PAYG dataplan can work.

Discussion in 'Smartphones' started by Hook, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. Hook

    Hook Cat and Mouse and Linux

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    Updated 2/23/2015: There is a lot of valuable discussion in this thread, but please note the original date of this first post. A lot has happened in the slightly over 5 years this thread has been going. This thread started out to be AT&T Gophone centric because 1) it was what I was using and 2) in 2009, at least in the US, it was almost the only game in town for PAYG data. If you want a brief summary of the latest update, see HERE. This thread has since become a broader discussion of other options and I hope that will continue and this thread will have a lot of life left in it as more and more people begin to consider PAYG over contracts. :newpalm: I still use AT&T Gophone, by the way, all these years later.


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    It really depends on what you need but I have a scenario that works and I thought I would share it because when I was contemplating this I could never find spot-on information laying it out for me.

    The caveats are that:
    1. I am a very limited consumer of data, so I will first lay out my scenario and why I am a limited consumer of data over cell network.

    2. This works with AT&T. I will explain how and what it costs. I have no idea how well it would work with other carriers. I doubt it works at all with CDMA carriers.

    3. It requires an unlocked smartphone that the carrier is willing to let be a PAYG phone. Please note that the previous sentence eliminates the iPhone even if you manage to get one unlocked. If you try to use an iPhone, it will be detected and they will put you on a full data plan.

    I will explain how this works with AT&T

    Part 1: My scenario.

    I work 5 days a week, 9 hours a day in a building that gets no cell reception (even my work issued BB gets nothing). I commute everyday for about 1.5 hours each way through areas with major reception holes for all carriers, even Verizon. That leaves me a few hours each evening and weekends as possible times for cell data use.

    But, oh, I have a wifi network at home and am mostly around my computers. If I need something, I will prefer to use my computer (every one in family has their own computer, no waiting). Why would I use even a magnificent smartphone screen (and the Nokia 5800 XM has a truly magnificent screen) if I can use a full size screen? My answer to that question is, I wouldn't. If your answer is different to this, this may not work for you. Finally, while I am happy to go to the net on my phone for info, I don't download excessively to it and I don't do a lot of cloud computing. No email at all. I mostly use the Nokia as a PDA and still quite happily load things from my computer. Nonetheless, checking a bank balance or even viewing an email with the browser, or getting a google map or weather report while on the run can be handy.

    So, you see, I really don't use a lot of OTA data. That doesn't mean I don't want to use it sometimes and I wanted to be able to do that without a contract or paying a premium.


    Part 2: Gophone Data Plan

    The Gophone plans have a number of attractive features, including feature packages. Once you load money on, you can divert the money into feature packages as well as voice if you so choose. One of the possibilities is a Medianet Data package. They have two. Each one is good for 30 days and rollover if there is unused data as long as you renew before they expire.

    The two packages are:
    1 Mb for $4.99
    100 Mb for $19.99

    Note that without these packages, data is $0.01/Kb or $10.00 per Mb. :eek:

    So, here is how it works for me:
    I seeded the account with the 100Mb plan ($20). In a month, even with doing more data usage with normal to test the data usage, I only managed to use 14Mb. Remember, if I am home, I am using wifi. I then (just tonight) renewed using the 1Mb plan ($5). All my data capacity rolled over and I have 88Mb for another 30 days.

    If you assume I use 20Mb per month (unlikely, actually, but who knows) Then the original data plan lasts 5 months. So the investment is $20+5+5+5+5 or $40 for 5 months of internet access on my Phone: A data plan for $8 a month. I also use very little voice data, about $5 a month and voice rolls over too. I don't text at all. (You can get unlimited texting for $20 on a Gophone-- my son has that and no Medianet).

    So overall, I am doing anything I want on my Smartphone, voice and data, with no contract for roughly $15 a month. I actually pay it in larger amounts every 60-90 days, but that is what it will come out to.


    Part 3. Getting an unlocked phone on the Network.

