Cutting the AT&T tether and switching to Net10

The next couple of posts will discuss my switch from the typical cell phone carrier/contract  to using the Net10 BYOP service.  I’ll talk about the research, time and real cost that came from the decision.

First some history…

I entered into the smartphone world 4 years ago.  Yes, later than most.  I had always used a flip phone ($20/month) and got talked into getting an iPhone when my wife and I went shopping for upgrades.  Actually, we both got talked into iPhones.  At the time, the 3GS had come out so we went with the nicely discounted 3G version.  This is when I learned where expensive cell phone bills begin.

As many people probably know today, something that I didn’t then, you are required by AT&T to get an unlimited data plan when you sign up for an iPhone.  At $30 a pop this quickly makes things add up.  I chose a Family Plan that suited our talk/text habits and we walked out of the store with our shiny new (old) always connected to the world devices.  So, what was my monthly bill?  After taxes, taxes and more taxes (and a 7% discount I get through work on talk AND data) it ended up being $112 per month.  That’s really not bad compared to what I’ve seen others pay.  The discount I got ended up being pretty nice.

So, we just payed $100/phone and got locked in for 2 years on a new contract.  If you do the math it ended up costing $2,888 for the two of us combined (or $722 each/year).  That’s a far cry from the $240/year I was paying for my flip phone!

Two years pass, our contract expires and, like most Americans, we decided to upgrade our phones.  This time to shiny newer Android HTC Inspire 4Gs.  (Yeah, my wife and I always end up with identical phones so afar.)  The phones ended up being free but we kept the same contract so our monthly bill didn’t change.  I never checked our data usage or talk usage because I was so used to already having the unlimited plan and not having to worry about it.  How could I not be using GB of data every month? I’m doing stuff on my phone for work and play every day…

(The background part of this story is coming to an end, I promise.)

A couple of months ago a friend of mine told me about the (new at the time) Google Nexus 4.  He told me about how it’s not locked to a carrier and that you can just buy minutes for it and that makes things cheaper and it’s awesome etc…  He did the math for me quickly over a couple of drinks.  It all sounded pretty good but, if it was that easy, why wasn’t everyone doing this?  I assumed that there was a catch.  Besides, I was still under my current contract so it didn’t matter.  It’s always easier staying with what you already have and understand…

My contract expired a few weeks ago and I remembered the above conversation.  I decided that now was as good a time as any to look into this new way of doing things. So, I started doing some research and concluded that I would give it a shot!

My next post will cover the research about the different options available and why I chose to go with Net10 over the (several) others.