A year or so after the first iPhone came out I went on eBay, bought one, and jailbroke it when it arrived so I could use it with T-Mobile, which was my wireless network. I think I was paying something like $50/month at the time for T-Mobile BlackBerry service, and unlocking the iPhone and using it with T-Mobile’s network made sense.

By I think late 2010, AT&T was hawking its unlimited data plans. I think it was still the sole wireless carrier offering the iPhone, and data speed with AT&T was way beyond T-Mobile at this point. I switched in December.

I’ve been with AT&T for practically five years, and while the unlimited data has been great, the price hasn’t been. And in AT&T’s attempts to incent its unlimited data users to downgrade to limited data plans, they jerked around earlier users like me.

Examples: I had to deal with talk and text limits unless I wanted to pay more than $120/month for unlimited everything service. I wasn’t allowed to use my iPhone as a hotspot. And after 5GB of use in any given month, I had to deal with throttled data speeds.

Even after a 10% Penn State discount, my AT&T plan was still running ~$83/month after tax. And with the rumored end of two year contracts that subsidize the cost of a device, I was ready to switch.

Re-enter T-Mobile. I’ve been watching John Legere and T-Mobile for the past two years and what he’s done to breathe life back into the company has been awesome. I love the enthusiasm, and I like the blend of bravado, marketing, and apparently genuine change in corporate culture.

A scrappy underdog is compelling. I was able to order a free T-Mobile SIM card on their site and use my existing iPhone with their network, just like I did with the first iPhone. Their service in cities is excellent, and I’ll soon find out if/how bad service gets in rural areas. The speed test above is from State College, PA. A typical AT&T download speed was ~5 mbps.

For now, I’m on the $50/month unlimited talk/talk plan with 1GB LTE data with slower unlimited data after. I’m curious to see how seriously I’m throttled after the first 1GB this month, and will probably eventually switch to their unlimited talk/text/LTE data plan in a month or two. At $80/month, it would still cheaper than my old AT&T plan, with the benefit of standard T-Mobile features like hotspot functionality, free in-flight texting, and free international data.

The key cultural difference for me is returning to the era of owned, unlocked devices, with no contract service plans. It feels great.

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