Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 153813 times)

Done by Forty

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #350 on: February 05, 2016, 10:43:10 AM »
IP Daley Airvoice Question:

Our friend has been on Airvoice for a while, is an iPhone user, but has not been able to get texts from non-iPhone users. She just got a "new to her" iPhone 5, but is still having the same problem.

We pointed her to the MMS and internet instructions on Airvoice's website, but it notes this is only for iOS 7.0 and earlier (link below)...but she's on a more recent version of iOS so they're hesitant to just start manually entering the APN settings. Any risk there? Or should they just go for it?

https://www.airvoicewireless.com/SupportIphone.aspx

I've also been kicking around a workaround that just uses Google Voice for texting, but that would be a last resort.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #351 on: February 05, 2016, 11:11:52 AM »
IP Daley Airvoice Question

I've covered this several times in various threads over the years, but this is the most complete explanation I've done:

I remember you saying even the H20 Sim needs to have an 'unlocked' phone for it to work? Or was that only for the data to work?

Data APNs are typically locked down in software on most all handsets (including AT&T) when the handset's hardware SIM card reader is also carrier locked. This way, even if you switch to an AT&T MVNO with an AT&T postpaid locked handset, it prevents the user from gaining mobile data access from a cheaper provider on their own network without paying off the phone, completing your contract, and kissing Ma Vader's rings before going on your merry way. This is also how they keep you from buying a cheaper subsidized handset from say AT&T's prepaid GoPhone and Cricket divisions and taking it to another, cheaper AT&T MVNO if you want/need data access or MMS support without first keeping it active on a GoPhone/Cricket account for 12 months to recoup the subsidy before allowing you the freedom to leave through carrier unlocking. It works this way on the T-Mobile end as well as other GSM providers around the world who practice carrier locking, too.

The thing is, most MVNO SIM cards are typically recognized by the handsets as SIM cards from their parent network on the hardware level. Airvoice and H2O SIM cards are recognized as AT&T, P'tel and Ting as T-Mobile, etc. Because of this, it'll let you make and receive calls and SMS messages even with a carrier locked handset using an active SIM card from an MVNO on the same network as the phone is locked to, but APNs for mobile data and MMS cannot be changed on the software end due to the carrier locking. Due to this nature of the GSM hardware, they may not be able to prevent the phone calls and SMS messages on these locked handsets with other MVNO's SIM cards on their network from working short of blacklisting the phone's IMEI (which they will do), but they can still cripple it by completely blocking data access and configuration.

(Fun Fact: You can actually use an unused AT&T SIM card to activate service with most AT&T MVNOs such as Airvoice Wireless.)

This is where it's gotten messy for iPhones. With T-Mobile network SIM cards, if the handset is carrier unlocked, the APN settings are accessible for manual configuration and there's no data configuration trauma with any T-Mobile or T-Mo MVNO. With AT&T network SIM cards even in an unlocked handset, however, the APN settings remain hidden away and inaccessible... and it's been this way and only gotten worse since iOS7. Clearly, this creates a problem. Unless your AT&T MVNO is on Apple's officially blessed provider list (Consumer Cellular, Cricket, GoPhone, StraightTalk) which auto-configures the APNs for you based on the carrier detected in software, any other AT&T MVNO SIM will effectively set these phones to AT&T postpaid APNs by default upon insertion due to their lack of official auto-configuration support from Apple.

Unfortunately, because you also have no way of manually configuring the APNs for your AT&T MVNO (Airvoice, H2O Wireless, Puretalk USA, Red Pocket, etc.) due to this setting lock-out "auto-configure" feature, you still have data configuration issues even after carrier unlocking. This is where needing to use unlockit.co.nz just to set your data APN now comes into play. To make matters worse, the MMS settings for these non-blessed AT&T MVNOs typically can't be configured most of the time now as well even using unlockit without jailbreaking. It's a hot mess, and it's why I typically don't recommend iPhone users who need MMS support to use any AT&T MVNOs from the guide anymore except for Consumer Cellular.

Make sense?

tl;dr: MMS doesn't work with Airvoice on iPhone/iOS 7+. Blame Apple and AT&T. SMS should still work universally, however.
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 #352 on: February 05, 2016, 11:53:45 AM »
Thanks, IP Daley. I'm not sure what to tell her other than, "maybe try a different AT&T MNVO". I was on PTel but obviously that ship has sailed (and now I'm on Airvoice as well).

Since she has data working, but can't get SMS texts from Android users, it sounds like a good next step might be to try the instructions on Airvoices' website for MMS (?).  I have our old PTtel SIM cards, if those will suffice for the "T Mobile" SIM portion of the instructions.

I'm a bit lost why MMS settings might be what she needs, but I remember you typing something about MMS and SMS being related on iPhones due to the way they send texts.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #353 on: February 05, 2016, 01:39:33 PM »
I'm a bit lost why MMS settings might be what she needs, but I remember you typing something about MMS and SMS being related on iPhones due to the way they send texts.

It's two-fold, and may partially have something to do with message length and how it's handled by the Android handsets. Anything over the 160 character limit can be sent as an MMS depending on settings. Also, iMessage doesn't use SMS or MMS between iPhones, it uses data. Following the MMS instructions simply aren't going to work anymore for more current iOS builds unless you jailbreak first.

All this said, I do have a question as to which plan they're on or started with? It's possible that if they started out on any sort of PAYGO plan, SMS might have been disabled. Maybe contact support and ask if SMS/MMS is enabled on the account? Worth a shot.
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 #354 on: February 05, 2016, 03:11:42 PM »
I know they've been on the $30 plan for a while. Anyway we can certainly call and make sure that SMS/MMS are turned on.

Let's say they are currently turned on, and data is working, but SMS from Android isn't coming through.

What should they do to try to troubleshoot? I'm interpreting your last post to mean they should not try to follow the MMS steps on the Airvoice website, since the phone is running a newer version of iOS than 7.0.

Is there even a next step?
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 03:13:52 PM by Done by Forty »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #355 on: February 05, 2016, 03:41:14 PM »
Is there even a next step?

Not much can be troubleshot on their end, and there really isn't much of a next step for them, no. They can toggle iMessage off and on with the phone for giggles, but I doubt it'll do anything. Maybe they can even try leaving it off and have a known good sender send another message to see if it comes through or not. Odds are though, I'm not expecting things to change. Also, the MMS instructions won't work on newer iOS builds, period.

Without knowing far more about the circumstances and the hardware used across the board and which users aren't going through, I would first guess that the problem is on the originator's end, not the receiver's. You only said she couldn't receive, which indicates she can send and they receive just fine.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #356 on: February 05, 2016, 04:18:45 PM »
IP Daley Airvoice Question:

Our friend has been on Airvoice for a while, is an iPhone user, but has not been able to get texts from non-iPhone users. She just got a "new to her" iPhone 5, but is still having the same problem.

