221B Financial Solutions


Welcome to Freedom in Finance

You're Paying Too Much For Your Cell Phone

Your Cellular Plan is Probably Costing You too Much

It’s 2019 and everyone has a cell phone. I think it’s safe to assume we’re getting to a point where “cell phone” and “smartphone” are used interchangeably; flip phones are increasingly becoming a thing of the past – even for the less technology-inclined folks out there (Hi, mom). If you’re living in America, chances are you have one of the four major cellular providers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint. There are prepaid and regional options, but historically, these carriers have long served the regular consumer’s needs, while always having complete control over pricing. For the longest time, I fell into this category. My wife and I were happy paying Verizon every month when the cell phone bill was due. But six months ago, we made the leap away from Verizon – a carrier I had been loyal to for the past fifteen years – and we’re not looking back. And in our first month after switching to Xfinity Mobile, we saved nearly $65.

Your internet can subsidize your cellular plan

In the spring of 2018, two of America’s largest internet providers, Comcast and Charter, announced a partnership to form a new model for cell phone providers. The aftermath resulted in the creation of both Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile, each named after the internet service their parent companies offer. The idea was to launch cellular plans designed to save their existing and future internet customers money. The catch? You need to have Xfinity internet to be eligible for Xfinity Mobile, and you need Spectrum internet to be eligible for Spectrum Mobile. Since a majority of the American population has one of these two internet providers as options, the majority of the American population also has the ability to lower their monthly cell phone bill.

How much money can I actually save?

The pricing structures with Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile are very similar and incredibly simple – you only pay for data. Yes, you read that right – you no longer have to pay for phone lines, calls, or texting. How much you pay for the data you use is pretty straightforward. There are two options with both companies. You can pay By The Gig or pay for Unlimited data. Xfinity Mobile currently charges $12/GB while Spectrum Mobile charges $14/GB; both companies charge a flat $45 per line for unlimited data.

In our case, my wife uses very little data, so her line is set to By The Gig, for $12/GB she uses. Normally, she uses around 2GB per month, so her line costs a total of $24 before taxes. There have been months where I use 2-3GB of data per month ($24-$36), but I commute to work by train and inevitably end up using more data. Most months, I end up taking advantage of the Unlimited option which costs a flat $45 for the entire month. Most months our total bill comes to less than $70 before taxes. However, we’ve paid as much as $81 and as little as $48. For as much as our bill has varied, one thing has remained the same – we’ve never come close to paying what we did when with Verizon, and never sacrificed coverage one bit.

A Cheaper Plan does not Mean Worse Coverage

“Am I going to sacrifice reception quality for a cheaper bill?” I asked myself this question when I first learned about Xfinity Mobile and ultimately switched. As I mentioned earlier, I was used to nearly flawless coverage with Verizon for over a decade, and I didn’t want to settle for spotty dropout zones with some off-brand provider. After some research, I learned both Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile each are a mobile virtual network operator, commonly referred to as an MVNO. An MVNO is a wireless communications provider that does not actually own a wireless communications network. Instead, an MVNO is able to offer services by working with a company who does own a wireless network. The companies who do own their own network include the four major cell providers already mentioned. Simply put, an MVNO offers services to customers who will use other providers’ networks.

In the case of Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile, the Verizon wireless network is used. This means every time an Xfinity Mobile or Spectrum Mobile customer places a phone call, sends a text message, or uses some data, they are actually using the Verizon network to do so.

What’s the Catch?

There isn’t really a “catch” with Xfinity and Spectrum Mobile. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before making the switch:

-You must have Xfinity internet or Spectrum internet service to take advantage of each company’s mobile services.

-There are a limited number of devices you can purchase through Xfinity and Spectrum. iPhones and Samsung devices are included, with a few other Android devices available as well. Check to see if your phone is compatible.

-Remember you’ll be using the Verizon network. If Verizon has poor coverage where you live or work, think twice before making the switch.

-You can only have five lines on your account. This didn’t matter for my wife and I, and won’t matter for someone who is single or a part of a small family, but keep this in mind if you have a big family looking to take advantage of some savings.

What if I have neither of these internet providers?

Now to address what someone out there is inevitably thinking – what if you have a different internet provider, like Verizon of Cox? Unfortunately, you’re ineligible for the MVNO benefits discussed in this post. I understand a large portion of the American population has neither of these companies as an option to provide their internet, but as of 2019, more than 210 million Americans do have one of these companies as an option. Maybe you buy your internet through Verizon, but Comcast is available in your area. If this is the case for you, check out the difference you’d pay for internet and the difference you’d pay for your cell phone service. You might be surprised by how much money you can save.

Just because you can’t take advantage of one of these great deals doesn’t mean you’re permanently bound to one of the four major cellular providers. There are tons of options in your area using reliable networks without paying a name brand price. All you have to do is look around to see what’s out there.

David Evans