Here’s a fact about me: I’m kind of cheap.
Which explains, in part, why I’ve been using T-Mobile as my wireless carrier for the past year. I have a family plan that includes myself, my mother, and my wife.
T-Mobile has the best prices in the wireless market in the U.S.
T-Mobile charged me $US80 for the account, then $US20 for my unlimited data plan, $US10 for my mother’s 1 GB of data, and $US10 for my wife’s 3 GB of data. That’s $US120 total, pre-tax.
But, with T-Mobile, you get what you pay for. And there are certain things you shouldn’t skimp on. Wireless connectivity is one of those things. As a result, I’ve dropped T-Mobile for AT&T.
From day one, our T-Mobile service was spotty.
After I signed everyone up, we went on a family vacation to Naples, Florida, which is not exactly an outpost. We had little to no service on T-Mobile at our hotel. We couldn’t text each other if we split up.
It wasn’t just Naples. I routinely lost service in buildings across the country.
In the kitchen of our office I had no signal. In the Target in my home town in Northern New Jersey I had no signal. My Mother was in a mall in New Jersey with a friend. They split up for a bit. He tried calling her 10 times but couldn’t get in touch because T-Mobile had no connection.
My wife and I recently drove to southwestern Pennsylvania with friends. While our friend on AT&T had strong LTE cell service during the car ride, we lost our connection for long stretches.
In our home, T-Mobile works well, but just 20 minutes from home, my wife lost her connection. As she reminded me — many times — if she got lost, she would be screwed. The phone is a GPS machine. If it has no internet connection and no ability to make calls, she’s going to have a hard time getting around.
In general, this is the story of T-Mobile. It works well outdoors in certain areas, like Manhattan, but if you venture just a few hours away, it’s a risk.
So, after more than a year of gentle and not so gentle prodding from my mother and my wife, I took the family to AT&T.
Why AT&T? I’ve used Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in the past 5 years. The difference in network quality between AT&T and Verizon seems to be negligible at this point. Our T-Mobile phones work on AT&T, plus AT&T has good pricing.
While T-Mobile’s wireless service may not be all that great, its impact on the industry has been just the opposite.
AT&T has adopted some of the policies T-Mobile has pushed. It has roll-over data. It has the option to sign up for contract-free plans. Its prices are a tad bit lower. You can also say T-Mobile’s influence is what caused Verizon to kill all contracts for good.
AT&T is currently offering $US100 for service, plus $US15 per line, which is $US145 per month. It’s only 15 GB of data for the whole family, but that’s more than enough. We never went over 10 GB as a family on T-Mobile.
It’s $US25 more per month, which is $US300 extra per year. The cheapskate in me wants to stick with T-Mobile, since it works good enough for me.
But, strong wireless coverage is worth the premium price.
The only thing worse than no internet coverage is slow or spotty internet coverage. I would think I had coverage with T-Mobile, but in reality I wouldn’t and I would be refreshing Twitter, or trying to stream music. It would kill the battery on my phone and drive me crazy.
It’s worth an extra $US300 per year to have significantly better national phone coverage.
For anyone out there thinking of joining T-Mobile, I would say it’s just not worth the price.