The 4-1-1 on Wireless & Data Plans

photo courtesy of East Chapel Hill Observer (ECHO) Click here to view article

So, here’s the scoop.  “Like, OMG” you will not want to miss this post and will want to bookmark it before you head out to change phones, or plans.  The different plans and services out there will make your head spin and what I went through may make you think twice about ever switching your wireless service but read on… you will not regret it.

This is your 4-1-1 – everything you ever wanted to know about the following three companies when it comes to mobile, wireless service:  AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.  So, I ventured out in April, as if I needed another distraction in my life – at a time when I didn’t have time and things were not going well is when I decided to add more to my plate and took on changing of my wireless service.  Huge mistake!  Huge! GIANT!  It ends well, but the road was rocky and entailed some restocking fees.  All in all, it was okay and an experiment but alas, a bit inconvenient at a time when I really didn’t have extra time to throw around.

I have had AT&T since March 4, 2010- before then, I was a loyal T-mobile customer since my days with Deutsch Telekom (yes, I was stationed abroad in Germany) and when I returned state-side I went to T-mobile for my cell phone.  I had an old antiquated cell phone but I loved T-mobile and the price was right.  I had what I needed for the time in question- cell phone calling, very limited to NO texting (who texted back then? HELLO!), and some data but not really – who had the nerve to call it data back then anyway.  Before my Germany days, I was a loyal Sprint customer for several years – remember when cell phones were first introduced? Yowsers— we’ve come a long way folks since 1997, huh? In 2010, I wanted to try the new Iphone 3GS so, I took the huge leap and decided to try out Apple products even though I despised Apple and kinda still do – a little.  Okay, Okay, I was a computer science undergrad major and Mac products were not on the top of my faves list.   In any case, I did it- I switched from T-mobile to AT&T after 8 years of loyalty just for the stinking IPhone.  I have to say, I was hooked to the Iphone despite its poor battery life, expensive accessories, piss poor software known as Itunes, and general bulkiness of said phone.  Ah well — there are pros and cons but I love having the Internet and the world at my fingertips.

Despite what plan or company you choose mentioned here, keep in mind that almost all of the companies require 2-year contracts and I don’t know about you but that pisses me off a bit because contracts drive me nuts and they are binding, blah blah blah and yeah, they lock you down.  That makes me mad because I am a mind-changer (ha) but in any case, unless you want to do pay-as-you-go (my husband does it and is fine with it), you will want to know some of these features and facts before you run out and change plans.  Keep in mind as I learned, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and all the companies have pros and cons that come attached to their contracts as well.

AT&T prices for data, messages, and voice- almost looks identical to Verizon's offering

Data- AT&T had some great plans back in 2010 when I got the Iphone 3GS and I was “grandfathered in” when AT&T decided to change all its data plans and screw new customers last year.  So while I had unlimited data, (and trust me when I say 3G on the AT&T network with the Iphone is UBER FAST because I have compared it to other the networks I mention above), new AT&T customers are paying about as much as they would on Verizon – of course, both Verizon and AT&T have limited their data plans and Sprint is the only one that offers unlimited data and 4G on some pretty awesome droids which can be FREE after you enter into the 2-year agreement.  All companies including T-mobile offer the 4G network which I hear is super cool but alas, the IPhone only operates on 3G on Sprint, and Verizon.  AT&T is the only one that offers the 4G network for Iphones 4 and higher but I really do not see much of a difference for the iphone on the 4G network versus the 3G.  If you have Iphone 3GS, then you are stuck with the 3G network but trust me, when I say, I have compared all three- Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T on the 3G network and AT&T is the fastest.  You can stream movies, shows, and videos on the Iphone with no issues.  Sprint 3G works just as fast but you have to all 5 bars.  If you have less than 5 bars or try to stream movies and shows at peak hours, it will not work!  Not even a little.  In any case, as far as data goes, the cheapest is Sprint with their 100% unlimited data plans and they are reasonably priced.  Below are some snapshot of prices for data and voice plans with all three.  Keep in mind that these prices do not take into account, corporate, government, or military discounts.  Please call business care for each company to find out what the specific discounts are.  I found the most expensive service to be Verizon and no unlimited plans.  Of course, the new AT&T is comparable to Verizon in that there are no unlimited data plans any longer.  So, looking at the AT&T chart above, Verizon’s 450 minute voice plan is $39.99 and add to that either of the following data plans for Verizon’s network:  5G for $50, 2G for $30 and you could do the 75 MB plan but that is only for basic phones (not smart phones) and that runs $10.  The truth is all you really need 300 MB unless you are streaming video, etc., then you should consider 2-3Gs but anything 5G and over is a lot.  The best thing is to get a 2-3G data plan and check your usage for a couple of months to help you decide what is best for you. If you are under the old AT&T and were “grandfathered in” I would recommend not leaving AT&T because their data speeds in some instances are faster than Verizon’s even.  I would do the same for voice and messaging.

