More on Nextel Direct Connect

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

1. “Direct connect” is still limited to, far smaller than “single continent,” rather to single “home region.” The United States alone includes several “regions,” and direct connect only works within the region in which you physically reside when you press the two-way button. The Motorola i2000plus does not change this – it merely adds GSM, which has nothing to do with direct connect.

I’m not sure what “worldwide network” means in this context, since traditionally a “network” is something that allows people to communicate, and the iDEN network does not do that worldwide. Perhaps they mean “worldwide billing network.”

2. Direct connect will most certainly not work between the US and Japan. It won’t even work between New York and San Francisco.

3. Other services, like the ability to send 500-char “text messages” to other Nextel users, are nonfunctional outside the US. You can receive them, but not send. Also, Internet and wireless web does not work while roaming internationally on the Nextel worldwide “network.”

3. Even though Nextel has Nextel towers and cheap iDEN service in the Philippines, if you sign up for a US account and go there, you pay $1.99/min. Meanwhile, all the Filipinos are gabbing over iDEN with unlimited private direct connect minutes. This is your “one low rate.”

4. The GSM service in the i2000 is “single-band” meaning that it’s very limited – only supports GSM 900. Please see this site for more.

There are many “dual-band” phones like the Ericsson T28s and R310s which support GSM 900 and GSM 1800. Most international roamers outside the US now want dual-band.

To work with the “dime a dozen” GSM towers in the US, you need support for GSM 1900 in a “tri-band” phone like the Ericsson R320s and Nokia 8890.

This is probably all old news, but I think the i2000’s single-bandedness is a pretty important attribute since it severely cripples the thing’s supposed worldwide roaming ability.

The i2000plus is the size of a giant red brick, and has meager single-band GSM. How is this supposed to be such a great roaming deal, compared to other much smaller and more user-friendly handsets that have been available for years?

5. Nextel apparently has better roaming agreements within the global GSM network than within their own proprietary iDEN network. What’s more, when I called them up to discover all this information, I got hung up on, transferred back into menu-hell when I asked for a supervisor, and so on, twice. If you want to sign up for the standard Traveler Package, no problem, but if you have questions like “will messaging work?” “Will Internet work?” “What if I get set up with the Philippines as my home area?” they can’t answer them.

They actually suggested I fly to the Philippines, open the yellow pages, and contact a Nextel dealer becasue they weren’t even able to refer me to the dealer of a non-US plan much less discuss specifics. They wouldn’t talk to me at all until I gave them name, address, telephone number for their marketing goons. Is this the kind of company you want to deal with, especially when their offer of “worldwide roaming” is meager and inferior compared to every other GSM provider on the planet?

[correction: The Nokia and Ericcson phones listed as “tri-band” are dual-bands, not tri-bands. The Motorola Timeport is a tri-band.]

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