunately it has not yet been invented.

Re:The problem and solution to cellular communicat (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287094)

"This means that chances are highest, than with any other cell provider, that when you call someone's cell they will be on network which doesn't eat minutes since on network minutes are free. "

Minutes? That reminds me of the AOL days when they still charged by the minute. I got hit with huge $300 bills a couple of times.

Now I use Sprint [sprint.com] which gives me unlimited EV-DO mobile broadband for $60 a month (unlimited time -- with a two year contract -- which works 98% of the time). And I use MetroPCS [metropcs.com] for normal cell phone service which gives me unlimited time - unlimited texting (7 days a week, 24 hours a day, with no contract) for something like $52 a month (including taxes).

I believe the low cost local carriers like MetroPCS are the wave of the future. They're local so they give excellent local coverage (better than my friends on Verizon for example) -- without trying to nickel and dime you. The only drawback is that again -- they're only local, geographically I mean (you can make long distance calls just fine), but if you go on an extended vacation or take a business trip -- you're pretty much SOL.

Just check Consumer Reports (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286336)

They did a special on this in their January issue.
I think they do this every year or so.

Either sign on at consumerreports.org, or check it out at the library.

The answer is... (2, Interesting)

AlphaOne (209575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286396)

"None of the above."

4INFO (1)

ramakant (256472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286402)

Text anything to 44636 (4INFO), or point your mobile browser to http://wap.4info.net/ [4info.net] (or download their client at http://www.4info.net./ [www.4info.net] They've got:
sports scores
player stats
stock quotes
wifi hotspots
package tracking
weather
yellow pages
news
flight status
hotel reservations
city search
TV Guide
movie show times
drink recipes
price lookup
jokes
horoscopes
pickup lines
celebrity gossip
music charts
ringtones
wallpapers
games ...

More and higher quality services than Google (46645) and Yahoo (92466).

Re:4INFO (1)

dthree (458263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286580)

Can't think of 5 that don't include services already mentioned, but one addition service I use is free411, an alternative to the $2-per-call carier 411 services.

Re:4INFO (1)

whyloginwhysubscribe (993688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286890)

We have similar services in the UK - but for me the text based services are limited to the amount of data in a text message, and when you have a WAP enabled phone (which they pretty much all are these days) - you can get a lot better content just for the price of the data charges.
I don't have a 3G phone, but they are even better as you can make phone calls with skype. It isn't long now is it before all calls are going over the internet. Which worries me as I work in telephony...

As a private pilot..... (1)

slacktide (796664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286426)

I find Pilot MyCast [my-cast.com] indisepensable. On the ground only, of course, but when you need to keep a weather eye out, it's great.

Rumkin.com! (1)

KanSer (558891) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286486)

When I found out Bell Mobility was denying my phone the ability to install Opera Mini, I found Rumkin.com and their uploader utility. I was able to install Opera Mini, which rocks and is a total life-saver.

GMail for phones is also wicked. I have not yet confirmed that my phone picks up the POP3 messages from work I have tied into that GMail account... If so I could practically work from the phone.

Yahoo! Go looks like the next best thing, but is not yet available for my Samsung SPH-A920 :(

This phone pretty much does anything you ask of a desktop. But,t he TV clips are pointless, _especially_ hockey. You just can't see the puck and they charge an arm and a leg for the crap.

I wish I wish I could stream internet radio stations.

(On a lighter note, I used some SNES plugin for winamp and the diskwriter plug in to convert the hotel theme song from Earthbound (16-bit SNES) and using rumkin.com got my phone to us it as a ringtone. I work at a hotel, and when they call me it plays the Hotel song from that game.)

Re:Rumkin.com! (1)

zugurudumba (1009301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287128)

Use radiobee.com to listen to streaming radio. It's a Java midlet that enables your phone to listen to any station streaming over the internet in mp3 format.

The best service won't work while driving (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286534)

Yeah I know ... wishful thinking.

Speaking from safety (0, Offtopic)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286574)

Do you realize that some phones will give you cancer more than other phones. I know for a fact that if you send or recieve a call on a Cingular phone near a speaker(like your PC speaker), it uses such a high frequency that it sends electrical impulses through the speaker and you can hear the speaker play even though it's turned off. Try it sometime.

