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WSJ: Americans' Phone Bills Are Going Up

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the at-what-margin-do-you-pivot? dept.

Communications 273

There's been some positive news in the last year (and the last few) for American cellphone customers: certainly there's more visible competition for their business among the largest players in the market. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal reports that while more competition may translate into some more attractive service bundles, flexibility in phone options, or smoother customer service, it doesn't actually mean that the customers are on average reaping one of the benefits that competition might be expected to provide: lower price. Instead, the bills for customers on the major wireless providers have actually gone up, if not dramatically, in recent months — which means U.S. cell service remains much more expensive than it is in many other countries. The article could stand a sidebar on MVNOs and other low-cost options, though -- I switched to one of these from AT&T, and now pay just under $40 for one version of the new normal of unlimited talk and text, plus quite limited (1GB) data, but still using AT&T towers. Has your own cost to talk gone up or down?

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273 comments

Virgin Mobile (3, Insightful)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | about 4 months ago | (#46442937)

35 USD for "unlimited" data and 400 minutes of talk time. Texting is "free" using my google voice number. If I really needed to talk more than 400 minutes, I could use something like Skype for voice.

Re: Virgin Mobile (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 4 months ago | (#46443045)

Does Google voice include texting past sms, or to foreigners yet?

Please tell me yes.

Re: Virgin Mobile (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 months ago | (#46443565)

Ha! When will Google Voice start handling MMS, period? And no, changing it over to an email doesn't count.

Google hasn't done anything with the product since they bought it... other than put their name on it.

Re: Virgin Mobile (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443581)

Complaining that Google Voice doesn't offer MMS is like complaining they are not indexing Gopher:// pages in their search engine. Get with the times. MMS is and always will be, an ugly kludge grafted onto SMS. It is now functionally obsolete. Go SMS a link to Picasa, Flickr or use Google+ you luddite.

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about 4 months ago | (#46443049)

Virgin is great if you spend all of your time in the city. For people like me who need the coverage of the Verizon network PagePlus is a good choice. $30/mo gets me more minutes and texts than I would ever use along with 500MB of 3G data.

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443423)

I have a cabin deep in Tahoe National Forest, and I still have service, while Verizon has none. I have to pump water from a creek to flush the toilet, but I still have internet, even if it is a bit sketchy and I bet I'd lose signal if it rained or something. Maybe I just got lucky on my cabin's location. But I suspect that cell service is better in the rural areas now than it was 10 years ago.

In the city, there are so many hills surrounding that I have trouble with signal on most of the networks. (I've used AT&T and Sprint mostly in the Bay Area)

Re:Virgin Mobile (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 4 months ago | (#46443121)

I get tmobile for $23 a month per phone ($114 a month for 5 lines.) Everything is unlimited too.

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 4 months ago | (#46443403)

Yeah... T-Mobile actually said in their last earnings call that they now get less money per subscriber than before. So at least for TMo customers, prices are definitely going down...

Re:Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443475)

Well, that statement can also mean that they aren't handling their costs well and prices are the same or higher heh.

I got in on the Virgin plan at the $25 level. If (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 4 months ago | (#46443131)

...I have a feeling I could sell the the number.

I chuckle when people tell me they're paying $50 or more a month for a fricken' phone.

Re:I got in on the Virgin plan at the $25 level. I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443311)

Same here. I hope they don't kill that account.

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 months ago | (#46443133)

Boost Mobile - $35/mo, unlimited voice, data, text.

Re:T-mobile prepaid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443223)

It costs $0.10/minute (plus tax), I usually average just south of $10/mo.
Last month I spent $2.47.

Re: Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443257)

35 USD

Is that per month? It seems expensive. It depends on your needs, of course, but as I'm a light mobile user I end up paying about $60 AUD per year for my mobile service. For my usage it's a really good fit. Sadly the plan I'm on is no longer offered to new customers.

Re:Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443343)

I have a prepaid phone from T-Mobile I don't use often, then again, I'm not out often. I don't really text either. Vonage (Pay As You Go) and Skype for home.

I don't believe SMS costs much to implement. It's next to free, right? But the phone companies want to make money. I almost sort of wish Google would get into the game in order to shake things up like they did for e-mail services, forcing the hand of others.

I would like the idea of having cheaper plans with "penny texting", or perhaps a scheme where...
1st text of day: $1.00
2nd text of day: $0.50
3rd text of day: $0.25
4th text of day: $0.13
5th text of day: $0.07
6th text of day: $0.04
7th text of day: $0.02
8th text of day: $0.01
9+ text of day: $0.01

That way, for those who want a light plan, it's more affordable.

Re:Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443667)

T-mobile 10 euro per month infinite internet.
Who cares about phone and text because I barely use it.
Get on our level.

Re:Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443871)

For reference:

Germany, Otelo.de, Vodafone network:
200 minutes, unlimited data (200MB high speed, GPRS speed afterwards), 10 EUR/month
or unlimited minutes, unlimited data (500MB high speed), 24EUR/month

German mobile phone plan prices are considered to be on the high end in Europe. In comparison:

Austria, yesss.at, Orange Austria network:
1500 minutes, 1500MB (1ct/MB afterwards), 15EUR/month

France, mobile.free.fr:
unlimited minutes, 20GB data, 20EUR/month (16EUR if you also subscribe to their landline ISP)

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 4 months ago | (#46443961)

texting is free period

Canada... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46442941)

It's still a lot cheaper than Canada. Here we're dreaming of having something as good as American plans! As a single parent I just can't afford what they charge here...

