How to Transfer Cell Phone Ownership

Canceling your cell phone before your cell phone plan’s term is up it can get very expensive. Most carriers’ cancellation fees are calculated at around $20.00 per month remaining on your contract — and in some cases, there’s no cap.

If you know someone that willing to take over your mobile plan’s term, transferring your contract is a fairly pain-free process that will allow you to avoid paying a cancellation fee. At the consumer and small business level, many mobile users don’t even know this is possible, but it’s a great way for the average person to do some personal, mobile cost reduction.

It usually just takes a quick call to your carrier. Call your carrier’s customer service line and ask for a note to be placed on your account that authorizes the person who’s agreed to carry the rest of your term to take possession. Next, the other party calls your carrier to confirm that they are indeed taking over the contract. If both parties have all of the necessary information and have accounts in good standing it should be a smooth process.

Performing this task for several units as part of cellular expense management for a mobile fleet is a bit more of an elaborate process — the kind of thing I specialize in as part of my customer service duties — but one of the things we pride ourselves on at GILL Technologies is the ability to cater to both individuals and fleets, so that your communications are always simple, hassle-free and cost effective.

Handsfree Calling and Email from Bell

With the new “no cell phone while driving” law soon rapidly approaching in Ontario, Bell Mobility is now offering a cool feature that will help drivers avoid falling to hands-on cell use temptation — a good thing, since breaking the law nets you a $500 fine (and it makes you drive badly, too!).

Bell Voice Net service allows users to listen to emails and offers handsfree dialing.You are able to import up to 1000 contacts from Microsoft Outlook and  calls them by name or the number.  The feature also allows you to listen to your Pop 3 emails and also reply by voice.

The feature is currently $5.00 per month. If you need to answer email as soon as possible and/or spend a lot of time about using it, it might be worth the money. Just make sure your bill is error-free and on the best package for your needs (the way we can as part of our cellular expense management efforts) and you’ll keep your total bill down to a minimum, giving you room for this addition.

Having Trouble Setting up a Rogers Rocket Stick to a VPN?

Rogers Rocket mobile internet sticks are "plug and play" devices that let you browse the web from pretty much anywhere your Rogers phone would work. You don’t need to set them up for most types of Web browsing – just plug them in. Unfortunately, there’s one exception: Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs. Unfortunately, VPN access is now an added service (another $10 per month at the time of writing) you have to request for your account. Once that feature’s been added to your account you do need to do some setup work. Here’s what you do:

  1. Pick VPN as the default connection.
  2. From the connection manager, go to settings
  3. Now add the following:
  • APN: Enter VPN.com ( usually defaults to internet.com)
  • Username: wapuser1
  • Password: wap
  • Dial number   *99#

Save this information, then go back to main page and set as your default. After that, getting into your VPN should be a breeze!

Reduce Rogers Mobility Billing Now

The iPhone 3G S: Worth the Contract?

On June 8th 2009 Apple announced the latest version of their iPhone. This looks like another incremental change – more minor features and solved problems. Apple is obviously aiming to maintain the iPhone as one of the core smartphone configurations, so its design is basically the same. The improvements are good, but are they enough for a company to adopt iPhones despite their cellular expense management challenges?

The new iPhone supports tethering and MMS, comes with a better camera, battery and headphone included, and is a tougher unit. It’s faster; it features automatic field filling for web browsing. All in all, there isn’t much to make you go “wow.” Even the voice command feature isn’t unexpected, since it’s an emerging technology for other phones.

It’s easy to be dismissive, but combined, these improvements make the iPhone a tempting choice for anyone thinking of a smartphone, but for businesses, there’s a barrier: the contract. AT&T and Rogers in Canada have maintained their stranglehold over the iPhone. In Canada, Rogers has exploited its iPhone monopoly with particular gusto, charging far more than AT&T for cell phone plans with lower data caps. While there are ways to “jailbreak” the phone’s SIM lock and other restrictions this isn’t an appropriate solution for businesses. Inflexible contracts mean that even though the new iPhone could be a fantastic business smartphone it won’t be a cost-effective choice outside of fields where the phone’s trendy nature takes precedence over practical function.

There is one attractive aspect from a telecom expense management perspective: the 8GB 3G model has dropped to just $99 in the US. Rogers hasn’t followed suit, but may do so after Canadian release details come out.

Three Pieces of Good News for Cell Phone Users

Telecommunications is a fast-paced field, where major developments can pass under the radar because they’re hard to find past all the noise of new cell phone models, smartphone apps and corporate telecom acquisitions. Here are three pieces of news that translate directly into more savings and convenience for customers – things that factor into both regular consumer budgets and formal telecom expense management.

