Government cell phone monitoring shouldn’t come as a surprise

recording callsIn a recent announcement, it was shown that the National Security Association (NSA) has been “secretly” obtaining private information via Verizon Wireless. With permission through something known as “the blanket order,” Verizon has been handing over a variety of call-related data, such as call lengths, locations, and other unique identifiers.

As of yet, it’s stated that the calls themselves are not being recorded; the public is turning an angry eye toward both Verizon and the government for this invasion of privacy.

But is this really such a shock? How many of us read those fine-print contracts wireless providers require to be signed? Companies are legally allowed to do a number of questionable practices, data collection included.

As the saying goes, “knowledge is power,” and it seems as though the government is willing to go to extreme lengths to get it. Ages, races, and other target demographics can be reached with the right info, and obtaining said facts is the first step in expanding political popularity. Other non-surprise factors include every political movie ever, which almost always host a widespread privacy invasion. Not to mention the ease in which spying can be done these days. There are practically invisible recording devices, and even lasers that can detect conversations by measuring window vibrations.

In this case, however, the victims of surveillance just happened to be the owners of the recording devices.

What’s Next?

While it’s likely Verizon will suffer some serious image backlash (like we needed another reason to hate the 4G-pushing giant), the information they’ve collected is already obtained. It’s also likely that the information collection will continue, whether or not the public is ok with it.

But what else can be released? Are there other networks doing the same recording and sharing practices? Are calls actually being recorded – stored and listed to for terrorist-like activity by some full-time operators? Or is this simply as “harmless” as it seems from the outside looking in?

While it’s unclear as to why the government wants to know why you made a 90-second call at Burger King May 4th, or how often you travel away from home on calls, the consensus remains that the compilation is mega creepy. A surprise, perhaps not, but a definite invasion of citizens’ privacy.

That just leads us to ask: what other data is the government collecting through our personal electronic devices?

How 4G mobile networks are changing our lives

One of the leaders in 4G, VerizonWhen the iPhone 5 was announced, many people wondered how its many incremental changes would allow Apple to take the lead again in the smartphone market.

Of all the changes, there is one feature that will be the most important, and will most impact the impression of the public: 4G.

The 4G radio upgrade that allows the iPhone to access this much faster internet connection (in some cases, faster than the cable connection in our houses) will completely change the user experience in more ways that we realize. The same can be said for any mobile device that is 4G capable, and as more companies upgrade their technology, this new connection standard will revolutionize the way we interact with the world.

A brief history of network connection speeds

To understand the gravity of the 4G breakthrough, we have to look back a bit at the first connection revolution: broadband internet access. When the internet first began, and users eventually got access to it right from their own homes, the dial-up connection was extraordinarily slow. You had to wait minutes just to load the login page for email, not to mention the fact that you had to give up a phone line to do it. This meant that most people didn’t use the internet to constantly surf content, and webpages were basic so that things were easier to load over the poor connection.

When the broadband connection was created and the technology became more and more popular, it completely changed the way that companies created content online. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were becoming media moguls, and the availability of a faster connection opened up options for companies that were not previously available. They used these new options to completely revamp the usefulness of the internet, and it changed the way we interacted with the world.

All of a sudden, it became more convenient to jump on a shopping website to find a product than it was to go to a physical store.

All of a sudden, it became more convenient to jump on a shopping website to find a product than it was to go to a physical store. Information from Google was mere seconds away, so going to the library became obsolete. Watching a movie was as simple as a few clicks, and some momentary loading, the need to run to the store for a rental was all but eliminated. Even chatting with your friends became easier to do with your internet connection, so social sites exploded all over as people logged in from home.

A ton of content started to become available, and over the evolution of the speed in the past ten years, websites like Netflix and Hulu have been able to build their media-based companies because of this better technology. Even things like email and search have become so easily accessible and convenient that it is our preferred way of contacting people and finding information.

If the slow speeds of previous internet connections had stayed the same, almost none of the things that we do now would be possible. Even if the information was out there, nobody would have the patience to access it, and no company would invest time in creating content for something so difficult to access.

