|The numbers game, Bluetooth headsets, and the feature du jour |
By Joni Blecher
(March 13, 2003)
Section Editor Joni Blecher, a.k.a. the Cell Phone Diva, wants to answer all your questions about cell phones, service plans, and wireless connectivity. Send her a question!
The numbers game
Q: I heard that, in November, you will be able to keep your cell number if you switch providers. Is this true?
A: There has been an existing FCC mandate with a November deadline for a few years now. The proposed legislation would allow you to keep your cell phone number and use it with another carrier's service, but every November, it's delayed another year. In theory, when November rolls around this year, you'll be able to hang on to your mobile phone number, but I'm not betting Thanksgiving dinner on it.
Pining for Bluetooth
Q: I love my Motorola V60, but I'd love it even more if I found a matching Bluetooth headset. What do you think of the aftermarket Bluetooth adapters and headsets from companies such as Plantronics?
A: When I first saw Bluetooth headsets at CES 2002, I thought they were nifty in a sci-fi way. But since I knew there weren't a lot of Bluetooth phones available yet to support the headsets, I wasn't ecstatic about them. When I saw the adapter, I realized that it held a lot of promise for getting people on the Bluetooth bandwagon. Later that same year, I tried out Jabra's FreeSpeak headset with an adapter. Though it's a little on the bulky side, Jabra's model was as good as its Bluetooth-only brethren. Even better, if you decide to get a Bluetooth-enabled phone, you can still use Jabra's headset without the adapter.
Is it a two-way radio or a phone?
Q: All right, Miss Cell Phone Diva, let's see how much you really know. I want to know when Sprint PCS is going to come out with the two-way-radio feature such as the one Nextel currently supports. The company is going to call it Push To Talk. No one can give me a straightforward answer, and I doubt you can.
A: Sprint PCS will indeed be offering such a feature later this year, and you will need to buy a new phone to use it. However, Sprint isn't the only carrier that plans to offer this service. AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, Alltell, and Verizon Wireless are all working on their own Push To Talk applications. While I can't tell you exactly when these services will be available, I can tell you that they're not going to work like Nextel's current solution. Instead, these will be packet-data-driven applications that will function on next-generation 1xRTT and GPRS networks.
When the service is finally available, I suspect that only a handful of phones will support it and that there will be new pricing plans to promote it. Inevitably, there will be network-compatibility issues. In my opinion, the Push To Talk services--just like the new camera-phone features--will have some wow factor, but carriers will have to work out the kinks before it becomes the feature du jour. So if you really want that feature on a phone now, I suggest checking out Nextel's mobiles.
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Joni Blecher is a section editor for CNET Reviews.