    I only have experience on this with AT&T in VA. I assume it is the same for AT&T everywhere in the US, but I don't know for sure. Here, they have no problem giving you a Gophone SIM for any unlocked GSM smartphone (I would suspect one already branded for AT&T would be ok too). They didn't even charge me for the SIM. I just told them how much I wanted to load on it initially and they actually took my Nokia and installed the SIM for me. And Bob's your uncle.

    I suspect outside the US, this may not be so unusual an approach, but as I say, it was odd enough that I had trouble finding information from anyone else doing it that I had trouble knowing for sure if it would work. It does.

    If your usage needs are light, you have good reception on AT&T and are going to pay for an unlocked Smartphone anyway (I bought it as a PDA without regard to whether I could use data on it, which is why I am not figuring in the cost of the phone into this scheme), this might be a way to go for you too.

    I was personally surprised to find it was nice to occasionally have the option of cell data. This makes it a reasonable luxury (I can drop it if money is tight), rather than deal-killing enslavement to the carriers.

    Hope this information is helpful :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
    Mi An likes this.
  2. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    Do you have to renew each month to preserve/rollover your minutes? Sounds like you've got a really great plan of action, Hook! Have you tried dial-up networking (DUN)? :)
     
  3. Hook

    Hook Cat and Mouse and Linux

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    No, you don't have to renew each month. How often you renew depends on how much you put on.

    $15 - renew in 30 days.

    $25, 50 or 75 - renew in 90 days.

    $100 - renew in 365 days.

    The feature packages are not paid for separately. The money for them comes out of the money already loaded on the phone. They expire and have to be renewed every 30 days. Everything rolls over, but you have to meet the renewal deadlines. They will set it up to do it automatically if you like. I don't.

    I don't know why I would use DUN? This is easier and I get 3G. Do you mean using the phone for a laptop modem? Nah. I'll stay with Cox. I never take my laptop with me, it stays at home.
     
  4. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    Even though this thread is getting a bit old, I dare to post an addendum. Hook, this collection of features is certainly meaning solid gold to somebody. With a few minor changes, this is essentially the approach I follow ever since I purchased my Treo 680. Now, I didn't post my service features in a thread, so you keep the merit, of course.

    This approach does give a good service to somebody with a limited data hunger, and it keeps a monthly fee for a data plan off. Yes, not everybody is drooling for a data plan. Just as you with your Nokia 5800 XM , I purchased my Treo 680 (unlocked) with the first intention of having a PDA, that incidentally connects to the cellphone network. The main setbacks in my working structure are the stability of the device and the lack of WiFi. As of the rest, it's pretty much what I do. However, I do depend on moving my laptop around on a regular basis, and I am still studying the DUN feature mentioned by Jig; this last feature, BTW, I already accomplish it with yet another cellphone, but my intentions are to drop the second cellphone and tether the 680 to the laptop.

    Now, I wish to point out to anybody interested in achieving this framework, that one fine detail lies in carefully studying the costs of assorted services that a PAYG plan can offer. Hook's choice is good, but it's also a careful measure of cost and options, and anybody interested in this system shall do accordingly with any carrier at hand.

    As my carrier grew strong with a polarized market share (loads of PAYG accounts and a good set of business-class customers, yet almost nothing in between), PAYG services are varied and outlined. I have a PAYG account and spend some 15 USD (local currency) in basic phone services, and that's the most of my mobile output. Recently, due to job needs, I've also been paying OTA packages, mostly at the 7 USD (local currency) margin, renew for 30 days. And just as Hook points out, everything rolls over, but you have to meet the renewal deadlines, or you're dead meat. That's how I lost some 15 USD (local currency) of airtime *sigh*.
     
  5. Hook

    Hook Cat and Mouse and Linux

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    Symbian S60 has a very nice solution for using the phone as a 3G wifi hotspot for your laptop, including allowing several devices to connect. I haven't tried it yet --I'm sure using my laptop would burn through those Data Mbs much quicker, but plan on getting it as a "in case I ever need it." This would give any wifi enables device (even an iPod Touch for example) a 3G connection anywhere the signal is available. :)

    Have I mentioned I love my 5800 lately. :newpalm:
     
  6. Mi An

    Mi An Nexus Refugee

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    I thought I'd already posted in this thread. Hook, you've pretty much convinced me. Last time I looked closely at phone minutes, prepaid plans would expire the minutes in 1-3 months. ATT now lets you buy them $100 at a time and they don't expire for a year.

