The marvel of T-Mobile

I used to work for AT&T for a short time, and I very quickly learned why people say most of the things they do about the phone company, large buisnesses and other negative things in general.

But then there’s tmobile. They’re not really a phone company, they’re a cell service provider. But my they seem to have their act together. Most technical people know that given a few pieces of good technology it doesn’t take long to click together to create a truly cool or innovative product. All of the pieces are there, you just have to put them together. This is a prototype, and proves the concept. Rolling it out as a reliable service to a huge userbase is quite another thing. Which is why nothing all that useful ever comes out of the phone company. But tmobile truly outshines the rest (at least in the united states).

If you think about it all the other service providers have great networks and don’t drop calls and offer you more minutes than are physically possible to use in one month. Brilliant. Marketing at its finest.

But tmobile actually made a gadget that lets you make ‘cell’ phone calls using the cell network or a wifi hotspot. How genius is that. Not that the idea is so remarkable, or that some hacker even sat down and got it to work. But THEY DID DO IT, and they rolled it out to a real customer base and it really works. Meanwhile all the other cell companies are selling more minutes. Yay.

And now they’re rolling out service for google’s gphone or whatever it’s called. Granted this isn’t as cool as wifi cells from a tmobile engineering point of view, but it shows that as big a company as they are, they are nimble enough to produce and roll out real interesting new products while everybody else can’t even start to play catch up.

In 1999 I got some x-10 gizmos and the computer interface, and in 2001 I swiped a voicemodem from somewhere. So I was able to write some software that plays my answering machine messages for me when I walk in the house and turns on the lights, and when I get a message, it emails me the wav file to me at work so I don’t have to call home to get my messages. Not a terribly brilliant set of ideas, but all it took was a couple of programs and some really really cheap hardware. It’s not that hard, but now they sell this for hundreds of dollars as home automation.

I know if I were to try and sell my setup I would fail miserably, it’s set up for my house because that’s all I wanted it to do, but I can just tell that the engineers over at tmobile are just as into getting things done as all the other hackers in the world, and they obviously have a management team that allows them to really make products based on their cool work.

Everybody tells me I’m doom and gloom pessimistic all the time, and I am, so every once in a while when I see something truly GOOD, I like to say something nice about it.

2 Responses to “The marvel of T-Mobile”

  1. dpat says:

    Being able to make calls over wi-fi is cool technically, but I don’t see where it’s such a useful feature to inspire all this fawning over t-mobile. I guess if I were somewhere with wi-fi but no cell coverage it is good, but so far I haven’t figured out when that’s going to happen. I have nothing against t-mobile (yet), I’m just not sure why you find this so remarkable (or their support for the g-phone – what’s special about that?).

  2. admin says:

    Consider the case of… your house. You have wifi there, don’t you? You can not burn minutes while you use your cell phone at home, and possibly could get a cheaper calling plan if you make a lot of calls from home that would otherwise burn up minutes.

    As for being cool, yes, it’s cool, lots of people do cool things, I marvel at t-mobile because they’re the first company to do something cool in the cell phone space that isn’t just google writing software.
    Most companies simply don’t have the ability or desire to make cool products and actually manage to get them out the door. This is what I think makes tmobile noteworthy.

    A friend of mine told me about something sprint does. You can put what amounts to a cell tower in your house so if you get no coverage at home from the real network, you can use this thing. The downside is that it costs enough that it’s not worth it for most people, and apparently you’re actually becoming a real cell site on their cell network so there’s very limited capacity.

    This is a good example of a bad implementation of a cool idea.

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