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You may be able to ditch that unlimited phone plan

WASHINGTON – Oct. 5, 2016 – Question: Do I still need my unlimited-data plan? I’ve been holding onto it for years.
Answer: Things have changed since last year, when I contemplated this question.
On one hand, Sprint and T-Mobile have renewed their unlimited-data offerings. The latter has begun suggesting that unlimited will become its only offering at some point, though there will be constraints on the quality of streaming video and your ability to share your bandwidth over WiFi with a laptop or tablet.
AT&T, meanwhile, has resumed selling unlimited data but reserves this new $100 plan for customers who also subscribe to its DirecTV or U-verse TV services. Verizon has yet to reconsider; chief financial officer Fran Shammo recently said at an investor conference that “people don’t need unlimited plans.”
On the other hand, AT&T and Verizon have also revised their own plans to include unlimited low-speed access after you use a quota of high-speed data. And while Verizon’s “Safety Mode” once required paying $5 extra on many plans, it’s now a free option on current plans.
The 2G fallback service both carriers provide won’t allow streaming audio or video. But as I’ve seen in using T-Mobile’s free 2G international roaming (now bumped up to LTE speeds in 14 South American countries and 19 European countries through 2016), it suffices for getting email, looking up directions, checking Facebook, etc.
So when you compare those new AT&T and Verizon plans with the “legacy” unlimited plans they shelved years ago, they look stronger than last year’s plans.
At AT&T, your alternative to the grandfathered $80 bundle of unlimited data and voice calls plus 200 texts is now getting 6 GB of high-speed data for the same price – with Wi-Fi tethering (the ability to use your phone’s Internet connection with a laptop or other device) included, not banned. I rank that above last year’s offer: $75 for 5 GB, with no 2G fallback.
At VzW, the potential replacement for the old $90 unlimited voice/data/texting plan is a $90 deal with 8 GB of high-speed data; again, this includes tethering. A year ago, you would have spent $10 less but only gotten 6 GB, with no 2G service after exhausting that allotment.
This should be an easy decision once you check your phone’s own usage stats. But while Android automatically generates monthly totals (to see, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap the signal-strength icon), iOS keeps a running count that you must reset on your own (open the Settings app, tap “Cellular” and scroll down). Twice this week, I’ve seen iPhones on which this total hadn’t been reset since 2013.
If your iPhone is like that, it may be easier to log into your account online and see the numbers on your last few bills, but then you won’t see this usage broken down by individual apps.
Copyright © 2016, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Rob Pegoraro. Pegoraro is a tech writer based out of Washington, D.C.
 
Source: Florida Realtors Feed

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