GSM Data Plans
January 15, 2010 11:45 AM   Subscribe

What is the most cost effective data-only plan on GSM in the US right now?

I've got an HTC Hero (Android) phone. I'm currently on T-Mobile with a talk/text plan at about $40/month but I just don't talk or text much and I think I'd get much more out of a data plan. Is going to data only and using some combination of Skype/Gizmo/GVoice for infrequent calls/text a reasonable option? Do T-Mobile or ATT have any kind of reasonable data only plans? I think ATT has a prepay for $20/month but limited to a seemingly paltry 100MB.

I did find these recent questions, covering short term use by tourists. Nothing sounded promising there but maybe there are better options for longer term use, although avoiding multi-year contracts would be nice.
posted by 6550 to Technology (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Believe T-Mobile will give you 5GB or 10GB of data for $40/month. Some people have been going this route and using SIPdroid to make calls.
posted by barake at 12:24 PM on January 15, 2010

I've tried the google voice/Gizmo thing on a data only plan through Sprint, and it wasn't usable for me. Too much lag, and it wasn't worth it. I'd suggest, whatever you do, getting a data only plan and a by-the-minute add-on, or even something like a separate Boost or Virgin phone plan for like $7/month for minimal talking.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:09 PM on January 15, 2010

Where in the US do you need this to work? I'm pretty sure that AT&T and TMobile are the only nationwide providers with GSM networks, but it looks like there are some regional carriers, and they may have roaming arrangements with one-another. The other issue is the frequencies your phone supports, particularly for 3G. You may be limited to EDGE with another provider.
posted by Good Brain at 5:27 PM on January 15, 2010

Metro Boston area. I wouldn't mind EDGE only if I found a reasonably priced plan.
posted by 6550 at 5:57 PM on January 15, 2010

Ultimately, I stuck with T-Mobile, choosing their Even More Plus plan with 500 minutes and unlimited text and web, for $60/month and no contract.

Currently, as monkeymadness found, it doesn't really work to go data-only on a phone in the US, at least not if you want reliable telephony. Maybe that will change in the future (I'd love if Google Voice drops the requirement of a "real" phone number).

The downside with T-Mobile is their non-standard 3G frequency. Not an issue if you have or purchase a T-Mobile phone but having a GSM Hero means no 3G for me so I'm stuck on EDGE. Using Opera Mini really helps getting the most out of web with a slow connection.

I stayed with T-Mobile because AT&T wants a minimum of $75/month for a plan with talk, text, and data (the same as an iPhone plan). Plus they wanted a 2 year contract and I just couldn't swallow that. It's the exact same plan as the one subsidizing the iPhone purchase, except I'd get no phone out of it and I'm not interested in boosting AT&T's bottom line that way. AT&T customer service indicates that the option to go no contract is decided on a store by store basis but none of my local stores would let me do that.
posted by 6550 at 11:50 AM on May 10, 2010

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