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How to get Wi-Fi without paying phone company for access?

by davehutchinson / December 23, 2008 12:06 AM PST

Is there a legal way to get a phone with wifi ability without paying the phone company for internet access? I am willing to only have such access where I find wifi, so I think I should not have to pay the phone company for access. Any help?

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Sure
by Pepe7 / December 23, 2008 12:28 AM PST

This requires a wifi enabled handset, such as the ATT Tilt, Fuze, or the T-Mobile G1. There are others though. Keep in mind in order to connect to the internet with such a device, you need to frequent an establishment which offers wifi for free. You won't get internet for free per se simply because the handset has the wifi radio.

If you are still unclear on the concept feel free to ask follow up questions.

cheers,
Pedro

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Thanks, Pedro
by davehutchinson / December 23, 2008 1:01 AM PST
In reply to: Sure

But as I understand it, I can't get the phones that have wifi without paying the phone company (I use ATT at the moment) for internet access, so the free wifi, wherever it may be, is of little use. I am hoping to be able to limit my internet use (by phone) to free wifi places, but don't want to have to pay the phone company to use it. How do I get that to work. Is there where I need an "unlocked" phone (whatever that means)? Help, please.

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I read your posts TWICE and...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 23, 2008 1:32 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks, Pedro

Can't tell what phone you are talking about. The first answer above is correct, complete and what you need to know.

To talk further you should reveal what make, model phone you are asking about.
Bob

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Sticky topic ;)
by Pepe7 / December 23, 2008 2:05 AM PST

I agree, but even if someone knows the model/make they might not yet have a firm grasp on what's involved here, especially regarding how the U.S. wireless carriers charge for service. For someone who's not a technically saavy person one could argue there are a lot of requirements for the stars and planets to line up here ;).

cheers,
P

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OK
by Pepe7 / December 23, 2008 2:02 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks, Pedro

ATT doesn't sell wifi, however they do sell their own 3G data services. For a PDA phone, it's typically a $30 per month feature added on top of the voice plan. If you can do a *handset only* upgrade through ATT like I did online via ATT's online account manager (OLAM), perhaps you could acquire a wifi enabled handset that does not require an additional 3G data plan ($$). Normally their new contract phone discounts require such data plans.

In any case, sticking to wifi means you choose the locations where you connect to the internet via wifi. ATT does not monitor or charge for this feature. Some public libraries offer wifi it for free; other places like Starbucks might charge a fee, it depends where you are trying to use it. ATT doesn't charge because you aren't getting your data via their 3G network.

On my phone I use a program to turn off access to ATT's 3G data network so I don't accidentally get charged a la pay per use. When I want to access data via wifi, I push a button to turn on the wifi radio, enter a password if necessary ,etc. At home I have it configured to automatically connect to my home wifi when it's in range. At work it requires a password so a box pops up when I'm in range of the access points throughout the buildings.

Regarding unlocked phones, a handset is unlocked when another carrier's SIM card may be used to obtain service. In other words, when you travel you could obtain a foreign pre-paid SIM to avoid the high international roaming charges from a U.S. carrier. In the U.S. you could use an unlocked ATT branded handset with T-Mobile if you wanted to use their service. Voice is never a problem in this regard, but 3G data can be now since T-Mobile uses slightly different frequency bands on their handsets for 3G data. In this sense, an ATT smartphone might not function completely on T-Mo's 3G data network since it lacks the correct bands.

Hope that helps a little more.

-Pedro

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This sounds like what I am looking for
by davehutchinson / December 23, 2008 2:52 AM PST
In reply to: OK

I am expecting to have to get a new phone, but don't want to pay ATT for internet access. How do you get your phone to be able to get wifi without having to pay ATT the $30 per month internet use fee? Is the "program" you use something easily obtainable? What phone or type of phone do you have? Thanks. I really appreciate the help.

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yep
by Pepe7 / December 23, 2008 4:14 AM PST

First, register online here to see what upgrades you are eligible for:

https://www.wireless.att.com/olam/registrationAction.olamexecute

Once you've registered online and logged in you should be able to see options for handset upgrades. Make sure you are looking at phone-only upgrades and not plan changes (unless that's what you want). However if signing a new agreement means you get a better price on a wifi enabled phone, then go ahead and consider that. In general ATT tends to price smartphones based on a required data plan, so keep that in mind too when you read the fine print. That's why a handset-only upgrade may be ideal since you don't want to pay for ATT data. If you pay $200 for a wifi enabled PDA phone that *doesn't* require a $30/month add-on for 24 mos, you net ahead vs. paying $99 for the subsidized version [$200 vs. $99 + (24 mos. x $30/mo)]

