One of the first things I did to change my life was ditch my cellphone. Ever since doing that in the summer of 2010, I’ve been relatively happy with the solution I chose. But, not completely. So, I’m modifying my original plan so that I’ll have a reliable mobile phone.
I love to tinker and see if I can find a better way of doing things. During the height of the recession, I was looking for ways of cutting my expenses. The recession wasn’t the entire reason. I needed to cut expenses if I ever wanted to afford transition. Ever since launch day in 2007, I’ve been an iPhone user. That means I was a customer of AT&T. I remember sitting on the floor in the AT&T store up in Thornton while on the phone with a technician in Pennsylvania who managed to get my first generation iPhone to work on AT&T’s GoPhone pre-paid billing system. Technically, iPhone’s have never been supported as GoPhones. But, I don’t like cellphone contracts. And that first iPhone didn’t come with a discount. So, I thought I would try.
Everything worked great for about three years. But, by the time 2010 rolled around, my monthly bill had climbed up to $90. I had the minimum amount of voice minutes (450), and I had unlimited data and SMS. Around this time, I was receiving regular text messages from AT&T telling me I would be losing rollover minutes after not using them for a year. I don’t talk on the phone much. I had invested a lot of money in apps and loved the iOS ecosystem. Android was still a burgeoning platform. There was no way I was going to Blackberry. And Palm had pretty much collapsed. I remembered reading a story about how a guy had paired his iPod Touch and a Mifi and routed calls from Google Voice to completely avoid the traditional cell phone system. Also, around this time, Virgin Mobile changed their data system to unlimited. I remember riding my bike all the way down to a Best Buy in Littleton to grab one of the last VM Mifi’s in the Denver Metro area.
As it stands right now, this is how it works. A person calls my Google Voice number and it gets routed to an app called Talkatone. Talkatone interrupts what I’m currently listening to and rings my iPod Touch. Seems ideal. I have unlimited minutes, unlimited texting and unlimited data. But, in reality, the call quality is very subpar. Remember those first couple of times you used Skype? You spent a lot of time talking over each other or waiting for the delay before starting another sentence. This is mildly annoying. But, one of the problems this “solution” doesn’t solve is 911. For understandable reasons, I haven’t publicized this. But, it’s a worry. I have every local dispatch number saved in Talkatone. But, it’s not ideal.
Make way for Ting.
Ting is an MVNO operating on Sprint’s network and owned by tucows.com. You know tucows. they’ve been around forever. Their biggest company as of late is the domain registrar hover.com. They’ve come up with a cost effective way of billing. Say I sign up for 500 minutes. If I over use, they bump me up to the 1000 minute plan. But, if I under use, they lower me down to the lower cost plan. And since they operate on Sprint’s network, I have confidence that it will work across the country.
I took a look at all their devices and saw a good spattering of Android devices. But, I don’t want to switch platforms. At the bottom of the page, I saw a very standard Sanyo flip phone. And thanks to a very nice promotion, I was able to save $50 on it. Yeah, they don’t offer discounts on their phones. I was able to get it for just under $20. The phone shipped yesterday and should be here by the end of the week.
I still plan on keeping my Google Voice number. And although I’ve never routed GV calls to a regular phone, I’m sure it will work better than what I’m doing right now. I won’t have people complaining on the other end about the call quality. My mom won’t sigh before picking up the phone when she sees my number on the caller ID. And I’ll have reliable phone service when I need it.
But, the best part is the price. Remember when I said I don’t talk on the phone much? Well, I plan on signing up for 100 minutes. I’ll still use my Touch to handle text messages. And I already have data with the Mifi. So, adding the cellphone to the mix will only add $9 to my monthly allotment of bills. If I find that 100 minutes aren’t enough, I’ll bump it up to 500 minutes for an additional $6.
By now, you must be thinking that my pockets will be stuffed with electronics. Yeah, pretty much. At least I don’t holster them to my belt! I’ll have the phone, the iPod Touch and the Mifi. I already have two devices in my pocket. So, I figure adding a third won’t be such a big deal.
Is there such a thing as *too* geeky?