Only a few years ago I had to pay over 220 dollars a month for my cell phone bill. I think it was about 235 dollars with taxes because I shared a “family plan” with my two sons while they were still in high school and later in college. I needed the maximum data limit, mostly for unlimited texting (for them, of course, I don’t text that much). When the younger one graduated from college last year, I triumphantly cancelled my line. They both have to pay for their own cell phones and car insurance now.
Since 12 x 134 = 2,820, this means that I had to pay to the phone company about 3 thousand dollars only for the cell phone service, in addition to 2 fixed lines (one for my home and one for my business) and a fax line. I almost never use the fax line, but somehow I can’t bring myself to kill it. Oh, and I also have an 800 number which also costs money.
But I did kill my smart phone line and replaced it with a cheap and stupid basic cell phone combined with a smart tablet which has a free data plan. At this point I am just adding 10 dollars or 20 every 3 months to an old Blackberry that I keep in my car and that I almost never use. But just because I “almost” never use it does not mean that it is never used. When I got a flat tire on our trip to Washington DC a couple of months ago, the old Blackberry, hidden and almost forgotten in the glove compartment of my car, suddenly saw a lot of activity. I would have been in trouble big time if I did not have the phone at that time.
My old smart phone, an older iPhone model, still sees a lot of activity, although it officially has no service, at least not from the original phone carrier (Verizon).
I canceled the phone service because neither Verizon nor any other phone carrier company would let me use a smart phone only for the purpose for which the telephone was originally invented, which is to say to call another phone. If you want to use a smart phone, every phone carrier in US will force you to buy an expensive data plan from them, whether you need it, or not (although consumers are apparently not as much in peonage to their phone carriers in other countries, see the comments section).
So that is why I don’t have cell phone service with Verizon anymore. But as I said, I still use my old iPhone a lot. I take it with me when I go for example to my gym or to a restaurant because I can easily find a Wifi connection just about anywhere these days, for free and often even unencrypted so that anyone can use it without having to beg for a password. For example every Barnes & Noble bookstore has free and unencrypted Wifi, and so do donut shops like Dunkin Donuts. This means that I can check my e-mail and things like the latest gossip or the latest outrage du jour on social media and activity on my blog. I can also use it for calling because I can make a call by accessing the number of minutes from my iPhone that I have in my Ooma account anywhere if I am connected to Wifi. And I text my sons mostly on the iPhone, because most of the time I am connected to Wifi.
Sometime I do need a data plan when no free Wifi is avalaible, but for that I only use a data plan which is available from T-Mobile to anyone who has a compatible tablet “for the life of the device”. The free data plan is only 200 Mbytes, but for a translator such as myself who is mostly connected to Wifi at the home office or in a commercial establishment, 200 Mbytes is mostly enough. Although I use my iPad’s free data plan frequently, since I need it outside of my office only for things like checking e-mail and car navigation, so far I had to purchase additional data from T-mobile only once – during another trip to DC, when I was expecting another series of potential emergencies, which fortunately did not take place.
E-mail eats up very little data, something like a hundred Kbytes per message, and car navigation does not really use much data either while the car is moving based on the itinerary which is stored in advance on the iPad. Car navigation applications such as Google Maps use a significant amount of data only when I store an itinerary in my iPad while I am connected to Wifi, before I start driving. After that, data is used only for recalculation of the route if I change the route while driving. But even then, the recalculation does not eat up a lot of data.
I think that companies like Verizon and AT&T are and will be losing increasingly more and more customers who just like me are fed up with having to shell out a lot of money for something that they don’t really need and definitely do not want.
Verizon still has better cell phone coverage in the United States than T-Mobile, which is its main advantage. But since I have not experienced any problems with T-Mobile coverage here in Eastern or Northern Virginia, I see no reason to go back to Verizon for phone service (my dumb phone is also with T-Mobile).
A dumb phone combined with a free or cheap data plan for my iPad (I can purchase additional data when I needed it) is a much smarter solution at this point.