Ambivalent T-Mobile Prepaid Wireless Traveling Seniors

by Ed Sheridan
(Bainbridge Island, WA)

We're in our 70s and live on a wooded island near Seattle, and the reception for cell phones is unpredictable. We have never had much luck with cell reception at home, and so we only have been using cell phones when we travel.

Several years ago we bought 2 cheap T-Mobile cell phones ($35.00) at Costco, started buying minutes, and keeping the cell phones in our cars. It's strictly prepaid and we like it that way. Who wants to pay $70 or more to a phone company every month? This past year we've paid $450 in purchased minutes, or about $37 a month.

There are downsides to T-Mobile phones however. We have family in Juneau and the phones don't usually work there. Also, we have inconsistent reception as we drive down the west coast to the Bay Area. In addition it's a challenge to communicate with our cell phones in British Columbia and Alberta because T-Mobile minutes would be very expensive. Recently we even had to buy a cheap phone and minutes at 7-11 in B.C. to allow us to call home as we took a camping trip.

We're now considering a different approach, mostly because we're tired of lugging a MacBook on our travels. We are always looking for free WiFi at Starbucks or the local library, just to do email. We are planning to get an iPad with Verizon Wi-Fi, buy a Verizon mobile hotspot and purchase prepaid download.

In this way we can check email, travel directions and information anytime we want. At the same time we might add a modest Verizon cell phone plan to our landline & internet service from Century Link. It would end up costing $45 a month (with a 'free' phone included), and that's pretty close to what we paid for T Mobile for minutes last year. For the $45 we get 450 minutes a month, and we'll never use all of that.

An important new factor in Verizon's favor is that they just added 4 new cell towers on our island, and their coverage is now much improved. We considered prepaid minutes from Verizon but their cost structure is pathetic.

Ed in the Woods

Comments for Ambivalent T-Mobile Prepaid Wireless Traveling Seniors

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Oct 30, 2013
Still Relevant - Mobile Hotspots Are The Way To Go! NEW
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

To ensure that this site is always up-to-date and relevant, I regularly delete pages that are outdated. This page was a recent candidate during my review, however, after reading it over, I concluded that it's more relevant now than ever before!

Content consumption devices like tablets are now even more popular. In fact, the vast majority of tablets are not purchased with a cellular plan. Partially because people are using WiFi to get online, but more recently due to the fact that mobile hotspots have proven to be so much more versatile.

In addition, prepaid hotspots are extremely cost effective for people who want the convenience of anywhere, anytime access without the cost of a tablet data plan on contract.

Arguably Ed was ahead of his time in terms of seeking this out as a viable option. Since then there are a myriad of additional no contract devices, plans, and carriers!

Nov 02, 2012
I Like Your Broadband Strategy NEW
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Thank you for your detailed feedback! I enjoy hearing about people like you who have successfully pieced together the available technology to find a solution that meets your needs.

I can completely understand how lugging around a laptop can be a pain, and if you're mostly consuming information (as opposed to large amounts of data entry), an iPad with a MiFi hotspot for Internet access is a great option.

In fact, Apple reported lower MacBook sales for just this reason. That being that a lot of people are actually replacing laptops with iPads (or other tablets) for their mobile needs.

Personally, I'm virtually always creating a lot of content when I'm using my computer, so the tablet I have goes mostly unused, but that's certainly not the norm for the average user on the average day!

Anyway, thank you again for sharing your experience, and happy travels!

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