Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 127629 times)

dlawson

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #400 on: April 22, 2016, 02:56:48 PM »
Daley, are you familiar with RingPlus? This article makes it sound like a great option, but I don't know how serious some of the downsides are (new? bad customer support?).

And while we're at it, my wife and I are both on Verizon with a pair of Gen5 iPhones (5s and 5c). Between the two of us we probably top out at 3 Gb of data per month. We're thinking of selling both phones and buying Sprint equivalents since the RingPlus deal is so attractive (less than $30/mo for two people, even better if we can quickly and effectively decrease our data usage). I've looked into Selectel to save ourselves the hassle of selling and buying phones in order to switch carrier networks, but I can't find any info about adding data to a Selectel value plan (15 Mb not enough until we acquire more frugality muscles).

Any thoughts on switching phones to use RingPlus vs. trying a Verizon MVNO option like Selectel?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 03:07:28 PM by dlawson »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #401 on: April 22, 2016, 03:21:08 PM »
IP Daley, are you familiar with RingPlus?

Aye. I'm not overly fond of the service and they'll never go in the guide, but they're my go-to now for deflating Republic Wireless customers bragging about their service costs and recommend it to people convinced they want to go the Sprint-based non-UMA hybrid calling route. BYOSD, integrated open standards VoIP calling options, dirt cheap. Of course, they datamine, and call quality can be dodgy at times, but that's about it. They've been around for a while now. "Eh" about sums 'em up.

And while we're at it, my wife and I are both on Verizon with a pair of Gen5 iPhones (5s and 5c).
[snip]
Any thoughts on switching phones to use RingPlus vs. trying a Verizon MVNO option like Selectel?

You clearly don't realize this, but you're holding magical golden tickets. I'm no iPhone fan, but for handset portability away from Verizon, you have two of the easiest to take out of Verizon LTE handsets that Big Red sells... and they're already carrier unlocked! You can take those phones not only to any Verizon MVNO you like, but also any T-Mobile MVNO you like and any AT&T MVNO that Apple has blessed as being supported, and if you don't mind losing MMS/iMessage support, even the AT&T MVNO options open up full and wide.

Not that I don't like Selectel. They're the only Verizon MVNO that I feel comfortable recommending.

Anyway, as for data usage, that's where everyone nails you. There's no reason why you can't go on a data diet, do some app and system specific data access tweaking, and get those numbers significantly lower. If it's GPS eating data, use an offline GPS client or pre-load maps. If it's streaming media, just pre-load some music on your phone instead or restrict yourself to WiFi. If you're streaming video, read a book instead. Do that, and there's no reason you can't theoretically get that down to around $30/month-ish for the two of you using Ting or Consumer Cellular.
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.

dlawson

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #402 on: April 22, 2016, 04:26:13 PM »
Thanks so much for the reply!

You clearly don't realize this, but you're holding magical golden tickets. I'm no iPhone fan, but for handset portability away from Verizon, you have two of the easiest to take out of Verizon LTE handsets that Big Red sells... and they're already carrier unlocked! You can take those phones not only to any Verizon MVNO you like, but also any T-Mobile MVNO you like and any AT&T MVNO that Apple has blessed as being supported, and if you don't mind losing MMS/iMessage support, even the AT&T MVNO options open up full and wide.

Good to know! But wait, I've been under the impression that CDMA phones don't function on GSM networks, so, if we decide to keep the phones we have already, I would have discounted anything outside of Verizon MVNOs. Is that not the case? Is P'tel suddenly a good option for us?

do some app and system specific data access tweaking

...you know, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn't know you could restrict data access to individual apps until I read this line for the second time. I just dug around in my iPhone settings and, well, look at that!

Our big hurdle so far has been that we use data unthinkingly and habitually. We've been trying to find a way to automate smaller monthly data usage, as decision fatigue is a big deal and I find it nearly impossible to break habits without some kind of external restriction as a catalyst. Turning off data entirely and seeing what happened was the nuclear option (we hadn't quite worked up the courage yet). Switching off access to our multimedia-heavy data-hog apps instead is the perfect middle solution, so thank you very much for that!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #403 on: April 22, 2016, 05:15:53 PM »
Good to know! But wait, I've been under the impression that CDMA phones don't function on GSM networks, so, if we decide to keep the phones we have already, I would have discounted anything outside of Verizon MVNOs. Is that not the case? Is P'tel suddenly a good option for us?

You are correct-ish. Verizon is a CDMA network, just as Sprint and US Cellular are. However, Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular use LTE for their 4G high speed data and voice networks. LTE is a GSM technology, and requires a SIM card. This is why modern LTE capable Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular handsets come with SIM cards, but they all fall back to the CDMA network if LTE isn't available. Further, part of the 700MHz C Block spectrum deal that Verizon bought for their LTE service requires that their phones be sold carrier unlocked. Sprint and US Cellular still carrier locks their handsets, but they've both gotten better about unlocking the SIM slots now after contract terms are met. This means that although you can't activate Sprint handsets on Verizon and Verizon handsets on Sprint (or US Cellular, etc.), all LTE capable iPhones and most LTE Android handsets on all three CDMA networks when carrier unlocked (so long as there's hardware band support and no software crippling) can now be taken to AT&T or T-Mobile.

Apple doesn't like making more hardware variants than necessary, which is why their antennas and reception aren't great... but that means for you that LTE Verizon iPhones are near effortless magic tickets out to pretty well... any other carrier.

Yes, it can be confusing sometimes. I won't even get into the whole GSM band divergence between T-Mobile and AT&T and LTE on all the major carriers. It's just... bonkers.

Switching off access to our multimedia-heavy data-hog apps instead is the perfect middle solution, so thank you very much for that!

Glad to help!
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.

dlawson

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #404 on: April 22, 2016, 05:31:47 PM »
Awesome. One last question, hopefully:

This means that although you can't activate Sprint handsets on Verizon and Verizon handsets on Sprint (or US Cellular, etc.)

Does this not apply to Sprint MVNOs (since you mentioned Ting earlier)?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #405 on: April 22, 2016, 06:17:30 PM »
Does this not apply to Sprint MVNOs (since you mentioned Ting earlier)?

Only Sprint handsets can be activated on Sprint MVNOs. Only Verizon handsets can be activated on Verizon MVNOs. This is where the CDMA rules go back into relevance.

As for Ting? Ting is a dual network MVNO. They offer Sprint handset activation on the Sprint CDMA network and any GSM compatible handset activation on the T-Mobile GSM network.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #406 on: April 22, 2016, 06:23:10 PM »
Is P'tel suddenly a good option for us?

By the way, I forgot to answer this one earlier. Sorry about that.

Sadly, P'tel closed their doors after 15 years of service at the end of January this year. They're no longer an option. I'm not crazy about Ultra Mobile (they kind of fall into the same territory as H2O Wireless for me), but they're about the only decent T-Mobile option left for those needing "unlimited" calling packages. The only other T-Mo MVNOs I'll recommend are Ting and Liberty Wireless currently.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #407 on: April 30, 2016, 11:40:58 PM »
It's no secret that there's no love lost between myself and Carlos Slim's MVNOs. That said, it has not been a good quarter for America Movil in general, but far more troubling is their US numbers:

Quote
We ended March with 25.2 million clients in the U.S. following net disconnections of 458 thousand subs in the quarter, most of them under the TracFone, a voice only brand, and SafeLink brand. As regards the latter, we must de-enroll subscribers that did not confirm continued eligibility as of December 31st.

The quarter’s revenues of 1.8 billion dollars were down 3.3% compared to the prior year as a result of a 22.0% decline in equipment revenues. Service revenues were slightly lower than last year, -0.5%, reflecting the loss of TracFone and SafeLink clients although ARPU was up 1.4% to 21 dollars per user.

EBITDA declined 24.2% from a year before to 162 million dollars. The EBITDA margin stood at 9.2% down from 11.8% in the year-earlier quarter. We have intensified marketing for our StraightTalk brand, which continues to show solid growth in what remains a very competitive environment.

Some of those losses are due to continued changes in the FCC's Lifeline program, but a lot of it is not. This is the second quarter in a row with net loss subscribers for the 800lb gorilla MVNO operator in the US, after having years of steady growth. This is not a good sign. If king gorilla is starting to hurt, I can only imagine how much harder it's getting for the other, smaller independents.

Without fair wholesale access and pricing, this prepaid data price war that AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are doing through their respective Cricket, MetroPCS and Boost Mobile sub-brands are reducing competition and true market diversity. We lost P'tel at the end of January, and now even Tracfone is posting losses. It took the third party MVNO wholesalers in this country over 15 years to even pop these lower price mobile floodgates open. What is going to happen to prices when the core mobile network operators eventually put the wholesale companies that created and sustained service to this decades-neglected market segment out of business?

I'm again going to call for caution in the future. There's no telling what exactly is going to happen. If you're with one of the MVNOs that I've recommended, be alert, keep up with some industry news, and have an escape plan in place if your phone number matters. Things are changing fast, and not for the better. That said, don't support unethical and anti-competitive businesses and their practices in your move to save money. We're facing this problem because there's insufficient wireless regulation, and people are easily swayed by advertising saturation and an insatiable appetite for quantity over quality. Do what you can to help sustain competition instead of eliminating it.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2016, 11:45:34 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #408 on: May 02, 2016, 03:04:23 AM »
It's no secret that there's no love lost between myself and Carlos Slim's MVNOs. That said, it has not been a good quarter for America Movil in general, but far more troubling is their US numbers:

Quote
We ended March with 25.2 million clients in the U.S. following net disconnections of 458 thousand subs in the quarter, most of them under the TracFone, a voice only brand, and SafeLink brand. As regards the latter, we must de-enroll subscribers that did not confirm continued eligibility as of December 31st.

