Author Topic: Question about cellphone plan  (Read 5325 times)

chad

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Question about cellphone plan
« on: September 07, 2013, 03:39:57 PM »
Hi all,

I'm thinking about dropping my home phone (landline) plan with AT&T and instead getting a couple of smart phones for me and the wife. I wanted to see if you mustachians approve of the plan. Here it is:

1. I'll buy two Nokia Lumia 520 "windows" phones from AT&T for $100 each.

2. I'll hook up to Airvoice with their cheapeast "unlimited" plan at $30 a month (for each of the two phones).

3. So, over two years (which seems a good guess as to how long the phones will last), I'll be paying about $68 per month (for both phones).

4. Currently, I'm paying about $42/mo for an AT&T landline, together with about $10 a month on a prepaid t-moble cell phone plan, for a total of about $52/mo (plus tax).

5. So, for about $16/mo extra, the wife and I would each be getting the added functionality of a smart phone, including unlimited talk and text, and a limited amount of data (100mb) that (by my estimate) is sufficient for checking email and navigation, and probably not much else.

Here's what I'm worried about.

Worry 1: It's a windows phone rather than an android or ios phone. People seem to like it in reviews I've read, but I'm afraid I'll be miserable that lots of apps aren't available on it, etc. But then I think, come on, miserable? That's ridiculous. But I'm worried that there's something about a windows phone that I won't like. In general, I've never had a smartphone, so I'm worried that I'll regret spending lots of money on new smartphones, because I don't really know what's important in a smartphone. These just seem like the best deal going for an airvoice-compatible phone, and they seem to be well-liked among reviewers. But I remain uncertain about them.

Worry 2: Maybe $16/mo extra isn't really worth it.

Worry 3: I've underestimated how much data we'll want to use, and it'll seem like the phones aren't living up to our expectations in that regard (basically, I want to be able to check text email, use the navigation system, and very occasionally look at ebay or whatever).

Worry 4: I'm not thinking about something.

geekette

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2013, 04:04:37 PM »
You can get VoIP for much less than a regular landline - I pay $18/month for Vonage, and that's higher than some I've seen.

If you're currently using $10/month on a prepaid, you probably don't text or call that much.  Why not try one of the cheaper plans?  You're paying for the unlimited talk/text, and not getting much data (I think of myself as a light user, mostly on wifi, but I use between 150 and 200meg/month).  When my contract is up, I'm going to do the $10 plan, but will probably have to add another $10 more often than once a month.

chad

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2013, 04:14:16 PM »
I decided against voip because I just haven't found the call quality to be up to business standards. I'm open to persuasion that this is an error on my part, but that's why I don't see it as an option for me.

My cell phone usage is definitely light as of now. But, if I cancel my landline, our usage will be much heavier. We need about 2000 min of talk time per month between us.

I'll still use wifi for data at home and work, so that 100mb needs to just cover navigation, email checking away from home, and website views away from home. All of that would add up to pretty light use, I'm hoping.

geekette

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2013, 04:21:46 PM »
VoIP is better than cell phone, IME, but if you do use 2000 minutes a month, it might be more than the $18 I pay.

oldtoyota

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2013, 05:02:05 PM »
I will pipe in here and say that you don't need the "unlimited" plan.

Please read the Superguide here to learn more about how you can avoid the extra expense of the "unlimited" plan.

chad

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2013, 05:16:58 PM »
It's true, I don't need an unlimited plan. I need 2000 talk minutes, at least 500 texts, and a little bit of mobile web access. I don't see where to get that, without voip, for cheaper than 30 a month (with airvoice). I don't see anything in the superguide that contradicts this. However, it's of course possible that I'm missing something, since the superguide is pretty long. I'm all ears if you have a different read.

oldtoyota

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2013, 06:23:36 PM »
It's true, I don't need an unlimited plan. I need 2000 talk minutes, at least 500 texts, and a little bit of mobile web access. I don't see where to get that, without voip, for cheaper than 30 a month (with airvoice). I don't see anything in the superguide that contradicts this. However, it's of course possible that I'm missing something, since the superguide is pretty long. I'm all ears if you have a different read.

IIRC, TM mentions in the Superguide that unlimited is not needed because you can use VOIP from home. It's been a bit since I read it, so that could have just been a comment TM made in a thread when he was helping me with the switcheroo.

To challenge you a bit on the "need" aspect, why do you need to look at ebay from your mobile phone? Is that something you can do at home?

TM would probably say you can surf via web at home and talk from home using VOIP.

I've been using the cheapie AirVoice plan for 1-2 months, and I just don't check email on the road. I wait until I am home. It's actually...really nice not to be on all the time.

How do you end up using 2,000 talk minutes? I am guessing this might be for work? If so, would they be willing to pay part of the $30 if you end up going the unlimited route? Using Google Voice has kept me from using many of my talk minutes via AirVoice. I ended up rolling over $3 of the $10 my first month.

Maybe you do need the 500 texts. I am not sure. If you have older kids and that is their primary form of communication, then you might deem it necessary to your happiness to keep in touch with them that way.



« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 06:25:26 PM by oldtoyota »

chad

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2013, 06:41:47 PM »
Thanks for the replies. Sorry that I haven't explained myself enough. I run a business from home. I need a little web access so that I can check prices and so on when I'm out looking at product. It isn't much, but just a little.

I want all those minutes for two reasons: because the business requires a lot of time on the phone, and because we have lots of family and friends out of state and those relationships are important to us. That adds up to about 2000 minutes a month between us.

I need the line to be clear and reliable. I don't expect that voip is up to the standard that my business requires. But maybe it is. I will consider trying it, since I can try voipo for free for 30 days. That would allow me to do the $10/mo airvoice plan and voipo from home and gain some savings. Maybe a good idea. Can anyone else comment on how good voipo call quality is?

