Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gambling for WiFi money

One of the biggest disappointments for me with the iPhone is not the iPhone itself, but what utter crap the whole "free ubiquitous WiFi" in San Francisco turns out to be. Outside there is a lot of free WiFi, and if you're at the ballpark you're good to go, but otherwise -- you have to run into it accidentally -- or pay.

Sites like JiWire are largely useless because if there's free WiFi on the street where the establishment is, they seem to just count it. Once you get off the street and inside, it's completely different. Oh sure, you'll stumble into a place like Pier 23 on the Embarcadero that has free WiFi inside and out (and if it's nice, you definitely want to be out), but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. What rankles me is that you can't even PAY for WiFi everywhere. There's T-Mobile and Boingo, but each only have access to a few locations in my neighborhood.

I decided on T-Mobile because it's in Starbucks and I can almost always find a Starbucks within a few blocks and it's not like I don't go to Starbucks every day already But of course since I'm not a T-Mobile customer (damn the iPhone for locking me into AT&T) it's kind of pricey at $30/mo with an annual plan. It would be $10/cheaper if I were a T-Mobile customer, and it would have been $10/mo. more if I didn’t opt for the annual plan. Hopefully it will tide me over to the next gen iPhone with AT&T’s faster network and also hopefully by then there will be some better WiFi alternatives than T-Mobile and Boingo that will give me access more places.

Given what I already spent on the iPhone though, adding another $360/yr. of expense to make my iPhone a better experience bothers me a lot on some level. I opted to gamble for the WiFi money going long AAPL for about 20 minutes. I didn’t love the trade but was up around $180 so I took the money, signed up for T-Mobile. Hopefully I’ll make the second half before I lose the first!

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