When I got my first mobile phone, a black-and-white Nokia that dripped teenager-targeted sexiness, I got that phone with AT&T Wireless. Over the next seven years, I maintained an account with the company as I moved through Nokia and Motorola devices, sticking by as AT&T Wireless became Cingular. I enjoyed how they “raised the bar” and everything, but I ultimately opted to become part of a family plan on Verizon in late 2006 due to issues of affordability. I’ve stayed with Verizon from my first 2006 contract through today. This afternoon, I went to the AT&T store and begged them to take me back, love me again, and let me show some sweet love to their 4G LTE network.
A Souring Relationship: Why Verizon Fell Out of Favor
I joined Verizon in 2006 as a “dumbphone” customer, snagging a Motorola Rizr to replace the flip-phone Razr that I had so enjoyed during my time at AT&T. The phone came with a microSD card slot, 3G capabilities, and most of the other standard features of the day. I was satisfied.
When AT&T got exclusive American rights to the iPhone a year later, I stuck by Verizon because their network was fabulous and their prices were virtually the same as those offered at AT&T. Also, I was on a family plan where I paid a discounted rate, and I was a student. Students like low-cost things. I eventually migrated to a Droid phone because I needed smartphone capabilities, and I was treated to the unlimited data plan the company offered at the time.
When I transitioned to an iPhone in 2011 after the company began selling the iPhone 4, my unlimited data plan came along for the ride. When Verizon changed their data pricing to a tiered model, my unlimited plan was grandfathered in. Then they announced the “Share Everything” plans; data plan migration was dead and, if customers wanted to keep their unlimited plans, they would need to forego subsidized pricing and fork out $900 for a new iPhone.
While my unlimited data plan comes in at $30, the company’s new plans start at just a single gigabyte for $50 per month. If that doesn’t make your eyes bug out like Animaniacs, certainly nothing will. The company has become unbelievably costly and customer-unfriendly. Combined with their proffering of last-century CDMA technology, I decided I simply could not deal with their customer-screwing any longer. I began looking into alternatives.
Narrowing Down the Choices for Coverage
There are four major, national carriers in the United States: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, listed in order of their size. The first three offer the iPhone, while T-Mobile does not offer the iPhone at all. Furthermore, the iPhone is not compatible with T-Mobile’s 3G or 4G implementations. That left AT&T and Sprint as viable choices for my business.
Sprint offers unlimited data, unlimited texting, and unlimited minutes for just $99 per month. It would be a great deal if Sprint’s network was worth a damn, but that actually isn’t the case. The company is stuck in 3G Land and struggles to offer more than a single megabit of download speed. Are you kidding me? Time to move on.
So, AT&T. The company was the first to swap their unlimited data plans for a tiered option. This would be a deal-breaker for me if my unlimited Verizon plan was grandfathered, but it no longer is. While Verizon charges $50 for 1GB, AT&T charges $30 for 3GB or $50 for 5GB. Woohoo, we have a (relative, very relative) bargain! My voice and texting plan with the company gives me unlimited calling to any mobile device or any AT&T customer, unlimited nights and weekends, and 450 minutes for use during the daytime when calling landlines. And unused minutes “roll over” to the next month so I don’t lose them. A price tag of $89 seems perfect to me.
On top of it all, AT&T has world-standard GSM and HSPA+ implementations, and is rolling out its LTE service nationwide. Here in scenic Delaware, their 4G is consistently faster than Verizon’s. They also get better coverage immediately on the beach, while Verizon drops down to 2G service. Sold!
Someone Needs an Attitude Adjustment
Verizon, in my mind, has seriously overstepped its bounds with the latest round of major price hikes. The company definitely has a larger LTE network than AT&T does currently, and their network is notoriously reliable. However, charging $50 for a single gigabyte of data is, like, asinine. I actually chuckled when I read the news article announcing the switch. They must be high. The entire executive team must be on crack. This is the closest thing I could find to a logical explanation.
So, I am now back with AT&T, which changed its name back from Cingular shortly after I left six years ago. It seems like a natural fit for me, and I’m looking forward to a healthy and rewarding relationship with the company that introduced me to my very first Nokia device when I was barely a teenager. I’m also looking forward to better prices, a more global network technology, and massively faster data speeds. Here we go.