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I’ve never been a total early-adopter, and it’s not because I dislike technology. I just hate paying the price of being on the cutting edge. For example, I waited until the fervor over HDTV died down before I got my big-screen TV in the living room, basically getting a great TV for ½ of what it cost the year before and about a tenth of what it would have cost several years earlier. The industry had already moved on, and I was kind of able to mop up and bring home what was left in storage. While I realize cell phones change more rapidly than other devices that took me a while to purchase, the hope is that we’ve at least outlasted the expensive carrier bills and contracts in order to keep two cell phones and a home phone for just a little more than what our home phone was costing us, though it will cost us a bit upfront.
One thing to keep in mind is that we were part of a family plan with my parents, who were generous enough to let us stay on their plan with our flip phones. But I think just about everyone’s phone was more flopping than flipping at this point, so it was time to move on. My parents went with Consumer Cellular, which I had considered. However, I was frankly annoyed that there’s a senior discount and that we’d be limited for talk, text, and data. It just seemed like a lot of limits, but people love Consumer Cellular. I told my mom everyone loves it because the company targets senior citizens, like Buick, and every old fogey loves a Buick.
Nope, Lisa and I went total cutting edge with the service, buying into one that forces you onto wifi. I know that many of you used to 4g or 3g would find it very difficult to always be looking for free wifi, even to make calls, but it’s probably going to be a big part of how we operate as whole cities begin to create coverage nets, so we went both cheap and forward-thinking in our choice of Republic Wireless. The idea is to use wifi all the time, even if you get free unlimited talk and text. The wifi calls from my house really end up being VOIP calls rather than cell calls, so some have said the quality is a bit lower. Lisa and I are both on the 1gb plans, meaning unlimited talk and text plus 1gb of cell data for the price ($25 a month as of early 2016). The fun part is that you get a reward back for not using all your data. Basically, each gb is worth $15, so if I use .5gb, I get $7.50 off my $25 bill. This will certainly be the case for the first month. For me, it might stay this way, as I’ve gotten used to not having a smartphone on the go AND I have the phone set to not use cell data, ever. In fact, I might switch to a lower plan depending on where I end up after a few months. Republic’s website says the average bill is around $14 a month, but I’d say that’s mostly because they also offer non-data plans.
Let’s look at total cost, assuming Lisa and I both use .5gb on average each month. $50 - $15 = $35 for two smartphones with the coverage mentioned. I was paying around $25 a month for phone service with my internet service. It was also VOIP, but it was more expensive because it came “bundled” with love. With taxes and before changing to a different coverage, we’re probably looking at $25 versus around $40. But remember that my parents were paying for these two phones before, something like $15 each as part of the plan.
Upfront costs for wireless include purchasing a phone, not renting one. I own it and any mistakes I make. However, Lisa and I both have the Moto G, which seems to be an admirable choice, and only around $500 for the both of them upfront. Don’t worry, if you have a sparkly iphone or Galaxy, you are paying the full $500+ price over time, just maybe not all at once.
The home phones went dormant at first, but they are being revived by Google Voice or Hangouts or Hangouts Dialer. I ported Lisa’s cell phone number to Google Voice for $20. I then bought the Obi VOIP thing for Google Voice for $50. It should work to just use the existing VOIP lines from the router to hook our phones back in, meaning free home phone service for as long as it works (Google allows it). I have also added the Hangouts Dialer to each new cell phone and set it to also receive calls (using Lisa’s old number). This means it will be on the computer, in our house, and on each of our extra phones, making it a true home phone number. It’s been kind of lonely not having working phones in various rooms, as well as an answering machines that can never be flashing as we walk in the house, but now we’ll have phones ringing everywhere when we get a call at home.
In the end, nothing much changed. We had to buy a few devices that will make certain parts of our lives more productive, but we are continuing similar services with the same phone numbers. When you add everything up, we spent maybe $600 upfront in order to take control of our phone bills. Sure, I could have bought a 1993 Chevy Beretta for that, but these new phones are so much more practical. The bigger question is whether we can pace ourselves in order to keep the prices low If so, we’ve made an excellent investment.
$25 home phone
$15 each cell phone as part of family plan = $30 (non-smartphone, pay extra for text, shared minutes)
= $55 per month
$50 a month phones with unlimited text and voice on two phones. 1gb each data.
= $50 - any savings from unused data (hoping for $40 or less each month)
BUT, investment of $600 upfront means it will take between 3 and 10 years to pay off the initial investment in savings. But we do have fairly nice phones now (and we own them).
We got the OBi200 VoIP Phone Adapter, T.38 Fax and it took about 10 minutes to hook up, but all of the phones in the house are now using Lisa's old cell phone number. We also have the same Hangouts (Google Voice) number on each of our actual cell phones, which means it rings at home and wherever we are. Just needed the Hangouts Dial app for that (make sure to check the box for allowing it to ring). Have yet to test the fax, but I guess since the phone works just like it did before, I'll assume a fax will, too. Free until Google discontinues it, but almost a real landline for $0 a month.
Our first Republic bill. Besides the government tip, we're happy with it: this month, at least, we have our two cell phones and a home phone for the SAME price as our old home phone alone! If we keep it up, we'll pay for the initial investment in two years with the savings.