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Author Topic: Alternative or "creative" data plans discussion  (Read 1734 times)

superboyac

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Alternative or "creative" data plans discussion
« on: November 07, 2011, 12:42:44 PM »
Hi all, I'm back from a  very interesting vacation where I had a chance to think about a lot of things.  One of the topics I'm trying to wrap my mind around is cell phone data plans.  I have successfully avoided needing one up to this point.  However, I am now considering it.  My problem is that I absoutely hate committing to monthly bills and I hate even more the idea of having to sign a contract for this stuff.  I hate cell phone companies and everything associated with them as much as anything.

So what do we do about data plans?  I have a cell phone, tablets (android, Ipad), and laptops that can all potentially make use of data services.  If I just innocently get the default plans for these devices, the charges will be enormous.  I don't like the idea of paying a set rate per month for these things.  I want to pay for them as I use them.  Pre-paid plans, perhaps?  I know T-Mobile offers these.

The problem with the cell phone companies is that they want to lock you in to their expensive plans that I don't really need and are needlessly complicated and confusing, with all sorts of restrictions, etc.  Yes, I'm going to tether stuff.  I'm also going to jailbreak things, buy unlocked phones, root devices, etc.  I just need access to data services, plain and simple.

What is the company or plan that is most cooperative with this sort of thinking?  From my preliminary research, it doesn't seem like any of the big boys like this sort of thing and will make it difficult.  Which is fine, if it's difficult, I'll figure it out.  But if it's impossible, I don't want to commit to any of them.  I'm also not going to pay $150 a month for any of this nonsense.

So, what are the alternatives out there?  Anyone have any "creative" solutions?  Or is the only option to bend over and just accept it?

daddydave

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Re: Alternative or "creative" data plans discussion
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2011, 03:15:23 PM »
I have avoided data plans (and thus smartphones) for the same reason. So I have noted with interest that prepaid providers PlatinumTel and Net10 both have Android phones now,

PlatinumTel
http://www.platinumtel.com/plans/compare

Net10
http://www.net10.com

As far as I know, you have to use the phones they want you to use (for Net10 I know you can buy the same models on ebay for cheaper). Unlocking phone for use with a Net10 phone might be impossible, I haven't been able to find anything. I once put a Net10 SIM in another phone (which by the way was also a Net10 phone), and somehow this killed the SIM and they had to send me a replacement. So I skeptical there is an unlock that will allow you to use the SIM elsewhere.

But since you already have the phones, I would check with H2O wireless, Their site is hard to navigate and I won't give you the link because I always pull up the UK site and not the US site, which I recall was easy to do. I think they basically will sell you a SIM, so you can see if they have one that is compatible with your devices.

I don't have any personal experience with PlatinumTel or H20, or Android phones for that matter, so this info may be next to useless, but maybe it can be a start.
If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!

superboyac

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Re: Alternative or "creative" data plans discussion
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2011, 04:21:55 PM »
But since you already have the phones, I would check with H2O wireless, Their site is hard to navigate and I won't give you the link because I always pull up the UK site and not the US site, which I recall was easy to do. I think they basically will sell you a SIM, so you can see if they have one that is compatible with your devices.
If true, it is these kinds of services that I would find appealing.  Don't sell me cloud services, or separate text/data/voice services.  Just give me a card I can use, and charge me for the data that I use, or offer unlimited plans.  All I want to pay for is the data access.  I don't want to be restricted to certain models because that's what the carriers provide.  I hate all these restrictions and weird complications when choosing these things.  I have such a hard time choosing a device and thinking about which carriers support that device.  I've been so used to the "pc" method which is build or buy anything you want, and use whatever services you like.  These are awful business practices.  I don't see how this stuff is not monopolistic in their tendancies.  Why can't we just buy data plans?  What's next?  Imagine if when buying your time warner ISP service, they say "we only support HP computers, not Dell".  It's such a silly way to tie two things together that have nothing to do with each other, other than the corporate partnership making money by not letting the users do what they want.

