How Useful is Your G1G1 T-Mobile Subscription?


How useful is the T-Mobile HotSpot subscription you received as part of Give One Get One? I ask this question for three reasons:

caffeinated coding
Do you have Starbucks envy now?

First, I haven't used my subscription yet as I am not one to use a laptop in public. I geek out at home or at work, but if I'm out otherwise, it's to be social, not to loose myself in geekdom.

Next, if I am going to geek-out when out, I frequent places where WiFi is free. From the OLPC Learning Club DC events I organized to random drunk emailing, Washington DC has too many free Internet spots to bother with paid Internet access.

Last but not least, I'm not a coffee drinker, so Starbucks is not a place of business I frequent. And now I have one less reason to go: T-Mobile lost the Starbucks account. Soon it will be AT&T in America's most ubiquitous coffee shop, and G1G1 donors will not experience Starbucks envy.

So, again, I ask: how useful has the T-Mobile Hotspot account been for you?

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I've had success with T-Mobile at my local Borders. I tried a Starbucks in Jersey and had password problems which were probably my fault. Like you, there are many free wireless access points such as the local Toyota dealership.

But I did not get a G1G1 for the 1 year T-Mobile subscription. I want to support the program which allows the poor third-world youth of the world to participate in the world without the heavy hand of Microsoft or our first-world priorities burdening them. I believe OLPC accomplishes that. More bang for the buck where bucks are scarce.


I am a canadian G1G1, but I've been in Seattle for a month (and will be for another few). The subscription was not included in the canadian orders unfortunately (I suppose since they covered some duty/taxes, fair is fair..). With that being said, remember that T-mobile isn't just offered at starbucks. Nor will the AT&T switch occur overnight.

I don't like starbucks, but the fact that they literally are on every streetcorner makes me feel like I'm missing out. I went to a Tully's coffee shop, and their wifi didn't work and I ended up 'borrowing' someone else's from the area.

I've currently set up my laptop to share its internet connection (ethernet) over its own wifi card, for my XO. No router needed.

Actually, G1G1 donors with an activated T-Mobile account will continue to be able to use the account at Starbucks. Here is a quote from this article:

[[Starbucks and AT&T do, however, acknowledge that there were many loyal T-Mobile HotSpot customers, and they are offering a special deal to those who subscribe to T-Mobile's service. "T-Mobile HotSpot customers will be able to continue to access WiFi services at no additional cost, through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile," Starbucks said in a statement. So if you pay for HotSpot coverage on your T-Mobile plan (particularly for the aforementioned UMA service), you should still be able to continue using it as usual on the new Starbucks network.]]

I rather like the idea that anyone with an active Starbucks card will be able to make use of their service for free for two hours per day. I haven't got a Starbucks card, but after the G1G1 TMobile subscription lapses, I may just get one.

So far, I've liked making use of the laptop at hotspots. I never had a laptop that I was willing to haul around before, so I never made use of a public hotspot prior to getting the XO. I'm new to doing this, but I like it enough that I'll definitely be looking to continue using hotspots in some way even after the G1G1 TMobile subscription expires.

Whether I renew the subscription will depend on what plans are available, and at what price, in late December of next year. If there is a reasonably-priced plan out there, I'll consider subscribing. If not, then I'll spend this year tracking down free wifi hotspots, so I'll know just where I can go to surf once the subscription expires. :)

Yep, the T-Mobile subscription has been of absolutely no use to me. As Wayan says free wifi hotspots abound everywhere, even here in little ole' Lakeland, FL.

@ Deg, That is AWESOME! How did you do that? Can you post a quick tutorial on the forums for us? Many thanks!

How useful? not at all.

I live here in Seattle, and I haven't even activated my T-mobile subscription yet. I never got any explicit instructions on how to do so - but I recall seeing in the forums that I could use my order number or something to do so. It's just not a priority for me.

Free wi-fi is all around, I'm generally not a laptop-in-a-coffeeshop type, and when I am, I usually go elsewhere.

D'oh! "No HTML tags..."

"elsewhere" =

it seems like 3/4 of the independent coffee shops around here have free wifi....

I almost never encounter free wifi when I'm out and about. If I do come across wifi, there's almost always a fee associated with it. I'm sure there are places I could find with free wifi but I don't go somewhere simply because they offer free wifi.

I've never encountered a T-Mobile hotspot so I have not bothered to activate my T-Mobile subscription.

I have a portable router with a cellular air card that I can carry with me and have my own personal hotspot wherever I go.

I used T-Mobile once at Borders. I wish there was a hotspot closer for lunchtime use--I would probably enjoy it. Most wifi around here is locked down.

I haven't activated mine. Won't activate it. No big idealogical issues with Starbucks or T-Mobile. I'm just not interested in using it.

I plan to activate my T-Mobile account as soon as it's eligible (sigh), for one reason -- using Starbucks' wifi in airports; a place where there is an increasing shortage of free wifi options.

