A reader Valerie writes,
I am currently under contract with my iPhone 5 through AT&T and I’m thinking about cancelling my contract and going prepaid. It’s a toss up if I should stay with AT&T or go over to Net10. If I stick with AT&T would I need to mess with setting up the data and MMS? And if I went with Net10 would I need both the AT&T and T-Mobile SIM cards to set up data and MMS?
Thanks for writing. You definitely can save over half the cost of your AT&T plan by switching to Net10.
First before canceling your contract, you need to find out the cost of the early termination fees for AT&T. Luckily, AT&T has a web page for that. http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/articles-resources/early-term-fees.jsp It costs $325 and you can subtract $10 for each month of service you have completed on your contract. Since the iPhone 5 came out last Septembe, at most you would be subtracting $60-$70. Switching to Net10 could easily save you $40 a month or $480 a year. The payoff for you would really come in the second year. For the first year you would need to subtract your early termination fees from your savings.
I haven’t signed up for the AT&T prepaid service yet. So I don’t know what is required to configure data and mms on their prepaid service.
Best case is you put their SIM card in and it all works. If it doesn’t, configuring data only is pretty easy. You go to a web site and download a configuration file. MMS is a little harder, you need to know the settings needed for MMS and use the SIM swap message to hack around the fact that Apple hid the menu. I’d also note, that many iPhone users send picture messages to other iphone users and end up using iMessage versus MMS without even knowing it.
It’s annoying to configure, but you stand to save a lot of money. Once you get it configured, you don’t really think about it. If you update the software on your iPhone, you may need to set it up again. I’d recommend reading through the post on my blog. I have discussed the pros and cons of Net10, T-Mobile, and StraightTalk.
To make an informed choice, you should have a sense of how heavy of a voice, data, and MMS user you really are. The AT&T prepaid is 1GB of Data for $65 a month. Net10 is 1.5GB for $50. If you live in a city where T-Mobile has upgraded there support for iPhone you can get a great deal on truly unlimited data!
If you are a light data and voice user, there are even cheaper options. Also remember with prepaid, you are only committed for a month. You can jump from service to service until you find one you like.
Feel free to email me if you have more questions.