Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 127960 times)

Shivan

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #100 on: June 09, 2014, 02:38:15 PM »
I'm not going to tell you to not get a Republic handset and service. There are elements of what they provide given your attachment to doing all calls through a single mobile phone even at home that their service caters to. Just understand that you are trading quality for convenience, and if you can wrap your head around the greater picture of how everything actually operates and is set up, you might find that that convenience isn't much cheaper than the more reliable alternatives that requires learning a bit about the technology used, exercising a little self-discipline, and sacrificing a little convenience.

Thanks for everthing. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how everything operates, and I doubt my wife would even care to understand, but I feel somewhat more prepared to accept worse service for less money (currently $140/month to Verizon for two smartphones).

Now, how about my ISP? I'm in North Carolina with Time Warner (promotional pricing has expired). I saw on your page that I should look into Earthlink. Do you have any more details on that? It looks like they work with Time Warner to give me the same cable internet that I already have, but under a different name with six months of promotional pricing for some reason? I'm planning to call Time Warner, ask for a lower price, threaten to cancel, and then go with Earthlink or U-Verse if they don't accept it. Any suggestions?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #101 on: June 09, 2014, 07:55:24 PM »
Shivan, if you have any specific technical questions that you'd like to ask to help clarify the mud, you can always feel free to PM me.

Now, how about my ISP? I'm in North Carolina with Time Warner (promotional pricing has expired). I saw on your page that I should look into Earthlink. Do you have any more details on that? It looks like they work with Time Warner to give me the same cable internet that I already have, but under a different name with six months of promotional pricing for some reason? I'm planning to call Time Warner, ask for a lower price, threaten to cancel, and then go with Earthlink or U-Verse if they don't accept it. Any suggestions?

As for this question, I had someone else ask me nearly the same thing in a PM earlier today. I'll just do a copy-paste redux of what I told him:

I'm afraid not. There's not much more to get than what you've already grown to understand and have asked for confirmation on at this point already.

Most municipalities are pretty much limited to a heavily restricted duopoly split right down the center of cable and DSL service. Stuff like DSLExtreme, Toast.net and Earthlink are more anomalies than anything, don't always save any actual money, and are wholly dependent upon the generosity of the host network operator.

Behold the wonderful world of deregulation!

This is one of the reasons why I pitch learning to survive on less bandwidth throughput and just learning to tolerate the regular price. The only alternative to saving money at that point becomes an ongoing cycle of time-abusive, monkey dance pleading for cheaper service over the phone or wholly unplugging. Let me tell you, I'm beginning to consider that latter choice myself. I'm already at a point in my life that if given a choice between AT&T and Comcast, I would simply do without.

Sorry I can't provide any better solution, but unfortunately broadband in this country is an expensive trainwreck.
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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #102 on: June 09, 2014, 08:36:41 PM »
Shivan, apparently the magic word to use with Time Warner Cable in NC (or at least in the Triangle, YMMV) is "frontier". Nevermind that they may not even serve your area yet, what do you know, the rep on the phone suddenly finds you another promotional period to roll you into.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #103 on: June 19, 2014, 11:58:37 AM »
Just got back from a grueling 3,000 mile road trip helping a friend move all his worldly possessions from NC to WA. 4 days, 3 drivers, one huge moving truck, two cars, one of which was put on a truck trailer on the flat parts of the trip.

If you're ever doing a long multiple vehicles trip, do get one CB radio for each vehicle in the convoy. It takes just a few minutes to install and you will be able to communicate with all vehicles at once as long as you aren't too far from one another (yes, you can play with the squelch, but let's keep things simple). It's a far superior alternative to cell phones because

1) they cost nothing to operate once you have them and remain on all the time. If you have something to say, you just say it without any dialing.
2) no worrying about cell phone towers when you're in the middle of nowhere, especially if your MVNO of choice doesn't offer roaming, I have Ptel and it was basically out 90% of the time after we passed Kansas City
3) you get to listen to the truckers' banter on the popular channels

This trip would have been awful without the CB radios. Between ensuring that everyone at the wheel is still feeling alert, coordinating gas and food stops, setting the pace in the mountains for the moving truck, and just regular conversation, this is a must to any serious road trip.

babysteps

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #104 on: June 19, 2014, 02:43:15 PM »
In other news, the Asha 303 recommended in the guide is out of stock, so I had to go with the newer Asha 302 as my lady friend's 2008 BlackBerry decided to go for a last and fatal midnight swim in a pint of beer the other day. Excited to see what the beast is like when it arrives.

*sigh* It's the last of a dying breed. Nobody wants to make phones with keyboards anymore because people are UI idiots. Hope the Asha treats your lady friend as well as the C3 has treated me.

My 3yo Blackberry is fading, so I am looking for a sturdy phone with a physical qwerty keyboard, text & email--I could live w/o email but spouse has requested this, he's my "boss" as we have our own business so for him I can do that :).  Don't really need web surfing but am capable of ignoring it if that's what's included.  In case it's fixable, "fading" means my phone has a habit of going dead 2 minutes into a phone conversation (must pop battery to bring back to life), and intermittent fast battery discharge.  Yes the moisture-exposure tag is red (has been for a while).

