ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
61°
Overcast
H 63° L 51°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    61°
    Current Conditions
    Overcast. H 63° L 51°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    53°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 82° L 62°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    73°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 62°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Consumer Advice
Smartphone and Data Plan Guide for 2014
Close

Smartphone and Data Plan Guide for 2014

Smartphone and Data Plan Guide for 2014

Smartphone and Data Plan Guide for 2014

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert

Trending on Facebook

More Popular and trending stories

The cost of monthly cell phone service is dropping. The change for your wallet is the best since the last big wave of discounting 15 years ago. Plans and services are morphing in many different directions all at once. That makes saving money more complicated and requires you to decide what compromises you are willing to live with to save money.

Cell phone service can now be divided into 3 types: The Big Four, discounters, and innovators.

The Big Four

T-Mobile  changed the market for the Big Four with its Uncarrier strategy. You sign up no contract and pay a real price for a phone. The first person pays $50 per month, the second person on your plan pays $30, and 3, 4, and 5 people on your plan pay $10 per month. That works out to $22 per month per line for 5 people with unlimited talk and text, but only 1/2 gig of data per month. Each person can add an additional 2 gigs as needed at $10 extra per month. If you want unlimited data including a free hot spot service from your phone that is $20 extra per line.

In my case, I have 5 people on my T-Mobile account. Two have unlimited data and 3 get by with 1/2 a gig. That makes the bill for 5 lines $150 per month or $30 each line.

AT&T  has suffered the most lost customers of anyone to T-Mobile as both companies use the same technology called GSM. That has set off a poaching war with AT&T paying you a bounty if you move from T-Mobile to AT&T. T-Mobile in turn will pay termination fees for you if you leave any contract carrier and come to them.

Feeling the heat from T-Mobile, AT&T has now instituted a big price cut as well for families starting February 2nd. The first two lines cost $130 per month. Not great. However, each additional line is $15 per month. For 5 lines you pay $175 per month or $35 per line. That includes unlimited talk and text for all lines and 10 gigs of data to share among the lines.

Sprint  has its "Framily" plan which is a crazy, wild, confusing, and cheap plan. If you can get 7 to 10 people together, each pays $25 per month billed separately. So one person is not responsible for the bill like with T-Mobile or AT&T. The $25 gets you unlimited talk and text and 1 gig of data per line per month. Sprint Framily now has a tie-in with Spotify for a deluxe music service at $5 a month. That's a real deal for musicaholics.

The T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint offers are all non-contract. That means you pay a real price for a phone. That is really easy with T-Mobile and AT&T. Cheap GSM phones are widely available.

Verizon  has stayed on the sidelines so far and will likely cut rates only if the other 3 take customers from them in big numbers. Now comes more damning news for Verizon; they're reportedlycollecting info on all your online habits and selling it to marketers to feed ads to you.

The Discounters

The discounters have grown their number of customers by big amounts in the last 3 years. However, I don't expect much growth unless they cut rates again. Led by  Straight Talk , this group charges around $45 per month for unlimited talk and text with 3 to 5 gigs of data a month. All are non-contract and all buy blocks of time on the networks of the Big Four. Straight Talk is the largest and has service on all 4.

Boost Mobile , meanwhile, is offering a new special 4G service for $35 per month (for 6 months) with unlimited talk and text and 3.6 gigs of LTE data. This introductory monthly rate increases to $50 a month after 6  months. At that time, you are eligible to earn remaining Shrinking Payment milestones (potentially reducing payment to $40 month after max milestones earned).

With any of the discounters, the phone you buy or bring determines whose network you will be on.

The Innovators

This is the area that has the most opportunity to save money and the most odd terms of use. I have spoken at length about 3 of them. All 3 use wi-fi as a way to pass savings on to you.

Republic Wireless is my favorite. For $25 per month you get unlimited talk, text, and data. That is the best deal in America. You buy a very good Android called the Moto X for $299 or a decent phone called the Moto G for $149. Then you use the phone like any other, except most of the time you are on wi-fi instead of cellular. Thus the savings. (Read my review of Republic Wireless.)

Scratch Wireless  offers a free plan that is hard to wrap your mind around. You buy a Motorola Photon Q for $269. It is a dated midrange Android. You have unlimited everything anywhere there is wi-fi, and get unlimited free texting everywhere including on cellular. If you want talk and data on the go, you can pay a daily or monthly fee. Scratch is counting on the fact that most of the time we are somewhere where there is free wi-fi.

