'Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man.' -Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952

Unlimited Plans Aren't Worth It

by Ethan Glover, Sun, Sep 10, 2017 - (Edited) Sun, Sep 10, 2017

Unlimited plans on cell networks have never really worked out. "Unlimited" never means unlimited. These plans end up costing companies money and service quality. And Verizon's new unlimited plan (one of many) is no exception to that rule.

According to OpenSignal, Verizon's LTE network slowed by 2 Mbps (12%) in the six months since launching this new plan. According to that same report, T-Mobile outperformed all cell networks in every category in regards to 4G. Availability, download speed and latency.

Ookla's report shows the same drop in speeds within the Verizon network. Noting, "... it seems likely we're seeing reduced performance due to high usage de-prioritization and consumer plan choice." Verizon throttles users on the "Unlimited" plan when they hit 22GB within a month which they call "de-prioritization." Sometimes even down to 3G speeds. T-Mobile caps its "Unlimited" plan at 32GB/mo.

I've never been a fan of the increased usage of mobile data. People expect to be able to have internet everywhere and are willing to pay outrageous prices for it. $70-$85 for a single line on T-Mobile or Verizon.)

It makes sense for rural users who can't get reliable internet to their homes. I've been in that situation. Given a choice between dial-up, satellite, and cellular networks the choice is obvious.

But for people surrounded by Wi-Fi connected to cable and fiber networks, it doesn't make sense. I use less than 1GB of cellular data per month. I listen to 4-7 hours of podcasts every day. I use Google Play Music to automatically download and update many stations and playlists. My home screen is full of "data sucking" widgets. (And I live in a very small town to boot.)

I don't think there's any reason for people to be using up so much mobile data. There's really no excuse. And mobile companies can't handle it. The technology and cost is just not worth it.

That's why I've always recommended people cut their dependency on unreliable and expensive mobile data, and switch to a better plan. This is what I think a phone bill should look like.

A simple $20-$30 charge for a network that spans across T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and WiFi. Project Fi offers coverage everywhere for calling + SMS and even the data for email and messaging. (There's no other reasonable use for mobile data in my opinion.)

With all the talk of competition between networks like Verizon and T-Mobile I always laugh about the fact that I have the best network, T-Mobile, at a cheaper price. Plus Sprint and U.S. Cellular. And Wi-Fi calling. And free international roaming. ... When will people learn? ;)