Monday, September 24, 2012

Smart Phone: All or Nothing?

We're almost embarrassed to admit our latest project has consumed the better part of this month.  We're looking for the best value (cheapest?) in a Smart phone and data plan.  The process has been daunting, including waiting for a phone that turns out to have been shipped directly from China.  I'm going ahead and publishing where we stood last week:

We found that the cheapest way to make that step up is to pay an additional amount of $25 per month, minimum.  That's a huge increase for those of us who look for ways to save $5 to $10 a month by shuffling plans or changing carriers.

To do this on the cheap we had to find a Smart phone with 2-year old technology and a Prepaid plan that allow us to pay for broadband by the day, and not use it very many days.  Is there a better, or cheaper, way?  If you're often within accessible wi-fi coverage, most wi-fi capable smart phones will work through broadband and can make calls without an assigned calling account.  With a prepaid calling account, Voice & Text can be had for just a few bucks per month.  If you can limit your new Smart phone's web access to wi-fi, you can do it cheap.  Pay by the day broadband plans are the next step up for $2 or $3 a day, depending on your speed, from 2G to 4G.

Today, the best plan seems to be from SIMple Mobile for $40 per month, using the T-Mobile network.  However, that is best used when you bring your own GSM phone.  If you want a nicer or newer phone, the math changes substantially, based on the fact that most carriers will give you a new phone if you agree to pay a stiff fee for the next 2 years.  We're afraid this project has no clear end, so I'll call it a work in progress.

If you've read this far, be amused with the fact that I had to send that phone from China back as being defective.  Back to square 1.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

T-Mobile Acts Like They Mean It

T-Mobile has made some substantial moves recently that makes them a really attractive place for your wireless business.  Here are some highlights:
  • They gained a significant amount of cash and spectrum from the failed AT&T takeover.  This helps expand T-Mobile coverage, especially broadband.
  • They started to "re-farm" their spectrum to offer LTE broadband at 1700 MHz, and HSPA+ (their form of '4G') on their current 1900 MHz channels, making their higher speed services available to existing iPhones.
  • They now offer Unlimited broadband for Smart phones, not available at any price on other carriers.  T-Mobile's price can be as low as $30.
  • They now encourage people to bring their unlocked iPhone directly to the T-Mobile store for immediate activation on the T-Mobile network.
  • They have hinted at soon selling their own iPhone.
  • The FCC gave T-Mobile permission to test the 1755-1780 MHz band for sharing with existing users to see if wireless service is compatible before all old users are required to move.
  • They now offer new broadband (USB modem) plans, some are now more generous.
  • They have signed up some new MVNO companies (resellers) indicating a new confidence in the continued operation of their network.
There are also some low lights, mostly with Prepaid:
  • They have discontinued their unlimited prepaid text plan at $15 per month.
  • They have increased the price of the 2nd tier of their prepaid plans from $25 to $30.
There's a lot to like about T-Mobile, some of those things include what they have not done, like mess with Gold Rewards.  Our problem is which phone to choose as we become even more serious T-Mobile users.