Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sprint Goes Unlimited

So we have unlimited across carriers for $99.99. Below was the score as of yesterday:

AT&T - voice only, messaging $20 extra, data $15-$20 extra
Verizon - voice only, messaging $20 extra, data etc. $20-$30 extra
US Cellular - voice only, messaging $15 extra, data $10 extra (1x only)
T-Mobile - voice and messaging

Then BAM! Sprint now owns the unlimited nationwide space. Not by price, because a price war here would kill everyone, particularly Sprint and possibly T-Mobile, but by features. Check this list out.

Sprint - voice, messaging, Sprint TV, NASCAR updates (for the Nextel Cup crowd), data (YES!), e-mail, GPS services, Sirius radio and walkie talkie

In other words, I don't think you can add on another feature to the plan beyond this $100 per month. Okay, maybe roadside assistance or international long distance, but that's about it.

They also are going to intro a $90 per month plan (okay, $89.99) similar to T-Mobile's, with unlimited voice and messaging. Okay, maybe everyone should take back what they said about a price war not happening. Who's betting Verizon\AT&T\T-Mobile will lower their prices as well? Im thinking they won't go lower than $90, because going to $80 would mean the carriers would have only three minute plans for all their customers, where they had six (450, 900, 1350, 2000, 4000, 6000) a few weeks ago. But they might do so...but I doubt they will undermine Sprint's cost. Just meet it.

Another cool thing is the family plan option. Instead of charging a full $100 or $120 for every line added like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, the price per line actually gets LESS as more linesare added. $5 less per line to be exact. So for the five-line limit your bill for everything is $100 + $95 + $90 + $85 + $80 (plus taxes and fees). Or maybe, if it works the same with the $90 plan, $90 + $85 + $80 + $75 + $70, which is quite decent for all that usage considering Verizon would charge $140 + $120 + $120 + $120 + $120 for the former and $120 + $100 + $100 + $100 + $100 for the latter,. So you could actually save $170 over five lines by going with Sprint. Versus $20 by going with T-Mobile. Very, very sweet.

I'm not getting this plan, but anyone who is on the $80 plan on Sprint right now and has the messaging addon would be well advised to upgrade to unlimited. After all, it's the same price and you can ditch any other phone at that point :). The only reason I'm not getting the plan is I don't even use my 500-minute plan (through SERO), so getting all those addons would still run me well below the $100 price point, even including taxes and fees. But if you use all those features (for which you would need the now-$150 Motorola ic902 Deluxe "hybrid" phone) this deal is just plain ridiculous!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Page Plus Cellular Unlmited Now Cheaper

Page Plus Cellular resells Verizon Wireless's network. They offer prepaid plans, among them an unlimited one. You don't get off-network capability and text messages are 15 cents apiece with no upgrades available, but the $2.49 per day pricing ($75-ish per month) is much better than what you'll get with Verizon. The cost of Page Plus's plan, if you buy your airtime from the right places, may actually be comparable to Verizon's own 900-minute plan, where your only unlimited airtime is to other Verizon customers or during nights and weekends. The page Plus plan is as much as 35% cheaper than Verizon's own unlimited offering, which is darned impressive, though you'll have to find your own phone to take advantage of this offering.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

US Cellular Joins In!

Yep, US Cellular now has an unlimited plan, too. It's the same-as-others $100 per month for voice. Unlimited messaging is $15 per month. Unlimited data is $10 per month, but it's only 1xRTT (2-3x dialup). I didn't expect this, as US cellular has a lot of network stuff to keep up (analog, TDMA, CDMA) but in the face of competition when it coems to heavy talkers, they probably didnt have a choice.

Which leaves Alltel and Spint...mostly Sprint...where? C'mon Sprint, take the area restriction off your unlimited service and offer a $100 voice-only unlimited plan and you're in the running with everyone else. Alltel, time to ape Verizon, or Sprint (take your pick, you have Verizon-like coverage and Sprint-like phones and inovation-ish stance). Hmm...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Let's Get This Unlimited Party Started!

Analog (and in the case of AT&T, TDMA) is dead the the big boys are partying like it's 1999. Little T-Mobile wants in on the fun, too. Sprint...wll e'll see about Sprint...

First came the announcement from Verizo: Unlimited voice for $100 per month. $20 more for messaging, $20 on top of that for data services. PDA data is $30 extra instead of $20. So the highest-end cellular plan, with all-inclusive goodness (minus that dastardly 5GB per month cap, darn you little cap) is $150 per month. Minutes only? $100.

