Keeping Track of It All

— April 10, 2007

Now, this was new. I had popped out the back of the Treo 680 that Cingular sent me to review, put in my personal T-Mobile SIM card and ... nothing. "Your phone cannot be used with this SIM card," appeared in a little Jack bubble.

Since when? I've been slipping SIM cards into smartphones branded for use with other carriers for years, and the phones, at the very least, have always worked. (Around 2004 I begged T-Mobile to let me purchase data service for use with an early Treo 600, but no dice.) Branding and marketing are what they are, and we mortals are at the mercy of the carriers' business strategies.

Case in point, Cingular customers should start loosening any attachments toward their service provider or its orange Jack character--both are hitting the curb, as what used to be AT&T Wireless and then became Cingular is now AT&T (if you haven't gotten the skinny already, there's a bit more about this on page 12.) The transition will be complete around the June-ish arrival of the Apple iPhone--which by then may or may not be called the iPhone (and which, like the carriers' doings, is another example of brilliant but highly policed technology ultimately imposing a lot of limits on its users).

There's a lot to keep track of, is what I'm saying. And if like most people you have a job that swallows your time whole--nevermind a significant other, or kids, or even modest concerns about whether there is anything to eat in the house--there is little time left in this life for following the antics of carriers. Which is where our cover story comes in. Quanta Services was acquiring new companies and with them new wireless contracts, devices and bills. So it hired a wireless expense management company, and now its minutes are up but its costs are way down.

A wireless management partner may be a smart strategy for any business juggling carriers (and the names they go by), as they handle all of the tracking, streamlining and contract negotiations for you. And who couldn't use one less thing to think about?

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