December 26, 2013
This month, I got a new cell phone: the new Nexus 5 unlocked, and tried out StraightTalk $45 for a month of unlimited talk, text, data. It is on the AT&T network and can do the LTE data speeds. The down side is that once you use up 2.5GB of data, they throttle you to 2g speeds and you can't tether the phone or roam. But I can get 5-6mbs upload and 2-3 mps download speeds on it at home on the HSPA network and 8-12+ when it gets the LTE signal. Compared to the 1.3 mbs at best I could get on the Sprint network and it looks pretty good. The talk and text works just fine too and it is a lot less expensive. I also got a Google Voice number that I connected to my land line and the new cell phone. That way, I can change out plans and numbers and people can call the Google number and still get me.
My first cell phone was an AT&T but a few years ago, I could no longer get a signal from them at my home so I switched to Sprint. Sprint was fine for a while but with the advent of LTE networks, they have really fallen far behind. Add to that the missing coverage on my trips and it is goodbye to Sprint. In the meantime, AT&T has expanded and sped up their network pretty well. Verizon wasn't a real option because I get poor coverage at my house from them.
I've had at home a wireless network that bounces the signal from spot to spot for rural places that I've been paying $55/month for 1mbs up and .5 down. It was a more reliable signal than tethering my old Sprint phone and better than dial up. I just discovered that they have been offering 2mbs up 1 mbs down for the last year for the same price and never let me know. So I asked and they want $189 for new equipment to up the speed. I know that the equipment I have can do 12mbs unthrottled and it is a very easy software setting to change the speed as that is what it did before the installer throttled it. Doesn't seem like a very good deal to me. A cable modem is not an option so I'm limited for internet even at home.
Today, I got the AT&T Unite Pro hotspot with the $50/5GB/month plan and yes, I went ahead and got the contract because I am going to keep it for that long anyway so I might as well save the $150 extra to buy it off contract. It isn't like they discount the monthly fee off contract. It gets the LTE signal really well in my house and look at the speed! 18+ mbs! Plus it is fully mobile. All I will have to do in the van is just put it in there and we are good to go. The hotspot has plugs for an antenna as well so that is an option.
I think 5 gigs of data will be fine for me as I don't do gaming or stream a whole lot of stuff. If I go over the 5 gigs, they will add a gig and charge me an extra $10. I can go to using 7-8 gigs in a month and match what I had been paying for the phone and internet so I think this is a better deal by far. Now to cancel the old stuff.
On other computer stuff since I'm on the topic. Last year, I bought an Android tablet but it was a failure after just a few months. It started rapidly flashing apps on and off and nothing I could find would fix it. It had a short warranty so I was stuck. I decided that I really prefer a laptop and got a Sony ultralight last summer. I still like it really well and it still works. Windows 8 takes some getting used to but it runs real programs like the Libre Office suite as well as a bunch of apps programs. It is incredibly light and fast with a touch screen. The Android wannabes on the tablet just didn't cut it for real work.