IP, any updated advice?  I know you have recommended Motorola Defy XT560 and NEC Terrain as of Sept 2013 http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-the-isp-voip-and-cellphone-superguide/msg141876/?topicseen#msg141876.  At the moment you (shopping hut) are out of the Defy, and Terrain ($85 and up) seems to be less expensive on open market vs. Defy XT560 ($125 and up).  Airvoice says Defy definitely works and Terrain "should, but we haven't configured one yet so we can't promise".  tia :)
Trying not to complicate my simple ;)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #105 on: June 20, 2014, 09:36:01 AM »
IP, any updated advice?  I know you have recommended Motorola Defy XT560 and NEC Terrain as of Sept 2013 http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-the-isp-voip-and-cellphone-superguide/msg141876/?topicseen#msg141876.  At the moment you (shopping hut) are out of the Defy, and Terrain ($85 and up) seems to be less expensive on open market vs. Defy XT560 ($125 and up).  Airvoice says Defy definitely works and Terrain "should, but we haven't configured one yet so we can't promise".  tia :)

Not much has really changed, honestly. The only thing that has changed is that the Terrian failed on the market and can now be bought carrier unlocked for around $100 instead of $300 with a contract. That said, some quirkiness to the firmware has surfaced for the thing, but it is a far more current build of Android than what is available for the Defy XT560, so it would be safer from a patch standpoint, theoretically.

There's really just no QWERTY candybar form-factor handsets coming back onto the market. What's been namechecked is still the best options out there.
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adam

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #106 on: June 24, 2014, 01:25:05 PM »
I had to bump my airvoice plan from $10 to $30.  I don't regret it.  I was down to ~$1.20 after 20 days and worrying about it constantly wasn't worth the $20 difference.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #107 on: June 24, 2014, 01:56:47 PM »
I was considering bumping mine up to the $30/month for a 10 day trip I'm taking, but I might just add another $10 instead. 

babysteps

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #108 on: June 24, 2014, 02:45:52 PM »
Not much has really changed, honestly. ....
There's really just no QWERTY candybar form-factor handsets coming back onto the market. What's been namechecked is still the best options out there.

Got it!  thx.  Hopefully this troglodyte will take good care of this old-before-I-buy-it-new device!

I was considering bumping mine up to the $30/month for a 10 day trip I'm taking, but I might just add another $10 instead. 

I run about $20/month at $10 per charge and do tend to top off before a trip.
Trying not to complicate my simple ;)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #109 on: June 25, 2014, 08:05:00 PM »
Well, this is wholly unsurprising news... Aereo has been struck down by the Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling. This will have some interesting repercussions in the tech world.

All hail our corporate overlords and the winding tentacled beast that is runaway intellectual property law, etc.
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.

Shivan

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #110 on: June 27, 2014, 07:08:08 AM »
Update on my posts from June 3-9: I switched from Time Warner to Earthlink. 10 Mbps Cable for $30 for 6 months, $42 thereafter (plus modem fees). It was really easy, just 15 minutes between their sales chat and on the phone with their tech support to change things over. I didn't have to call Time Warner to cancel. I didn't have to switch out my modem or change any settings. I haven't noticed a single difference in service.

I also got a Republic Wireless phone yesterday and it's done well. My Verizon phone kept dropping calls at my house but the RW one didn't.

Looking forward to my bills being $100/month less!

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #111 on: June 29, 2014, 04:02:56 PM »
So thrilled with what I've learned from this thread and from Daley's web site, and psyched about my $15 a month cell phone plan, I blogged about it at http://mommywontwork.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-i-have-smartphone-for-only-15-month.html.  Would love to have your comments on how it could be improved.
Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 29, 2014, 04:10:26 PM by NeverWasACornflakeGirl »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #112 on: July 07, 2014, 03:50:44 PM »
Better late than never!  I just switched the last of our family phones over to Airvoice wireless!  I don't know why it took me so long or scared me so much!  My monthly bill went from $186 to $70, for 1- $30/mo unlimited call/text/500MB data and 4- $10/mo 250mins talk-or-500 texts phones for the kids.  If they want to go over that, the kids can buy their own extra minutes!  I'm excited to have $116 back in my pocket every month!  Thanks, Daley!!!
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livingthedream

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #113 on: July 07, 2014, 04:15:41 PM »
Many thanks to I.P. Daley and this thread. I switched from Verizon to Ptel back in November and have used less than $10 per month on my pay as you go plan. The data can be expensive but most of the time I'm on wifi at home or work. I use a free plan from FreedomPop in the car to fill the gap. Big savings.
Becoming Financially Independent http://www.becomingfi.com/

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #114 on: July 07, 2014, 05:50:54 PM »
Thanks, Daley!!!

Many thanks to I.P. Daley and this thread.

Fantastic news and savings, both of you! Glad to help. :)



So thrilled with what I've learned from this thread and from Daley's web site, and psyched about my $15 a month cell phone plan, I blogged about it at http://mommywontwork.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-i-have-smartphone-for-only-15-month.html.  Would love to have your comments on how it could be improved.
Thanks!

I know I already replied to you in PM, but I did want to tell you publicly that it's an excellent post, and thank you for the attribution... it's much appreciated.
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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #115 on: July 09, 2014, 05:54:01 PM »
Harumph, so I just lost some brownie points with the girlfriend, who was originally excited to move from her expensive T-Mobile plan to a cheap AT&T MVNO.