The mobile revolution

The next biggest jump in how we access information and interact with the world was the smartphone. Phones such as the iPhone began to bring search, maps, and informational apps to the finger tips of their owners. This certainly has been a revolution as smartphones and tablets have become faster and more reliable, and more interaction with the internet has been on-the-go. These incredibly convenient tools that were available online (search, money conversion, Wikipedia, distance calculators, etc) were starting to be put into sleek and easy to use smartphone apps. The added convenience of having them on your phone brought their usability to a new level, and the smartphone market sky rocketed.

However, when smartphones leave the safe haven of a high speed wifi connection for a standard mobile data network, things go downhill pretty quickly. It is something that we have become somewhat used to, and we forgive the slow network speeds because we realize this is the price for the convenience of accessing this information while being mobile. Sure, it might take a little extra time to load those pictures or get your Google search result, but it is much better than not having any access at all.

4G is going to change all of that in the same way that broadband changed the way we use our computers and the internet.

4G is going to change all of that in the same way that broadband changed the way we use our computers and the internet. One of the easiest ways to see this is to take Netflix as an example. Their apps for Android and iOS are fantastic, and when you have a wifi connection you have thousands upon thousands of video options for entertainment. When you leave that wifi connection, your willingness to wait for that video to buffer becomes much less, and in the end you end up using it almost not at all. This is just like dial-up, it would load if you were willing to have some patience, but for many websites it just wasn’t worth the wait.

With the faster 4G connection, once again, sites such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and even Facebook, are going to be able to pump out media to their users. It will also allow every single website to increase their complexity, and put out mobile versions of their sites that will be much more satisfying to the user. The lag that we experience now has already started to become a thing of the past, and children that are young now will not be able to remember the time they couldn’t get access to a site or video instantly via a mobile device.

How mobile device companies are cashing in

Since 4G is fairly new and much of the public isn’t entirely sure what it means for them, companies like Apple are cashing in on the new technology. In the iPhone 5, the improved processor will certainly add some juice for dealing with software running on the phone, but the 4G connectivity will pick up any remaining slack. To many users, this will be all part of the “Apple experience”, and many will attribute the improved speeds to be the result of the processor and the device itself.

Instead of marveling at the speed the phone brings down data in the browser, people will think, “Wow, Apple made the iPhone 5 a lot faster!” The same can be said about any other 4G device that is out on the market today.

Meanwhile, we have moved past the strict need for faster processors on phones as most new mobile devices can handle a very significant amount of software and usage without having a lag. Incremental processor updates will certainly still help development of software, but the 4G network is what is going to vastly improve the user experience.

4G’s impact on the future of software

One of the interesting aspects of this improved connection is just how much it will change the software world in the future. Right now, we see many companies transitioning to cloud-based solutions, but with a typical 3G connection, this can be very limited. With faster internet connection speeds, companies like Apple and Microsoft have the ability to build cloud-based operating systems that are shared between the mobile platforms and the computers.

Apple’s mobile operating system iOS and their desktop operating system Mac OS have been converging for years now, and with Windows 8, Microsoft is taking that a step in that direction as well. Processors in mobile will certainly still play a role in this development, but the fact is that these companies can take a huge load off of the devices backs by creating server-side software that is network dependent.

With potential 100Mbps download speeds, downloading pieces of your desktop operating system doesn’t seem too far fetched anymore.

The dreaded data caps

The biggest concern right now is how mobile carriers are capitalizing on this improved network connection. Using incredible amount of data on a network is something that is relatively new, and knowing that more people are going to be switching to 4G for the speed, companies are beginning to charge more for data instead of less. Verizon and AT&T previously offered unlimited data plans for around $30 per month, and for anyone who used their mobile device a lot, this was more than worth it. However, in recent years they have implemented a max plan of 2GB for around the same price, and for these years it hasn’t caused that much of an uproar. Unless you were a diehard mobile device addict, having 2GB of data seemed like more than enough.

Many people hoped that, as faster data connections were made available, data caps would also increase to support the increased throughput. It isn’t very hard to use 2GB of mobile data anymore, and with increasingly data-intensive applications coming out every day, it is more likely that even the average person will use 2GB in a month.

With the increasing popularity of 4G, mobile carriers seem to be trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers.

With the increasing popularity of 4G, mobile carriers seem to be trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers. Capped data has continued to be the norm, but it won’t stay that way for very long. The more that people transition to 4G, and the more data that is used, the more people will start to demand better prices for it.