FCC Tightens Landline Cellular and VoIP Porting Rules

On May 15, 2009 the FCC ruled that service providers have to port US customers on mobile, VoIP and some landline services within one day instead of the four currently mandated. This new requirement will come into effect by next May. The new rules exempt a few small carriers but if you have a large carrier, in 2010 you should be able to switch carriers in a single business day. In related news, the FCC has also decided to crack down VoIP providers who unexpectedly drop or modify services be requiring notification.

Solar Powered Phones Coming

Manufacturers Sharp and Japan’s KDDI have started a joint venture with the goal of releasing a phone that provides one minute of talk for every ten minutes of charge time or two hours of standby time. It’s a modest goal but an excellent start that matches similar announcements by Samsung and LG. Although currently marketed as “sport” or “green” phones, they’re sure to increase in demand for two reasons. First, green-energy advocates have made us aware that chargers consume power even when they aren’t hooked up to phones. Second, people lose chargers so often that in many organizations this becomes an unnoticed but persistent expense. Lose the need for a charger, and lose the cost.

The iPhone Ups the Ante on Smartphone Development

The Palm Pre (in the link above) is one example of an upcoming smartphone that wouldn’t exist without the iPhone. So even if you never own one, iPhones are making your phones better through bigger screens, better screen resolution and revolutions in interfaces, applications and use of 3G networks. It’s been a bumpy ride, of course, with one notable example being AT&T’s ban of the Slingplayer streaming application from its 3G network. In spite of these setbacks, we should look forward to iPhone-driven competition spawning better, more cost-effective phones than ever before.

Ontario Drivers Now Require Headsets for Car Phone Use – Mobile Fleets Need Headset Procurement

On April 22nd, 2009 Ontario’s Bill 118 passed into law. The bill requires drivers to use cell phones using hands free methods such as Bluetooth headsets. If you try to use your phone in one hand while driving you can face a $500 fine. If you cause an accident in the process, using your phone will be considered to be evidence against you in careless driving prosecutions.

The law doesn’t just apply to cell phones, but using any handheld device with a display screen in any context but hands free use. This includes iPods and many GPS devices. You can still use these if they’re in hands free mode, but even holding them without actively using them can get you in trouble.

Bill 118 follows a trend in several jurisdictions to crack down on distracting mobile device use. This may improve road safety but for many businesses, the whole point of a cellular phone fleet is to enable use on the road. As a result, companies that need this capability must upgrade to hands free tools like headsets, and cell phone plans that permit easy hands free use.

This is a definite cellular expense management issue. Your price per headset and modified plans could add a substantial amount to your costs unless you use a telecom expense management provider with expertise in both cell phone plans and cellular hardware procurement. Fortunately for us at GILL Technologies, we have always maintained a strong emphasis on both plans and hardware, so we’re able to outfit our clients’ employees with a complete hands free solution at reduced costs. Telecom cost audits aren’t just about plans – they’re about the total cost to use your handsets.

Even if you don’t live in Ontario you should consider upgrading your mobile fleet to hands free use. More and more jurisdictions in the US, Canada and beyond are passing similar laws, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that in the near future, laws like this will be the rule almost everywhere. Besides, these laws get passed for a reason: Hands free use on the road really is safer, and we encourage everyone to consider the option.

Cellular Expense Management for the Best Phone in the Universe

We here at GILL Technologies are excited at performing cellular expense management duties for the new pomegranate phone.* Click through the features (go through all of them!) to see why this phone goes above and beyond any previous high end mobile device on the market.

This is a great challenge for us because of the number of billing items a typical pomegranate phone will use. The average smartphone is all about a mix of minutes, texting, internet access and electronic pay per use features. With the pomegranate phone, we’ll have to be vigilant about additional translation languages, pay per view films and, of course, coffee sachets and shaving gel.

These line items will doubtless generate an epic number of billing errors and a number of extremely complicated plans – opportunities for us to find numerous ways to save our clients money, especially if they really like coffee.

* Yes, we know it’s a viral ad for Nova Scotia. But just imagine if it was real!

Will Windows Azure Fatten Your Telecom Expenses With Thin Client Thinking?

Every few years, software and hardware manufacturers team up to push thin client computing on consumers. Whenever this happens it reminds me of the 90s movie Singles, where one character, pushing his vision for luxury subways for Seattle, ignores the simple truth that keeps getting thrown in his face: “People like their cars.” People like their fat-client, autonomous PCs and devices, too. Now, thanks to the rise of high speed mobile data, Microsoft and others are sounding the call to thin clients again under the guise of “cloud computing.” Windows Azure is one of several such initiatives that promise flexibility and convenience . . . for a price.

The tricky part is the software as a service model built into Azure and other offerings. Do you really want to rent your office productivity software instead of buy it? Do you trust your connection enough to rely on external hosting for any sizable chunk of data? The fact is that you might now, since cell phones and push email have trained us to accept Internet-based services that boost the meager power of mobile devices. On the other hand, it’s yet another item on your bill, and you’ve got to trust that your provider’s giving you a secure, reliable set of services.

