Connectivity is almost always a big deal for full-timers. And it doesn’t only matter for those of us who work online. Our retired next door neighbor here in Arlington was just telling us how crazy she gets when she doesn’t have phone or Internet service! We all want to feel connected to our loved ones, current events, and individual interests.
But connectivity comes at a premium. Before getting on the road, we were extremely concerned about our Internet options and the level of service we would have in different parts of the country. Through extensive research, we chose Millenicom’s wireless device for our Internet service. It runs off Verizon’s network, and we’ve been extremely pleased with it (despite the recent price hike). With some advance planning and use of the Coverage? app, I can’t think of a single work day we’ve lost for lack of Internet service.
On the phone side, we’ve had iPhones through AT&T since about 2009. We love our iPhones, and for the most part we’ve appreciated AT&T because of its reliable coverage across the country. But we hadn’t changed our plan since we got started five years ago, and I’ve had a foreboding feeling for a while that we’ve been paying too much. Our monthly bills for two iPhones has ranged from $215-240/month (the higher cost due to phone calls with my Grandpa in Canada). The excuse was always, “We want to keep our unlimited plans. We’re grandfathered in. And if we start messing with our plan, we might loose our unlimited data status.”
But that started mattering less when I got this text message:
Really? You’re threatening to throttle me at 3 GB on an “unlimited” plan? Not cool.
A few days ago, Chris at Technomadia posted on Facebook about AT&T’s new plan called Next. When Eric shared how much we’ve been paying for our phones, our friends commented and made fun of us! Between that and the fact that we’ve had the same iPhones for about three years, this past weekend we went to AT&T to upgrade.
Okay, that was a long introduction. But I thought I’d share the three plan options that AT&T gave us, in hopes that the info will be helpful to you as you consider making a change yourself. Rather than trying to list infinite price differences for different types of phones, etc. (which would probably endlessly confuse me anyway), I’m going to post the prices that were specific to us. The price differences between the three plans will probably be similar, no matter what phone you have.
You can take a look at the table below, but here are the three plans I’m comparing:
- Old School: 2-Year Contract, Buying Phones Up Front
- AT&T Next: 12-Month Plan
- AT&T Next: 18-Month Plan
If you’re like me and the bottom line is the most important thing, here’s the breakdown. In my mind, I wanted to know what I would spend in one year under each plan, so that’s the total I worked out. If that logic doesn’t make sense to anyone but me..well…
|2-Year Contract||AT&T Next: 12-Month||AT&T Next: 18-Month|
|Phone cost||$299.99 up front (32 GB)
$399.99 up front (64 GB)
|$37.50/month (32 GB)
$42.50/month (64 GB)
|$28.85/month (32 GB)
$32.70/month (64 GB)
|Upgrade fee||$36/phone up front||$60/phone up front||$60/phone up front|
|Data||$100/month (10 GB shared)||$100/month (10 GB shared)||$100/month (10 GB shared)|
|Total for One Year||$2931.98||$2640.00||$2418.60|
These prices have us getting a 32 GB phone (moi), a 64 GB phone (Eric), and sharing 10 GB of data each month (with the option to get more month-to-month if needed).
Now, for those of you who don’t know what the Next plan is or why AT&T introduced the new plans in the first place, here’s the story. Under the 2-year contract, AT&T had a lot of people coming in before their two years were up, wanting a new phone. Either their other one broke, or they just wanted the latest and greatest. But if their two-year contract wasn’t up yet, they’d have to shell out a ton of money for a new phone.
Per AT&T, that’s why they introduced Next. Depending on which Next plan you choose, you can come in after 12 months or 18 months and get a new phone. There’s no upgrade fee, you just continue to pay for your monthly phone cost, line cost and data (obviously AT&T reserves the right to increase their prices over time…and I’m sure they will).
Here’s what they don’t tell you: With Next, you don’t really own your phone. You’re essentially leasing it. If you come in after your 12/18 months, you turn in the phone you had to get a new one. This may not matter to you, but it matters to me. We’ve made good money selling old phones!
So here’s what Eric and I decided to do. We don’t need a new phone every year, and we wanted the most affordable plan, so we went with Next 18-Months. However, we’re planning to pay off our phones before we get new ones. We can continue to pay installments for the next few months (sorry, can’t remember exactly how much longer it is), or we can pay the phone off in one lump sum. That way, we’ll actually own our phones and will be able to get something back for them (Craigslist!).
Again, I hope this is helpful! I’m not a tech or AT&T guru, but I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have. Would love to hear about your phone plan too, if you want to share! -B