Cell phone plans are changing

If you’re a cell phone plan geek (and certainly¬†someone out there is, right?), last week was pretty interesting for you. First AT&T announced they’d be eliminating one plan and halving the data limit on a more expensive plan. Then T-Mobile followed up with their announcement of going to a single post-paid offering. This unlimited plan has some limits, which the EFF is looking into for a possible net neutrality complaint.

Moore’s law is an observation of the count of transistors on an integrated circuit over time, but it has been more broadly generalized to apply to many aspects of technology. Of particular note is the general trend of a technology to become significantly cheaper over time. This does not seem to be the case in the world of mobile phone service, which should be an immediate red flag for anti-consumer behavior.

I compared my current T-Mobile bill to my hypothetical bill under the new “T-Mobile One.” We pay $50/month for the unlimited talk/text plan, plus $20/month for my line (which includes unlimited data) and $15/month for my wife’s line (6 GB of data per month). The total bill before taxes and fees comes to $85/month. With T-Mobile One, we’d pay $120/month ($130 if we don’t autopay). This $35/month increase adds service that I’d pay just $5 more to get and also takes away the ability to use my phone as a WiFi hotspot (without being throttled to 2G speeds or paying an additional $3/GB).

I’ll admit that I don’t use my phone as a hotspot, in part because the coverage is questionable (or non-existent) in a lot of places that I might want to use it. But I’m already overpaying for data: my wife uses a few hundred megabytes a month and I average around 1 gigabyte or so. Only in July of this year when I was out of town for three of four weeks did I use more than 6 GB, and even then it was only 8 GB.

Perhaps if T-Mobile were going to put that extra money into expanding coverage, I’d be more inclined to go along with their plan. Instead, if I were to switch I’d get the same level of technology for a higher price. That’s not how this is supposed to work. It’s not clear at this point if existing customers will be able to keep their current plan. I assume in the short term that will be the case. If I’m forced to change at some point, I’ll have to go with a different carrier. If I’m going to get raked over the coals on price, I might as well get coverage.

1 thought on “Cell phone plans are changing

  1. In my time as a cell phone customer I’ve gone from AT&T (well cincinnati bell to AT&T) to T-Mobile to Google Fi (and sort of Ting since I set that up for my MIL when we moved to Fi).

    Ting has been mostly ok for my MIL. The only hitch is that as an iOS user she can’t send us multimedia texts. Partly because of how iOS does that and partly I think of the general cell network setup.

    Fi has been good. The only catch is you have a choice of like 2 phones (maybe 3), at least if you want voice and text. You get a refund of any data you don’t use (in 100MB increments basically), and data is roughly $10/GB.

    The best part of Fi has been the phones. They receive monthly updates to Android. I’m not sure any other Android device/vendor/telecom does this.

    Also, I can get a free “data only” sim that I can put into an android device and it shares the data with the associated plan/phone. So long as your phone was GSM or on the Sprint network it has a chance of working. My old Samsung Galaxy Note 2 seemed to work ok. I really need to probably put CyanogenMod on it to get a more secure version of Android.

    So, I think Ting is pretty ok as is Fi. Both have their limitations but so far I like the trade off. Even though I am sort of lusting after the Note 7.

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