I was reading a post about this site, with all sorts of cool freebies for your cell phone, and a candy-coated interface that keeps you clicking around, and I decided to give it a shot. So, I hit the registration form, which was rather simple, and When I hit “submit”, I got an error saying that they could not detect my provider, and to please check the cell number that I had provided. Alas, it’s not meant for me….

I’ve been using Metro PCS for two or three years now. No matter which cell provider you use, there will be a balancing act, because each of them lives in its own microcosm. The expansion of cell towers, the research and development that goes into adding features and functions, the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ that goes on between the cell providers, this is all important and at the same time it is used to confound the average field-communicator-toting public. Most o the features that are touted by providers are intrinsic features of the new breed of handsets themselves, and have nothing to do with the service provider at all. Then the din from each of the other major providers begins with a resounding “me too!”

I’ve been very happy with my no-contract, month-to-month engagement with Metro. I don’t really talk on the phone that much, but it’s nice to know that I could. At length. The industry standard of keeping up with the number of minutes you have talked, and the ensuing battlements over what constitutes a minute, and what if the call dropped and so forth has always seemed to be silly to me, even way before the average person could dream of affording a portable bag phone (these were the size of the average laptop bag or business attaché) or car phone (remember having o get them professionally installed with the antenna and mounting brackets bolted into the side of the console?). A cell phone in its basic function is merely a walkie-talkie. Keep this in mind when you are at the glowing display of blinking, chirping, molded plastic.

Just like the GI Joe Walkie talkies you had back when the earth was cooling, they have little noisemakers and extra buttons that don’t really do much. Like the sticker on the GI Joe Walkie talkies that showed a visual conversion of the alphabet with the morse code, any phone you pick up nowadays will have features that you might never notice, realize, or use (unless you are a techie, or if you keep the manuals for such things in your water closet, or both). Also like the GI Joe Walkie talkies, cell phones just broadcast and listen to radio signals.

The coverage in an area depends entirely on where the cell towers are located and the terrain, and has nothing to do with better or worse towers. The phones are just phones, and the contracts are like any other service contract for anything else in the world.

There are a couple of small drawbacks I have had with using Metro. One is that they don’t currently support the “short codes” that a lot of businesses are using lately. The only real issue with that being that they don’ provide a real number, so I either opt out, or have to go and look up the real number. The second one is that Metro is hardly ever on any “provider lists” for things like Google or Yahoo.

The pluses are mighty weighty, though. The knowledge that I have an unwavering cell bill monthly, no matter how much I use my cell phone, no matter how many pictures I take an send, no matter how many thousands of text messages I send and receive. And besides, I’m probably paying less per month for all of that than the average road warrior.

The phone uses the BREW system to sell downloadable media, but with the right driver, and a copy of BitPim, I can move any media to and from the phone. And I have a full audio editing studio for ringtones with Audacity. So, I’m all set.