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Tracfone meets Android

Back then, Tracfone provided a pre-paid access to the common cell networks. The tickets were based on calendar days and cell network minutes so you could choose what best suited your needs. This worked well for those who needed inexpensive cell phone service and weren’t on the phones all the time.

Text messaging and data messed with the minutes of cell network use idea. Minutes turned into cell network usage credits and text messages used 0.3 of these credits each. There were additional credit usage rates for sending pictures and whatnot. This also led to double and triple minute (or network usage credit) options.

With the Android phones, Tracfone busted out voice, text, and data into three separate buckets. A one year 400 minute ticket would provide 400 minutes of voice plus 400 text messages plus 400 MB of data to use on the cell network over 365 days. Most Android phones include a triple option so the 365 day ticket yields 1200 minutes of voice plus 1200 text messages plus 1200 MB of data. Each each of these buckets is a separate limit, you can’t balance by trading between voice, text, and data to tailor it to your usage needs – at least via the cell network.

The key to the Android PCD (smartphone) is that you can do text messaging via the Internet and you can do Internet via WiFi. That is what allows you to balance the Tracfone service purchase buckets with your actual usage profile. At home or work or at one of the many public WiFi hotspots, you can use that for data and text messages. You can even use it for voice as well. That means that the Tracfone service fills in for when you don’t have I’net access and that is a way to keep the costs down as well as balance your usage needs.

For comparison, consider that the 1200 MB of cell network data service such as you’d typically get with a Tracfone 365 day ticket is about 1 GB. That has a value of about $15 by itself on other cell network data plans. If the Tracfone data bucket doesn’t quite fit what you need, you can go to Wallmart and get a pre-paid mobile WiFi hotspot for $50-$100 and buy data access to the cell network as you need it. This would also allow you to balance cell networks for better coverage when out and about as well.

Options are expanding. That means decisions need to be made. That means finding useful information. It can be enough to make your head spin.

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