Re:Canada... (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46442971)

Not to mention the lack of competition of cellphone and internet providers in small towns far from the major cities.

Re:Canada... (4, Informative)

corychristison (951993) | about 4 months ago | (#46443523)

Tell me about it.

I live in Saskatchewan. We have Sasktel, Bell, Telus, Rogers and the "spinoffs" (Fido, Koodo, 7-11's SpeakOut).

My current plan is with Telus. $60/mo for unlimited nationwide talk (unlimited to anywhere in Canada, from anywhere in Canada), unlimited sms/mms, with 5GB of sharable Data. My wife also has the exact same plan, so we have a total of 10GB of usable data between the two of us. After 911 fee's and taxes, we are paying $133.24 total. As it stands this is about as good as it gets for my needs.

I was with Sasktel for many years until last July/2014. We were locked into a 3 year contract, and paying $60/mo each for 300 local daytime minutes, unlimited local calling in the evenings ,unlimited SMS (but not MMS, those were $1.00 each), and "unlimited" data. One gotcha they didn't tell you, is they also charged an $7-$8 "system access fee" on top of your plan, plus 911 fee's and taxes. In total we were paying ~$155/month. This does not account for overage or long distance fee's we would end up paying most months.

Ting (1)

ruiner5000 (241452) | about 4 months ago | (#46442945)

Yeah, Ting, my bill just went down.

Re:Ting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46442999)

Ting is amazing, and how every and all carriers should be. Low prices, only pay for how much you use, no contracts. Definitely awesome.

Re:Ting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443097)

Ting is by far the cheapest possible option for the average geek, excepting maybe Virgin. My bill _after_ taxes is less than $30, for 500 minutes, 1000 text, and 100MB data. But Ting has no unlimited-this or unlimited-that gimmick.

I used my savings to buy a Nexus 5. However, the new version of Android is a pain when it comes to sucking down data unsolicited. I was away from WiFi for several days, and Android eventually insisted on downloading updates over cellular (crossing the 100MB threshold and putting me into the 500MB bucket), which increased my bill this month by $9+taxes.

Their account interface rocks, though. It's something most geeks would pay extra for if they saw it.

Virgin Mobile is also really attractive, but Ting's sales practices, billing methods, and account management interface are so transparent and convenient that I wouldn't even care if Virgin was slightly cheaper.

Re:Ting (3, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#46443275)

You can configure your Nexus 5, and specific apps and services on it, to not use mobile data in the background. In Settings -> Data Usage scroll down and you will see apps. Select the app, scroll down again and you will see the setting "restrict background data". Check this box and it will stop using mobile data while the app is in the background. This is especially critical for things like Google+, where if you take one HD video it will try to sync it in the background and kill your monthly quota. My kids were making videos with my phone while I slept...

Ting looks like a nice deal, and enthusiastic support. I was very frustrated dealing with Sprint to acquire a SIM for my Nexus 5. They were abhorrent in person at three stores and in online chat as well. That kind of put me off. I did finally manage to get SIMs from Ting real easy like. But the experience put me off even of using Sprint towers.

Besides, T-mobile has been really nice to me. That's worth a few extra bucks.

Stay away from Microsoft Skype on your Nexus 5. It has a known issue that kills the battery. Imagine that.

Re:Ting (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 4 months ago | (#46443287)

Ting is decent, but it could be better. Trying to achieve zero data usage, I found that the smartphone came preloaded with crapware that insists on checking in daily. It's only a few bytes, but that's enough to bump the user into the next bucket. Only way I could stop it was by disabling data transmission entirely. Configuring the individual apps not to check for updates or otherwise exchange data did not work. Only takes one rogue app to wreck that plan.

I really don't need a smartphone's Internet surfing ability anyway. It's a terrible interface. Tiny screen, terrible tiny touch keyboard. At least the mouse action is decent. But I find using a somewhat bigger device on a WiFi connection is much better.

The text messaging is still a complete ripoff. That ought to be free, not hundreds of times the cost of voice, considering the quantitiy of data each requires.

Re:Ting (1)

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) | about 4 months ago | (#46443339)

Ting is great.

I bought an iphone 4s from sprint and activated it on Ting and my monthly bill is about $10.

Mine has gone down. (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 4 months ago | (#46442961)

I was on contract with T-Mobile: a family plan and one phone (out of 4) 18 months through its 2-year contract (the other 3 were past their 2-year contract period). T-Mobile allowed me to switch immediately to their monthly plans, with a reduction of about $60/month.

Re:Mine has gone down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443015)

Same here, T-Mobile has been great for me. Paying $100 per month for my family plan with four phones with unlimited talk, text and data. They don't have the coverage that some other services have but it work wonderfully everywhere that I use my phone.

Mine's gone down (2)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 months ago | (#46442973)

I switched from Sprint to Ting, a Sprint MVNO that does strict PAYGO. $6/mo per connected device and charges for talk, text, and data based solely on usage in a given month; if I talk less next month my bill goes down, if I use more data it goes up.

