When I was little, one of my favorite cartoons was the Jetsons. I would watch George video chatting with his boss, and proclaim to my sister, “The future is going to be awesome!” With every generation of portable technology, from walkmans to cell phones, it seemed my childhood dreams would soon be realized. As I watch my two year old video chat with his cousin on my iPhone, I can’t help but smile: this future is pretty awesome. Then the news broke that Verizon is joining the ranks of AT&T in eliminating unlimited data on mobile devices, and my cozy little reverie was broken.
First, I had a little moment of panic. I travel a lot for work and use my Smartphone for just about everything. I stream music with Pandora, access my Gmail and surf the web. I even use my phone as a WiFi hotspot to access the internet on my laptop. While current Verizon customers will retain their existing unlimited access, I fear it’s only a matter of time until all customers are moved to the new packages. Under the new “tiered plans”, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
How Much Do Verizon’s New Data Plans Cost?
Verizon customers can choose one of the following:
2GB of data for $30/month,
5GB for $50/month.
10GB for $80/month.
Exceeding the limit will cost $10 per GB.
Rates are very similar at AT&T, the only other mobile service provider to support iPhones. When I saw these plans, I was sure I’d be stuck in the top bracket. What is a self-professed data addict to do?
How Many Hours Of Video Can You Stream on a 2GB Data Plan?
Before I retrieved my old Motorola flip phone and resigned myself to a future of no mobile Facebook, I pulled up my account online. I was shocked to discover that last month I used just over 1.7GB, which keeps me in the lowest tier for Verizon. If you also fear that you’ll need to take out a loan to afford your mobile data, review your last few bills or check with your wireless provider to see how much you’re currently using. You may be pleasantly surprised.
However, with every new amazing app I download, my usage is sure to increase. I reviewed some of the estimators and discovered that I could stream two hours of music every day for a month and only use about 2GB of data. Streaming videos for thirty minutes every day for a month would use about the same. What a relief to discover, there’s no way I have time to stream that much! You can check out your estimated future use with one of the online data use estimators at Verizon or AT&T.
Finally, if you are more addicted to data than to your iPhone, there are still service providers that will let you stream and surf to your heart’s content. Sprint and T-Mobile currently offer unlimited plans, and while T-Mobile will slow your connection after you pass certain thresholds, they won’t charge you extra fees. If you leave your phone’s WiFi enabled, it will drain your battery but reduce your cell network usage. Movie lovers can change Netflix account settings to view movies in a lower resolution which will decrease the quality of the video, but also lower your bandwidth use. There are even apps that can compress data sent to and from your phone, such as Onavo, a free app for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads.
If you’re still considering selling a limb to finance your streaming habits, you can ask for specific suggestions in the comments below, we can tell you less drastic ways to keep your data costs under control.
Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, a company started in Redding, California., that offers on-site computer and home theater set-up and repair. Contact her at www.callnerds.com/andrea.