Off Contract: Living Without a Cell Phone Plan

Meet Maria. A former collegiate golfer from Spain. She spent four years in the United States without a cell phone plan.

As much as we hate our cell phone plans and their carriers we’re chained to them for two years at a time. Dealing with mystery fees and throttled data we continue on with our lives accepting this as the status quo. The average individual cell phone bill in America is around $71 per month or $852 per year – a hefty fee for an exchange student.

To maintain her exhausting social life Maria used an iPhone 4, iMessage, a neat little app called TextMe and a whole lot of WiFi.

TextMe assigns a real phone number to the user and a convenient messaging/calling app. The TextMe user will message and call their friends using the app. The user can give their friends the assigned phone number to maintain the facade of a normal phone. This is important for contacting non-iPhone users since they do not have the option of iMessage.

The trick for TextMe to provide all this functionality for free is their unique ad model. They provide credits for watching ads and downloading certain apps. Each ad and app are worth specific credits. Credits can be redeemed for text messages and phone calls. For instance, a ten minute phone call is worth about ten credits and one downloaded app is worth around eleven credits. If you spend each morning watching ads and downloading apps you’ll have a fully functioning phone for the week with no out of pocket expenses.

Being the resourceful character she is, Maria found WiFi almost everywhere. As a college student WiFi is abundant. Campus housing provides WiFi in the building and all classrooms are WiFi enabled. Maria could call and text all day, provided she had enough credits. Even when she went out on the town she was able to find an internet connection. If you look hard enough you can find WiFi in most bars and clubs.

The only real trouble Maria had was on the golf course. Naturally courses aren’t covered by a blanket of internet but this was not a big issue. By being disconnected for a few hours a week, she had time to focus on her game. Uninterrupted practice allowed her develop the skills to win tournaments and focus on her future of becoming a professional golfer.

The telecommunications industry is ripe for disruption. Consumers are practically begging for it. Companies like Republic Wireless are taking steps in the right direction but there’s room for others. I want to be a part of this transformation. Don’t you?

2 comments Add yours
  1. I would imagine Google Voice would be perfect for this as well, given that you don’t have to earn credits to send texts or make voice calls.

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