My phone bill for two devices is around half per month what Sprint charged us.

Re:Mine's gone down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443073)

Yeah Ting is working out really well. Went from ~110 w Sprint to ~30 w Ting but still on Sprint network.

Re:Mine's gone down (1)

Wolfrider (856) | about 4 months ago | (#46443417)

--Serious question, can anyone recommend an good AT&T MVNO in south Texas? I have a *dumb* phone, and AT&T is killing me @ ~$64/month for unlimited voice + text only, with NO data plan. They're way overcharging me @$20/mo for unlimited text. I've considered Solavei but not sure my phone would make the transition - I don't need an iPhone or Android. TIA

Re: Mine's gone down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443467)

Straight Talk, but the "unlimited" data is a bit tricky to find the point where they'll cut you off. I guess don't use it for watching videos. I can usually get a couple of hours a day of Pandora on it without running afoul.

Re:Mine's gone down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443639)

Aio. The lowest plan is $40/mo and you can get a $5 discount for auto-pay.

False advertising. (3, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | about 4 months ago | (#46442983)

I don't understand how businesses are allowed to tack on fees to bills without disclosing these fees in their prices. Somehow they can't quote these fees when you are booking the service, but they can calculate them when billing for the services.

Some years ago, I rented a car from a large airport and one of the fees tacked on was for the property taxes paid on the car. Why don't they just tack on another fee for the property tax on their buildings, or their staff costs, car depreciations? These are all costs that must be paid by the business whether or not I had rented the car -- just like the property taxes on the car.

I am just waiting for prices for cellphone and car rental services to be $1 with the rest of the cost as "taxes and fees".

Re:False advertising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443017)

The RyanAir model?

Re:False advertising. (4, Informative)

Mitreya (579078) | about 4 months ago | (#46443111)

I don't understand how businesses are allowed to tack on fees to bills without disclosing these fees in their prices. Somehow they can't quote these fees when you are booking the service, but they can calculate them when billing for the services.

That's right, this should definitely be illegal. Airlines played those games for years and years ($50 ticket fee, but with taxes it works out to $100 or maybe even $300). A rather recent regulation had ended that crap [nytimes.com]

Re:False advertising. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 4 months ago | (#46443151)

Trouble with this is the carriers won't be able to run national ads with their pricing. Instead the price will have to be concealed until you're about to sign up. Some states (Nevada) you pay around 7%, whereas others (I think NY?) it's 25%. I'm still trying to figure out why the government finds it necessary to make a cell phone so expensive to have, even if your income is shit.

Re:False advertising. (3, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about 4 months ago | (#46443233)

Trouble with this is the carriers won't be able to run national ads with their pricing. Instead the price will have to be concealed until you're about to sign up. Some states (Nevada) you pay around 7%, whereas others (I think NY?) it's 25%.

If it were purely taxes that the company must collect and hand over based purely on what you pay, I could agree with that, but when it is nebulous "fees" that are really cost of doing business that the company incurs, it's not reasonable. Furthermore, some of the fees relate to Federal fees that are the same in all states.

In the example I was quoting (renting a car at an airport), the company has enough information to quote the exact price with all fees at the time of booking.

Re:False advertising. (2)

tenchikaibyaku (1847212) | about 4 months ago | (#46443547)

Why is it more important that advertisers have the ability to advertise a single price all over the country than consumers being able to easily tell what something actually costs once they're in a store? This seems like a really weird (or at least one-sided) argument.

Re:False advertising. (1)

3247 (161794) | about 4 months ago | (#46443793)

Trouble with this is the carriers won't be able to run national ads with their pricing. Instead the price will have to be concealed until you're about to sign up. Some states (Nevada) you pay around 7%, whereas others (I think NY?) it's 25%. I'm still trying to figure out why the government finds it necessary to make a cell phone so expensive to have, even if your income is shit.

They could still run nationwide ads with the net price but quote the correct amount before you sign up.

Re:False advertising. (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#46443845)

Are you sure it ended? It has always been the business model of ryanair...

Re:False advertising. (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 4 months ago | (#46443377)

I beat an auto repair shop on an extra fees scam some years ago. Got a quote for a muffler replacement, and used it. After the work, they tacked on this extra $15 fee for "shop materials". That shop materials fee seems to be a common scam in the DFW area. When I objected, they trotted out the tired old justification that everyone does it, it's standard practice, etc. Also tried to claim it was a government requirement. EPA, you know. I pointed out that they had not included this cost on the quote, and they should have. That backed them off, and they dropped that extra charge.

It's relentless. Just because a business is big and well-known is no assurance they won't stoop to outright theft and try to pass it off as necessary or customary. Once had AT&T try to charge me a fee for dropping long distance service while keeping local. A fee for dropping a service? Ridiculous! When I complained to them, they tried to tell me that a particular law said they were allowed to charge this fee, so tough. I told them I didn't give a rats ass what some miserable obscure law said, as they'd doubtless pushed it through with bribes and lobbying, and warned them I would complain to the FCC if they didn't back down. They didn't, so I did. Evidently the complaint worked. AT&T responded by refunding the fee in the interests of "customer relations" while in no way admitting any fault.

