Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 164744 times)

bluesman

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #250 on: July 26, 2015, 11:17:25 AM »
After reading Paul's post above and I.P.'s response, I was wondering if anyone has thoughts on small business VOIP in general.  I am using RingCentral for my small law firm. I have not been very satisfied with the call quality of late and the prices seem to be going higher and higher.  We have ten extensions using Polycom IP phones with an internet connection that we only use for the phones.  We really only use the call routing, voicemail, voicemail-to-email and fax features of Ringcentral's hosted PBX.  Anyone have a high quality cheap solution they would recommend?  I set up my current system so I am fairly tech savvy. 

babysteps

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #251 on: July 27, 2015, 10:51:26 AM »
Looks like Airvoice is reducing the cost of their 'unlimited' plans? And I don't see a PAYgo anymore, but there is now a $5 for 5-day option.

I was on the $30 plan (unlimited talk & text, 100mb data/mo), that's now $20
The old $40 plan (unlimited talk & text, 1gb data/mo) is now $30
The top plan is now $50 (was $60 last I looked - unlimited talk & text, 5gb data/mo)

Other than yay for competition and lower costs, any thoughts?  I was afraid they might try to upgrade folks without their noticing (same $/mo), but that doesn't seem to be the case as they contacted the spouse to explain his service fee would be going down.
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Simple Abundant Living

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #252 on: July 27, 2015, 01:36:18 PM »
Looks like Airvoice is reducing the cost of their 'unlimited' plans? And I don't see a PAYgo anymore, but there is now a $5 for 5-day option.

I was on the $30 plan (unlimited talk & text, 100mb data/mo), that's now $20
The old $40 plan (unlimited talk & text, 1gb data/mo) is now $30
The top plan is now $50 (was $60 last I looked - unlimited talk & text, 5gb data/mo)

Other than yay for competition and lower costs, any thoughts?  I was afraid they might try to upgrade folks without their noticing (same $/mo), but that doesn't seem to be the case as they contacted the spouse to explain his service fee would be going down.

I was on auto-renew option for the $30/mo plan (unlimited with 500mb data). They kept me at $30, but now I get 500mb high speed/500mb throttled speed data. I'm happy with it, because I'm getting more for the same amount of $. My kids are still on the $10/mo plan and it works for them. I'm a happy Airvoice customer.
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babysteps

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #253 on: July 29, 2015, 10:52:58 AM »
I was on auto-renew option for the $30/mo plan (unlimited with 500mb data). They kept me at $30, but now I get 500mb high speed/500mb throttled speed data. I'm happy with it, because I'm getting more for the same amount of $. My kids are still on the $10/mo plan and it works for them. I'm a happy Airvoice customer.

Just got off the phone with Prepaid Wireless, Airvoice's payment partner.  The new $20 plan (was $30/mo) is *NOT* available as an autorenew, at least not at this time.  Disappointing, but not completely out of left field as the old $20 plan was PAYgo and not available as autorefill either...

It appears that for most $30/mo Airvoice customers, the default will be what happened with Simple Abundant Living (same $/mo, more data included).  Service-creep alert :)
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Left

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #254 on: July 30, 2015, 11:47:18 PM »
since I got the invitation to google's project fi, I'm going to toss this out as an alternative to republic wireless.

I know how ip daley feels about republic, but google fi seems to be same setup but better, at least they refund you the data you don't use... so it is a cross between ting and republic to me

I'm not using project fi so no first hand impressions, they won't work with my passport phone so I wont use it because I like the phone more than nexus phone...

Simple Abundant Living

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #255 on: July 31, 2015, 08:44:35 AM »
since I got the invitation to google's project fi, I'm going to toss this out as an alternative to republic wireless.

I know how ip daley feels about republic, but google fi seems to be same setup but better, at least they refund you the data you don't use... so it is a cross between ting and republic to me

I'm not using project fi so no first hand impressions, they won't work with my passport phone so I wont use it because I like the phone more than nexus phone...

That looks interesting to me. I probably wouldn't save money since I pay a flat $30 with Airvoice, but I'm curious about the network set up. I need to buy a new phone, so I'm not opposed to buying the Nexus.
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tanguera

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #256 on: August 04, 2015, 09:50:26 AM »
I've been reading up on VOIP and softphone apps but I'm hoping one of you with more knowledge might have some suggestions for me.

I get a free phone through work with unlimited data but we recently moved to a new house where I don't get reception with Verizon (my husband uses Ting and does get reception). I've been using Google Voice for calls when I'm home but that doesn't have e911 service which I'd like to have with two little kids in the house. We don't make phone calls very often but I think we're going to get a VOIP line as the 4-year-old is old enough to learn to make emergency calls and it will be useful for relatives who are watching the kids.

Even with the VOIP line I'd like to be able to make better use of my cell phone for calls if I can do so inexpensively. Google says I can port my current cell phone number to Google Voice for $20. It would be convenient to be able to receive calls via just one number regardless of where I am, however the call quality with Google Voice has not been great, and Google Voice doesn't have e911. Is there a better way to do this? Should I get a new number and service from some VOIP provider and forward calls to a softphone app? Is there another provider that would let me use my current number?

Left

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #257 on: August 04, 2015, 06:20:05 PM »
go to local police station to register your number with them, that way if it comes from that number they know the address unless told otherwise during the call

Exprezchef

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #258 on: August 13, 2015, 01:14:14 PM »
We cut the cable and phone service today!! We live in a pretty mountainous rural area and were concerned with what OTA channels we would be able to receive. Using the TV fool and Antennaweb websites it looks like we can get everything we need for our local channels and local news. I did however need to purchase a pretty powerful antenna and amplifier to get the signals. (A shout out to the customer serve of Antennas Direct for their help and patience with my questions and numerous phone calls). We are going to keep only the high speed internet (Cox) and Netflix. Since my wife and I are huge fans of shows on AMC, we took advantage of the offer through Sling TV and are picking up the Roku 3 for 50% off plus the monthly service. The channels offered through Sling TV are the ones we watch most anyway.The only thing we have not decided on is whether or not to get Hulu Plus, which we currently do not have. By making these changes we are now lowering our monthly TV watching bill by just shy of $100.00. We will make up for the initial outlay for the antenna and Roku 3 in only a few months. Once I get everything installed and running I will be sure and provide feedback on my experience.



elysianfields

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #259 on: August 27, 2015, 04:18:31 PM »
We've used VoIP for a long time, because having a US number on which we can receive live calls (as opposed to a voice mail service) is so useful.  Furthermore, we have lots of friends and family in Europe with whom we wanted to remain in touch.

Until recently we've been using Lingo, a Primus company.  Until we moved to Europe, we had their world package, which includes free calls to the US, Canada, and landlines in most of Europe.  They advertise at $23.95/mo, but with add-on fees we were paying $36.05/mo.  However, our European Internet provider includes VoIP with a local number and a large number of minutes for free calls to landlines in Europe.  So I cut back Lingo from the world plan to the strictly US & Canada option at $9.95/mo ($20.31/mo with fees).

At the suggestion of a co-worker and after some rumination, I decided to move everything to Google Voice and to buy a VoIP device from Obihai, which you can set up to receive your Google Voice calls (details here: http://www.obihai.com/docs/OBi202DS.pdf), available on Amazon for $66.92 here: http://amzn.com/B007D930YO.

The problem was that Google Voice cannot port "landline" numbers in from Lingo, only "mobile" numbers.

So instead I ordered a SIM from AT&T GoPhone for $4.95 and ported my Lingo number there.

I'll go to the US next month and ensure that the number is working, then port it to Google Voice.

Total costs of the SIM, the Obihai device, and a one-time Google Voice port-in fee of $20 total $91.87.  Given the $20.31 I was paying per month, my payback time is just over 4.52 months, after which my VoIP service is free.

geekette

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #260 on: August 30, 2015, 04:57:07 PM »
Airvoice has made a small change I appreciate for their $10/month plan.  It used to be that I'd get a grey screen after each call, text, and randomly for data usage, showing how much I'd used and how much I had left.  Fairly useless for me, plus recently the data usage would pop up at rather odd times with a text tone (annoying!)

I called and they can take that off completely.  No more interrupting screens, no more text tones when I wasn't actually getting a text.  I tend to keep a pretty high balance, so I don't worry about running out, but you can also dial *777# to get your balance and expiration date.

I suppose this also works for their other PAYG plans, but I didn't ask.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #261 on: September 01, 2015, 06:28:11 AM »
I have to admit, mobile service seems to be insanely cheap here down under compared to a few years ago.

$30AUD ($22USD) gets unlimited calls/SMS and 1GB or more of data, even with some of the major carriers.

I remember paying nearly a dollar a minute for calls and 28c for an SMS ten or so years ago. I remember signing up to a plan in 2012 with 1.5GB of data and $800 of calls, and the phone plan was a fair bit more than $30 a month.

