Going Mobile, Part 1: Wireless Phone Service for Your Home Business

Written by Donna Schwartz Mills

Continued from page 1

Enter your zip code to access a list of each wireless company currently operating in your area.

At this point, you could spend hours visitingrepparttar websites of these companies and comparing rate plans (trust me, I did that while researching this article). What I discovered is that -- at least in large metropolitan areas -- competition is working. Here in Los Angeles, there are six different companies to choose from, with plans that meet my needs ranging in cost from $510 to $614 per year, with most ofrepparttar 117488 difference due torepparttar 117489 price ofrepparttar 117490 telephone handset. Once you factor outrepparttar 117491 cost ofrepparttar 117492 phone,repparttar 117493 price differential was much less - only about $20 per year between all six companies.


So your choice of wireless carrier should be based upon something tougher to quantify and of way more importance than rates: service and coverage areas.

Unfortunately, no wireless carrier is able to give you perfect coverage 100% ofrepparttar 117494 time. They all have some dead zones where they are prone to dropping calls. But if you choose a company with excellent coverage inrepparttar 117495 areas you are in MOST ofrepparttar 117496 time, you may never experience these problems.

So DO visitrepparttar 117497 carriers' websites and DO selectrepparttar 117498 plan that best suits your service needs - but not before you studyrepparttar 117499 map each company posts showing their coverage areas. If you will be using your phone at home most ofrepparttar 117500 time and your neighborhood is in an area with poor coverage, you can cross that carrier off your list.

Narrow your search farther by returning to WirelessAdvisor.com and checking out their message board focusing on providers in your area. There are two kinds of posts here --repparttar 117501 first from people who are asking whatrepparttar 117502 others think of X-company or Y... and what their customers think of their service. Most ofrepparttar 117503 posts are complaints and many are quite specific aboutrepparttar 117504 parts of town where they have experienced problems. These are extremely busy boards - if you do not see your target neighborhoods already discussed here, post your own question -- you will soon get plenty of opinions from those who have been there!

Then, if any of your friends or family usesrepparttar 117505 provider you are considering, invite them over and ask if you can try out their phones inrepparttar 117506 areas you are likely to use them. Nothing beats first-hand experience when making a decision you may have to live with for one or two years.

Finally, most providers offer a no-penalty 14-day trial period allowing you to returnrepparttar 117507 phone and cancel service without payingrepparttar 117508 exorbitant termination fees (which range from $150 to $200). Make sure you ask about this and make a note of it on your contract in case you and your new provider don't work out.

A wireless phone could berepparttar 117509 answer to your business communication needs, and may even save you money. But before you go that route, it is imperative that you carefully figure out what those needs are and match them to what's available in your area. New products and rate innovations are coming online allrepparttar 117510 time. We'll look at some of those in Part 2 of this series.

Donna Schwartz Mills writes about the specific needs of work at home parents at her website, The ParentPreneur Club, "For Parents Who Want Choices, Not Office Politics." Tools, tips and advice you need to help grow your home based business while raising a family. < http://www.parentpreneurclub.com >

Going Mobile (Part 2): How to Get In on the Wireless Revolution -- Without Credit Checks or 2-Year Commitments

Written by Donna Schwartz Mills

Continued from page 1

Airtime ranges from 35 cents per minute during peak times (Mon-Fri, 7:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m.) to 15 cents off-peak (anytime else). Boost doesn't charge for domestic long distance or roaming.

Cingular PrePaid < http://www.cingular.com >

Opt for either a Nokia 3395 or an Ericsson R300z, both for $99.99. You also get $30 in airtime credit, which is charged at 35 cents a minute during peak hours and 10 cents a minute off-peak. You also get a 10 minute mobile-to-mobile rate when calling another Cingular customer.

Long distance and roaming is included, but only within your home network. Calls to Canada and Mexico are an additional 15 cents per minute - unless you opt for Cingular's "My Circle" plan (available to Western states customers), which gives you a break on Mexico, Central America and other international calling destinations.

