Part II – The Quest to Lower my Monthly Wireless Bill

Yesterday I was toying with the idea to give up the iphone and possibly go phone-less. Hard to imagine, as i have been a cell user since 1998 or so, but frankly, I rarely use the phone at all anymore.

Of course going cell free is a crazy idea. 15 years ago you could walk a block and find 4 – 5 pay phones. But the ubiquity of cell phones has pretty much made the old staple payphones obsolete. (and does anybody still use calling cards?  I think 2002 was the last time I had one for work).

So, I decided to go prowl around the AT&T Wireless site. Perhaps I can go to fewer minutes, since I am using less than 100 minutes a month. Or go to a flip phone and dump the data plan. Alas, there are few options. I could go to a flip phone (and they are surprisingly expensive, and the selections are skimpy) and cut the data plan.  That will save $40 a month.

But 450 minutes is the smallest plan offered. There is a 200 minute “Senior” plan, but since I am not 65 yet, I can’t go there. Crud. So with feels, I would go from $1200 a year to $600 a year. Not that big of a savings, worth giving up my music player (I would need to buy an iPod again, gasp).

I could go to a Virgin Mobile PAYGO plan, but I am pretty sure I would lose my current cell number (does anybody know if I can port my number to one of the MVNO’s?)

Sigh.

That existential question – do I need a cell phone?

Well, my contract is up with AT&T Mobile, and not surprisingly it coincides with an Apple product launch. New iPhones are in the air, and I am due for an upgrade from my 4s.

But instead of diving in and getting the new 5s, I have been thinking a different way. Do I really need a cell phone?

Since I haven’t been traveling much I haven’t really used many minutes on my plan.  I currently have over 5000 rollover minutes (which I think is the most that AT&T will let you accrue), so I certainly could trim back my plan to fewer minutes per month. (I think in the last two months I have used about 180 minutes total out of 1800 allocated (900 per month)) I do not get a phone through work, so I can conceivably just not be “available” when I am on the road – an attractive thought indeed.

Yes, I like having my email, facebook and other apps at my fingertips throughout the day, but do I really need it?

About 6 months ago, I was looking to reduce monthly outlays, and decided to not make any changes in my wireless communications. Mainly because I rely on the text messaging for my Google gmail two factor authentication. If I go back to standard security, then I no longer “need” a cell phone. (that was the determining factor at the time).

Or, I could just give up the smartphone, and go with a feature phone. But AT&T has a whopping selection of only 7 models, and 3 are refurbs.

I even thought of going to an Android phone a while back, and looked at the AT&T store. There is a wide range of quality and “goodness” of those devices. None of them really rocked my world.

So, now that I can cancel my phone without penalty, I am considering going cell phone free. It might be liberating.

$1,200 a year extra cash is appealing. But will I regret coughing up my digital leash?