I’m finishing my second month with my new provider, Ting, which is a service from Tucows. The company was founded in Michigan, is headquartered in Toronto, and is probably best known as a shareware, domain and internet provider from the 1990s (sadly no Boston connection for me to plug).
The basic approach of Ting is simple: pay a small fee ($6) for each device you connect, and then pay only for what you consume across those devices. So if you had two smartphones and a wireless hotspot, you would pay $18 per month to have them on the Ting network. If you consumed 500 MB of data, 400 minutes of voice, and 75 text messages across these three devices, you would pay $43 ($18 device fee + $25 consumption fee). The equivalent setup on Verizon would cost you $190 per month - 441% more than Ting.
Some additional features I appreciate are the real-time view of consumption, and the ability to send proactive emails based on usage. The downsides of Ting: the only available carrier is Sprint, and the phone selection is limited (no iPhone). But if you can live with these limitations, Ting will give you a glimpse of what the stodgy old mobile providers may become when they decide to enter the 21st century.
If you decide to give Ting a try, I suggest you get a referral from an existing customer to get the $25 discount on your first device (person referring gets a credit too). Drop me an email if you want a referral.