Sprint plans which are bundled with voice, data, and messaging

Voice- Of course, with any positives come some cons… for me, with AT&T while data is very fast and reliable, I do drop a lot of calls at random times and even when I report dead zones or dropped calls, it seems very predictable where the calls are dropped and I can almost tell someone on the phone with me.. “hey I am about to lose you… so I will call you back.”  I know, that is just not good but it’s Colorado.  Sprint and Verizon seem more reliable for the calls and no dropped calls but then again, the cons are higher prices (Verizon) and possibly low data speeds if you have the Iphone or Ipad.  For voice on AT&T, 450 minutes rollover + unlimited mobile to mobile and 5000 nights and weekend minutes are $39.99.  Verizon offers the same 450 mins but nights start at 9pm and there are no rollover minutes.  Messaging-wise, I have an old plan that AT&T no longer offers at 200 minutes for $5.00 and overage text messages are only 10 cents.  Unlimited text messaging like Verizon on AT&T is $20 which I find a bit steep especially if the usage by month does not reach 200 generally.  Verizon does offer 1000 text messages (which is a lot) for $10 which I think is a great deal.  I remember at one time AT&T offered 500 for $10 but all their plans have changed now.  As far as messaging, I love that Sprint offers unlimited text messaging with all their bundled plans – see below.  For $79.99 (which includes the $10 fee for smartphones) you get it all!  450 mins but anytime mobile-to-mobile minutes, plus unlimited data and messaging.  That is the best deal I have seen!  So if you are not using an Iphone or don’t care about your download speeds, Sprint’s your best value!

source: fightback.com

Overall Customer Service– I am very happy with AT&T and was sad to leave it for even a few days but Sprint had some great customer service when I dealt with them  too!  If I had more bars for Data, 3G in my office, I have no doubt Sprint would have worked out for me and my needs and their prices are just right for what they give you.  Verizon’s customer stores are always busy too but they seem more guarded with their information.  For example, when I called them and asked about corporate discounts, I got transferred like 3 times and no one could tell me what the discount was then they disconnected me “by accident”.  In the store, the Verizon guy looked up the discounts for me but then didn’t give me a brochure with all the information on it like AT&T and Sprint did.  It was all hidden and weird.  They may be the most reliable 4G network but I did not get the same touchy, feely feeling there that I got with both AT&T and Sprint.  No one explained the accessories and the discounts or all the features of the phones and droids that were on display.  Since I do not have a brochure, I could not even share it here so I am just comparing where I can and trying to point out the differences but mainly the plans for Verizon are almost identical to the new AT&T plans and just as pricey.  I know many Coloradans love Verizon because of its reliability and coverage.  That being said, the east coast friends love either Sprint or T-mobile’s coverage better, and then I have friends on the west coast who swear by AT&T so again, it depends… but once you find something right for you, don’t think the grass is greener on the other side – it isn’t and everyone doesn’t have the like the same thing and what may work for one person may not work another.

Bottom Line: When it comes to cell phones, wireless devices and smart phones and PLANS, it’s important for you to love the one you’re with!

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10 thoughts on “The 4-1-1 on Wireless & Data Plans

  1. We have been with AT&T since 2001 (well it was Cingular then). I am so tired of dropped calls. Especially since moving to the East Coast (we are a military family). I looked into switching to Verizon. However, found that it was in our best interest to stay with AT&T because we are grandfathered in to a true unlimited data plan. Our bill would have nearly doubled going to Verizon. So, we will remain an AT&T family and learn to “love” the dropped calls, as we are truly getting a great deal.

    1. Angela if u don’t care about the data speeds or are using a droid sprint has the best value. I kid u not but for me data streaming is vital. I travel alot and need my network to work – I rarely call people
      Anymore haaa. But I hear ya. Part of te reason I wanted to change was the dropped call and poor voice quality ;(

  2. I’ve been with Sprint since 1999, and we love them. The speeds on my Droid are awesome, even in the 3G, so I’m not too sad that 4G isn’t available everywhere. (Closer to Denver, 4G exists, and they are expanding all the time). That being said, with the Droid, there are no “bars” for 3G. It’s either on or not, and I’ve never had an issue with streaming. In fact, I can’t recall a time when it was ever “off” that didn’t involve being completely out of service area… I refuse to buy an iPhone, so I have no idea how that compares…but it sounds like you did all the research! 😉
    JoAnn recently posted..I can’t stop taking pictures of the Iris!My Profile

    1. I know you and Lori are the reason I switched but again if I had signal at my work I would have stayed. The plan values are amazing too! Anyway back to the drawing board… Ha

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