Of course I'm paying $50 now because I recently decided to sign up to some silly antimustachian plan with insanely huge amounts of data (8GB). I'll change plans once Optus drop the price of their $45 plan :)
« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 06:38:44 AM by alsoknownasDean »

gimp

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #262 on: September 09, 2015, 02:48:13 PM »
My travels over the past couple years have showed me that - unfortunate as it is - verizon is the best choice for me, simply due to much better coverage. All manner of driving through Egypt, where the only reception is verizon - that sort of thing.

I'm also getting the new iphone soon.

The best plan I've found so far for my sort of usage is from rok mobile - $50/month for unlimited data (5GB LTE, the rest at 3G). I don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere throttled to 64 kbps trying to load a webpage.

Anyone have any advice for this?

I quite like republic wireless's price, but I am fed up with sprint, and I can't bring my phone to their network.

A plan like Ting would be much better for me, except for the fact that it's still got the same shite coverage.

I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #263 on: September 09, 2015, 05:04:06 PM »
The best plan I've found so far for my sort of usage is from rok mobile - $50/month for unlimited data (5GB LTE, the rest at 3G). I don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere throttled to 64 kbps trying to load a webpage.

Anyone have any advice for this?

Rok's new Verizon service has been proving to be twitchy on the data end (reports of data cut-off instead of throttling, no throttling after 5GB, etc.), but it's likely new service pains. Also be mindful that their definition of "3G" pretty much means nothing, and they're planning to throttle at 256kbps max... better than most with throttling (including Page Plus, etc.), but still technically in the realm of real-world 2G EDGE/1xEV-DO speeds.

I'm also unsure of any Verizon roaming partnerships with Rok. It's worth noting that even with many Verizon MVNOs, quite a bit of the BFE coverage in certain areas winds up from roaming agreements with US Cellular - though granted, there's no data with that roaming. Not saying that is the case with you specifically, I'm just speaking broadly.

Bottom line: If Verizon service with 5GB+ of data a month is a necessity and you're comfortable trying Rok (DeJoria or not, new MVNOs or new networks on established MVNOs are a gamble and Rok's pricing is right on the edge of TGTBT on Verizon - so weigh that risk if you're porting numbers), go for it. I would just make sure first and foremost that you can activate the new iPhone with them before making the investment as Verizon and Sprint both have new handset blacklist activations with their MVNOs, and the latest iPhones are usually on there, paid in full or not. If activation is contingent upon ESN/IMEI, be mindful of that.

Just remember to be willing to pay for what you need. If you genuinely need phone service with 5GB+ of BFE mobile data on Verizon with a new model iPhone, then whatever the cost is to provide that is what you need to pay... but of all the combos out there, it is quite literally the one that can potentially be the most expensive as it usually falls into using Verizon postpaid territory to make it happen.

Best of luck, dude.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 05:08:35 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.

gimp

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #264 on: September 09, 2015, 08:03:33 PM »
Thanks, I really appreciate the advice.

Roaming is definitely something I'd like. Basically the scenario which I face with regularity is: if my car breaks down, it might be over a hundred miles to the closest town or gas station, so first and foremost I need to be able to make a call if there's ANY cell service whatsoever; and ideally I'd like to be able to google my problem (data). Similarly, even if there is no service wherever the hell I am, the closest town might have it, and I might need to contact someone ("stuck in BFE").

I might be willing to sacrifice data in trade for good, solid roaming. I use wifi at home and work and therefore sincerely doubt I'd hit 5 gigs. With that said, with 1) faster internet and 2) a modern browser, I'd probably consume more data (bigger files and be able to play files I currently can't.)

Would you possibly recommend the basic 1 gig prepaid plan from verizon? It's $45... I think. I would want a plan that allows me to go over the data (even better if I can toggle this option on and off), even if it absolutely destroys me with fees for doing so, because I'd only imagine going over in case of an emergency.

Can you elaborate on handset blacklist activations? I definitely plan to buy the phone outright from apple, as soon as it becomes available on discount for me.

Overall, it's kind of a shitty decision: I will need the flexibility and good service for about 3% of my yearly usage, but if I need it during that week or two, I need it.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #265 on: September 10, 2015, 03:52:55 AM »
exactly how much "need" is there? there's an unmustachian Iridium Go that is a $800 device that turns your phone into a satellite phone (at an expensive monthly service plan, but it is monthly so you could just pay that one month). Though for a sat phone, it's pretty reasonably priced... one of those things where you can "buy" too much phone...

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #266 on: September 10, 2015, 09:43:24 AM »
Thanks, I really appreciate the advice.

Not a problem. As for the new questions/talk points, I may need to take things a bit paragraph by paragraph.

Roaming is definitely something I'd like. Basically the scenario which I face Well, Sprint and Verizon both have had a history of blacklisting new premium phones for 12-24 months from activation on their MVNOs. Sprint has gotten much better about this, but Verizon is still being picky about this as far as I know... but it is a topic that may have changed a bit with the newer introduction of LTE support with the independent Verizon MVNOs the past couple months. I can't answer this one with authority as there's not much info floating around about it yet. If you want to use a new iPhone, try calling up Selectel's customer support and ask if you can potentially activate an iPhone 6 right now, or possibly an iPhone 6s after it drops.with regularity is: if my car breaks down, it might be over a hundred miles to the closest town or gas station, so first and foremost I need to be able to make a call if there's ANY cell service whatsoever; and ideally I'd like to be able to google my problem (data). Similarly, even if there is no service wherever the hell I am, the closest town might have it, and I might need to contact someone ("stuck in BFE").

To address this one, I need to mention something specifically about CDMA network service and then something about all network based mobile services.

First, with proper CDMA services on Sprint/Verizon/US Cellular handsets, even if you have no roaming service with your carrier or MVNO, you should still potentially have access to place calls through ARN. This isn't universal, and the best way to guarantee access to ARN nationwide is to have a deactivated CDMA handset from Verizon, but it's an option as you can pay roughly $0.25/minute or place a collect call. The only downside is the human factor and people unwilling to answer calls when they have caller ID and don't recognize the number or the number comes up unknown.

Second, any handset, active service on a network or not - if there's a frequency compatible tower within range of any handset, whether it's native network or not and even if you can't place a regular call, it will handle a 911 emergency call. This applies to CDMA and GSM both. Even though I'm on P'tel myself, and P'tel only uses T-Mobile's native network... if I need to call 911 from the middle of a Nebraska cornfield, I'll still have service to do so as that call will route over any of the closest active GSM towers in the area. If you can't flag down anyone and you're stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to get the car going again, that would constitute enough of an emergency to warrant dialing 911. I cover this stuff with a bit more depth on the unabridged guide on my site, it's about 4/5ths of the way down the cell phone providers page here under "Unique Alternatives".

Just be aware that even if you can't place a direct dial call, it doesn't mean you can't place any call.

Lastly on this point, now that Verizon uses SIM cards with LTE and has to carrier unlock their handsets for GSM use, even if you're restricted to Verizon only network coverage? You can now leverage stuff like a KnowRoaming sticker to give you additional access to the AT&T network for these sorts of occasions, and AT&T frequently fills in gaps that Verizon leaves and vice versa.

I might be willing to sacrifice data in trade for good, solid roaming. I use wifi at home and work and therefore sincerely doubt I'd hit 5 gigs. With that said, with 1) faster internet and 2) a modern browser, I'd probably consume more data (bigger files and be able to play files I currently can't.)

If you're convinced that you need Verizon coverage with good solid roaming, then your best bet (minding customer support is important as well) is either Selectel (which is a Verizon MVNO that has supports LTE handsets and has voice/SMS partner roaming with Sprint, US Cellular and a few other smaller regional providers), or Verizon postpaid. Verizon Prepaid is Verizon native network only, and doesn't permit roaming except through ARN.

As to the data usage point, try using a browser that allows you to turn off image loading completely or provides an image compression proxy such as Opera Mini or Dolphin browser. Since I retired the Nokia C3 in April, I've used Opera Mini on my BB Bold 9900 with images set to low quality. I don't do anything with it that I don't want passed through a third party proxy, but of the 139.6MB of internet browsing I've done with it since April, I've only actually used 9.8MB of billable data ($0.98 of data on P'tel). The internet's still pretty useful with images turned off.

I don't know if you're familiar with it or not, but maybe give my post "What is mobile media costing you?" a read as well to help keep some perspective on phone data storage capabilities and mobile data usage. I think even without WiFi, you could probably get by with less than 1GB of data a month with just a bit of lateral thinking, pre-planning, and avoiding a bit of hedonic adaptation.

Would you possibly recommend the basic 1 gig prepaid plan from verizon? It's $45... I think. I would want a plan that allows me to go over the data (even better if I can toggle this option on and off), even if it absolutely destroys me with fees for doing so, because I'd only imagine going over in case of an emergency.

