One of the biggest woes of wireless consumers is the ever-increasing price of service or getting nickel and dimed by carriers. As services like data and texting become more popular and voice calling wanes, carriers begin to slowly adjust their plans to become more profitable for them. That's all a part of running a business, but there is also a point where the line between good business practices and pure greed is crossed.

Over the last six months, all four major US carriers have been hard at work, making major changes to accommodate for the fast-paced tech world. Unfortunately for consumers, these changes aren't always with their best interests in mind.

One thing that wireless services providers here in the States love more than anything is postpaid sales, and it shows. They do their very best to get customers tied into contracts and keep them there for as long as possible. AT&T and Verizon have no shame in showing this either. They both upped (nearly doubled) their early termination fees and have also made changes to early upgrading procedures. AT&T upped the early upgrade fee to $200, while Verizon removed the ability altogether, along with its New Every 2 program.

Those two are not alone though. Sprint and T-Mobile have also been making some big changes. Sprint's Premier Program has been almost entirely revised and will go into effect on April 1st (no April Fools' joke here). It used to be anyone with an individual plan of $70 or more per month or a shared plan of $100 or more per month would qualify for annual upgrades. That criteria has been revised and narrowed to some very specific guidelines. It has also just leaked that T-Mobile is axing their FlexPay services, which allow you to avoid having to pay those dreadful deposits to start service by paying your monthly service charge up-front. You will now have to either pay the deposit (if applicable) or choose prepaid services.

Not only are these carriers making changes to their contract terms and the upgrade ability of their customers, we've experienced changes like tiered data from AT&T, Sprint beginning to charge the Premier Data fee to all smartphone users versus just WiMAX users, etc. Verizon may have priced unlimited LTE services at $29.99 for now, but I'm almost positive those will change as the availability of LTE and adoption by consumers increase. As for T-Mobile, their plans are about to undergo some major changes as well. Throughout all of the chaos of all the price changes and plan adjustments, one thing is certain: postpaid wireless service is not getting cheaper.

This isn't bad news for us all though. It has opened a window of opportunity for prepaid providers to really shine. Take Virgin Mobile for instance. Their prepaid services are dirt cheap and you get the same service as you would with Sprint. You get 300 calling minutes, unlimited text, and unlimited 3G data for $25 per month; or if you want to go all out, you can get the completely unlimited plan for $60, a nice chunk of change cheaper than comparable postpaid prices. There are also some notable Android devices like the LG Optimus V and Samsung Intercept available for $149.99 and $199.99 respectively. Considering you aren't signing a contract, these are both great deals. In addition, there is a rumored high-end Android device headed to Virgin Mobile, too. For the price you pay, it's definitely worth looking into.

I've never liked signing contracts. Mainly because I never know what to expect two years down the road. I was originally an Alltel customer who was consumed in the acquisition by Verizon. Had I known something like that was about to happen, my family and I probably never would have signed those contracts. Not to mention, how fast technology moves these days; two-year agreements and fast-paced mobile tech do not get along very well.

More and more people will begin to notice all of this as the mobile world evolves. If prepaid providers keep moving in the direction they are headed, postpaid carriers are going to have bigger problems to worry about than who has more subscribers or who has the faster 4G network. As ironic as it is, if you can deal with staying 6 months or more behind the technology curve, prepaid may be the way of the future.


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27 Reactions to this post

"Are postpaid carriers getting too greedy?"


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Sean White Well if I had to choose between two diff prepaid companies boost mobile vs virgin mobile im switchin to vmobile they got the optimus for $150 whilst the i1 is still $400 wth you do get what u pay for but sheeshhh
Ima PhoneNerd Consider visiting http://www.yourcellphonesavings.com - you might be surprised how affordable postpaid can be.
Oscar Phillips Its worthit for nice phones, price don't matter
Sachin Swami OMG NO! I WAS THINKING TO SWITCH TO VIRGIN MOBILE! COME ONE $25 FOR UNLIMITED DATA/WEB AND 300 MINUTES A MONTh? ya i dont see that being greedy
Mazen Al Mohammed i live in united arab emirates, and when i saw the prices in usa i got crazy. Usa is waaaaay more cheaper than here
Justin Peahi Switching carriers is good, I switched from AT&t to Big Red and found out that im paying the same but I get better service. Both cell service and customer service. I'd rather pay more if I had too to use a service rather then pay less and get les out of it. Pricing is gonna be based on reliabilty, network upkeep and bottom line cost, a smaller company like tmobile may be cheaper but you sacrifice in other areas.
Devlin Robear That is why I am switching from AT&T to T-Mobile
David Koseki What people may not know is it takes a cell phone company 9 months to START making a profit on a line of service. That doesn't include the cost of network upkeep, advancement, store overhead, or corporate infrastructure including customer care. Why do you think your getting I India more often than not? Most ppl get their cell phone at below cost. On average it takes between 200-300 to make a cell phone, and these cellphone companies cell them to you for around that price. Its like Justin said, you get what you pay for.
Justin Peahi Yes sprint may offer data and text but you cut coverage and reliability. You can't have your cake and eat it too, unless you pay for it.
Justin Peahi You can't compare cost alone, you get what you pay for, you either pay less and get less or not. The bottom-line is that postpaid service providers, or any provider for that matter are not non-profit, this is for-profit industry. Get over it and pay the cost or move on. A cell phone, although not many will admit it, is a luxury not a necessity.
Douglas J Kmiotek All the carriers bleed the wallet dry!!!
Danny Spaide YES, i am SO tired of everyone in the country make a little money, then without need or warning, slamming the American consumer.
Horace Muldrow I use boost mobile 50 a month unlimited everything eventho they don't have the best phones sometimes you can use sprint phones on theme
Juwon Howard True they do make billions but do you know how much of that they invest back, pay their employee, pay for leasing towers on different properties, discount phones (which they have to pay the difference to the manufacturer) also pay the govenment in taxes?
Neal Daringer @juwon do you know how much these wireless companies pull in for profit? Billions
Juwon Howard I don't think so! Do u know how much it cost to invest in LTE or any 4G technology MILLIONS! Why would they lose money with cheap data plan? If its that big of an issue customers need to stick with feature phones. Prepaid companies need these big carries because that's where they lease their airtime minutes
Amanda Fontecchio Honestly, you get what you pay for. I have never been treated well with prepaid service. Other cell phone providers offer a no contact solution now too. I agree with the statement someone made about the text and data plans first, minutes last though.
Bill Felice Data/text should be the base plan, minutes secondary. Pick your minutes like a text bundle. Kids only want to text anyway, so its a win win situiation for everyone.
Rafael Bebelacqua Carriers shouldnt be the ones managing and distributing the phones, your mobile phone system fails :D
Emmanuel Castro Simple mobile FTW, even if their costumer service sux...
Jesse Bryant I dont think you can beat virgin mobiles plans, yeah they may not have 4g or a high end device like the evo but who really needs that unless you are working with a business or constantly on the go.
Precious Love CLay idk what that means
Aaron Couts You get screwed postpaid and contract, good thing about postpaid you can jump ship anytime you feel like. Your nothing but a number to these cell phone providers
Ramon Quintero Yes they are.
Zeeshan Bakhrani Are postpaid customers getting to greedy?




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