The quarter’s revenues of 1.8 billion dollars were down 3.3% compared to the prior year as a result of a 22.0% decline in equipment revenues. Service revenues were slightly lower than last year, -0.5%, reflecting the loss of TracFone and SafeLink clients although ARPU was up 1.4% to 21 dollars per user.

EBITDA declined 24.2% from a year before to 162 million dollars. The EBITDA margin stood at 9.2% down from 11.8% in the year-earlier quarter. We have intensified marketing for our StraightTalk brand, which continues to show solid growth in what remains a very competitive environment.

Some of those losses are due to continued changes in the FCC's Lifeline program, but a lot of it is not. This is the second quarter in a row with net loss subscribers for the 800lb gorilla MVNO operator in the US, after having years of steady growth. This is not a good sign. If king gorilla is starting to hurt, I can only imagine how much harder it's getting for the other, smaller independents.

Without fair wholesale access and pricing, this prepaid data price war that AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are doing through their respective Cricket, MetroPCS and Boost Mobile sub-brands are reducing competition and true market diversity. We lost P'tel at the end of January, and now even Tracfone is posting losses. It took the third party MVNO wholesalers in this country over 15 years to even pop these lower price mobile floodgates open. What is going to happen to prices when the core mobile network operators eventually put the wholesale companies that created and sustained service to this decades-neglected market segment out of business?

I'm again going to call for caution in the future. There's no telling what exactly is going to happen. If you're with one of the MVNOs that I've recommended, be alert, keep up with some industry news, and have an escape plan in place if your phone number matters. Things are changing fast, and not for the better. That said, don't support unethical and anti-competitive businesses and their practices in your move to save money. We're facing this problem because there's insufficient wireless regulation, and people are easily swayed by advertising saturation and an insatiable appetite for quantity over quality. Do what you can to help sustain competition instead of eliminating it.

Maybe there'll be MVNO consolidation as smaller players struggle to compete and economies of scale win out?

Even if the situation does pan out as you predict, the carriers will still compete with each other.

Here it seems that the smaller independent MVNOs are getting squeezed by the big carriers at the retail level rather than at the wholesale level. Many of the plans I've seen by the major MVNOs here (at least at the $30 and over price point) don't offer that much more for the money than the equivalent plan from the major carriers.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #409 on: May 02, 2016, 08:31:14 AM »
Maybe there'll be MVNO consolidation as smaller players struggle to compete and economies of scale win out?

Even if the situation does pan out as you predict, the carriers will still compete with each other.

Here it seems that the smaller independent MVNOs are getting squeezed by the big carriers at the retail level rather than at the wholesale level. Many of the plans I've seen by the major MVNOs here (at least at the $30 and over price point) don't offer that much more for the money than the equivalent plan from the major carriers.

Consolidation? Doubtful. Not that I can't discount the possibility of a couple brands potentially being bought out... but those brands aren't likely to be bought out by other wholesale businesses, except maybe AM/Tracfone.

As for competition between the major carriers? Again, doubtful. If one didn't know any better, you'd swear there was pricing collusion in the industry with postpaid plans for the past decade plus up until these prepaid pricing wars. *cough* It's purely coincidence that every time there was a base package price increase or a service fee increase with one carrier, all the others increased similarly within a few weeks. Yup. Pure coincidence, because we know collusion is illegal, and these carriers are as honest as sunshine!

You're lucky, and the pricing shows that. The problem with the wholesale pricing squeeze is that you wind up with the wholesale MVNOs not getting effectively the same prices on data that the carriers are providing their own boutique brands. A great example is looking at the data offering differences between similarly priced plans between H2O Wireless (AT&T wholesaler) and Cricket (AT&T owned), and Ultra Mobile (T-Mobile Wholesaler) and MetroPCS (T-Mobile owned). Do that, and you'll quickly see the disparity. Yes, both wholesalers have cheaper price points for lower-end plans, but they simply can't compete on the data prices or blanket market saturation advertising. Consumers in this country love a good "deal", and by "deal", I mean consuming in corpulent excess and buying the biggest numbered thing they can afford - because more is more! Most people would rather spend $15 at an all-you-can-eat buffet than $7.50 for a reasonable meal at a restaurant that would equally fill them up... and the major carriers are exploiting that mindset with their in-house, prepaid boutique brands to bring prepaid customers back in-house with billing.

Of course, people don't remember back in the Aio Wireless (AT&T's original boutique brand) and early Cricket buyout/Aio rebrand to Cricket days (not even two years ago) when that $40 plan started out with only 100MB of data. That's a pretty realistic expectation of what AT&T thinks of their network and what people should be paying, and you can still see that mentality today with their GoPhone pricing. You know, just as an example. Since prepaid has no contracts or price/service guarantees...
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #410 on: May 04, 2016, 06:22:32 PM »
Regarding ISPs:
After my old laptop HDD went into a coma unexpectedly during a trip abroad and I barely managed to pull out my most important information before it went completely cold, I've developed an appreciation for backups, and in particular the remote sort. To that end I ganged up with my admin friend at the university and we brought an old server back to life, splitting the cost and using the friend's super admin powers to run it in the university racks for free. The project cost ended up mostly tied down in the 5TB HDDs at around $200 a pop (if I remember what the exchange rates back then were correctly).

 Bottom line is, I now have my own personal [half of a] backup server sitting in the uni's server room, which my laptop backs up its drive to, nightly. This could add up to hundreds of gigabytes of traffic a month, which is probably not very compatible with the current trend of providers having caps on the absolute amount of data transferred (I couldn't care less about the speed, though, since it's all automatically done at night while I'm asleep). As of right now, my family happens to live in a house on which a certain local provider has a monopoly, so we're stuck with a slightly overpriced but thankfully unlimited plan. I am planning on moving out in the foreseeable future, though, and would like some suggestions for a Mustachian solution to this.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #411 on: May 04, 2016, 08:16:42 PM »
Bottom line is, I now have my own personal [half of a] backup server sitting in the uni's server room, which my laptop backs up its drive to, nightly. This could add up to hundreds of gigabytes of traffic a month, which is probably not very compatible with the current trend of providers having caps on the absolute amount of data transferred (I couldn't care less about the speed, though, since it's all automatically done at night while I'm asleep). As of right now, my family happens to live in a house on which a certain local provider has a monopoly, so we're stuck with a slightly overpriced but thankfully unlimited plan. I am planning on moving out in the foreseeable future, though, and would like some suggestions for a Mustachian solution to this.

If your friend's super admin powers are worth any true salt, they should have set you up to use incremental backups, which only requires backing up the file changes made since the last backup made. Say, once you make the first full backup of all your data at say, 10GB on a Sunday and use that 10GB of bandwidth (assuming zero compression), and the next day you change about 1.5MB worth of files, that data backup on Monday will only require 1.5MB of bandwidth at most (and that's assuming that the incremental backup isn't using compression, either). With data backups, it's good to have full backups on occasion, but to do it more than once a month is probably overkill for most people.

As for a "mustachian" solution, again... the magic of incremental backups. However, if you're seriously worried about using tons of data and you have regular physical access to the university network the server is hosted in and given you're talking a laptop? A combination of about 90% sneakernet and 10% internal university network data transfers on campus for your full backup runs would be the best way to do it without eating through data caps at home. Just be sure your backups are encrypted before doing this, and honestly I would hope they're already encrypted as-is given the location of this server.

All this said? Be selective about what you back up in the first place, and only back up what matters. Don't waste bandwidth and rackspace storage on the operating system, on applications (for example, your office suite or a Steam profile if you have one), or digital entertainment flotsam like music and videos, and/or just keep your duplicates of those entertainment files stored on an SD card or two on your phone or tablet (if you have either) or a USB drive instead. By eliminating backups of your software as well as MP3 and AVI files (for example), you're likely going to eliminate the need for about 95% of the storage space and bandwidth needed to back up your system by eliminating the common.

Lastly, remember this with data backups: If you only have one backup copy of a file you can't afford to lose, you don't have it backed up enough. Implement a second backup inside your house either attaching an external hard drive to your laptop or using a router with a USB 2.0/3.0 port that supports hard drives (or something along those lines), so you have two backups, one on-site and one off. I would also again hope that your friend's super admin powers at least set your backup server up using at minimum RAID 5, but more ideally RAID 10 to ensure data redundancy and preservation in the case of a drive failure. The real critical stuff that doesn't get changed/updated too often? Consider a USB thumb drive in a safe deposit box, too. Neither of these options will require any bandwidth to implement, but will give you far greater redundancy and the potential for far quicker recovery.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 08:18:13 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #412 on: May 05, 2016, 06:33:46 AM »
...use incremental backups...
We do use them, of course, otherwise it would've eaten up HDD space as well as provider caps. That, however, is sometimes still not enough to prevent rsync from transferring gigabytes of data because I moved something to another directory.

Quote
f you're seriously worried about using tons of data and you have regular physical access to the university network the server is hosted in and given you're talking a laptop? A combination of about 90% sneakernet and 10% internal university network data transfers on campus for your full backup runs would be the best way to do it without eating through data caps at home.
That's basically what I did for the initial uploading, except that it was 100% university network, (Since I didn't have physical access to the racks back then. This was the critical part of my friend's admin powers, second only to the fact that he was able to acquire three half-dead servers for free to pull parts from).

But my concern is, once again, with what happens when I move out of my parents' home. That not only means I'll probably be stuck with a data-capping provider, but also that I'll be geographically far from the university.