I'm probably waiting unrealistically for a company to emerge that just offers solid data service with no BS extras.  I need two things that I will gladly pay for: hard-wired home ISP service, and mobile data service (as unrestricted as possible).  The latter is something that may never come in the near future.

superboyac

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Re: Alternative or "creative" data plans discussion
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2011, 05:25:27 PM »
I just saw this statement, and it talks about exactly what my concern is:
Quote
Wireless providers--especially AT&T and Verizon--are trying very hard to make sure users pay for every byte of data transferred, on every single device. Mobile data consumption is exploding and the wireless providers see dollar signs and an opportunity to cash in. Services like the mobile broadband offerings from Clearwire and Virgin Mobile, however, enable users to break free from the wireless provider shackles.
You see, from the consumer's perspective, this feels like robbery.  And, of course, we are powerless to say or do anything about it.  It's brilliant for ATT, Verizon, etc.  I hate it so much.  Ideally, I'd like to pay for just the bandwidth that I use, just like an electrical or water bill.  Why do I have to commit to a period of time or pay a set amount per month?  Most people don't use nearly all of their allotted bandwidth, and the companies know this (heck, most people can't even figure out HOW to calculate bandwidth; also just like electricity bills...99% of people have NO idea what a kWh is, but at least they only pay for the amount they use...same with bandwidth...megabits, megabytes, what??).  Anyway, even more ideally  ;), I'd like there to be an option for heavy users who want unlimited bandwidth, but I understand that those kinds of policies can be abused easily.  Still, I'd like the option to just pay for what I use.

And that's the core of my problem with the ISP's and cellular service companies.  I think it's an awful business model, and it's one of the biggest right now.  It represents so much (microcosmically, yes I made that up) of what is wrong with the US economy.  Once you are in a position of power, the idea seems to be to rake in as much money as possible through policies, and by NOT doing any real work or adding value to any product or service.  Just continually tweak policies to bring in more and more money.  That seems to be the only real legwork happening.

My same questions from before linger on:
Why should phone models have any tie to carriers?
Why do carriers commit you to multi-year contracts?
Why are there no unlimited plans?
Why are there such ridiculous charges for going over?
Why do the companies care how many devices I'm using, as opposed to the amount of data I'm using?  What the heck is it to them other than an excuse to get more free money?  It's not like I'm sitting there simultaneously using a phone in each hand and a tablet on my lap!
With the majority of people not even coming close to using their allotted bandwidth, why do the companies complain about bandwidth being saturated?  Is that truth, or just an excuse to charge us more?
Why are there ridiculous cancelling penalties and fees?  On the other hand, why is it so ridiculously easy to add a plan?

These are huge companies.  Their control is practically monopolistic.  Customers are at the mercy of cell phone companies for any policy.  Every iphone user is being charged $50-100 a month to use their freaking phone.  That's not cheap money for most people, yet collecting it is as easy as pie for these already enormous companies.

This cell phone/data/ISP industry is on the path to reform, the bad kind of path.  The same kind of path the mortgage industry went through.  The same kind of path our education system is currently in.  It's far too much money for most people with very little value in the process.  This is not cheap stuff.

I've stayed away from data plans all this time because I just hate this business model.  But they make it really hard.  At most, some people text me or me to them, and now I have a small texting service, but before that it would be $.1-.2 per text (out of control charges).  You see?  They almost are forcing you to get a data plan because if you text 1000 times a month, you might as well just get a full data plan.  But it's all to lock you into this machine that just collects a ton of your money.

Furthermore, (sheesh), because all of this is happening, it prevents other companies from offering rival products or services that want to fill in this void (even though it's intentional).  Let's say a company wanted to offer data service and charge you only on what you use.  The barriers to entry would be too much to get off the ground.  Same goes for most small to medium business ideas that would potentially offer US, the actual low/middle class people, really useful services, with great customer service, etc.  So this is why we're all pissed off about Wall Street, all this class warfare, mortgages, etc.  We're just stuck with all these shitty things that we are powerless to change.  A lot of us are stewing with good ideas, and no outlet.  Time goes on, we need to scratch by with our daily jobs.  Opportunities for progress and innovation are almost completely stifled.  Any opportunity for success would just about require us to cave in to the "dark side" and rely on leveraging or other useless gimmicks rather than on true innovation and creativity.

Argh!  Is it any different than before?  It feels like it, but what do I know?  Maybe true opportunity and success was always like this, even in America.  That's what I want to say.  But it doesn't feel like it.  It sure feels like these are unique times and past, historical wisdom just doesn't apply to right now.  I've heard enough of the old-school people compare today's situation with their experiences, and as much as they try to equate the two, it doesn't hit home to me.  Things are different now.