Freedom Pop  offers a freemium service. You buy any of a variety of Androids with prices all over the place (starting at around $99) and get 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 1/2 gig of data per month for free. There are a variety of paid options including unlimited talk and text for $10.99 per month. Meanwhile, you can now use the iPhone on Freedom Pop. See their website for details.

There will be many more new innovators in 2014. Look around and take your time before you choose. And NEVER sign a 2-year contract again!

For further reading:

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

  • Two days after the FBI Director confirmed that an investigation was underway into election meddling by Russia and any ties to the Trump Campaign, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced that U.S. Intelligence had legally monitored actions of the Trump transition, and maybe even some communications of Mr. Trump himself. Here is what we know: 1. What is in this new information? House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he had been provided with raw intelligence intercepts which showed information related to President-Elect Trump and members of the Trump Transition team. Nunes would not identify who had provided him with the information, which he seemed to indicate came through regular channels, possibly by a whistle blower inside the U.S. Intelligence Community – it just wasn’t clear. But what was clear was that he took the information to President Trump and the White House before telling his committee, and Democratic members on that panel. Whoa. At presser, Nunes just revealed IC collected info about Americans associated w/ the Trump transition team—separate from Russia probe. — Eric Geller (@ericgeller) March 22, 2017 2. Nunes: It has nothing to do with Russia. One puzzling part of the dramatic announcement by Nunes was that the subject matter did not relate to the probe into election meddling by Russia in 2016, or ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign. If that indeed is the case, then the communications monitored by U.S. Intelligence must have been focused on some other foreign intelligence targets which were being monitored by the United States. Was it other nations that are on the radar of U.S. Intelligence? Certain foreigners who are the target of a criminal investigation? It wasn’t clear. Rep. Devin Nunes: The reports I've seen 'did not have anything to do with Russia or the Russia investigation” https://t.co/sCYhWJArgW — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 22, 2017 3. What is incidental collection? Is it legal? This is one of those bureaucratic phrases that sounds complicated, but really isn’t. First, incidental collection of an American during a wiretap of a foreigner is totally legal. In this situation (as described by Nunes), officials of the Trump Transition – or maybe even the President-Elect at the time – could have been in contact with foreign persons who are under surveillance. When that happens, that is known as “incidental collection.” While there are rules on how that is dealt with, just because a U.S. citizen appears on a wiretap involving a foreigner does not mean that U.S. Intelligence suddenly stops listening. Nunes said the intercepts showed that information with no intelligence value was circulated widely inside the Intelligence Community. Rep. Devin Nunes: The reports I've seen 'did not have anything to do with Russia or the Russia investigation” https://t.co/sCYhWJArgW — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 22, 2017 4. Democrats hit the roof. Democrats were outraged by the Nunes move, immediately saying that it raises questions about how Nunes could lead a bipartisan review of the election interference charges against Russia. The Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) expressed his displeasure in a statement, and at his own news conference. “You don’t take information that the committee hasn’t seen and present it orally to the press and the White House, before the committee has a chance to even vet whether it is significant.” Rep. Adam Schiff: “This is not how you conduct an investigation” https://t.co/J6dJQWqV9d https://t.co/IMLTAxmn5p — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 22, 2017 5. New calls for an independent probe on Russia. The dustup over the Nunes announcement opened a new door for Democrats to demand an independent investigation of the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, as Democrats have long been suspicious of Nunes, who was a member of the Trump Transition team. “Unfortunately, I think the actions of today throw great doubt into the ability of both the Chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted,” Schiff said at his own news conference. Schiff says Nunes needs to decide if he is Chair of independent oversight committee or surrogate for the White House https://t.co/5AaB4kTNjI — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 22, 2017 6. More partisan elbows from both sides. It didn’t take long for both parties to weigh in, for and against Nunes. “The unprecedented comments of Chairman Nunes are an act of diversion and desperation,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who labeled the Nunes brief of President Trump, “highly irregular conduct.” On the other side, the statements were just as pointed. “The Chairman’s statements today detailing the incidental collection and dissemination of the Presidential transition team’s communications is highly concerning,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). I used to deal with FISA SIGINT all the time. That's some seriously compartmented stuff, folks. I am still in shock about Nunes' disclosure. — John Schindler (@20committee) March 22, 2017 7. White House welcomes Nunes information. After taking all sorts of flak for claiming that he had been wiretapped by President Obama, President Trump and his aides found themselves with some new ammunition in their arguments about how U.S. Intelligence has treated Mr. Trump. Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the Nunes information was a “startling revelation.” The President – who has routinely ignored questions about his Twitter wiretap claims – was more than happy to give a quote to the TV cameras, saying it made him feel vindicated. President Trump on if he feels vindicated by Rep. Devin Nunes’ comments: “I somewhat do” https://t.co/5WJCX615rG — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 22, 2017 This could well boil over again next week, when the House Intelligence Committee holds a second public hearing about Russia on Tuesday, March 28.
