Okay. This one is for the techies. From Dan…
There are many things I could list that I miss about the US (if I gave it some thought) but incredibly huge cell phone bills isn’t one of them.
Thought you all might be interested in hearing how the ubiquitous cell phone bill is handled here. There are roughly 3.5 million folks living in the entire country of Panama and over 6 million cell phones registered. They LOVE their phones.
They do have monthly plans like the US, wherein you basically finance your cell phone purchase. Our new friend here that drives us around a lot and speaks English quite well since he spent 9 years in the US as a kid, told me that his bill for him and his wife is around $90/mo for unlimited talk and data. But that is also for a plan that gives him and his wife a new phone every year, too. When you actually buy your phone though, you can get cell service for about $12/mo on a monthly plan. Or, if you go prepaid like we’re doing (since we aren’t sure exactly which company will be best for our final destination) we were able to purchase data cards and voice cards separately. I paid $10 for a voice card that allows me to make voice calls for 8 cents per minute for outgoing calls and I’m never charged anything for incoming calls. That is good until I spend all of the $10, no matter how long it takes. Then I purchased a second card for data for $15 that gives me unlimited data for 30 days.
It’s great that they give you the ability to separate the two. Because most people here use VOIP apps like WhatsApp, Voxer and Viber for all their voice needs. When you use those for voice, it goes against your data limit and not voice minutes. You will rarely need to buy new voice minutes since you hardly ever use it. Just keep spending $15/mo on data cards for unlimited data and you’re good to go. That’s with prepaid cards. A contract would be even cheaper.
So between the three phones that we use here, we’re now spending about $45/mo for smartphone unlimited service (essentially). That same service in the US was over $200.
When we finally settle somewhere, we’ll sign a contract and our monthly bill will be around $35 for unlimited service for three Smartphones.
Verizon, T-mobile, AT&T and Sprint can all go take a flying leap off a short cliff. Money grubbers.