The same thing happened with text messaging once people started to realize how obnoxiously over priced an individual text message cost. Now, unlimited text messaging plans are the most efficient, and they have made text messaging one of the preferred ways of contact for millions of people across the country.

Hopefully the same thing will happen with mobile data, but we do have to take into consideration that the phone companies are running out of things to charge for. Now that the primary use of mobile phones has changed from voice calls to things like streaming video, sharing rich media, and browsing the web, carriers want to find new areas to rake in the profit. Unfortunately, for the time being, data is that area.

So where does that leave us?

Even with data caps, 4G will be a driving power behind the technology of tomorrow. The increased network speed will unlock thousands of potential options for small and large businesses alike. Our transition from laptop devices to fully capable mobile devices will continue, and with speeds this impressive, we will see the transition faster than previously thought.

Before long, something like Google’s Project Glass, with an augmented reality system that constantly shows you information about the world around you, will be an every day item. With more powerful processors, and better hardware, companies have been trying to pack all of their punches into on board software. Now, that approach has become much more flexible, and our future hardware world will be most likely be much better complimented by full feature options available virtually instantly through your mobile network.

Image Credit: Creative Commons

Verizon’s “Share Everything” data plans actually aren’t that bad

Verizon recently announced their Share Everything mobile plans and are set to put them into action on June 28. The company says that it’s a great way to easily share a bucket-full of minutes, text messages, and data amongst a family, but some users are skeptical.

If you’ve read the internet lately, many people have been giving Verizon a lot of grief about these new plans. But after looking everything over myself, Share Everything data plans are actually not a bad way to go. Let’s break it down and compare some things.

First though, let’s look at the details of these new plans:

Okay, let’s begin comparing Verizon’s current FamilyShare plans with their upcoming Share Everything plans. First, we’ll see what the monthly cost is of a FamilyShare plan with two people with smartphones:

  • 700 Anytime Minutes – $70
  • Unlimited shared messaging – $30
  • Two 2GB data plans – $60
  • Additional line for 2nd person – $10

Total cost per month: $170

If these same two people wanted to go with the Share Everything plan, this is how it would look:

  • Line access for two smartphones – $80
  • 4GB data plan (w/ unltd. min. and msg.) – $70

Total cost per month: $150

The Share Everything plan is $20 cheaper and includes unlimited minutes instead of just a limited 700. Seems like a better deal to me. Now let’s bump it up to a family of four where all of them have smartphones. Here’s what a normal FamilyShare plan would look like:

  • 700 Anytime Minutes – $70
  • Unlimited shared messaging – $30
  • Four 2GB data plans – $120
  • Additional lines for 3 people – $30

Total cost per month: $250

This is what the monthly charges would be if that same family went with a Shared Everything data plan:

  • Line access for four smartphones – $160
  • 8GB data plan (w/ unltd. min. and msg.) – $90

Total cost per month: $250

It’s the same cost! But yet again, you get unlimited minutes with the newer shared plan and you have a whopping 8GB of data that you can share amongst the entire family. So if mom hardly uses any data, then all the better for the rest of the family.

However, Verizon’s Share Everything plans still don’t solve the one problem that most carriers are guilty of with contractual plans: There’s no middle ground. Carriers only offer their customers either too little or too much with their plans, intentionally not including any kind of middle ground. Why? Because the middle ground is the sweet spot that’s of greatest value to the customer. And when the customer gets the greatest value, the wireless carrier loses in a way.

And Verizon really isn’t doing anything revolutionary with these new shared plans. Sure, depending on how big of a family you have and how much data you use, the Share Everything plans could save you a few dollars and simplify things a bit, but it’s all simply just a reworked way to divvy out minutes, messages and data.

In the end, just by looking at the charts above I can see how users would scoff at Verizon — $40/month just to add a smartphone line to a plan? That fact alone seems like highway robbery, but you have to look at the whole picture and do the math. Verizon’s Share Everything plans certainly aren’t any worse than what they’re offering now, and in some cases, it could be a better way to go.

Super Bowl XLVI: The Year of Connectivity

Super Bowl XLVI is almost here, folks. The New York Giants will face off against the New England Patriots in Indianapolis, Indiana for the title of NFL champion. However, if American football isn’t your thing, there’s still a reason to be interested in the single largest American sporting event  of all time. This year’s Super Bowl is all about staying connected over the web. Here are some fun facts that will surely tickle the whiskers of any technology geek.