We pointed her to the MMS and internet instructions on Airvoice's website, but it notes this is only for iOS 7.0 and earlier (link below)...but she's on a more recent version of iOS so they're hesitant to just start manually entering the APN settings. Any risk there? Or should they just go for it?

https://www.airvoicewireless.com/SupportIphone.aspx

I've also been kicking around a workaround that just uses Google Voice for texting, but that would be a last resort.

iPhone on Airvoice user here - I haven't been able to get MMS since I upgraded my phone (don't care, so I haven't attempted to fix it) but I do get SMS from non-iPhone users, on the rare occasion someone not on an iPhone texts me (sadly, half the time they're spam, which I immediately block). 

I went to www.unlockit.co.nz on the phone's browser and changed the APN from there.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #357 on: February 06, 2016, 11:42:25 PM »
Thank you Mr. Daley for the wonderful guide you wrote. I've read it through a few times now and I'm still struggling with all the options and technical setup requirements. I'm hoping you or other forum members can help direct me to what my family needs.

1) My work pays for my cell phone so I'm out of the equation

2) My wife and daughter are currently on a shared family plan with US Cellular for ~$85/month. This is some kind of promotion and will go up in price when they renew in May of this year. I want us off of the contract plans and leased phones.

3) Average use for them both combined per month is about 1600 minutes, 750 texts, 3.2 GB data. We will be going on a "data diet"... some of this is due to my wife's business though so we do require a decent amount of mobile data.

4) Also important is good coverage and call reliability.

5) Current phones they have are a Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5c. Will we be able to use these with a prepaid plan? I understand they need to be "unlocked" somehow after our contract. Obviously using our existing handsets would be a big plus.

6) My thought was simply by utilizing a prepaid plan + wifi calling when at home we can save a chunk of money, but how to accomplish this while keeping her existing phone # is challenging to me.  I've gotten this far... please correct me or advise:

Sign up for a prepaid cell service (I'm considering Ting) -- transfer old cell # over
Sign up for a GV or VoIP number service.
Setup call forwarding with Ting to forward calls to the VoIP # -- she will be able to receive calls to her old cell # over the VoIP network
  -- when not on wifi ... how to decide/direct whether calls use my Ting minutes or data over VoIP? Will everything be over data at this point or can I receive a normal cell phone call?
Outgoing calls: use the SIP dialer and setup VoIP to use my old phone # as outgoing caller ID?
  -- again, are you able to switch between using minutes and data with this setup when not on wifi?

I'm confused with above. What I want is to use wifi for everything when possible and use the mobile network when not available. Need to keep the existing phone number and would like it to be easy. I know this sounds like Google Fi but would like to BYOD. Help appreciated, thanks!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #358 on: February 07, 2016, 09:55:46 AM »
I'm hoping you or other forum members can help direct me to what my family needs.

1) Okeydokey.

2) Hooboy, US Cellular! *sigh* This'll be fun.

You'll begin to understand why I typed this as you continue on.

3) Does your wife's business involve moving around large gobs of data or being away from WiFi most of the time? If no to both points, I'm setting a goal bar for her at around 250-750MB.

4) So, what's your ZIP code? (You can PM me that for privacy reasons, if you prefer.) Are you by chance with USCC because they have the best coverage for your region? If USCC is the alpha dog in your region and there isn't good coverage from the big four (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint), we may already be hitting a bit of a wall if data access is a necessity. These sorts of areas are rare, but not impossible... so it's probably best to set expectations early on a possible SOL situation if I don't know where you live.

Regarding network coverage if you want to do the research yourself, check crowd-sourced maps with Root Metrics, OpenSignal, Sensorly, DeadCellZones.com, and CellReception.com for overall reported coverage in your area in addition to the official network coverage maps. All maps and statistics lie, but you can make a good guess between them and the official coverage maps when combined with cell tower placement.

5) Only one of these phones might be able to go elsewhere without any problems, the iPhone. Here's the USCC device unlocking policy. You'll note, they claim the 5c is already carrier unlocked and that they can also carrier unlock the S4, but headline that list with the following statement:
Quote
It is important for consumers to know that an unlocked device is not an assurance that such device will;
  • operate on any other carrier's network due to technical differences between carriers networks (for example, U.S. Cellular operates a CDMA network while some carriers operate GSM networks which are incompatible)
  • or, if it does operate on another network, perform all of the functions that it performed on the U.S. Cellular network
  • be accepted by any carrier for use on their network even if the device is compatible with that network to some degree.

An unofficial FAQ from a third party USCC support forum has the following to say on carrier unlocking these particular USCC handsets:
Quote from: iRub1Out
Can I carrier "unlock" my U.S. Cellular phone?

Yes, but it depends on how you define "unlock", for instance CDMA only phones are locked with a simple 6 digit code of all zeros that will allow you to reprogram or "flash" it to another CDMA network.

If you have a non-iPhone 4G LTE device released before April 2015, it can only be unlocked to work with other CDMA/LTE networks, it will NOT work with GSM/W-CDMA(UMTS)/HSPA+ networks. Most Samsung and LG 4G LTE smartphones released on USCC will work with T-Mobile, but only with LTE. You must also be in a VoLTE enabled area and have a VoLTE capable device to make calls with a unlocked USCC device.
....
Why can't I use GSM on my non-iPhone 4G LTE USCC device?

Non-iPhone 4G LTE devices released before April 2015 are not certified by the FCC to operate on GSM, thus federal regulations require non-certified bands to be permanently disabled. Most USCC devices such as the S4 and Mega don't even have GSM hardware, it's been completely stripped off the phone. You may be able to activate your unlocked USCC device on a GSM network that supports VoLTE, but this is not guaranteed.
....
I have an iPhone from U.S. Cellular, does it come pre-unlocked like the Verizon model?

Partially, all iPhones from U.S. Cellular are already unlocked for use outside with GSM networks outside of the United States, but are locked to U.S. Cellular within in the United States and must be unlocked in order to activate on another network within the United States.
....
How do I use my U.S. Cellular iPhone with another network in the United States?

You will either need to call customer service or visit a U.S. Cellular store to have your iPhone unlocked, the rep will fill out a work-order request with the iPhone's IMEI number and will send it off to be unlocked. This process takes around a day to complete.

So, technically no to the S4 for GSM service, even though technically the hardware specs say it should be able to; and yes to the 5c for GSM service, but you still have to actually carrier unlock despite what USCC's official carrier unlock FAQ says. Theoretically you might be able to take them to activate on a Sprint or (more likely) Verizon MVNO (that is, assuming either network has sufficient native coverage for your area), but it's a bit of a hot mess and I can't promise squat. YMMV. I'm still going to encourage you to contact these CDMA LTE MVNOs (Ting CDMA [Sprint + Verizon/USCC voice/SMS roaming], Selectel [Verizon + Sprint/USCC voice/SMS roaming]) to double check and confirm the ability to activate (or not) after carrier unlocking (which you can only do after you complete the contract later this year) before ditching the S4, however.

Like I said, it's a bit of a hot mess. It may look feasibly great on paper and you want it to work, but it's mostly a trainwreck waiting to happen.