Next came T-Mobile. Hoping to attract some attention, they intro'd their own $100 unlimited plan. Even though their network hasn't changed one bit, as they've been a PCS digital-only arrier from the start. Their offer? $100 per month for unlimited talk and messaging, $20 less than Verizon's offering. Then again, one might say the extra Verizon coverage is worth $20 per month, but if T-Mobile works, it works, and you can alwys get a Hotspot @Home phone and use WiFi to augment lousy coverage, right? Another T-Mobile factor: their plans are cheaper basically get unlimited here for $84.99 per month, a bit below their 2500 minute per month plan.

Third in line? AT&T. Like Verizon, their $100 per month offering just gives you voice. Unlike Verizon, their data rates are pretty decent. Unlimited messaging is $20 extra, unlimited data (and this time it's REALLY unlimited, unless you use your phone as a modem for your computer in any way) is $15 extra on top of that, for a total savings of $5-$15 per month over Verizon's offering of the same thing. Personally, I'd take Verizon over AT&T on this one due to VZW's large high-speed network (and AT&T's small one) but then again, you may be able to get this unlimited plan ith a 1-year contract, or even contract-less, though I'm not sure abut the last bit, No habla PR-ese.

Sprint? Oh Sprint, where art thou? Well, if you count Helio, the first to the party of course. Unlimited EVERYTHING is $100 per month on Helio, including web and messaging. Sprint also has an unlimited plan for $120 that includes, once again, everything (and Sprint's network has high-speed internet right now, unlike T-Mobile's). But Sprint's unlimited service is only being tested in a few areas right now, a restrictuion that I'll bet will go away in the next few days.

Alltel? Nothing yet, but I'd think they'll go unlimited sooner or later, though they still have a lot of network to keep up since they're a big roaming carrier. US Cellular might go unlimited, but I'm not 100% sure, as they also have a few networks they're still sitting on. Smaller carriers are either unlimited already as an option or will convert soon to having that as an option, if my crystal ball doesn't deceive me.

All this begs the question: why didn't Sprint and T-Mobile pull the unlimited card sooner? They have no legacy network to keep up, never have, but least SOMEONE started the change. Granted, unless you use more than 1500 minutes per month or so you're not going to feel the impact of this service right now, but I'm sure it'll filter down as we enter another round of carrier price wars...finally! Let the insane plan competition begin, and let the customer benefit!

What about the current unlimited carriers? Maybe they'll be absorbed by Sprint or Verizon for their network structure and expertise with the business. Maybe they'll lower prices low enough that nobody in their right mind would get a landline. I don't think they'll go extinct. Whatever happens, I'm for a shakeup of the "big four" for the better, and maybe some customers will fallout so Sprint will actually get some, heh.

VZW's Unlimited Plans

Well, looks like Verizons unlimited plans are out. Unlimited voice is $100, voice and mesaging is $120, voice, messaging and internet features is $140. PDA data is $130, PDA data + messaging is $150. Decent pricing, and family plans are available. But the 5GB cap remains; $40 gets 50 MB of data per month now, with $1 per extra MB, and $60 per month gets you 5GB with each additional megabyte costing 50 cents. Ooookay...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Verizon to Join The Unlimited Party!?!

Yes, you heard me right. As a special "thank you" to everyone for FINALLY getting off the company's age-old analog network, or rather to, indirectly, the govermnemt for FINALLY letting them close down what was once the universal network on which all cell phones could fall back (such is not the case anymore; new high-end cell phones are generally digital-only anyway) they're offering, or look to be offering, unlimited access at a sweet price. Well, sort of. I also added the "thank you" reasoning.

Rumor has it over at Engadget that the unlimited anytime, anywhere plans will start at $100 for oice, plus access to the small Verizon Mobile Web portal. FOr $20 more you get messaging in unlimited quantity. $20 on top of that gets you other unlimited services like Navigator (GPS), $10 on top of that gets you unlimited data (and we mean unlimited this time, not the notorious 5GB pe rmonth cap), and finally $170 for unlimited overseas data as well, looks like. Family plans are $200 for the first two lines, $100 per line for the next three. Either Verizon is reacting to Sprint's trial of an unlimited everything" plan for $120 per month, which is actually giving as many features as the $150 plan on VZW but is only available in limited areas, or Verizon wants to edge out Page Plus Cellular's $90-ish-per-month unlimited offering. Probably the former of those two reasons, but it might also be competing with AT&T's iPhone sales, putting up a plan that cannibalizes VZW's three highest price points (at $100/2000, $150/4000 an $200/6000 dollars/minutes per month) to get everyone's attention and lure people away from AT&T because they have no such plan, unless they launch one in competition.