Quote
All this said? Be selective about what you back up in the first place, and only back up what matters. Don't waste bandwidth and rackspace storage on the operating system, on applications (for example, your office suite or a Steam profile if you have one), or digital entertainment flotsam like music and videos, and/or just keep your duplicates of those entertainment files stored on an SD card or two on your phone or tablet (if you have either) or a USB drive instead. By eliminating backups of your software as well as MP3 and AVI files (for example), you're likely going to eliminate the need for about 95% of the storage space and bandwidth needed to back up your system by eliminating the common.
Now this is a great proposition, except that:
  • I do backup my rootfs because it contains tons of custom configs and uses only 10G anyway (that includes all the programs as well, since half of those configs are for them and because separating them from the OS is a tricky proposition). Quickly getting a working computer with everything you need to do your [job/science/homework/whatever] is also a pretty important thing.
  • Having all the digital media "up there" is also one of the purposes of this thing. First, because it's nice to have access to your stuff when you're away (which includes those smartphone/tablets), and second, because losing the media collection hurts as well. I had to leave it all behind in favor of the more critical files and I'm still missing some of it. This might constitute a certain form of stuff-hoarding, though...
    Anyway, I'm not as crazy about it as with the rest, so it's just a mirror without any history or whatever.

Quote
Lastly, remember this with data backups: If you only have one backup copy of a file you can't afford to lose, you don't have it backed up enough.
Yep, that is what hit me on that trip: I had an external HDD with me, but it died earlier on that same trip.

Quote
The real critical stuff that doesn't get changed/updated too often?
I use an encrypted microSD card for that (although I probably should have two). Regarding your safe deposit box proposition: It does get changed/updated once in a while and going to the bank to rewrite it seems a pretty terrible thing to do. And then there's the fact that I'd also be paying a hefty rate to store under a gigabyte of data securely.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #413 on: May 05, 2016, 08:29:43 AM »
That, however, is sometimes still not enough to prevent rsync from transferring gigabytes of data because I moved something to another directory.

Then don't do that.

If you feel like you need to relocate a directory for your own mental layout tracking, try using symlinks instead (I've got a sort of catch-all directory where my active and completed work projects are in various stages under sub-folders for each project, but I don't access any of my data directly through that directory - I only initially set it up there. As I work, I sort, organize, and access through symlinks in another directory.) View the file management of your home directory more like a database than a rigid hierarchy. Use symlinks with that hierarchy to better organize it for meatspace. Of course, you need to make sure your backup utility only copies the symlinks as symlinks, but that would do wonders on preventing that data thrashing you speak of.

That's basically what I did for the initial uploading, except that it was 100% university network

Sneakernet is physically walking your data to a location for data transfer. For the sake of clarity, when I say 90% sneakernet and 10% local network? It means physically taking the laptop to the university to use their LAN to upload. That is exactly what you did.

But my concern is, once again, with what happens when I move out of my parents' home. That not only means I'll probably be stuck with a data-capping provider, but also that I'll be geographically far from the university.

Do everything you can to optimize and reduce massive data changes and backups. There's plenty of good ideas here and in the last post to do just that. Use the right backup media for the right files.

  • I do backup my rootfs because it contains tons of custom configs and uses only 10G anyway (that includes all the programs as well, since half of those configs are for them and because separating them from the OS is a tricky proposition). Quickly getting a working computer with everything you need to do your [job/science/homework/whatever] is also a pretty important thing.
  • Having all the digital media "up there" is also one of the purposes of this thing. First, because it's nice to have access to your stuff when you're away (which includes those smartphone/tablets), and second, because losing the media collection hurts as well. I had to leave it all behind in favor of the more critical files and I'm still missing some of it. This might constitute a certain form of stuff-hoarding, though...
    Anyway, I'm not as crazy about it as with the rest, so it's just a mirror without any history or whatever.

Two things:

1) View it as hoarding with your entertainment media. I know you're mixing work and pleasure with your computer, but it's the work that's actually going to impact your life and hurt you if you experience data loss. This isn't to say that you don't have to back it up as well, but don't do remote backups and waste precious bandwidth by using the uni server to do so. Digital media entertainment is a form of hedonic adaptation, if you lose it, it only hurts if you're not flexible enough to derive enjoyment from other forms of media to fill the gap if you need that sort of thing. Losing commercial music and video files is a personal inconvenience, nothing more. Treat it as such.

2) This is the more important one. Custom config files? Just back those up manually. It's unlikely you tweak those configs on a regular basis as it's the sort of thing that's set-and-forget. That's the easiest.

However, if you're really wanting to back up your OS, again, don't do it to a remote server! The way you're talking at points, I highly suspect you're running some flavor of *nix on your laptop.

If that's the case, ask for help or learn how to spin custom install media so you can do a fresh install of your OS and all your apps with custom config files, and keep a USB drive around to reinstall with. I personally run Ubuntu at home, I stick with LTS releases, and I don't run stock config. However, I can do a fresh base install of the OS with all my apps and changes along with security updates and patches in under an hour with nothing more than the vanilla ISO, though I could modify the install media if I wanted. It doesn't even need to be a custom spun install disk, you can even do it with a simple bash script that has a few APT and CP lines to automate installing all your programs and customizing them with your tweaked config files that'd weigh in at just a few bytes. This is the power of not-Windows.

If you don't want to learn how to do that, or you're not running some *nix-based OS (or using OSX), learn to use Clonezilla instead to back up root and tuck away a couple copies of the backed-up OS partition wherever you need to. A core OS and steady/stable assortment of applications doesn't really change much except for system and app updates. What matters is that everything is there and functional with recovery, getting you working sooner than later. As such, one copy of the base OS configured to your workflow for the version you're running is all you need, doesn't need to be updated, and it's a backup that is relatively stable on media because you're not constantly accessing and rewriting it. Patching current is the easy part after restore. Let someone else store that data remotely, and don't waste time and bandwidth constantly remotely backing up that data yourself.

Regarding your safe deposit box proposition: It does get changed/updated once in a while and going to the bank to rewrite it seems a pretty terrible thing to do. And then there's the fact that I'd also be paying a hefty rate to store under a gigabyte of data securely.

Safe deposit boxes are for more than digital media. There will eventually be things in your life that you may find yourself needing a safe deposit box for. It's secure, off-site storage, and you store things worth the money spent to keep it safe there. If you don't ever see the value in a safe deposit box, there's still at least fire safes either in your house and/or at other people's (read family and trusted life-long friends) houses.



Most of your data usage in remote backups comes from common files, things that are easily replaceable. It's not that there's no reason to enable ways to expedite recovery of those common files, it's that you need to weigh the cost and importance of the various files you're backing up and use appropriate media to do each backup with. Remote storage is valuable, but not appropriate for backing everything but the kitchen sink up to on a daily basis.

Prioritize, and shape your backup plans accordingly.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #414 on: May 05, 2016, 02:42:21 PM »
Sneakernet is physically walking your data to a location for data transfer. For the sake of clarity, when I say 90% sneakernet and 10% local network? It means physically taking the laptop to the university to use their LAN to upload. That is exactly what you did.
Well, okay. (In my books, sneakernet constitutes not only bringing the data on a physical medium, but also plugging that medium directly into the target machine once you're there.)

Quote
1) View it as hoarding with your entertainment media. I know you're mixing work and pleasure with your computer, but it's the work that's actually going to impact your life and hurt you if you experience data loss. This isn't to say that you don't have to back it up as well, but don't do remote backups and waste precious bandwidth by using the uni server to do so. Digital media entertainment is a form of hedonic adaptation, if you lose it, it only hurts if you're not flexible enough to derive enjoyment from other forms of media to fill the gap if you need that sort of thing. Losing commercial music and video files is a personal inconvenience, nothing more. Treat it as such.
Hrmph, okay. I'll have to work on that.

Quote
2) This is the more important one. Custom config files? Just back those up manually. It's unlikely you tweak those configs on a regular basis as it's the sort of thing that's set-and-forget. That's the easiest.

However, if you're really wanting to back up your OS, again, don't do it to a remote server! The way you're talking at points, I highly suspect you're running some flavor of *nix on your laptop.

If that's the case, ask for help or learn how to spin custom install media so you can do a fresh install of your OS and all your apps with custom config files, and keep a USB drive around to reinstall with. I personally run Ubuntu at home, I stick with LTS releases, and I don't run stock config. However, I can do a fresh base install of the OS with all my apps and changes along with security updates and patches in under an hour with nothing more than the vanilla ISO, though I could modify the install media if I wanted. It doesn't even need to be a custom spun install disk, you can even do it with a simple bash script that has a few APT and CP lines to automate installing all your programs and customizing them with your tweaked config files that'd weigh in at just a few bytes. This is the power of not-Windows.
I am indeed running *nix (Debian sid to be precise), but as I said, keeping a full copy of my root filesystem is not a problem since it's a drop in the bucket anyway, in exchange for a guaranteed-working system in case of a drive failure.

Quote
Safe deposit boxes are for more than digital media. There will eventually be things in your life that you may find yourself needing a safe deposit box for. It's secure, off-site storage, and you store things worth the money spent to keep it safe there. If you don't ever see the value in a safe deposit box, there's still at least fire safes either in your house and/or at other people's (read family and trusted life-long friends) houses.
That is more or less exactly my point. There may be things in my life that I'll find myself needing a safe deposit box for. When that day comes, putting a flash drive in as well will be a no-brainer. But right now, if it is the only thing I'd put in there, paying for the storage seems ridiculous. Paying for it on the assumption that one day I'll put something else in as well is no less ridiculous, as I could just as well not pay until that fateful day comes.


