Bye Bye Verizon. Hello T-mobile.
About six months ago, I wrote this piece and this piece on my frustrations with Verizon Wireless, their prices, and their ever-shortening list of services. So in the interim, I've done some price comparison shopping to decide the pros and cons of each of the other major carriers. Here are my findings.
Generally speaking, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are not great options if you are price-sensitive. Verizon and AT&T charge you through the nose for pretty decent service, and Sprint charges you through the nose for just-OK service. I've been generally satisfied with Verizon's service, but currently pay over $70 per line for two lines of service (this is actually cheaper than many people -- I have an 18% work discount). This leaves me with T-mobile, which seems to be the least-worst option for price-sensitive (and service-sensitive) consumers.
Speaking of that work discount, let me highlight the issue with how Verizon calculates it. They give me a discount of the line charges ($59.99 a month), and the data plan on only my line ($29.99 a month). Given this clever calculation, where you would expect my 18% discount on my pre-tax bill of $135.12 to be about $24.32, it is instead $16.80 (about 12.4%). Compare this to T-mobile where for two lines of service (with 500MB data) is currently $80 and the 15% discount is...gasp...$12 (ACTUALLY 15%)!
Speaking of cost, I was amazed at the huge gap between Verizon and T-mobile. I currently pay $135 (pre-tax) for two lines, one of which has unlimited data, and one which has a 2GB plan. Part of that roughly $150 is a $5 grandfathered 250 messages plan and a $10, 1000 messages plan for my wife. The most comparable plan on T-mobile is an unlimited text, talk, and data plan for me and an unlimited text, talk, and 2.5GB plan for my wife with a pre-tax price of about $94. Initially, we're going to drop down to a 500MB plan for both of us until our phones are paid off (Nexus 4's). The pre-tax cost for this is $68, or less than half of our current bill. Given this cost difference, our phones will be paid off in about six months.
So time will tell whether T-mobile's service will stack up. It seems to be really good at my work, and pretty decent at home (per RootMetric's awesome website). At any rate, I'll be saving $70+ a month, so a small compromise in service is probably worth it. Who knows, the service could really suck, in which case, we leave and try somewhere else.