Airvoice's $10 plan has the most annoying feature of sending a notification after each text and call (received/sent) with the current balance. Arghhhhhh. Turning "service messages" off in her phone's settings does not work either. How they manage to circumvent that setting I do not know, and the support rep said there's nothing she could do about it.



So my choices right now are to either find another AT&T MVNO with prices I can live with, and without that stupid notification, or move her to Ptel. The latter wouldn't be the end of the world but I'm wary of having both of us on the T-mobile network with no roaming. The whole point of having one of us on AT&T was the additional security for our interstate travels.

On the plus side, according to the guys at HoFo, the notification isn't present on Airvoice's unlimited plans, which means that won't be an issue when I transfer her mother to Airvoice's $30 plan next week (she's a big talker).

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #116 on: July 09, 2014, 06:47:26 PM »


Unfortunately, with the exception of PureTalk (IIRC, but don't hold me to this), the USSD message issue is pretty well universal for AT&T (MVNOs included) prepaid services with balance notifications. Unfortunately, these cannot be blocked or disabled (outside of Android, which had a dedicated app you could use that suppressed USSD messages up until KitKat was released, when Google took away the system level APIs that made it work).

My own mother initially was driven up the wall by the things, but you'd be surprised how quickly you adapt to and begin to ignore them. I'm not sure about the Asha, but there may be roundabout ways to basically set default system/SMS notifications to silent/no vibrate in the phone to silence the things, but then use a group ringtone to set text notifications to appropriately make noise for anyone in the address book. That would at least minimize the audio assault. Sorry I can't recommend better. I secretly think it's AT&T's doing specifically to try and dissuade the more delicate from going prepaid in the first place.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 06:50:12 PM 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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #117 on: July 09, 2014, 07:26:07 PM »
Unfortunately, with the exception of PureTalk (IIRC, but don't hold me to this), the USSD message issue is pretty well universal for AT&T (MVNOs included) prepaid services with balance notifications.
This thread seems to agree with you (second post) but it's from 2012. I don't mind shopping around and jumping ship every month until we find something that really works, the joy of not having contracts hehe.

I am going to give her a few weeks and see if she can see past it (thank god we were able to disable the beeping pretty quickly), and then investigate the PureTalk option, their 750 simple plan would be perfect for her usage. Anyone here with a simple plan on PureTalk who could confirm/deny the presence of USSDs? If not, I will just ask in HoFo.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #118 on: July 18, 2014, 08:33:31 PM »
Quick question (I have a lot of these lately...).

I transferred my future mother in law over to Airvoice (from T-Mobile), but she has been getting terrible reception in her home, but excellent reception 4 blocks closer to downtown. She lives very close to downtown Lexington, KY (not the sticks), and her house isn't hidden behind anything, she should be getting full bars everywhere around town. She called Airvoice and they told her it's because her phone is 2G.

Makes sense, right? AT&T is slowly shutting off their 2G support, and that's why she has very limited service? Or are they just talking out of their behinds?


Oh and btw, PureTalkUSA doesn't do the annoying balance notification. Switching once the current Airvoice is depleted.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 08:46:35 PM by Paul der Krake »

I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #119 on: July 20, 2014, 08:21:30 AM »
Quick question (I have a lot of these lately...).

Before diving in, I'm curious to know your MIL's previous carrier. Was it AT&T or T-Mobile, or someone else? I ask because of the carrier unlocked Samsung T359, which is a T-Mobile phone.

Airvoice speaks the truth on the matter, but it's hard to verify that is specifically the case for her out in Lexington without having more info. The handset is most definitely a 2G GSM handset on the two most important bands for service with AT&T, and AT&T is retiring their 2G network slowly but surely as you know. However, AT&T isn't updating their coverage maps in relation to this switch-over on their own publicly accessible maps, or the ones that are normally on record with the GSMA. Truth is, T-Mobile still has a well supported EDGE network that they simply aren't in any hurry to upgrade, so these phones still work great on T-Mo's towers, but not AT&T's. Thus the previous question. If she was with T-Mobile postpaid, there's your answer as AT&T would have only been fall-back in the Kentucky area. If she was with AT&T postpaid, it's entirely possible she was roaming onto T-Mobile's towers at home with that handset.

Of course, this is all speculation without having a 3G GSM handset on an AT&T MVNO at her house to confirm that there is better reception with it over her own. So yes, it makes sense and I suspect Airvoice isn't blowing smoke, but I can't say with authority that they're absolutely correct even if limited anecdotal evidence points in that direction.

If an AT&T MVNO and Airvoice specifically is desired for her situation and it is a 2G vs. 3G coverage issue with AT&T towers, the least traumatic handset switchover to ensure better reception for her without breaking the bank would probably be the Samsung A797, which is the closest you can get to being the AT&T flavor of the phone she already has (there are some differences). You can pick them up NIB and carrier unlocked off of Ebay for $45 with shipping. The next closest would be the Samsung A687, which is going used and carrier unlocked on Ebay for around the same price (careful with this listing, it says unlocked, but lists the carrier as AT&T).

