Cord-Cutting Update — Part One

It’s been well over a year since my first post about cord cutting, and enough has changed that I think it’s worth an update. This post is part one of two, and deals with phone communication.

Cell Phones

Today there is no reason to sign a contract for cell phone service. Top-tier, expensive phones like the iPhone and Google Nexus are now available without a contract, and there are plenty of affordable and reliable choices for considerably less. Non-contract players like StraightTalk, MetroPCS (now owned by T-Mobile), Virgin Mobile, Cricket, and (my choice) Republic Wireless offer excellent service for hundreds less than the big carriers over a typical two-year span, and rumor has it that T-Mobile will soon be ditching their own contracts.

As long as you’re willing to pay for your phone up-front (a practice in most markets worldwide), you’ll save. My current deal with Republic Wireless, for example, gets me unlimited phone minutes, texting, and Internet use for $19 per month. A perfectly serviceable, but not cutting-edge Android phone costs $249.

The “catch” with Republic Wireless, which really isn’t one in my opinion, is that it can use WiFi networks for voice and data traffic instead of relying entirely on cell towers. Because at least 80% of the time I use my phone I’m near a WiFi network, this is a virtually unnoticeable hurdle.

Home Phones

I’m still enjoying the Obihai device to send and receive calls via Google Voice. As I’d hoped, Google is still letting us call anywhere in the US and Canada for free, and the hookup to our cordless phone base station continues to be rock solid.

If I made more than a few phone calls a week at home (neither of us back at the ranch are exactly “phone people”), I’d very likely upgrade to something more robust but still extremely cost-effective like the Ooma. One important thing it provides that Google Voice doesn’t is 911 service, almost worth the upgrade in and of itself.

Part Two, coming soon, will update cable-less entertainment choices.