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Save for Sprint, every other major US carrier has some sort of “opt out early” plan. T-Mobile kicked things off with their “Jump” offer, which was followed by AT&T’s costly “Next” scheme. Verizon was late to the game, but had a very fair showing with their “Edge” plan.

Where do we go from here, though? Are these plans really good for us, or are we still twisting in the wind with our carriers? These all take care of some of our needs, but only one option will solve them all.

Why is this happening?!

T-Mobile struck a nerve when they went with their “un-carrier” approach. Theirs was the first domino to be tipped, and the chain reaction has been poignant. What we can really take away from all of these plans is that each carrier views their customers differently, and that they probably make more money from the current business model than we’d be comfortable with.

Of the three plans on offer, T-Mobile’s is probably the most sound option, simply because their pricing is best.

Of the three plans on offer, T-Mobile’s is probably the most sound option, simply because their pricing is best. Then again, their network is the worst of the three, so you get what you pay for. AT&T is engaging in some unsettling price gouging, plain and simple. Their offering is so insulting, it’s painful to think about customers who don’t know better being coerced into that scam by AT&T employees.

With Verizon, I noted previously it was nearly perfect. Roundly criticised, I stand by that for one simple reason: Verizon has the best network in the country. The country’s largest carrier has presented a very fair “opt out” plan, void of monthly fees or hidden cost. They also have a customer base which is often frustrated about their Android update cycles, and this gives those users the chance to take off or get a new phone if they like.

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Bad business

The argument has shifted as of late. What was once a desire to be able to leave a contract early has now morphed into a discussion about monthly plan cost. With all three carriers, you’ll have to sign up for a plan; one that hasn’t changed in cost, save for T-Mobile who altered their monthly pricing a bit. The other two still have the monthly plan pricing you’ll find with a subsidized plan. Many consider this to be double dipping for the price of the phone.

If Verizon dropped their plan cost slightly, but charged a monthly fee, that would put them on par with T-Mobile.

They’re right.

Verizon’s CFO has gone so far as to say they won’t be altering the monthly plan cost like T-Mobile did, and that Verizon doesn’t expect many will even opt for Edge. On the flipside to that argument, they aren’t charging a monthly fee like the others.

If Verizon dropped their plan cost slightly, but charged a monthly fee, that would put them on par with T-Mobile. By not doing so, they’ve simply not been as translucent as we would like. This doesn’t mean they’re any more devious or greedy than the rest, just that they structured that greed differently. AT&T’s avarice is pretty straightforward, and T-Mobile’s is a bit more confusing with so much broken-out line-item costs. Verizon’s rapacity is plainly obvious, but not any better than the rest.

AT&T Next is a scam

What we want

Like we do with these plans, let’s break down the argument a bit. We wanted a way out of our two-year contracts early, without paying an early termination fee. Each carrier has done that for us, although the ETF is really just parsed out differently. Be it making sure your device is half paid for like Verizon asks, or a monthly fee for the option to leave, you’re still paying for that ETF in some way. You’re still covering the carrier’s’ financial backside, so to speak.

We wanted to save money, too, right? Well, that really doesn’t happen with any of these plans. Verizon may not discount their plans based on you paying for the device over time, but they also don’t charge a monthly fee for the thrill of being able to opt-out. T-Mobile discounted their rates, but the monthly fee probably makes up for that. AT&T is, well, AT&T.

Nexus 4

The solution

The carriers have taken care of some of our needs, as we now have the option to leave early. What they didn’t address was cost associated with doing so, but are we really surprised? Verizon alone has a near 50% profit margin, so why upset the apple cart? With the others charging a monthly fee for their various new schemes, the parity among the major carriers still exists, it just looks different.

If you want to own your device, be slave to no carrier master, have the option to come and go as you please, and save money, there is an answer. This option been there all along, but we’re reluctant to bite the bullet due to upfront cost. We should probably come to the understanding that carriers will never look out for our overall best interest, and it’s time we dignify that with a response.

If we did the math for our own pocketbook, as so many have done for the carriers’, we’d find this was probably our best option. We’ve told you how to get a great plan with T-Mobile by following this route, and I’ve made it clear how much money I’ve saved doing it. You’ll see no change in service, but you’ll avoid the headaches you see with any carrier plan, these new ones included. You know it, and I know it, so why not look into it already? It’s time to go prepaid.