Read these 11 Cingular Wireless Advice Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cellphone tips and hundreds of other topics.
Palm Treo, PocketPC, iPAQ. If you're ready to make the phone-to-PDA leap, you can buy a PDA when you purchase your Cingular Wireless plan.
PDAs can connect to the Internet with a wireless connection so you can get your email, log on to the corporate intranet, and browse the Internet. This service begins around $19.99 per month for 5 MB of data to an unlimited amount of data for around $39.99 per month, depending on your Cingular Wireless plan.
Since your Cingular Wireless plan is designed to be simple, you can have fun exploring your pda, which offers the productivity of a laptop with more portability and less hassle at airport screening checkpoints.
When you're traveling, braving flight delays, the PDA wireless connection is available in most parts of the United States, parts of Canada, and some international areas (charges will apply). The PDA is an excellent alternative to those who refuse to get hooked on a BlackBerry but want productivity (and playtime) away from home or office.
Cingular doesn't have all the PDAs you want available in all areas, so check availability in your area before you sign up.
Cingular offers local coverage area calling plans within Cingular Region Family Talk plans. This plan is great if your kin is scattered through Arkansas and Tennessee.
The Cingular Wireless Region Family Talk plan includes the same basic features as all Cingular plans. The least expensive Region plans begin around $39.99 per month for 600 minutes and more expensive plans run up to $79.99 per month for 1350 minutes (plans will vary by area).
Even if you're calling within the same region, you still may want to save on your cell phone bill. Order the minimum of minutes and take advanage of mobile-to-mobile or walkie-talkie features.
Addicted to your BlackBerry and want to find a cellphone company that uses the same technology? Cingular wireless phones now include the BlackBerry phone!
BlackBerry Cingular phones can be set-up on one of two data access plans that include limited or unlimited data services for $34.99 or $44.99 per month. For BlackBerry warriors keeping the office conntected, the plan includes up to 10 ISP accounts. You already know you can send, receive, reply, and forward messages with this service.
While Cingular claims to be the leading BlackBerry provider, Verizon and T-Mobile have caught up, and Verizon's coverage is said to be outstanding even in mountainous areas where BlackBerry service is spotty.
When you remember your BlackBerry is also a phone, you can enjoy Cingular Wireless service also includes call waiting and three-way calling. Whew! No 12-step program needed with your Cingular Wireless service.
Planning to stick around your hometown with the kids? Do you travel Nevada or Florida for sales meetings?
Cingular offers local area Cingular plans within the Cingular Region individual plans. These Cingular plans vary in prices starting at $39.99 and include 600 or more minutes. They include calls made within a specified coverage area and offer unlimited long distance calling. Maps are available to consumers who choose this local coverage plan to help them choose a particular area of coverage.
Roaming charges apply outside of the plan area at a fixed price, depending on your plan. Most of the plans offer unlimited nights & weekends (additional minutes cost anywhere from 35 to 45 cents per minute depending on the plan).
Some consumers report that they've had problems with Cingular in, say, Milwaukee, and can't get coverage outside the major metropolitan areas. It's worth the time to read consumer reviews before you buy a cell phone plan.
When shopping for cell phone plans, you make the same decisions as buying a car. What features can you live without? Do you message your buddies every five minutes or do you use your phone only when you need to coordinate tonight's business or family dinner?
Cell phone carriers compete to give you all the features for competitive prices. For example, Cingular Wireless offers individual as well as family plans called Cingular Nation plans. If Cingular cell phone service is available in a consumer's service area, then Cingular is definitely worth considering.
The Cingular Nation plan includes nationwide coverage with no long distance or roaming charges. Individual plans vary in price from $39.99 to $199.99 per month and offer anywhere from 200-6000 anytime minutes (depending on the Cingular plan chosen).
With a few exceptions, Cingular Nation plans include:
* unlimited night and weekend minutes
* unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes
* with additional minutes varying from 40 cents to 10 cents per minute.
Most cell phone plans, however, compete to give you unlimited night and weekend minutes. Cingular may not have all the features of, for example, Sprint's nationwide network. Comparison shop when you're buying a mobile phone--if you don't get the best deal right away, you can switch and take your cell phone number with you.
You rollover your IRA, and you'd like to rollover your cell phone minutes. A service such as Cingular Wireless offers rollover minutes for the financially savvy.
With some cell phone plans, at the end of the month the customer pays for a certain amount of anytime minutes, and at the end of the month the customer often loses unused minutes that you could have spent talking to your financial planner.
Cingular plans allow the customer to rollover their minutes. This means that all unused minutes will carry over to the next month for up to twelve months.
Rather than losing minutes already paid for, you can talk to your CFP (certified financial planner) whenever the stock market dips for months afterward.
Tip: The minutes will be used on a first come first served basis and will expire 12 months from the date they are rolled over.