6) This is a bit more involved, and you're getting close on understanding, but not entirely. There's a couple methods that can be used, but I would, under general principle, leave Google Voice out - especially if you need reliability on contacting due to business needs. Especially in the case of business needs, PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

If you need reliable hybrid UMA/GAN calling support (which is all GoogleFi is, but only with expensive Nexus branded flagship Android handsets using a T-Mobile primary network with Sprint LTE roaming), use and pay for a carrier and phone that properly offers it. Republic unfortunately isn't that solution. However, Ting GSM and T-Mobile do offer these services with select handsets including certain Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones, but not with an iPhone. It's also important to note that using WiFi with UMA/GAN calling will still count and be billed as used minutes with the carrier. It's not like data as you're still using their network to connect calls and texts.

One thing to remember is that call forwarding from the carrier to a VoIP number is still going to cost you incoming minutes with the mobile carrier plus the additional incoming minute cost (if any) of the VoIP provider. It doesn't matter if you're using it to give you coverage in an area where mobile service is usually spotty by using WiFi fallback to call out and receive. It's just how it works.

If you're doing it just to save money but need to keep reliability, the only place you'll be able to easily cut costs doing your own hybrid VoIP setup are mostly through outbound calling with a VoIP provider that permits you to set and change outbound Caller ID (LocalPhone, VOIP.ms, CallCentric) and use it over WiFi and maybe 4G data (depending on data versus minute costs 1MB = 2 minutes of talk time roughly - don't forget to also include the cost per minute of the outbound VoIP call). I know others here have done VoIP calling over 3G networks, but I don't recommend it due to the much higher latency which can impact call quality and clarity.

Now, if you're going to ignore all this advice and still want to plow ahead with as cheap of service as possible doing a hybrid setup like Republic does, port your number to Google Voice and use this cheapskate guide I wrote up, but I don't recommend using it for some of the same reasons I don't recommend Republic.

Again, if you need proper UMA/GAN WiFi calling support, get a supported handset and either go Ting GSM or T-Mobile. If you're just trying to keep costs low without impacting reliability, either use a home VoIP phone or only rely on VoIP with CallerID set to your mobile number for outbound calls if you're near a WiFi connection. If you're just being cheap, knock yourself out with the afore linked TruLocalPhone Magic post for cheapskates using Google Voice for your primary number combined with Truphone SIM and staying glued to WiFi, but of your existing handsets, it'll really only work with the iPhone for reasons covered in point five.

Hope this helps clear up a few points. Get back with me on a location and I'll help if need be, and if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Edit: Forgot to embed a link to the Team US Cellular FAQ up above. Sorry about that.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 10:20:58 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.

mkowske

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #359 on: February 07, 2016, 11:02:08 AM »
Wow thanks for all the detail. Okay, so let me clarify a few points.

We have coverage here from other networks... Verizon, AT&T, etc. So we don't need to stay in the USCC network.

My wife is a realtor and is often in the car when she needs to access the internet so yes we do need a fair amount of mobile data, but it's hard for me to say how much is for business and how much is our daughter looking at youtube videos. I'm hoping to get it down significantly but don't know how much at this point.

So, sounds like we can keep the iPhone and MAYBE the S4 if we go with a CDMA MVNO, but likely not. So this will mean a new phone purchase.

The idea of using wifi calling was to save cost only... not to be able to make calls where there is no cell signal. I now understand that it still uses minutes, so there really isn't any cost savings... only for outbound calls where you can utilize a custom caller ID with your VoIP provider. So now it is a matter of determining what % of our calls are outbound and on a reliable wifi network? If I can estimate this I can calculate the VoIP per minute charge and see if it would save enough to warrant this setup. We COULD save on incoming calls too if we gave out our VoIP number, but for business reasons we need to keep the number the same. I think I understand that right.

So the options I'm considering now are

1) The above mentioned setup: Ting w/ a reliable VoIP provider and utilize wifi @ home whenever possible for outbound calls. We could utilize the iPhone but would need something to replace the S4 (probably).

2) #1 but without the VoIP if I determine there would be little to no cost savings by doing this.

3) Stay with USCC?? I hate the contracts but am wondering if there are some scenarios where this will be the better deal.  I had thought we were on some promo pricing but I just priced out a new plan on their website (2 lines, 6 GB data, Galaxy S5 + iPhone 6) and it's $80 / month with $99 to lease the iPhone, S5 is "free" -- if I assume $10 in taxes and accrue the $99 iPhone cost over 2 years: $95/month

Compare this with my best guess Ting option: 2 lines ($12) + 500-1000 minutes ($18, thinking we could transfer 500 of our monthly minutes to outbound wifi calls) + 100-1000 texts ($5) + 500-1000 MB data ($19 .. a major reduction in our data usage but maybe we can do it) = $54 + taxes = ~$64. VoIP costs look like they range from .01 to .02 per minute. I'll assume I go with CallCentric's 500 minute package which comes to  .0139 per minute, or 6.95 per month. So total is now $70.95. We'll also need a new phone and I haven't done a lot of looking here but just to replace the S4 with a refurbished one from Ting is $215. The S4 has actually been quite a trooper... lasting 3 years with a cracked screen and multiple drops into water, so we wouldn't mind getting this again.  But at that price doing the same accrual over 2 years brings the monthly bill to: $64 + $8.95 for the S4 purchase = $72.95. This doesn't include the possibility of the iPhone crapping out in the next 2 years either (it's already had the screen/touchscreen replaced twice... ).

As a comparison to that doing Ting w/o the VoIP option and 1500 minutes a month would be $71 + taxes + cost of phone = $89.95/month

To summarize:
1) Ting + VoIP = $72.95 / month
2) Ting w/o VoIP = $89.95 / month
3) USCC = $95 / month

Cost savings over 2 years choosing option #1 over #3: $529

So I guess I am saving some money each month but from the way I'm looking at it (and maybe I'm looking at it wrong), the cost savings are not dramatic. Your thoughts?


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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #360 on: February 07, 2016, 11:43:00 AM »
So I guess I am saving some money each month but from the way I'm looking at it (and maybe I'm looking at it wrong), the cost savings are not dramatic. Your thoughts?

I covered a lot in the PM response to your region and the handsets, which really shapes things the most.

Quote
Bottom line in your situation? I'd go Consumer Cellular first, Selectel second - with Consumer Cellular being the option that needs the least amount of potential hardware replacement.

The question of whether you'll actually save a whole mess of money, however...

Consumer Cellular would probably target you around $50-70/month + taxes if you got data usage down under 1.5GB or less, and depending upon how much under the 1600 minutes using outbound VoIP calling on WiFi really knocked things down. It's technically a better deal than Ting for the quantities involved, and you'd want AT&T coverage with roaming anyway over either T-Mobile or Sprint coverage with roaming given your region and your wife's profession. Your region just needs partner roaming agreements when on any of the big four networks, especially if you travel any and need mobile data access. It'd also guarantee that you could keep at least one of the phones, something that going to Selectel wouldn't necessarily guarantee or afford, and you'd be in for around $50-60 anyway given the usage levels and the plans Selectel offers in the first place.

