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As more consumers in the United States are jumping on the smartphone and tablet bandwagon — personally, I contribute to this mess with one of the latest phones with Android software as well as a first-generation iPad — there’s less room in the limited airwaves for customers’ needs to access the internet and occasionally make telephone calls over mobile networks. Mobile carriers are doing what they can to preserve what remains of the spectrum, usually by increasing prices or limiting bandwidth.

The idea behind the peak oil movement is that in the future — and sometime soon — the world will not be able to efficiently produce as much oil as the citizens of the world need to consume, and due to the imbalance between supply and demand, prices for oil (and thus everything else that relies on oil) will skyrocket. Peak oil has been proven difficult to predict.

TabletUnlike peak oil, wireless carriers know how much spectrum they have left before they can’t support any additional traffic over the air. The situation is similar to real estate. There’s only so much available land for construction, and as the available land in any area with adequate demand is sold, the pressure of the lack of supply drives prices up. Dish Network, for example, has a significant amount of unused spectrum, and it would like to sell what it isn’t using to a wireless provider that desperately needs the spectrum to satisfy its customers.

As companies need to devote more of their resources towards increasing spectrum — whether through consolidation attempts in the industry like AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile — or through buying spectrum from other owners at a high price — and as companies use pricing to limit customers’ use of the spectrum, the cost for a family or an individual to receive the same level of service is going to increase.

Save money on your cell phone bills

You can keep your cell phone bills in check:

  • Use a service like Validas to make sure you’re paying for the best mobile plan for you.
  • Compare prices across carriers. Don’t just consider the mainstream plans with the major carriers; pre-paid mobile phone plans could cost less.
  • Consider skipping internet-enabled devices. If all you need to do is talk, you can save yourself the expense of the latest high-tech phones and stay on a less expensive voice plan.
  • If you have other telecommunication services, like cable television and home phone, consider bundling these services to save money.
  • Call and ask for a discount. Sometimes, you can get a price break just by asking. Don’t threaten to leave, though, unless you’re willing to live up to that promise.

I’m currently paying over $100 per month for my mobile phone service with Verizon Wireless, which includes my phone with 4G smartphone service as well as a 3G service for my iPad through a separate device. How much do you pay for your mobile phone service? Are you prepared for this cost to increase in the next year or two as companies fight over remaining broadband spectrum?

Photo: @iannnnn
CNN Money

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It wouldn’t be a weekday in May without another giveaway. This month is Giveaway May at Consumerism Commentary. Each day, I’ll have some to reward readers valued $50 or more. Today’s a good day for the winner; thanks to a partnership with personal finance blog Beating Broke, I am able to offer Amazon.com’s reading device, the Kindle. This is the ad-free Wi-Fi only version.

Beating Broke is a website about becoming debt free. Avoiding unnecessary debt — and changing life to make debt unnecessary — is key to securing a financial future. Being in debt means the money you earn belongs to someone else. For some, the comparison between debt and slavery is easy to make.

Amazon KindleIf you’re interested in winning a Kindle, you’ll need to complete the following tasks by 11:59 PM Eastern Time, May 20, 2011. Late entries will not be accepted.

  1. Subscribe to the Consumerism Commentary RSS feed using your favorite RSS reader. You can use these buttons to add Consumerism Commentary directly into your favorite software, and if you’re already a subscriber, you can skip this step.
  2. Subscribe to the Beating Broke RSS feed using your favorite RSS reader. You can use these buttons, and if you’re already a subscriber, you can skip this step.
  3. Look for the phrases of the day at the end (or at the beginning) of the latest articles in your RSS reader. There will be one phrase from Consumerism Commentary and a different phrase from Beating Broke.
  4. Email both phrases of the day to may20@consumerismcommentary.com by 11:59 PM Eastern Time Friday, May 20, 2011.

If you win, you’ll need to meet all the conditions outlined in the Giveaway May introduction. Good luck!

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All this month is Giveaway May at Consumerism Commentary. Every day, I’ll be choosing one winner randomly for a prize. Each day there is a small challenge in order to qualify for the giveaway, and today is no exception.

Today I have a Kindle With Wi-Fi from Amazon.com to give away. This is the version that does not contain ads or sponsored messages for the screensaver. It is ad-free, and you can use the device to read a large library of books. You can even read Consumerism Commentary on your Kindle, and a wide variety of other blogs and news websites is available.

Amazon KindleToday’s challenge is a little different than those I’ve had so far. You can enter multiple times for this giveaway, earning “points.” The more points you earn, the more of a chance you have to win the Kindle.