In any case, I see what you're getting at. Expend efforts&money according to how valuable the data in question are.
Thanks for the advice.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #415 on: May 05, 2016, 10:09:56 PM »
Well, okay. (In my books, sneakernet constitutes not only bringing the data on a physical medium, but also plugging that medium directly into the target machine once you're there.)

Thus the percentages. Sneakernet under the discussed scenario only gets your data 90% of the way there. :)

I am indeed running *nix (Debian sid to be precise), but as I said, keeping a full copy of my root filesystem is not a problem since it's a drop in the bucket anyway, in exchange for a guaranteed-working system in case of a drive failure.

This statement raises my eyebrows a bit in its inconsistency. Work production laptop, concerns and precautions for catastrophic data loss, and you're running... Sid - Debian Unstable. *rubs eyes* I'm sure you certainly must have your reasons, but I've been at this for quite some time now and there's more than a little gray in my beard at this point, and I would never run Sid in a production environment. Sid can be fun, but what makes Sid fun (its bleeding edge packages) is what makes it wholly inappropriate for doing real work with it in a production environment. Work and production systems need stability. In the future, consider running Jesse/Stable if at all possible instead. Take it from an old fart, don't do critical work (or store critical files) under Sid.

But right now, if it is the only thing I'd put in there, paying for the storage seems ridiculous.

I suspect this might be a culture/region thing. I'm not sure if you listed your location as being in Moscow in your profile before I responded. Here in the States, the smallest safe deposit boxes at banks can be as cheap as $15-20 a year, not including insurance - which is optional. One of the key things with off-site backups is to protect against complete loss of data (including on-site backups) due to catastrophe. There's also in-home safe deposit boxes that are fire-rated, and many (again Stateside) can be as cheap as $30, and you don't have to keep it at your house/apartment/whatever. It's cheap insurance. Safe deposit boxes are good for property titles, licenses, medical records, tax records... basically all the stuff the government wants you to keep and who you can't trust to not potentially lose their copy of.

Look, I don't know what fire rated safes or bank safe deposit boxes run in your neck of the woods, but the point I was trying to make is that even with the cost - it's one of those things that most responsible adults wind up eventually needing some form of anyway. Because of that, it's easily possible to do off-site backups of important data that doesn't change frequently potentially for less money than the bandwidth might cost from an ISP that has data caps; and I'm pretty sure once you leave the nest, you're probably going to have at least a few documents worth protecting from fire and theft.

In any case, I see what you're getting at. Expend efforts&money according to how valuable the data in question are.
Thanks for the advice.

Glad you got it. Best of luck!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2016, 10:12:52 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #416 on: May 11, 2016, 09:17:58 AM »
Anyone using atlanta.voip.ms or the montreal server: you may want to check that you're still connectable. I had to reboot my ATA around 11am ET.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #417 on: May 16, 2016, 05:52:00 PM »
I tried using the search function but couldn't get any results to come up. So my apologies if I'm beating a dead horse and will delete accordingly. Has anyone heard of usmobile.com? From what I can tell, it operates like Ting in that it has buckets and uses GSM. When I do price comparison between Ting (my current operator) and US Mobile, US Mobile wins--but I don't want to base any decisions solely on the monetary difference.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #418 on: May 16, 2016, 06:17:02 PM »
Has anyone heard of usmobile.com?

Familiar-ish with US Mobile. Owned by GSM Nation, reasonable terms of service, prices are about in line with what a T-Mo MVNO should be charging without network roaming, but don't know much about their customer support staff, and only been around for about a year and change - not that longevity is much of a safe harbor these days given what's going on in the industry. I'd recommend them over both People's Wireless or Lycamobile for a lower end (on price) T-Mo MVNO.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #419 on: May 18, 2016, 05:54:19 PM »
Looking for some expert advice.  I'm a cell phone noob, who lives in rural area of sw Oregon.  U.S. Cellular is our carrier out here if you want service as far as the edges of service go.  Our home is just on the edge of service, meaning I can sometimes send and receive basic text messages, and on rare occasions see that I'm receiving a call.  I cannot however, actually connect any calls until I head back towards town a couple of miles.  Data sometimes works about 5 miles away, but not guaranteed until you get about 10 miles back in. 

My husband uses straight talk and he gets sketchy service about 5 miles out, then nothing, lol.

So, I spend 99% of my time. At home, and I only actually need true cell phone service in the event of genuine emergency while driving on main highway with my kids.  I don't need mobile data or GPS or anything.  I have satellite internet at the property.

So I am thinking I can get a RingPlus free plan, a cheap sprint compatible used phone, and just use it for wifi around the house if I want to walk around with a phone in my hand (or messaging, which I actually use a lot with my husband, and it's internet based).  When driving, if I truly needed to call, I could have the roaming activated and I could do a lot of emergency calls per month at $0.14/minute, before I outspend my current$45/mo no-contract plan with US Cellular. 

Am I analyzing this correctly?  Are there any sprint / us cell conflicts I'm not thinking of that will prevent this from working? 

Thank you! 
MouseBandit

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #420 on: May 18, 2016, 08:47:07 PM »
Am I analyzing this correctly?

Eeehhhhh... ish?

A few points of consideration regarding your plan (if you weren't aware):

1) RingPlus Fluidcall only handles voice calling, you cannot do SMS messaging over WiFi with your RingPlus number.

2) SMS messaging on RingPlus is charged at your plan's normal rate for SMS messages whether you're on Sprint's network or roaming.

3) RingPlus appears to be using standard Sprint roaming partners, so yes, you should get Verizon and US Cellular roaming coverage.

4) Data roaming is 55˘/MB, so you'll want to ensure data roaming is absolutely turned off - even if you keep mobile data off most of the time, especially if regular roaming is on - which you'll need for SMS usage at home unless you drag in Google Voice as your primary number so you can text over WiFi.

5) The first of two very important facts. Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites have some physical distance between you on earth, themselves, and their internet access back on earth. This is the Achilles Heel of VSAT internet access: LATENCY. Round-trip well exceeds 500ms, and frequently pushes 750ms or longer. That's one-half to three-quarters of a full second. It takes that long because a signal travels 90,000 miles or more round trip from you to a remote server and back, and though we've figured out how to get signals to reliably travel slower than C (the speed of light), making it go faster has been a bit more of a challenge and starts getting us into some fuzzy, heavy, quantum mechanical cromulentosity. This means, we're at the mercy of physics when it comes to latency with your internet access.

6) The second of two very important facts. Most consumer-grade VoIP services aren't particularly well suited to handle latency much beyond 150ms, otherwise it starts to fall apart. There are a few codecs optimized for satellite usage (iLBC for example), but VoIP over VSAT can be a very difficult and challenging thing to take on. (I know this from professional field experience.) Skype is about the only off-the-shelf VoIP solution that can tolerate the latency involved with VSAT network access, if you can call the result... tolerable. There's a lot of talking over one another and dropped bits of dialog. Exede or Hughesnet have workable phone systems, they cost money, but if I were you? I'd still choose their prepackaged solution over trying to leverage my decades of knowledge over trying to replicate it because reliability matters. Skype works as a quick and dirty solution for civilian emergency/first response work in disaster work, but it's not... reliable.

7) RingPlus' Fluidcall VoIP implementation only officially uses the PCMU G.711μ codec which is one of those sub-150ms only codecs, and there's no plan at this point for supporting iLBC. Google Voice/Hangouts is also unfortunately a bit less tolerant of latency than Skype is, as well.

The problem isn't really a Sprint-US Cellular conflict. It's a solid idea, but it won't work worth spit for phone service without lower latency internet, which you can't get where you are. You're going to need phone service designed specifically for MEO VSAT latency if you forego mobile voice coverage and want to go VoIP. It's that or a landline. This is truly a case of pay for what you need, because using the usual price saving hacks aren't gonna work in your situation.

Hope this helps, but sorry it's not good news.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #421 on: May 19, 2016, 02:47:48 AM »
Am I analyzing this correctly?

Eeehhhhh... ish?

A few points of consideration regarding your plan (if you weren't aware):

1) RingPlus Fluidcall only handles voice calling, you cannot do SMS messaging over WiFi with your RingPlus number.

2) SMS messaging on RingPlus is charged at your plan's normal rate for SMS messages whether you're on Sprint's network or roaming.

3) RingPlus appears to be using standard Sprint roaming partners, so yes, you should get Verizon and US Cellular roaming coverage.

4) Data roaming is 55˘/MB, so you'll want to ensure data roaming is absolutely turned off - even if you keep mobile data off most of the time, especially if regular roaming is on - which you'll need for SMS usage at home unless you drag in Google Voice as your primary number so you can text over WiFi.

5) The first of two very important facts. Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites have some physical distance between you on earth, themselves, and their internet access back on earth. This is the Achilles Heel of VSAT internet access: LATENCY. Round-trip well exceeds 500ms, and frequently pushes 750ms or longer. That's one-half to three-quarters of a full second. It takes that long because a signal travels 90,000 miles or more round trip from you to a remote server and back, and though we've figured out how to get signals to reliably travel slower than C (the speed of light), making it go faster has been a bit more of a challenge and starts getting us into some fuzzy, heavy, quantum mechanical cromulentosity. This means, we're at the mercy of physics when it comes to latency with your internet access.