Hope this helps!
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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #120 on: July 20, 2014, 08:49:03 AM »
She had been with T-Mobile post-paid for a long time until I switched her about 10 days ago. We had T-Mobile unlock her T359 before the switch because she liked hers so no reason no upgrade (or so I thought!).

I have since heard that her next door neighbor has AT&T postpaid and getting full bars on her modern smartphone, so I really do think it's just a matter of not having a 2G tower nearby. And now that I think of it, I have seen a cousin stream youtube videos on his AT&T post-paid iPhone in her living room last thanksgiving.

Getting a new 3G handset isn't a big deal, we always need backup phones for visitors and whatnot. She'll probably spring for the same Asha 302 since that will make tech support easier because we have the same at home now. Lesson learned, remote tech support sucks.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #121 on: July 20, 2014, 09:01:34 AM »
Getting a new 3G handset isn't a big deal, we always need backup phones for visitors and whatnot. She'll probably spring for the same Asha 302 since that will make tech support easier because we have the same at home now. Lesson learned, remote tech support sucks.

Excellent. I've been in a bit of a support rut myself here lately with a lot of very inflexible old people, trying desperately to minimize visible and interface change to accommodate. Glad you have a bit more lateral freedom than I in the situation. :)
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #122 on: July 24, 2014, 11:49:51 AM »
Update: Internet Rumor Mill Edition

This is news that primarily applies to individuals who are with or looking to sign up with Page Plus and Spot Mobile.

Spot Mobile News: Spot Mobile might be winding down operations. They've notified dealers to cease selling SIM cards and activating accounts. This news could go a few directions, including a completed merger and relaunch. For the sake of stability, however, existing Spot customers should keep a close eye on the company and put in place contingency strategies for possibly migrating to another provider.
http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2014/07/spot-mobile-may-be-shutting-down.html

Page Plus News: Shortly after the launch of LTE service with Verizon Prepaid, Kitty of Kitty Wireless (the recommended Page Plus master dealer to use) has been discussing rumored changes to Page Plus service, including talking about the need to ship SIM cards, and that there are likely to be big announcements within a few weeks. As such, they are recommending anyone in the market to upgrade phones or join to hold off until after the announcement.
http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2014/07/pageplus-rumored-to-be-getting-lte.html

Once again, thanks to Dennis Bournique of Prepaid Phone News for the information. The man is a gem.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #123 on: July 24, 2014, 12:29:29 PM »
Son of the Superguide Updates - July 24th:
  • Corrected forum links from subdomain migration (finally)!
  • Added Liberty Wireless to the Honorable Mention MVNO list.
  • Struck through (did not remove) Spot Mobile from MVNO list pending further news.
  • Minor verbage editing on MVNO post to reduce word count (on the edge of the 20k character database limit per post).
  • Dropped mention of Aio Wireless in MVNO list as it is now Cricket.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 12:35:37 PM by I.P. Daley »
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tracipam

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #124 on: July 26, 2014, 02:09:14 PM »

Hey all,

I couldn't find anything on the forum about this, but if you know of it, please point me in a direction.  Anyone have experience with FreedomPop?  I've looked at their page several times over the years, but have always avoided getting any of their mobile services because they've been limited to major metro areas. 

However, I recently noticed that they have added on a home internet hub option.  I use internet for a little bit of streaming (a few Daily Shows and some Pandora radio) every month and other than that, just checking e-mail and reading a few blogs.  I'm not sure how good their home internet service might be, or how the quantities they offer  (1 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB) correlate to usage.... if anyone has any input, I'd appreciate it! 

Thanks!

Tracy

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #125 on: July 27, 2014, 11:17:45 AM »
I couldn't find anything on the forum about this, but if you know of it, please point me in a direction.  Anyone have experience with FreedomPop?  I've looked at their page several times over the years, but have always avoided getting any of their mobile services because they've been limited to major metro areas. 

However, I recently noticed that they have added on a home internet hub option.  I use internet for a little bit of streaming (a few Daily Shows and some Pandora radio) every month and other than that, just checking e-mail and reading a few blogs.  I'm not sure how good their home internet service might be, or how the quantities they offer  (1 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB) correlate to usage.... if anyone has any input, I'd appreciate it! 

Tracy, I know a few people around here use FP for both phone and home internet, including Rebel Spy (IIRC), who's taken to only communicating through mod edits lately.

The thing to remember is that it's basically just mobile data on Sprint's network. There'll be latency issues, uneven speeds depending on time of day, that sort of thing. Your usual mobile data issues. If you're wanting to stream videos, even if you set to the lowest quality video, 10GB can get chewed up rather rapidly. That said, if you strip out streaming media, general email and web browsing usually doesn't represent more than 2-4GB of data a month.

On the streaming media end, we'll start with Pandora. Depending on the stream quality, it could use anywhere between 30MB/hour at their 64kbps stream, to 90MB/hour at 192kbps for PandoraOne.

Getting hard numbers on Hulu data usage is a bit trickier, but it's out there. At their lowest quality setting, you're looking at around 250MB per hour or more. Their highest quality non-HD stream uses approximately 500MB per hour, and Hulu Plus at least 1.2GB/hour. Don't quote me on these numbers, they're extrapolations... but they're not too far out of line for expected bandwidth usage with say Netflix. Maybe a little lower, which is why I recommend you only use these numbers as a ballpark rule of thumb.

