Dynamic Cellular Rates

by Colin Berkshire

Are you as dizzy as I am about cellular rates? They change nearly weekly now. It makes me think management is just flailing their arms.

T-Mobile probably adjusts their rates more often than they upgrade their towers. (That one seems to be certain. I still have only “Edge” coverage even though I have a home in the Seattle metropolitan area.)

In October T-Mobile charged $100 for 4-lines with 10GB each. In early November they raised their prices to $120 for four lines with 6GB each. Now they charge $100 for four lines with 6 GB, but they include Binge-On video compression.

I am not quite clear why rates change up and down and up and down like this. Consumers can’t possibly understand what is happening. Perhaps T-Mobile thinks consumers are just impulsive and irrational and so they change things to give the impression of improvement.

I would hate to be in such an irrational business with such ignorant customers.

Nevertheless, when you sort of average all of the vacillation out, I think this summarizes things:

Sprint: The slowest network but rapidly improving. The consistently lowest rates of the big four.

T-Mobile: A network that seems like it has been ignored for a decade, that is imperceptibly improving. Much lower prices than Verizon. Fun to watch marketing/CEO. The best for international travelers.

AT&T: Not the worst deal in town (that award goes to Verizon.) Good coverage in many cities, but still a lot of dropped calls and garbled audio. If you are in a city Sprint and T-Mobile doesn’t serve then they can be a good choice.

Verizon: The Verizon network can only be described as deteriorating rapidly. Dropped calls are common now, and never happened two years ago. Grabbed audio is common. Areas that used to have 3 or 5 dots of service will more often have 1 or 2 dots. And I am seeing 1x speeds (WTF!?) and more common 3G speeds. I often get better speed on the 3G network than their LTE network. For this, you will pay the highest prices.

I would love to see some service-quality competition.