The problem of ripoffs and poor service always seems to crop up wherever competition is lacking, and telecomms companies in the US certainly do not have enough competition. Ma Bell was an evil monopolist until their forced breakup in 1984, which it turned out, didn't help much. Today, telecomms in the US are still uncompetitive, price gouging, regulatory capturing, sluggish, backwards scum.

Re:False advertising. (2)

Wansu (846) | about 4 months ago | (#46443867)

The problem of ripoffs and poor service always seems to crop up wherever competition is lacking, and telecomms companies in the US certainly do not have enough competition. Ma Bell was an evil monopolist until their forced breakup in 1984, which it turned out, didn't help much. Today, telecomms in the US are still uncompetitive, price gouging, regulatory capturing, sluggish, backwards scum.

I don't know how old you are but Ma Bell was nowhere near as evil as today's AT&T and Verizon. Ma Bell was a regulated monopoly with many constraints on what it could do.

The Bell System was broken up in 1982 by a lawsuit brought by Northern Telecom because they wanted to sell the DMS-100 in the US. As a result of that court ruling, the Bell System was broken up into "baby bells". Since then, the new AT&T has absorbed them one by one.

So now we have a few big companies running the show with very few constraints on what they can do. Competition will not happen. Instead, they merge into bigger companies that are too big to fail. Essentially the same thing has happened in the electric power industry. And it gets sold to the public as free market competition.

Re:False advertising. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#46443619)

The fees will have been described to you in detail before you signed up. Somewhere in that fifty-page point-8-font contract you didn't read.

And (5, Informative)

The Cat (19816) | about 4 months ago | (#46442991)

Landline sound quality in 1975 was better than any mobile phone sound quality in 2014.

"Hi, I'd like to get directions on how to mmmRAWWWWW BOAWWWAAHH URRRBBEE URBEEE BUMPH RAWWWWLLLL at the corner of Park Street. Hello? I said, I want to get dir--fwwwwzzzzEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE URPP *crackle* ffffffFAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ EEEP Park street."

The telecom companies raise prices, pocket the money and let their service rot, and the customers just keep shoveling cash at them.

Re:And (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443095)

Yes! You the customer can have unlimited text/data for $70/mo (...belch...2GB...burp...CAP...fart... Can you hear me now?). Makes no difference whether we're talking about gas prices, health insurance, cable Internet or phone, corporate America motto is "Pay the CEO $40M+/year and screw the customer!!!" Oh yeah, we can make a profit this year, let's layoff 9,000 more!

Re:And (3, Insightful)

Dorianny (1847922) | about 4 months ago | (#46443221)

Landline sound quality in 1975 was better than any mobile phone sound quality in 2014.

This suprises you somehow? A landline provides a lot more bandwidth without any worries of signal interferance from walls or other radio sources. The switches were also analog, no need for converting analog sound into digital bits, compressing and then sending them in discreete packets.

Re:And (1)

Maxx169 (920414) | about 4 months ago | (#46443419)

Depends. AMR-WB [wikipedia.org] (sometimes marketed as HD-Voice) which has been around for years [telstra.com.au] (not all carriers support it though) is much higher quality than what you typically get over POTS.

Re:And (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 months ago | (#46443519)

The telecom companies raise prices, pocket the money and let their service rot, and the customers just keep shoveling cash at them.

New codecs were developed for 3G service and *supposedly mobile calling has gotten better.

The GSM codec is AMR-WB [wikipedia.org] and the CDMA codec is called EVRC-NW [wikipedia.org] .
Some networks aren't going to switch over until LTE (aka real 4G) is fully deployed and it requires both ends of the call to support the codec.

YMMV

*depending on whether or not it's been enabled in your area/on your provider.

$35 unlimited everything from Boost. Phone subsidi (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#46442997)

With the discount for on-time payments, I pay $35 for unlimited talk, text, and web on the Sprint network. That's no contract, so certainly good prices are available.

Of course, many people pay $85 for the phone subsidy that comes with a three year contract. An extra $50 / month will certainly increase the bill. $50 for 36 months is $1,800 for a "free" phone that's worth $250. No thanks. I don't recall how often you can get a new phone subsidized, but if it's a $200 credit once a year and people are paying $50 / month for that benefit ...

Cheaper with RepublicWireless (1)

arnott (789715) | about 4 months ago | (#46443013)

Moved from ATT to RepublicWireless, another Sprint MVNO, has plans from $5 to $40. Right now, Moto X is the only phone.

Bill went down after I threatened to leave (4, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | about 4 months ago | (#46443047)

My bill with Verizon dropped 40% after I threatened to switch carriers. Cell phone plans are a beautiful example of how prices are set based on the market's willingness to pay, not on the actual cost of the good or service.

Expect prices to continue to rise as companies employ more and more psychologists and statisticians to extract the absolute maximum amount of wealth from their consumers.