Given what you've stated thus-far and what I've responded with, I'm sure you already know the answer to this.

Now, I will say this about Selectel: In addition to their monthly packages, they have $10 Flex cards that covers minutes/SMS/MMS/MB of data at a rate of $0.05 a pop for any plan overages, and the unused balance rolls over. So given Selectel offers LTE service, voice roaming, has optional prepaid overage billing at $0.05/MB, and their 1GB "unlimited" talk and text plan is $40...

Can you elaborate on handset blacklist activations? I definitely plan to buy the phone outright from apple, as soon as it becomes available on discount for me.

Well, Sprint and Verizon both have had a history of blacklisting new premium phones for 12-24 months from activation on their MVNOs. It was an act done specifically to keep people with deep pockets wanting shiny phones stuck on high margin, expensive postpaid plans under contract. Sprint has gotten much better about this, but Verizon is still being picky about this as far as I know... but it is a topic that may have changed a bit with the newer introduction of LTE support with the independent Verizon MVNOs the past couple months. I can't answer this one with authority as there's not much info floating around about it yet. If you want to use a new iPhone, try calling up Selectel's customer support and ask if you can potentially activate an iPhone 6 right now, or possibly an iPhone 6s after it drops.

For the record, you don't have this sort of premium handset blacklist activation problem over on the GSM end... this is a purely CDMA problem.

Overall, it's kind of a shitty decision: I will need the flexibility and good service for about 3% of my yearly usage, but if I need it during that week or two, I need it.

Which brings me to ask the following question: Are your BFE reception experiences limited solely to your past experiences on CDMA networks/through Republic Wireless, and when was the last time you checked for GSM coverage in your little slice of Egypt?

I only ask because going GSM might be a better alternative for your core services. Consumer Cellular has AT&T coverage with partner roaming on T-Mobile and elsewhere, and they're one of the only good AT&T MVNOs that can properly handle the AT&T SIM based data auto-configuration issue with iOS. The footprint would be near close to Verizon, you could unquestionably use an iPhone 6s without possible activation issues, and $50/month+tax would give you 1500 minutes, unlimited texting, and 1.5GB of data, and the less you use, the cheaper it'll get.

I know there's not much definitive in my answers, but I'm trying to get you to think a bit more creatively and laterally about that two week window, your carrier, and even your potential phone choice. Hopefully it all helps.

Any other questions, you know where to find me.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2015, 09:54:26 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.

gimp

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #267 on: September 11, 2015, 02:33:08 PM »
Quote
If you can't flag down anyone and you're stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to get the car going again, that would constitute enough of an emergency to warrant dialing 911.

Hmm. Interesting. I guess that might be true. That's not a bad point.

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You can now leverage stuff like a KnowRoaming sticker to give you additional access to the AT&T network for these sorts of occasions

I'm an electrical engineer, but this feels like magic.

Quote
Given what you've stated thus-far and what I've responded with, I'm sure you already know the answer to this.

More expensive, but quite possibly logistically easier to go with a giant than a small company. I will give it serious consideration, though it doesn't seem that good of a deal. With that said, overages are pretty easy on that plan (I care a lot more about ease of use than cost.)

Quote
Which brings me to ask the following question: Are your BFE reception experiences limited solely to your past experiences on CDMA networks/through Republic Wireless, and when was the last time you checked for GSM coverage in your little slice of Egypt?

Ah, that's the rub. It's not a little slice of egypt, it's pretty much every slice of egypt in the entire country that I care about. Believe it not, it's not an unrealistic worry. Even truckers usually stick to well-travelled routes and interstates. I find the roads with signs saying "not patrolled after dark."

My experiences are that me on sprint, and other people on verizon, and if only one of us has service it is always them and not me, and having at least some basic service in some fairly surprising places.

Blacklisting might be an issue. I will look into it.

Satellite phones are not a bad idea, to be honest. That would free me up to using much cheaper plans. I must do the math for a satellite phone + strictly prepaid plan (per minute cost) + cheap cell plan versus more expensive cell service plan. I really appreciate the suggestion.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #268 on: September 11, 2015, 03:15:18 PM »
Quote
If you can't flag down anyone and you're stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to get the car going again, that would constitute enough of an emergency to warrant dialing 911.

Hmm. Interesting. I guess that might be true. That's not a bad point.
Yeah, authorities don't exactly want to have to deal with dead visitors on their roadways. Would it be possible to have the 911 operator assess whether your situation is worthy of sending a trooper, and if it's not, send a tow truck instead?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #269 on: September 11, 2015, 05:51:25 PM »
Quote
You can now leverage stuff like a KnowRoaming sticker to give you additional access to the AT&T network for these sorts of occasions

I'm an electrical engineer, but this feels like magic.

No magic, the KnowRoaming SIM sticker basically converts a single SIM card into a dual-SIM card. It's all OS level software controlled to switch between. Most smartphones can actually do this already. If you absolutely want the best/maximum humanly possible mobile coverage in the US but done easily, you'd want to go Verizon LTE+CDMA network first with a carrier that does roaming onto US Cellular, Sprint, and other CDMA partner networks combined with either a KnowRoaming SIM sticker which will give you the ability to switch over to the AT&T network without fiddling with SIM cards.

If you want to wedge in as many GSM and CDMA networks on one phone combined, the Verizon LTE with roaming path with an iPhone is still the way to go, but instead of using KnowRoaming, you'd need to get a MagicSIM Elite adapter and go with either TruPhone (the better choice as prepaid with no expiration so long as you use it every 30 days) or Consumer Cellular which will give you both AT&T and T-Mobile networks combined with other incidental smaller GSM networks. This setup will literally provide you with the capacity to make regular or 911 calls no matter the tower. Of course, we're approaching diminishing and absurd levels here for ensuring terrestrial mobile phone coverage.

Quote
Given what you've stated thus-far and what I've responded with, I'm sure you already know the answer to this.

More expensive, but quite possibly logistically easier to go with a giant than a small company. I will give it serious consideration, though it doesn't seem that good of a deal. With that said, overages are pretty easy on that plan (I care a lot more about ease of use than cost.)

Logistically easier, but Selectel and Page Plus both basically offer the same coverage as Verizon postpaid. Selectel's the one of the two with the better customer support.

It's not a little slice of egypt, it's pretty much every slice of egypt in the entire country that I care about. Believe it not, it's not an unrealistic worry. Even truckers usually stick to well-travelled routes and interstates. I find the roads with signs saying "not patrolled after dark."

My experiences are that me on sprint, and other people on verizon, and if only one of us has service it is always them and not me, and having at least some basic service in some fairly surprising places.

Blacklisting might be an issue. I will look into it.

Satellite phones are not a bad idea, to be honest. That would free me up to using much cheaper plans. I must do the math for a satellite phone + strictly prepaid plan (per minute cost) + cheap cell plan versus more expensive cell service plan. I really appreciate the suggestion.

If you're hedging bets, remember that there's the law of diminishing returns here... especially when you're throwing money at "safety", and safety is ultimately an illusion. You can plan and have failsafes, but there's no guarantee in this life for anything but death and taxes. Man plans, G-d laughs. If you're wandering off the trail deliberately, perhaps learn to accept the risks that go with it and plan accordingly. If you're wandering off the trail accidentally, perhaps work on sharpening some solid navigation skills that aren't GPS dependent and still plan for it accordingly.

Iridium satellite phones are certainly an option to hedge bets on regularly preserving communications in Likenowheresvilleman, but for the price trying to hedge bets? I'd rather invest in an UberScoot 2x (portable gas powered scooter) for $600 and carry two gallons of gas for it while on these trips. Might not be able to guarantee calling for help immediately, but it'd give you an extra 100+ mile range. A far more sane (and cheaper) solution would just be getting your amateur radio license, a portable CB/GMRS/FRS radio that can charge on solar and/or hand crank and maybe a conceal carry permit.

Even this, though... I know I'm not you, and you have to accept your own level of risk tolerance, but bottom line? If you're counting on technology to save your ass in an emergency, you're not gonna live. Technology's just a tool. Your best tool in these situations will be your brain. If you're concerned about breaking down in BFE, take enough provisions on these trips to keep you thriving for three days, basic first aid equipment, an assortment of low-tech signaling equipment (flare gun, signal mirror, flashlight with SOS mode, emergency request sign for the car), some common sense, and just remember that 99.9% of Americans traveled all over the country without any mobile phone service even just 25 years ago in far less reliable cars. I'm pretty sure in this day and age (short of full societal collapse), your odds of winding up in an Alfred Packer situation is pretty slim.