From a telecom expense management perspective I think it’ll all come down to a race between hardware and software. If smartphones experience explosive progress in local storage and processing there won’t be much need to rent from the “cloud” (or laptops, for that matter – they’ll probably converge). On the other hand, if software gets big enough or people learn to depend on ubiquitous document sharing they’ll need to plug into the services network. If these start to get hosted over wide-area networks providers will bundle and bill for them. Being telecom companhies, they’ll make billing errors – and we’ll catch them.

Beyond North America

North American cellular telecom expense management is the heart of our business. Nevertheless, we keep abreast of trends beyond our primary market. There are compelling reasons for doing so – three “Ps.”

1) Products

One of the simplest reasons is that other markets are testing grounds for phones and devices that could be bound for the North American market. As I mentioned in our last article, the Blackberry Bold rolled out in test markets first – including Chile. You have to do more than just observe whether or not a product is hot in one country or another. Look at the relationship between the product, consumer and infrastructure.

Example: Developing nations’ explosive wireless growth and need for inexpensive handsets is a function of wireless infrastructures being simpler to install, and carriers’ commitments to volume sales that overcome low margins. Lesson: Economy handset fleets should be more attractive in rural areas here, too, especially in businesses that rely on personal mobility (on site technicians, for example). Low land line density for phone and internet makes it easier to get things done through a handset, and while carriers have no motivation to make handsets cheaper here, high market penetration in North America means they have to offer them if they want to compete.

2) Policies

Foreign markets provide an array of “What if?” scenarios that tell us what might happen if policies or government regulations change. Mobile communications is probably the most varied field in telecom. Every market has its own government-mandated quirks and unique carrier policies.You could write (and analysts have written) giant volumes about SIM card policies alone.

Example: In the UK, “box breaking” occurs when a consumer unlocks the SIM cards of phones and resells them at a profit in another market. Carriers dislike the practice, but it’s legal. Lesson: Thanks to box breaking, UK dealers are conservative with subsidies and have begun incorporating various policies to limit the practice, including mandatory minutes and detailed tracking procedures to follow the phone’s status. If unlocking SIM cards becomes a mainstream North American practice, carriers here will have to use the same methods.

3) Penetration

Other markets are an excellent way to look at various penetration levels. Europe and Asia are the primary focus here because they include regions with higher penetration levels than North America. Parts of Europe are saturated to over 100% market because many consumers own more than one active handset.

Example: Some European markets have reached the apex of linear growth, so carriers increasingly emphasize new features and higher-end hardware. Mobile banking and purchases are just the tip of the iceberg; converged multifunction devices will be the rule, and not status symbols. Lesson:Â North American providers will have to follow their European counterparts when it comes to attracting business from people who mostly already own cell phones and need a further inducement to switch carriers.

Whither WiMAX?

Two or three years ago we braced for a yet another communications paradigm shift — one that was supposed to take effect now. The mobile WiMAX revolution would have been fascinating for use telecom expense management folks. Maybe it still will be, but despite the tremendous promises of the technology there’s been more fizzle than pop out of it.

WiMAX is designed to provide WiFi data capabilities over large geographical regions. In North America, it’s seen limited market penetration. Here, it mostly replaces the “series of tubes” most of us use, but at the other end a fixed base station relays it all to local devices, making it functionally identical to standard broadband.

This is all well and good if you’re living in the country and need a replacement for the ol’ series of tubes, but for the rest of us, WiMAX’s real potential lies in providing broadband to mobile devices. Mobile WiMAX standards were approved in 2006 and various hardware companies promised to roll out the hardware by this year. So what happened?

In North America, the carriers and manufacturers are stuck in a holding pattern. Even though 3G has started to kick carriers out of being so miserly with data, the fact remains that the economic motives for companies to support WiMAX are murky, because they create consumer expectations of cheap, universal access — something anathema to the old business model for mobile data access. Hardware manufacturers don’t have any desire to churn out devices that won’t get broad support. WiMAX’s spotty commercial record in Canada and Australia definitely hasn’t helped either. Canada’s forerunner Inukshuk network is a traditional last-mile provider and the CEO of Australia’s Buzz Broadband dubbed his own company’s initiative a “miserable failure,” blaming second tier providers and persistent technical issues.

If there’s a viable future for WiMAX, it may be in the hands of Clearwire after it finishes merging with Sprint Nextel’s Xohm. Clearwire is the focus of a joint venture between several major carriers and may represent a positive next step for adopting the technology. From a telecom expense management perspective, this could presage several interesting changes. Strictly metered data fees are dying, but unlimited plans are generally synched to a few exclusive deals. If WiMAX succeeds, it opens the way for a competitive environment where consumers don’t have to track typical data usage — unlimited high speed will be something your phone just does. WiMAX might not be the winning backbone, but the idea’s on the table — and wouldn’t it be cool?