Friday, March 7, 2014

The Math Has Changed

Most major carriers have 'adjusted' their pricing recently, mostly in response to T-Mobile's new, "un-carrier" program.  This presents two important considerations for the cellular consumer: 1)Do Your Math, and 2) Do Your Shopping.

Do Your Math!  Grab a calculator and add up how much a "2-year" plan will cost you vs. what that plan will cost you if you buy the phone separate from the plan.  In many cases we found that the 2-year contract cost was less than buying the phone outright, especially if you actually pay extra for the right to buy a new phone early.  As with any computation, there are additional numbers involved.  If you want to change before, or not change phones at the end of that 2-year obligation, your costs change, too.  Many of us can't live with the same technology that long.

Do Your Shopping! Today you can choose the model of phone you want, buy it the way you want, and choose the plan you want.  Unfortunately, there is a large variation in how each of those inteact, and we certainly don't want to suffer from the "Tyranny of Choice".  Today you can get a decent amount of Data along with Unlimited Calls and Texts for $45.  That number is beginning to by challenged at the $40 level with included Data ranging from 500Mb to 1Gb.  And yes, you can go cheaper than that. Net10 now offers a $40 plan and even AT&T has promised to will offer $40 plans after they take control of Cricket Wireless.

This is also a heads up for those of you who are nosing through the information in the Mountain Wireless Networks.  We often mention a price range for certain products that, unknown to us, has changed, usually to the downside, making it even more important to do your shopping.  We've got the tools to do just that among our sites.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Yanking Out the Wires

A few months ago we reported that Verizon Communications was planning on replacing a large of number of wired telephone customers in Long Island with wireless boxes.  The plan was to replace telephone service to those areas destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in a far less expensive manner, especially since the residents in that area were not very big telephone users and may not replace their landlines anyway, it seemed like a good idea.  At the time the FCC saw otherwise.  They thought not rebuilding the wired network may have dangerous ramifications.

Since then there has been a change in thinking. AT&T proposed adding only coaxial cable (or fiber) to new installations in Florida as an experimental trial.  This time to FCC says it's worth a try.  After all, why install a few pair of wires and a high-capacity pipe for all communications, especially when the same company, AT&T in this case, control both.  So much for the 'twisted pair'.  This is harder to clarify in areas like where I live where a different company controls each.

We have watched the trends and the CDC reports as of 2013, fully one third of US homes now have wireless as their only means of telephone communications.  Many of these homes have cable installed in their homes, so it is likely they use cable as their broadband access, but not everybody.  With the additional broadband growth of the wireless carriers today, we see that number should shrink as well. We are following the trend at our 'cut the cord' web site which was recently changed from The Unwired Home to Mountain Unwired to reflect the growing used of wireless in all of our devices wherever we are, no longer just at home.

Noisy Disclaimer

The Federal Trade Commission requires bloggers to reveal any compensation offered for positive reviews about any products.  We don't get any money for our reports, doggone it.  We do, however, have financial investments in most of not all of the wireless carriers we review.  Through mutual funds and  Exchange Traded Funds we own small parts of several wireless carriers.  After looking through the fund holdings, I own a large chunk of AT&T, a smaller piece of Verizon Communications, much smaller pieces of really small carries like US Cellular and NTelos, and surprisingly, no Sprint or T-Mobile stock.

I find that we have been more critical of the carriers in which we have some stock, therefore I would say we don't show much conflict of interest.  This year we should be less critical of AT&T and T-Mobile and more critical of Verizon and Sprint, and lots of hand-wringing over US Cellular.  Now I hope the Feds are happy.