Staying connected to your family (especially your kids) while you are on duty is incredibly important—not just for their morale but for your own! The easiest way to do this is with a smart phone. A smart phone will allow you to take pictures and video and send emails and, in a lot of ways, can take the place of a laptop.
Unfortunately, a lot of soldiers have a hard time finding the funds for the smart phone. Even if they can come up with the initial cost for the phone itself, finding a cellular plan that will accommodate periods of deployment can be a nightmare.
Here are some tips to help you make sure that you have the best phone and plan for while you are on duty (or even deployed):
Get a Secured Phone
Smart phone security improves every day. While Apple is known for the safety and security of its products, you shouldn’t count out the Android phone just yet. Many military personnel prefer Android devices because they are easier to customize than an iPhone. In addition to the base level of security that comes pre-loaded, you can install additional Android-specific security measures from the major internet security companies and developers.
Why the need for all of that security? Well, privacy isn’t usually the name of the game on-base, particularly while you are deployed. You don’t want an unauthorized user to use your phone for nefarious means. Plus, depending upon where you’re on duty, there might be local hackers who are looking for ways to compromise your system. The last thing you need is for them to get access to even a byte of your personal data!
Figuring Out Your Plan
Before you get talked into paying through the nose for a long term plan—even during the months when you are deployed and won’t be able to use your phone very often (if at all)—you should know that the FCC has rules and regulations that you can use to skew plans in your favor. Some of these rules allow you to suspend or cancel your plan while you are deployed without fearing extra charges or penalty fees from your carrier. Spend some time looking over these rules. Print them out so that you can show them to the cellular provider representative that you’re working with when you set up your plan.
Discounts, Free Stuff and Other Opportunities
By now you’ve undoubtedly heard about Cell Phones for Soldiers. Did you know that most cellular providers have similar programs in place? Call your provider and ask them for details about qualifying for a donated phone. Sure, it probably won’t be the most updated model or brand but any phone is better than no phone, right?
To that end, most companies offer deep discounts to active service people as well as veterans. Talk to a representative of your provider and ask if you can qualify for discounts on the phone or on your plan.
Yes, it’s hard to ask about what feels like special treatment. At the same time, isn’t having a reliable way to keep in touch with your family worth any dings that might get chipped away from your pride?