The Cell Phone Bill Roller Coaster

Cell phone bills seem to be on an ever changing roller coaster. Back in the day it seemed that the only people who could afford cell phones were wealthy investors like Gordon Gecko on the move “Wall Street.” For a time people worked towards finding an cheaper alternative to cell phones by using pagers and even two way pages (the grandfather to modern day texting) but towards the early 2000’s it seemed as though the market was making way for more affordable monthly cell phone bills. Between cheaper technology and established carriers needing to compete with newcomers to the cell phone game it provided more of a buyers’ market.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent an average of just $210 per year on cellular service back in 2001. That’s less than $20 per month, compared to today’s rate that’s unbelievably low. The average cellphone bill in 2010 was more than $63 per month or $760 per year. So what happened? When did cell phones go from being surprisingly affordable to now making it so that some people can’t afford to pay their cell phone bill?

It Happened When Phones decided to Get Smart.

Since the smartphone evolution phones have started doing more and more. In the early 2000’s you were usually limited to how much you could text and all you could do was play snake on your phone. Nowadays cell phones have become a home office that happens to fit in your pocket. From your smart phone you’re able and to make calls, send text messages, read and send emails, with that being the case fewer and fewer people are setting up land line phones.

Landlines used to be the only reasonable source of nationwide calls, and even internet usage that’s not that case anymore. Almost all cell phone plans include nationwide cell phone coverage or unlimited nationwide coverage at nights and on weekends so there is no longer the need to pay the outrageous long distance fees charged by landline companies. Also, there’s no need for dial up modems, and DSL internet that is provided through telephone lines has become a dinosaur in comparison to the high speeds of cable and fiber optic networks. In addition to landlines offering out of date internet coverage some people have started using their smart phones to replace their home internet altogether, with the ability to simply add devices to a shared data plan on 4GLTE speeds there’s almost no reason to have home internet anymore.

As cell phones have begun to replace more and more of home services, people have found it easier and easier to justify the higher monthly fees. Ten years ago people might have been paying $70 a month for their home phone service and $30 for their cell phone bill, that has now flipped with their cell phone bill moving towards $70 and their home phone (if they even keep it) costing around $30.

Not to Mention the Games

When cell phones first came out the games were pretty limited, people were excited if they could move a little black and white snake around a pixelated screen. Nowadays smart phones have started replacing most handheld gaming systems and have drawn the focus of most of the major software development companies in the world turning the smartphone game industry into a multi-billion dollar industry. While cell phone bills are on the rise people also find themselves spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars feeding their “app addictions.” While most of these apps don’t directly affect the price of cell phone service they often require a data plan to be able to take advantage of the full capabilities.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds, if the roller coaster affect will continue to take place as more competitors enter the market driving prices down or if newer technologies will require more data usage and increased fees. Either way, always make sure to check your monthly cell phone bills and confirm that you have the best package for what you’re using. If you find yourself constantly paying overage fees it will be better to upgrade your plan, also, if you come nowhere close to using your allotted minutes or data each month you’d probably be able to save a lot of money by downgrading your plan. Also, see if you employer has a discount with any service providers, oftentimes companies will be able to negotiation a 15-20% discount with cell phone carriers for their employees.

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