Have a streaming media data usage calculator to help.
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tracipam

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #126 on: July 27, 2014, 01:17:17 PM »
Thanks, I.P.!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #127 on: July 28, 2014, 10:48:32 AM »


So thrilled with what I've learned from this thread and from Daley's web site, and psyched about my $15 a month cell phone plan, I blogged about it at http://mommywontwork.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-i-have-smartphone-for-only-15-month.html.  Would love to have your comments on how it could be improved.
Thanks!

I know I already replied to you in PM, but I did want to tell you publicly that it's an excellent post, and thank you for the attribution... it's much appreciated.

Thanks so much!!  I appreciate the inspiration!
Blogging about mindset and making different choices at http://mommywontwork.blogspot.com/

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #128 on: July 31, 2014, 09:47:40 PM »
For anyone still looking to consider Republic Wireless, I have a new post for you to consider first:

TruLocalPhone Magic, or how to beat Republic Wireless at their own game

In it is a redux from a couple years ago where I detail how you can still reproduce nearly the entire Republic experience for the same price or less just by picking the right providers and understanding how to utilize call forwarding. Enjoy!
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #129 on: August 08, 2014, 12:50:44 PM »
It's been an eventful week, folks. I should catch you up!

P'tel now has unlimited talk and text plans starting at $20/month, and unlimited 2G data is only an extra $5/month above that. They've also lowered other calling plan prices, introduced larger data bundles, and now offer 4G data coverage. Yeah, you know how I feel about the "unlimited" trap, but these are still significant price points as they're now taking square aim at the same price points that Republic has without the need for crummy VoIP service and an perpetual need to find a WiFi hotspot to "keep prices low".

Red Pocket Mobile has just dropped a major bombshell. They've standardized their prices and now offer MVNO service for ALL FOUR MOBILE NETWORKS, and the prices are competitive. That's right, one stop shopping for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon refugees.

Sad news for Spot Mobile, they're officially shutting down. If you have service with them, you have until September 7th to port your number out. Given the news, they have been removed from the guide. Happy trails, guys.

I was invited back for another interview over at Radical Personal Finance, and this time we talked more philosophy than nuts and bolts of saving communications costs. I have a few notes and references to that discussion on my own site here. You can still hear the original interview from last year right here. Caution, they're both long, and I'm not as entertaining as I'd like to be, but I do try to be informative.

Finally, I wrote something that I've wanted to do for a while now: The Math of Unlimited, or how advertisers make you override common sense when shopping for calling plans. I show you the real math behind what people think of when they hear or read the word unlimited and compare it to that shallow promise of "unlimited" service that all providers actually give you for your money.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 06:00:00 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #130 on: August 15, 2014, 05:54:55 PM »
Has anyone used the messenger program called Telegram? How is it on data usage? Any better than Kik?

Also, has anyone else used the Glyde website mentioned in the below quoted link to purchase a phone? Are the phones carrier unlocked? I'm guessing not since they seem to be sold by MVO network... Nice blog post, btw.  And of course, kudos and many thanks to IP!!

Telegram.org

Glyde

So thrilled with what I've learned from this thread and from Daley's web site, and psyched about my $15 a month cell phone plan, I blogged about it at http://mommywontwork.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-i-have-smartphone-for-only-15-month.html.  Would love to have your comments on how it could be improved.
Thanks!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #131 on: August 15, 2014, 06:58:09 PM »
Has anyone used the messenger program called Telegram? How is it on data usage? Any better than Kik?

Telegram.org

I vaguely remember a ruckus about Telegram last year but never bothered to look into it. *thumbs through website* SHA-1? AES? Infinite Garble Extensions? Rolled their own crypto and protocol? Doctorates of math?


I don't post images often, but when I do...

So they're using flawed and compromised encryption techniques on top of some questionable implementations and calling it secure? I'd rather trust my privacy and security to a company that doesn't promise either than people who try to promise the illusion of both. I don't care that it's free. It's critically flawed, built on compromised cyphers, and they just tell you to trust their servers. No wonder the ruckus. I may not be a master in any sense of the word, but I know enough to be dangerous with cryptography, and recognize bad implementations when I see it.

*pokes around DDG* Have a few links from people far smarter than myself articulately explain the problems with Telegram:

http://thoughtcrime.org/blog/telegram-crypto-challenge/
http://unhandledexpression.com/2013/12/17/telegram-stand-back-we-know-maths/
http://www.cryptofails.com/post/70546720222/telegrams-cryptanalysis-contest
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6915741

I don't know how its data usage is in relationship to Kik, but given the additional encryption, the overhead should be higher. If you're considering Telegram for some illusion of crypto-based privacy versus strongly worded privacy policies? Well... when it comes to technology, privacy is kind of dead. If someone cares enough to compromise your security and privacy, they eventually can and they will. Make peace with that.

As for the Glyde phones, in the case of Sprint phones for Ting... well, yes, that's CDMA phones for you. That said, unless there's evidence stated otherwise, treat all carrier specific phones as carrier locked unless it states otherwise... that doesn't just go for Glyde, that goes for everywhere.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #132 on: August 15, 2014, 08:03:28 PM »
Wow, fantastic reply!  Thank you for going so in depth on Telegram and it's crypto isues. 