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of Super Bowl XLVI, will house around 85,000 spectators during the big game. There will be even more people in the surrounding area. To handle the inevitable high demand of cellular data traffic, Verizon will be setting up three cell-on-wheels (COWs), as they’re called, in extremely high-demand areas around the stadium. There will also be 400 3G and 4G LTE antennas spread out throughout the inside of the stadium, as well as 600 free WiFi hotspots that can handle 28,000 simultaneous connections. All of this is expected to handle 2.5 times the traffic of a normal NFL game.

Cell-on-Wheels (COW)

This is the first Super Bowl that will have 4G LTE connectivity in the area, so Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as 30 other downtown venues will be packing the latest 4G LTE antennas and technology.

The cost of all this? A cool $69 million.

The best part is, all of the upgrades made to the stadium and downtown will be left in place (except the COWs). So, the next time you’re in Indy, expect to get crazy fast speeds.

There’s no estimate as to exactly how fast the 4G LTE will be for spectators during the Super Bowl, but was able to sneak inside the stadium before gameday and run a few speed tests. They ended up hitting 46 Mb/s download speeds. Not too shabby, but they were one of the only ones using it at the time, so don’t expect to get that kind of speed come Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl XLVI will include the first ever social media command center used at a Super Bowl. A team of reps will be on hand to help you out via social media if you need it. They’ll be constantly looking for certain words or phrases that pertain to the Super Bowl. For example, if you tweet that the parking garage by the stadium is full, they’ll tweet back to you saying where more parking can be found based on other tweets. The social media command center will also be used to send out alerts if there would be any kind of emergency.

Lucas Oil Stadium image credit: Shawna Pierson

Windows Phone 7 Alert: HTC Connection Settings app is bad for your phone

HTC Quietly Evil

Bad News Bears“HTC Connection Settings” is a free app from HTC which comes pre-loaded on some of HTC’s Windows Phone 7 mobile phones and can be downloaded from the company’s “HTC Hub” app or from the Marketplace. Unfortunately, this app suddenly decided that my phone didn’t need data access anymore – talk about bad news.

After enduring more than 6 hours without any data access, I decided to give Verizon a call and see what was going on. With a stroke of luck, Verizon’s Customer Support was very helpful and friendly (unlike some of my past dealings). The gentleman from customer support walked me through several troubleshooting steps, including reprogramming my phone on Verizon’s network, and was able to effectively rule out the idea that it was a problem on their end. He then told me to make sure I had all of my important data  backed up, because we needed to reset my phone to the factory defaults. After securing a backup, I went ahead and reset my phone.

I was skeptical that this would produce anything more than another headache for me, but to my surprise my 3G connection was then fully functioning. This led me to believe that it was either a glitch in Microsoft’s Windows Phone  7 OS (which is unlikely, since such an issue would be widely reported), or a problem with an app I had installed. After doing some internet sleuthing, I came across several forum posts about the same issue being related to the “HTC Connection Settings” app after installing the Mango update.

If your Windows Phone has “HTC Connection Settings” installed on it, I recommend that you remove it immediately. If you come across this app in the Marketplace, do not download it. It’s a pointless app that serves no real purpose anyway, so I doubt anyone would miss it. I know I don’t.

Has anyone else experienced the same issue? Let me know in the comments section below.

Xbox Live to get Cable-Esque Service?

You may soon be able to watch cable television on Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming service. Microsoft is rumored to be joining Comcast and Verizon to provide a cable-esque service on Xbox Live. No details are out as of yet, so allow me to speculate and dream like a wee lad looking at the wrapped boxes under a pine tree in December.

A cable service on Xbox Live would be incredibly convenient to people who hate having 16 set-top boxes and remotes hanging out all over the living room. It also would allow you to have cable television service without a physical cable line. At this very minute I’m watching non-cable TV only because the TV I have does not fit well on the wall where the cable outlet is. I don’t want to run cords all over the place, so cable isn’t hooked up. I do however, have an Xbox with a wireless adapter – that means I could watch ESPN3 on my TV through my Xbox. This could prove to be incredibly convenient, and would make having to route cable through walls and ceilings a thing of the past.