Don't let fear of a car breakdown situation during 3% of your lifetime drive your phone budget. Keep the car well maintained, stick with well traveled roads as often as possible, go with a Verizon MVNO if you need that piece of mind, learn some basic survival skills, and just carry a small go bag with some basic signaling on these trips where you run a risk of being in BFE to ensure you don't dehydrate or bleed out before someone finds you.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 05:56:44 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.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #270 on: September 11, 2015, 07:35:19 PM »
:)

I have enough gear in my car to fix most basic things, and I have enough gear and food and water (and filtration / purification / first aid) in my car to survive for weeks in most conditions. Which is why I never considered breaking down to be a 911-level emergency, you know?

I'm not worried about dying, just wanted the convenience of not having to wait two weeks if I break down near Inuvik or some such place. I worry a lot more about dying when I hike alone in the winter on snow-covered mountains (because fuck me, that's why).

Unfortunately, I think carrying is not a good option - states have a lot of different rules on what and how you're allowed to carry (especially crossing state lines), and obviously countries even more so. Oh, and a concealed carry permit is impossible to get where I live. But it's in the back of my mind.

CB radio is on the agenda. I never got my HAM license due to laziness, and then when I went to get licensed, one of the examiners didn't show...



I think I'll go with Page Plus, and get the sim adapter + secondary prepaid plans whenever I feel it's necessary. Wonder if I can make that work outside the country too... hmm.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #271 on: September 13, 2015, 02:33:50 PM »
I have enough gear in my car to fix most basic things, and I have enough gear and food and water (and filtration / purification / first aid) in my car to survive for weeks in most conditions. Which is why I never considered breaking down to be a 911-level emergency, you know?

Excellent and encouraging!

I think I'll go with Page Plus, and get the sim adapter + secondary prepaid plans whenever I feel it's necessary. Wonder if I can make that work outside the country too... hmm.

Both KnowRoaming and Truphone SIM are PAYGO international providers, so yes. I believe KnowRoaming has the better Canadian and Mexican rates of the two, IIRC, but don't quote me on that.

My time on Tracfone/NET10 will certainly caution you with going Page Plus due to crappy customer support with language barriers and billing issues, but if you want to go with them over Selectel anyway... consider yourself warned in advance, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

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.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #272 on: September 13, 2015, 03:22:34 PM »
To some degree I agree with IP. Page plus is very much a DIY mvno now. I have pretty good discount otherwise I would most likely go with puppy wireless or slectel over PP. If you do need something from them I would recommend  you sign into your account and use chat.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #273 on: September 14, 2015, 03:29:05 PM »
Bah. Fine. I asked for your advice so I should actually listen to it. I'll go with selectel. A few bucks a month in return for them actually fixing problems if they arise is not a bad trade.


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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #274 on: September 16, 2015, 07:40:12 AM »
A few bucks a month in return for them actually fixing problems if they arise is not a bad trade.

And that right there captures the central guiding principle of the guide and all the advice I provide. :)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 07:42:09 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #275 on: September 19, 2015, 06:57:06 PM »
I recently changed mobile carriers (they seem to be offering bulk data for next to nothing these days). I'm getting 8GB of data and unlimited calls/SMS for $50 a month, including a data share SIM that sits in my cellular iPad. I'm on Optus, but Virgin and Vodafone offer 10GB for the same price currently.

I'm actually considering cancelling my ADSL and using mobile data alone for my Internet. I may have to cancel Netflix, but I barely use it anyway.

Currently I'm paying $60 a month for ADSL (with iiNet), which includes 100GB of data (and I use about 30-40GB on average). I'm under contract until November 2016, and it's about $150 to break it.

If I cut my usage down somewhat, I may be able to use the phone data as my sole Internet source and cancel my ADSL. The other advantage is that 4G is probably faster, especially if I get a wifi hotspot and position it for the best signal. Even if I go to the top-tier plans with 15GB or so of data for a bit more, it might still be worthwhile.

Going to Virgin or Vodafone would net me a bit more data, but they each have their own pitfalls, Virgin's excess data is charged at 5.2c/MB (vs $10/GB as is normal), and my phone doesn't support Vodafone's 850MHz 4G network (yet it supports every 4G frequency used on Telstra and Optus).

Hmm :)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 07:00:50 PM by alsoknownasDean »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #276 on: September 21, 2015, 03:30:50 PM »
Yet another TWC adventure... last time we spoke, they assured me my promo rate of $35 was extended until April 2016.

Two weeks ago, I finally get the upgraded speeds of 50/5 they are giving to everyone in my area because of Google Fiber, which while not necessary, are nice.

Today I get a letter in the mail saying my rate is going to $45 next month. I call them and not only do they keep me on the promo rate until April like promised, they also drop an additional $5 effective immediately without me even asking. So I'm now paying $30 for 50/5- not a bad deal at all. Go figure.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #277 on: September 21, 2015, 04:34:40 PM »
Several people in our area have reported TWC's speed bump, but we're stuck at 17/1.  Got the Google Fiber t-shirt, though!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #278 on: September 25, 2015, 07:15:37 PM »
geekette, I didn't sign up to get one, but apparently it was such a popular item that this post showed up on /r/triangle!



I need to do some business experiments by buying some domain names and see which ones catch people's eye. Ideally, I'd get some intro pricing coupons to snatch them for a few dollars each, and only keep the most successful ones after a few months. Are there any companies that offer intro pricing that do NOT require me to spend an hour on the phone with this guy when I want to cancel/transfer them out?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #279 on: October 05, 2015, 08:49:56 AM »
Well I'll be heading to the States in a couple of weeks for 2 weeks. Hooray.

Of course I'll need to work out what to do with mobile service there, and whether it's worth buying a local SIM versus roaming on the Aussie SIM.

If I use the Aussie SIM, I'll port to Vodafone locally and use their $5 a day roaming offer (and maybe return to Optus once I get back, haha). Otherwise I'll grab a SIM of an AT&T or T-Mobile (GSM phone) carrier and use that.

I'll either use my LG G3 (which doesn't seem to support any American LTE bands, as it's the D855 model, so it'll be 3G only in the States), or put an American SIM into my old iPhone 5 (which is the GSM A1429 model, still won't support any American LTE bands IIRC).

Chances are I'll be pretty heavy on the data as it'll be my sole Internet connection (unless I can get wifi somewhere).

The American SIM would be cheaper, but roaming would mean I'd be able to be contacted from home on my Aussie number and can roam between AT&T and T-Mobile networks depending on the best signal.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2015, 08:51:49 AM by alsoknownasDean »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #280 on: October 06, 2015, 06:49:29 AM »
It is a hassle but you can be contact by email through text, or the first 140 characters, enough to let you know to check email. If on ATT you can use their email to text service and forward emails to it to get the text. Or setup a Google voice account? Not sure if it is available in Australia

http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2010/08/sms-using-email/
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 06:51:38 AM by eyem »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #281 on: October 06, 2015, 07:44:36 AM »
The American SIM would be cheaper, but roaming would mean I'd be able to be contacted from home on my Aussie number and can roam between AT&T and T-Mobile networks depending on the best signal.

Dean, didn't you mention at one time having VoIP service? If you do, I'll elaborate on a quick, dirty and cheap way to forward calls to a US number if your provider does INum call forwarding (it involves LocalPhone, which might be the cheapest way to call mobile lines back home anyway - they offer VoIP without using mobile data).

As for the whole roaming between networks, unless you want to pay for SIM cards and service on both networks, just stick with AT&T for better coverage. There's only one good BYOD MVNO I know of that roams between the two and it's Consumer Cellular, and they're not really a provider designed for visitors. Also, don't get hung up on LTE, HSPA+ service in this country is plenty zippy itself, though ping time is a bit higher.

Given your $70 budget cap just roaming, clearly we need to aim for less to make it worthwhile. The big thing is going to be data rates. The best data rate going is about $10/GB with a base cost of $20 for calling. Lucky for you, H2O Wireless' sub-brand easyGO just launched a SIM program and restructured their prices. $20 for "unlimited" talk and text for 30 days with 100MB of data, a free SIM card with this calling plan, and the ability to PAYGO on data at $10/GB. If you keep yourself under ~290MB a day (4GB total), you'll be ahead of the game. Just remember to use existing data storage for the data hungry stuff like GPS maps, and turn off image loading on websites when not on WiFi, and you'll be fine.

By the way and mostly unrelated, what part(s) of our enormous country are you planning to trek across?
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.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #282 on: October 06, 2015, 12:10:49 PM »
IP - I could use a little help in reducing our phone bill. I did read your guide - twice:) and concluded that until we paid off our two new smart phones in September 2016 I'd like to stay with our current carrier, T-Mobile.

Neither one of us is tech savvy, but since we took the plunge in 2014, we do enjoy our smart phones.

