You know, I often hear people complain about their mobile bills here in the US, and for good reason: national carriers are ridiculously god damn expensive.
I personally need US-wide coverage with reasonable data speeds. I’m out in the suburbs, and I do travel somewhat often. T-Mobile and Sprint will never be legitimate options for me – not unless they change in a big way.
For a while, I was on Verizon. But not being able to BYOD kind of sucks, and CDMA 3G is slow. So I switched to AT&T back in May. On Verizon, I paid about $73 a month for a 200 minute plan (I swung that with a customer retention rep), 2GB data plan, and 1000 text messages. Not bad. When I switched to AT&T, I managed to keep my bill basically the same, but with (practically) unlimited minutes, texting, and 3GB of data.
Here’s how I did it.
AT&T has a standard 400 minute monthly plan, but AT&T is also the only carrier that does rollover. If you use less than 400 minutes a month, your minutes will just accrue until you hit the cap. AT&T also does unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes, which is most of my calling, anyways. So really, this is unlimited for the vast majority of people.
Next, I skipped the texting plan. AT&T offers unlimited texting for $20/month, or pay as you go. There’s nothing in between. So, I just told everyone I had a new number (my Google Voice number), and text from the Google Voice app. Saves me $20 a month, and the odd text or two that comes to my phone’s real number every month doesn’t really cost me much of anything ($0.20 a message).
Data, well, there’s no real way out of that – I pay $30 a month for 3GB DataPro. I use an unlocked phone, so I already have a tethering app, and I don’t feel the least bit bad about using it, considering I’m capped at a fixed amount anyway. I rarely exceed 1.5GB on my plan every month, even when travelling.
After taxes and fees and such, this all comes out to $73-80 a month, depending on unplanned texting through my real number. Not bad. And I don’t have to deal with shitty T-Mobile or Sprint coverage and speeds. I get a healthy 9Mbps down on HSPA+ out here in the suburbs, and can use any GSM phone I want.