Finding the Best Cell Phone Plan For Your Family
Here are the things you need to consider when picking a plan for your family.
With most cell providers offer unlimited calling and texting, data and devices become the deciding factors for choosing a cell phone plan. The right plan for your family will fit your budget without cramping your style, but it can be confusing to choose, especially as new technologies become available. Here are the things you need to consider when picking a plan for your family.
Do You Need a 5G Plan?
What Is 5G Technology? Cell phone companies have been advertising the newly-implemented 5G technology since 2019. 5G improves on 4G, like 4G improved on the previous generation, 3G. While 5G provides speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G (peak rates of 20 Gbps), it does much more than that, including connecting to a greater variety of devices while being more affordable and efficient.
Networks must fulfill eight requirements to be considered 5G:
- Greater throughput and faster speeds
- Updates happening on the software level and not the hardware level
- Ability to remain connected devices in motion, even at high speeds
- Ability to handle up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometer
- Reduced energy usage via edge computing
- Delivering more data to users simultaneously
- Reduced data response times for more responsive applications
- Reliable 5G performance for business use
5G networks aren't available everywhere, which may affect which cell phone company and plan you choose (even 4G networks lack coverage in some locations). Furthermore, to take advantage of these benefits, your device must be 5G compatible. Each of the companies offering 5G has at least one 5G phone, and several have 5G hotspots. However, there are fewer choices than with 4G phones. If you have no complaint about 4G performance, prefer a manufacturer that does not yet offer a 5G phone, or find that 5G phones do not meet your budget, 5G may not be necessary for your family.
Choosing the Right Cell Phone Plan
Choosing between 4G and 5G devices is just the first step to finding the right plan for your family. First, you can consider prepaid versus contract plans. Prepaid plans are often cheaper and do not lock you into a contract, but typically require you to buy a phone outright or bring your own device rather than splitting the cost of the phone between bills during your contract period. Several companies act as MNVOs that have permission to use another company's hardware, but users will not be prioritized on those networks when the networks are busy.
Both contracted and prepaid plans may offer savings when you add an extra line; although, some companies offer other perks in place of discounts.
Many providers now offer perks such as access to streaming networks with their contracted plans, which might sway you if your family enjoys Disney, Prime, or Hulu, for example. It's also common for you to receive a wireless hotspot to use at home or when traveling, which enables you to connect other devices and use your cellular data.
Of course, data is often the most significant factor that people consider when choosing a cell plan, especially if that data must be shared between multiple users. If your family streams a lot of video or games, frequently travels without WiFi, or relies mostly on the wireless hotspot at home, consider upgrading to a plan that offers more data. If you only occasionally use large amounts of data, a lower plan may do the trick if you can choose to add more data when you need it. If you choose a plan with less data, pay attention to how slow speeds will become once you use that data or if you'll be charged for overages. This can ultimately cost more than a more expensive plan.
You can rest assured you've chosen the best cell phone plan when you know your needs.