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What do the Nexus 6 and Net Neutrality Have in Common?

I'm a tech nerd, and I'm proud of that fact.  I'm also fairly picky about many things, including about being able to pick and choose the products I want to use. In the past year and 3 months or so, I have owned a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Moto X, HTC One M8, and LG G3.   

It's no secret that I love Android Phones, but for the first time since the iPhone was introduced I was tempted to make the switch to iOS. In the end, I didn't, but that doesn't mean it's not the right smartphone for anyone one else.  However, I went through so many different phones in the past year because  I was looking for one that had everything I wanted and had service where I live and work. Finally I feel that I have found the phone in the Nexus 6, but I will get to that in a bit.  While I love the N6, I hated the experience I had to go through to get it activated. 

For many years, I had been on Verizon as they have by far the best coverage where I lived and worked.  In 2013, I made the decision to leave Verizon and it's two year contracts in favor of being able purchase and use whatever phone I liked, when I wanted to do so. 

A lot has changed in the wireless carrier space past 18 months thanks to T-Mobile creating a great disruption in the mobile space which has caused carriers like Verizon and AT&T to make changes to their plans and offerings. The issue comes if you live in a state like Montana, North Dakota, or Wisconsin.  Verizon still has the best coverage, AT&T has improved, T-Mobile has upgraded speeds in areas they already cover, and there are a few other smaller carriers, but none of them can match Verizon for coverage overall.  Verizon's coverage is something they should be proud of, but they shouldn't use it to hold customer's hostage.

This reminds me very much of the current battle the united states is fighting over Net Neutrality.  If you are not sure what that is, basically it's about keeping the internet accessible to everyone, and favoring no one.  That is a huge oversimplification of the problem, but you can learn more here:

Essentially, the internet has the same issue that we have with wireless phone coverage and mobile internet access.  There simply isn't enough competition in the market.  Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner all have death grips on high speed internet.  Most people only have two choices at best, cable or DSL, and that is the problem.  Those companies have no incentive to upgrade their speeds and equipment because customers cannot go elsewhere.  This is evident in the fact that the "mighty" United States doesn't even break the top 10 worldwide in average internet speed.

Wireless carriers are the same in the United States.  It seems that only T-Mobile is really trying to make the customer experience better, but they lack the capital to build their network out to match Verizon's everywhere in the country at this time. I hope that this will change in the near future, but so far it hasn't.  

So what does this have to do with my new Nexus 6? Well, a lot actually.  As I stated, over the past year I have had a lot of phones.  I loved my Nexus 5 and I had that for  a few months.  I used T-Mobile for a while as it works where I live, but not where I work.  I had to switch to AT&T (I used their Prepaid service Go Phone) to get better coverage, but their coverage still didn't stretch to the middle of the state where I often had to go for track meets.  If an athlete got hurt or there was an emergency, I had no signal at all in many places. This led me to come back to Verizon in March of 2014. 

So I tried the Moto X since I couldn't use the Nexus 5 on their network. The Moto was decent, but it was a little slow and I liked asking Google questions directly rather than going through Motorola's Voice Commands which sometimes messed up the speech to text.  I did really like the near stock software and overall build quality of the Moto X. In July, I  decided to try the HTC One M8 right around the time the LG G3 came out.  I loved the M8's speakers and how fast it was, but didn't enjoy how slippery it was, the camera, or the overall size compared it's actual screen size.  

I returned it and instead purchased a G3. Overall, I have really liked the G3.  The screen is amazing; it's a great size and very crisp.  The camera is the best I have ever used on a phone (I have never used an iPhone).  The Laser Auto-focus is super fast and software is excellent. The double tap to wake the screen feature is awesome and something I wish they had kept in the final build of the Nexus 6. The issues with the G3 came in the software for me.  There is too much LG extra software coupled with lots of extra Verizon software that you cannot remove. This made it a little slow at times. 
I have loved all of the Nexus devices I have owned up to this point, including the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7.  However, I have been waiting for the Nexus line to both work on Verizon again and not have any compromises.  Every iteration of Nexus I have owned has some sort of compromise, but recently they were much less expensive than other phones.  This made it acceptable to deal with those compromises, but I have always wanted at Nexus that didn't compromise. I have to say the I believe the Nexus 6 is the closest Google has come to that.

It may be too big for some, but it has almost all of the great features of the phones I have used over
the past year, ambient display (like the Moto X), front firing stereo speakers (like the HTC One), a QHD Screen (like the G3, Note 4 and Droid Turbo), a decent sized battery, wireless and turbo charging, and Stock Android Software (like the other Nexus devices).  It also has the awesome antenna tech from the 2014 Moto X, an upgraded camera with OIS, and I happen love really like the size for consuming media and information.

With all of that in mind, I was able to purchase the Nexus 6, with some luck, directly from Motorola. I chose to go this route because of the debacle that was the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. It came with a bunch of Verizon bloatware and it got updates months after other Nexus devices.

I was out of town when the phone arrived, and when I got back it was a bit too late to go to Verizon and get it activated.  You see, this is one of the first phones to be release that has all of the major carrier's radios built into one phone.  So I took it to work with me the next day and at lunch I looked over one of my favorite tech blogs, Android Police.  What I discovered was that Verizon was not activating a phone purchased from Motorola directly.  If I had purchased it from Google's Play Store, they would activate it. Verizon has to have a special number in their system in order to allow it to be activated on their network.  However, it can still be used on their network. Weird huh?

The phones are identical, there is absolutely no physical or software difference whatsoever. The difference lies in the fact that Verizon didn't trouble themselves to allow those phones IMIE numbers to be placed into their system.  Let's just say that it took me several days, several phone calls, and several stops at Verizon dealers to finally get the phone working. I was ready to drop Verizon again, and would have if I couldn't get it activated.  My question is why should a person be faced with that choice?

My point is that we as consumers should be allowed to choose our devices, our service, and providers based on competition (this is America after all, a society that is supposed to be based on capitalism) and how they treat their customers.  Unfortunately, we don't live in that world. So that brings me back to Net Neutrality again.  If we let these huge companies dictate pricing, speed, and customer service we will continue to lose as consumers.  Do we really want worse service at at higher price?  If not, make sure your voice is heard on Net Neutrality and on wireless carrier's shenanigans.  If they truly cared about customers, we might be in the top ten in internet speed and price in the world.  

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