Something else I would love to see would be a little more customization on what you can choose to watch/pay for. I would love to be able to pay for a few different groups of channels. If I could grab just some ESPN channels and a few premium channels (I’m hoping those come to Xbox as well), I would be set. I have always wanted to be able to just watch HBO or Showtime without purchasing a full cable subscription.

Overall, Microsoft’s decision to join Comcast in the cable biz was a pretty smart one. Gaming consoles have become significantly more that just video-game-playing machines. I would say I use my Xbox for non-game uses more frequently than for playing games. Allowing the ability to watch cable television will only add to the uses of the console. All of a sudden it might not be such a waste to own more than one Xbox! The new feature could definitely help sell some more consoles for Microsoft as well as keep them relevant after a new console comes out in the future.

Verizon Starts Throttling Top 5% of Data Users

It wasn’t too long ago when AT&T announced they would be throttling the data speed of their top 5% of heaviest data users. While Verizon announced that they would be doing this to their users back in February, it looks like they have decided to finally start putting their plan into action before AT&T starts doing it next month.

As of Thursday, September 15th, Verizon began to implement their “Network Optimization Practices” by throttling the top 5% of their heaviest data users. However, this only applies to unlimited 3G users. 4G LTE and tiered data users are not included.

It might also be important to note that Verizon’s method of throttling their users is a bit different from AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s:

“The difference between our network optimization practice and throttling is about network intelligence. With throttling, your wireless connection is slowed down for your entire cycle, 100% of the time, no matter where you are. Network Optimization balances the best possible experience on the network and for the customer. Network Optimization Practices is more precise and requires more management than throttling, however it provides the greatest balance for everyone. So, if you’re in the top 5% of data users, your connection is slowed only when you are in a congested cell site.”

All of these new throttling policies by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are being implemented within weeks of the expected launch of the iPhone 5. Back in May, Verizon said it expected to participate in a simultaneous launch of the new iPhone with AT&T and possibly Sprint.

Verizon has posted an in-depth FAQ about their Network Optimization Practices. You can read it here.

How To: Change your cellular phone number with Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless
Customer Service at it's finest?

In the Digital Age, most corporations give their consumers ways to manage their accounts online, without having to visit the nearest retailer to update their information, account settings, or other information related to their account. This is not only a great way to provide excellent customer service and allow changes to come into effect quickly and easily, but it is the norm in today’s society, a trend that has been continuing since the 90’s.

I moved from Grand Forks, ND to suburban Chicago a year and a half ago and I finally decided to change my cell phone number to a local Chicago-area number. I know, it took me long enough, but what can I say? Anyway, my 2-year contract with Verizon Wireless was up for renewal, and I was looking to upgrade to a Windows Phone. I figured changing my number and getting a new phone along with it should be no problem.

I was wrong.

I picked out an HTC Trophy (which is an excellent smart phone, by the way), and the representative activated it for me and renewed my contract. I also told her I wished to change my number to a local number and her response was to “do it online, or we have to charge you a $15 service fee to do it in-store.” She went on to explain that one can change to a local number at any time for free, thus it made sense for me to do this online. I was agreeable, as it seemed to make sense to me, also. Plus, I was already signing my soul over for 2 more years, and didn’t feel like offering any more of my money toward the cause.

Once I got home, I went straight to the My Verizon website. I entered my User ID and password, and started looking for a link to change my number. I couldn’t find it on the main page, or in any of the other sections of the site. Fortunately, searching for “change number” gave me the result I needed. Upon clicking on the first search result, a page came up displaying a curious error, stating something about pending changes on my account. And the date I had to wait until to make any changes? Three weeks in the future. Three weeks! So I was somewhat upset, but what’s a guy going to do?

After three weeks passed, so I thought I’d try again. I logged into the My Verizon website again, and went to the page to change my number. The error message was no longer there, so we were off to a good start. I selected my device to change the number, and…

Massive fail.

The phone numbers I had to choose from were from Grand Forks, ND, the same as my current number. I’ve clearly changed my address to my current address in Illinois, and clearly expressed my desire to change to a local Chicago phone number, but Verizon can’t even seem to get that right. I closed my web browser in disgust, and hopped in my car.