  • When Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler talks about the Latwon Goff investigation, one can hear the frustration in his voice. Goff made the list of Tulsa’s Most Wanted at the age of 16 for a string of armed robberies. He was caught, arrested, and convicted after entering guilty pleas on eight counts in February of 2015. But shortly after he turned 18, and under Oklahoma law as a youthful offender, he received a judicial review of his case. That’s when Tulsa District Judge Sharon Holmes, acting on the advice of the Office of Juvenile Affairs, ordered that his guilty pleas be expunged, that he be allowed to change those pleas to not guilty, and that the charges against him be dismissed. And that, according to Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, came as something of a shock. “To just somehow think that he magically changed what was probably a lifetime of bad decisions, I just found it hard to comprehend that we can just take the word of somebody like that, and cut somebody like that loose without any monitoring,” he told KRMG Wednesday. Goff was arrested after a pursuit in Tulsa Wednesday on suspicion of two armed robberies earlier in the day. But police were already looking for him in connection with a murder in Dallas. Investigators there named him as a suspect in the killing of Jason Eli Edwards, 39, in February. That was just two months after Judge Holmes ordered his release. [CLICK HERE to see the online court records of Goff’s 2015 case] But apparently it didn’t take him even that long to find more trouble. He reportedly told Tulsa detectives he committed an armed robbery within four hours of his release from custody last December. Kunzweiler tells KRMG his office argued strenously against turning Goff loose. “Of course now, he’s accused of committing a horrible offense,” Kunzweiler said. “If he is in fact the person responsible for the death of that person, our system up here failed that family.” He added that he will work with prosecutors in Dallas to determine the best course of action now that Goff faces charges in both jurisdictions.
  • A Hollywood screenwriter has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Walt Disney Pictures off ripping off his idea for last year’s blockbuster film “Zootopia.” Gary L. Goldman, known for his work on “Total Recall” in both 1990 and 2012, “Minority Report” and “Big Trouble in Little China, alleged in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles that Disney copied a franchise he pitched to the studio in 2000 and 2009.  Disney denied the allegations in a statement, calling the lawsuit “riddled with patently false allegations.” “It is an unprincipled attempt to lay claim to a successful film he didn’t create, and we will vigorously defend against it in court,” Disney said. Goldman said in the lawsuit that he pitched Disney the idea for “Zootopia” about a society of animals exploring life in America. He included drawings in the suit that show a remarkable similarity between the animated characters he said he presented to Disney and the characters Disney used in the film. He also listed in the suit other films he contends Disney stole including “The Lion King,” “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.” It’s unclear what kind of compensation Goldman may be seeking from Disney, but box office analyst comScore reported “Zootopia” made more than $341 million in domestic ticket sales.
  • A Michigan State University student has received dozens of phone calls after creating and sharing a dating resume. Joey Adams, 21, was inspired to make the resume after asking out a girl who eventually rejected him, the Lansing State Journal reported. 'She asked if I had a dating resume,' he said. 'I didn't have one, so she told me no.' Adams shared his dating resume online last week after a woman posted on the university's class of 2018 Facebook page saying her roommate needed a date for a formal. The resume included hobbies and what he looks for in a romantic partner. Adams said it started as a joke, but the resume rapidly gained popularity. Less than a week later, Adams has been featured on BuzzFeed and 'Good Morning America.' There's also been a growing push through social media to have Adams on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show.' 'It's been a cool experience, and my mom is really loving it,' he said. Adams has since been invited to several formals in and around Lansing, some of which he plans to attend. The college junior says the phone calls are 'overwhelming,' especially during midterms week. 'I'm wishing things would go back to normal even though I know it won't happen soon,' he said. 'But for now I'm just having fun riding the wave.
  • We repeat, new emojis are on the way. Many people get very excited about new emoji, which in case you don't know, are the little smiley faces and other such pictographs people use in text messages. According to Emojipedia, they'll be released in June, but might take longer to show up on some operating systems, depending on when those are updated. Word is there will be 56 new ones, including a giraffe, a rock climber, a bearded man, a face with a monocle, and a face making the shush gesture with its finger, among others. What emoji do you think you need in your life? Send us an open mic on the KRMG app and tell us. Click here to see the full list of possible new emojis.