Required Smart Phone Data Plans

Does anyone else think it unfair?

Why are we required to buy a data plan for a smart phone?  That is like saying that your all in one printer / fax / scanner being required to send faxes.  Okay, so that is not a great analogy, but I think you get the point.  While you may have a DVD/VCR Combination at home, that does not mean you will be watching a VHS tape this weekend.

When I purchased my first iPhone, I was on T-Mobile and was unable to use it as a phone, but it functioned quite fine as a iPod touch (with phone capability).  After a year I decided to take the “brick risk” and free the phone from AT&T.  I used it for 3 years on T-Mobile before upgrading to a new phone and switching to AT&T due to a customer service issue with T-Mobile.

Pre-Paid Monthly No Contract Plans

When looking to get a local number I checked out the monthly cell phone plans.  I really did not want to have a contract for 2 years and was happily surprised to discover that it cost less money per month without a contract!

Why is that?

  • No discount on phones
  • Lower data plan rates

Hmm..that list was much smaller than I thought it would be.

Reasons not to sign a contract

  • Lower monthly rate
  • No contract
  • No data plan requirement

WiFi is Everywhere and Free!

Once in a while I do wish I had a data plan, but at the current prices, have not even considered it.  You can’t use a GPS function without it, but that just means you need to plan your route and print a map or get a GPS for you car which does not have a service charge.

Unlike data plan restrictions and rate increases, the number of free WiFi hotspots seems to be increasing.  Businesses realize that customers want the convenience and competition has dictated the need.

FiOS Expansion Halted?

I have heard rumor that the expansion of FiOS has stopped.  Service providers are focusing on wireless Internet access at high costs over the faster, lower priced hard wired cable and phone company connections.  Sure, satellite will always be an alternative to Cable TV, but will we have any options for Internet access in the future?

Help from the FCC?

I believe it was the Federal Communications Commission that has required GMS phones to be unlocked.  While it does take a little prodding from them, you will be provided unlock codes when available.  While I don’t believe it, AT&T claims there are no unlock codes for iPhones, though you can buy unlocked iPhone 3Gs for $350, 4G for $550, and 4Gs for $650 from a provider or Apple directly.

Why does the government not step in a stop the rapid increase in data plan rates and the tightening data use restrictions?  I am convinced there is price fixing going on between the various carriers. I also believe they have worked out an “understanding” to require those who purchase a “smart phone” to buy their expensive slow data plans.

Should we lock in on an Unlimited Plan before they are gone?

For now I am happy I am not locked in, but as the data plan costs go up and the amount of data is being reduced, I wonder if I should quickly lock in a low priced unlimited data plan before they are gone.  Not many companies still offer them, or if they do, they “throttle” down your data speed the more you use.

Free WiFi seems to be abundant, and someone near  you on the bus probably has a Data Plan you can mooch if you need to 🙂

Volunteer Update

5 Years

I have been keeping track of my volunteer contacts since 24 March 2007.  This was also the time I started to volunteer at the National Zoo and the National Air and Space Museum.  It is amazing that I have been volunteering for such a long time.  I have been in DC for about 5.5 years now, since Sept 2006.


The number of people I have interacted with during my volunteer activities.  I thought a a goal of 1 million was not going to be such a big feat since 1 million dollars seems like nothing to some individuals, but it has taken a long time.


  • 140611 Air and Space Greeting
  • 1150 Air and Space Education
  • 37383 Zoo Interpreting
  • 49 Tours at Zoo
  • 4315 Washington Area Bike Association
  • 2859 Other (National Park Service, Zoo Special Events)
  • 1412.5 Hours
  • $135 in tour donations

My initial goal was 35 years, and I was able to lower that to 25 years based on a larger subset of data.  Based on a rate of 102 per day, it is going to take me 21.8 more years.

~21.8 years to go

While it does seem like a long way to do, I do enjoy volunteering and look forward to “clicking” 1 million times 🙂