Sunday, July 28

Keeping My Sprint Kickstart After T-Mobile Merger

UPDATE: I went in to two T-Mobile Stores with my Moto G (5th Generation) and Moto One, and both phones were able to be updated to T-Mobile. Supposedly, nothing changed with my account. At least that's what the email said. One store had a harder time than another updating my phone, but both eventually worked. However, the phones would not send text messages when I enabled the advanced chat settings, so I've disabled that. And, I still lose reception right near the airport, which means the main problem I had to bother to get on the T-Mobile network was not fixed. But I guess I am officially on T-Mobile with a Kickstart plan, and that's still not bad at $40 a month. Original article follows.

I know I'm not the only one out there with a legacy (year-old) Sprint Kickstart plan. I get two accounts of "unlimited" data and Sprint's blah network for $38 a month total. I think it was $15 per line plus taxes and fees. That's not a lot of money for two mostly reliable phones that can use as much (throttled) data as I want, so I want to keep it.

You might be in a similar situation, or you might be considering one of Sprint's current Kickstart offer of $20. Basically, if you can live with the throttled data (like 480p video), and don't care about creating hotspots to share that throttled data, then you are good to keep or even enroll in a new plan. For now.

The merger will finalize in the fall of 2019. Then, nothing is really supposed to change drastically for three years. Your Sprint calling network might get a little better with less roaming. But I'm not sure you'll get any better data roaming. There is also a GSM vs CDMA difference in networks that might play a role. The main point is that if you are currently satisfied with Kickstart, which I am, then it probably will be the same plan for as long as you want to keep your current phone. At least that's what is being claimed.

If the initial excitement of the merger and T-Mobile's new offers are not enough to add subscribers, then the Kickstart crew will likely become a target at some point. Maybe one year in, we'll get some kind of upgrade or leave offer. My phone will be two or three years old by then, and I'll be ready to see what's available. 

There's nothing wrong with holding onto a legacy phone plan. I was on a plan handed down from my mom for about a decade, back before everyone had a smart phone, that cost about $15 a month for phone service. It was totally fine until everyone started texting (that plan charged like five cents per text). Eventually, those old phone plans, even if they are cheap, probably don't cut it. Once every Sprint customer is expected to be on T-Mobile's network, my phone will be obsolete, and I'll be moving on. But there's no real hurry. 

My advice is to hold onto those Kickstart plans. If I feel the need to upgrade because of a job or whatnot, I'll just get a new plan with a new number and transfer the Kickstart to a family member, or just use it as a second phone line. It's that cheap, when you think about it. For $20 a month, you could just give the phone to your grandma in a nursing home to use for fun, assuming Sprint's network works there. For now, however, it's my main phone, and I'm keeping it.

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