If you really want to try the VoIP outbound supplementation, I'd definitely recommend going LocalPhone. They have pre-configured smartphone apps, it's easy to set up (including changing outbound CallerID), the call quality is solid, and their monthly subscription prices are very reasonable (250 minutes for 75/month, 800 for $1.60, 5000 for $5).... though they do social network datamine if you choose to go that route.

Not drastic savings, but there's still the potential for savings... especially if you ignore the sunk cost of any replacement devices. As to whether it's worth it or not to switch? That's a math question you'll have to answer yourself. Just remember, carrier unlocked GSM handsets are far cheaper than CDMA, especially CDMA handsets that have to be purchased direct from the carrier.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 11:50:32 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #361 on: February 08, 2016, 01:50:35 AM »
I'm honestly surprised the CDMA networks still exist. They were shut down years ago here in Aus.

BTW, you can find out on the device as to how much data each device is using each month. It's fairly easy on Android as it's broken down by month (it's accessed under Settings - Mobile Data on my LG G3). iOS shows data usage from the last reset date. It may even be broken down by app (and mobile data can be toggled on/off for each particular app on iOS and I presume Android as well).

That at least will help you determine whether it's due to your daughter's phone on YouTube or your wife's work phone.

Note: The data meter on the device may differ or may lag from the carrier's data meter. My phone's showing 232MB used and my carrier's app is showing 209MB used. Some data use may not count, etc.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #362 on: February 08, 2016, 05:20:58 AM »
Thanks again, I.P. I think I will get a month of Localphone and install it on my wife's phone -- have her use it whenever possible and see how our minutes go down. This will give us a trial one to see if a) the tech works for us and b) how much we could save by going this route.

The coverage stuff is a bummer. Again, because of her business, she needs to be able to talk with clients when on the road and not have issues with reception or dropped calls. I am worried a switch to AT&T, or any other network, is an unknown and we may end up having to come crawling back to USCC.

Dean, thanks for the tips. I'll look more into that. I was also wondering if there is a good app recommended for data cap management?  I need something that will remind the family things like ... you're not on wifi, but there is wifi available (my wife often uses mobile hotspot, which turns off wifi and then does not prompt to turn it back on and she forgets about it), daily/weekly usage summaries sent to the user, warnings when reaching caps, resizing the huge camera phone pictures when sending texts, tec.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #363 on: February 08, 2016, 04:43:24 PM »

So, technically no to the S4 for GSM service, even though technically the hardware specs say it should be able to; and yes to the 5c for GSM service, but you still have to actually carrier unlock despite what USCC's official carrier unlock FAQ says. Theoretically you might be able to take them to activate on a Sprint or (more likely) Verizon MVNO (that is, assuming either network has sufficient native coverage for your area), but it's a bit of a hot mess and I can't promise squat. YMMV. I'm still going to encourage you to contact these CDMA LTE MVNOs (Ting CDMA [Sprint + Verizon/USCC voice/SMS roaming], Selectel [Verizon + Sprint/USCC voice/SMS roaming]) to double check and confirm the ability to activate (or not) after carrier unlocking (which you can only do after you complete the contract later this year) before ditching the S4, however.

When you say Verizon/USCC and Sprint/USCC -- is that "US Ceulllar = USCC" ? Does this mean that with those providers we would still be using the USCC network? That would eliminate the big unknown of how our service would be, since we already know USCC is good. Or am I misunderstanding?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #364 on: February 08, 2016, 09:00:44 PM »

So, technically no to the S4 for GSM service, even though technically the hardware specs say it should be able to; and yes to the 5c for GSM service, but you still have to actually carrier unlock despite what USCC's official carrier unlock FAQ says. Theoretically you might be able to take them to activate on a Sprint or (more likely) Verizon MVNO (that is, assuming either network has sufficient native coverage for your area), but it's a bit of a hot mess and I can't promise squat. YMMV. I'm still going to encourage you to contact these CDMA LTE MVNOs (Ting CDMA [Sprint + Verizon/USCC voice/SMS roaming], Selectel [Verizon + Sprint/USCC voice/SMS roaming]) to double check and confirm the ability to activate (or not) after carrier unlocking (which you can only do after you complete the contract later this year) before ditching the S4, however.

When you say Verizon/USCC and Sprint/USCC -- is that "US Ceulllar = USCC" ? Does this mean that with those providers we would still be using the USCC network? That would eliminate the big unknown of how our service would be, since we already know USCC is good. Or am I misunderstanding?

Let me clarify: Ting CDMA's primary network is Sprint with roaming on Verizon and US Cellular; Selectel's primary network is Verizon with roaming on Sprint and US Cellular. Neither MVNO permits data access when roaming on non-native towers. Make sense?
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #365 on: February 10, 2016, 07:00:09 AM »
Let me clarify: Ting CDMA's primary network is Sprint with roaming on Verizon and US Cellular; Selectel's primary network is Verizon with roaming on Sprint and US Cellular. Neither MVNO permits data access when roaming on non-native towers. Make sense?

That makes sense yes. I managed to unlock the old XT907 I got and ordered a SIM card from CC to try it out. I'm going to test reception/availability first before making a decision. Your advice has been a great help! I'm glad you have a donate button on your page.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #366 on: February 10, 2016, 08:40:56 AM »
I managed to unlock the old XT907 I got and ordered a SIM card from CC to try it out. I'm going to test reception/availability first before making a decision. Your advice has been a great help! I'm glad you have a donate button on your page.

Glad to hear, and happy to be of service. *tips hat* Thank you.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #367 on: February 17, 2016, 12:20:02 PM »
Just wanted to update on my progress. Went with Consumer Cellular, which while not as good as USC as far as signal goes it seems to be good enough so far.

Tried to hook up Localphone for outgoing calls while on wifi but after days of working with their tech support it is still shaky call quality (sporadic one way audio and echos). So I am now trying out VOIP.ms which seems great from the start, unfortunately not as inexpensive though. We're doing this as a trial month to see how many minutes we can off load to VOIP before making the switch off of US Cellular.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #368 on: February 18, 2016, 03:14:47 PM »
Do you have a recommendation of a reputable Ebay or Amazon shop that sells used, clean phones?

(I'm still deciding between Airvoice, Selectel, and TMobile.)

Thanks!

I got some old iPhones from friends and put them on Selectel ($10 for 100 min or 200 texts, good for 120 days). Cheap, easy, convenient!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #369 on: February 23, 2016, 05:25:03 PM »
I'm looking to move to an AT&T MNVO that can support iPhones.  I noticed that Cricket Wireless wasn't mentioned in IP Daley's superguide and I was wondering why?  Is it the fact that they seem to be driving the smaller guys out of the market or is there more to it?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #370 on: February 23, 2016, 08:56:47 PM »
I'm looking to move to an AT&T MNVO that can support iPhones.  I noticed that Cricket Wireless wasn't mentioned in IP Daley's superguide and I was wondering why?  Is it the fact that they seem to be driving the smaller guys out of the market or is there more to it?