Re: Bill went down after I threatened to leave (3, Interesting)

AudioEfex (637163) | about 4 months ago | (#46443167)

I've been ready to split to a MVNO for my two phones, both out of contract and no need to upgrade anytime soon. Even went through unlocking process with ATT. I was getting ready to do it last month but life happened, but I was able to get the website to take my $120 service (unlimited minutes, texts, 1GB data) down to $90. It was the same plan - and irritated me that it didn't just automatically move me. Then I log in today, and they actually have applied another discount without my intervention - now my monthly service is $65. They also seem to be applying my company discount differently - before it used to only be on the phone plan portion of the bill, now it seems to be applying over my entire bill which is bringing it down that low. It's saving me about 7-8 extra bucks calculated this way.

So over two billing cycles my phone bill has dropped by nearly half. And all I did was click a different plan the first month, and this month I didn't do anything at all. Coincidentally, $65 was the price I was finding for the other services I had explored as alternatives. So, I've never had a problem with service (except on a visit to LA once, it was awful - maybe the smog? Lol) and I've gotten the price I was going to get without the hassle of changing anything. I'm going to keep a very close eye on my bill to make sure it doesn't creep up again, but I'm a happy camper all of a sudden.

Re: Bill went down after I threatened to leave (2)

Wolfrider (856) | about 4 months ago | (#46443427)

--Coincidence? This is East 'Murika, comrade - they probably scraped your cookies and found out you were checking out the competition.

Re: Bill went down after I threatened to leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443645)

Aiowireless $50/mo unlimited everything (4G+ data limited to 2.5GB). And $5/mo discount with autopay.

Maximizing profit (2)

GPS Pilot (3683) | about 4 months ago | (#46443635)

companies employ more and more psychologists and statisticians to extract the absolute maximum amount of wealth

There's definitely a price/profit curve, the apex of which is the price that maximizes the seller's profit.

If you were the owner of a struggling small business, wouldn't you try to find the sweet spot that maximizes your profit?

If your honest answer is "no," then what price would you target --
      the price that gets you 50% of your potential profit?
      the price that gets you 10% of your potential profit?

-- and why would you choose to "leave money on the table" like that, to the detriment of the family you provide for?

If your honest answer is "yes," why should a large company act any differently than you would? In many cases the owners (shareholders) of a large company are just as needy as the owner of a struggling small business. Think a senior citizen who's very dependent on a pension, and the pension fund owns shares of Verizon. Should Verizon be "charitable" to its customers (many of whom are wealthy), to the detriment of its shareholders (some of whom are financially struggling)?

Re:Maximizing profit (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 4 months ago | (#46443661)

Of course any rational person would try to maximize profit. That's fair. You know what else is fair? Taxes and regulations.

Corporations have the right to maximize their profit in a given set of conditions. Society has the right to change those conditions.

Re:Maximizing profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443967)

You're asking the wrong questions: Should Verizon be pissing off its customers, resulting in many to leave to the competition - and not to the cheaper plans since they either do not know about them or value their time too much to stay with a company you have to convince to not overcharge you.
Asking more than a fair price and different prices is always a risky business strategy, unless you have customers you know will not talk to each or you can easy split them into groups.

Cheapest Plan (4, Interesting)

bradray (524725) | about 4 months ago | (#46443079)

I haven't taken a look at plans in the past year, but a year ago I looked at all of the plans available to find the cheapest possible service for someone that doesn't have many needs. I ended up with TMobile pay as you go plan. They had a unique feature that if you put $100 on your account, the money would stay in your account for 1 year. $100 a year for a cell phone service is hard to beat. This obviously won't work for someone that uses their phone quite a bit, but it is perfect for someone that can mostly use land lines and wireless internet. It's also perfect for a child whom you want to give a phone, but make them responsible for their own account balance.

Re:Cheapest Plan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443115)

Yeah, that T-Mobile $100 plan is great for anyone who uses on the order of 1000 minutes per year.

For me, I don't even use close to that much, so am thinking of switching to paying them $10 every 3 months. That gives me 30 minutes each quarter, most of which will end up going unused. $40/year is still more expensive than I would like, but having the ability to call AAA or the cab company in a pinch is definitely worth it.

Re:Cheapest Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443349)

FYI, once you get the "gold" status by spending $100, the smaller credits also give you 1 year extra life on your account balance. So, you can get a year for $100 and then if you still have balance left at the end of that year, you can add a small amount ($10 or $25) and get the sum of your balance and that addition to last another year. This is a great way to keep phones around just in case, etc.

I am also on T-Mo PAYGO (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46443965)

I don't go out that much, thankfully. I have a Nexus 4 on a T-Mo SIM, replacing an Xperia Play (hey, it was a hundred bucks all in, including replacing the back plate.) Which is now my SIP phone, and I pay around ten bucks a month for that.

The plan I'm using costs $2/day for unlimited everything, only on the days when you use it. It only has EDGE but the $3/day plan has fancier mobile data. Much of my driving around is in the sticks where the 3G coverage is crap anyway, and this is adequate for navigation with google maps.

The only annoyance is having to pop out the SIM every time I want to try out a new ROM, since all of 'em default to mobile data enabled...

I shit my pants again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443109)

Now I'm going to have some pie.

