It turns out anyone with basic T-Mobile’s t-zones WAP service can connect via GPRS to the internet. There are a few different T-Zones plans, but the basic T-Zones service included with the family plan I am on works fine. There are many benefits to connecting via GRPS: the phone is available for voice communication while connected, there are no charges for the amount of bandwidth used or even for the time you’re connected, and it’s faster than the 9,600 bps limit of CSD connections.
For me to connect successfully, I first changed the GPRS access point on my phone to wap.voicestream.com. After having done so, I connected the phone at my laptop running Windows XP via IR. Then, it’s a one-time matter of setting up a “dial-up” connection that will tell the phone to connect. To accomplish this, I created a connection that dials *99#, with a blank username and password, and all other settings left at the default. Once this connection is setup, I just “dial” when my phone is linked to the computer, and a GPRS connection of 115.2 Kbps is established immediately with T-Mobile.
Unfortunately, connecting via the free T-Zones plan has a few additional drawbacks. The free connection through wap.voicestream.com gives you access to only a few ports. Only ports 25 (SMTP), 80 (HTTP), 110 (POP3), 143 (IMAP), 993 (IMAP, SSL) and 995 (POP3, SSL) are accessible. With the for-a-fee data services T-Mobile offers, this problem is resolved. Fortunately, for my use — web browsing, sending and receiving mail — this doesn’t pose a problem.
Update (4/15/04): It appears all ports are open. I do not know how long this has been in effect, but I’ve just been able to use ports 22, 3389, and 2065 successfully, therefore I’m assuming the port access limitations have been removed — at least on my account.
Also, after using the connection for a while, I noticed the actual connection speed, while reported as 115.2 Kbps, has a real-world speed of around that of a 56 Kbps modem (34-45 Kbps).
Thanks to T-Mobile for offering this free service!