Questions about T-Mobile's New Idea
April 4, 2013 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I don't have a cell phone, but T-Mobile's new offerings may entice me to drop my land line. Plus, the $50 for 500 megabytes matches what I pay for my land line and related Internet service. (Here is Pogue's NYTimes article about this.) This AskMeFi post is interesting, but doesn't answer these questions:

T-Mobile offers free tethering so I can connect my computer to the Web via the phone. Does this work well? Would it be like my present arrangement of WiFi via the phone line in terms of speed, etc? (I don't know how fast my phone line is.)

I use my computer to stream a movie from Netflix once a week or so and daily look at a few videos from news sources and YouTube. Not a heavy Internet user beyond a lot of reading. No games, little streaming music or downloads. But I have no idea how much 500 megabytes is. Is it enough for me? Other options are $60 for 2 gigabytes or unlimited for $70.

Are there any other considerations before I cut the land line?
posted by partner to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Netflix sucks up bandwidth like nobody's business:
There are 3 settings to choose from:
Good quality (uses up to 0.3 GB per hour)
Better quality (uses up to 0.7 GB per hour)
Best quality (uses up to 1 GB per hour, up to 2.8 GB per hour if watching HD, or up to 4.7 GB per hour if watching 3D)
So your 500 MB is going to get you something like an hour of Netflix streaming for the month, and that's assuming you don't use it anywhere else.
posted by griphus at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2013

500 mb doesnt go very far when you are watching movies. I don't think that would even be enough for one movie. Don't cut your landline unless all you want to do is check facebook and read the news. I always go over my monthly cell phone data limit if I watch too many youtube videos. I never even watch movies or anything, but you'd be surprised at how each website adds up the data really fast.
posted by photoexplorer at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2013

I agree that 500 MB is not enough for daily use that includes some streaming. You would still get data after the first 500 MB, but it would be at much slower speeds.

Note that the unlimited plan caps tethering at 500 MB.
posted by payoto at 2:45 PM on April 4, 2013

I use TMo tethering periodically in a 2G/3G environment, and it works reasonably well -- but is noticeably slower than 4G and traditional wifi. You should check the coverage map for your area to find out what you can expect.

For what it's worth, I have cable Internet at home and work from home, and I am still contemplating going with the unlimited TMo plan -- in my corner of the world, even that plan is cheaper than any other provider's options.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:49 PM on April 4, 2013

you might also check out ting...they have a really neat flexible plan, no contract, and some really great phones (not many no-contract providers do).
I use my wifi at home/work, so I hardly use data at all (<100 MB) last bill was 23 dollars...with 500 MB it would be $33...
posted by sexyrobot at 2:54 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @payoto -- 500 MB of tethering won't cut it, that's for sure.
posted by partner at 2:54 PM on April 4, 2013

You would need unlimited if you are planning on any sort of streaming. Their coverage isn't the best and your speeds would also be dependent on your phone itself to a certain extent. Your best bet would be to try it out first ( borrow a phone from a friend maybe ? ) before you decide to give up your present arrangement.
posted by asra at 3:21 PM on April 4, 2013

it's worth noting that tmobile has a plan(scroll down, its in smaller text at the bottom on the left because they want to steer people to the shitty plans) that gives you 100 minutes, but "unlimited" data in the sense that it's 5gb at full speed, infinity-ish at 3g speed and unlimited texting.

That one is the good deal. The other ones don't give you nearly as much data.

And as other people said, 500mb is not enough for really anyone.
posted by emptythought at 3:25 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you do decide to try this out, I would recommend only cutting the land line after you've used the wireless connection for a few days (at least) and found it satisfactory. There's a (generally inadequately publicized) grace period for cell phone purchases, though I think it varies state by state.
posted by mskyle at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2013

Fwiw TMobile's coverage has improved and it will likely get better with future mergers. My husband and I have had it for years. He has done Netflix streaming and it has looked great. The free tethering is pretty sweet.
posted by kat518 at 3:33 PM on April 4, 2013

it's worth noting that tmobile has a plan(scroll down, its in smaller text at the bottom on the left because they want to steer people to the shitty plans) that gives you 100 minutes, but "unlimited" data in the sense that it's 5gb at full speed, infinity-ish at 3g speed and unlimited texting.

I am on this plan and love it, but for most people it can't replace home phone and internet service because of the 100 minutes (extra minutes are 10 cents each, so if you talk a lot it adds up) and because it doesn't allow tethering.
posted by payoto at 3:39 PM on April 4, 2013

it doesn't allow tethering.

Unlike most of the other carriers, they don't seem to ever enforce this at all. it seems to be a rule in name alone, In the same way that sprint used to turn a blind eye. It's really only att/verizon that are butts about this.

I used to tether all the time on my "unlimited" tmobile.
posted by emptythought at 4:11 PM on April 4, 2013

I also tether frequently on the $30 unlimited plan. I've never had a problem. I wouldn't stream a movie or many videos, though because yeah, that'll quickly eat through the 5GB of fast data.
posted by polywomp at 4:15 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a current, reasonably happy Tmob customer, with MeFi's favorite web exclusive 100m talk, unlimited text and web plan mentioned by several above, when you go to the coverage map, you have to click down to within the bottom 6 zoom level to be able to see the actual coverage map. The zoom levels 7 and up to nationwide are misleading.

My only complaint with Tmobile is that the coverage sucks in the stupid town I moved to after becoming a T-mobile customer. This is an AT&T town and I'm forever left hanging on the EDGE. I have to drive 45 miles to hit a 3G or 4G tower. So check that stuff out before you buy.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 4:19 PM on April 4, 2013

Yeah, I'm also on this unlimited data 100 minutes of voice plan. Coverage is not great where I live, often dropping down to edge data. Data speeds border on phenomenal even on HSPA+ when I'm in Richmond though. Enough to stream hd video, though obviously not for that long because of the data cap. So check local coverage before you dive in.

Also, I frequently tether on my nexus 4, but probably never more than a gb in any one month. Haven't had any problem from tmobile about it.
posted by skewed at 8:14 PM on April 4, 2013

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