Text Only Plans
Find Out About Text Only Plans
For many people voice calling is not a primary method of communication on their cell phone. Text messaging is their preferred mode. For these individuals, it makes no sense to pay fees for voice services they seldom or never used. The options for text or data only plans are somewhat limited but growing.
This page will cover most of what's out there to help you in your search.
Photo by ydhsu.
Why Would You Want a Text Only Plan?
There are a number of situations in which a text only plan can make a lot of sense.For parents with teenagers who text a great deal, but rarely or never talk. Face it, there are a significant number of people under the age of 30 who text exclusively. Costs can be held down if you don't pay for a service they don't use. Prepaid plans of course give parents even greater assurances that the budget won't be exceeded. For the deaf and those with a hearing loss. For some individuals, voice calling is pretty much useless, but text messaging offers them the communication they need. Text only plans save them from having to pay for voice services they can't use. For those who primarily need to text message versus talk due to their business or personal preferences. Some of the text only services below do not offer voice calls at all, but the rest charge a premium per minute fee, so voice calling should rarely be used under these plans except in the situation where we noted affordable unlimited voice/text plans that might meet your needs. Businesses may also find text/data only plans useful.
Data Only Plans From Traditional Cellular Providers
Traditional providers such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile do offer data only plans. Of course, a two year contract is generally required. Some of them are available only to those who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
AT&T has their Text Accessibility Plan (TAP) for the iPhone ($40/month) and iPhone 3G ($50/month). Both offer unlimited SMS messaging, e-mail, and internet as well as visual voicemail. If voice calls are made, the charge is 40 cents/minute. It appears that the plan is available primarily to the deaf and those with hearing impairment as their site indicates you have to qualify by completing a disability certification form. They do however offer a business version of the program for $65/month. You can learn more here.
Sprint on the other hand, offers their Relay Data Plan for $29.99. Users get unlimited domestic SMS messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, and internet. If voice calls are made, the charge is 20 cents per minute while incoming calls are blocked. However, in most cases the block can be removed if the user wishes. The Relay Data Plan appears to be available to the deaf and hearing impaired. Sprint offers several phone models for this service; most are currently priced from around $50 to $150. You can find more information about their data only plan here.
Verizon Wireless also has a text only plan. Users get unlimited domestic text, instant, picture & video messaging as well as internet for $34.99/month. Any voice calls would be charged at a 40 cents/minute rate. For those with a Blackberry, smartphone or PDA the price is $54.99/month but voice minutes would drop to 25 cents/minute. They have a variety of discounted phones available and you can view them or more details about the text messaging only plans here.
Currently, T-Mobile appears to have no text only plans. Historically, they've offered the Sidekick Data Plan, but at this time it's not available. In a phone conversation, a T-Mobile representative indicated consumers wanting data and texting only would need to purchase the cheapest plan that comes with 500 minutes and unlimited text and data for $70/month. They could then call customer care and have the voice minutes removed, leaving them with a $60/month plan with no voice calling. In partnership with Wal-Mart, T-Mobile does have a $30/month smart phone plan that provides unlimited Web access and Text Messaging with 100 minutes ot talk. It's not data only, but it might be close enough and affordable enough to be attractive to many of this same audience.
US Celluar has both a standard text only plan and a prepaid version that requires no commitment.They have a text messaging only plan that cost $30/month and a text and data plan for $60/month. These plans appear to be available to both deaf and hearing individuals. You can find additional information here.
Another Text Only Plan Option
A less well known option is now offered by Ting. This service allows customers to build their own plans based upon their usage. They are billed only for the services they use. If a customer uses less data than anticipated they are credited for the month. If they use more, they will be billed for the extra data but there is no penalty or overage charges for doing so.
If a customer chooses, they can avoid using voice minutes completely...resulting in a text only plan or data only plan if desired. You can learn more about what Ting offers and even calculate your bill by learning more on this page.
A Good Choice For Texting
This dual core Android phone features a slideout QWERTY keyboard and 4 inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display. It also has a 5 megapixel camera.
Other Options for Those Who Want Text Messaging Only?
Some prepaid providers don't necessarily offer text only plans but they may be economical nonetheless. Prepaid plans now offer affordable monthly rates, without the contract, that allow unlimited messaging as well as unlimited voice calls. If you choose not to use the voice calls, the price is still good. Not all of these plans offer unlimited data however if that's what you want.
One of the most affordable it appears is from MetroPCS. For as little as $30/month you can get unlimited voice and text messaging. You can see the details here. This page will highlight exactly what services are provided for this fee.
UPDATE: MetroPCS now has plans starting at $40.
There are also smaller prepaid providers that are available in some areas of the US which might also be an option. For instance Page Plus Cellular. I haven't used their plans, but it appears that you could buy minutes for as little as $10, they roll over, so you wouldn't have to buy them frequently. Then purchase one of their power text packages: $10.95 would get you 2,000 messages, and $19.95 would get you unlimited messages. It might be worth checking into if their service is sufficient in your area. Be sure you know how frequently you would need to buy minutes.
Another interesting product that can provide basic text messaging without voice calling is not a cell phone at all. It's a device called the Peek Pronto. This small device looks a bit like a professional calculator with it's full QWERTY keyboard, and 2.5" color QVGA screen. It's main skills are e-mail (up to 5 accounts) and text messaging. Users can view JPEG, PDF, and Word documents as well. It's affordable and costs under $20/month for service with no contract or, if you're not afraid of the commitment, you can pay just under $300 and get the device and lifetime service with no further cost.
Peek Pronto Review
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