(BPT) - With more than 320 million mobile phones in the country, it's no surprise that most Americans say wireless phone access is so important that it would be the last item they would give up if money were tight. What may raise an eyebrow is what else they're willing to cut to keep their mobile phones: cable TV, personal savings and spending on gas, according to a recent survey by Toluna, a market research firm.
'Today's connected consumers depend on their mobile phones, but are concerned with the cost of current mobile service offers in the market,' says Roger Entner, lead analyst of Recon Analytics. 'Even though they view their mobile phones as essential, they continue to look for the best value.'
With so many service plans and carriers, the mobile phone market can be expensive, confusing and frustrating. Fortunately, competition and innovative business models among service providers allow consumers more ways to save money on this essential service. Concerned consumers can control their budgets and simplify bills by evaluating several key mobile plan components.
* No limits - For those who use their mobile phones just for calling, a plan offering unlimited voice only can save a bundle. Add in text and data, however, and plan prices can climb. Many major carriers have dropped unlimited data plans, making them harder to find and more expensive. Despite this shift, there still are offers for unlimited voice, text and data on a 4G nationwide network for as low as $49 a month.
* Contracts - Most major mobile phone providers require an initial two-year contract, then allow users to continue on a month-to-month basis after the contract expires. To encourage customers to renew, many companies offer incentives such as free cellphone upgrades. Those looking for more control and simplicity can select contract-free plans.
* Customizable plans - Some service providers allow plan customization. Customers can choose features such as the number of phones on the plan, voicemail and texting, and be charged just for what they use.
* Managing costs - Responding to consumer demand for savings, mobile companies have launched several services designed to help control costs, including text alerts when users approach data limits.
One way to cut costs and even earn income is with a new mobile phone service called Solavei, which offers contract-free unlimited voice, text and data for $49 a month on a 4G nationwide network. The company also empowers its members with a unique opportunity to generate income by sharing with friends and family. The service allows members to earn $20 per month for every three members (called a 'Trio') they or someone directly connected to them signs up for mobile service. When members have three Trios, the income generated is greater than their monthly wireless bill of $49, essentially making their mobile service free. Members can continue to increase their recurring monthly income as they sign up more people and their network beyond them grows. For more information, visit www.solavei.com.
Competition in the wireless market may make the choices feel overwhelming, but there are opportunities for savings - or even earnings - for those who look. The expanded market and low-cost options mean more consumers have access to wireless service than ever before, granting everyone the ability to stay connected.