6) The second of two very important facts. Most consumer-grade VoIP services aren't particularly well suited to handle latency much beyond 150ms, otherwise it starts to fall apart. There are a few codecs optimized for satellite usage (iLBC for example), but VoIP over VSAT can be a very difficult and challenging thing to take on. (I know this from professional field experience.) Skype is about the only off-the-shelf VoIP solution that can tolerate the latency involved with VSAT network access, if you can call the result... tolerable. There's a lot of talking over one another and dropped bits of dialog. Exede or Hughesnet have workable phone systems, they cost money, but if I were you? I'd still choose their prepackaged solution over trying to leverage my decades of knowledge over trying to replicate it because reliability matters. Skype works as a quick and dirty solution for civilian emergency/first response work in disaster work, but it's not... reliable.

7) RingPlus' Fluidcall VoIP implementation only officially uses the PCMU G.711μ codec which is one of those sub-150ms only codecs, and there's no plan at this point for supporting iLBC. Google Voice/Hangouts is also unfortunately a bit less tolerant of latency than Skype is, as well.

The problem isn't really a Sprint-US Cellular conflict. It's a solid idea, but it won't work worth spit for phone service without lower latency internet, which you can't get where you are. You're going to need phone service designed specifically for MEO VSAT latency if you forego mobile voice coverage and want to go VoIP. It's that or a landline. This is truly a case of pay for what you need, because using the usual price saving hacks aren't gonna work in your situation.

Hope this helps, but sorry it's not good news.

Are carrier certified (legal) cellular repeaters available in the US? Of course that might require service with one of the big four carriers, so it's probably not the most frugal option.

Would another network work better than US Cellular? Is there Verizon or AT&T coverage there?

And yeah, it sounds like a landline might be the only viable option otherwise. I guess it's the price one has to pay for living in a rural area.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #422 on: May 19, 2016, 07:15:48 AM »
Are carrier certified (legal) cellular repeaters available in the US? Of course that might require service with one of the big four carriers, so it's probably not the most frugal option.

The problem with boosters/amplifiers/repeaters is you still need a decent enough signal to work with in the first place in order to get any decent results. I'm not sure they'd have that, even with a good yagi antenna. This isn't to say it's not worth investigating, but it is a high price gamble if it doesn't work. One might also discover femtocells when exploring/researching these options, but they too require an internet connection with low latency to work.

Would another network work better than US Cellular? Is there Verizon or AT&T coverage there?

SW Oregon is just one of those places... on the I-5 corridor is fine, but the instant you start wandering off that path, it starts getting sketchy. From worst to best coverage for the region, it goes Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, US Cellular. I suspect the husband's StraightTalk phone is GSM/AT&T/T-Mo based, which gives you an idea of range (worse). US Cellular is literally the only mobile carrier to even build out into some of these rural areas, and in some of the more remote areas around Medford, US Cellular is about the only carrier for a couple hundred square miles in the region, so if USCC doesn't cover you, you literally don't have service. Going Sprint or Verizon MVNO with roaming (Ring Plus, Ting, Selectel), there's no advantage, both will give the same roaming results for MouseBandit given they all roam on USCC.

And yeah, it sounds like a landline might be the only viable option otherwise. I guess it's the price one has to pay for living in a rural area.

Landline (if it's even available) or high-latency tolerant VSAT phone service are likely about the only two PSTN networkable choices available for phone service. Remote rural locations can be great to live in until you want/need to communicate and interact with civilization, then you need to still be close enough to civilization to connect.

I'm seriously thinking I should recommend they invest in an amateur radio license, get some CB/FRS/GMRS/HF/UHF/VHF radio equipment as a fallback or failsafe for any domestic emergencies, and learn how to use it given how spotty even mobile voice coverage is.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 07:17:52 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #423 on: May 19, 2016, 07:50:26 AM »
The problem with boosters/amplifiers/repeaters is you still need a decent enough signal to work with in the first place in order to get any decent results. I'm not sure they'd have that, even with a good yagi antenna. This isn't to say it's not worth investigating, but it is a high price gamble if it doesn't work. One might also discover femtocells when exploring/researching these options, but they too require an internet connection with low latency to work.

Yeah, probably not much luck, although depending on topography, a yagi mounted on the roof might work. Some rural folks here do that for Internet access, with the antenna connected to a 3G/4G modem, and can get service from towers tens of kilometres away. IIRC the fixed wireless component of the NBN here is based on LTE as well.

SW Oregon is just one of those places... on the I-5 corridor is fine, but the instant you start wandering off that path, it starts getting sketchy. From worst to best coverage for the region, it goes Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, US Cellular. I suspect the husband's StraightTalk phone is GSM/AT&T/T-Mo based, which gives you an idea of range (worse). US Cellular is literally the only mobile carrier to even build out into some of these rural areas, and in some of the more remote areas around Medford, US Cellular is about the only carrier for a couple hundred square miles in the region, so if USCC doesn't cover you, you literally don't have service. Going Sprint or Verizon MVNO with roaming (Ring Plus, Ting, Selectel), there's no advantage, both will give the same roaming results for MouseBandit given they all roam on USCC.

Yeah I've driven through SW Oregon along US-101 (by the way, very scenic area), used a T-Mobile MVNO and it was roaming to AT&T in most towns, and nothing at all between the towns. :)

I didn't realise there were five US carriers, I thought there were just the four MNOs. :)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #424 on: May 19, 2016, 08:07:51 AM »
Yeah, probably not much luck, although depending on topography, a yagi mounted on the roof might work. Some rural folks here do that for Internet access, with the antenna connected to a 3G/4G modem, and can get service from towers tens of kilometres away. IIRC the fixed wireless component of the NBN here is based on LTE as well.

Yeah, but isn't the Outback kind of a flat pancake of dust and plantlife that mostly doesn't grow past one's shins? ;)

Of course, without knowing specifics for MouseBandit, it's hard to know for certain - but that is part of the reason why Oregon coverage is so spotty in the first place. Between the terrain and the trees...

I didn't realise there were five US carriers, I thought there were just the four MNOs. :)

Yeah, there's technically five "national" carriers. US Cellular is actually smaller than Sprint in total geographic coverage, but USCC specialized in pushing CDMA coverage out into the sticks in a small handful of states where other carriers wouldn't waste their money. That's part of why USCC is so expensive, most of their nationwide coverage is basically due to Verizon partner roaming agreements; and given the roaming agreements are mutual, kind of makes USCC moot for 95% of their customer base. I doubt Softbank and Sprint would ever do it, but a Sprint/USCC merger would actually make some sense and improve native coverage for both networks as much as I hate reduced competition. Though to be honest? Neither Sprint or USCC is really competition at this point already.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #425 on: May 19, 2016, 08:49:13 AM »
Unrelated news: Puppy Wireless has recently been acquired by Unified Signal, a backend, turnkey MVNO provider for all four major networks. Great news in that when Kitty had to get out, service is continuing uninterrupted for customers. Overall though, I've not been too overwhelmed by Unified's history of pricing or customer service in the past, but they're apparently trying to make a huge push into the MVNO market this year with direct sales and are looking to acquire more MVNO brands. They've also played host to a couple fly-by-night brands over the years, not that it's necessarily their fault they leased infrastructure out to flaky business owners.

Of course, the bad news is, Kitty Wireless got out of the MVNO game and sold Puppy Wireless. Puppy was already using Unified Signal on the back end for their Verizon offerings which is partly why the acquisition was smart for both parties. Continuation of service for customers (showing that Kitty didn't just vanish and leave the customers stranded), and a known (smaller niche) brand for Unified to use for direct sales since MyTime Wireless has been slow to gain traction. It's why I had recommended Puppy in the past, because I knew if times got hard, Kitty wouldn't just vanish overnight. But this also means that Puppy was no longer profitable, and Kitty had to get out of the game. I clearly can't speak with certainty, but one has to wonder if this might be counted as another casualty of the MVNO wholesale pricing issue and the major carriers undercutting on data prices internally.

We might see a bit more consolidation this year by Unified Signal buying up struggling MVNOs. It's not ideal, but it's better than losing competition, even if it means a more homogenized and less diverse pricing structure with these alternatives... and Unified Signal's still better to deal with than America Movil - though how much better? Only time will tell. Their doing direct sales to customers is still a fairly new thing, despite being an established wholesaler.

Strange times, these.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #426 on: May 19, 2016, 02:48:07 PM »
Thank you for all the details!! 

So, the messaging app I use with my husband is Signal, and it's just an app, works over wifi.  It seems to run fine at the property as long as  the wifi is fired up. 

I do have a landline out here at the property, which is crucial because it works even when power is down (which is frequently), and am not looking to use the cell phone for any phone calls at all, certainly not at the property, just for the potential of a true emergency while driving on the highway with my kiddos, which would be the roaming voice minutes at $0.14/min.  I'd likely need to make 2 calls (husband and AAA, haha), and in all the years I've had a cell phone, I think I've only had 3 of those kind of true emergencies. 

We actually do have our ham radio licenses, but with the trees and mountains, we so far we have had a hard time getting line of sight to any repeater towers.  We intend to get our General licenses, and then try other bands, though.

Basically, I am ready to wean off the cell phone entirely as far as phone-calls go, and to limit it to wifi apps while in the house.  I am loving the idea of ditching the $45 plan I have, and yet retain my cell phone number (I can check voicemail with my landline), grab text messages when I go to town for supplies, and have the ability to call for help should it really be necessary while out on the road, and have my wifi apps when I'm in the house.

So, I am thinking that this could work. 

My next thing to test will be my old Samsung Galaxy US CELL phone, that I had unlocked or reprogrammed or something, to work with Spring network for Straight Talk.  I could never get it "reset" to work with US Cell after that, but now maybe it will parlay right over to RingPlus.  With a free service, and phone in hand, I see now reason to give it a try.  Then, if it works as I am hoping it will, pay the fee to port over my cell number. 

