Sunday, January 21, 2007

Q I know that Sprint PCS cellphone users can make calls on Verizon Wireless's signal, but what about mobile Web access?

AHistorically, Sprint users' roaming privileges stopped with voice service; if you wanted to look up a sports score or check your e-mail in a Verizon-only area, you'd need a Verizon phone.

But last fall, the two companies worked out a deal that allows Sprint customers to go online over a Verizon connection. Sprint spokesman Richard Pesce wrote in an e-mail that this roaming only covers Verizon's "1X RTT" service (at most, twice the download speeds of dial-up), not its broadband "EV-DO" service, and is free for any Sprint user with a data plan.

Although neither company made a fuss about this roaming arrangement at the time -- leaving it for users to discover on their own -- it's a big deal for customers, and especially around Washington. Here, it cracks open Verizon's monopoly in the subway portions of Metro, where Verizon has long had an exclusive arrangement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Now Metro commuters can choose between two carriers instead of being handcuffed to Verizon. But users of other services -- which don't employ the same wireless technology as Sprint and Verizon -- will remain offline until Metro follows the example of other subway systems, such as the San Francisco Bay Area's BART, and allows multiple carriers to provide service in its tunnels.

I just got an external hard drive and want to move my music collection there. Will iTunes let me do that?

Sure thing -- you just need to tell iTunes where your music lives. Open iTunes, select Preferences (from the Edit menu in Windows or the iTunes menu in Mac OS X) and click on the Advanced tab. There, you can change the iTunes music folder location to the new drive.

-- Rob Pegoraro

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071

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