Owned by AT&T, customer service is mediocre at best, draconian terms of service, and AT&T is undercutting their own wholesale customers on data costs partly in a move to reduce the competition in the very same prepaid market that they had been hemorrhaging customers to. Embrace, extend, extinguish. Given the guide is driven by a value system that embraces quality over quantity and rewarding responsible companies that don't abuse their end users, and the core philosophy of the guide is supposed to be in sync with the core values of MMM's philosophy of striving to make the world a better place, you can probably figure out why I wouldn't recommend Cricket.

As for AT&T MVNOs in the guide that do support the iPhone properly, Consumer Cellular does.

Puretalk USA has also recently taken to advertising and selling the 6s, so one would hope that they're now on the Apple blessed list as well and the MMS situation taken care of, but I have no confirmation one way or the other.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #371 on: February 24, 2016, 01:22:09 PM »
Trying to refill a phone with Airvoice and getting a 404 error at airvoicewireless.com. 

I hope this is a glitch and not an omen.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #372 on: February 24, 2016, 01:42:30 PM »
Trying to refill a phone with Airvoice and getting a 404 error at airvoicewireless.com. 

I hope this is a glitch and not an omen.

Pretty sure it's just a glitch. The entire site is down currently, but I called in and got through to support in under 90 seconds. Asked about the website, she responded, "I noticed that happens sometimes when they're updating the site, give it another 20 minutes or so and they should have it fixed."

Definitely no stress in her voice, and she was friendly about it. Here's to it being just a glitch.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #373 on: February 29, 2016, 10:05:29 AM »
Tried to hook up Localphone for outgoing calls while on wifi but after days of working with their tech support it is still shaky call quality (sporadic one way audio and echos). So I am now trying out VOIP.ms which seems great from the start, unfortunately not as inexpensive though. We're doing this as a trial month to see how many minutes we can off load to VOIP before making the switch off of US Cellular.

I spoke too soon. Am having a terrible time trying to get VoIP working. I'm experiencing great calls at first, but after a few minutes the person on the other end of the line complains I am breaking up and it is choppy. I've spent a lot of time with the Voip.ms staff trying to figure out the problem and gotten nowhere. We've tried different codecs, router settings, etc -- it's a shame we have this blazingly fast cable internet connection that can't for some reason support a simple voice telephone call. I've talked with my ISP and we've done speed tests and it all looks fine. I'm at a loss with what to do now. I don't know if this solution will work for us and that is a shame.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #374 on: February 29, 2016, 10:16:55 AM »
That's odd. I'm routinely on 60-90+ minute phone calls for work and it crapped on me exactly once in dozens and dozens of calls.

Maybe your cell phone (or ATA)'s voip implementation is shaky. I would try it with another device.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #375 on: February 29, 2016, 10:21:39 AM »
Tried to hook up Localphone for outgoing calls while on wifi but after days of working with their tech support it is still shaky call quality (sporadic one way audio and echos). So I am now trying out VOIP.ms which seems great from the start, unfortunately not as inexpensive though. We're doing this as a trial month to see how many minutes we can off load to VOIP before making the switch off of US Cellular.

I spoke too soon. Am having a terrible time trying to get VoIP working. I'm experiencing great calls at first, but after a few minutes the person on the other end of the line complains I am breaking up and it is choppy. I've spent a lot of time with the Voip.ms staff trying to figure out the problem and gotten nowhere. We've tried different codecs, router settings, etc -- it's a shame we have this blazingly fast cable internet connection that can't for some reason support a simple voice telephone call. I've talked with my ISP and we've done speed tests and it all looks fine. I'm at a loss with what to do now. I don't know if this solution will work for us and that is a shame.

I've had very reliable service for the last 18 months using Anveo VOIP provider with a grandstream sip to analog adapter device that hooks up to our analog wired land-line phones.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007EYY3XU?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #376 on: February 29, 2016, 10:11:37 PM »
I'm at a loss with what to do now. I don't know if this solution will work for us and that is a shame.

You've had bad call quality with two VoIP providers now, and I suspect technically two different SIPphone apps. This leaves the modem and/or router, the WiFi network, and the phone hardware.

I doubt it's the phone, call it a hunch. You can check anyway by using another phone and another supported SIPphone app.

Might be the WiFi network and excessive channel interference, but the only way to really tell is to do a wireless survey. I'm not going to cover how to do that because it's easier to just link you to a tutorial.

Odds are, it's probably some combo of network router with QoS issues and WiFi interference issue. Best way to test is to try and use it on another network and/or on another device on your current network to see if the problem follows. Do basic troubleshooting steps by eliminating each factor. You could always try using the VoIP service over an LTE data connection as the latency should be reasonably good enough. Odds are, it'll work fine. (For the record, most VoIP calls average about 0.5MB per minute). If you tried using it on multiple WiFi networks, you'd likely find varying call quality and some that perform better than what you have at home. VoIP works best, honestly, on a wired network connection - which is why I advocate bringing back the "home" phone in the guide. I suspect it's most likely something with your home network specifically, but I doubt using WiFi is helping the situation much.

If you're using VDSL (AT&T Uverse) or any modem/router combo provided by the ISP and the ISP offers digital home phone service, frequently they set their hardware up to either completely block third party VoIP entirely with their default settings or significantly degrade service quality. There's ways around this, but it requires research if it is this cause, and it varies from provider to provider and device to device. If you own all your hardware and the modem is separate from the router, and the router is supported and easily flash-able to DD-WRT, Tomato, or OpenWRT, frequently the default firmware on these routers just upright stinks for data management and the aftermarket will work much better overall, especially for VoIP call quality...

Just some thoughts if the hard-wired internet connection (via ethernet or WiFi) is actually showing as good enough for VoIP service with speed tests.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #377 on: March 03, 2016, 09:18:12 AM »
I've been trying to research this and failing:

We're going to Italy next month for a week and want to have at least one phone (preferably two) that will work. We don't need data or a ton of minutes/texts but want to be able to call each other if we get separated or call local places (or home if we have an emergency...) We're currently on PagePlus's $12/month plan which works great for us but I can't tell if our service will work in Italy even if we get the International calling plan. Does that just work to call out internationally or does it work if you are international? What's our cheapest option?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #378 on: March 03, 2016, 10:02:17 AM »
I prefer to buy a local sim (you need an unlocked phone) when I get to my location. I use website for my research its seems to pretty comprehensive.

http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/Italy

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #379 on: March 03, 2016, 01:37:13 PM »
What's our cheapest option?

Okay, first, I should probably clarify a few things for you.

1) The International Calling packages for Page Plus are not for international roaming with your handset, they're for calling phones in other countries. There is no international roaming option with Page Plus.

2) Give you're on Page Plus' "The 12" plan, that means you're most likely using bog standard CDMA phones without LTE support. No LTE, no SIM card, no SIM card, absolutely no chance of international GSM frequency support. On the off-chance you have LTE handsets that were hacked to work with Page Plus and qualify for "The 12" before the introduction of Verizon LTE support on Page Plus, whether or not there's also international GSM band support, the changes necessary to make that happen? You won't be able to reactivate those handsets on the same plan with Page Plus to make the changes necessary to make it work again due to policy changes. About the only phone this wouldn't apply to is the Verizon iPhone 4s as it's a CDMA phone with GSM support.

