Author Topic: Help me fix my phone bill  (Read 747 times)

MEJG

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Help me fix my phone bill
« on: December 13, 2016, 07:52:36 AM »
I made some terrible choices a little over a year ago, and now it seems we're stuck.  I have tried to read through the long thread and haven't had the time, or head space to digest it all.  I would be very grateful if anyone who is familiar with wireless options could give an opinion on how we can improve.

Current Situation:
Monthly Bill $133.55
ATT, 5g family plan.
me- iphone 6 - on payment plan.  $21.67/month.  Amount remaining if I stay on payment plan- $390, Early payoff amount- $412
DH - iphone4 (cracked screen, phone cannot update, he hates it). Owned outright.

Last year we were on a family member's plan at $40/month/device.  I dropped my phone and it shattered.  I was told in store that I would be unable to get any of my pictures, contacts, information from my old phone unless I bought another iphone.  I now know this is incorrect, but at the time with no home phone, a broken cell phone and a very sick child I made a snap decision without weighing all my options.  Then in January the family member kicked everyone off their family plan..... and so here we are.

We currently use about 3-3.5g/month of data.  We know how we can improve this if we need to drop down.  Data usage that will continue is mostly GPS. 

Located in NE US, most carriers give decent service.

We were given a family member's iphone 5, after they upgraded- but it is a Verizion phone.  DH would love to use it but we cannot bring it to ATT.

So- are there options out there that would lower our bill, with a 12 month or less cross over point, that we could bring a CDMA and a GSM phone  to, and preferably keep our phone numbers?

Thanks for any insight.

Edited to add- have wifi at home for 29.99/month which is the lowest rate we can get in the area.  No home phone, no cable.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 07:56:36 AM by MEJG »

ZiziPB

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2016, 09:09:13 AM »
Verizon doesn't lock any 4G LTE devices, so I believe that iPhone 5 is unlocked.  Just like that iPhone 6BothVerizon iPhone 5 will work fine on Ting.  So get the specifics of your actual usage, go to ting.com, plug in your numbers and see what your monthly bill would look like.  You can also put in the specifics of your phone on there and they will tell you if your phone is unlocked and can be used on Ting.  It may make sense to payoff the iPhone 6 and switch, depending on your actual numbers.  I made the switch from Verizon to Ting earlier this year and love it.

ETA:  I misread your statement about the iPhone 6, I thought it was a Verizon phone.  I don't know what ATT's policy is on locking or unlocking. Verizon will unlock any locked phone upon request if you are a customer in good standing.  Maybe ATT does the same.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 09:12:26 AM by ZiziPB »



YummyRaisins

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2016, 09:16:01 AM »
Ting also pays up to $75 of your early termination fee IIRC.

My wife and I use Ting (Galaxy S4 for me, S3 for DW) and our bill is usually under $50/month.

Head over to the Ting referral thread and grab a code to get $25 off your first bill - http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/official-ting-referral-thread/




I.P. Daley

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2016, 09:19:01 AM »
Consumer Cellular. It's one of the few AT&T MVNOs that are on Apple's approved list (which is the only way you're going to get full basic functionality out of the 'effing phones on an AT&T MVNO because Apple locks you out of data settings), so it should just work. They also have roaming agreements and decent customer support, so it should pretty much behave like you're used to already only with nicer and less predatory people on the other end of dialing 611. Without knowing actual usage numbers though on the talk end, however, your highest theoretical bill would be $90+tax. Assuming you have a year left on contract, your savings goes negative until month 13 (calculator here). iPhones are unfortunately one of the most expensive phones to get service for, period, because the manufacturer dictates who and how you can use the phone with. There's reasons why I don't recommend 'em, but you gotta work with what you got.

That said, you should be able to get that much, much lower because that assumes you need more than 66 hours and 40 minutes of talk time a month and 3GB of data. Also, there's plenty of offline GPS options now, even for iPhone. I usually recommend Sygic, but there's other options as well. You should have no problem gutting your data usage. Assuming national averages for talk time per line (about 650 minutes), and assuming you get your data usage under control, there's no reason why you can't get your bill down to $60/month plus tax or lower for 2000 minutes, two lines, unlimited messages and 1.5GB of data (still likely overkill on all fronts if you check your bills and do the math). Your break even is in month seven at $60, and only gets better the lower you can get your bill.

The Verizon iPhone 5 shipped from the factory unlocked with global and domestic GSM support, including AT&T bands. This is due to FCC regulations on the LTE bands that Verizon uses. Tip of the iceburg on proof. Anyone at AT&T telling you otherwise is full of crap. This said, taking the iPhone 5 to a T-Mobile MVNO (such as Ting) will have some band compatibility issues with data (your 6 less so). Not saying it won't work, just saying it won't give you as solid a coverage as you're used to.

