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Please Insert Another $50

Deborah McAdams is the Executive Editor of TV Technology.

Why, just the other day I tried to conserve bandwidth. It's all the rage. Conserving bandwidth. It started when I drowned my phone by dropping it in water for two microseconds. Cell phones can play music, display video and flash Morse code. One would think they could tread water. But no. It sputtered like a Vespa on fumes and died.

Fortunately for me, I don't need a new cell phone every 10 minutes to affirm my individuality. I have hats for that. Besides, one does occasionally cleave to the familiar, thus one was due a new cell phone from one's cell phone provider. "New every two," they call it. You re-up for the two-year plan; they give you a new cell phone. If you wait longer, the phones get sweeter. So you think.

Now what I generally do with a cell phone is try to get off of it as quickly as possible. I am not antisocial nor Dr. Temple Grandin, but merely disagreeable. I tend to look around when I'm walking, and pay at least some attention to my dinner companions. I don't need unlimited anything on a cell phone. I just need for my mother to be able to call me and tell me Nebraska is cold in February. I am personally doing my part to avert the looming bandwidth crisis for which the federal government must relieve broadcasters of spectrum. The least my service provider can do is reward me with a phone that doesn't make my 20-something friends hide their faces when I pull it out.

So I select that nice new Android holographic touchscreen model with surround sound from my new-every-two list. This baby's free. I feel pretty sharp. Until I'm checking out and discover I have to add a $50 monthly data plan if I want this phone.

Hello, red clam shell.