3) You're going to need a phone with at least GSM support with at minimum the four major bands (850/900/1800/1900MHz) to go globetrekking, whether you use local providers or or international roaming SIM cards like KnowRoaming or Truphone SIM. Check out what Dude linked as well as the prices with the two I've mentioned, but remember that you're likely going to have to get a carrier unlocked GSM phone specifically for any of these solutions to work due to your current phones being Verizon CDMA.

For between $15-20, maybe consider the Blu Tank II or Z3 off Amazon. They'll be no-frills, 2G, quad band GSM handsets that should work in Italy and on T-Mobile here in the US (dual SIM, too, not that you'll need it)... and they'll be cheap, but built a smidge better than most of the burner phone crap that's new at this price point and sold in airport duty free shops. If you want more out of the phones, then we'll talk more later... but those should work for what you're needing on the handset end. 3G feature phone handsets will only get more expensive, and we enter into the used market to keep 'em cheap and/or needing to look at options that needs to ensure carrier unlocking has (or can) be done.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #380 on: March 06, 2016, 04:22:12 AM »
For between $15-20, maybe consider the Blu Tank II or Z3 off Amazon. They'll be no-frills, 2G, quad band GSM handsets that should work in Italy and on T-Mobile here in the US (dual SIM, too, not that you'll need it)... and they'll be cheap, but built a smidge better than most of the burner phone crap that's new at this price point and sold in airport duty free shops. If you want more out of the phones, then we'll talk more later... but those should work for what you're needing on the handset end. 3G feature phone handsets will only get more expensive, and we enter into the used market to keep 'em cheap and/or needing to look at options that needs to ensure carrier unlocking has (or can) be done.

Daley, I'm just wondering here, is it really worth buying a new 2G handset, considering carriers around the world (at least in some countries) are starting to shut down their 2G networks (or any network expansion is to their 3G/4G networks)?

Sure, if you're buying used, then maybe it's not so bad to buy a 2G handset, but if you're buying new, a 3G handset offers better future proofing. Just my opinion though :)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2016, 04:23:48 AM by alsoknownasDean »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #381 on: March 22, 2016, 01:13:01 PM »
I've been with Airvoice for the past two years, the $10/mo. plan. I have an iPhone 4 from...before, and it's no longer usable. I'm in the market for something that will suit my usage patterns as affordably as possible. I don't do data, although I wouldn't mind occasionally doing so. I haven't since late 2013 so it's not an ingrained habit and I don't want it to become one. I send maybe 40-45 texts a month and have 2-3 longer phone conversations (an hour plus) with family each month, usually from home so I have options there. Very little other usage and no desire to go much beyond this. If it helps, I can tell you that I always roll a balance over and currently have something like $40 in my account. I don't do much on my phone, in other words, although I was a data user prior to discovering the MMM forum. I have broken a few phones, but this iPhone has been sturdy enough for me despite being in a cheap protective case for about 2 years (Otter Box before that).

So, am I looking for a feature phone, an inexpensive smart phone? What are my options? I would prefer to stay with Airvoice as the AT&T network is good here and I have been happy with the service and cost.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #382 on: March 22, 2016, 01:44:23 PM »
So, am I looking for a feature phone, an inexpensive smart phone? What are my options?

Well, that's a little difficult to answer quite yet without first knowing the answer to the following:

I don't do data, although I wouldn't mind occasionally doing so.

Define the sort of data usage you speak of. MMS? Email? Web browsing? Something else?

There's a lot of lower-end smartyphones, new and used, but they're not as robust as I'd like for recommendation sake. If a feature phone can easily handle the sort of data you're after, it'd probably be the better option for the money for overall durability, portability and battery life. As for reasonably durable and cheap smartphones, the Nokia/Microsoft Lumia series isn't too shabby, durability wise. There's also older, used Samsung Galaxy Active handsets, though I'd avoid the S3. It really just comes down to what you're wanting your tool to do specifically beyond call and text.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #383 on: March 22, 2016, 01:51:36 PM »
I don't stream anything through my phone and never have. I would be interested in occasional access to maps and the random ability to browse the web might occasionally come in handy. I like being able to jump on my phone occasionally to look up some information or read.

I do have a side business for which browser and e-mail would be useful occasionally. Have never been a social media user but I am told that Twitter would help me with this side gig. Maybe.

So, I guess light usage of browser/email, mostly consisting of text.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #384 on: March 22, 2016, 01:58:14 PM »
Sticking with a smartphone might be your best course of action, then.

If you're comfortable with the platform, again, the Nokia/Microsoft Lumias such as the 635 and 640 aren't too expensive (especially used). If you'd rather go Android, scrounge around for a ruggedized Samsung Galaxy Active.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #385 on: March 22, 2016, 02:18:03 PM »
Gotcha. Thank you. Your recommendations have been very helpful to me. I wish I'd listened about Republic before my wife signed up last year, though...

I'll look at the Lumias. I have a cut-down SIM card in my iPhone. Will I be able to simply move that over to the Lumia?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #386 on: March 22, 2016, 03:14:51 PM »
Glad to help, as always.

Will I be able to simply move that over to the Lumia?

I believe both the Lumia 635 and 640 are both 3FF micro-SIM, same as the iPhone 4. You should be able to just move it across.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #387 on: March 27, 2016, 04:48:43 PM »
My husband just talked me into a new contract with AT&T which is costing me $45/mo. I really want to get out of it before the return period is over but I'm overwhelmed by the options.

I use my cell phone mainly for texting, but also like to use data for GPS or looking up info (usually recipes) while I'm out. I probably talk on the phone about 20 minutes a week. Realistically I would be okay with a flip phone, especially since I have a tablet with data (too late to get out of that one), but sometimes I don't want to carry something that bulky. So I guess I'm looking for an okay smart phone. I'm in 01060 if that matters. Any ideas for me?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #388 on: March 27, 2016, 09:13:42 PM »
Any ideas for me?

Yup, see the exchange with TRBeck immediately above your post.

There's a lot of lower-end smartyphones, new and used, but they're not as robust as I'd like for recommendation sake. If a feature phone can easily handle the sort of data you're after, it'd probably be the better option for the money for overall durability, portability and battery life. As for reasonably durable and cheap smartphones, the Nokia/Microsoft Lumia series isn't too shabby, durability wise. There's also older, used Samsung Galaxy Active handsets, though I'd avoid the S3. It really just comes down to what you're wanting your tool to do specifically beyond call and text.

I will also point out that you don't need data for GPS if you pre-load your maps (if your preferred navigation app supports it) or if you use an offline GPS app such as Sygic.

