Just one geek's opinions and epiphanies

Sprint & Google Voice

As I watch the T-Mobile & AT&T merger going on I am left thinking about switching networks. My primary choice as of now is Sprint. However they are doing some things with their policies that have me wondering if they are the right choice for my family plans move.

Sprint Changes

Sprint offers the best (and really only) unlimited plan for data in the US mobile market, right now. They have their Simply Everything plan for Families for $190/month. That is a stellar deal. Unlimited minutes, text, and data. No bandwidth caps, no gotchas (that I know of, of course).

More to like is that the rumor mill is spinning out reports of the iPhone5 coming to Sprint. I don't personally want or care about iPhone, but my wife thinks it would be a better match for her lifestyle, I kind of agree. I want an Android phone, and well Sprint has plenty to choose from.

The drawbacks are that Sprint is changing some policies that I was really looking forward to using prior to making the total switch.

They have raised their Early Termination Fee from $200 to $350 (pro-rated over contract life). That is a pretty steep ETF if I decide Sprint flat out sucks.

To mitigate that I had planned to use their 30-day return policy to really make sure I liked Sprint before jumping ship. They just cut it back to 14 days. Still not terrible as I can definitely find out if my phones will work at my house (the T-Mobile dead zone). However, I feel I am not ready to make the commitment with my number. What if I switch to Sprint and they suck so I bail within 14 days, do I lose my phone number I have had for years?

Enter Google Voice.

Google Voice

So in order to keep my number I think I am ready to make the move to Google Voice. Porting my number over will give me the ability to try out all the carriers I want, cause I can simply redirect the calls to my newest number. So the more I think about it, the more I think it is worth the $20 that I will be charged.

Then I can test Sprint, if it doesn't work, I switch my GV back to point to my T-mobile (or any other carrier) number (which would be reassigned after porting to GV).

I think that is the answer. Move the phones to GV, and then continue watching the AT&T & T-Mobile merger, and when all else fails, test out new carriers without upsetting the world.

Premium Prices for Mobile Broadband

I personally user Tmobile, and over the last few days (about a week) I am more glad than ever that I am on Tmobile when I see what other carriers are doing to their data plans. The idea of getting more and more restrictive with bandwidth is absurd. Every day prices for broadband services for the home drop, just look at your local providers. Every day we lay more and more fiber in this land to make the broadband cheaper and easier to access. In countries outside the US broadband is not just available but it is kicking butt and taking names.

This isn't limited to just the land lines either, oh no this includes the mobile broadband. However, here in the states we seem to be taking the wrong direction to how we treat wireless broadband. Instead of making it more affordable and unlimited companies seem to be wanting to limit its use by charging more and more for less and less.

First Verizon's CEO Lowell McAdam announced they are going to be moving toward "buckets":

So the model to me going forward is I expect that people will have realistically four or five or six devices that they have to connect to the network, and it may be as many as 20. And so I think you're much more into the mode of instead of a device and a price plan, you are into let me buy a bucket of megabytes and I will use them any way I want.

Now McAdams goes on to say that he actually views data plans as the future of the company and that voice will be a matter of grandfathered plans by 2012 as Verizon expects to have all plans be purely data and use VoIP as the means for voice calls. Not a terrible way to look at the future, and he is probably right.

Then today I see that AT&T is coming out with new data plans, however the sad truth is they are getting rid of unlimited plans! Basically the announcement says this:

  • 200MB for $15/month
  • 2GB for $25/month
  • Tether for $20 on top of the 2GB plan so $45 total

This all seems horrible to me and I can't fathom what is making these guys look in the direction they are. I know that providing cellular services isn't cheap or easy, but I really feel like AT&T and Verizon are looking to squeeze money out of people now. Especially when you see companies like T-Mobile and Sprint offering unlimited data plans for around $30.

I think it most unfortunate that people who are with AT&T and Verizon, will be going with AT&T and Verizon won't really care that they are being screwed, but only because they don't really know what is happening.

Frankly I see this as yet another opportunity for the Tmobile and Sprint teams to rally around the unlimited data plans, and push hard. Make a stab at more business under their belts. Perhaps Tmobile will see these moves from their biggest competitors and really lean on their HSPA+ rollouts and get their service on par with speeds that AT&T is offering, and then hammer them with the unlimited bandwidth.

I really see the future of computing as being wireless, instead of hunting down hot spots we are just using the connections we have via our wireless companies. The current plans these clowns are working on however, would suggest they don't really want things to go that way, which is completely silly as it's been proven time and time again that data transfer is easier, cheaper and more reliable than current voice technologies.

If you are an AT&T or Verizon customer, now is the time to voice your opinions and let them know how you really feel about data plans, and why you think they are making grave mistakes!