I don’t do much calling via a cellphone. Maybe about 20-25 phone calls per year. The bulk of my calls is done via Skype for free, and occasionally Google Voice/WiFi, or a landline. Therefore, I don’t need more than a Pay As You Go, a’la carte plan, which is indeed what I use.
However, while I’m not big on calls and SMS, I’m big on data. I want to check my email, twitter, the news, check for comments on my blog. I need data more than I need phone calls. The phone call functionality on my smartphone is there only in case of emergency.
So far I haven’t had any data plan on my phones. I want to have one, but I find them ridiculously expensive. AT&T and T-Mobile, the two main GSM providers in the US, recently restructured their no-contract data plans. Unfortunately, the prices are as high as ever: T-Mobile’s, and AT&T’s.
I ran a little utility called Smart Monitor Lite on my Android phone for a few months now. It calculates your Wifi or 3G usage of data per month. What I found out using this utility over a long period of time is two things:
1. To use data on a smartphone in a pretty conservative manner (just email, RSS app for news, twitter app, very lite usage of few web sites), I need 500 MB per month.
2. To use data on a smartphone in a modern way (e.g. Google Maps, media streaming, full web browsing etc), I need 2-2.5 GB per month.
The real question is, how much do these options WORTH for me. And the answer is this: I would never pay more than $10 per month for option #1, and I would never pay for more than $30 per month for option #2.
Basically, what I would ultimately prefer is this:
- $120 per year, for 500 MB of data per month.
- $100 per year, for voice/SMS at standard prices (as it is now).
- Both voice/data have roll-over to the next month/year.
- I can roam when out of the country, at least for voice (currently I can’t).
- Ability to tether. Since I’m paying for the actual data, the carrier should stop putting limits on how I’m using that data. If I just want to add mayo on the data and eat them in one go, I should be able to.
So basically, I want to pay $220 per year, and to be done with it (or go month by month, or 3/6 month intervals, with adjusted prices). I want to use my own phone (I don’t need stinking subsidized phones), and I want to have this basic voice/data plan. Why can’t I have something so simple?
Some people tell me that cell data is a very expensive affair for the carriers, and that I need to respect that fact. But when I see AT&T charging $35 for 200 MB, and “just” $60 for 5 GB, I somehow have a very difficult time believing that. I think they’re just toying with us at best, and defrauding us at worst. These words might sound harsh to you, but I’ve had enough waiting for the 21st Century to really arrive.