As for plans without knowing your text usage, probably the Airvoice $20 "unlimited" talk and text plan with 100MB of data. Recipes are text, and text doesn't use much data... just be sure to disable image loading while on mobile data in your web browser to keep usage low. Airvoice uses AT&T's network, so if AT&T works in your area, there's your best course of action.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #389 on: March 30, 2016, 07:51:00 AM »
I am sick of paying crazy money to Verizon and I think the time has finally come to do something about it.  Currently paying $125 to Verizon for 2 lines.  The phones are iPhone 4s (long out of contract and unlocked by Verizon) and iPhone 6 (came unlocked; still paying for it but I can simply buy it out).  My DD has the iPhone 6 but she is abroad most of the year and uses it there with local SIM-only service.  When she comes home she pops in the Verizon SIM card.  I am a super low user (this month, with 3 days left, I have used 7 minutes, 40 texts and 0.052 GB of data).  When my DD is home (generally 2-3 months out of the year) she uses the plan much more but we've never exceeded our 4GB combined data allowance.

I'd like to keep our existing phones if possible but switch to some kind of pay-as-you go service.  Coverage is generally good in our area (central CT).

I would appreciate any help and suggestions.



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #390 on: March 30, 2016, 10:15:07 AM »
I would appreciate any help and suggestions.

Before we start, there's three things that need to be addressed that will shape the advice given and the amount of savings possible. Additionally, without knowing semi-solid usage levels of your daughter, it makes things a bit more challenging - especially on the data end. Never exceeding 4GB when you personally appear to use on average around 50MB. Anyway, our problems:

1) Your daughter's line. There's no way to preserve this number on a truly prepaid MVNO given the inactive periods. If you go prepaid, she's going to have to need to activate a new account and get a new number every time she's stateside unless she parks her number on Google Voice or something and just validates/forwards to the new numbers every time she comes over. Personally, I wouldn't recommend porting the number over to Google Voice for a myriad of privacy and reliability reasons, but your and her mileage may vary. Now, this isn't to say that you couldn't preserve the number and the current style setup under a postpaid MVNO such as Consumer Cellular or Ting... but that's pretty much the extent of your choices, Consumer Cellular or Ting, and the potential savings will be considerably hampered. Ting may have two networks creating the illusion of three choices, but we'll get to that point momentarily.

2) The phones. The good news is, in addition to taking the current handsets to a Verizon MVNO (which isn't a viable option if you go postpaid, and even if you go prepaid, there are far cheaper options not on Verizon), the phones will technically work on an AT&T or T-Mobile MVNO as well. This excludes Sprint (and by extension Ting CDMA) as the phones won't activate on Sprint, but this is no big loss as Sprint's New England coverage is worse than T-Mobile's, though T-Mobile really needs at least partner roaming to get decent coverage, which means most prepaid T-Mobile MVNOs are also out for the area. AT&T's coverage is probably the closest you'll see to current Verizon native coverage in the area. If PAYGO or prepaid becomes an option, AT&T's rates to their wholesalers aren't too shabby. Not as good as T-Mobile (at least for data), but way better than Verizon. Unfortunately, most AT&T MVNOs don't play nice with iPhones no matter how carrier unlocked they are unless they're on the officially blessed Apple supported list as you won't be able to access mobile data without it. The exception is Consumer Cellular, as they are on the blessed list. This problem doesn't exist with T-Mobile MVNOs... currently. Another thing to consider is that with the Verizon iPhones, taking them to a T-Mobile MVNO means potentially worse indoor phone reception than what you're used to either with Verizon or could potentially have with AT&T, and it'll be due to a combo of antenna design on the device and the fact that T-Mobile does voice calls on the 1900MHz bands instead of 850MHz, which has less building penetration.

3) Accurate usage numbers for your daughter. I've got a vague baseline for yourself, and it's a prime candidate for a couple PAYGO options if we can go prepaid. Hers, on the other hand, between number preservation and unknown usage levels likely needing postpaid? That's going spike costs considerably, despite still saving overall against what you're currently paying.

If I was just addressing you and your line individually, I'd probably recommend Airvoice's $10/month 250 minute plan. The usage level you quoted would put you in at about $5 (or half) of the usage per month, with the other half rolling over to future months with higher usage, and it's always good to have an overage cushion both within the month for average usage and for rare unusual heavy usage spikes. The next cheapest decent AT&T MVNO would be H2O Wireless and their prepaid option, but your usage level with them would run you over $7.50/month. You're nearly splitting hairs and definitely getting less for the money spent, though, when you factor cushion and overages. Regarding your daughter, if she parked her number with Google Voice, could go for H2O's $40/month "unlimited" talk and text plan with 1GB of high speed data and 128kbps throttled data after exceeding that limit plus the cost of a new SIM card every time she came over to activate. Unfortunately, we're talking about iPhones, which means neither option can really work for either of you... but, this is a potential lowest-end usage cost for you - around $200-240 a year. I'm showing you these numbers to help frame the idea of an Apple tax, and to also highlight the cost of just preserving your daughter's phone number.

This brings us back to either Consumer Cellular (AT&T plus roaming) or Ting GSM (T-Mobile plus roaming), both postpaid options. Your baseline usage plus your daughter's idle line most months will look like this:

Consumer Cellular - $27.50/month plus tax for two lines, 10 minutes of talk time billed at 25/minute, and the 150MB/1500SMS package. You could get that down to $25/month if you could get your data usage consistently under 30MB.

Ting GSM - $21.00/month plus tax for two lines and the small package for talk, text and data, giving you up to 100 minutes, 100 SMS messages and 100MB of data.

However, increased usage months will look like this under the worst case usage scenario:

Consumer Cellular - $100/month plus tax for two lines, unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 4GB of data. There of course would be the potential to get things lower, the lower the minute and data usage. For example, 3500 minutes and 3GB of data with unlimited texting drops that bill to $80 plus tax, and it'd be $60 plus tax for 1500 minutes and 1.5GB of data with unlimited texting.

Ting GSM - $87/month plus tax (plus overages if needed) for two lines, up to 2100 minutes plus 1.9/minute over, 4800 SMS messages plus 0.25 over, and 2GB of data plus 1.5/MB over. The next lowest level across the board would be $57 for 1000 minutes, 2000 text messages and 1GB of data. If you needed say 4000 minutes and 4GB of data, then Ting would run you $153.10.

You can see how Consumer Cellular is the better deal on heavier usage months, even when cost points mostly line up, and that they also offer higher minute and data packages as well as unlimited service tiers on texting and minutes. However, that savings can quickly be offset by the additional costs on the lower end. Worst case? Consumer Cellular would run you around $475.00-547.50 a year plus taxes. Ting would run you $384-648+ a year in addition to taxes depending on usage levels, and that's what makes Ting such a pricing wildcard without knowing what your daughter's usage levels are. It also means sacrificing better regional coverage and taking a gamble on worse voice calls, making it a higher gamble but with the opportunity of slightly better savings. Either option still beats the pants off of Verizon, though. And both would work with your existing iPhones.