I will report the results of my testing!  I gotta find the old phone first, haha! 

MouseBandit

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #427 on: May 19, 2016, 03:20:10 PM »
My next thing to test will be my old Samsung Galaxy US CELL phone, that I had unlocked or reprogrammed or something, to work with Spring network for Straight Talk.  I could never get it "reset" to work with US Cell after that, but now maybe it will parlay right over to RingPlus.  With a free service, and phone in hand, I see now reason to give it a try.  Then, if it works as I am hoping it will, pay the fee to port over my cell number.

Excellent to hear on everything else, and certainly clarifies a bit. Sounds like it'll be a good setup for you given the circumstances.

This said, I should point something out to you. Ring Plus (and any Sprint MVNO) who permits BYOD is going to limit to BYO(S)D. The ESN has to be in the approved Sprint database to register and work. Unfortunately, CDMA isn't like GSM in that so long as the IMEI isn't on the blacklist, sticking a card into it will make it work. CDMA handsets are restricted to activation on the network they come from. This means no USCC handset activations on Sprint or Verizon, no Sprint handset activations on USCC and Verizon, and no Verizon handset activations on Sprint and USCC. If you want to use Ring Plus, you're going to need a Sprint handset with a clean ESN for activation. Check Ebay, Craigslist, etc.

Given you have a land line, I might also suggest perhaps porting your cell number over to Google Voice instead of straight to Ring Plus. This way, you could have calls coming in on your "cell" number ring the house phone, and SMS messages and voicemail either accessible via Hangouts on the smartphone you're currently using for Signal or forwarded to your email address. You could forward/integrate the GV number to whatever new RingPlus number/cell as well if you wanted, but if it's emergency only, not much point. I don't recommend Google Voice to many, but it might be a good thing in your case.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #428 on: May 24, 2016, 10:27:44 PM »
Problems with Google voice over data/Zoiper soft phone.

Hello, all. Thanks to this thread and to I. P. Daley's excellent communications guide, I've trimmed my personal phone bill down from about $40.00 a month to less than $3.00. This includes the money I spend with voip.ms making phone calls over WiFi. I did this by going on a data diet. I'm using TruPhone, which is very good, though there are a few irritations.

However, I'm starting to have trouble with my set up. To save money on texts, I use Google Voice and Hangouts on my old Samsung Galaxy S3 (yes, I know it's old and not very durable, but this was an old cast off of my husband's). It's running Android Jelly Bean. These two apps are set up to use background data. This system worked well for a while--and still works on WiFi. But lately I've noticed that neither of these apps works without WiFi. Messages get queued and sent/delivered only when I'm on WiFi. Any suggestions as to how to fix this?

To save money on phone calls, I use VOIP when on WiFI. We still have no landline, but I've installed Zoiper on my phone. I have two accounts: Voip.ms and also Circlenet. I occasionally have registration problems with these services. I can generally live with that. A stranger problem that I've encountered recently is sometimes when I make phone calls over VOIP, I hear ringing--two or three times, and then nothing. The call doesn't connect. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I'm becoming frustrated enough to reconsider my super cheap plan, but know that I'll end up leaving money on the table.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #429 on: May 25, 2016, 09:34:00 AM »
Problems with Google voice over data/Zoiper soft phone.

Welcome back, Jerebo!

If I recall, despite your pushing towards GV, I was originally talking such things as EasyGo Wireless, ting and consumer Cellular with you last year, so this setup kind of surprises me. I typically reserve suggesting these sorts of setups for the cheapskates who squeeze every dime instead of spending what's necessary, and I don't typically recommend such setups. GV can be unreliable, after all, and VoIP on smartphones on WiFi can sometimes be quirky and problematic for keeping sessions active without killing battery life, and you're seeing that now. But that's neither here nor there beyond stating the observation. You're set up this way using some of my past words for others, so I need to help you iron out some kinks.

Hello, all. Thanks to this thread and to I. P. Daley's excellent communications guide, I've trimmed my personal phone bill down from about $40.00 a month to less than $3.00. This includes the money I spend with voip.ms making phone calls over WiFi. I did this by going on a data diet. I'm using TruPhone, which is very good, though there are a few irritations.

However, I'm starting to have trouble with my set up. To save money on texts, I use Google Voice and Hangouts on my old Samsung Galaxy S3 (yes, I know it's old and not very durable, but this was an old cast off of my husband's). It's running Android Jelly Bean. These two apps are set up to use background data. This system worked well for a while--and still works on WiFi. But lately I've noticed that neither of these apps works without WiFi. Messages get queued and sent/delivered only when I'm on WiFi. Any suggestions as to how to fix this?

This sounds like a mobile data issue. Either the Hangouts app has been restricted to WiFi only, there's a misconfiguration on the data APN settings for Truphone with the phone, or mobile data access has been disabled on the phone.

To save money on phone calls, I use VOIP when on WiFI. We still have no landline, but I've installed Zoiper on my phone. I have two accounts: Voip.ms and also Circlenet. I occasionally have registration problems with these services. I can generally live with that. A stranger problem that I've encountered recently is sometimes when I make phone calls over VOIP, I hear ringing--two or three times, and then nothing. The call doesn't connect. Does anyone have any suggestions?

You probably don't need WiFi calling, except to save money, correct? I'm also left asking why do you have two VoIP accounts? Are you using your VoIP accounts for both incoming and outbound calls on WiFi?

If you don't have reception issues, just use inbound with Truphone. As for outbound? Let's streamline this, and go with the VoIP provider i had recommended in the post that most likely turned you on to the Truphone/GV setup. Localphone. Get rid of Zoiper, don't worry about VOIP.ms or CircleNet. Use Localphone's Android app for outbound calling, and set your caller ID on the account to your Google Voice number. That should square you, simplify the process, and hopefully resolve timeout issues. This said, even if you do need a generic Android VoIP app, I don't recommend Zoiper. If it must be free, CSipSimple, otherwise Counterpath's Bria is well worth the money.

I'm becoming frustrated enough to reconsider my super cheap plan, but know that I'll end up leaving money on the table.

Do reconsider it anyway, and don't be afraid to leave "money on the table" as you put it. Don't be afraid to pay for what you need, as that is the line between cheap and frugal. Money is only a tool, and fretting over every penny is a territory where it begins to take on something in your life that is more than just a tool, something more sinister... something more like idolatry. Pay for what you need. You begin to split hairs when you're getting under $10/month for mobile phone service, doubly so at $5, so don't be cheap. Be frugal.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #430 on: May 25, 2016, 11:01:27 PM »
Thank you for your response. I'll resist the temptation to post my lengthy justification for my decisions that apparently make me "the kind of cheapskate who squeezes every dime instead of spending what's necessary" and say only that I guess it's time to move on to something else.

I feel sufficiently chastened (even shamed) for my cheapskate ways. I'll find some other solution. I can get unlimited t&t on my corporate AT&T plan for less than the price of one individual on Ting, and only slightly more than Airvoice Wireless and PureTalk's cheapest offerings. No data, but... Good bye MVNOs. Good bye VoIP. Sionara paygo. Welcome back post-paid!




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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #431 on: May 26, 2016, 02:46:07 AM »
Thank you for your response. I'll resist the temptation to post my lengthy justification for my decisions that apparently make me "the kind of cheapskate who squeezes every dime instead of spending what's necessary" and say only that I guess it's time to move on to something else.

I feel sufficiently chastened (even shamed) for my cheapskate ways. I'll find some other solution. I can get unlimited t&t on my corporate AT&T plan for less than the price of one individual on Ting, and only slightly more than Airvoice Wireless and PureTalk's cheapest offerings. No data, but... Good bye MVNOs. Good bye VoIP. Sionara paygo. Welcome back post-paid!

That won't completely fix the Hangouts issue if you continue to use Hangouts for messaging. That's because some Hangouts messages actually go through your data (to other Google accounts). No data, no message :)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #432 on: May 26, 2016, 08:26:47 AM »
Thank you for your response. I'll resist the temptation to post my lengthy justification for my decisions that apparently make me "the kind of cheapskate who squeezes every dime instead of spending what's necessary" and say only that I guess it's time to move on to something else.

I feel sufficiently chastened (even shamed) for my cheapskate ways. I'll find some other solution. I can get unlimited t&t on my corporate AT&T plan for less than the price of one individual on Ting, and only slightly more than Airvoice Wireless and PureTalk's cheapest offerings. No data, but... Good bye MVNOs. Good bye VoIP. Sionara paygo. Welcome back post-paid!

It was not my desire or intent to shame you, and I apologize sincerely for doing so given your reaction.

All this said, If AT&T postpaid works for you and the budget you need to provide the service necessary, go for it... but do keep in mind what Dean mentioned about Google Voice, Hangouts, and mobile data if you leave your number there.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #433 on: July 04, 2016, 09:25:55 PM »
I've been carrying around a Galaxy S3 for about 4 years now (bought it used off Ebay) and it's done pretty well for me.  It still works for the most part, but I've come across two recent trends that are making me think more about replacing it.  The first is that my wifi will simply turn off several times a day.  I'll be home and the wifi button on the phone will just go off and I have to get into the phone to reconnect. It's definitely the phone and not my router.  The second is I have two banking apps that are no longer supported on my phone.  I'm concerned that I've reached some kind of cut-off with my OS that apps will start dropping off.  If that's the case and I need to look at another phone, how "new" should I go?  I don't want a brand new phone, but I want to make sure I don't replace my S3 with an S4 and I'm in the same software/app situation in a year.  How new should I go and be secure in that my phone will stay supported for a few years?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #434 on: July 04, 2016, 10:52:46 PM »
I'm concerned that I've reached some kind of cut-off with my OS that apps will start dropping off.  If that's the case and I need to look at another phone, how "new" should I go?

