Phone plans should be more versatile

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: June 6, 2013

In today’s cellphone industry, especially among younger people, it’s not unusual to see people casually crouched over their phone while sitting, riding the bus, walking, or really while they’re doing anything. And what are they doing? Texting? Browsing the internet? Whatever they’re doing, they’re not using voice minutes – that’s for sure.

As texting and data plans start to take precedence over voice calls, they obliterate the need for extensive minute plans in many cases. This is also in part due to the fact that many providers are starting to include free calling to any mobile phone across the country. With most people also ditching the use of landlines, mobile-to-mobile calling is really all that many people need.

Now, I would never say don’t include any minutes at all in such plans if they ever were to be made – you never know when you’re going to need to phone up a business, a school, or maybe a friend or family member who does still use a landline. But for  people like me who look at my bill usage every month and see that I’ve only used 10 or less minutes I begin to wonder just how much money I’m really wasting on those extra minutes that I don’t ever use.

My first thought is to see if there are any lower minute plans available that include unlimited texting and data. Unfortunately, the lowest amount of minutes you’ll see on any Sprint plan is 500 minutes. If you hop on over to AT&T’s website you’ll see that their lowest amount of minutes offered on any plan is 450. Even Verizon only offers unlimited talk and text with their lowest data plan, which include 2 GB.

T-Mobile seems to be the only company that sort of gets this growing trend, even if the only way to get to the plan is to jump through hoops. T-Mobile offers a plan that has unlimited data, unlimited texting, and 100 minutes offered each month. Unfortunately this plan doesn’t include mobile-to-mobile, but for a lot of people that’s still not a big issue considering you can always use your unlimited data to make calls via VoIP applications if you really need to. But again, in order to get this special plan with T-Mobile you have to go about it in a very round-a-bout way.

Now, through my statements I’m also not saying that carriers shouldn’t continue to have the option to purchase higher minute plans. Just because I prefer to use data and texting on my phone as oppose to minutes doesn’t mean the next guy who loves data and texting also doesn’t use minutes. What I am saying is that carriers should offer different options to accomodate changing trends in mobile usage. It seems each company offer maybe three options tops, but the only variable to really differ is the data plan. All minute plans are entirely too similar too each other.

The same could even be said about texting plans. A lot of the time it’s either all or nothing when it comes to texting – gone are the days where you didn’t have to jump through hoops to get 100, 200, or 500 text message allotment plans. They were plainly offered right there if you needed them. Now when you walk into a store and compare plans you either get nothing or you get unlimited. While a person like me could benefit from an unlimited texting plan, a lot of people don’t have as much of a need for it.

What we need is a plan buffet. Pick and choose different elements according to your usage. If I only need a certain allotment of minutes, texts, or data per month I shouldn’t have to sign up for unlimited.

“I need a plan with 250 minutes, unlimited texting, and 3 GB of data.”

“Great! You sound like a perfect candidate for our Unlimited Everything Just For You plan!”

“No, but that’s not what I—“

“Well your next option is 500 minutes, no texting, and 500 MB of data.”

“Okay…”

Like I said, it seems like more often than not it’s all or nothing. I just think that being able to pick and choose our features could be awesome. It probably won’t happen any time in the near future, but one can dream, can’t they?

Readers, what are your thoughts on the current state of phone plans? Have you found the perfect phone plan or do you wish you could change some things about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Image via Salon