My question is primarily about our data needs - it looks to me like based on your guide I could cancel some of the extra data we now have. Maybe if I give you a rundown on our usage you can tell me whether dropping the extra date will cripple our activities - we have cable and I do have my phone on Wi-Fi setting - I saw that our cable provider offers Wi-Fi hot spot, but I don't really understand what that means.

Usage - me:
camera - almost daily:)
g-mail - daily
FB - upload pics/post (5-6 times mo)
library - e-book reading-app? (weekly)
Map-GPS -2-3 times a week
Internet - bank and shopping (10-15 times mo)
Text - 3-10 month
Phone - local 8-10 times a month - int'l (Germany) - 2-3 times a week - (we have add on Int'l call unltd $15mo)

Usage - Mr. R.: text and local and US calls - about 10 a week, GPS and Internet news-weather about 12 times a month.

We both use a few apps in case that matters, but don't play games and although I'd love to use my cell in conjunction with my TV - I don't know how. We don't have netflix or roku, but it is something I would like to consider. Do they even work with a phone or would you recommend a  tablet?

So here it goes - consumer sucka $193.20 mo

$ 80.- Simple Choice Val Family Plan UnlTT+D

my line:
$ 10.- SC UNL + 5GB SMHS til 1/2/16
$ 15.- Stateside Int'l w/Mob

my phone:
$ 22.- LG D959 G Flex
$ 10.- Jump Ins. Warr & Mob Sec

Plus various taxes and fees.

Mr. R.s cell phone
$ 10.-    SC UNL + 5GB SMHS til 1/2/16
$ 16.60  LG D801 G2
$ 10.-     Jump Ins Warr & Mob Sec

Plus $4.30 in taxes and fees

What do you think IP?:
1. Cancel the Jump-Warr-Sec $10 = $20  savings monthly
2. Not sure about the SC UNL + 5GB SMHS - can I drop that and still use our phones the way we are now? Would be another $10 = $20 sav mo
3. The phones will be paid off in September of 2016 - $16.60 plus $22 = $38.60 sav mo

I hope we at least chose well on our phones, because we plan to use both our phones for at least another 4-5 years.


Thank you in advance for your input - much appreciated!


« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 12:16:50 PM by Rosy »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #283 on: October 06, 2015, 08:14:10 PM »
The American SIM would be cheaper, but roaming would mean I'd be able to be contacted from home on my Aussie number and can roam between AT&T and T-Mobile networks depending on the best signal.

Dean, didn't you mention at one time having VoIP service? If you do, I'll elaborate on a quick, dirty and cheap way to forward calls to a US number if your provider does INum call forwarding (it involves LocalPhone, which might be the cheapest way to call mobile lines back home anyway - they offer VoIP without using mobile data).

As for the whole roaming between networks, unless you want to pay for SIM cards and service on both networks, just stick with AT&T for better coverage. There's only one good BYOD MVNO I know of that roams between the two and it's Consumer Cellular, and they're not really a provider designed for visitors. Also, don't get hung up on LTE, HSPA+ service in this country is plenty zippy itself, though ping time is a bit higher.

Given your $70 budget cap just roaming, clearly we need to aim for less to make it worthwhile. The big thing is going to be data rates. The best data rate going is about $10/GB with a base cost of $20 for calling. Lucky for you, H2O Wireless' sub-brand easyGO just launched a SIM program and restructured their prices. $20 for "unlimited" talk and text for 30 days with 100MB of data, a free SIM card with this calling plan, and the ability to PAYGO on data at $10/GB. If you keep yourself under ~290MB a day (4GB total), you'll be ahead of the game. Just remember to use existing data storage for the data hungry stuff like GPS maps, and turn off image loading on websites when not on WiFi, and you'll be fine.

By the way and mostly unrelated, what part(s) of our enormous country are you planning to trek across?
Hi Daley, thanks for that :)

I certainly do have a VoIP line that goes largely unused. I'll have a look into the call forwarding. I probably should install CSIPSimple (I now have an Android phone too), although I haven't had much incentive to use it locally with unlimited calls on my mobile plan.

So I'm looking at $20 plus $10/GB? Does that include tax, or is tax and other charges added on top of the $20? Is it easy to get a SIM?

Ah, that $70 (actually $75 as I'll be there for 15 days) is in Australian dollars, so it's about $53US. I guess that means that if I use less than 3GB, I'm better off with the easyGO sim,  but if it's over 3GB, I'm better off paying for roaming on Vodafone.

I was hoping there was a carrier that had a daily plan,  didn't T-Mobile have one at one stage?

I don't know much about Google Voice here. I've got some spare Skype credit,  maybe I could use that to get a US DID number for the period if I roamed on an Aussie SIM?

By the way, the AT&T and T-Mobile websites are awful to navigate.

With only two weeks, I won't be able to cover the whole place,  so I'm sticking to the west coast. Flying in to Seattle via Sydney and Honolulu,  driving to LA and flying directly back. I can cover the rest another time :)
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 08:16:32 PM by alsoknownasDean »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #284 on: October 06, 2015, 08:52:44 PM »
IP - I could use a little help in reducing our phone bill. I did read your guide - twice:) and concluded that until we paid off our two new smart phones in September 2016 I'd like to stay with our current carrier, T-Mobile.

Rosy, I'm gonna need a bit of time to process and research this one. Let me get back to you.

In the mean time, I need you to be more specific about your billable usage. I need actual minutes, texts and amounts of data used per month from your bills. This "use X feature X times a day/week/month" unfortunately doesn't tell me squat about your actual billable usage, because things like the idea of calling Germany twice a week doesn't articulate how long the phone calls are. Those two calls could literally describe anything between two minutes and sixteen hours. Same with the "bank and shopping"... I need real world usage to provide real world solutions.



Hi Daley, thanks for that :)

I certainly do have a VoIP line that goes largely unused. I'll have a look into the call forwarding. I probably should install CSIPSimple (I now have an Android phone too), although I haven't had much incentive to use it locally with unlimited calls on my mobile plan.

So I'm looking at $20 plus $10/GB? Does that include tax, or is tax and other charges added on top of the $20? Is it easy to get a SIM?

Ah, that $70 (actually $75 as I'll be there for 15 days) is in Australian dollars, so it's about $53US. I guess that means that if I use less than 3GB, I'm better off with the easyGO sim,  but if it's over 3GB, I'm better off paying for roaming on Vodafone.

I was hoping there was a carrier that had a daily plan,  didn't T-Mobile have one at one stage?

I don't know much about Google Voice here. I've got some spare Skype credit,  maybe I could use that to get a US DID number for the period if I roamed on an Aussie SIM?

By the way, the AT&T and T-Mobile websites are awful to navigate.

With only two weeks, I won't be able to cover the whole place,  so I'm sticking to the west coast. Flying in to Seattle via Sydney and Honolulu,  driving to LA and flying directly back. I can cover the rest another time :)

Right right, forgot about the monetary conversion this morning. Sorry about that. Also, yes, the major carrier websites are a trainwreck to navigate.

Taxes are rolled into those prices, excuse sales tax (if the MVNO even charges it directly). Getting a SIM card from H2O Wireless will take a bit of pre-planning if you buy directly.

What few prepaid mobile daily plans that are left are hideous expensive and don't include data. There's barely any weekly or half month plans (even from the crappy carriers) anymore.

Don't waste your time with Google Voice. If you've got the spare Skype credit, that might be an option, otherwise, LocalPhone.

Mobile data is just flat-out expensive here. H2O Wireless (not the easyGO sub-brand) at $35 and up and P'tel at $30 and up both offer "unlimited" 2G data over the high speed allotment with their "unlimited" plans. T-Mobile MVNOs such as P'tel are going to offer more data per buck than the AT&T MVNOs. You can get cheap P'tel SIM cards off Ebay, and H2O usually gives their SIM cards away with new orders. If you'd rather just have a SIM card waiting and activate, though, cheap SIMs can be had from Ebay for them as well.

Going T-Mobile, you might find a few dead spots in the Pacific NW cruising down I-5, but you'd still be able to call emergency services if anything were to happen.

Seriously, I know it'll be your primary internet connection for the visit, but employ as many data saving techniques as possible if you want to keep costs down stateside. Heck, you're on vacation, try to unplug as much as possible.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 09:38:31 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.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #285 on: October 06, 2015, 09:58:18 PM »
Quote
Quote from: Rosy on Today at 12:10:49 PM
IP - I could use a little help in reducing our phone bill. I did read your guide - twice:) and concluded that until we paid off our two new smart phones in September 2016 I'd like to stay with our current carrier, T-Mobile.

Rosy, I'm gonna need a bit of time to process and research this one. Let me get back to you.

In the mean time, I need you to be more specific about your billable usage. I need actual minutes, texts and amounts of data used per month from your bills. This "use X feature X times a day/week/month" unfortunately doesn't tell me squat about your actual billable usage, because things like the idea of calling Germany twice a week doesn't articulate how long the phone calls are. Those two calls could literally describe anything between two minutes and sixteen hours. Same with the "bank and shopping"... I need real world usage to provide real world solutions.

