Thanks IP. Hard data: Talking: 400 minutes both wife and I; Texting: LOTS. My wife especially. Data: 500-800 MB on average each of us monthly.
Man, that link is an eye opener too. Geesh. Increasingly the options seem to be 1) Keep doing what I'm doing or 2) Radically rethink the way I use my smart phone. I was hoping for a third choice.
Now you know why I don't exactly bend over backwards in my guide to recommend StraightTalk/Simple Mobile (or any other América Móvil provider). Their prepaid fixed minute plans are expensive and their "unlimited" services have far too much fine print. This is also why I argue for drastically re-examining how you use your phones. If you stop using them as your primary contact device and more for emergency/higher priority contact only, stop utilizing them as a streaming entertainment device, and re-introduce a home phone (in the form of a VoIP provider), it gives you a great deal more of flexibility for the money. Also, use more WiFi for your data.
Before Airvoice relabeled and went "unlimited" themselves a couple weeks ago, their $35 Talk & Text package had something like a 5000 minute/10,000 SMS cap, along with all the larger packages just being those hard numbers with additional data. Dunno if they'll still be as liberal and generous with those numbers now, especially as their new TOS
has no hard definition of "unlimited" but has a right to terminate service for any reason without notice. Ultimately, though, your vulnerability is SMS text messaging. You curtail that usage through alternatives, you'll save some major money. Now that I've said that, let me leave you with a quote from my guide about the cost of text messaging:
As for SMS text messaging, understand first and foremost that text messaging is a racket and a cash cow, even in prepaid. If you have occasion to text the days away with heavy usage, look into getting a cheap smartphone and a Google Voice account. A single SMS text message is roughly 1120 bits in size (8 bits to 1 byte, 1024 bytes to 1 kilobyte, 1,048,576 bytes to 1 megabyte, 1120 bits = 140 bytes). By the math alone (if I did it right), you should be able to send 7,489 text messages in 1MB of data. This means, at even 2˘ an SMS message at PlatinumTel, you're paying $149.78 for 1MB of data, and that's one of the cheapest SMS rates! On one hand, it makes those $5 or $10 unlimited text bolt on plans look more attractive, but you know what looks even more attractive still? That 10˘/MB data rate. Needless to say, this bit of information can pretty much justify the purchase of a low frills smartphone that can run SMS text alternatives like Google Voice (the perfect SMS text protocol friendly replacement), Kik, or KakaoTalk if you and/or your contacts are text message fiends. Even these will cost money, however, and you should ideally try and refrain from having elaborate text conversations on your mobile or consider larger packages from providers that aren't as stingy with the data.
Data: 500-800 MB on average each of us monthly.
You'd have to use 2.5 - 4 times your normal use to hit their 2GB soft cap. Seems rare that you'd have a month that big of an outlier too often, so it sounds ideal.
Perhaps, but the problem with StraightTalk's data restrictions goes beyond just a soft 2GB cap... their TOS
forbids most data usage that would even result in a tenth of that bandwidth.
6. STRAIGHT TALK UNLIMITED TALK, TEXT AND MOBILE WEB ACCESS PLAN INTENDED USE: Straight Talk Unlimited Talk, Text and Mobile Web Access Plans may ONLY be used with a Straight Talk handset for the following purposes: (i) Person to Person Voice Calls (ii) Text and Picture Messaging (iii) Internet browsing through the Straight Talk Mobile Web Service and (iv) Authorized Content Downloads from the Straight Talk Mobile Web Store. The Straight Talk Unlimited Plans MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous mobile to mobile or mobile to landline voice calls; (ii) automated text or picture messaging to another mobile device or e-mail address; (iii) uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (iv) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing; or (v) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services and/or redirecting television signals for viewing on laptops is prohibited. A person engaged in prohibited uses may have his/her service terminated without notice or a refund.
Basically, they only want you checking e-mail, browsing static content websites, and using text messaging. (red emphasis mine)
The problem is data services on AT&T's network is just flat out expensive... and even more-so through MVNOs. This is why H2O and Airvoice charge about 33˘ per MB on prepaid plans and have such ridiculously tiny data pittance offerings with their "unlimited" packages. Basically América Móvil is playing dirty pool by claiming they offer "unlimited" talk/text/data packages and then leaving fine print excluding the very services that cause the greatest run-up of mobile data usage from being accessed without explicitly restricting access to those services on their network. They'd rather leave the burden on their customers reading the TOS to find out they can't access YouTube or Last.FM without violating the usage agreement than block the domains. After all, they can make more money selling a $15 SIM card and a $45 "unlimited" plan that they terminate three days into the first month than twelve months of profit margin letting the customer actually use what they promise.