Monday, May 04, 2015

Switching the Kids to Republic Wireless

I have recently switched my children to +Republic Wireless for their mobile service. Given that they are in school and should be paying attention to their teachers, I have them on the $10/month rate plan which includes unlimited voice and text via WiFi calling and via mobile carrier.

Previously, they were on a service provider that charged $25/mo for text and voice, and more for very meager data packages. I am saving about $45/month on their mobile service. Granted, they do not have data service, so it's not exactly apples to apples. However, as a family we have a goal for our savings, which is why they will endure the $10/month rate plan with not data service. Besides, it's not like they have much use for it.

My daughter is in college and spends most of her time at home where there is WiFi, or on campus, where there is also WiFi. Based on her report, her network offload using WiFi is about 75%.

My son is in Junior High School where no WiFi is available. But, I am quite certain he doesn't need data service at school. He seems content to play games offline. His network offload is about 65%. That means, that even though his WiFi access is half, most of his use is at home anyway.

Of course, they are not the only ones making a switch. I opted to not use Republic Wireless. I am currently using +Truphone  as a prepaid phone service. This works out well for me because my business use is mostly incoming phone calls. I get about 4 incoming calls to my 1 outgoing call, more or less. For April, my use has been less than $10.

I am surprised to discover that using Truphone for data service is saving me some money too, despite being 9 cents per MB, which is high compared to $10/GB with T-Mobile. Obviously, I am more judicious about my data usage. My phone has background data turned off and is set on power save, which keeps it from sucking up bandwidth. Even so, it can load apps and websites on demand. This is similar to using a film camera versus a digital camera. When you have a limit on the photos you can take, you tend to be more judicious about which shots you take. Similarly, with my pay by the MB plan, I am mindful about what I do with my mobile. I also unexpectedly save lots of time by not goofing around with my phone every few minutes.

I find myself in a mobile sweet spot with Truphone. Other prepaid services still only provide voice and text with another lump of money if you want data. Truphone, on the other hand, allows me to use what I need, when I need it. This is similar to the hot dog dilemma where a store sells a hot dog for 75 cents or 2 for $1. If you're hungry for two hot dogs, then $1 is a great deal. However, if you are only hungry for 1 hot dog, you should only buy the one because it satisfies your need and you are still paying less than $1. Per unit cost is not a factor until you reach that first price break.

For the first tier of data, I'd have to spend $15 for the 1st GB. So, I'd have to spend 166 MB of data, the Truphone equivalent of $15, to make buying a fixed-rate data plan worthwhile for my phone. However, my mindful use of data amounts to not even 20 MB. Yes, my unit cost per MB is way higher with Truphone; but, I'm still spending less than I would have with a prepaid data plan.

Except for rent, mobile service was my family's largest monthly expense. I remember once paying about $280/month for mobile service. That is a lot of money for a simple convenience. Over the years, we have found better and better rate plans. If I can find something that works for my wife, I think we can all have mobile service for less than $50/month combined. That would be sweet. I'm still looking for options.

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