So that brings us to my recommendation, either Consumer Cellular or Ting GSM for the easy solution, and I'll let you run the numbers to see which one is the better and decide if T-Mobile plus roaming is a usable possibility. I'm certain you also now see the Apple tax I was referring to, effectively doubling the cost you could pay just to get data support for iOS and solid network coverage - not to mention the increase in cost keeping a second line active on the account. I don't point these costs out to shame or discourage, just to point them out so you know what you're effectively paying for. As I've said time and again, don't be afraid to pay for what you need.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 10:17:27 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #391 on: March 30, 2016, 11:02:20 AM »
IP Daley, you are the best!

I pulled up the historical usage data for last year when she was home during the summer and for the holidays, and it looks like when we are both using the service we average right under 1.5 GB for data per month.  Mine is always under 0.1 GB.  Hers seems to be around 1.2-1.4 GB.  Average minutes for the 2 of us appear to be under 150 and texts under 100.   Looking at some historical data, I am always under 100 minutes, and generally around 50 or texts.

She likes her phone number (it's an easy number with the original central CT area code, so she would not be too crazy about getting a new one).

I don't need both us to be on the same network or plan.  I'm even thinking about leaving her on Verizon and just getting myself off.  As to quality of coverage in our area, I used to have a work-issued Blackberry on T-Mobile and had no problems with coverage around here.

ETA: I am definitely not married to my phone, but it works fine so I thought I could keep on using it.  But I would be just as happy with any other phone.  She likes the iPhone because it plays nicely with her other Apple toys, so I'm inclined to let her keep hers.  She will done with her masters program in June of next year, so after that she is both back home permanently and also on her own as far as the phone is concerned :-)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 11:19:14 AM by ZiziPB »



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #392 on: March 30, 2016, 11:42:30 AM »
I pulled up the historical usage data for last year when she was home during the summer and for the holidays, and it looks like when we are both using the service we average right under 1.5 GB for data per month.  Mine is always under 0.1 GB.  Hers seems to be around 1.2-1.4 GB.  Average minutes for the 2 of us appear to be under 150 and texts under 100.   Looking at some historical data, I am always under 100 minutes, and generally around 50 or texts.

Well, at those rates, going postpaid to keep both phones going would range between $21-55/month+tax on Ting GSM and $30-45/month+tax on Consumer Cellular without modifying any usage on either end, with annual costs averaging between $320-354 with Ting and $390-405 on Consumer Cellular. Given you've had successful coverage with T-Mobile postpaid in the past, Ting GSM sounds like a reasonably safe bet given you'll get the same coverage, excuse roaming data. Knowing these numbers will help determine if buying out the remaining Verizon contract on the iPhone will be worth it.

I would recommend wearing the phone out instead of just replacing it, because if you factor sunk cost of replacement equipment, it tends to kill the savings frequently over making do with something that already works for as long as possible. Given you're looking at only 15 more months before any major changes, that's $1875-ish with Verizon (assuming you both stayed put), versus $400-443-ish with Ting if you carried both over. No Verizon contract for a single phone, even a top of the line iPhone 6 with 23 remaining months of contract, is going to come anywhere near wiping out that roughly $1400 in savings. Definitely a cash positive move. Buy out the contract, port the numbers to Ting, and give your daughter the new SIM card next time she's over. This way you can keep what you have, save a wad of cash, keep your daughter's number and service available at a more reasonable price until she's ready to take her account over, and by then the iPhone 4s will probably be placed EOL due to a lack of idiotic biometrics and stop receiving security updates anyway which will give you a somewhat more valid reason to replace it - which will open up a few more, cheaper, and better options for yourself with Airvoice (or possibly elsewhere) next June.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #393 on: March 30, 2016, 11:54:59 AM »
Thank you very much!  This is very helpful.  After re-reading your message very carefully I reached the same conclusion.  Ting GSM with existing phones makes the most sense.  Now I need to figure out how to execute the switch with minimal interruptions :-)



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #394 on: March 30, 2016, 12:06:33 PM »
Thank you very much!  This is very helpful.  After re-reading your message very carefully I reached the same conclusion.  Ting GSM with existing phones makes the most sense.  Now I need to figure out how to execute the switch with minimal interruptions :-)

Well, Ting's support team is pretty solid, so they can easily walk you through what you need to do. Number porting time should go pretty quick going mobile to mobile carrier. That only leaves paying the final Verizon bill, phone reconfiguration, and sticking in the SIM cards on both ends. Depending on how soon your daughter will be back, it might be easier to get the account with Ting set up first, get both SIM cards activated and working, and then mail out her new SIM card so she has it available next time she's home.

As for Ting specifically, check your PMs.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 12:08:17 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #395 on: March 30, 2016, 12:19:39 PM »
Thank you again.  I am going to get this done in the next couple of days and am very excited about paying my last ever Verizon bill!



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #396 on: March 30, 2016, 12:27:27 PM »
Thank you again.

*doffs hat* Glad to be of service, as always.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #397 on: April 09, 2016, 02:24:01 PM »
...
3) You're going to need a phone with at least GSM support with at minimum the four major bands (850/900/1800/1900MHz) to go globetrekking, whether you use local providers or or international roaming SIM cards like KnowRoaming or Truphone SIM. Check out what Dude linked as well as the prices with the two I've mentioned, but remember that you're likely going to have to get a carrier unlocked GSM phone specifically for any of these solutions to work due to your current phones being Verizon CDMA.
...

So we have been traveling enough internationally (another 4 trips this year, at least) that we are going to try the knowroaming sticker approach - we won't use any roaming data (wifi can handle any email and map stuff), but the ability to use a phone for voice calls will be quite helpful (we're on Airvoice, so no international roaming offered at all).  Will report back after next two trips, likely sometime in July.
Trying not to complicate my simple ;)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #398 on: April 12, 2016, 07:35:23 PM »
I am considering shelling out the $20 for the knowroaming sticker for summer travel, but the lack of SMS forwarding is kind of a doozie. I guess it beats not being reachable at all. Not that I particularly need or want to be reached.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #399 on: April 12, 2016, 09:24:30 PM »
I am considering shelling out the $20 for the knowroaming sticker for summer travel, but the lack of SMS forwarding is kind of a doozie. I guess it beats not being reachable at all. Not that I particularly need or want to be reached.

Understandable, but unavoidable, and it's certainly not KnowRoaming's fault. Theoretically, the GSM standard has the potential capability to enable SMS forwarding through established GSM codes (and has so since SMS went live in 1992), but I don't know of a single GSM network on the entire planet that's actually enabled that feature in the past quarter century of live service - and I suspect it's due to the technical differences between direct, switched call routing through the PSTN network versus indirect SMS routing through the GSM network (SMS messages are similar to Net Send in nature, but with a routing server in between). Given the fact that SMS was a protocol designed to only work inside the CCSS7/GSM network to begin with...

You know just as well as I do, just because the codes exist in a framework to do something doesn't mean that it's actually been done, and that usually happens because it's too much of a hacky kludge to do it in the first place. The GSM networks have just never been set up to handle SMS forwarding. Some days I feel like we were lucky to even get inter-network SMPP communication in the first place.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 09:26:45 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.