A tightwad wrestles with a smartphone data plan

There are folks who believe a smartphone is useless without a data plan;  this is demonstratably untrue.  I have carried an smartphones for several years with no mobile data — palm, then windows, now android.    The lack of a data plan can be substantially worked around by having wifi on the phone.   Everything after the Treos had wifi, and I’d likely still be carrying the Treo 650 if it had wifi.


The upside to having no data plan is you can get a voice line by-the-minute cheap, assuming you don’t talk much on it (and I don’t).


Now, I am not dead-set against buying a data plan, but it’d have to be:

  1. cheap
  2. non-contract
  3. not be intentionally crippled for smartphones
  4. allow light tethering
  5. have decent (but by no means unlimited) bandwidth
This month TMO released the “$30 Monthly4G” plan;  basically 5gb of data before limiting to2G speeds (at the gmrs rather than EDGE speeds, I think), 100 mins of voice and unlimited SMS.  I don’t text much, so no biggie there.  But the voice mins are perfect for my usage patterns, and 5gb is more data than I will need.    Since I care more about connectivity than speed even the limited speed after the cap is fine with me.  
I put it through a rigorous wifi tethering test for a day, using the CyanogenMod Gingerbread stable version for my phone.  I limit the phone to 2G for battery purposes.  I’m not crusing youtube or anything like that.  I have AdBlocker, Flashblock and NotScripts running full bore, limiting unnecessary bandwidth use.  Works well for email, reading forums, etc.  The kind of stuff I do.    The phone gets warm at times, but not hot.  Cooler than when navigating.
A quick glance at ipconfig wlan0 on the tethered antiX linux laptop indicates that at full-bore usage (doing whatever email/browsing I want, other than software updates/installs or multimedia) is using less than 100mb/day.  This puts me at something like 2gb/month under normal circumstances and about 3gb/month if it’s my only internet feed (ie, my cable inet goes out).
So, is this full time feed (and no-added-cost tether) worth a dollar a day?  I suspect yes, but this is the honeymoon period.  And there is no contract so no penalty for quitting (other than the sunk $7 cost of the SIM).    I’ll let you know if I renew it next month.

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