Thanks, Dailey - much appreciated. Germany is almost always over an hour. My mom isn't doing so well....
The printed bill doesn't show usage - but I bet it does on line somewhere, I'll figure it out:) and get back to you, later tomorrow.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #286 on: October 09, 2015, 07:58:50 AM »
IP - I could use a little help in reducing our phone bill. I did read your guide - twice:) and concluded that until we paid off our two new smart phones in September 2016 I'd like to stay with our current carrier, T-Mobile.

Rosy, I'm gonna need a bit of time to process and research this one. Let me get back to you.

In the mean time, I need you to be more specific about your billable usage. I need actual minutes, texts and amounts of data used per month from your bills. This "use X feature X times a day/week/month" unfortunately doesn't tell me squat about your actual billable usage, because things like the idea of calling Germany twice a week doesn't articulate how long the phone calls are. Those two calls could literally describe anything between two minutes and sixteen hours. Same with the "bank and shopping"... I need real world usage to provide real world solutions.



Hi Daley, thanks for that :)

I certainly do have a VoIP line that goes largely unused. I'll have a look into the call forwarding. I probably should install CSIPSimple (I now have an Android phone too), although I haven't had much incentive to use it locally with unlimited calls on my mobile plan.

So I'm looking at $20 plus $10/GB? Does that include tax, or is tax and other charges added on top of the $20? Is it easy to get a SIM?

Ah, that $70 (actually $75 as I'll be there for 15 days) is in Australian dollars, so it's about $53US. I guess that means that if I use less than 3GB, I'm better off with the easyGO sim,  but if it's over 3GB, I'm better off paying for roaming on Vodafone.

I was hoping there was a carrier that had a daily plan,  didn't T-Mobile have one at one stage?

I don't know much about Google Voice here. I've got some spare Skype credit,  maybe I could use that to get a US DID number for the period if I roamed on an Aussie SIM?

By the way, the AT&T and T-Mobile websites are awful to navigate.

With only two weeks, I won't be able to cover the whole place,  so I'm sticking to the west coast. Flying in to Seattle via Sydney and Honolulu,  driving to LA and flying directly back. I can cover the rest another time :)

Right right, forgot about the monetary conversion this morning. Sorry about that. Also, yes, the major carrier websites are a trainwreck to navigate.

Taxes are rolled into those prices, excuse sales tax (if the MVNO even charges it directly). Getting a SIM card from H2O Wireless will take a bit of pre-planning if you buy directly.

What few prepaid mobile daily plans that are left are hideous expensive and don't include data. There's barely any weekly or half month plans (even from the crappy carriers) anymore.

Don't waste your time with Google Voice. If you've got the spare Skype credit, that might be an option, otherwise, LocalPhone.

Mobile data is just flat-out expensive here. H2O Wireless (not the easyGO sub-brand) at $35 and up and P'tel at $30 and up both offer "unlimited" 2G data over the high speed allotment with their "unlimited" plans. T-Mobile MVNOs such as P'tel are going to offer more data per buck than the AT&T MVNOs. You can get cheap P'tel SIM cards off Ebay, and H2O usually gives their SIM cards away with new orders. If you'd rather just have a SIM card waiting and activate, though, cheap SIMs can be had from Ebay for them as well.

Going T-Mobile, you might find a few dead spots in the Pacific NW cruising down I-5, but you'd still be able to call emergency services if anything were to happen.

Seriously, I know it'll be your primary internet connection for the visit, but employ as many data saving techniques as possible if you want to keep costs down stateside. Heck, you're on vacation, try to unplug as much as possible.
Daley,  do you know much about the Burner app? It seems like I could use that to get a US number while over there :)

Getting a US number via Skype would cost me a further $3 on top of my outstanding credit.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #287 on: October 09, 2015, 08:54:44 AM »
Daley,  do you know much about the Burner app? It seems like I could use that to get a US number while over there :)

Getting a US number via Skype would cost me a further $3 on top of my outstanding credit.

Burner is only a free service long enough to try it out, it'd cost you $2USD to have it last the full 14 days, and it'd still only give you 20 minutes of talk time. Combined with the one shot freebie credit (at least on iOS), you're only looking at 21 days and 25 minutes of talk time for that two bucks. If you're using it on Android, it gets a bit more expensive as the trial is only good for 24 hours and the "mini" package is only good for seven days.

If you don't mind the datamining, maybe give TextNow a look. That'll give you a US phone number with "unlimited" "free" calls and texts. Of the lot of "free" VoIP number apps, it's one of the more robust and has one of the least skin crawling privacy policies.
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jerebo

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #288 on: October 10, 2015, 12:31:15 PM »
Hello all,

I'm new here, but have been reading the blog for a while and lurking in the forums for a week or so. I've also read Mr. Daley's guide. This will be a somewhat long thread. I'm looking for reviews of Ultra Mobile (considering it for my daughter), thoughts on handsets, and help deciding between Truphone and P-Tel for myself.

I am considering Ultra Mobile for my teenaged daughter, who sends 1000 texts a month and uses about 400 minutes of voice. Though she only used about 300 MB of data last month, I think the number of texts she sends puts her in the unlimited range. The best deal seems to be Ultra Mobile's unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE data for $228 for 12 months (that works out to $19/month). But if the service isn't reliable and the customer service is poor, then maybe I'd be better off with P-tel's $30/month plan, rather than being locked in for a year. T-Mobile has good coverage in our area, and my daughter already has an unlocked GSM phone.

For myself, I plan to go with a true paygo system and use VOIP (Local Phone) via a soft phone on my handset. If I can convince DH to put in a landline, we'll probably go with Local Phone for that service too. I do a fair bit of texting, but mostly with my husband and daughter. I can offload a lot of that to wi-fi with Hangouts (my husband's preferred) and maybe Kik or Nimbuzz with my daughter (who is using a Windows phone at the moment). A few other people text me on occasion, but that doesn't represent a large part of my texting.

So, my questions are about handsets and paygo services. For paygo, I'm considering either TruPhone or P-tel.  If I primarily limit my outgoing calls to voip when I'm near wifi (most of the time), then maybe TruPhone is a better deal. I can pay the $.09/minute for the occasional call over the cellular networks (and not abuse their services). Data is slightly less expensive with TruPhone than with P-tel, but texts are quite a bit more. Though I don't need to send very many over cellular. I know that P-tel is very well reviewed with great customer service. But I believe that TruPhone might allow some roaming, plus I do occasionally travel internationally (to Russia), so am leaning toward the latter.

My biggest question is probably about the hardware. I'm currently using my husband's discarded Moto G. It has the advantage of easy Google Voice. If I understand correctly, I think that using Hangouts for all of SMS means that SMS goes through data, is that right? And DH is being a pain about loading another app on his phone for sending texts. The phone is already paid for, so that seems the most frugal thing to do. Although my daughter might prefer Android to Windows and I could give it to her.

My other thoughts are to get a phone with a keyboard: perhaps the Blackberry Q10 (reasonably inexpensive--especially used, apparently uses less data than Android), and still getting support. I've also wondered about a Nokia Asha or a Nokia e71.

With the Nokia Asha, is it possible to use VOIP? Is it "baked" into the OS, as it apparently is for Symbian? If not, what soft phones are available to use with it? I've also heard that GPS navigation is available with an Asha. How does that work? I like the possibility of getting a dual sim phone with the Asha. When I travel, I usually buy a local sim card. Data in Russia is super cheap--1 GB for $5 (and this was before the ruble crashed).

I like the Nokia e71's a lot. But it is a legacy phone that is no longer updated. I'm not technically very savvy. Even though DH is, he's not entirely supportive of my decision. In fact, he wants me to get an iPhone (I can get an excellent deal through work, $200 for the 6s, then a $35/mo contract for 2 years. For an iPhone, that's very good), and told me that at the first complaint about my new frugal system, he's buying me an iPhone.

Which of the four phones would you recommend? Keep going with the Android--and avoid buying another phone altogether. A Blackberry? An Asha? Or an E 71?

Maybe I'm straining at gnats here.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Symbian intrigues me, too

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #289 on: October 10, 2015, 08:19:36 PM »
Shalom aleichem, Jerebo! Are you the same person who sent me a couple messages through the Technical Meshugana contact form a couple days ago? If so, I did respond to you Friday.

I wouldn't really recommend Ultra Mobile if you're going slightly off the beaten path of providers. In the scenario put forth, H2O Wireless' newer easyGO brand has a $20/month "unlimited" talk and text plan with 100MB of data, and their $10/1GB data packages roll over between billing cycles until it's used. Plus, you'd get AT&T coverage instead of T-Mobile - not that it sounds like that's a huge benefit in your area. Kind of a win-win in this situation for easyGO over Ultra, though, and the rough aggregate price difference would work out to only be around an extra $2.00-2.50 a month... and you still wouldn't have to deal with a year lock-in.

