Why “roam” on T-Mobile in the U.S.?

This is @#$% insane.

I’m at the Lufthansa lounge in Boston’s Logan Airport, where T-Mobile provides wi-fi service, just like it provides wi-fi service in countless other places around the U.S., including (near as I can tell) most airports and airport lounges. The “welcome” page looks normal. I try to login. It doesn’t work. Then I notice that I can login as a “visitor” from T-Mobile USA. But I’m IN the @#$% USA. I pay T-Mobile $29something/month to use their @#$% service already in the U.S.A.

It’s bad enough that I have to pay $.18/minute to “roam” on T-Mobile when I’m overseas. But in the U.S.? Why? Because T-Mobile wants to shake down customers held captive by the conveniences of an airport lounge? I’m guessing. I don’t know.

Really, I don’t care if the lounge is operated by Lufthansa, and Lufthansa is a German airline, and they have their own deal with T-Mobile Deutschland, which treats this little outpost as some kind of consulate or whatever. I’m guessing that’s the reason, but I don’t know. I can only guess. What is clear is that The System is rigged to trap and shake down customers.

So I’m on with my Sprint datacard. It’s not free, but it’s also not T-Mobile. To its credit, Sprint hasn’t screwed me yet. T-Mobile has. It’s not much of a screw. Just $.18 per minute. But that’s $.18 more than I’m already willing to pay.

Let’s see. I’ve been with T-Mobile (and MobileStar before that) since MobileStar first began serving wi-fi to Starbucks customers. I forget what I paid, but let’s say it’s averaged $25/month since November 2001, or seven years. Comes to $2100.

“Life is for sharing”, T-Mobile’s slogan says.

I now plan to share less of my life, and my money, with T-Mobile.

If they want me back — and other customers like me — they’ll have to stop thinking like an old telco and start thinking like the Internet service company they’re going to become anyway.


  1. Jeff O'Hara’s avatar

    Do they offer lube with that? Cell phone service providers are the worst, why do txt messages cost $.20? asinine.

  2. liza’s avatar

    You see, Sprint has screwed me. Now, I have to ask : DO you have a blackberry with T-Mobile. Fuckers don’t give you wi-fi access if you have a Blackberry. You have to friggin’ pay that extra. If you don’t have a Blackberry and pay for internet acess, then you have wi-fi access. WTF?!?! I still don’t understand why they’re screwing Blackberry users

  3. Christian Einfeldt’s avatar


    Give ’em hell, Doc!

    I personally can’t wait to say good-bye to Verizon once I can start using GNU-Linux on a phone and keep my old phone number.

    Christian Einfeldt,
    Producer, The Digital Tipping Point

  4. augmentedfourth’s avatar

    I’m glad to have AT&T for my ISP–even though I know I could get more bandwidth at home with cable–because I get free access to all their Wi-Fi hotspots (Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, McDonald’s).

  5. TechPRGuy’s avatar

    Doc — I wonder if this is due to Massport/Logan wanting ALL airport visitors to use its WiFi service only. They went to court a few years ago, arguing, for “security reasons,” Massport should be the sole WiFi provider at Logan. Just guessing, but could it be that T-Mobile struck a rev share deal with Massport, and agreed to handle it the way you describe?

  6. francine hardaway’s avatar

    I have AT&T for my iPhone, and I have an AT&T mobility thingy for my Air. Everytime I travel outside the US, I rent or buy a cheap local phone. And today, guests at my conference can’t have Wi-fi because the hotel charges $100 per IP address. We could only afford five of those, and we needed them for speakers and registration. There has to be some kind of overall access we can buy that will cover everything!

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    In the long run charging for wi-fi will become the digital equivalent of the pay toilet business.

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