Now every place can be a workplace. You've heard the ads from Sprint PCS. Frightening? Not necessarily--you don't have to carry the office around on your phone with Cingular wireless plans, for example. You can just have a cell phone for emergencies, but still be productive with a PC card from Cingular.
With a PC card from Cingular wireless or another provider, a laptop can connect to the Internet wirelessly. All you need to do is plug the PC card into your laptop and presto: instant access to email, company intranet, and the Internet in the coffee shop, in the airport, even at your kids' soccer game--maybe not. You have to plug into life, too.
PC cards from Cingular Wireless may actually help you live your life. The Cingular PC card service has different plans available that begin at around $19.99 a month for 5 MB of data connection to an unlimited amount of data connection for around $79.99 per month, $99.99 with Wi-Fi.
The PC card connection coverage area includes most of the United States, parts of Canada, and some international areas (for an additional connection fee). When Tahiti's a workplace, you'll want a wireless PC card.
Is your family a coast-to-coast clan? Cingular Wireless has a calling plan for families who need nationwide coverage. Best of all, if you're keeping track of kids in college, this plan does not apply additional fees for long distance or roaming. But does this plan suit your family's needs?
The plans have all of the basic features of the individual plans and begin at around $59.99 per month, which allows your family consumer 550 Anytime minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes as well as night and weekend minutes. Additional minutes vary from 45 cents to 10 cents per minute depending on what Cingular plan the customer has chosen. Think carefully--you might not want to know what your son did on his spring break!
Family plans have become less profitable for cell phone companies (Cingular was the first to note a drain) and the companies are adding mobile-to-mobile as well as other extras. You don't need to buy the most minutes available in a family plan, especially if you're talking to someone in the network.
You've seen the bars on the TV ads, but does Cingular really raise the bar?
Cingular offers many name brand phones such as Nokia, LG, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and RIM Blackberry--also other leading PDA phones. Their phones generally offer an assortment of features such as Bluetooth technology, digital cameras, video recorders, and Web browsing, as well as many multitasking features such as phone books, calendars, and to-do lists.
The phones vary in shapes and sizes, but Cingular phones tend to be stylish and lightweight and they offer variable degrees of talk and standby time. But you may still be bewildered by the array of choices. Perhaps Cingular raised the bar a bit too high.
Raising the Bar Tip: Some online sites allow consumers to choose from different types of phones available from each carrier. These cellular-shopping sites feature comparison charts that list costs and features. This is a great benefit for consumers who are not necessarily choosy about the carrier but are particular about what they want and need in a phone.
Love extras? They may pad your cell phone bill, but if you get a competitive rate and skip on the chatter during your commute (much safer), you can make up the cost.
Cingular Wireless offers additional features that can be added to the different plans as available. These features include:
• Extended nights and weekends
• MEdia Basics
• MEdia Works
• MEdia Net
• Multimedia Messaging
• Voice Connect
• Wireless Phone Insurance
Let's look at some of the features in-depth:
Extended nights and weekends give customers the option of adjusting their free hours to begin at 7pm rather than 9pm Monday through Friday for an additional $7-$14 (depending on the Cingular cell phone service).
Even with Cingular's unlimited minutes, the extended hours are ideal for couples, business travelers, movie moguls and people who spend those additional two hours per weekday talking on the cell phone and do not want to use up their unlimited talk time doing so.
The MEdia Basic and MEdia Works packages include text/instant messaging, multimedia messages, and wireless Internet express from $9.99 per month, depending on how much data you transmit with your phone when you're not talking! The service provides Internet access, sharing of photos, and downloads.
On the spoken word side, the Voice Connect option includes hands-free dialing prompted by voice cues, voice-automated entertainment information, and voice information service updates (such as news, sports, lottery, etc.) for a low monthly fee. If you have a disability, you may get this service free.
For people who want to protect their cell phones and all the extras, Cingular cell phone service offers Wireless Phone Insurance for $3.99 per month to safeguard customers when their phones are lost, stolen, or damage. It has a low deductible of about $50.00 per claim.
You may not need all the extras if you just want a basic cell phone plan. Not everyone wants multimedia. Also, your choice of phone will limit the extras you can get.
Before, when you yelled "Help" into your cell phone it was because you lost the signal. Now when you call out for help with Cingular Wireless or another wireless provider, you can get Roadside Assistance with Cingular plans. Cingular Wireless offers users Roadside Assistance for a low monthly fee, say $2.99. The service includes four free service calls per year with a maximum benefit of $50.00 per service request. Assistance includes:
• battery service/jump start
• flat tire assistance
• fuel delivery (of up to three gallons of gas or diesel)
• lockout assistance
• key replacement
The service goes into effect 72 hours after it has been activated and can be cancelled at any time. These is even a toll free number to call when the services are needed. It's the cellular phone plan equivalent of OnStar, and you can get help as quickly as possible sent to your location.
Note that Cingular has competition from the other major cell phone carriers, which also offer roadside assistance or emergency calls.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|