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US cellphone plans are expensive

Cell phone plans in the United States are pretty expensive. For those of you not living in the US (analytics reports that's 15% of you), let me give you a rundown of the carrier situation here: (hint: it's all about the cost).

US Carriers

There are four major networks, with a few minor ones that are partnered with the major ones: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. AT&T and Verizon tend to have the best overall coverage, while T-Mobile and Verizon tend to have better speeds. Sprint has by far the worst coverage, speed, and network quality, but also tends to be the cheapest or offer the best deals. Verizon tends to be the most expensive, but also offers LTE cellular service in very remote regions of the country.

There are also MVNOs that offer cheaper substitutes or prepaid plans, some of the most popular being Cricket Wireless, Tracfone, and Ting. Project Fi is relatively new and gaining in popularity, but is limited to Google-branded devices, so it will be ignored for the purposes of this analysis.

All four carriers offer plans ranging from $60 to $100, offering unlimited minutes and text messages, and varying amounts of data, usually between 1 and 10GB, sometimes offering unlimited "2G" or 128 kbps data. Side note: T-Mobile recently upgraded all of their "One Plus" plans to 256 kbps overage data. These carriers incentivize multiple line "family plans," offering more bang for you buck. These are the most popular plans, and most people have plans that offer these large data buckets. With the decline of net neutrality rules, all of these carriers have been aggressively pushing zero-rated data, with T-Mobile offering the most with its "Binge On" and "Music Freedom" features zero-rating popular services like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify.

Prepaid plans from MVNOs have also taken rise, with Tracfone and Ting's pay-as-you-go model or Cricket Wireless' cheaper $30 plan offering 3GB of data and unlimited talk and text. However, I would argue even this is quite expensive...

Why? Just look at other countries.

Other Carriers

If you look at other countries, let's take a look at, for example, the country of Georgia.

Country of Georgia

In Georgia, carriers like Magticom, Geocell, or Beeline offer plans with data from 1GB to 5GB for prices around 5GEL. This translates to around $2 USD. At that price in the US, you're almost able to get 30 minutes or texts, which is offered by T-Mobile at $3 a month.

Georgia isn't the only one doing this, either. In Qatar, for around 20 to 60 QR from carriers like Vodafone, you can get 1GB to 5GB, and this comes in around $5 to $10. For an equivalent pricing structure in the US, you can usually get 100 minutes talk or text, which is very little, and often times a part of Sprint, who has the worst coverage of everyone.

Final Notes

I understand that there are certain reasons for prices being this low, like government subsidization, less area to cover (compared to the expanse of land in the US) or various other reasons, but my quick comparison really reveals how expensive cell phone plans in the US are.

If other countries can do it, why is the US left so far in the dust?

Gideon Tong