Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sprint 'ing To Another Mobile Phone Carrier

Confession time: For the past 12 years I have been involved in a love/hate relationship. We had some good times together and we had some very, very bad moments, but through it all we always were willing to work things out and overcome our issues... that is, until now. We finally hit a roadblock in our relationship that neither of us were willing to budge on. Usually about every two years, we would hit one of these roadblocks and we would bring in a mediator. This year, the mediator just couldn't help us bridge our differences. So, I'm leaving. After 12 years in this relationship, I am finally packing my bags and moving out at the end of the month. As a matter of fact, I have already found a replacement and her name is Virgin Mobile. Yes, I know Virgin Mobile is her sister and they share the same network, but she made me an offer I couldn't refuse so I took it.

Details? I'm glad you asked. For the majority of my 12 year relationship with Sprint I was under a retention plan. The retention department (aka our mediator) always seemed to pull through after the 8-12th call to them. Every 2 years I would get a better plan at my previous price point or I would get the same plan at a cheaper price point.
Currently my Sprint plan is the following:
-Unlimited Data/Web
-Unlimited Texts
-Unlimited Picture Mail
-Free Roaming
-Free Nights and Weekends starting at 7pm
-Free Mobile to Mobile
-800 Anytime minutes with additional blocks of 100 minutes for $5.00 if we go over.
-2 lines

This costs us a base fee of $72 something a month before taxes and fees.

What caused us to leave? I'm also glad you asked. We wanted to upgrade our phones to either blackberry phones or Android phones. We currently have the Samsung Ace (Windows Mobile) and a Samsung flip phone. Sprint informed me that I would have to upgrade my data plan if I wanted a smart phone. My Windows Mobile phone (Samsung Ace) is a smart phone and utilizes the web, Windows Marketplace, GPS, etc. just fine on the current data plan but for some reason my data plan wouldn't work with the newer phones. In reality Sprint just wanted me to pay more for the same service I already have by calling it a different name and applying it to other phones. Data is data. I did not want to pay the additional fee and I didn't want to pay an additional 10 dollars a month per phone (if we got 4g phones) as we don't have 4g in our area. This time retention could not keep my bill at the same price point and allow us to upgrade our phones so I started looking around.

I looked at AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Cellular South. I really looked at going with Cellular South but they were still going to be more expensive that my current plan with Sprint (all the others were way more expensive) and they don't have 3g data service in my area (7 miles on either side of me, but not here). That's when I thought I was going to have to just grin and bear it and just accept that Sprint had one this battle. That's when I happened across an ad for Boost Mobile. I looked into it and thought it was great. It was still more expensive than Sprint at the onset but after 18 months you get unlimited everything for only $35 dollars a month (it starts at $50 a month and gradually decreases over set month intervals: 6, 12, 18). Plus, there is no contract and the taxes and fees are included in the price points given. Once I started looking at it, I found out they were utilizing Sprints CDMA and IDEN networks (remember NEXTEL?). Ultimately I wasn't impressed with their phone selection... but I read somewhere that new ones should be rolling out in April (it could be nothing more than a rumor).

Then I found Virgin Mobile and saw they use Sprint's CDMA network and they had a little better selection of phones and one phone in particular that has good reviews all around: the LG Optimus.

Virgin Mobile's plans are as follows:
-Unlimited everything: $60
-Unlimited everything except for voice (1200 minutes): $40
-Unlimited everything except for voice (300 minutes): $25

With Virgin Mobile they also have the fees and taxes included so there is nothing to add on top of your monthly bill. And, like Boost Mobile, they do not tie you up with a contract either.

I also checked out Wal-Mart's offerings (Straight Talk) and wasn't impressed with their phone selection. I understand it uses T-Mobile's network, but the phones are less than stellar.

For me, Virgin Mobile allows both my wife and me to have an equivalent plan to what we had for a cheaper price point (she is getting the $40 plan and I am getting the $25 plan) and we were able to upgrade our phones to the LG Optimus V (V stands for Virgin Mobile). We bought the phones through BestBuy for $129.99 a piece which is cheaper than elsewhere at this time and that is about what we would have paid to upgrade our phones with Sprint if they would have chosen to keep us as customers. The only thing that we will not have is the Roaming service as Virgin nor Boost offer that. With that being said, I don't know when the last time it was that I wasn't in a Sprint network area for any length of time.

We picked up our phones a couple days ago and have hooked them up to our wi-fi connection. They are very responsive and seem to be a great phone for the price. (the two cons listed in the linked review above are easily addressed by Skyfire for seeing flash content and Quick Settings for making your phone a wifi hotspot from the Android marketplace)I would definitely recommend the phone and I don't see why I wouldn't be happy with the Virgin Mobile service as it will use the same service that I am used to minus the roaming. We are going to change our numbers over to Virgin Mobile towards the end of the month as Sprint will not prorate service when your 2 year commitment has expired and you are on a month to month plan.

If you run across this, note it was written on March 9th, 2011 and hopefully it will broaden your options when considering your next phone carrier.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Can The Government Be Trusted With Our Health?

Two official investigations have begun into an unpublished study from the 1940s in which a US researcher deliberately infected Guatemalan prisoners and soldiers with syphilis and gonorrhoea.

These infections were carried out without consent or knowledge of what was being done.

You can read the rest here.

You can read the US Department of Health & Human Services fact sheet on this here.

Some questions:
-Is there ever a situation in which something like this would be justifiable? If so, what would that situation look like?
-Do we know what we are injecting into our bodies? Our children's bodies?
-How should they right this wrong? Can they?
-Do you trust the government with your health?