US 3G PAYG BYOD OMG WTF?

In: digital lifestyle

29 Aug 2008

I’m thinking of buying an unlocked Nokia E71 (about $400 at Newegg, the Blackberry Bold isn’t really available unlocked yet at decent prices, and the iPhone has half a dozen dealbreakers for me). I want a device for use in various countries in South America, North America and Europe to have easy voice, email and web access while traveling without constantly needing my laptop. From what reviews report, the E71 can run Skype among other VOIP options, has a real keyboard, isn’t a brick, is a decent email client, mp3 player and GPS, and an OK web browser and camera. I want to avoid at all costs the total rip-off that are overpriced contracts and international roaming, and I just want to own by own damn device without bending backwards to keep it unlocked.
So right now I’m trying to figure out what’s available in the US, and let me tell you, Sprint, T-Online, Verizon and Sprint are competing to win the Most Useless Website award. So I’m begging you, dear reader, to email me with info on how to get 3/3.5G access in the US (most importantly, New England) without a damn yearly contract (ideally, without any sort of contract at all, as sometimes I just spend three days in, say, New York and don’t go back to the US for six months so even a month-to-month PAYG contract is overkill).
Any help appreciated (email, twitter or IM, comments here are broken). Progress, if any, in my quest, will be updated here.
Update: bitching on my blog unlocked the right google query which led me to this, which looks like a winner. Update: or not as it looks like a loophole, but hey AT&T don’t bother even listing PAYG data plans in your GoPhone pages, right? Medianet Unlimited is “unlimited” only if you use a phone without a full-fledged keyboard. Jokers/crooks. But then you have iPhone 3G users doing it. Seems worth a try buying one of the $10 GoPhone.
Update about the E71, it works in Europe and the US because it’s quad band GSM, but 3G is an either/or proposition:
- Europe: E71-1 RM-346 = GSM 850/900/1800/1900; WCDMA 900/2100 HSDPA
- US: E71-2 RM-357 = GSM 850/900/1800/1900; WCDMA 850/1900 HSDPA
Well at least Chile is running HSDPA 1900 too, and I don’t go back to Europe much these days. Can’t have it all I guess, but what a headache.

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I'm CEO of an online/mobile trade publishing firm in the marketing and defense verticals. We strive to make news and data digestible and useful in an environment that is noisier by the day.

This personal blog mixes my thoughts and interests on politics, business, publishing, software, and more. Over the years I have posted items that turned out spectacularly wrong, and a few posts that better stood the test of time.

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