You seem to be asking the same questions though regarding how the connectivity works. In a nutshell, the handset has at least a couple radios on board, one of which covers wifi frequencies, and the other 3G Voice and data (WCDMA). On my ATT Tilt that runs Windows Mobile 6, there's a program to turn off the 3G radio called Nodata. Here's a link-
http://www.modaco.com/content/pocket-pc-software/246171/new-free-utility-nodata/

This is the phone I have-
http://www.htcwiki.com/page/ATT+TILT?t=anon

If it's no longer available you could check out the Fuze-
http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-details/?device=HTC+FUZE(TM)&q_sku=sku3090226

-Pedro

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Thank you very much
by davehutchinson / December 23, 2008 4:27 AM PST
In reply to: yep

thank you

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I have i similar situation
by tamfam616 / January 6, 2009 6:34 AM PST
In reply to: yep

Pedro,
You seem very knowledgable about the workings of phones, so I would appreciate if you could answer some questions for me also. I want to buy a Blackberry rim curve 8320. My server is AT&T. I am willing to pay for their data plan for a couple of months in order to get the rebate to make the phone cheaper - but then I would cancel it because I would not use it often enough to make it worth the $30 a month. So I ask AT&T about getting the free WiFi access if I didn't pay for the data plan and they told me I wouldn't be able to get the WiFi access without it because of the way the phone is set up!! Are they baloneying me? My other option was to buy an unlocked Blackberry Rim Curve 8320 from ebay that was originally a T-Mobil. If I purchased this one would I ever be able to get on AT&T data plan if I decide in the future I would want it - It being a TMoble phone? And are there things I am going to have to program into this phone to work with AT&T network for text messaging and other things in order for them to work properly with AT&T? Thanks for helping me out- please use laymen terms for me!
Sherry

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sure
by Pepe7 / January 6, 2009 7:38 AM PST

Sherry-

Regarding phone discounts rebates, make sure you read the fine print(!) Sometimes, you cannot change the plan for a fixed amount of time or you lose the rebate. With ATT I believe in some cases it's a prepaid debit card, so wait at least until you've received the card (if this situation applies) before cancelling the data plan. YMMV.

They are definitely feeding you a line on wifi access. You should be able to select one or the other as needed to connect to a data network. I'm not aware of the curve having such a restriction, but you would have to ask the specifics over at a specialty BB forum such as howardforums.com just to be certain about how to set that up properly. Keep in mind T-Mobile uses different frequency bands for 3G data than ATT, so that might be an issue if you ever had a need to utilize the frequency bands ATT uses for their 3G data. SMS won't be any sort of issue to set up though. I'd opt for an ATT handset if you plan on staying with their services.

-Pedro

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Thanks
by tamfam616 / January 6, 2009 10:24 AM PST
In reply to: sure

Pedro
Thanks for your help. The reason I was thinking of the TMobil phone was its keys were white with black lettering where as the AT&T was black with white lettering and the white seemed easier to read. I do know that the rebate card comes in 8-12 weeks so I'll have to weigh my decision (3 months at $30 a time or $100 rebate) Thanks again for your help.
Sherry

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at&t fuze
by cindyc4 / January 11, 2009 10:58 AM PST
In reply to: OK

I have the htc fuze and would like to turn off the 3G and only use wifi I have a messaging package not the data pack and sometimes text photos and still want to be able to send them. Also is there aprogram to inrease the font size for text message? Thanks Cindy

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Look for Nodata app by Modaco
by Pepe7 / January 12, 2009 1:10 AM PST
In reply to: at&t fuze

In case you missed the other response I gave in the thread, that's what I use to turn off 3G and rely on wifi as necessary.

-Pedro

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using WI-FI without paying your cell carrier
by cnabors1801 / December 27, 2008 9:13 AM PST

just an addendum to your post.. I have a Cingular 8525 that has WI-FI acess (owned 1.5 yrs now). When I first began using the wi-fi at hm with my WAP, my phone was still saying "connecting to Cingular GPRS" and I would get some high data charges on my bill. The Cingular, or AT&T connection (pre-configured) would take precedence over my built-in WI-FI connection.

Solution: A friend told me locate the settings in my phone for the connection to Cingular or AT&T GPRS and input a bogus password. Since I've done this, no more high data charges from AT&T!!!! I'm a happy cell-phone wi-fi user. I've used it at home and in restaraunts that offer free WI-FI access!!

Hope this is what you were looking for!!

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thanks a lot
by davehutchinson / December 27, 2008 11:50 AM PST

Thanks a lot

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Just use the Nodata app from modaco
by Pepe7 / January 7, 2009 12:46 AM PST

This lets you use both 3G and wifi independently w/o having to resort to bogus passwords, etc.

-Pedro

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Wi-fi
by edtechguide / January 11, 2009 11:24 PM PST

i guess it is simple as go to any WI-FI zone that has offer free Wi-Fi services... just connect to the network and put their passcode or network code.. hope this helps..

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