Use Your Cellphone But Drop Your Plan?

I stumbled across this by accident, and it is intriguing.  Information Week recently posted an article by Max Cherney on how to “Drop Your Cell Plan And Still Use Your Phone”.  This honestly sounds feasible!

Not surprisingly, he uses Skype over wi-fi to do this.  He goes into the reasons he did not choose Google Voice, but it is possible to achieve the same effect, but only if you are using your computer and not using your cellphone.  He does a good job of explaining the constraints.

OK,  but what if you’re on the road?  Instead of wi-fi, he suggests using FreedomPop.  It’s a 4G provider that provides free 500MB of data every month.  You just need to buy the device from them.  You can read a review about it on Mobile Magazine.  My first thought, though, is what about coverage?  Going to their homepage trying to look it up asks for your email, which is really not cool, but I found another site that points to their coverage page.  Hamilton and Fairfield seem to both be covered, but Middletown and Oxford are outside of their range.

An alternative would be to go with NetZero.  They also offer free data with their device, but with them you are limited to 200MB per month.  Their devices seem a bit less expensive, though.  Their coverage still cuts out around New Miami, though, so Middletown and Oxford are still outside of the 4G area.

Personally, if I were to go this route, I’d try the FreedomPop one first just because of the greater limit, which means you could potentially use it on a laptop as well.

The last device in the arsenal is a pay-as-you-go phone for calls only.  This means you have no monthly contract, and therefore no voice plan even.  This phone could be used if neither 4G nor wi-fi were available, and for 911 calls.  VOIP doesn’t officially support 911 (yet), and if you’re on the road I’m not so sure what good it would do anyhow.

Still, all this is less than what I’m paying on AT&T per month, so if you are super frugal and don’t mind the extra devices, this could work.  My problem would be the multiple devices.  It seems I have enough to carry as it is.  In fact, the reason for getting an iPhone was to avoid even more devices.

Still, this alternative is tempting, and I cannot say for sure I’d rule it out completely at some future date.  Whether or not I were to go this route might depend upon what Google is doing with its VOIP network, which is a subject for tomorrow. Smile