Sounds like you're in a good place with nothing to lose here. As much as there might be hardware issues, it might just be software issues with the phone needing a little love and a bit of an OS refresh.

If you're even remotely technically inclined (or know someone who is), it might be worth looking into CyanogenMod. Depending on your specific model of S3, there are several pre-built versions of CM12 and 13 available (equivalent to Android 5.x Lollipop and 6.x Marshmallow) that'll help fight off the planned obsolescence issue a bit longer, especially if it fixes your WiFi issue at the same time. The price is right (free), and it might help squeeze a bit more life out of that phone yet... heck, it might even run better than you're used to.

How new should I go and be secure in that my phone will stay supported for a few years?

The problem is as you're discovering is forced planned obsolescence from the manufacturers. The best way around this if you want to continue to sup from Google is to buy/use mainstream Android handsets that're supported by CyanogenMod and take the effort to do the firmware swap or spend the premium on a Nexus device and still have the forced obsolescence happen not quite as quickly and still be left resorting to CyanogenMod to squeak out a bit more time. This isn't to say that there aren't quite a number of great independently spun firmware replacements floating around places like XDA for various model Android handsets both mainstream and offbeat, but for every good one out there, there's some serious crap and compromised options as well. It's just easier and you're guaranteed a cleaner, safer and better timely update supported Android build going mainstream CM. It's kinda hard to escape, and Apple is just as bad about it.

That said? If the banking apps you're after are available on Windows Phone (and honestly they're usually just an HTML5 webpage/app wrapper for the most part), and you really want to do all your banking from an insecure wireless device like a smartphone (I refuse to trade security for convenience, myself, YMMV), consider a used unlocked Lumia like the 640 (running between $50-70)... Microsoft is actively continuing to update the platform and develop WP10 despite the ballyhooed cries from the tech media about Windows Phone being dead, they're dirt cheap (partly because they sold for cheap and everyone thinks the platform is dead now), they're pretty robust, the OS is light and responsive, the UI is consistent and very usable, it's simple to migrate your user data from other phones to the thing, the "app gap" is nearly non-existent at this point, battery life is good, batteries are end-user replaceable, mobile data usage is low, and it's easy to purge the carrier bloatware from 'em.

I've been very slow and curmudgeonly about abandoning my older QWERTY handsets and less "advanced" phones like the Nokia C3 and the Blackberry 9900... I've been very vocal about my dislike of both iOS and Android, and I even mourned the Nokia buyout and death of Symbian OS at the hands of Microsoft. Now, I'm not saying Windows Phone is perfect (hardly), but from my broad experiences it delivers on what Nadella has been promising, which is a platform that stands out from the competition in a good way. It's the least terrible smartphone platform out there, IMHO, and I now carry a Lumia 435. I spent $20 on the thing, and outside of build quality (the plastic case and camera photo quality give away the fact that it's an entry level phone - but it still feels pretty solid and well built), it's literally been the nicest, fastest, and easiest smartphone I've had the misfortune of using or owning. Everything just works....

...and this endorsement comes from someone who has had a standing and public 15 year grudge against Microsoft as a *nix admin. I still won't run Windows 10 on my desktop, but I will use their phones. They're no nonsense, they play nice with everyone else's cloud services, I don't have to store my contacts on Microsoft's servers, and I can even sync my Lumia with Evolution on my Ubuntu desktop. It's a bit surreal both experiencing and sharing this, but it's true. Take that however you will.

It's hard to dodge the whole planned obsolescence, you are the product due to privacy concerns and big data, and pending SaaS financial milking that everyone is driving towards with these devices... but for the time, you could do much worse for a $50 smartphone.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 10:57:51 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #435 on: July 05, 2016, 03:07:17 PM »
I.P. Daley peddling Microsoft wares... forget Brexit, NOW I have seen everything.

More seriously, they do make fine phones. My only pet peeve is the lack of real maps software.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #436 on: July 05, 2016, 04:00:40 PM »
I.P. Daley peddling Microsoft wares... forget Brexit, NOW I have seen everything.

More seriously, they do make fine phones. My only pet peeve is the lack of real maps software.

I know, I know. It's a little nutsy-cuckoo. Pretty sure there's a reference to both Microsoft putting out a good smartphone and me doing this as being two of the early harbingers of the apocalypse.

I'm guessing Here Maps hasn't really done it for you? Since I don't do GPS, I haven't exactly explored it too deeply yet myself, but it at least looks pretty competent. Should probably run it through some paces, though.

Edit: Nevermind. I just found out Microsoft depreciated Here Maps for Win 10 at the end of June in favor of their new in-house branded map... which is either great or terrible depending on who you ask.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 04:19:50 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #437 on: July 07, 2016, 06:29:19 PM »
I.P. Daley peddling Microsoft wares... forget Brexit, NOW I have seen everything.

More seriously, they do make fine phones. My only pet peeve is the lack of real maps software.

I know, I know. It's a little nutsy-cuckoo. Pretty sure there's a reference to both Microsoft putting out a good smartphone and me doing this as being two of the early harbingers of the apocalypse.

I'm guessing Here Maps hasn't really done it for you? Since I don't do GPS, I haven't exactly explored it too deeply yet myself, but it at least looks pretty competent. Should probably run it through some paces, though.

Edit: Nevermind. I just found out Microsoft depreciated Here Maps for Win 10 at the end of June in favor of their new in-house branded map... which is either great or terrible depending on who you ask.
Eh, the GPS bit is pretty good, but not as polished as Google's.

Her phone isn't upgradeable to WP10 anyway, it only has 512MB of RAM.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #438 on: July 27, 2016, 07:25:53 AM »
Does anyone know if there is a simple phone guide I can use? I am reading through threads but am experiencing information overload.

Looking for a replacement phone service for my Dad.

He uses ~150 min/month (page plus... super cheap) and would like to try adding data.

Currently have a brand new Verizon smart phone (LG Optimus Zone 3) and an unlocked AT&T smart phone (Lumia 640) sitting at home, that I was hoping to put to use if I can find a cost effective plan.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #439 on: July 27, 2016, 09:33:28 AM »
Does anyone know if there is a simple phone guide I can use? I am reading through threads but am experiencing information overload.

Looking for a replacement phone service for my Dad.

He uses ~150 min/month (page plus... super cheap) and would like to try adding data.

Currently have a brand new Verizon smart phone (LG Optimus Zone 3) and an unlocked AT&T smart phone (Lumia 640) sitting at home, that I was hoping to put to use if I can find a cost effective plan.

The core guide won't information overload if you don't let it (it's perfectly serviceable without reading the discussion threads). Just focus on the information relevant to the carriers you need.

For your situation specifically, though, I'll point you along with some additional info that isn't in the guide yet.

Service on Verizon MVNOs are going to be more expensive for the same level of service than on other network MVNOs. Also, Verizon is eyeballing shutting down their 1xRTT 2G voice and data network by end of year 2019 or sooner instead of 2021. Losing Verizon's 2G network means losing CDMA voice coverage. Losing CDMA voice coverage means that you'll be restricted in your ability to make voice calls on Verizon networks with VoLTE capable handsets in a little over three years only, and not all Verizon LTE handsets support that currently, especially budget handsets. Firmware updates for these official Verizon LTE handsets might receive an update, but they might not. Your shiny new Zone 3 is not VoLTE capable at this time, despite being released in January of this year.

Given Verizon MVNOs are the most expensive prepaid carriers, and the accelerated planned obsolescence roadmap, it's getting harder and harder to recommend Verizon MVNOs anymore unless using them is literally your only coverage option. It's just going to turn into a right solid Charlie Foxtrot these next couple years.

There's also the issue of activating your "new" Verizon handset on a Verizon MVNO if the contractual obligations have not been met yet.

If you still want to go Verizon, the phone is eligible for activation, and you just want to kick the can down to 2019 on the issue, Selectel's 4G LTE annual plan plus some $10 flex cards that provides data at 5˘/MB (or 5˘/minute/SMS for overages) will work... but it won't be as cheap an option as an AT&T MVNO - say Puretalk USA or Airvoice.

If your dad is over 55, Puretalk's $10 Senior AddVantage plan is the absolute best bang for buck option available on the low end with data availability, though the minutes/texts provided would likely be gross overkill after being given 450 minutes a month to use after the sixth month of service. Otherwise, their Simple 300 plan would be just as effective at $10/month no matter his age.

There's also Airvoice's $10 talk and text plan. It has the advantage of rolling over unused credits on the account from month to month (unlike the Puretalk plans), but given the estimated monthly minute usage of 150 minutes, that works out to only leaving $4 for any SMS usage (a quantity you didn't provide though I'm sure is quite low) and data. With data rates at 6.6˘/MB, even with no SMS messages sent, that only gives about 60MB on top of 150 minutes for that $10. 50-60MB can be plenty if you seriously neuter data usage (really easy on that Lumia 640 - I have a Lumia 435 and mobile data usage averages under 10MB a month for me), but getting that substantially added minute/SMS padding for emergency/fluke heavy usage months on the Puretalk plans even if you lose the rollover is worth it, as it all but eliminates the overage concerns of going Airvoice these days at that price point.

