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Prepaid cell phone getting popular in the US?

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Did a google news search on this. From my own experience, prepaid phone card is very popular in China. I have used those from time to time when I visit China. I believe most of China Mobile (NYSE: CHL) subscribers are prepaid customers, which is opposite to the AT&T and Verizon Wireless customers in the US (where most customers have a calling plan and pay monthly).

T-mobile is doing a $25 prepaid card promotion on its prepaid phone. T-mobile is a distant 4th wireless carrier in the US, and it’s trying to take advantage of the recession to get more customers. Sprint is doing similar things with its boostmobile subsidiary.

Video below: one of the prepaid phone at T-mobile web site; source: YouTube.

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Wifi hot spots and plan

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Mobile broadband (3G) is getting popular these days, but for most people (esp. consumers) that’s still a bit too expensive. At this time I think the good old Wifi is more suitable for me and many working from home (Starbucks, Panera Bread, Borders, Barnes Noble, or McDonald) type.

I used to use Free Wifi at Panera/St. Louis Bread Co. But “free” usually comes with a price, such as the new policy of “limit to 30 minutes use” between 11 AM to 2 PM. I have used two Wifi plan so far, T-mobile hotspot (Borders) and Boingo (many airports, Starbucks, McDonald). Let me compare those two plans:

Cost: T-mobile $19.99 per month for everyone ($9.99 for T-mobile wireless users, like me); Boingo costs $9.99 per month (US)

Coverage: Boingo wins this one because it is available in most Starbucks, McDonald, and airports. T-mobile hotspot is available in Borders bookstore, and it has a free roaming agreement with Starbucks (using AT&T Wifi), but I got some connection problem in one of my two visits to Starbucks. Of course the downside of Starbucks and McDonald is it’s more noisy than Borders (usually).

BTW, I found the iPhone Wifi Finder to be cool.

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Simple phone, not smart phone

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I found I just need a simple phone for my own use. Like this T-mobile Nokia 1661.

Yesterday I received my Nokia 1661 (ordered in the weekend, the modern logistics by UPS/Fedex is amazing), and I like its FM radio feature !!!

Blackberry is for people who needs to check email after regular work hour, yours truely is one of those people. I hope I can get away from BB one day.

A lot of times “simple is good”. I know my wife only uses her iPhone as dictionary, in addtion to “email checker”. Guess those iPhone App ads. on CNBC, WSJ and Economist magazine are not effective for her.

Why we need Blackberry and iPhone?

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Returning TARP

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It’s payback time. Now that “green shoots” are everywhere, many banks, big or small, want to return the TARP money. It seems to me this government effort rescuing the financial system is pretty much like miracle, only 6 months ago, I remember it was like the sky was falling. Now everyone is healthy, at least healthy enough to get government out of the board room. But there are a few twists on returning TARP money.

1) Returning money is not as easy as getting it (AP news). Paulson pretty much forced the big banks to take the money. As to return, the banks have to prove they can stand alone (without the help from government). One example of standalone means they can issue debt without FDIC gurantee.

2) Also, the government faces a choice of how to deal with the money being returned? I have not read the original bill, but I can fully understand the congress, and Paulson & associates did not expect the money being returned that fast, they probably did not expect the money being returned at the time. Now Mr. Geithner is act in ad hoc way again, he is saying the money can go back to community bank (AP news again). But, with the recent stigma attached to the TARP, and pending government intervention on executive compensation, who would want to take money from the Uncle Sam???

PS, the T-mobile Nokia 1661 arrived. I immediately slip my current T-mobile SIM card, and it worked. More interestingly, the FM radio works.

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T-mobile Nokia 1661 phone

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(Update) The phone sold by T-mobile USA appears only works in the US. See the spec at Nokia USA web site here. Quote the spec “Operating frequency Dual-band GSM 850/1900 MHz”.

(Original) Saw the deal from dealsea. Here is the link to T-mobile. Nokia European site has more details spec for the phone. It looks can be used in the US and China besides Europe. Quote the spec “Operating frequency Dual-band EGSM 900/1800, GSM 850/1900”.

Nokia 1661 pic

I hope I can use my current T-mobile SIM card with the phone. I always like Nokia phone, for this phone one cool feature I like is its FM radio. Now I can not wait for the arrival of the phone. Got a little tired of my SamSung A437 phone (used a little more than 1 year).