As for the phones on Glyde, it's interesting that the same phone on different providers are different prices (Verizon seems less expensive than AT&T).  If we know we're going with an AT&T provider, would it be better to just get the phone listed for that provider? Or could we get the cheaper Verizon model and unlock it ourselves to save a few more $?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #133 on: August 17, 2014, 10:25:55 AM »
As for the phones on Glyde, it's interesting that the same phone on different providers are different prices (Verizon seems less expensive than AT&T).  If we know we're going with an AT&T provider, would it be better to just get the phone listed for that provider? Or could we get the cheaper Verizon model and unlock it ourselves to save a few more $?

There's an issue with the whole Verizon vs. AT&T thing, and it comes down to the technology. AT&T is a GSM carrier, and Verizon is a CDMA carrier. However, 4G LTE is kind of changing things a bit on the Verizon end (this really doesn't apply to Sprint) with certain handsets. There are some Verizon 4G LTE phones that're technically GSM+CDMA+LTE world phones, like the iPhone 5. Due to the LTE spectrum auction requirements for the 700MHz spectrum that Verizon bid on, they cannot carrier lock the SIM card slot. As such, there are certain Verizon 4G LTE phones that can be taken to US GSM providers without carrier unlocking. There are other Verizon (and Sprint) GSM+CDMA world phones such as the iPhone 4S, but those would only be carrier unlocked for non-domestic SIM cards, which means no US-based MVNOs. That said, there's outfits like Truphone that is a global GSM carrier that has really affordable rates for the United States and their SIM cards will work in these phones.

That said, it's recommended that if you're going to a GSM MVNO, you should be bringing a carrier unlocked handset anyway, even if the handset is branded native to the underlying MVNO network. Without carrier unlocking, you will not be able to get data services at best and the phone simply will not work at worst. Understanding that, the best GSM handset to get for maximum compatibility with all networks would be a T-Mobile pentaband handset as it'll work just fine with both AT&T and T-Mobile MVNOs. It's not to say that AT&T handsets won't work on the T-Mobile network, you'll just be slightly more handicapped on higher speed data connectivity in some regions.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that it's finally legal for users to carrier unlock handsets again as of the end of July, but the third party unlocking outfits are being slow to spool back up. Best route is to just make sure the handset is carrier unlocked first before purchase.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #134 on: August 17, 2014, 10:36:28 AM »
Got it. Thanks again!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #135 on: August 29, 2014, 11:02:26 AM »
I might be going back...

Right now I'm paying $30/mo with Airvoice for "Unlimited talk&text" +500MB data (which I have to call their help desk after 250mb to get my full allowance.  The help desk that doesn't open till 10am est).  Wife has been on Pageplus $12 plan for about 2 years now?  Well she's finally in need of a new(er) phone, so I figured I'd bring her over to Airvoice with me and a Moto G for $180.  Then we'd have two phones with 500mb each (she has recently been complaining about not having data) for $60 a month.

Long story short, AT&T seems to have somewhat come to their senses on pricing, unless I'm totally missing something.
I looked the other day and it would appear that if I bring my own compatible device I can get a mobile share plan with unlimited talk&text one two phones, sharing 1GB data, for $70.  No contract.

For $10 more I would consider going back to a major carrier.  Especially since my wife probably won't use the full 500mb, which means I could have whats left.


edit: I just double checked and its $75.  $25 access fee per phone, $25 for 1GB shared data.  So $15 more than Airvoice (+taxes and fees, so maybe $20).

Hmmmmm  not as awesome .
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 11:18:54 AM by adam »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #136 on: August 29, 2014, 12:18:29 PM »
FWIW the best I could do on Verizon was still like $110, and that would require two brand new, much more pricy phones.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #137 on: August 29, 2014, 12:29:33 PM »
edit: I just double checked and its $75.  $25 access fee per phone, $25 for 1GB shared data.  So $15 more than Airvoice (+taxes and fees, so maybe $20).

Hmmmmm  not as awesome .

Keep in mind, back when my wife and I were with AT&T? We had a $60 plan for two lines that was $72 after taxes.

It'll vary a bit from location to location, but you're probably looking at about $25-30 more per month to AT&T over Airvoice (about $85-90/month with AT&T after everything is all said and done).

The major carriers are snakes in the grass... you have to be careful about these latest rounds of "cheap" "unlimited" service package prices because they all have so many hidden costs in the fine print that you never think about up front that simply are not there in prepaid when WYSIWYG for the most part as all the regulatory fees and taxes are rolled into the core services paid for, which only leaves service/sales tax.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #138 on: August 29, 2014, 01:43:35 PM »
edit: I just double checked and its $75.  $25 access fee per phone, $25 for 1GB shared data.  So $15 more than Airvoice (+taxes and fees, so maybe $20).

Hmmmmm  not as awesome .

Keep in mind, back when my wife and I were with AT&T? We had a $60 plan for two lines that was $72 after taxes.

It'll vary a bit from location to location, but you're probably looking at about $25-30 more per month to AT&T over Airvoice (about $85-90/month with AT&T after everything is all said and done).