Will sav USD 240/yr., + unlimited + free iPhone 5 (2)

KrazyDave (2559307) | about 4 months ago | (#46443125)

Was on TMOUS for 10 yrs., limited data, shared minutes, initially because it was the best family plan with no roaming charges for about USD 164/4 lines. Then when TMOUS went "no-contract", I actually paid early termination fees for 2 of the lines to go "no contract" and it was well worth it. Now there are never overage charges, all unlimited text, talk and data (one line for my wife's iPhone has unlimited high-speed data at extra charge), 4 lines for less than USD 120. When my wife got the installment plan to buy an iPhone 5 last year for an extra 20/mo., our bill went up to a little less than we were paying. So essentially, beside the aforementioned unlimited upgrades, we got an extra unlocked iPhone 5 for my wife for the same amount we were paying previously and when its paid off in 24 mos., our bill will go down 20/month again. I sure hope no one buys TMOUS because they will nix these crazy pro-consumer plans in a heartbeat. Not affiliated with T-Mo in any way except as a happy customer.

I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443155)

I recently saw a commercial for either AT&T or Verizon, can't remember which, and they were BRAGGING how you could SHARE 2GB/mo with up to 4 phones... and the price was rediculously high too... I just don't understand it. How do they have any customers with that kind of gouging?

really? my bill is zero (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443191)

I don't care to own a cell phone just because peer pressure says it's the popular trendy thing to do. Talking to people is a mindless activity for boneheaded idiots who can't sustain a train of thought.

Re:really? my bill is zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443243)

LOL, trolling troll is trolly.

BTW, I'm trolling anonymously, too, but I'm doing it ironically.

I pay $30/year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443193)

I don't use mobile data, and I mostly use free VOIP when I'm at home, but for my actual cell phone I only pay $30/year with Page Plus.

Republic Wireless, but there are other options (4, Informative)

RR (64484) | about 4 months ago | (#46443239)

There are options from most of the carriers. I'm doing the Republic Wireless $10 unlimited talk and text, [republicwireless.com] but with no data. Having a 4G phone with no data sucks, but the price is compelling, and I should be able to add a prorated data plan for the times when I expect I do need it. Having WiFi calls when I'm at a place with no cell reception is also nice. However, counting the phone, my bill is higher than if I had been able to keep my dumbphone on somebody's T-mobile family plan.

Ting [ting.com] is a great choice for Sprint, Airvoice [airvoicewireless.com] is a great choice for AT&T, PagePlus [pagepluscellular.com] is decent for Verizon.

One interesting option is FreedomPop, [freedompop.com] but they seem to be in beta. Earlier versions of FreedomPop phones had poor performance and very poor voice quality, but they're supposedly improving. It would be interesting to see if they go anywhere with that.

Re:Republic Wireless, but there are other options (3, Interesting)

Jade_Butterfly (3564465) | about 4 months ago | (#46443433)

For several years now I've been paying $80 per year for 2,000 minutes with Page Plus. I usually have a few hundred minutes left over at the end of the year, and leftover minutes are retained with continuous service. I've been pretty happy.

My friends tell me that once I get a girlfriend, my low phone bills will be history. However, I've been enjoying my cheap phone service and laughing at my friends with girlfriends for years now.

Re:Republic Wireless, but there are other options (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443551)

There's a trick to saving a ton of money when your dealing with women or even really talkative people. Get them using text. Sign up for a google account. Go to google voice and pick whatever number you want from their list of available numbers. Enjoy unlimited texting via your google voice number for $0 as long as you live in the US.

Re:Republic Wireless, but there are other options (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 4 months ago | (#46443969)

A 4G phone without data is not a 4G phone, it's not even a smartphone

pay as you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443251)

I switched to Boost Mobile. $2 a day for unlimited minutes, text and data on the days that I only use the phone. works on the Nationwide Sprint® Network. Of course, I hardly use the phone. :D

Spin? (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#46443261)

WSJ is in the back pockets of big businesses. How can we be sure this is not anti-competition (i.e, pro-oligopoly) propaganda?

Re:Spin? (2)

SeaFox (739806) | about 4 months ago | (#46443335)

WSJ is in the back pockets of big businesses. How can we be sure this is not anti-competition (i.e, pro-oligopoly) propaganda?

Yes, the WSJ is helping big business by pointing out to their customers the major carriers are raising rates on them. That makes perfect sense. -_____-

Re:Spin? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 4 months ago | (#46443387)

WSJ is in the back pockets of big businesses. How can we be sure this is not anti-competition (i.e, pro-oligopoly) propaganda?

Yes, the WSJ is helping big business by pointing out to their customers the major carriers are raising rates on them. That makes perfect sense. -_____-

Frog boiling my American friend.

Get people riled up about high prices now, so they'll have less anger to expend when prices rise again in a few months. A shock about fears now lessens the shock when fears become reality.

Another possibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443323)

I didn't RTFA, but is it possible that the increased competition has made more features available to some users? If a data plan, for instance, is suddenly within financial reach, it may be a net benefit even if the overall bill is increasing.

Re:Another possibility (1)

ne0n (884282) | about 4 months ago | (#46443487)

no, it's because inflation is out of control. American phone bills are in line with all the other inflation taking place, even if Minitrue says otherwise.

Buy a phone plans (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 months ago | (#46443331)

I'm looking at these. They seem much less expensive with a payoff period of 3-4 months.

