Is Boost Mobile unlimited the best cell phone plan?

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Today I ask these questions:

  • Is a prepaid cell phone plan the best option?
  • Is Boost Mobile the best prepaid cell phone plan?

But before I begin, let me guide you to a great article entitled 50 Great LinkedIn Groups for Academics at 50 great online groups for academics.

As you may well know, I did an article about a week ago looking at Clearwire wireless Internet service. This service has a controlling interest by Sprint/Nextel. According to Clearwire, they have augmented the Sprint network towers for 4 GL Internet applications. I also like about a mile from one of their towers. Boost Mobile is also a Sprint/Nextel subsidiary. While I didn’t go with Clearwire, Boost Mobile is an entirely different story.

Why I looked at Boost Mobile

There are three reasons I looked at Boost Mobile:

  • The top 10 reviews at rating prepaid cell phone providers has rated it the best prepaid cell phone plan. The article gives many definitive reasons for the rating. This article has the ratings for 2012
  • I looked at the article in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports entitled Best Phones and Service: the top carriers and hottest phones, plus cost-saving strategies. This report is only available online by subscription only. But your local US public library reference librarian usually has a copy available and you can photocopy the article.
  • I asked questions of a local retailer called Chicago Wireless (Chicago Wireless/). They sell Boost Mobile and were happy to answer my questions.

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When testing a new service, I won’t get the most expensive phone. Consumer Reports recommends staying away from the carrier retail stores, as their phones are the most expensive. They recommend places like Walmart, online, or the buying club Costco (i.e. membership is about a third of the cost as the Walmart version Sam’s Club). I ended up getting my Boost Mobile at the Family Dollar, which is a local dollar store.

Some notable Consumer Report items

Here’s some quotes from the Consumer Reports article related to Sprint, along with my commentary where applicable:

  • “Among the four major carriers, Verizon and Sprint offered more satisfying data service, according to readers.”
  • “That’s especially true now that all the major carriers except sprint have dropped unlimited, full-speed data provisions.” Commentary: I’m a bit confused here. The Top 10 Reviews article has mentioned other unlimited recommendations like Cricket and their prepaid plan. But Consumer Reports also mentioned that, “…the biggest data hogs who have grandfathered unlimited plans with AT&T and Verizon may see their data speeds clipped in months when their usage is high, in a controversial practice known as data-throttling.”
  • “Our readers rated Sprint only average on value but better than Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T.” Commentary: AT&T doesn’t surprise me but I’m a bit surprised at Verizon. It seems that in the Consumer Reports survey, Consumer Cellular came out with high marks. Another thing I noticed is that in the Top Ten Reviews the TracFone came up last. Yet Consumer Reports staff seems to like them.
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Plans for now

I would encourage everyone to study the Top 10 Reviews and Consumer Reports articles I mentioned. For now, I have brought a cheap Boost Mobile Sanyo phone at the Family Dollar store. I’ve signed up for the pay as you go plan and will test things out a bit. I’ve set up my voice mail and Boost Mobile account and connected the phone number to Google Voice. I will also keep my TracFone account for now, which is also set up for Google Voice.

One thing I like is that Boost Mobile unlimited has a shrinkage plan. For every six months you pay on time, they cut your bill by five dollars. In eighteen months (i.e. non-consecutive) you can cut your total bill by fifteen dollars. I learn this in the same week ABC news talks about AT&T raising their mobile plans – as much as thirty per cent.

I found out I can pick up a universal charger (i.e. auto and home) at the Dollar General for $10 and a Bluetooth headset at Walmart for around $20.

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