The major carriers are snakes in the grass... you have to be careful about these latest rounds of "cheap" "unlimited" service package prices because they all have so many hidden costs in the fine print that you never think about up front that simply are not there in prepaid when WYSIWYG for the most part as all the regulatory fees and taxes are rolled into the core services paid for, which only leaves service/sales tax.
I think my old VZW plan charged ~$12 in taxes/fees, but that was for what was at the time a $130/mo plan.  I would hope something that states it is $75 isn't going to have ~16% in taxes and fees added.  $6-8 is what I would hope.  But anyways, the beauty of being contract free in this case (and getting free sims and activation) is I can leave right after I get that first bill if they really try and pull something like that.

Nothing is decided, but the fact that they're even in the conversation at this point is a step forward for AT&T at least.  Its not really going to change much about the wife needing a new phone, and me getting her either a Moto G, or giving her my Nexus 4 and getting a 5 or 6 if/when its announced.

Pageplus started adding about $1.84 to the $12 plan already (~15%).  How much further behind is airvoice?  Or is that part of the shady stuff you said might start when PP was taken over by American Movil?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #139 on: August 29, 2014, 03:15:07 PM »
Pageplus started adding about $1.84 to the $12 plan already (~15%).  How much further behind is airvoice?  Or is that part of the shady stuff you said might start when PP was taken over by American Movil?

Not entirely shady per se, just an additional cash grab by the new parent company. It lets them raise their rates to increase profit without actually appearing to raise their rates. I don't expect Airvoice to do this unless they're bought out by Carlos Slim as well.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #140 on: September 12, 2014, 11:50:40 AM »
Hi Daley - I may have missed this somewhere, but has Google Voice reduced its feature list? I had set up a number 6 or 7 years ago for testing, but recently decided to look into it as part of my telecom overhaul. However, I was surprised to find 1.) there aren't any available numbers in my area (I've moved since the original account was created) and 2.) I can't see any way to actually send or receive texts from GV online. On top of that, the video support provided doesn't appear to represent the interface that I see today. Is GV being slowly discontinued?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #141 on: September 12, 2014, 12:14:45 PM »
Hi Daley - I may have missed this somewhere, but has Google Voice reduced its feature list? I had set up a number 6 or 7 years ago for testing, but recently decided to look into it as part of my telecom overhaul. However, I was surprised to find 1.) there aren't any available numbers in my area (I've moved since the original account was created) and 2.) I can't see any way to actually send or receive texts from GV online. On top of that, the video support provided doesn't appear to represent the interface that I see today. Is GV being slowly discontinued?

Google Voice is being depreciated in favor of Hangouts, which is carrying over the GV feature set and adding a few extra bits as well. As of v.2.3 released for Android a couple days ago, Hangouts now supports WiFi VoIP calls to and from phone numbers. (This is great news for those that I received feedback from over my TruLocalPhone Magic post regarding two apps and two services being "too complicated"... congrats, cheapskates, it's back down to one app again!)

If you still want a nice and simple GV interface for your desktop, however, do as I've done for ages. (No telling how much longer this'll last though.)

Open the following link in Chrome/Chromium: http://www.google.com/voice/m/

Go into the Chrome Menu > Tools > Create Application Shortcuts and follow the instructions.

Viola. Tiny little svelte minimalist desktop app for Google Voice.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 12:16:49 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #142 on: September 17, 2014, 12:27:54 PM »
I had a facepalm moment yesterday.

You can run two google user accounts on a single android phone.  I don't know how I never tested this.

So now I can download all my apps from my personal google account onto my MotoX work phone, as well as better access my email/calendar/contacts.  I still need to make sure I can effectively separate the contacts by group or something, but its looking like I can just give my Nexus 4 to the wife, put her on the $30 airvoice plan, and that be the only cell bill we have.

Meanwhile, I noticed that Verizon (recently?) offered up a $60 single line plan with unlimited talk/text and 2GB data. (and thats the subsidized phone price).  If you byod its $50.  Which is the exact same cost as Airvoice (different phone technologies, obviously).

Meanwhilex2, if you want the "More Everything" plan (you don't), its $150 for two smartphones with unlimited talk/text and 4GB to share.  Its STILL more expensive for the MORE EVERYTHING (now including more cost!) plan to set up two phones that share 2gb data (~$130/mo) than it would be to get two of those single line options with 2gb each ($120/mo).

Further reminding me why I left them in the first place.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #143 on: September 17, 2014, 12:29:02 PM »
Also, forgot.  If I give the Nexus 4 to the wife I'm going to want to port my existing phone # to google voice so I don't lose it.  From what I was reading just above... am I going to lose the ability to receive texts from that number now?

Saw this today:
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/09/google-hangouts-gets-a-huge-update-including-google-voice-integration/
« Last Edit: September 18, 2014, 12:26:19 PM by adam »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #144 on: September 19, 2014, 04:31:27 PM »
Probably an unusual question: changing "ownership" of a phone number.

When my FIL died, my husband ported his Dad's old home number to his own cell phone on Airvoice, abandoning his old cell phone number (which he could never remember) for the one he grew up with.  DH rarely uses the phone, but he's bothered by the CID on the other end showing his deceased Dad's name.  Airvoice says it should just say "wireless caller", but it doesn't.

