Just one geek's opinions and epiphanies

Why are you still with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile?

A few months ago I moved from T-mobile to being a free agent, a change I am proud I made. I am now free to move to whatever network I want, when I want. I can have any unlocked phone I want. The best part though? I am saving money monthly, and yearly.

The Recap

To recap for those who don't know I am on SimpleMobile a MVNO of T-mobile. If you want to know more, check out this previous post. I am still using the Samsung Galaxy S I bought from T-mobile back in June of 2010. The best part though is I am only paying $40 a month for unlimited everything. No sharing, no limits, no contracts.

How About A New Phone

I am in the market for a new phone. I have been watching all the new phones hit the market and I am most excited about the brand new (and still unreleased) Google Nexus 4 (from LG). With incredible specs:

  • 4.7" Screen, 1280x768 pixel resolution (320ppi), WXGA IPS
  • Gorilla Glass 2 (some hard glass)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor
  • 8MP camera, with 1.3MP front camera
  • 8 or 16GB of storage
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Micro USB
  • SlimPort HDMI
  • Wireless charging (built in)
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • NFC (Near Field Communication)

I can go on, but let's move on.

Let's not forget the best part of Nexus phones too... updates. Nexus phones (with exception of the Verizon variants) have always received the latest versions of Android almost immediately (usually under a month from release). That means you will always have the latest tools, toys, and fixes.

What about pricing?

Sure pricing for the Nexus 4 seems steep at first glance. At $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) you can get almost any phone on any network. iPhone5 runs from $199 to $399 on AT&T, Verizon & Sprint. Samsung Galaxy Note II is $369 on T-Mobile. Each a great competitor, but you can bet the Galaxy Note II won't get updates in a timely manner. The iPhone? Well unless you are an iPhone snob already you know that the iPhone is pretty but it is limiting. No NFC, walled garden of apps, and very little customization. Then again, if you own or want an iPhone, you probably aren't reading this blog anyways.

So why pay $100 extra for the Nexus 4? To be free of the network. To be unlimited (truly). Here is what pricing you are looking to for your 2yr contracts:

  • AT&T $139.99/month ($69.99 Unlimited minutes, $50.00 5GB Data, $20.00 Text Messaging)
  • Sprint $109.99/month (Simply Everything)
  • T-Mobile $89.99
  • Verizon $70/month (4GB cap)

The best there is Verizon (though you are capped on data). Over the life of those contracts here is what you will pay:

  • AT&T $3359.76
  • Sprint $2639.76
  • T-Mobile $2159.76
  • Verizon $1680

If you switched to an MVNO like SimpleMobile and ate the $100 extra for the purchase of the phone? To get unlimited data at 4G speeds you need to spend $50/month. There is no contract, but if you stuck around for 2 years you would pay at most $1200. If you take Verizon as the best deal you are still saving $480 ($380 if you factor in the phone purchase).  Compare this to AT&T though and you are saving $2159.76!! Even if you factor in the $100 for the phone you are coming out saving $2000! That is $1000 a year! For that $1000 you have saved each year you can replace your phone 2 or 3 times!

It's a new world in cell phones. You aren't limited to the major networks, you aren't limited to the phones they offer. Break your mold, join the movement to better cell phones and better pricing on plans.

Please Note: Other than having service with SimpleMobile (which I pay for) I am in no way affiliated with SimpleMobile, or Google. These rants are my own, I just want the world to know they are paying way too much for phones, and service with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.


Wireless done more right

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.

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.