“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” – Dr Emmett Brown, Back to the Future (1985)
I hardly ever use phones. Like many people, I do most of my communication either face to face, or using the net. That having been said, I find that I’m spending an enormous amount of money on telephones.
On average, I’m spending around £58 ($100) a month for something which I don’t think I really need.
Of that money, about 75% goes to Three, one of the least expensive mobile phone carriers in the UK — where I have one of the least expensive plans (Essential Internet 300 – just 300 minutes per month). That plan includes a 24-month contract which ends very soon. The rest is spent on a relatively inexpensive international calling service called “18185” and on SkypeOut credit which allows me to call regular phones using Skype.
So I recently called up Three (because you actually need to phone them to do this) to instruct them not to renew my contract. And which provider will I be using?
None. No one. No provider.
I’m throwing my mobile phone away.
(Not really — I’ll probably recycle the damn thing.)
But wait a minute, what if I want to have a, you know, conversation with someone who’s not in the room? What used to be called a “telephone call”?
I can already hear the objections.
Sure, you’re saying, but isn’t using Skype kind of clunky on a laptop or desktop?
It is, which is why I’ll be using an iPod Touch.
Well OK, that works, but what if I want to call you?
I’ve purchased a Skype online number — it’s a local number in London. It costs me £3.35 a month.
What if you want to call someone who’s not on Skype?
On the rare occasions where that might be case, I’ll use SkypeOut.
That’s great when you have WiFi, but what about the times you’re out and about?
First of all, I nearly always have WiFi. I have it at work and at home and in most cafes I might go to.
But on the off chance that I’m somewhere where I want to make or receive a phone call on a 3G or 4G network, I need a portable WiFi hotspot with me. So I’ve purchased a Huawei E5332 Unlocked Mobile Wi-Fi Modem on eBay for about £35.00. I’ll need a SIM card for that, so I’ll be taking the £5.00 a month data-only plan from GiffGaff, giving me 500 MB of data.
In other words, my monthly expense will be £8.35 (that’s the Skype Internet Number and the GiffGaff data-only SIM plan) — not £58.87. I’ll be saving £50 a month.
There remains the issue of how to deal with SMS messages.
Here are my thoughts:
- I’m encouraging people who need to instant message me regularly to sign up to Telegram Messenger, which works on a wide range of devices and is faster and more secure than WhatsApp (which doesn’t work on an iPod Touch or even an iPad).
- If someone does send me an ordinary text message to my phone, BT reads it out to me automatically.
- Finally, the Huawei device has a way to handle text messages which I’ll need to explore — an indicator lights up on the device and I can then read the message online.
So why do it?
First of all, I’ll save £600 ($1,000) a year.
I’ll have better quality phone calls — including free video calls when it’s Skype-to-Skype or using Apple’s FaceTime.
And the device I’m using has all the same apps and wonderful high-resolution Retina screen that the latest iPhone has — but weighs less and looks way cooler.
In fact I was stopped by someone on the Tube the other day who asked me if what I was using was an iPhone 6. (For the non-techies among you, there is no iPhone 6 — not yet.)
It just doesn’t get cooler than that.
So I’m ditching the mobile phone after 16 years of using one.
Phones? Where I’m going, you don’t need phones.