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Picking Your Wireless Carrier (USA) part 07: Update

06 May

Just want to post some updates to the choice of prepaid plans and MVNOs.

First, AT&T. It is rumored that they will announce an update on their prepaid goPhone plans, namely the $50 tier to give you unlimited minutes, unlimited text, and 2GB data. Currently, the $50 tier is only for dumbphones, and it’s $65 for unlimited minutes, unlimited text, and 1GB data. Note that this is still a rumor. This is actually not bad if you want to spend $50 a month. It definitely put a lot of pressure for AT&T MVNOs like Airvoice and Red Pocket.

Next, T-Mobile. T-Mobile is pushing their “no contract” and “uncarrier” plans that they are hiding their best deal of their prepaid plan, the $30 a month for 100 minutes, unlimited text, and 5GB data. If you start from their main page, it’s impossible to find their prepaid plans. You have to search explicitly for their prepaid or “monthly 4G” plans on search engines to get to their prepaid plans. Even on that page, the $30 plan is obscured towards the bottom left. But fear not, it’s still there. Oh, and don’t buy the SIM from T-Mobile. They want to charge you $10 for it (before, it was free or 99c). Look for deals on ebay and Amazon for cheaper prices, although I’m seeing resellers jacking up their prices too. If you got a SIM that is not the right size (ie. a regular mini SIM instead of nano SIM, for example), just stop by a T-Mobile store and ask them to switch it. When I asked for a nano SIM to replace my current micro SIM, the rep just gave me a nano SIM for free.

Also, a warning to iPhone users. If you are on the T-Mobile $30 plan with 5GB data, and you have been enjoying free tethering, well, that is ending. Tethering has never been supported in the beginning, but since T-Mobile didn’t carry the iPhone, they don’t have a carrier setting to restrict it. Well, now T-Mobile does carry iPhones, and iPhone users are receiving a “carrier update,” and people are reporting that it blocks the tethering/portable hotspot option in the iPhone setting. Boo on T-Mobile. They want you to go and pay more for their regular uncarrier plans that do allow tethering. If you are using a Nexus phone, well, you won’t be affected. 😉

Lastly, my search for reasonably priced plan with reasonable amount of data for smartphone is here. My definition of reasonable price is around $30 a month, and the amount of data should be around 500MB (my usage when I was on AT&T “unlimited” data was about 400-500MB a month, casual use). Hundreds of dollars of smartphone service is unreasonable. 50MB a month of data is downright ridiculous. Last time, I posted that I switched to ultra.me, T-Mobile MVNO. They have a $29 plan that gives me unlimited minutes, unlimited text, and 50MB data. The upside is they have an add-on, extra $10 for 500MB data. So total of $39 a month gave me unlimited minutes, unlimited text, and 550MB of data. Not too shabby. Well, they have a lower tier now, $19 a month for 250 minutes, unlimited text, and 50MB data. You can still add on 500MB for $10. You can also add 250MB data for $5. In addition, you can add more minutes too if needed. So, total for $29 a month, I get 250 minutes, unlimited text, and 500MB data. Oh, and it also includes unlimited international text. The downside, the data amount is not cumulative anymore, meaning if you add 500MB right off the bat, you lose the 50MB, and so on. Also, ultra does not have a way for you to check how much data you have used so far, or how much data remaining. It only texts you if you reach 95% of your quota. The ultra rep told me that they will have that function in the future.

Note that if you prefer more data, and you can live with 100 minutes and without international text, the $30 T-Mobile plan is still a better deal as it gives you 5GB data.

There you go, more options, cheaper prices. 🙂

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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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