    So let's say I'm doing ATTs .25 a minute plan--the one with no daily access fees. If I buy $100 to put on the card, that goes towards both data and voice for the phone? There's no separate data bundle to purchase?

    But then I have to allocate some of it to the data plan? Either a $20 chunk or a 5$ chunk? And if I don't allocate a chunk the following month, I lose whatever leftover MBs I haven't already used as they expire? But if I get allocate (or automagically renew) every month, then the leftovers don't expire?

    All those question marks mean I'm not sure, so is all that ^ right?

    Anyway, thanks for the summary Hook. :)
     
  7. Hook

    Hook Cat and Mouse and Linux

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    Yes basically to all your questions. And if you don't make many calls and they are short, the no-access fee plan makes sense. By the way, only voice calls invoke the access fee, data does not.

    So here is how it would work. You would set up $100. Then you would order the $20 data plan (you have to do that on your phone, it comes out of the $100 you have already loaded). A the end of the first month, you would order the $5 package and all your data Mbs would roll over. You would continue to chew up $5 a month until your original 100 Mb was used up. 2 months later, I'm still about 79 Mb. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Mi An

    Mi An Nexus Refugee

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    Meaning I have to call them and ask for it? I can't do it on online or something? And the call has to be placed from my cell, not a landline?

    Which do you use? I make short calls pretty much every day, as in 1 minute--on some days, those are the only calls I make. That's why I was looking to avoid the daily access fee. I suppose I could replace some of those calls with texts, or maybe a little skype or something.

    Your guides lately have been rocking. I keep reaching for the rep-o-meter and coming up empty. You're probably making some googlers very happy. I've had some difficulty searching and getting clear information on some of these topics as well, and this will fill some holes. Ever think about blogging some of it?
     
  9. Hook

    Hook Cat and Mouse and Linux

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    You can call 1-800-901-9878 from a landline phone, it is just easier if you call 611 on your phone because the already know which phone it is and your account details without your having to tell them (it's an automated menu, no human beings involved. ;) )

    I use the $1.00/.10 per minute plan. I actually have debated going to the .25/min no access fee plan. However, I go days without making a call and sometimes I will make one or two longer calls. It seems to work out. I think your choice is probably right for you.

    Now, here's something I should have made clearer, thanks for bringing it up so others don't get confused. I don't do ANY texting. If you are going to text under this scheme you may need to think twice. Texts without an additional texting plan are a whopping 20 cents per text, outgoing or incoming. They do have texting plans:

    200 Msgs. - $4.99
    1000 Msgs. - $9.99
    Unlimited Msgs. - $19.99

    These work like the data plans, coming out of the money you've loaded on, last a month. But now money is adding up. Also notice the sneaky thing they do. The $20 plan is "unlimited," therefore there is actually nothing to roll over. Face it, if your needs cause you to spend almost as much as a contract plan-- well. :rolleyes:

    My variation is perfect for me and very cheap.

    Nah, I'm too lazy to maintain a blog. Besides, if I post here, the really smart people can correct all the stuff I get wrong. On a Blog, someone might think I know what I'm talking about. :p

    Seriously, if I spend a lot of time sussing something because I couldn't find clear information, I just like to share that with folks. If it helps someone, great. God knows, there are a lot of folks here who have helped me over the years. :)
     
  10. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    I wonder if you could effectively use VoIP on a data plan like yours and use fewer voice minutes. Not likely, I suppose. I don't know how much data is used for a typical call (I know there are various codecs, like GSM and G.711 that use different amounts of data). Plus, it'd cost you about $.02/minute in addition to the data expense. In your case, Hook, it might work reasonably well since you have WiFi access most of the time.
     

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