In the end, there are three easy steps to changing your Verizon Wireless phone number:

  1. Tell the representative that you wish to change your number to a local number.
  2. Demand that you change your number in store.
  3. Refuse to pay $15.

In this day and age, there’s something wrong when consumers can’t efficiently manage their accounts online. We shouldn’t have to waste our time driving to a store, and sales persons shouldn’t have to waste their time on simple customer service requests.

Has anyone else had similar issues with Verizon? Do other wireless carriers provide the same level of customer service?

Tiered Data Plans Coming To Verizon July 7

Thanks to an official training document that has been leaked, the rumored tiered data plans for Verizon customers are definitely coming. Android Central ended up with the leak, which contains a slew of details about the new data plans that will most likely answer some of your hankering questions.

The most important aspect of the change are obviously the different data/price options. Plans will start at $30 a month for 2GB, with $50 a month for 5GB being the next cheapest plan. If you happen to be a data hog (and wealthy), they will have a $80-a-month plan that will get you 10GB. If you go over your allotted data, it’s $10 per gigabyte. As for the mobile hotspot, it will cost $20 a month for 2GB.

Here comes the good news for current Verizon customers who have an unlimited plan (like myself). So far, you’ll be able to keep your unlimited plan even when you upgrade your new phone and renew your contract in the future (This could possibly change sometime, though.) If you add a new line to your account, you won’t be able to get the unlimited data plan for that line. This means that if you’re even slightly considering adding a line or upgrading to a smartphone, now would be the time to do it, since you’ll be able to snag the unlimited data plan until July 7.

How to Profit from the AT&T/Alltel Merger

Now that AT&T may be acquiring T-Mobile, their acquisition of Alltel in a few states since the Verizon/Alltel merger is old news. By now everyone has pretty much figured out the jig. Every current Alltel customer gets a free AT&T phone because the two networks use different technologies, and a current Alltel phone won’t work on AT&T’s network (CDMA and GSM stuff).

Recently, I stumbled into a situation that allowed me to cash in on this situation and I hope someone else might be able to take advantage of it as well.

Selling Your Old Phone Online

First,  my current Alltel phone stopped working. Knowing the network switchover was going to happen soon, I didn’t want to spend the money on insurance – I think it’s around $100 – to get a new phone for only a month. My contract was up, so I went in to see if I could just get it renewed and get a cheap phone along with it.  The guy at the store said they were no longer renewing plans since the network switchover was happening so soon, but that he could just give me a phone at the renew price. I thought this was great and picked up a HTC Desire for $75.

After getting home and playing with my new phone for a while, I started to wonder what I was going to do with this phone after the switch. I remembered seeing a website where you can sell your electronics called Gazelle. Curious, I went to the site typed in my new phone to see what I could get for it. The site asks you some basic questions such as what condition it’s in and if you have the original manuals and stuff like that. Turns out, the thing was worth around $250!

So now when the switch happens, I can sell this phone and be up $175 from what I was. But what about insurance? What if I “lost” this phone? I could take the insurance and hypothetically sell it as well for another $250. It’s an option I’ve decided against, but would assume it’s entirely possible.

It’s not by any means guaranteed though. Many of the Alltel stores don’t have a lot of phones left. They are just pretty much selling the inventory they have until it’s gone, so the phone selection is pretty slim. Before doing this, make sure the phone you plan on selling is actually worth something. For example, the Blackberry Pearl pretty much has no value on Gazelle. If you do have one of those phones that aren’t worth a lot of money, then you might be able to haggle your way into a cheap phone similar to the way I did. I would think it’s in the stores’ best interest to sell the phones while they still can. It might be worth a try.

It’s also important to note that the more of a product that gets sold to the site, the more the value goes down. I’m assuming once the switchover has happened everywhere (it’s taking longer in some places) the value may drop sharply. If this sounds like something you want to do, make sure and do some research to see what the phones actually worth.

It would also be in your best interest to take a good look at your phone insurance policy. I can only imagine that falsely losing a phone in order to get a new one to sell it might be some kind of insurance fraud and that’s never a good thing.

So there you go, a way to make a few dollars off this phone switching fiasco. Nothing is guaranteed, but why not give it a shot to see if you can land yourself a nice phone for cheap while the gettin’s good? You can either sell it in the end or continue to use it (the Desire can run off wifi) as an MP3/Angry Birds player.