Should I renew my TMo contract?
April 12, 2011 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm a customer of a certain recently purchased wireless service. My contract (and my handset) are about to expire. Help me figure out what to do next.

I'm a low phone, high data usage T-Mobile customer. Thanks to getting a plan years ago and not changing it by much, I pay about $20/mo less than comparable plans from other service providers. But I have a G1 handset, and I'm starting to really feel its age.

Under other circumstances, I'd simply renew the contract, keep my plan, upgrade my phone for a price I can afford, and continue on my merry way. But now, with AT&T's takeover looming, I'm concerned that this will bite me hard a year down the road -- either through a revocation of unlimited data, or smartphone replacement issues, or something else I just haven't heard about yet.

I would consider moving over to something like Virgin Mobile, but I really really like the idea of (finally!) having tethering.

Am I right to be worried about the Eye of AT&T finding me at last, or should I just go ahead and renew? Any insights are greatly appreciated.
posted by gnomeloaf to Shopping (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could pay retail for a new phone, go month-to-month with Tmo, and wait to see what happens.

If you decide to jump ship, then you can either sell your phone and probably recoup a decent fraction of the purchase price, or (if it's a quad-band [which it probably will be] and you change to another GSM service), just keep using it.

Perhaps unrealistically, I don't think that AT&T's takeover will be a slam-dunk with regulators.
posted by adamrice at 8:33 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If they change the terms of your contract later on down the merger road, you can cancel the contract.
posted by demiurge at 8:34 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

AT&T has said that (1) they'll respect contracts and plans in place at the time of the takeover and (2) they really, really want to repurpose TMo's existing tower infrastructure to increase their own 3G footprint. Reading between the lines here, it sounds like AT&T is going to cut over 3G service from TMo's frequencies to their own roughly two years from the date of the takeover. If previous mobile mergers are any indication, they'll probably offer existing customers a free replacement or a discounted upgrade at that point. The last time this happened, a buddy of mine was told that the replacement for his Droid Incredible was a HTC Aria. Not exactly comparable, but AT&T basically said "you have an android phone... so here's the cheapest Android phone we carry". I'd say you're probably fine with TMo for at least another two years, but don't spend more on your phone than you would if you plan to replace it in two years.
posted by Oktober at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could always root it to get a little more life out of it.
posted by no bueno at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2011

If the merger is approved, it will take about a year for that to happen. Renew yor contract, and if you need to cancel early, the cost of cancelling should be prorated anyway.
posted by annsunny at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

ERgh. renew your contract.

I read about the delay due to government review on the Consumerist, but couldn't find the exact article, sorry.
posted by annsunny at 9:51 AM on April 12, 2011

just switched over to virgin myself (from boost) and so far (after some initial wobbles) am very happy with it. i'm a big fan of 'Ghetto Mobile'...Virgin/Boost(both part of sprint) or MetroPCS (part of T-mobile) and they use the same networks...they just make much more economic sense. you pay more for the handset, but less for your bill (and no contract,yay!) which can actually end up saving you a fortune...the same phone i ended up with from Vmo would have been ~$700 more over the course of sprint's 2-year contract.
aaannd...i have to say it. AT&T is EVIL. EVIL. If you have ANY respect for your civil liberties, you wouldn't consider staying with them. As a long-time mac user it saddens me that i can't look at an iPhone with anything other than revulsion. like, someone tries to hand me one, i can't even touch it. EVIL.
so...the wobbles:
the samsung intercept. crappy crappy phone. slow, and a lo-rez screen with a really weird 220x390...weird, but more to the point, unsupported by most apps. you will not be tossing any birds at any pigs on this device. i got it because i wanted a phone with a keyboard (i got it before my sevice ran out on boost, so i was pretty much just using the wifi on it, but it would have to have some damn stellar voice quality to make up for its defects), but found that using the onscreen keyboard wasn't an issue like i thought it would be so i traded it in for the optimus v...which has a somewhat slower proccessor, but adds a separate graphics chip so it ends up running much much much better (love this phone). It's no EVO 4G, but so far only on the later rounds of angry birds (where there's tons of crap flying around) do i experience any lagginess. (just googled the specs on the G1...yeah it's faster and with the graphics chip i'd venture to say quite a bit faster...there's a reason every carrier has their own version of this phone)
also, i had quite a few issues connecting to the 3G service (probably due to porting my number over) and spent quite a while on the phone with tech support, resetting the device a bunch of times and etc. they were all really nice about it (and since i work from home a lot could just use the wifi it wasn't that big of an issue for me) and finally they just sent me a new handset in the mail, which works fine...more of a fluke than a wobble.
unlimited data is awesome! and if you really think you'll use less than 300 minutes a month, only $25 on virgin. (i got the $40, 1200min plan) i'm very happy with it, but again, no keyboard...if that's an issue for you, you should check out sprint...they have the best plan rates and seem to be the only major carrier hanging onto unlimited might also check out to see what new phones they have coming out before your contract runs out...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I suspect you won't see this, but T-Mobile has no-contract plans. They're a bit buried on their website (called "Even More Plus", I believe), but this may be an option. They don't subsidize phone purchases on those plans, but they're a bit cheaper and leave you a way out if things go to pot with an AT&T takeover.
posted by hoyland at 10:42 AM on June 5, 2011

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