My dad, who’s turning 70 in a month and a half asked me the other day to look into what getting an iPhone would cost. The research I did for him turned out significantly more interesting than I could have predicted.
My parents aren’t early adopters by any means. They’ve only had broadband for a couple of years now. Before that, they used AOL dialup. My father still clings to his AOL account, although, I’ve just last month got him to stop using their Mac desktop software.
My mother wanted a first generation iPad and got one. She uses it mostly for reading, both iBooks, digital borrowing from her local library, light Internet browsing, and light email usage. Oh, and solitaire-like games. It’s the perfect computer for her.
They have have sub 1Mbps DSL at home (no cable, they use satellite, which they just upgraded to HD this year, to go with a bought-from-a-friend, 1st generation CRT HDTV—it doesn’t even have an HDMI port!) They have Comcast’s entry-level cable internet at their retail hardware store. For those of you who don’t know me well, my parents own and operate a literal “Mom and Pop” hardware store in a semi-rural southeastern Connecticut shoreline town.
They have a pre-pay flip phone for when they’re out and about, and the trips to see the grandchildren.
So how could they possibly qualify as “living in the future?” It all starts with that iPhone request.
I looked into what it would cost them to buy an iPhone on Verizon (AT&T coverage at their home is terrible, I can personally attest). 1 phone, with the smallest contract would be about $80+tax. Dad said they’d consider buying two phones, depending upon the cost. That’s where things got interesting.
A share plan would cost them $140 a month for 2GB of data across two iPhones. They’re very rarely apart, and the case for having two phones is not so strong. But, what if we remove one iPhone from the account and add in an LTE mobile hotspot? Then things get surprisingly interesting.
The per month cost drops to $110. According to Verizon’s coverage maps, their home and store both are very close to maximum LTE coverage, and are solidly into their “pretty good, but occasionally falls back to 3G data” coverage. Theoretically, if tests with actual hardware on site panned out, they could drop both their home and store wireline Internet connections, replacing them with the wireless hotspot.
Let’s look at those costs:
- $20/month for 768kbps DSL
- $50/month for 5Mbps cable
That’s $80 right there, or about 73% of the cost of the LTE account’s monthly costs… for comparable or better performance. That actually is better because it can follow them anywhere in the United States, and should have them paying fewer taxes on one account, instead of taxes across two.
But wait, they’d also be dropping their pre-paid flip phone, gaining more talk time, gaining SMS service, and all the benefits of an iPhone (GPS, any one?). But that also is another monthly cost that gets replaced by the LTE account… let’s say it’s $20 a month to keep that phone full:
$20 (DSL) + $50 (cable internet) + $20 (cell phone) = $90… they’re currently paying 82% of the cost of the LTE account already… for inferior services.
Theoretically, they could also drop their home phone service, as well, which is at least $30 a month. They won’t, but if they did, they would actually save money by going with a minimum Verizon LTE Share Anything plan.
Why this works for them is that they don’t use a lot of data. 2GB would be sufficient for their current usage. But, even if they started streaming more video, it would be a small added cost to increase their data cap, and still affordable compared to their current setup.
If the coverage and speeds hold up, this would be a very cool thing for them. And they’d be living in the future!
2 years ago