TracFone < http://www.tracfone.com >

This company has quietly been building itself into a leader inrepparttar U.S. prepaid field. They offer a selection of three different Nokia digital phones, starting at $79.99 (and including 30 minutes of airtime).

As with AT&T, your per-minute cost will vary according torepparttar 117487 cost of your pre-paid voucher, ranging from 26 cents (when you purchaserepparttar 117488 -- minute card for $79.99) to 60 cents for a $17.99 voucher (the lowest cost card). On top of that,repparttar 117489 lower cost cards have a shelf-life of 60 days.. which means that if you do not renew them within that time period, your phone number will be deactivated. While that would not happen to me or anyone *I* know (all talkers!), if you decide to go with TracFone as your carrier, you should look at two other card options:

The Plus3 card is good for 365 days and comes with 100 minutes. Every time you renewrepparttar 117490 card you receive an additional 20 bonus minutes. Forrepparttar 117491 same price of $94.99, you can get TracFone's Annual card, which is also good for one year and gives you 150 anytime minutes.

TracFone also offers a $7.95 monthly autopay program which guarantees that your phone will never be deactivated.

Verizon FreeUp < http://www.verizonwireless.com/ >

Verizon's current package includes a Kyocera 2135 phone and $15 of airtime for $99.99. They also offer you 200 Bonus Weekend Minutes every time you "ReUp" for $50, and 50 bonus minutes when you renew for $30-$49.99.

Rates are 30 cents for weekend minutes, and 15 cents for Mobile to Mobile and nights and weekends, as long as you remain within their network. Domestic long distance is included. Off network (roaming) rates are 99 cents per minute. Cards expire in 30 to 120 days, depending uponrepparttar 117492 amount of airtime purchased.

Virgin Mobile < http://www.virginmobileusa.com >

Richard Branson, who may berepparttar 117493 world's coolest entrepreneur, has putrepparttar 117494 Virgin logo on everything from music to soft drinks to train service and airlines. Forrepparttar 117495 last couple of years he's been building a market for mobile telephone service with cachet - and has now brought his act torepparttar 117496 U.S.

Virgin is offering two prepaid packages with names like "Party Animal" and "Supermodel." The only difference between them arerepparttar 117497 models of Kyocera phone. They also include $10 in airtime and access to "Virgin Xtras" -- through a partnership with VH1 and MTV, you can get music news, check show listings and vote for favorite songs and videos right over your phone. (This kind of cross-promotion makes sense for a corporation that still earns quite a bit of revenue fromrepparttar 117498 music industry, and should have wide appeal to teenagers and young adults).

Virgin Mobile is on Sprint's nationwide network, so coverage is pretty good inrepparttar 117499 areas whererepparttar 117500 service is offered. Rates are good too, and refreshingly simple: 25 cents a minute forrepparttar 117501 first 10 minutes, after which it drops to just 10 cents. This rate holds throughoutrepparttar 117502 U.S. and applies whether you've paid for a $10 voucher or a $50 voucher - it's allrepparttar 117503 same. This is one to watch.

There may be other companies currently offering prepaid service and it is certain that others will enterrepparttar 117504 market afterrepparttar 117505 publication of this article.

The thing to remember with prepaid plans is that if you do choose to go this route, your airtime will cost you more per minute than if you go with a standard contract plan. It is possible that rates could come down asrepparttar 117506 field becomes more competitive -- but right now, if your credit is good and you can afford a 12 to 24 month commitment, a standard plan will berepparttar 117507 best one for your budget.

In part 3, we'll look at some ofrepparttar 117508 new phones onrepparttar 117509 market and which features may makerepparttar 117510 most sense for you.

Donna Schwartz Mills writes about the specific needs of work at home parents at her website, The ParentPreneur Club, "For Parents Who Want Choices, Not Office Politics." Tools, tips and advice you need to help grow your home based business while raising a family. < http://www.parentpreneurclub.com >

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