T-Mobile introduced the Jump program as an opportunity for customers to upgrade at will. That’s what the commercials would have you believe, anyway. What it really comes down to is an insurance program that you can use up to twice a year, combined with an installment plan instead of the upfront equipment charge.
Now, Verizon has predictably come along with a competing plan called Edge. Again, it’s a simple insurance plan being rebranded as early upgrades. It shouldn’t be long before Sprint and AT&T follow suit with their rebranding. This is the new direction of cell phone programs and another step toward all-inclusive, month-to-month plans from every carrier, rather than the current subsidized two-year contracts in place.
Let’s look at how Edge and Jump compare. T-Mobile’s Jump program combines their Simple Choice plan, an equipment installment plan, and a $10 per month service charge to allow a customer the opportunity to replace their phone up to twice a year. For a single device, this could mean $50 for phone/text/web, plus $20 for unlimited data, an equipment installment payment of $20, and then the Jump payment of $10. This adds up to a sample monthly cost of $100. If you trade in a damaged phone, there will still be a deductible to consider, and the equipment installment plan may vary based on your credit history.
Verizon’s plan is slightly more traditional. Normally, Verizon gives you a phone (subsidized down to a reasonable price) and signs you up for a two year plan. With Edge, the only real change is that the full price of the equipment gets spread over the two years. So, rather than paying $199 up front for a subsidized device, you’ll pay 24 equal payments of $25. Again, credit matters. There’s also a deductible for damaged or lost phones. After six months in the program, you can upgrade to a different phone. The catch, though, is that you must have paid off half of your current device, which would normally take 12 months.
For both plans, if you walk away before your equipment is paid off, you’ll be charged a final payment to cover all remaining costs.
Which plan is right for you, if either, is up to your situation. This is a good indication that mobile communications is moving even further down the hole of commoditization and should lead to customers getting more service for less money and without commitment somewhere down the road – hopefully sooner rather than later.