Smartphone Data Plans

You run a business you need a smartphone

I’m working with a contractor for home repairs now. This person comes with trusted personal recommendation but when trying to contact him the only way it is reliable is to call his phone (and hope he picks up.) I can’t imagine how much business he is losing. Yesterday I sent an email responding to an estimate (it came via phone call no paper record – uh oh.) Suspecting his technology backwardness I text him to see if he got it.  A few hours later I got a response, ‘no’. Huh? The guy has a hotmail account and an iPhone but things just don’t really work for him.

So he has a smartphone at least but things need to get cleaned up. I’m working to point him in the right direction. I don’t know his smartphone plan but this is one point that I feel strongly about because of cost. I’ll share my current plan.

My Mobile Plan

I pay $162/month for a T-Mobile plan using a Google Nexus 4. This is a family plan that shares 700 mins and unlimited texting for each phone. Built into the cost is data plans (2 that are truly unlimited) and 1 that is merely unlimited(means it gets throttled after 2G). So why do I keep this plan and not go to another?

First there is no contract. I pay full price for my phones. Next is my concern for data. It is an old plan and it doesn’t exist anymore but I have held it for about 3 years. I use about 1-1.5G of data per month and I am the heaviest user. The least user is my 80 year old father and he uses about 500M per month. Texting means nothing to us. I think the most number of texts any user has had in a month would be around 200 (old people right?) Total mins we generally use 500-550 mins in a month with some fluctuations but we have never gone over the 700.

teentxtPreviously there were 5 people on this plan and the 5th was my teenage son. He would use a lot of texts and not a lot of data or call mins. But I moved him to a separate plan because he was turning 18 and I want him to handle his own bill and I put him on Republic Wireless which is a flat $20/month for all data/text/voice. Service isn’t terrific but sufficient for a poor college student which is where he is headed. This saved me that $30/month extra on the plan because of his data plan.

So of the $162 $75 is data plans for 3 people. I could switch to Virgin Mobile but ultimately we are paying a rate of $162/4 = $40/person.

I like T-Mobile because their HSPA+ data downloads give me on average 7MB down and 1.5 M upload speeds. I have gotten as high as 14M down and 6M up. From what I read this is as good as most LTE real-world usage. And now T-Mo is going LTE and that means this great 3G network is the fallback.

Tethering Is Good

veribad

Another issue I like is the tethering. I have a tablet and occasionally a computer that I need access to a network. I absolutely refuse to pay for a monthly charge for devices that I would hardly use on the network. At home during my AT&T internet outage the family was watching TV (Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime) and no network meant no TV. So I put my phone on tether and viola’ we’re back. That one day outage had no impact on our behavior or daily entertainment consumption. T-Mo is a lot more gracious about tethering. Try that with Verizon and you’ll get body-slammed for trying it or at least held up and robbed for more money.

Save Money

Gizmodo has a good post with cost comparison but I’ll admit even with these kinds of guides it’s hard to know what is the most cost-effective way to provide you an acceptable level of service. If you’re interested in saving money have a read. My recommendation is to look at T-Mo, Virgin Mobile, Straight Talk, and Republic Wireless. These don’t all have great service levels but you may not really need it for the ways you communicate and consume information.

In a later post I’ll talk more about evaluating data and phones. There is more to mobile life than Verizon and AT&T and what does it matter if one service (Verizon say) has lots more coverage in different areas. I only care about the areas I go, while  having coverage in New Mexico doesn’t do anything for my business and personal life.

UPDATE: Here is a good post about the iPhone on T-Mobile (and past Verizon iPhone shenanigans.) In short don’t  buy the T-Mo iPhone because it’s expensive and you won’t get proper use out of what you pay for it. If you go iPhone you need to maximize your use and like a car have a good resale value when you want to go to a new phone. So buy it shortly after a new release if you must have it. Or, as I always advocate, get a good Android phone and save hundreds and have a better integrated experience. Current champ: Nexus 4 at $300 off contract.


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