It looks like T-Mobile USA has just made it harder to use data aware Java applications like Opera Mini, Google Maps and gMail on the $5.99 (and grandfathered $4.99 and $2.99) T-MobileWeb unlimited data plans. While some users are saying T-Mobile is blocking Java, I think they are just requiring the use of the T-Mobile proxy to get to the Internet. Java applications should be able to use the proxy but on many phones, especially recent T-Mobile branded ones, there is no way to specify a proxy for Java applications.
Also affected are Pay As You Go (PAYG) users – who were never supposed to be able to access the web except for a walled garden of just CNN, ABC News, ESPN and a trivia site. But since October anyone, even PAYG users, could setup a proxy-less connection and access the full Internet with all ports open.
T-Mobile has a history of sometimes requiring the proxy and sometimes not. When I first started with T-Mobile in early 2005, no proxy was required, all ports were open and my T-Mobile to Go PAYG phone had full web access. From what I hear that had been the case for over a year prior. But within weeks proxy-less connections stopped working and the free ride ended. Then last October, proxy-less started working again. As of this Wednesday the proxy is once again required. The proxy keeps users without data plans in the walled garden and limits connections on the $5.99 plan to the few ports needed to support http, pop3, smtp and imap – no tcp, ftp vpn, nntp, etc.
There are active threads about this on Howard Forums and the Opera Mini Forum. Engadget Mobile did a piece on it too. Some users are saying that setting up the proxy lets them use Opera Mini, etc again while others say it doesn’t help. I don’t know, maybe T-Mobile is blocking socket connections on the proxy. If that is the case re-running Opera Mini’s Network Setup tool (Menu/Tools/Settings/Network setup) should get it working again. When Mini’s network setup runs it tries to create a socket connection and if that fails configures the app to use http instead.
As a PAYG user, I’m affected but I don’t really have any reason to complain as open GPRS was never supposed to be part of the PAYG plan. I do wish that T-Mobile would sell me data access on PAYG. I’d gladly pay the $5.99 a month or even a little more. Setting up the proxy lets me use Opera Mobile (not Mini), Netfront and Doris to access the PAYG walled garden but that’s all. Of course I still have my Boost Mobile PAYG phone which has unlimited web access including with Java apps like Opera Mini for $10.50/month.
I think T-Mobile is just trying to keep PAYG users and contract users without data plans for accessing the web for free. They probably want to get data access locked down before the upcoming 3G release. Breaking Java is just collateral damage. The proxy and T-Mobile’s WAP gateway both restrict users without data plans to a walled garden where they can check their minutes, buy ringtones, etc. But restrictions in the firmware of most T-Mobile phones combined with the proxy is having the effect of blocking Java applications for many paying customers. I don’t understand why T-Mobile cripples Java applications on most of their phones by either removing the option to configure the Java proxy settings (most Nokias and Motorolas) or by requiring applications to be signed in order to use data (all recent Samsungs and some Nokias). I can’t believe they are doing it to reduce network traffic as browsing with Opera Mini uses less bandwidth than visiting the same sites using the built in browser and the gMail app generates no more traffic than using gMail’s mobile web site. gMail and especially Opera Mini are compelling and addictive applications. I know if I was a contract customer paying for data and I couldn’t use Opera Mini anymore, I’d switch carriers ASAP.
T-Mobile does offer a plan called T-Mobile Internet which allows proxy-less connections with all ports open. But that plan is $29.99/month, quite a jump from $5.99. Sure – the 29.99 plan also includes unlimited WiFi at T-Mobile Hotspots and the plan’s TOS allows tethering but there are many people have no need for those features but do want to use Opera Mini and gMail. $29.99 is too much to pay for just GPRS/Edge, Especially when unlimited 3G is $15/month with Sprint and $20/month at Cingular/ATT.
In the meantime if you are on the $5.99 plan and Opera Mini or gMail stopped working this week there is hope – you may just need to update the settings on your phone. You need to specify the proxy address (216.155.165.050) and port (8080). You’d think that T-Mobile’s settings configurator (tmobileus.wdsglobal.com/phonefirst) would push those settings to your phone, however when I tried the configurator it did not set the proxy. Neither did Nokia USA’s configurator. So you will have to enter settings manually. Here are the settings for some popular phones. These will only work if you have a data plan and you phone lets you edit the data settings. None of this will work on PAYG:
Nokia S60 1st edition (3650, N-Gage), I think these settings will also work for S60 2nd edition phones like the 6680.
You need to set up a separate access point for 3rd party applications including Java.
Go to Menu/Tools/Settings/Connection/Access Points/Options/New Access point/Use Existing Settings. Pick the Access Point you use for the WAP browser, normally called T-Zones or T-Zones GPRS. This is safe, Use Existing Settings clones the existing Access Point with a new name, the original T-Zones settings (which you need for the WAP browser) are not modified. Then edit the settings to look like the following. You should only need to change the Connection Name, Gateway IP Address and Proxy address and port.
Connection Name: Java <- you can use any name.
Data Bearer: GPRS
Access point name: wap.voicestream.com
User name: None
Prompt Password: No
Gateway IP Address: 0.0.0.0
Press Options softkey and choose Advanced Settings
Device IP Address: Automatic
Primary Name Server: 0.0.0.0
Second. Name Server: 0.0.0.0
Proxy Serv. Address: 184.108.40.206
Proxy Port Number: 8080
Go to Apps/Options/Settings/Default Access Point and choose the new “Java” Access Point from the list. Then start Opera Mini and run the Network Setup in Mini.
Motorola RAZR and most other recent Motorola phones. From my.Opera.com
If you have a Settings/WebAccess/Web Sessions menu on your phone, just set up a new web session with the following properties:
Name: Java Session <- This name is special, nothing else will work! Homepage: http://wap.myvoicestream.com
Service Type 1: WAP
Gateway IP 1: 220.127.116.11
Port 1: 9201
Service Type 2: HTTP
Gateway IP 1: 18.104.22.168
Port 1: 8080
GPRS APN: wap.voicestream.com
If it’s a T-Mobile branded phone the Web Sessions menu will likely to be missing. Bringing it back is possible using a SEEM edit which requires a data cable and some free software. There are several programs that will work including Motokit and P2Kman. I’ve never done this myself so I won’t give instructions but if you Google “razr unlock web sessions” (replace “razr” with name of your Motorola model) you will find plenty of sites with software and instructions. Warning: SEEM editing will void your phone’s warranty and if you make a mistake, can make your phone unusable.
Nokia Series 40 2nd Edition 3220, 6101, 6230: (From my.opera.com and mgmaps.com)
Go to Services/Settings/Connection Settings on the 6230
0r Settings/Configuration/Personal Configuration Settings on the 6101 or 3220
Choose Options/Add New/Access Point (AccessPoint is labeled Services on some phones)
Set up the Access Point or Service as follows
Settings name : T-Zones GPRS
primary proxy : 216.155.165.050:8080
secondary proxy: 216.155.165.050 :8080
data bearer: GPRS
Bearer settings :GPRS access point wap.voicestream.com
Authentication type Secure
Login type automatic
Could luck and leave a comment here if you get Java apps working with T-Mobile’s $5.99 plan.