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There were 3 days last week when I was paying for four separate wireless carriers at once. Here's how this happened.

(This post is probably too long to be worth reading, but I told several people I would write this up, so here it is. Apologies.)

Last year for Christmas I got an Android HTC Nexus One. (Which, by the way, is the best smart phone I have ever touched, then or now. It's lovely.) But unfortunately it only worked on the extremely worthless AT&T Edge network, or else the only-slightly-less-worthless T-Mobile 3G network. Since I already had an AT&T account with my iPhone, I endured AT&T Edge for many months, despite the fact that it basically did not work at all.

Eventually I got so fed up with the bad connection that I switched back to my iPhone 3G. This made me immediately realize that my productivity and therefore the core of my happiness as a person was already dependent upon having an Android. The workflows of calender, email, browsing, customization, apps, and task tracking were just enough worse on the iPhone that I was plunged into despair.

I used the iPhone for at most 3 days before chucking it back into the closet in disgust.

Not willing to go back to Edge but also not willing to continue using the now-unacceptable Apple phone (which makes me think of stabbing Steve Jobs in the face whenever I have to use it now), I bought a 3G sim on a month-to-month contract from T-Mobile and was reunited with my Nexus once again.

Unfortunately this stuck me with a temporary number that I was unwilling to give out to friends and family because of the confusion of switching numbers. (I've had my old number for 10 years now. I need it.) I tried to paper over this problem with Google Voice forwarding, which worked okay for voice calls (about which I care not one bit) but had no forwarding for SMS. Becoming unresponsive to SMS caused most of my friends to give up on me as a person in less than a week. So this created a certain pressure on me to do something with my real number.

The plan was to switch my real number over to T-Mobile once I was sure that T-Mobile reception was an improvement. Well it wasn't. It was even worse than AT&T 3G, especially in San Francisco, where I spend a lot of my time. There were several instances when it was demonstrably faster to physically search the city for a restaurant on foot than to wait for my phone to find it on a map.

During the two months when I was putting up with that, I was sitting in a restaurant in the Mission District when a friend next to me looked up the definition of a word. To do that, he simply pulled his Verizon-serviced Android phone out of his pocket, typed his query, and then the results appeared. I'll again say that we were indoors and yet bits were sent from his phone, and then more bits were received in response.

My mind was blown.

Two days after that I ordered a Motorola Droid X, which is not as nice as the Nexus One, but is serviced by Verizon, which is an actual data network and not whatever you'd call AT&T--- organized crime, perhaps. The Droid X came with its own temporary number until I could try it out and verify that it wasn't terrible.

(If you're curious, my one line review of the Droid X is this: "Nice phone, but too big.")

I did decide pretty quickly to switch my real number over to it, but right before I did that I had, if you also count my Sprint WAN card that i use for work, service with four separate wireless carriers all at once.

Why do they do this to us?

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