Is this something only Airvoice can change?

eta: called again, and Airvoice said since I could give them 3 numbers he called and all said the old name, they'll put in a request for it to just say "wireless caller". 
« Last Edit: September 19, 2014, 05:20:56 PM by geekette »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #145 on: September 19, 2014, 05:26:37 PM »
Also, forgot.  If I give the Nexus 4 to the wife I'm going to want to port my existing phone # to google voice so I don't lose it.  From what I was reading just above... am I going to lose the ability to receive texts from that number now?

It might get a little complicated with two accounts on one phone. You should still get texts (especially via e-mail forwarding), but Hangouts' GV integration is still getting the bugs ironed out.



Is this something only Airvoice can change?

Yes it is. Airvoice customer service can actually set the CNAM (Caller ID Name) to anything you like, but by default when it's ported in it is set to WIRELESS CALLER. Now, keep in mind that any phone that has the phone number already in the address book with your FIL's name attached, that name will show up on any phone, overriding the actual CNAM sent through the system. Also keep in mind that CNAM doesn't typically get transmitted over mobile networks, only the number.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #146 on: September 19, 2014, 05:50:38 PM »
Is this something only Airvoice can change?

Yes it is. Airvoice customer service can actually set the CNAM (Caller ID Name) to anything you like, but by default when it's ported in it is set to WIRELESS CALLER. Now, keep in mind that any phone that has the phone number already in the address book with your FIL's name attached, that name will show up on any phone, overriding the actual CNAM sent through the system. Also keep in mind that CNAM doesn't typically get transmitted over mobile networks, only the number.

We used the cell to call at least one person my FIL would never have called, and it showed my FIL's name.  When he called my cell, it didn't show the name, but displayed old home town. 

He's had the number for a few months now with no change; hopefully it will get changed to just the number in the next few days.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #147 on: September 19, 2014, 06:59:04 PM »
We used the cell to call at least one person my FIL would never have called, and it showed my FIL's name.  When he called my cell, it didn't show the name, but displayed old home town. 

He's had the number for a few months now with no change; hopefully it will get changed to just the number in the next few days.

It almost sounds like a larger database issue. Your current carrier sets primary CID information, so all CID displays receiving calls should be showing what Airvoice has on record. If it isn't, I'm not sure what to tell you, as many carriers cache CID data... you can either call and harass every phone company to do a refresh where you find the issue, or your husband reaches a point of inner peace about it and doesn't let it bother him as the proper information slowly percolates through the mish-mash of the POTS networks and smartphone-app based Caller ID Name addon databases.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #148 on: September 24, 2014, 10:27:13 AM »
IP,  I've been reading your information about phones, net etc.. It is a little too techy for me to wrap my head around.

I have a Verizon smart phone with an expired contract.   Can I just downgrade to their smallest monthly text and phone plan and then use the phone via wifi at home and office for calls and web access?

Well, the smallest monthly text and phone plan you're going to get on Verizon's network is basically Page Plus' PAYG plan, which works out to a minimum monthly cost of $2.50+tax, with balance rollover and prices at the cost of 5-10/minute, 5/text, and 10/MB depending on the quantity of credit you spring for. (Alternately, if you're willing to go Selectel, you can get an effective pool of 2000 minutes and 2000 texts a year for $75/year ($6.25/month). That covers an average monthly usage of up to 166 minutes and 166 texts. There's no data, but the rates are technically cheaper than Page Plus at a rough price of 1.875 per available minute and text if you use the entire balance, otherwise unused doesn't roll over.)

As for using the phone via WiFi for calls, that requires a VoIP service and a bit of call forwarding to keep things unified. The cheapest, and "easiest" route for most people is to transfer their number to Google Voice, and then use Hangouts for making and receiving free VoIP calls over WiFi (for as long as Google will support that), and having GV forward any calls to your (different) cell number if you're out on the mobile network. It's a solution that gets datamined, it is a solution with call quality that frequently equals what you pay for, but if you're having trouble following the logic flow from this post, it might just be the easiest route for you to take.

The last part of the whole thing is your smartphone specifically. If it's an LTE device, you may have to wait until October to take it to Page Plus. There has been no official announcement on LTE support by Selectel, however, I suspect that they shouldn't be much behind that. Alternately, if you're good with AT&T and/or T-Mobile GSM coverage in your area, and your smartphone in question happens to be a GSM+LTE+CDMA world phone (like the Verizon iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3 for example), the SIM card slot should already be carrier unlocked, which means you don't just have a Verizon MVNO as your only option. You also have any of the AT&T or T-Mobile MVNO options at your disposal as well, including Truphone. If it's just a GSM+CDMA (no LTE) world phone and they only carrier unlocked for global roaming, so long as it has support for the GSM 850+1900 bands, you can still go with Truphone as a GSM MVNO option, but no others.

Any other questions or needed clarity, feel free to ask!
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #149 on: October 03, 2014, 08:55:52 AM »
I've been trying to port my number from Airvoice to Google since Tuesday.  I'm not getting much traction.  It doesn't help that it appears google doesn't have any tech support whatsoever for voice.

Is there another way I can 'park' my number somewhere so I don't lose it?