Garfield's AdReview

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Not for bad reasons, we keep hearing about our wireless-communications future. We'll watch TV on our cellphones. We'll make movies on our cellphones. We'll launder delicates, grow soybeans and spay the cat with our cellphones.

All, no doubt, absolutely true. In the meantime though, not counting a snapshot or two and some totally super-cute ringtone downloading, what we mainly do is talk on our phones.

And, no matter what anybody tells you, talk isn't cheap. It's expensive. Whatever calling plan you have, it somehow always turns out that at the end of the month that you've exceeded your allotted minutes. If you have teenage children, you've most likely exceeded your limit by $166 plus federal tax.

Because what Meghan said about what Justin said about Courtney simply must be shared. Because Tiffany must be informed, Meghan confronted and Courtney calmed. And none of this can be done on the home phone, because in order to use one, you have to be home, duhhhh.

For wireless providers, this scenario is a double-edge sword. Sure, they get to keep the $166, but they also have to deal with consequences: the ugly confrontations between parent and offspring resulting in threats, groundings and, often enough, switches to new carriers. The business challenge is to snap up the other guy's infuriated ex-customers and hold onto them-along with your own-as long as possible before the churning begins anew.

Especially good at this lately has been T-Mobile. A distant fourth in the telecom wars, T-Mobile has been signing on nearly as many suckers as Cingular and Verizon, largely on the strength of advertising from Publicis, Seattle, that comically dramatizes phone-bill reality.

One recent spot called "Freezer," for instance, shows two supermarket employees locked in the walk-in freezer. On the edge of hypothermia, one of the guys is on his cellphone, but won't call for help because it's out of his network. Instead he's speaking to someone else about a slightly less urgent

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