All my friends were on this last ski trip and had no problem at Denver Airport or Winter Park.

I'm currently on Sprint and had good service as well but there are three LARGE areas in houston that I travel through and there is essentially no service in those areas.

I get good service at my home and in galveston tho.

I recently cancelled AT&T basic line which was up to $40 (From $18 not that long ago)...
and went with Magic Jack.

It worked flawlessly for about 35 days. Then Comcast went down for a couple hours and after that the MJ didn't work for a little under 3 days (giving a 3002 error).

I changed the ip, changed the cords, etc-- nothing worked.
Then- it started working again and it's been flawless for a couple weeks.

Good for a second line- but not something I'd like to count on. Also- my credit card company could process the touchkeys on the menu- but not when I entered the credit card number! Wierd, eh?

But I mainly had the land line for long daytime 1-800 calls and to find my cell phone when I lost it. So MJ mostly works perfectly for that. Since I got it on a $20 off coupon- it cost me $29 total. I declined the 5 years for $19 per year until I know how the thing works. but $19 per year -- including long distance-- has got to put some pressure on AT&T and others.

There are other, mildly more expensive VOIP solutions like MJ to that might be more reliable.

Re:Buy a phone plans (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46443949)

Good for a second line- but not something I'd like to count on. Also- my credit card company could process the touchkeys on the menu- but not when I entered the credit card number! Wierd, eh?

Possibly the MJ uses SIP INFO DTMF (or the equivalent) and the DTMF isn't being generated on the other end properly, or alternately, it doesn't and your DTMF sounded like poop and the menu system could handle it but some cc system you were handed off to couldn't.

I pay too much :-( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443345)

My siblings and I are on our parents plan, yet, most of our calls are to each other, and therefore not deducted from our minutes. We barely use our actual minutes. Unfortunately I renewed my phone about 2-3 months ago, but I think this will be the last time for me, as my company just got me a phone. So now I have two cell phones with liberal plans and I barely use either.

US cellphone service sucks (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 4 months ago | (#46443363)

Here in Australia I pay $19.99 per month and get $300 worth of cap value to use on everything except international calls, premium rate calls/SMS and international roaming. (3 services I never use)

I also get 1000 minutes per month free calls to other people on the same MVNO plus 1GB of included data.

I pay 40c per 30sec and 35c flagfall for normal voice calls, 25.3c for SMS, 50c for international SMS, 50c for national MMS, 75c for international MMS, 0.2c for 10kb data (above the 1GB included in my plan). $1.02 per minute plus 35c flagfall to 13/1300 numbers and 62c per minute plus 35c flagfall to 1800 numbers.

I have never once in my reasonably heavy use of my phone (lots of mobile data, lots of calls etc) hit my $300 cap.

Oh and I am not locked into a contract, nor does my provider care what phone I use or whether I use it for tethering. And they claim 98.5% population coverage with their network so I dont have to worry about coverage.

Oh and as long as I continue to use the same company for ADSL service, I can get $5 off (making it $15.99 per month)

All figures are in Australian Dollars.

Re:US cellphone service sucks (3, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | about 4 months ago | (#46443421)

Here in Australia I pay $19.99 per month and get $300 worth of cap value to use on everything except international calls, premium rate calls/SMS and international roaming. (3 services I never use)

G'Day, Australian here.

Allow me to explain how this works for our American friends.

For the GP's $20 real Australian dollars he doesn't get $300 real Australian dollars worth of value, what he gets are $300 imaginary dollars. Australian telco's do this to obfuscate the real cost of services. So they can continue to pretend that a single SMS costs $0.25 and one minute of talk time costs $1.50 or data actually costs $0.20 per MB. In reality that cost is less than 1/15th of the advertised cost. The money has no real value in the outside world and is only valid for 30 days (or however long is stipulated by the contract). This way telco's can continue to confound the ACCC and regular consumers and bold faced lie about the true cost of services.

I'm with Telstra who are shamelessly Australia's most expensive telco... but I don't mind. I'm on a pre-paid plan (PAYG) and for $30 real Australian dollars I get $250 imaginary dollars as well as 400 MB of data for 30 days. Phone calls are $0.90 per minute and SMS's are $0.29, but in reality I'm paying $0.06 per minute for voice calls and $0.019 per SMS taking into account that at $2 per MB the data is 45% of my cap. However if Telco's advertised the real cost of services, they wouldn't be able to get away with charging $0.30 per SMS in real Australian dollars when post-paid (contract) customers go over their cap (feel free to Google "Bill Shock" for sensationalist tabloid pieces about this).

This is a far cry from some places where if you have so much as 1 Peso on your account you can send infinite SMS's. However in that land I also swapped towers 3 times walking from one end of my hotel room to the other so I guess there's a trade off. I'm not all that unhappy with Australian prices, it's more the deceptive advertising that I have an issue with.

No shit (1)

Chas (5144) | about 4 months ago | (#46443485)

Was at a client's site last week. She got a bill for $380 for two "business phone lines"!
Two frickin' lines!

She called AT&T and they "generously" offered to bring it down to $150/month if she bundled in DSL.
For two freaking POTS lines!