Daley

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2013, 09:12:40 PM »
Chad, VoIP is a mature and robust technology... in fact, nearly all phone service in the United States is already being run over VoIP infrastructure on one level or another now. I will also say that VoIP is robust enough for business needs and is used daily in the enterprise sector.

Now, what can make VoIP service terrible is one of two things:

1) your internet provider
2) your VoIP provider

Fortunately, VoIP doesn't require a lot of bandwidth... what matters is latency and noise on your internet connection. Use this tool to determine if your network connection is up to snuff for quality voice services. If your network connection is fine, you're half-way home.

As to the VoIP provider? You ultimately get what you pay for. Google Voice? MagicJack? Nettalk? Yeah, those are gonna suck from a quality standpoint. But VOIPo? Future Nine? VOIP.ms? CallCentric? You'll be fine.

Here, have a crash course on VoIP services:
http://www.techmeshugana.com/2013/04/voip-and-the-return-of-the-home-phone/

You keep your "home phone" and you don't have to up your cell phone usage.

As for the Lumia decision, there's a couple points to go against it:

1) Windows Mobile. If you're wanting to buy a smartphone for added features and functionality with a thriving ecosystem? There's cheaper, with more apps, and less lockdown. If you're wanting navigation (GPS maps), the only way around the massive data sink is to have offline maps. Android and iOS has that, WP doesn't AFAIK.

2) Buying the Lumia 520 GoPhone and taking it to Airvoice isn't going to work from a wireless data standpoint anyway. The phone you'll buy from AT&T will be carrier locked to AT&T. You might be able to pop in an Airvoice SIM card and have calling and SMS text messaging work, but you won't be able to configure data. You also won't have the freedom to go over to a T-Mobile MVNO if so desired. You want to take a smartphone to an MVNO, you need a carrier unlocked smartphone.

That should get you started on research. You know where to find me if you need me.

chad

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2013, 09:31:50 PM »
Thanks for the info, IPD. I'm convinced to at least try voipo. I'll start there.

I read at least a couple of users on other forums saying that they moved a gophone to airvoice. But if you say I wouldn't have full functionality doing that, I believe you over them. What's the best deal on an unlocked phone in your opinion?


Daley

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2013, 09:48:52 PM »
What's the best deal on an unlocked phone in your opinion?

Depends on what you're wanting. Just remember, I operate under the idea that less is more. If your current handsets work fine for you, why not keep 'em? Even if they're locked to T-Mobile, you could still get voice and SMS service with P'tel.

That said, I do have a short list of reasonably priced devices hand-selected over at the Shopping Hut. (Yes, I do get a tiny wad of commission off those things, and no, you don't have to buy from me... I'd almost prefer you try to hunt out a better deal used on Ebay or something.)

oldtoyota

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2013, 09:49:31 PM »
Ah, the additional details are useful.

I can see now why you would want ebay access.

I would not recommend this for a business owner b/c you don't get your own phone number with the freebie option, but I have been using Google Voice as a cheapie stopgap until I get the "real" VOIP set up. It works just fine. I use it a lot for work conference calls, and it's not failed me yet.

That said, I will eventually switch over to one of the places recommended by TM/IPD so I can have a home phone number again. In the meantime, I've been patching together solutions, and it's been okay.

chad

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2013, 07:15:16 PM »
Hey IPD, I just called airvoice, and they confirmed that, if I buy a GoPhone from AT&T, I can call them and they will walk me through a process to "configure" that phone for use with airvoice. They confirmed that the Lumia I was looking at would work, and they also confirmed that any gophone I buy would work as well. What gives? Are they wrong?

Daley

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2013, 07:37:48 PM »
Hey IPD, I just called airvoice, and they confirmed that, if I buy a GoPhone from AT&T, I can call them and they will walk me through a process to "configure" that phone for use with airvoice. They confirmed that the Lumia I was looking at would work, and they also confirmed that any gophone I buy would work as well. What gives? Are they wrong?

I think the person you spoke to may have misunderstood what you were asking. Yes, you can use a carrier unlocked GoPhone with Airvoice (goes without saying), and you can even technically use a carrier locked GoPhone with Airvoice (due to being the same network), but you will not be able to use wireless data or MMS on the carrier locked device without reconfiguration. AT&T does not sell GoPhones carrier unlocked (and will not carrier unlock without a minimum of three uninterrupted months of GoPhone service), and without carrier unlocking, you typically cannot reconfigure data services on most makes and models of cellphone. This is how mobile network operators recoup their costs with subsidization and cheaper handsets, as carrier unlocking is specifically designed to keep people from doing exactly what you're proposing... and when unsubsidized, legitimate new carrier unlocked Nokia Lumia 520 handsets are selling for north of $150? Now, there's reasonably simple ways to carrier unlock the Lumia without going through AT&T, but that's technically illegal now in the United States.

Of course, it's always possible that I might be wrong, but that is simply how I've always understood it. If you feel comfortable taking a chance and giving it a go anyway, go for it and see what they can do for you... but I'm personally not holding my breath on the outcome of success with data configuration, nor will I encourage you to take a $100 gamble on that. If other phones can't do data on Airvoice without carrier unlocking first, I wouldn't expect much different from Windows Phone as well.

chad

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Re: Question about cellphone plan
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2013, 09:16:05 PM »
That seems reasonable. She was explicit that it would work with wireless data and MMS once airvoice reconfigured it for me. But she didn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, to tell you the truth, so maybe she was wrong. If I end up going that route, I'll tell you how it turns out. I just ordered voipo, btw, and I'm hoping to make that work and continue with a minimalist cell plan (though I'm still contemplating upgrading to smartphones in that case). Thanks for your guidance.