Re:Speaking from safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18287210)

Your nick seems so appropriate...

who cares (1, Troll)

RoiDaGaubert (970028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286626)

Obviously many readers don't f...ing care!!!

Let the phone die already (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286706)

The phone makes an interruptive asshole out of anyone, you insensitive clod!

Re:Let the phone die already (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287110)

It would be nice if people figured out that you don't to yell into your phone in order for people to hear you.

Spon6Ge (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286806)

the reaper BSD's 1ts corpse turned to decline for survive at all TOWEL UNDER THE

MovaMail (1)

poutineboy (86060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286810)

http://www.movamail.com/ [movamail.com] for IMAP/POP3/etc email. Free and much faster than any built-in email client.

Telepathy. (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286858)

Send all the thoughts you want for one low monthly price: $0.

ZYB works in the US as well (3, Interesting)

ZYB (1073592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286870)

I just want to clear up a small misunderstanding here. ZYB https://zyb.com/ [zyb.com] that Cnet lists in the article is not a UK service, it is a world-wide mobile backup service that also works in the US. ZYB is absolutely free (forever), but your operator will charge you for the data-traffic you use. For the first synchronisation of 80 contacts an 60 calendar events the data amount should be below 100kb. Subsequent synchronisations use around 10-20kb of data traffic depending on the amount of new information added on either the phone or on ZYB.

Runar Reistrup, ZYB

Another one for the UK (1)

HxBro (98275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286872)

I can't live without the real time train timetable service that provides info on current running trains (e.g. if they are late), timetables and more.

go to http://www.nres.mytrains.kizoom.co.uk/index/ [kizoom.co.uk] enter your number and it'll send the bookmark to your phone.

voice-based services (2, Interesting)

mcesh (601684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286940)

are handy for people like me that don't have a 'smart' phone, or if you can't/don't want to text message:

Google Local: 877-520-3463. My favorite. You give it a city, category, and/or business name. It speaks or texts you the results, and connects you to the business.

Tell Me: 800-555-tell (8355). I mostly use it for driving directions, but it has myriad other features.

511: Traffic, public transit info (only handy if you're in the SF Bay Area or around Sacramento).

wap.trimet.org (Portland, OR) (1)

FauxReal (653820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286978)

http://wap.trimet.org/ [trimet.org] makes it quick and easy to get transit information in the Portland Metro area. You can search by line # or my favorite "stop ID" every bus/light rail stop has an ID# that you punch in and it gives you real time arrival info.

Trimet homepage [trimet.org]

Mobizines... (1)

amscray (1073594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286996)

Can I be a bit unhumble and point to the service my company produces: the Mobizines client. It's an off portal content browser for when your phone is out of range, or when you just fancy something cooler than a mobile web browser session. Oddly enough we do cnet.co.uk too, good to see the separation between editorial and marketing at cnet is as strong as ever, as I'd have said we're top five. But I'm biassed. We're at http://www.mobizines.com/ [mobizines.com]

The best one there is (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287054)

the best one has these features
  choose any plan options you want or don't want
  no federal taxes
  no sim-locking
  use any cell phone that can work
  unlimited minute plans

Song Catcher (1)

aalu.paneer (872021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287064)

India's Airtel provides a service called "Song Catcher" [yahoo.com] . Just call a service number, keep you phone next a speaker playing any song you like and that song will become your ring tone.

Another service provider called Hutch (recently taken over by Vodafone [indiatimes.com] ) provides a service where you can choose the background music when talking to someone. Launched on Valentine's Day, it was showcased to play soft music while talking to your sweetheart on phone.

AQA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18287466)

My flatmate and I have asked AQA the most wasteful questions (considering you're paying a pound)
After and argument in the pub: "How much is the nintendo wii?"
AQA replied with the price and launch date.
While drunk and lost: "I'm on X street, how do I get to Y street?"
AQA replies with directions and a list of busses.
And then..."Who's this guy singing on BBC1 right now?"
Brian ferry, formerly of the band roxy music is currently singing "jealous guy", a song written by john lennon"
So we asked "how do you do that"
and aqa said "Aqa uses a combination of intelligent algorithms, database lookups and human interaction"
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