She's already on Comcast and already has a phone line through them. I told her to contact Comcast and have them tack on two phone lines. Total price increase. $-310 a month.

Cell service. (1)

Chas (5144) | about 4 months ago | (#46443511)

Baiscally the phone companies seem to want one's cellular bill to hover around the "magical" $100/month.

You can get 2, 3 , even 4 lines for $100/month.

But try to get a $25-35 plan for a single line?
Pfft. Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen.

And Sprint is trying to upsell my company. We're grandfathered into a plan with no data caps. They keep trying to sell us a plan that's just SLIGHTLY above our current data usage (and we know our data usage is only increasing). The grand total savings? $7/month. They've been told in polite, but no uncertain terms that we'll be keeping our current plan.

And the rest of the world is - again - laughing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443545)

....at the U.S.A.

Nuf' said.

Carriers are evil organisations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443609)

Carriers started as monopolies and they have never really changed.
Now that there is 'competition' they are forming cartels. They are what I call 'natural'-cartels, they simply follow each other as they raise the prices.

However a few years ago, some of the ex-CEOs of carriers in the Netherlands have stepped forward and admitted that they did actually meet with each other many years ago to make that deal: "raise your prices when I raise my prices".

T-Mobile $30 unlimited everything (1)

GrandCow (229565) | about 4 months ago | (#46443615)

Back last year I used AT&T upping their rates to get out of my contract, 6 months into a 2 year contract. Had them unlock my phone and took it to T-Mobile. They have a web-only plan for $30/month that gives unlimited text/data and 100 minutes. $20 for their startup fee that included the sim card and activation, and another $20 to port the number to google voice and using that over data instead of minutes, I'm on unlimited everything for $30/month.

Cheap phone service is easy if you're willing to put a couple hours into making it happen.

Re:T-Mobile $30 unlimited everything (1)

gweilo8888 (921799) | about 4 months ago | (#46443907)

Using the same here, but sadly they've recently blocked tethering -- even if you're just tethering an Android tablet to your Android phone. (So effectively, simply increasing your screen size.) That rather kills the deal, for me -- unlimited data is pointless when you can only use that data on the phone itself.

Re:T-Mobile $30 unlimited everything (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46443973)

So use one of the number of alternate tethering methods?

TracFone (1)

Kasar (838340) | about 4 months ago | (#46443717)

It's cheap, a $20 card gives 600 minutes, 600 texts, and 600 MB of data with 90 days of service on Verizon in this area.
ZTE phones however remind you of the "get what you pay for" adage with the single core processors if you're demanding enough to be downloading updates and doing anything else concurrently.

CH more expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443727)

Living in Switzerland I don't see how the US is very expensive. It is cheaper for me to get a T-Mobile contract from the US and roam all day than use a Swiss contract. The only reason I have not yet done so is that people would not be able to call me very easily, and with my Nexus 5, I am not going to swap my phone for a dual-SIM anytime soon.

State of the "art" in Europe (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#46443885)

Here mobile calls have already a lot of competition and some obscure operators more oriented to foreign people (go figure) give you extremely good rates like 7 euros/month call anyone you want, or just pay a load every 3 months. I estimate I am spending 5 euros/months for the mobile bill. The bill you can find with the official operators is around 15 euros/month, and if cheaper they rip you off in the cost of the calls. Mobile Internet is an huge rip off, and the magic number is (again) 15 euros for the bare minimum service 1GB per month (ridiculous). They also sell 4G services for around 50 euros month, where they used to advertise unlimited data, and in very small letters * this is subject to a responsible user policy*. It turns out their unlimited data, was just 15GB, which at 4G speeds latest you only to about half of the month. The regulator, whilst being a puppet, could not ignore more that situation, gave them a slap in the wrist, and now in the adverts they just dont display the caps of the service tier. I get by using wifi hotspots and our Internet at home, and dont even try to play that game.

Re:State of the "art" in Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443959)

Same here in The Netherlands (Thats Europe)

approx 15 E/month for unlimited data, some 300 min voice and 300 SMS.
Only calling from other countries makes my bill come up higher.

Must say, this is SIM-only. bought the Iphone upfront and not as is usual over here, as part of a subscription / loan.

I think you US guys are getting ripped off. Long live free markets!!

Poland prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46443897)

I pay about 15$ for unlimited minutes/sms within country and 1GB of internet.
18 months contract without phone.

Republic Wireless (2)

Eron Cohen (2884445) | about 4 months ago | (#46443901)

I recommend Republic Wireless. $25/month gets you unlimited 3G (5 Gigs, then throttled to 2G) data, voice and texting on the Sprint Network. You have to purchase the phone outright (Moto X) and they hope but don't absolutely require that you offload to WiFi. The WiFi turns out to be a great feature because you can make calls and send texts seamlessly--great if you work in a basement or live in a bad cell area like I do. I wrote a blog posting about my experience here: http://www.eroncohen.com/2013/... [eroncohen.com]

Ten quid a month (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46444025)

Unlimited UK texts.
1GB internet (that I can tether), good 3G coverage.
500 minutes.
Free calls to same network.

4G coming... same deal.

Re:Ten quid a month (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46444035)

Granted, you would not want to know how much it costs to rent where I do.

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