Unlimited data economics

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 15, 2022, 5:20 PM | comments: 0

We've been using Google Fi for cell phone service now for a bunch of years. It's a virtual provider of sorts, because the phones will connect to T-Mobile, Sprint or US Cellular, whatever the best connection available is. We've had no issue using it anywhere, and it mostly "just works" when we're in the Bahamas too, except for one time that it didn't. Since the start, we've used their flexible plan, which had a flat rate for calls and text, plus another $10 for every gigabyte of data that you used. Because there's WiFi practically everywhere that we go, this made a lot of sense. Even when traveling, it was unusual for us to use more than 2 gigs of data, so our cost was $35 plus $20 at worst (plus tax and fees). That's not bad for two lines. The unlimited plans, which dropped in price in April, would have been $80 for two of us, so the economics didn't make sense.

But then we added Simon to the plan. In the flexible plan, it was $50 for three lines, plus the data, and in our first partial month, we came close to 2.5 gigs, or $25. The unlimited plan for three is $75, so there's a pretty obvious choice to make there. If we had another person in the family, it would only be $80! There are a couple of things we give up though on this plan. Data tethering, which I've really only used in the event of a cable outage, is limited to 5 gigs per person. We also don't get the international data, which is definitely a problem when we cruise and upload photos of us holding tropical beverages. They have another plan, $60 more total, that would enable this international use, which we can allegedly change to and back at will.

There are a few nice scenarios we enable on unlimited that we didn't have before, mostly around music. My private cloud music app does cache music on the device, but it still isn't designed to run totally disconnected. Now it doesn't matter. I can also stream SiriusXM on my phone in the car, which is pretty great (still wondering why Tesla doesn't have this as a built-in option). Of course, we can doom scroll on Instacrap now even though they're emphasizing videos because they want to be TikTok, without worrying about bandwidth used. It will be interesting to see how much data we actually use.


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