Thursday, September 29, 2016

Keeping Connected - Update

Our days here in Salinas have admittedly been somewhat lacking in adventure...  Being stationary provides us with a mailing address... which makes it very easy for us to spend money.  We've ordered things we've needed for a while, and things to make our lives a little easier using our Amazon Prime membership until I'm starting to feel a little guilty.

But I've rationalized that once we leave here, it may be some time before we have this opportunity again... so....  We've also rationalized ourselves into getting a new phone plan.  So far, our Plan-for-keeping-connected has worked very well.  But very soon we will be continuing on to islands where we may stay only briefly.  Sure we can still get sim cards for our iPad but with the added obstacle of a new foreign language... Spanish was difficult enough but throw in French?

So we rationalized that if we deduct the cost of iPad data... we could do what so many other cruisers have done and sign up for a T-Mobile One account.  Our old iPhone is dying.  We terminated our long-time AT&T account when we left the states... but we kept our phone number... the one that connects our entire lives... and ported it through Google Voice.  The problem with Google Voice is that it needs a phone # - a Plan - to forward to... So we set up Skype.

The Skype has been great with a couple of drawbacks.  We have to have either data or wi-fi for it to work... and we have to be on the computer or iPad to hear it ring.  So we've missed calls.  It gives us great transcripts of voice messages via email... but it was still a missed call.

So, rationalization again... with the T-Mobile One plan, we can have a US phone number where people can call us... we can still use the Skype to  receive calls on our old phone number that everyone knows... they'll just forward to our new phone through Google Voice.   I know... complicated.  But once it's all set up, it works very well.

But what about the added cost of the new phone number?  How do we rationalize that?  Well, we only shut down our old AT&T account because we wouldn't be able to use it in the islands.  With this T-Mobile account, we WILL be able to use it... throughout the Caribbean.  We've added a data line for the iPad and splurged with the T-Mobile One PLUS, which speeds up our data.  So we can have a mobile hot spot through the iPad to run our computers... and it's unlimited data.

Friends who are already down as far as Grenada tell us that while there are some places that have no coverage, it has been pretty good overall.  And I would say that "pretty good overall" is better than nothing!

So we're paying for a new phone number and iPad (high speed) data for about $115 per month plus taxes...
We're paying for Skype services for less than $100 per year (allows us to keep our long-time phone number through Google)
 And what are we getting?  Well, we have basically three phone numbers that will all ring to our phone... We get high speed unlimited data on the iPad with mobile hot spot functionality in the states and throughout the Caribbean... We get unlimited text and data throughout the US and Caribbean...  This allows us to tether data service to our Macs and our Apple TV.

Now... if only we could figure out a way to stream US video services outside the US without paying for a VPN... Well guess you can't have it all!

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