I've used the free T-Mobile hotspot account more on my other computers and iPhone than I have on the OLPC :-)

Mine has been quite useful. I'm a grad student, geographically removed from my school. I have office space at home, but my sanity sometimes requires being around other humans while I work, even if as superficially as in a coffeeshop.

My locale (North Phoenix) has sparse free wifi. It exists, but there's surprisingly little relative to other places. So, having the Starbucks option helps a good bit.

(I'd much rather go to an independent coffeeshop when it's practical.)


I live and work in Minneapolis. Soon the entire city will be wireless. The school I work in has wireless. I also have wireless at home. I haven't even thought about the t-mobile account. I can't imagine a time when I won't be able to get a wireless signal for my XO. I think Minneapolis and this general area are above average for free wifi as well.

I haven't bothered activating mine yet. I can usually find a Caribou Coffee, Mayorga Coffee, Panera, or Cosi when I'm out and about, and they all have free wireless. The city I live in offers free wireless downtown. One thing I'm not sure of is when the clock starts/started running on my year of T-Mobile -- when I got my laptops, or when I activate it?

Little commercial-establishment free wi-fi here. 3 fast food restaurants are all that I have found - our local Panera Bread & Borders do not have it. One of the local libraries and a city park has free access. The closest T-mobile access is an hour away in Charleston, WV. But, like K-naus, the school where I work has free wi-fi.

I have activated both t-mobile accounts for our two XOs. I have not been happy with the service, though. The Starbucks I frequent a few times a week while my youngest is in pre-school seems to have a weak signal, or something just plain wrong with it. The connection drops pretty often when using my non-XO machine to connect. I find the XO gets good signal, but because the T-Mobile login launches through a multi-window browser session, it can be a little tricky on the XO. Easier with Opera installed. But still, there's something glitchy about the way Starbucks traps the web hit, on my iphone it can be pretty hard to login (though it's convenient when I can because it's so much faster.)

My husband occasionally uses our second account (when I'm not dual-wielding iphone and xo, LOL) for travel. Like another poster said, airports can be challenging.

In response to a previous poster - you have to activate the subscription by sometime this summer, June or July. I believe if you don't activate by then it will expire (but once you activate you have 12 mos free.)

I find it useful, but I am glad I didn't pay for it, I would be highly displeased with the level of service if that were the case. Oh, and it seems to have a 90 minute timeout or something like that. I find that during my 2 hour stints at Starbucks, usually in the last 20 minutes of my stay I have to log back in or close browser sessions and otherwise monkey around to get back online. Very very very aggravating - what's the point of having a subscription to a service that times out on you anyway? To be fair, I haven't tried to find out why this happens, just get annoyed when it does. ;)

Similarly, I haven't had much opportunity to use it for many of the same reasons as Wayan, but also for two other key reasons.

1. I was already stealing free wifi from Starbucks (IP over DNS tunneling, slow...but you get what you pay for), and
2. Two months before I got ordered my XO I got Sprint wireless broadband because WiFi just doesn't work in a moving vehicle and I've found that often the wireless broadband is faster and more reliable than hoping you can find free wireless and hoping their network is fast and configured properly (I've had DHCP problems at some Paneras).

I too an glad I didn't pay for it. I usually visit small independant cofee shops and they often have free wireless. Or I will use my XO at the local public library. I did use an Starbucks T-Mobile hotspot to meet another XOer.

Earlier poster said you have to activate the subscription by sometime this summer, June or July. Now I'm wondering if we will have received our XOs by then.... Jan .. . Feb ... March ... someone I know was told it might not be here til May ... Just imagine how happy people who have been waiting 6 months for the XO to arrive will be if/when they then are told that they're no longer eligible for the T-Mobile account ... It's my understanding that you cant activate the wireless deal (to use with another computer) until you get the OLPC delivery. We don't have enough wireless spots around here, so I was sort of looking forward to it - plus, it would be good publicity for the program if we are using the XO in public spots.I for one would be very happy to do so.... if I had mine...

Has anyone else had problems activating their T-Mobile account after getting their laptop? My laptop arrived last month.

I followed the directions on the OLPC website, by putting in the code from my shipping box(the numbers following "PO")at the T-Mobile link from the OLPC site. This resulted repeatedly in "invalid reference number."

OLPC Donor Support replied to my email by saying I needed to have a PIN number assigned. Which didn't happen for 2 weeks, so I emailed again asking for it.

Donor support emailed back that they needed the serial number beneath the barcode in my XO's battery compartment. Sent that in. No reply since then. None of this, by the way, sounds like the simple process described on the OLPC website.

I'm not sure the T-mobile account will help since, although I sporadically succeed in accessing the internet through wireless at home, it takes forever for any page to load. For example, I might eventually get the New York Times headlines, but I eventually give up waiting for an article to come up. Or it times out.

Not internet functional so far; but if I ever got my T-Mobile account, at least I could see if the same thing happens at Borders or Starbucks...