Regardless, I think this peculiar timing, along with uncapping data, is directly related to ditching analog. Verizon likely wants to appear as though the government was extremely slow in letting the company turn its analog system off, the benefit of increased network capacity far outweighing the cost of a few thousand subscribers whose phones won't work anymore. So with analog off, will we see dramatic rises in quality and quantity of service from the "big two" (AT&T and Verizon) now that they can use that formerly-analog spectrum for other goodies? Will that force the big two PCS carriers (Sprint and T-Mobile) to now load services onto their cheaper, digital-from-the-start networks to compete? To both questions my answer is "please do"; the whole wireless landscape will benefit from such a change.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

v9m on CricKet

Making its name as the first unlimited US carrier to offer the phone, or at least the first major one, CricKet now has the Motorola Razr1 v9m. The cost? A cool $379.99. Ouch...but it is about the same as the 1-year upgrade price of the phone on other carriers, plus you get a month of service included if you're signing onto CricKet for the first time. THe question isn't really whether the phone is "worth it, just whether it's worth it to you to shell out nearly four hundred bucks for something not quite as capable as the $400 iPhoe. Though the former runs on an unlimited network and the latter runs on...a nationwide network. Take your pick if you have the dough. I for one am glad to see a high-end phone filter down in the ranks of the unlimited's. Look for it on MetroPCS within five minutes ;)

Friday, February 8, 2008

CricKet and the Moto v265

Yes, there's one more refurbished phone in CricKet's unlimited lineup now: the Motorola v265. The price? $59.99. The verdict? Old but decent when you compare it to the other phones at that price, like the newer, junky, Kyocera K132. Plus it has a camera. That's about it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Unlimited Access? Nevermind...

You thought $120-per-month unlimited access was great, didn't you? Well, it has been re-limited geographically to the following:

Upper\Central CA
Bay Area CA
Philadelphia PA
Mineapolis MN
Tampa FL

For everyone else, sorry.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

MetroPCS + ZTE = CricKet + CompCal

Heard of the two first companies in the equations? Of course. Te second guys?

Today CricKet released the EZ, a $49.99 bar phone from the Taiwanese CompCal. The little guy uses a VIA signaling processor. No vibrate alert, no speakerphone, just a color screen and relatively slim (0.63") profile in a bar design that sets a new low on new-phone cost from CricKet. i'd be surprised if the phone actually can't do vibrate alert, as its CricKet website specs say, but considering you can buy the phone for less than the cost of some of the service plans that could come free for a month with purchase, it could happen.

Recently (probably in the last few days) MetroPCS also added a phone to its lineup. I believe ZTE, though, is a Chinese phone maker. The ZTE C88 is also a higher-end phone than the EZ, and sports a higher price, at $139. Its styling is similar, albeit more thickly-set, and with only a VGA camera, versus the Moto's 1.3 megapixel unit. You could say it's basically a Motorola w385, except with a color external screen, a bigger internal screen (or so it appears) and a $10 price cut. That and a name people will never, ever, recognize.

Unlimited By Sprint - $129

Yes, Sprint now has unlimited...everything...for $129 per month. RIght now it's not on their was just introduced today...but it is definitely out. So if you want Sprint phones instead of Helio phones, and want Sprint's flavor of unlimited minutes, messaging and web, you've got it. So you're now no longer limited to a particular area of the U.S. for unlimited service, nor are you limited to a specific section of less-than-great phones. If you're willing to pay $130 a month that is. To compare, this is about the price of other carriers' 2000-minute plans with a similar level of functionality. Well, other carriers might charge $120 per month or $140, but basically you have to use 2000+ minutes per month, on anytime usage, to make this plan worthwhile. Then again, if you use that much, this is just awesom.

I predict T-Mobile to also roll out an unlimited plan in the near future, probably at a similar or maybe lower price, on their network. Verizon and AT&T? I expect them to sit on their laurels until they rot. Seriously.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Helio, Down to $100

phoneScoop just spotted this but it has been up for awhile. The long and short of it is, everything's unlimited for $99 per month. Plus taxes and fees, if I remember correctly, but it's still an aesome deal on Sprint's network. All of Sprint's network. Even other carriers' networks at the same performance level as on a Sprint contract plan. This is, after all, a contract plan. Except a lot sweeter. You get unlimited o all the below:

Picture and Video Messaging
GPS\Google Maps

I've said it before and I'll say it again: while I'm perfectly happy with my smartphone on Sprint's $30-a-month SERO plan (plus $7 for insurance, which netted me a fairly new phone for $50), this is an awesome deal. Hope Helio stays around...