If you're who I think you are, factoring some of the numbers you gave me through the website plus this, if you're looking at three mobile lines in total? Maybe look into Ting GSM and Consumer Cellular as well instead of targeting cheap unlimited plans. Normally I don't recommend Ting or CC unless it's a multi-family situation, but it doesn't hurt to compare rates if you're shopping anyway and seeing if pooling resources might work for the better.

Regarding Truphone, yes, they roam on both AT&T and T-Mobile. Consumer Cellular does similarly. As far as international roaming, there's also KnowRoaming which is a SIM sticker overlay, effectively turning your phone into a dual-SIM device that you can switch between.

Regarding Hangouts, yes, texting through Hangouts uses data.

I'm growing cooler to the older Nokia Symbian handsets these days (both S40 and S60) due to some of the older handsets lack of modern SSL support post-POODLE. We had to retire my wife's E63 because of this. VoIP is really only something that was integrated into the S60 OS. As Asha was an S40 platform, there's no VoIP support for the handsets. The oldest S60 handset that still works with current SSL standards is the E72. On the S40 end, I'm not sure where the line was, but the C3-00 can still do SSL. Either way, the OS isn't aging gracefully post-support drop in a world of broken encryption standards. Towards that point, I'd recommend the Q10 and BBOS10 over any Nokia Symbian handsets... and though BBOS10 does handle Android apps, it doesn't handle Google+ apps gracefully and without significant effort. I certainly wouldn't recommend the E71 at this point as you'll be froze out of any and all secure internet communications.

Bottom line, though, I always recommend reusing and wearing out technology that you already own instead of buying something else. If you've got a Moto G, use it.

Hope this helps, and try not to swallow any camels while you're straining. :)
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jerebo

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #290 on: October 10, 2015, 10:58:09 PM »
Thank you, Daley, for that detailed response, especially since I just now found your previous response to me in which you gave me some of the same info :)

Thanks for the heads up on the Easy Go plan; it looks like a great deal! Their paygo rates are pretty good, too. That's about the cheapest I've seen for paygo data (excepting Russia!) I've looked into Consumer Cellular (and Ting). Consumer Cellular looks like a great deal, except the website seems to force me to buy one of their phones. Is that a requirement for their service? Can I get their service somewhere else? It looks like DD and I could share a plan for a total of $50 a month--giving her all the voice and text she needs. Ting might be an option, too, especially since they do GSM as well as Sprint.

I really think I can off load most of my texting to Google Hangouts with my husband and to Kik with my daughter. I bet I average 20 texts a month with other people--more some months than others. So, a paygo plan might yet work for me.

Know Roaming looks really cool and seems like it would great for short-term travel. Sometimes we travel for 2 months at a time (I take students on study abroad and we have relatives in Germany), so getting a local sim card works out much cheaper for those circumstances.

Thank you for the advice on the handsets. It's definitely not very Mustachian of me to want to get a new handset instead of using up what I have. I just really like physical keyboards.

Of course, there are bigger things to take care of than my cell phone package. Like trying to convince DH to give up cable. We went years with only a digital antennae and Netflix. But then Google Fiber came in with FREE internet. And now we not only have cable, we have the extra sports package. And he's convinced he can't live without it! I'm catching up on the thread about how to convert your spouse to a Mustachian.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #291 on: October 11, 2015, 06:40:24 AM »
Well, I need a new phone anyway and I have sent in a request for a Google Fi invite. $20/month for unlimited talk and text, direct LTE access to both Tmobile and Sprint networks, data is pay-as-you-go on cellular, free (as it should be) on Wifi.

I previously had Wifi calling on Tmobile, but it was always a pain in the ass. Dropped calls, not switching over, having to manually turn off Wifi when there was an issue. I'm sick of poor connectivity. None of the providers has a good cell signal in my house, or my office. I have strong Wifi at both. I'm also sick of the shitty/late Android updates via Samsung/Tmobile.

Notionally, Fi is supposed to seamlessly transition between Tmobile, Sprint and Wifi, automatically using the best connection. There are a million tested-good Wifi hotspots included, and the service is still in beta test. There are reports of roaming on both Verizon and ATT.

One drawback: You have to use one of 3 phones: the currently available Nexus 6, or the just-launched-shipping-soon Nexus 5x or 6p. They appear to all connect to all common US network flavors, and they are all updated/updating to Android 6/Marshmallow. I expect updates to continue to be swift, as these are Google's inhouse phones.

Somewhat spendy? Yeah. Less expensive than the typical "flagship" phone, but fairly spendy. $350, $379 and $449 respectively (with upgrades available beyond that.)
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #292 on: October 11, 2015, 07:40:54 AM »
Daley,  do you know much about the Burner app? It seems like I could use that to get a US number while over there :)

Getting a US number via Skype would cost me a further $3 on top of my outstanding credit.

Burner is only a free service long enough to try it out, it'd cost you $2USD to have it last the full 14 days, and it'd still only give you 20 minutes of talk time. Combined with the one shot freebie credit (at least on iOS), you're only looking at 21 days and 25 minutes of talk time for that two bucks. If you're using it on Android, it gets a bit more expensive as the trial is only good for 24 hours and the "mini" package is only good for seven days.

If you don't mind the datamining, maybe give TextNow a look. That'll give you a US phone number with "unlimited" "free" calls and texts. Of the lot of "free" VoIP number apps, it's one of the more robust and has one of the least skin crawling privacy policies.

I'll have a look at TextNow, but I'm prepared to pay a couple of bucks if need be. It's certainly more elegant than buying a $3 T-Mobile PAYG SIM and popping it in my iPhone like I was considering. :)

However, it'll really only be for the odd incoming call. Any outgoing calls will be made with my Australian SIM. I'll be changing to Vodafone for the cheap roaming. Bonus is that the first month is half price.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #293 on: October 11, 2015, 09:17:02 AM »
Thank you, Daley, for that detailed response, especially since I just now found your previous response to me in which you gave me some of the same info :)

Not a problem. Regarding the new questions:

Consumer Cellular lets you BYOD and gives away free SIM cards to boot.

Longer trips, native SIM cards usually work out cheapest. That said, there's nothing stopping you from combining a Truphone SIM with a KnowRoaming sticker and having the best and cheapest of both international roaming providers. Germany is one of the Truphone countries, if I remember right. :)

Regarding Ting, they do offer both T-Mobile and Sprint coverage, but not at the same time on the phones. It's an either-or dependent upon whether the phone is a GSM handset or a Sprint-badged CDMA one.

I don't blame you on the physical keyboard preference, I'm exactly the same way... however, it's not so strong that I'd spend money on one if I already had a fully functioning slab phone.

Regarding the sports issue, if I may briefly tap into the secondary message you sent me... Ken Raggio is a Oneness Pentecostal, and though I have a couple philosophical bones to pick with the man and the movement (let's be honest, matters of faith and agreement on the more trivial stuff can be difficult at times, especially between brothers and sisters in the faith inclined toward the more scholarly pursuits - and I'm not exactly mainstream myself with my own more Messianic Jewish/Netzari positions on the faith in general), Ken's rather hard words on the subject of organized sports are not exactly disagreeable... in fact, one might say his words quite literally hit the mark regarding modern sports fandom missing the mark. I'm not saying you should have your husband read it himself, but perhaps take the lessons away and learn how to present the incompatibilities in love as they present themselves in your own walks in a way that he would understand and not just shut out when heard. Mustachianism is fine as a philosophy, but the thing to remember for you guys is the faith first and foremost, and how the core values of mustachianism when applied rationally dovetails into the values of both Christianity and Torah.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 09:33:09 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #294 on: October 11, 2015, 09:23:43 AM »
I previously had Wifi calling on Tmobile, but it was always a pain in the ass. Dropped calls, not switching over, having to manually turn off Wifi when there was an issue. I'm sick of poor connectivity. None of the providers has a good cell signal in my house, or my office. I have strong Wifi at both. I'm also sick of the shitty/late Android updates via Samsung/Tmobile.

Notionally, Fi is supposed to seamlessly transition between Tmobile, Sprint and Wifi, automatically using the best connection. There are a million tested-good Wifi hotspots included, and the service is still in beta test.

The thing to remember is that both T-Mobile and Google Fi are using UMA for that GSM/WiFi call handoff. Perhaps you were having problems with the implementation and hardware while on T-Mobile, but the technology allowing that supposedly seamless switch is going to be identical. If you still have problems with it after the switch to Fi, I'd potentially look into your router as a possible failure point as well.