I would also recommend staying away from Cricket, unless you really want to voluntarily sign up for further abuse from AT&T.

That should square you.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 09:25:00 AM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

ZiziPB

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2016, 10:10:09 AM »
I had no issues with my iPhone 4s on Ting.  Have just switched over to iPhone 6s and it seems to be working fine as well.



I.P. Daley

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2016, 11:20:46 AM »
I had no issues with my iPhone 4s on Ting.  Have just switched over to iPhone 6s and it seems to be working fine as well.

Zizi, let me explain what I said and why I said it. I'm happy that your 4S worked for you on Ting, I really am. I'm not trying to discredit what worked for you when I stated what I did, though I am left wondering if you activated a Sprint 4s or an AT&T 4s on Ting which is going to have dramatically different outcomes.

However, this isn't just someone whistling out of their arse just to be heard typing these things or just to be a contrarian. It comes from considerable experience and knowledge about actual model numbers of phone makes, the network bands supported, the frequencies those bands are on, and tower density with carriers.

The Verizon iPhone 5 (A1429) handles the following bands:
CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

Here's is what T-Mobile uses:
GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ (1700/2100, 1900); LTE 2, 4, 12 (700a, 1700 def, 1900)

Here is what AT&T uses:
GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 1900); LTE 2, 4, 12, 17 (700 bc, 1700 abcde, 1900)

This means that the only band that the Verizon iPhone 5 will receive on T-Mobile is 3G/HSPA+ 1900MHz. Full stop. On AT&T, the phone will get access to both 3G/HSPA+ 850MHz and 1900MHz bands. 1900MHz doesn't really penetrate buildings so much as bounce around walls and through windows like 850Mhz will. The phone will not have LTE access on either carrier, but AT&T's 3G coverage is quite a bit larger and more robust than T-Mobile's. The iPhone notoriously also has some of the worst smartphone antenna designs on the market for years now, which also impacts reception. AT&T's tower density is a smidge higher on the 850MHz end than T-Mobile's 1900MHz coverage, as well. This means better coverage, and more importantly near identical coverage (excuse antenna differences in the phone itself) to what is already expected staying with an AT&T MVNO over T-Mobile switching from the AT&T iPhone 4 (A1332).

It's also a safer bet to recommend the same network that someone's already using. It's a known quantity in service, especially when you're dealing with potentially band limited devices. I don't have a problem with Ting, Ting's been in the guide for years, and Ting is where I landed myself after P'tel shut its doors. However, Ting isn't a great fit for everyone, especially people with potentially larger data habits. The hardware in question emphasizes that reservation in my carrier recommendations. Thus my recommendation to stay away from a T-Mobile MVNO on the Verizon iPhone 5 specifically. It's not that it won't work at all, it's that it won't work nearly as well, and the shortcomings involved have been show stoppers for many, many other older model iPhone users on T-Mobile MVNOs limited to only one (the 1900MHz) service band... especially as T-Mobile has been juggling their 2G, 3G and 4G LTE spectrum coverage the past year and a half or so. Some people can and have lived with that, but it definitely doesn't work for everyone.

Make sense?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 11:23:37 AM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

ZiziPB

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2016, 12:11:00 PM »
I.P. Daley, sorry if I came across as trying to argue.  My 4s was a Verizon phone that I switched to Ting and I didn't experience any issues with it here in the NE.  Just anecdotal evidence, so to say :-)



I.P. Daley

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2016, 01:12:02 PM »
I.P. Daley, sorry if I came across as trying to argue.  My 4s was a Verizon phone that I switched to Ting and I didn't experience any issues with it here in the NE.  Just anecdotal evidence, so to say :-)

No worries. I just wanted to make sure MEJG (and others) understood why I said what I did despite multiple recommendations for Ting. :)

(It doesn't help that I'm increasingly becoming the minority voice on this stuff going against herd recommendations.)
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

YummyRaisins

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2016, 02:37:57 PM »
I was not aware of the band restrictions on certain Apple devices.

Thanks for enlightening me I. P. Daley!

MEJG

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Re: Help me fix my phone bill
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2016, 07:57:36 AM »
Thanks!

I've plugged in our actual numbers, and we're at 1500 minutes most months.  So it does look like that $60 + tax with 2 lines, 1.5g and unlimited texts is the way to go for now.  I do like that they let you change plan levels at any time with a prorated bill.  Thanks for everyone help!