Buy And Cell

If you look hard enough, you can find a good cell phone plan on your own—but who's got the time?
3 min read

This story appears in the December 1999 issue of Subscribe »

Twelve years ago, the calls started coming in. "You've got to buy a cell phone," urged business associates who prided themselves on becoming early adopters. They sounded as though they were talking into a tin can hooked up to the real phone system by yarn, so it was easy to say "No thanks."

Pretty quickly, though, sound quality improved. But then I'd hear from associates who'd been hammered with $500 cell phone bills, sometimes higher still. Nor could anyone make sense of the rate plans-things like "roaming charges" seemed to inevitably push a $29.95 per month plan into the stratosphere. So I stuck to my resolve to boycott cell phones. Sure, the benefits of owning a cell phone were compelling-you're never out of touch, unless you choose to turn the thing off-but there was no way I would risk my financial solvency just to stay better connected.

That all changed last week when I stumbled into (

How did a Web site persuade me to go cellular? provides a quick way to drill through the glut of cellular offers (have you ever noticed how many fill the pages in a Sunday newspaper?) until you find one that works for you.

And if you already have a plan, can help you find a smarter deal. The big news nowadays is that, finally, sensible pricing has come to cellular service. Sprint ( and AT&T ( pioneered flat-rate pricing, but now just about all the cell phone operators have joined the act, and honest pricing has become the norm.

You can prove my point by heading to Just enter a ZIP code, and dozens of available plans pop up on the screen (68 in my ZIP, for instance). Click the features most important to you (monthly fee, minutes you'll talk monthly, contract terms), and suddenly, the choices narrow (to exactly one provider, in my case, but maybe you'll have more options). also provides details on the plans and a handy click-through that allows for online purchases.

Don't want to buy online? No problem-just use the site as a reference tool, because it's the quickest, simplest way around to sort through what's suddenly becoming a thick array of good cell phone plans.

Want still more info on cell phones? Other top sites include CellMania (, Everything Wireless ( and Epinions (

Robert McGarvey claims to never leave home without his cell phone--but nobody knows his number, so there's no verifying that.

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