You are paying too much for your cell phone plan*. End of story.

The Big Four

Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon and AT&T, we all know them, and we all know they are the top competitors in the cell market (in the US). We know they all have lots of plans, and phones, and discounts for new users, and ways to make you wish you had their latest and greatest things. I am here today to tell you there are cheaper ways to get those things. I am here today to tell you about Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs.

Mobile Virtual Network Operator

Big name, little difference. What is an MVNO? Wikipedia tells us:

a wireless communications services provider that does not own the radio spectrum or wireless network infrastructure over which the MVNO provides services to its customers

So back in the day the phone systems were regulated to that people everywhere could have affordable phone service. Luckily this carried over into the wireless spectrum too.

MVNOs are little companies that run on top of big companies networks. For example SimpleMobile (my current carrier of choice) is literally reselling T-mobile's network. 4G, HSPA+ and all. For a much lower price too.

How much cheaper?

I am going to keep working with the example of T-mobile and SimpleMobile. SimpleMobile has a few plans, all simply structured. They are as follows

  • $25 - 15 days unlimited talk and text
  • $40 - 1 Month Unlimited Talk, Text and Data (3G speeds)
  • $50 - 1 Month Unlimited Talk, Text and Data (4G speeds)
  • $50 - 1 Month Unlimited Blackberry (4G speeds)

You will notice I didn't mention any data caps, or bandwidth throttles. There are none. You simply pay for unlimited use of a network.

Let's keep the third plan, $50 for Unlimited, and compare that to the carrier SimpleMobile leases from, T-mobile. To get the same package (Unlimited Talk, Text and non-throttled data) you have to select the following:

  • $59.99 - Classic Unlimited Talk and Text
  • $30.00 - Unlimited Nationwide 4G

That's $89.99 a month... for the same service! Literally the same service.

All of this, and contract free

Not only does SimpleMobile give you the best of T-mobile (well all of T-mobile) for $39.99 less a month, they do it contract free! Which means, they are actually a good way out of your current plan. Let me show you something really quickly. T-mobile charges you $89.99 a month for 2 years minimum. Over that two years you are going to pay $2,159.76 (not including taxes and fees).

The same time frame with SimpleMobile will cost you $1,200 (including taxes and fees). That means before T-mobile charges you the full bill you have already saved $959.76. That by the way is less than the cost of most GSM phones purchased at full retail price.

If you are already contracted with T-mobile right now there is still hope. T-mobile will charge you up to $200 in Early Termination Fees if you leave before your contract is over. Here's the thing, if you can afford to shell out the $200 now (or over a few payments to T-mobile), then you can get off T-mobile today, and get on with SimpleMobile and make up the difference in ETF fees in as little as 5 months.

Startup Costs

I can already hear you asking, what about the phone? I gotta buy one, right? Yes, you need a phone. You can buy phones, that are unlocked all over the internet. In your local town too. You can even get some really nice phone, like the Galaxy Nexus, from Google for under $350.

Let's say you left T-mobile today, and got slapped with the $200 ETF, and had to buy a new phone (who knows why) and you snagged a Galaxy Nexus for $349... you are now in for $549. With the savings alone you are paying off this move in just over a year with the savings.

Already have a phone? Cool, bring it over. SimpleMobile allows any GSM phone. So bring the phone you bought, and save the $39.99 for a few months until a shiny new phone you love comes along, and then you can buy it contract free!

The Payoff

Ok, we have discussed the big thing, the money. Moving WILL save you money. That is all there is to it, but the best part of this whole endeavor ... now you are a truly free agent. You can simply move from network to network as you please. Because you own your phone, and you are no longer contracted to a network if SimpleMobile begins to suck, you can go to another network! You simple call up the new carrier, get a sim and off you go!

Maybe you want to jump networks. Just buy a new phone with the money you have saved and you can go to a Sprint or Verizon MVNO.

There lots of options, and more popping up everyday.

Do it... do it now.

* If you happen to have been grandfathered into a really good deal, you may not be paying too much, but you should still read this so you are in the know.