Here are the two big events that happened to the Cell Data world this month:
- Both Verizon and ATT are running a special where they double your monthly data from 15 gigs to 30 gigs for no extra charge. Verizon’s ends at the end of the month.
- Verizon bought out all of Millenicom’s Verizon customers. Right now they are all in limbo! They have no idea what the future holds for them because Verizon has made no announcements about its plans. More about that later in this post.
Those two things have forced a lot of people to reevaluate their current data plans and to start making changes…including me. I’ve just made a big switch in my data plan that I want to tell you about because I think it offers many of you a chance to get a better plan. Of course it won’t apply to lots of vandwellers but I’m hoping you can learn something useful from this post anyway.
First a general word of introduction about how to get internet;
- If you live in the city, you can get some data off you Smartphone plan and some off of free WIFI hotspots from places like McDonalds and Starbucks. That’s cheap and probably all you need. Much of this won’t apply to you.
- If you travel a lot or boondock, then getting your data from free WIFI probably won’t work because the free Hotspots are too few, too far away and often too slow. At least that’s the way it’s been for me. I want my data in my camp from a fast, reliable cell signal. If that’s you and you aren’t locked into a plan, listen closely.
- To get data you have two main choices, 1) use your Smartphone and surf the net with it or use it as a WIFI Hotspot to connect to other devices by WIFI (like a laptop or tablet). 2) Buy a MIFI JetPack that receives the cell data signal and then creates a WIFI signal that other devices can connect to.
- Once you leave the cities, no one is as good as Verizon!! In fact, by comparison, everyone else sucks!!! I’ve been many, many places where I had a great Verizon 4g signal and people with ATT, T-Mobile or Sprint had nothing. The only place I’ve ever been where Verizon was bad and ATT was good was in Alaska. So it does happen, but it is very, very rare. If you mainly travel or boondock, you ONLY want Verizon—no one else will do!
Verizon More Everything Plan
For a long time I’ve tried to convince myself I needed a smartphone but I just couldn’t justify the cost. Many times I’ve read about some great App that I would love to have, but since I didn’t have a Smartphone I couldn’t have it! Then I bought my high-end Canon DSLR that had built-in WIFI and I could download an App from Canon that would let my Smartphone take nearly total control over the camera. I could see what it sees, focus and fire the camera from a distance using my Smartphones WIFI. Best of all I could review the pictures on its big screen and not on the cameras small screen. That made me really want one, but I just didn’t want to spend all that money.
Instead I had a 10 gig data plan with Verizon using a JetPack that cost $80 a month and a pay-as-you-go phone that cost $2 a day every time I used it. I was paying $8 a gig for that plan. That worked fine because I rarely use the phone so I just did without a Smartphone and its Apps. But two things happened that changed my mind:
- My JetPack broke twice in the last year while I was in the middle of nowhere (once it failed and a year later I broke its replacement). That left me with no internet access and forced me to drive into town every day and use a WIFI at Wendy’s as my only source of internet. Because of the blog and forum. I have to have daily, easy and constant data access! If the website goes down with a technical problem, I need to know now, not in a few days! I needed a second device that would always be a back-up if the JetPack broke again. (I got a free replacement for both devices from Best Buy because I had their service plan. More about that in the next post.)
- I use the internet so much, I was regularly pushing and going over my 10 gig limit. Then I heard that for this month only Verizon is taking their Share Everything plan and doubling the data for free and calling it the More Everything plan. So I could sign up for 15 gigs and they would double it and I’d get 30 gigs for nearly the same price.
Because I was starting to pay fees for going over my 10 gigs, that sealed the deal, it was time to upgrade! So I went down and signed right up. Here’s the way it works:
The More everything plan with 30 gigs and just a JetPack is $150 a month ($5.00 a gig). But I wanted a Smartphone also so I added an Apple 5C iPhone (it only cost $1 for the phone) with unlimited voice and text along with 30 gigs of data for an extra $40, bringing it to $190 a month. So for $190 a month I have the two devices sharing 30 gigs a month and unlimited talk and text. If either device fails, I have a back-up. Best of all, I could start using Apps! That met all my needs! (I later switched from the iPhone to a Samsung Note 3, more about that in the next post.)
So if you currently have a Verizon Plan or can switch from your old plan, and you need unlimited talk, text and LOTS of data, this is about as good a deal as is available right now! But, you can make it even better! Because it’s a Share Everything Plan, you can go in on it with a friend or family member and cut the price even more! For example, I have a friend who was with Millenicom so I told him he could go in with me and I would add him to my plan. Adding a second JetPack would cost him $20 a month (or a Smartphone would add $40). I would charge him $60 for half my 30 gigs. So he would be paying $80 a month for just 15 gigs of data on a MIFI JetPack or $100 a month for unlimited talk and text on a Smartphone plus 15 gigs of data. And my monthly cost goes down the $60 he would pay me; we both come out ahead!
Verizon Acquires Millenicom’s Verizon Customers
Up till now the best deal on data was Millenicom which gave you 20 gigs on Verizon towers for $90 a month without a contract, it was month-to-month. It didn’t include any voice, just data, but that was the best price per gig that anybody offered. While there are some “unlimited” plans around, they throttle down your speed after a few gigs and it becomes so slow as to be worthless. When you buy a plan with a set amount of data, there won’t be any slowing down. By comparison, I was paying Verizon $80 a month for just 10 gigs. Millenicom was a much better deal!
But this month Millenicom announced that Verizon had bought out all their Verizon customers. A few people called their customer support line after that and they got a recording that said they no longer offered customer support, they had to call Verizon. As of right now, Verizon has made no announcement of what their intentions are. Everyone is in the dark! They could grandfather in the old plans and prices or they could force everybody to move into a current Verizon plan. It’s a confusing and frightening time for them!
Some people speculate that the More Everything plan is an enticement to Millenicoms customers to switch over, and while we don’t know for sure, that does make sense. It’s not as good a deal, but it’s the best deal going. It’s $60 more than they were paying Millenicom, but it gives you an extra 10 gigs. With the Millenicom plan they were paying $4.50 a gig with the new Verizon More Everything Plan they will be paying $5 a gig for 30 gigs on a JetPack. Here is a comparison of the different plans with just a Jetpack or a Smartphone:
- My old Verizon Plan: 10 gigs for $80 a month = $8 a gig no phone
- Price per gig when I went over my 10 gigs = $15 a gig
- Millenicom: 20 gigs for $90 = $4.50 a gig no phone
- Verizon More Everything with JetPack: 30 gigs for $150 = $5 a gig no phone
- Verizon More Everything with Smartphone for $170 = $5.66 per gig plus unlimited talk and text on Smartphone
- Add a line with a friend: 15 gigs for $80 = $5.33 a gig. no phone
- Smartalk: 3 gigs at full speed for $45 a month = $15 per gig plus unlimited talk and text
This is all very confusing and what I’ve written here is true to the best of knowledge, but you should talk to a Verizon dealer to be certain of what you are getting into. Don’t wait though, the Verizon deal is only good till the end of the month. If you have a current Verizon plan, you can upgrade to it! I would encourage you to seriously look into it.
To figure out what you are currently paying per gig divide the price per month by number of gigs and that equals the price per gig. Knowing that will help you decide what’s best for you.
Please comment and tell me your favorite travel, nature, adventure, RVer or vandweller apps.