  1. Comment on this article with your favorite book or a book you anticipate reading soon. One point. Leave only one comment; you won’t receive more than one point for leaving more than one comment, and you must mention a book to receive this point.
  2. Subscribe to the Consumerism Commentary RSS feed and let me know in your comment that you have done so. Two points. If you are already subscribed, say so in your comment. If not, you can use these buttons to subscribe:
  3. Sign up for the Consumerism Commentary email newsletter and respond to the confirmation email you receive through email to let me know you’ve subscribed. Three points. If you’re already a subscriber, respond to the last email I sent.
  4. Follow @luke_landes on Twitter and tweet the following message: Pls RT! Win a Kindle from @luke_landes. Today only! http://flexo.me/cckindle — when you’re logged into Twitter, you can automatically enter that text by clicking here. Let me know that you’re following and you’ve tweeted the message by saying so in your comment. Four points plus one bonus point for every 1,000 followers you have with a maximum of five bonus points.
  5. Become a fan — or “like” — Consumerism Commentary on Facebook. If you are already a fan, don’t fret. You will qualify, too. Let me know you’re a fan in your comment below. Two points.
  6. Share this article on your Facebook wall, and let me know that you’ve done so in your comment below. Three points.

You don’t need to do all of the above, but the more you do, the better chance you have of winning. That’s twenty points you can earn if you accomplish all of the above tasks and have at least 5,000 Twitter followers. At a minimum, the comment on this article is necessary to be awarded any points. As with all of the giveaways on Consumerism Commentary, you must qualify in order to win. The requirements are listed in the Giveaway May introductory article.

Today’s deadline is extended to midnight Eastern Time. In order to win, your comment and any other actions must be received or accomplished before the deadline.

Thanks for reading Consumerism Commentary!

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The year 2000 was not an easy one for me. I had hardly any money thanks to a low-paying non-profit job and student loan debt. Even when not spending much beyond the necessities, I wasn’t improving my financial condition. I was moving around from apartment to apartment; by 2004 I would had lived in seven different locations in four years, in different locations across the sate of New Jersey. It became apparent that I was going to need a cell phone, and I was probably one of the last of my friends to get one. This was at a time I had no money for tech.

In 2000, it was clear that Verizon Wireless offered the best service and coverage in my area, so I chose them over Cellular One, AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS, and Nextel. I’ve been a customer of the company since then. Every two years, I renewed my contract and benefited from the “New Every Two” credit of (previously) $100 to use towards a phone, usually making the new phone free. Of course, I was not required to buy a new phone every two years or sign a new contract. I often did wait longer than two years to use the credit and re-sign my contract. For my first renewal, I waited until I had a new job and was earning some money. I was happy to see the Kyocera go; by that time, the phone’s technology was considered ancient.

I’ve taken advantage of the “New Every Two” discount several times since then, despite Verizon Wireless reducing the credit to $50. Some customers today qualify for only a $30 credit because the value depends on the type of calling plan that accompanies the phone.

Verizon Wireless has been offering bad news lately. First, the company announced that the carrier will begin offering the iPhone, but with only 3G capability. Now, customers who sign a new contract or renew a contract after January 16 will have no “New Every Two” discount to look forward to. The discount was a good way for Verizon to maintain loyal customers. To be clear, existing customers who have New Every Two on their contract will have the chance to use their New Every Two discount, even after January 16, but after that, New Every Two will not be part of their new contract, and the credit will not be available when they renew again two years later.

Will the company be able to keep customers without offering significant incentives to prevent attrition to other carriers?

Photo: Sonny Side Up!

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Make Sure You Really Want to Jailbreak Your iPhone

by Smithee

If you heard about it at all, you heard right: it’s no longer illegal to jailbreak your iPhone. That means you can install any app you want on it, regardless of whether it exists in the official App Store. But according to Apple, this will void your warranty, so proceed with caution. I’d recommend looking ... Continue reading this article…

6 comments Read the full article →

Amazon Kindle, Chapter Three

by Smithee

Amazon’s 3rd-generation Kindle e-reader, set to be released on August 27th, had me worried for a little while. My gadget-y friends and I often wonder aloud about upcoming features and technology advances, and many of them assumed Amazon would try to make it more like an iPad. As a happy owner of a 2nd-generation Kindle, ... Continue reading this article…

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Your Plans for the New iPhone 4

by Smithee

We recently asked you to take a poll about your iPhone upgrading intentions, including your contract situation and which hardware features you found the most tempting. The results were sometimes surprising. 162 people answered the poll, and 48 percent of you are planning on upgrading within two months from today. That’s much higher than I would ... Continue reading this article…

7 comments Read the full article →

I Want the New iPhone & I Don’t Care What’s In It

by Smithee

Apple’s new iPhone hardware will be formally unveiled next Monday, and I’m already itching to be able to buy it. I bought the original iPhone within a few weeks of it being available, and I upgraded to the iPhone 3G just a couple months before the iPhone 3GS came out. My wife has had that ... Continue reading this article…

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