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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Like sand through the hourglass

1 Year!

Today marks the the start of my second year on prepaid service. I started with straight talk on July 10th 2012. And let me tell you, I love it. I simply couldn't be happier.

Read more after the break


The Service

So after a year I certainly have plenty to say about the service straight talk provides. For those who do not know, Straight talk runs on the T-Mobile prepaid "4G" network. HSPA+ provides speeds up to 42 Mbps (phone dependent) and is available in quite a few areas since T-Mobile is refarming their 1900 spectrum from 2G (EDGE) to the much faster HSPA.

The good

So I live just north of Philadelphia. I always seem to have the "H" symbol pretty much everywhere I go. This is the faster HSPA network and I have seen speeds as high as 10 Mbps down and 4 Mbps up. That is incredibly fast for my needs. I typically averate 5-7 down and 2-3 up. Perfect for my mobile needs.

Yes LTE is faster, but at thte time of me leaving Verizon, LTE was a very expensive option. We shall see what the future holds.

Over the past Year I have maybe suffered 6-8 dropped calls. About consitent with what I observed on Verizon for many many years. It is annoying, but hey it happens and I ust call someone back.

I have never......EVER been capped for my data usage. Now, I am a "typical" user. I average probably 2 GB of mobile data per month. However, I have strayed as high as 7 GB and never saw any slow down. I know a lot of people are power users, so this service may not be for you, but for me and the average joe, it really is just right.

As for the calling and texing, when they say unlimited they really mean UNLIMITED. In October 2012 I was the victim of an apartment building fire that took everything from me. Thankfully I had insurance that covered about half of what I lost. That month alone, I used thousands of texts and in excess of 2500 minutes. Never got any warning about abuse of the system or lost any service time. It came through when I needed it most.



The Bad

Thankfully there is not too much bad, but there are things to consider.



2G Edge network is AWFUL! you can get by, but man it just takes forever. Hopefully T-mobile is working on upgrades over all. If you go anywhere far from major areas, edge is all you have. You can navigate, look things up and still download, but it just takes (much) longer.

Building penetration seems to be weak. I am not sure if it is just my Galaxy Nexus, but I am sitting here inside my place, next to a window.......and I have 1 bar of edge. As soon as I step out side onto my porch I have 2-3 bars of HSPA. I also sit right by a window at work and I lose service pretty frequently. 

Thankfully I just leave the phone on the window sill behind me and read messages etc when I have time. I have access to the work WiFi and my own computer, so I don't really need cell service. I do get 1 bar of HSPA with it sitting there, so I can use hotspot to stream Netflix on my Nexus 7 during my lunch break. Funny enough I get 4 bars walking out to my car and even get 3 bars HSPA in the employee lounge that is 100 feet away from my Lab.

Roaming does not really exist. It did for a while, but even with the setting checked on my Galaxy Nexus, it no longer roams. So when I escape to the mountains several times a year, I lose signal over 20 miles away and it is gone until I come down. Thankfully 911 calls are required to work and roam, so if there ever was an emergency I could dial 911.



The costs

So far, I have spent $602.41 (not including the start of this cycle which began July 8th). My first 2 months cost $49.47 after taxes and required fees (911 service), but after signing up for auto replenishment with my credit card, they then offered a discount of $2.50 a month. This brought my monthly (30 days) bill to $45.77 after taxes and fees. 

MFW I realized how much I would save.....

Let me tell you.....I have certainly loved the consistent bill of $45.77. It is very noticeable and I cannot believe the amount of service I get for such little money. 

I cannot remember a single month, while I was on Verizon, that my bill was exactly the same as the previous month. It always varied with their silly "fees" that are on the bottom of every bill. It usually was in excess of $100 per month. While I did have unlimited data they certainly have not given up trying to kill that. I only had 400 minutes at the time and was stuck with the HTC thunderbolt.

So lets break down the math again:

Straight Talk

Service: $45.77 / month x 24 months $1100
Phone: Galaxy Nexus = $330 taxed and shipped
SIM card: $15

Total cost for 2 years on prepaid = $1445

Verizon Wireless


Service: $100 / month x 24 months = $2400
Phone: $200

Total 2 year cost = $2600

So which would you prefer? Yes, you do need to shell out more for a phone outright. brand new Galaxy S4 will run you about $600, but you will still save $900 over 2 years. Certainly worth entertaining.

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