How much is LTE worth to you?

First, this a repost of a comment I made on the article for AT&T's announcement of it's Next program where I broke down the costs of Next and Jump and then offered a counter to the plans with a 3G prepaid carrier, Net10. I'm curious if LTE is worth the cost breakdown for those of you that live in areas that are lit up already. So here we go..

This is all assuming no initial trade in or resale. Starting from scratch on a single line account.

AT&T w/Next

$107+taxes and fees, probably 115 for AT&T Unlimited Talk and Text w/3gb of data and insurance.

Add $32 for Next on an S4. No down payment so just the $32 to start the program.

$147 a month for one line with the option of upgrading every 12 months.

$882 at 6 months, $1742 at 12 months when eligible for first upgrade. $3256 at 24 months if you did not upgrade. ($3384-128 for the last 4 months where there was no installment plan)

$199 deductible for lost/stolen/broken devices with insurance.


T-Mobile w/Jump

$90+taxes and fees, probably $100, for Unlimited Talk and text, with 2.5gb of 4G data, slowed down afterwards. Includes Jump and equipment installment plan. Jump includes insurance.

$149 up front for the S4.

Costs $749 at 6 months when you’re eligible for first upgrade. $1349 at 12 months with no upgrade or possibly $1500 if you bought into a new phone at 6 months. Price goes up by $100 per month with no upgrades. If you purchased 4 times in 2 year period, average device up front of $150, price of 24 months service is roughly $3000.

Final Price: $3000

Both of these models have no resale or trade-in options where you receive fair market value for your device, but then again trading into Best Buy or whoever the carriers partner with doesn't either. You'll only get a slightly better deal here.

Both models include LTE data connectivity, depending on location of course.

And now for the counterpoint a prepaid 3G alternative:


Either AT&T coverage or T-Mobile, pick which works best for you.

$640 for the phone, plus insurance, which can vary. Squaretrade is popular, it’s $99 to $125 for 2 years protection(no lost or stolen thought) with a $99 deductible. Geek Squad is roughly $180 for 18 months with $50 deductible but it includes lost and stolen.

$45 a month for talk, text, and 1.5gb of data. $1080 for 24 months of service.(auto pay)

Option 1:

Trade in every 6 months. Average trade in price for flagship at Best Buy is around $350. (This is where Geek Squad is a better option for insurance because it’s monthly, and not up front cost.) So to buy a new phone every 6 months over a two year period it’s roughly $2600(not including taxes). Trading in would net you back around $1050. So true cost is $1550. Total with cellular service is $2630, add insurance and it would be either $240(geek squad) more or $400($100×4 devices, maybe you get a refund from Squaretrade if you trade the phone in??) more.

LTE= $200 premium on T-mobile, and $400 premium on AT&T. Also a bigger chunck of data but there’s no way to up the amount on Net10.

Option 2:

Trade in at 12 months. This is where it gets a bit more difficult to gauge the price on resale. At around 15 months old, the S3 is being offered at $210. So you lose some value by waiting . Let’s assume the S4 will be at $250 at 12 months, if you bought it on release. Which is the point of upgrading so we’ll assume average age of device will be 12 months from release. Cost to buy 2 new phones in 24 months would be around $1300-$250 for trade in, so $1150 true cost. plus $1080 for cellular and either $240(10×24 months) or $200(100×2 devices), lets go with the $200 here. $1280 for service and insurance + $1150 for devices. $2430 for 2 new phones over 24 months

LTE=$650 premium on T-Mobile, $850 premium for AT&T.

As you can see, for someone that is just keeping up with flagship phones, usually once a year occurance, LTE is a big expense. For me, 3G works great, especially considering wifi is so common and FREE at a lot of places.

What's it worth to you?