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