So three months ago, I asked you for help in finding a better carrier for me than Verizon. You all offered some great suggestions but the path I ultimately took was to move my family to T-Mobile’s Family Value plans. I had some concerns making this move but I also held a lot of hope looking forward to the move. So how did it turn out?
Well, it’s not been all peaches and cream. First of all, I went into this knowing that it’s undeniable that Verizon simply has a larger footprint of coverage. I also went into this knowing that Verizon’s frequencies have a better ability to penetrate walls of buildings (and this is of particular interest to me because I work in a basement). And I also went into this knowing that I previously received great speeds from Verizon’s LTE pretty much everywhere I was near work or home here in Indianapolis. So from the way things sounded on paper, T-Mobile already had an uphill battle from the beginning.
Fast-forward three months and I am now much wiser. And if I had all of this new wisdom three months ago? Well, I would have made the same decision! Now mind you, with T-Mobile I have only had my Galaxy S III but with Verizon I had a Thunderbolt, a Galaxy Nexus, and a Droid X, so I haven’t had a perfect sample set of devices but I feel comfortable enough now that I think I can say I definitely made the right decision!
There’s no doubt that T-Mobile is cheaper. how much cheaper? Well, at Verizon, our family plan (4 lines) would run us ~$240/month. That would be 1400 shared minutes, unlimited SMS, and a variety of data plans. At T-Mobile, frankly, I still don’t know what our monthly bill is. However, it *should* be ~$105/mo for 5 lines. That would be 1000 shared minutes w/3 lines at 2GB data, 1 line at unlimited, and 1 line with no data ($110/mo), insurance ($8/mo), and Family Allowances ($5/mo since we have a teen) minus a 15% discount (-$18.45/mo). (More under “Support” for why I don’t really know what my recurring bill should be.)
With Verizon, I would usually get ~15mbps (peaking at ~30mbps). With T-Mobile, I usually get ~11mbps (peaking at ~23mbps). So is Verizon faster? Yes, but not enough for it to really matter to me. But yes, Verizon tends to be faster when I get “4G” connections. T-Mobile’s 3G is definitely faster as well but again, that doesn’t really matter much.
With Verizon, I could keep a signal ~95% of the time in my basement office but never in the bathrooms. With T-Mobile, I actually keep a connection ~99% of the time, even in the bathrooms! I was shocked about this! And frankly, I can’t really explain why this is the case (and yes, this even held true with my Droid X with Motorola in theory having the best reception of all manufacturers).
Now the flip side to this is that there have been several times where I’ve dropped to an Edge (2G) connection with T-Mobile when I would have had a solid 3G connection with Verizon. However, I can also say the reverse in that there have also been several times where I’ve gotten “4G” with T-Mobile when I dropped to 1x with Verizon.
Lastly, T-Mobile has this awesome feature called WiFi Calling which is essentially VoIP integrated into your phone to use your T-Mobile phone number also as your VoIP phone number. It’s quite handy because 1) it allows you to hold conversations and text even when you don’t have cell reception and 2) if your sales person clicks a checkbox (which costs you nor them any money to do so) then all phone calls over WiFi Calling is free and won’t count against your Anytime Minutes!
So far, it seems that T-Mobile has been more stable than Verizon. Verizon seemed to have serious data outages about once a month. And when LTE went down, I could never even connect to 3G. T-Mobile has had a few hiccups as well but they seem to only last ~30 seconds (I’ve noticed it maybe 4 times so far) and every time, I am still connected via an Edge connection (which runs ~200kbps for me). So neither are perfect but I would greatly prefer the T-Mobile experience over the Verizon one here.
Okay, Verizon gets a big fat F in this category. I would have problem after problem and I would try to get things resolved and I would get excuse after excuse about why I was experiencing problems. Once I even spoke with an exec who offered to reimburse me $0.14 (not a typo!) to compensate me for my troubles. Ultimately, I just got the general feeling that nobody really cared if I was a happy customer or not, and it wasn’t worth their time to try and help me, EVER!
T-Mobile, they get an A for effort but a C for execution. They generally want to help me and they seem to try very hard to help me with my problems and to understand why I’m having problems. However, the C is mostly due to either their billing reps or their billing system itself. As far as I can tell, their billing system is so complex that nobody really understands it. I’ve already have 3 inappropriate charges that shouldn’t have been on my account be reversed (bad that they were on there to begin with, good that they fixed it).
Just yesterday, I spoke with 3 different people, all of whom I asked, “What is my recurring monthly bill going to be after this month?” One would think this would be an easy question. The first person told me ~$224. I KNEW that wasn’t correct so that rep (a tech support, not billing guy) transferred me to somebody else. The next person told me it was ~$195 but apparently the previous guy transferred me to the wrong person, so this person transferred me again, this time to the correct person in their billing department. This last person initially said ~$175 then changed it to ~$155 and then later to ~$135, and only then did that person say, “Oh yeah, you get some unknown amount off due to your discount.” So moral of the story is, watch your T-Mobile bill and expect to be very confused by it since T-Mobile themselves are very confused by it!
Ultimately, I must say that I am quite happy with my decision at this point. I feel like I’m getting VERY comparable quality of cellular service (if not better) even though I expected quality to drop significantly, I feel like the people who I depend on to fix problems really care and try to help me, and I feel like I have so many more options when it comes to devices now that I can consider international GSM devices! In the end, paying approximately $21/line (where my line has unlimited data even) really just cannot be beat! Granted, I don’t get subsidized phones but with the service cost being so low, that’s actually ideal since most of my family get their phones from eBay/Swappa/Craigslist!