I was looking at my cell phone bill online this evening, and saw that Sprint keeps an archive of my bills that go back two years. So I thought it’d be cool to see how my usage has fared over time (and maybe inform my future choice of calling plans).
After some trouble manually harvesting the data*, I plotted it to show my daytime and off-peak (nights and weekends) usage compared to my monthly bill.
Over this time period, I’ve used Sprint’s “fair” and flexible plan, which gives me a moderate number of daytime minutes to use a month (originally it was 300, currently it’s 400). Above that, time gets portioned out in blocks (originally it was 100 minutes for $10, right now it’s 50 minutes for $5). I used to pay $5/month so my nights and weekend minutes started 2 hours earlier (at 7pm), now that should be free, but I can’t tell if that’s the case on my recent bills.
Thus the solid gray bar is the primary determinant of price, which averages to about $60/month. That’s total includes everything, the monthly charge ($36), taxes (~$10), a dollar or two for text messages, and then those oh-so-flexible charges ($0-25).
On average I’ve used a little over 1000 minutes a month, split pretty evenly between daytime and nights and weekends, though my usage appears to be trending downwards. Still $60/month is a lot of money, frankly I’d rather it were a flat $30 monthly fee. Currently the next most expensive plan comes with 900 anytime minutes, but the base price? $60.
The graph itself tells a story. The first peak, and my most expensive bill at $98, is May 2005, the month during which I drove from North Carolina to California, and spent a lot of time on the phone as I went. June is surprisingly quiet (new job), and then I’m on the phone for almost 2000 minutes July and August, keeping in touch with friends in North Carolina and planning a trip back in early September. Three months later I met Stephanie in November. The second to the last month (September 2006) shows another big drop in usage right after we moved to the city.
All the bills are referenced by a unique id, which you can see by logging into your Sprint account and going to this page:
After grabbing my bill’s ids from the source of that page, I hacked together a list of HTML links with URLs that looked like this:
Where XXXXXXXXXXXXX is replaced with each 13 digit bill id. Then I was able to open all 24 PDFs in new tabs (Ctrl+click) and grab the data I wanted to make the pretty chart above.