I'll have a look at TextNow, but I'm prepared to pay a couple of bucks if need be. It's certainly more elegant than buying a $3 T-Mobile PAYG SIM and popping it in my iPhone like I was considering. :)

However, it'll really only be for the odd incoming call. Any outgoing calls will be made with my Australian SIM. I'll be changing to Vodafone for the cheap roaming. Bonus is that the first month is half price.

Excellent. Let me know what you decide on, feel free to report back, and have a safe and fun trip!
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alsoknownasDean

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #295 on: October 12, 2015, 05:09:08 AM »
I'll have a look at TextNow, but I'm prepared to pay a couple of bucks if need be. It's certainly more elegant than buying a $3 T-Mobile PAYG SIM and popping it in my iPhone like I was considering. :)

However, it'll really only be for the odd incoming call. Any outgoing calls will be made with my Australian SIM. I'll be changing to Vodafone for the cheap roaming. Bonus is that the first month is half price.

Excellent. Let me know what you decide on, feel free to report back, and have a safe and fun trip!

There's a bit of a spanner thrown in the works. Seems all of my porting phones and applying for new credit cards lately hasn't helped my credit, as I was declined by Vodafone (even though I had no issues signing up with them in May). Damn. Optus roaming is more expensive, so I'm not bothering with that.

I've been eyeing MVNOs in your guide and elsewhere (hell I even looked at the America Movil ones you've said to avoid), and it seems that if I want a couple of gigabytes, I'd be paying $50+ a month (except maybe with Cricket). As I'll be using OTT apps for messaging and can set up my SIP number to call back home, it probably doesn't matter if I don't have a lot of calls.

With a lot of those MVNOs, I'd probably have trouble getting a SIM if I can't pick it up at a store at the airport or a nearby convenience store too.

However, none of the carriers with PAYG plans seem to have add-on data packs...except for T-Mobile. They've got their $3 a month prepaid plan with 30min/30 texts and a 7 day data pass is $10 a week for 1GB. Added bonus is I could probably pick up a SIM at the airport or a store anywhere. Even if the coverage is a bit shit outside of cities (especially as my phone works on 1900MHz 3G only, not the kooky 1700 they also use), it might be worthwhile if I can keep my data usage under 1GB a week. Free wifi's fairly widespread there, no?
« Last Edit: October 12, 2015, 05:11:22 AM by alsoknownasDean »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #296 on: October 12, 2015, 08:46:09 AM »
However, none of the carriers with PAYG plans seem to have add-on data packs...except for T-Mobile. They've got their $3 a month prepaid plan with 30min/30 texts and a 7 day data pass is $10 a week for 1GB. Added bonus is I could probably pick up a SIM at the airport or a store anywhere. Even if the coverage is a bit shit outside of cities (especially as my phone works on 1900MHz 3G only, not the kooky 1700 they also use), it might be worthwhile if I can keep my data usage under 1GB a week. Free wifi's fairly widespread there, no?

Sorry to hear about the spanner, mate.

Looks like at this late stage, it's now T-Mobile prepaid as your easiest option. T-Mobile's been re-farming a lot of their services across their spectrum recently, and one of the things they've done is migrated HSPA+ from the 1700MHz AWS bands over to the 1900MHz PCS bands in most of their markets now. That might help. Also, data's not a big add-on here, unfortunately. Everyone wants to mine for big bucks on data, even on the MVNO end, since it's so blasted expensive.

WiFi is reasonably available in commercial areas, but be selective about what traffic you pass on those networks, and I'd recommend you stay away from private open hotspots. Use common sense and be security minded.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #297 on: October 12, 2015, 03:32:32 PM »
I'm just learning this software, so forgive me if I do weird stuff with the quotes!

Quote
Consumer Cellular lets you BYOD and gives away free SIM cards to boot.

Ooh, that link seems to take me to some page that I wasn't accessing earlier. With some nice texting/data only plans (if I've read it right.) It's too bad that so many places won't let you buy data without the phone service, too.

Code: [Select]
Bottom line, though, I always recommend reusing and wearing out technology that you already own instead of buying something else. If you've got a Moto G, use it.
I'm fixin' to do just that. Though I have noticed my cell phone "leaking data." I happened to be sitting in a meeting the other day with no wifi. In two long hours without going on to the Internet or using any cellular services, my phone used 2 MB!  At $0.05 to $0.10 a MB, that kind of usage will cost me a lot. I turned off background syncing on most apps, except for SMS services and think that the data leakage has slowed. And at work I just turned off the mobile data entirely. I've read about Juice Defender and other apps. Is there on app that will reliably turn off mobile data when the phone is on wifi? I've read that some Androids, in particular, will continue using data from the cellular towers even when connected to wi fi.

Code: [Select]
Regarding the sports issue, if I may briefly tap into the secondary message you sent me... Ken Raggio is a Oneness Pentecostal, and though I have a couple philosophical bones to pick with the man and the movement (let's be honest, matters of faith and agreement on the more trivial stuff can be difficult at times, especially between brothers and sisters in the faith inclined toward the more scholarly pursuits - and I'm not exactly mainstream myself with my own more Messianic Jewish/Netzari positions on the faith in general), Ken's rather hard words on the subject of organized sports are not exactly disagreeable... in fact, one might say his words quite literally hit the mark regarding modern sports fandom missing the mark. I'm not saying you should have your husband read it himself, but perhaps take the lessons away and learn how to present the incompatibilities in love as they present themselves in your own walks in a way that he would understand and not just shut out when heard.
You've given me a lot to think about. I've already had pangs of conscience over my love of college football due to the brain trauma question. I do admit that football, in particular, feels a bit like the gladiators in the coliseum!

I've got lots to consider in terms of possible cell plans. I've looked at Liberty Wireless and their ten dollar deal for unlimited texts and 100 minutes of voice sounds good. But then I worry that I might have a month where I need more than 100 minutes--if something were to happen to my aging parents, for instance. And there's no data. So maybe I'd be better off with Airvoice's $10 plan; then I can accrue minutes in case I need them, and make use of cheaper data to send SMS. Or the new EasyGo paygo plan looks pretty compelling, too. Voice and texts are more expensive than P-tel, but the data is so inexpensive.

And I'm trying to choose a VOIP plan. Decisions, decisions. And in the end, the price difference is largely negligible. Maybe that's why it's so hard to choose?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #298 on: October 21, 2015, 10:17:30 AM »
I'm fixin' to do just that. Though I have noticed my cell phone "leaking data." I happened to be sitting in a meeting the other day with no wifi. In two long hours without going on to the Internet or using any cellular services, my phone used 2 MB!  At $0.05 to $0.10 a MB, that kind of usage will cost me a lot. I turned off background syncing on most apps, except for SMS services and think that the data leakage has slowed. And at work I just turned off the mobile data entirely. I've read about Juice Defender and other apps. Is there on app that will reliably turn off mobile data when the phone is on wifi? I've read that some Androids, in particular, will continue using data from the cellular towers even when connected to wi fi.

Android has a built in data monitor now, start there first. Here's a couple guides on tweaking and minimizing data usage. Ignore the KnowRoaming advertising and context on the second one, it's still relevant for tighter data management.

You've given me a lot to think about. I've already had pangs of conscience over my love of college football due to the brain trauma question. I do admit that football, in particular, feels a bit like the gladiators in the coliseum!

Football and a bucket of hot wings does feel a bit bread-and-circus-y in this country at times.

I've got lots to consider in terms of possible cell plans. I've looked at Liberty Wireless and their ten dollar deal for unlimited texts and 100 minutes of voice sounds good. But then I worry that I might have a month where I need more than 100 minutes--if something were to happen to my aging parents, for instance. And there's no data. So maybe I'd be better off with Airvoice's $10 plan; then I can accrue minutes in case I need them, and make use of cheaper data to send SMS. Or the new EasyGo paygo plan looks pretty compelling, too. Voice and texts are more expensive than P-tel, but the data is so inexpensive.

The key is focusing on what's most important to you in your communications device and not being afraid to pay for what you need.

And I'm trying to choose a VOIP plan. Decisions, decisions. And in the end, the price difference is largely negligible. Maybe that's why it's so hard to choose?

Choose what works best for you. Some have features that others don't (FAX, voicemail-to-text, anonymous call block, whitelists/blacklists, call forwarding, SMS gateway, IVR menus, etc.). Some require more technical skill to set up than others. Go with what serves you best.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #299 on: October 21, 2015, 10:27:54 AM »
Short question - is there a way to make cell phone calls answerable on house wiring?

Long version - we have VoIPo, and are up for renewal soon.  We don't use it much, but it seems like when we have a need, it often needs a reboot, or, like Monday when I was trying to arrange plans with a bunch of people, it was mostly out altogether (per chat with VoIPo, after we'd rebooted everything from the wall out twice).

We dislike long calls on the cell, so we keep the landline for long calls like family and those interminable customer "service" calls.