David Szpunar: Owner, Servant 42 and Servant Voice

David's Church Information Technology

June 12th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Contemplating the iPhone 3G

I really didn’t care that much when Apple introduced the original iPhone. Yeah it’s cool, but it wouldn’t sync with Exchange using ActiveSync, and without that it’s pretty useless to me. Well, that and it has no hardware keyboard. The new one coming out on July 11th will not only support ActiveSync (and better from the Palm Treo ActiveSync support in VersaMail it looks like), it will also have built-in GPS and 3G (higher speed) internet access (but alas, still no keyboard). Granted, the “old” iPhone will have a free software upgrade (to version 2.0) to get ActiveSync support as well, which is cool.

So, I’m contemplating those new iPhones. Strongly considering getting one, but I have a few questions. Although the price came way down (now $199 for the 8GB version, and $299 for the 16GB version), the data cost goes up for the 3G service. Original iPhone data plans were $20/mo, but 3G service appears to be tiered at $30/mo for personal accounts and $45/mo for “enterprise” accounts. However, I have been unable to find any good definitions of the difference between the two accounts, other than who is paying for them. In the #citrt channel, Chris Green said yesterday that based on his research, ActiveSync was probably going to be avialable only on the $45/mo corporate plan. I can’t find any details other than price on the Apple or AT&T websites, but I’ve found one or two rumors of a similar setup with some Google searching, but those were some random posts on some forums.

While on the AT&T website, a customer service order chat popped up, and I took the opportunity to ask AT&T directly. They were less than clear, and I’m not sure I believe them, but here’s the conversation:

Michael: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. ร‚ย How may I assist you with placing your order today?
David: Actually I have a question. What is the difference between the personal and Enterprise data plans for the new 3G iPhones?
David: Other than $15/month?
Michael: I am sorry, but we do not have the information on the new iphones at this time
Michael: We will have that on July 11th.
David: You have enough information to say there’s a corporate plan for $45 and a 3G personal plan for $30. Why can’t you just define those terms?
Michael: One is business and one is personal
David: Yes but if I have a personal phone, will the Exchange ActiveSync feature work with an Exchange server?
Michael: Yes, but is will not be secure
David: That can’t be true, my ActiveSync account only allows for encryped SSL connections.
Michael: Ok, then you would not be able to use the $30.00 plan you will need the $45.00

Other than an uncanny ability to state the obvious (“One is business and one is personal“), Michael says quite plainly that ActiveSync will be possible but “insecure” for Personal accounts. This would have to be done in the ActiveSync client software on the iPhone, because I’m sure the iPhone allows SSL-encrypted web browsing on any data plan, and since ActiveSync is essentially encrypted SSL traffic, AT&T would be hard pressed (in my opinion, which I’m willing to have corrected) to sniff/block the traffic at the network level. I think they’d have to “remove the Use SSL” checkbox from the ActiveSync config on the iPhone itself based on account type. Or are they talking about the ability to remotely wipe the system only on the Enterprise plan?ร‚ย  I have no idea. But I don’t like the idea that only businesses get encryption; ActiveSync over HTTP is not a good solution for anyone, and it’s certainly not worth a $15/mo premium for essentially the same service.

I suppose only time will tell, unless one of my readers has better or more information than I’ve been able to find. If so, do share!

  • 1

    I’m still not convinced. My contact at AT&T is pretty sure you’ll need the $45 plan to do Activesync at all, but I’m considering activating mine in-store on the $30 plan and trying it anyway. If it doesn’t work it will only be a phone call away to fix it. With the lack of *any* SMS in the bund I’m going to be stuck paying an extra $15/mo for a pool of SMS. I don’t want a $60/mo data plan when my BlackJack II only costs me $45/mo *with* 1000 SMS.

    Chris Green on June 14th, 2008
  • 2

    Cool…on the plus side, you’ll be getting yours before me, so I should know going in what the deal is :-) Thanks for being the guinea pig!

    David Szpunar on June 14th, 2008
  • 3

    I’m on the fence myself – the price point is good, but I’m not sure if I want to add the extra $ to my monthly bill.

    Besides, my Nokia has been around for years are is tough as a rock. I’d cry if I ever dropped my iPhone :(

    foxnomad on June 17th, 2008
  • 4

    @foxnomad: I’ve seen posts where people have dropped their iPhones multiple times and they’ve survived without a problem. But yeah, that’s a concern of mine too :-) The extra monthly $ is my main concern; the price is low enough that even at $300 for the 16GB I think it’s worth the initial outlay. Not that I’ll necessarily be getting the 16GB version, but I’m going to consider it.

    My current Palm Treo 650 is getting dated but has survived quite a bit of roughness itself. I think it comes with being a cell phone, regardless of price or coolness. Always sad to mar the pristine new surface though, esp. for the first time!

    David Szpunar on June 19th, 2008
  • 5

    […] that’s no longer true! It seems that the $30/mo data plan, unlike AT&T has been claiming per my previous post, works just fine with ActiveSync, which makes sense from a technical […]

    iPhone has been ordered! on July 18th, 2008
  • 6

    I’ve been hearing reports from 3G iPhone users that they tried to get ActiveSync working on the personal data plan with no success but it worked when they upgraded to the more expensive Enterprise Data Plan. FYI – I have the old iPhone and I’m able to get it to work on a personal data plan.

    Mike D. on July 18th, 2008
  • 7

    Interesting, since I’ve heard the opposite about the Personal data plan. I hope you’re wrong Mike! Do you have a link to any public details from actual experience?

    David Szpunar on July 18th, 2008
  • 8

    David, I’m basing this on some comments left on my blog – e.g. this one >> http://www.mdoeff.com/blog/2008/07/01/iphone-enterprise-data-plan/#comment-933539

    Mike D. on July 18th, 2008
  • 9

    I just found that :-) Interesting, it seems there’s still some disagreement. I certainly agree with the side that says the Personal plan should NOT be blocked based on the technical aspect and previous experience (ActiveSync is phone-based, not network-based, just an SSL connection, vs. BlackBerry which requires a special server component and therefore is easy to block and require a higher data plan for). I’m using ActiveSync on my old, original MediaWORKS package right now for $20/mo, grandfathered in to when that was unlimited when they first released it! And it works fine, although PPTP VPN does not (that could be unlocked for the $30/mo PDA plan, AT&T tested that with me on the phone once when I got through to a very high-level tech).

    Thanks for the info…here’s hoping it works because I already didn’t want to spend the $10 more per month, much less $25 more!

    David Szpunar on July 18th, 2008