That help?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2016, 01:44:09 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #440 on: July 27, 2016, 12:07:11 PM »
Hi I.P. Daley,

thank you for the wealth of information. I was researching PureTalk (your link went to BatMobile) and want to ask
- do you know how I can determine how far 50 MB of data will get him?
- do you want to provide a referral in case we go through this service?

i will read up on air voice also.

these sound like they could be good options! thanks again

earthshine

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #441 on: July 27, 2016, 01:56:49 PM »
thank you for the wealth of information. I was researching PureTalk (your link went to BatMobile)

Sorry about that. Fixed the link in the original post, and here it is as well:

https://www.puretalkusa.com/senior-addvantage-plan.php

- do you know how I can determine how far 50 MB of data will get him?
- do you want to provide a referral in case we go through this service?

For the first question? Well, it depends on what it's used for. If he's just using it for email and occasional web browsing as needed while mostly staying connected to Wifi, it'll go a long way. If he's streaming audio or video over the cellular network, it won't go very far at all. If you use the Lumia 640, just set up Data Sense with a 40-50MB cap, minimize email updates, pre-load offline maps for GPS if needed, and replace IE/Edge with the Surfy Browser. Text doesn't require much bandwidth... it's images and audio that does.

The second question? Don't worry about it. I typically don't do referral programs. If you want, though, there's a couple other ways of thanking me over on my website up at the top.

As always, glad to help.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2016, 01:59:34 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #442 on: July 27, 2016, 03:00:48 PM »
That $10 senior plan looks good, it's a much better per-unit value than the $10 airvoice plan. I don't see an option to change to senior plans in their web UI, so I guess it's not just a marketing thing, they actually check customers' age?

Classic selfish boomer welfare preventing us yungins from getting ahead!!!!11!@!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #443 on: August 02, 2016, 12:47:45 PM »
A big thank-you, Daley, for the wealth of information you've provided over the years. Trying to synthesize it all is like drinking from a firehose!

My situation: I'm currently on a Republic Wireless "Republic Refund" plan which, at my current data usage (80-100MB), runs me $13-$14 a month. Unfortunately my phone (Moto X 1st gen) has decided to start shutting off arbitrarily and neither my phone nor my plan are currently offered by Republic anymore.

I've considered just biting the bullet and upgrading to their new plan ($20 a month for unlimited talk/text and 1GB data), but the $349 price tag for a new Moto X has given me pause. I know you don't care for Republic Wireless; are there any other MVNO offerings at the $20/1GB data price point (talk/text don't matter so much to me)?

I'm looking at the $10 talk and text plan from Airvoice Wireless, but some details are unclear. You mentioned in an earlier post that unused credits are rolled over, and seemed to imply that the $10 could be used for any combination of talk, text, and data. If I don't talk or text much, could I use all of that $10 for data at $.066/MB? If I needed to go over that amount, would I still be billed at $.066/MB?

Regarding hardware options, you mention in the superguide that it is Trivially easy to BYOD as they’re an AT&T GSM carrier. Is there an easy way to compare phones that fall into this category? I'd like a physical keyboard, though it isn't a dealbreaker, and I'm already familiar with Android and the Play store for apps. I don't mind switching to another OS if there is a good reason to do so, but I'm not sure how apps and app stores are handled outside Android and iOS.

I know that I've asked quite a few questions here, so a big thanks in advance for any and all advice!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #444 on: August 02, 2016, 01:45:58 PM »
I've considered just biting the bullet and upgrading to their new plan ($20 a month for unlimited talk/text and 1GB data), but the $349 price tag for a new Moto X has given me pause. I know you don't care for Republic Wireless; are there any other MVNO offerings at the $20/1GB data price point (talk/text don't matter so much to me)?

If T-Mobile only coverage is good for your area, look into US Mobile. It's like Ting's price structure, but better targeted price-wise for individual line accounts.

I'm looking at the $10 talk and text plan from Airvoice Wireless, but some details are unclear. You mentioned in an earlier post that unused credits are rolled over, and seemed to imply that the $10 could be used for any combination of talk, text, and data. If I don't talk or text much, could I use all of that $10 for data at $.066/MB? If I needed to go over that amount, would I still be billed at $.066/MB?

Yes to the first question. Yes to the second as well, but you'd have to add another $10 to the account before end of cycle. Puretalk USA's Simple 600 might be a good option as well, and they too are on the AT&T network... but I'd still lean towards US Mobile if the T-Mobile coverage works well for you.

Regarding hardware options, you mention in the superguide that it is Trivially easy to BYOD as they’re an AT&T GSM carrier. Is there an easy way to compare phones that fall into this category? I'd like a physical keyboard, though it isn't a dealbreaker, and I'm already familiar with Android and the Play store for apps. I don't mind switching to another OS if there is a good reason to do so, but I'm not sure how apps and app stores are handled outside Android and iOS.

There is. GSM Arena is a good option, as is Phone Scoop. Basically, any 3G GSM 850/1900MHz phone will work with either AT&T or T-Mobile. You don't start getting into squirrely data band requirements unless you're chasing after LTE data bands, and that's where AT&T and T-Mobile start to drift heavily.

As for physical keyboards, even I have finally accepted that the party is pretty well over. Blackberrys aren't worth it anymore, even if they're running BBOS10 or Android. Most of the old Nokias with physical keyboards at this point have been left broken network-wise with any useful mobile data services due to the SSL POODLE vulnerability, there's maybe the e72/e73 at this point, and it's just not worth the price premium. I finally just folded and gave up, and switched to Windows Phone. The touchscreen keyboard is decent (Biggest complaint about the Word Flow keyboard I have? My fingers don't always slide smoothly swiping on the touchscreen.), and the OS is the least terrible smartphone platform I've used as they seem to have taken the best parts of iOS and Android and combined it together with a consistent UI and an aggressively effective data restriction app. The app store is fine and works like every other one, though the major complaint there is that you can't remove apps that you've downloaded and didn't like as they stay in your app database, even uninstalled. I'm currently using a Lumia 435 (an entry level model). It and the 640 (midrange) are probably the two biggest bang for buck handsets going right now, used. You should be able to obtain an unlocked, used 640 for around $50-60 tops.

Glad to help as always, and hope this helps you out. Any other questions, let me know.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #445 on: August 02, 2016, 02:28:12 PM »
Thanks for the quick reply!

If T-Mobile only coverage is good for your area, look into US Mobile. It's like Ting's price structure, but better targeted price-wise for individual line accounts.

I can't find a non-4G coverage map for T-Mobile, but since I live in Phoenix, AZ, I doubt it'll be a problem.

US Mobile's offerings look really good. I assume it and Ting's "buckets" work the same way - if I go over a limit it just bumps me up to the next bucket? E.g. on US Mobile if I use 251 MB of data 1 month I get billed for the 500 MB data bucket?

There is. GSM Arena is a good option, as is Phone Scoop. Basically, any 3G GSM 850/1900MHz phone will work with either AT&T or T-Mobile. You don't start getting into squirrely data band requirements unless you're chasing after LTE data bands, and that's where AT&T and T-Mobile start to drift heavily.

LTE = 4G = high-bandwidth applications such as Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube, correct? I've mostly weaned myself off of mobile audio/video streaming, but if I wanted to show someone a video on YouTube, would I be able to do it on 3G?

As for physical keyboards, even I have finally accepted that the party is pretty well over.

That's a shame!

In a thread from September of last year you suggested these phones; from the URL I assume they meet the 3G GSM 850/1900MHz parameters you gave me above. Are they underpowered/obsolete/not ideal for my situation?

I finally just folded and gave up, and switched to Windows Phone. The touchscreen keyboard is decent (Biggest complaint about the Word Flow keyboard I have? My fingers don't always slide smoothly swiping on the touchscreen.), and the OS is the least terrible smartphone platform I've used as they seem to have taken the best parts of iOS and Android and combined it together with a consistent UI and an aggressively effective data restriction app. The app store is fine and works like every other one, though the major complaint there is that you can't remove apps that you've downloaded and didn't like as they stay in your app database, even uninstalled. I'm currently using a Lumia 435 (an entry level model). It and the 640 (midrange) are probably the two biggest bang for buck handsets going right now, used. You should be able to obtain an unlocked, used 640 for around $50-60 tops.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll keep an eye out for a used 640 on eBay.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #446 on: August 02, 2016, 04:23:10 PM »
I can't find a non-4G coverage map for T-Mobile, but since I live in Phoenix, AZ, I doubt it'll be a problem.

US Mobile's offerings look really good. I assume it and Ting's "buckets" work the same way - if I go over a limit it just bumps me up to the next bucket? E.g. on US Mobile if I use 251 MB of data 1 month I get billed for the 500 MB data bucket?

Yeah, the carriers like to confuse/hide what bands cover what areas. Regarding "4G" with T-Mobile, one must remember that they have "two" 4G services. One, which is actually 3.5G UMTS/HSPA+, and the other which is true 4G LTE. They're farming all their 1700/2100MHz AWS band service from HSPA+ to LTE, and they should actually be done with that by now. Basically, any GSM phone with LTE support for bands 2 and 4 will pretty much receive what signal T-Mobile is providing.

Unfortunately, it's not automated like Ting and Consumer Cellular are with going over on your plan settings. They'll notify you when you're running close to running out and you can purchase top-ups to provide more minutes/texts/data on the plan.

LTE = 4G = high-bandwidth applications such as Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube, correct? I've mostly weaned myself off of mobile audio/video streaming, but if I wanted to show someone a video on YouTube, would I be able to do it on 3G?

Absolutely. 3G HSPA+ data services are considered broadband and in the case of T-Mobile, are capable of up to 42Mbps. Basically, you're going to get plenty of throughput to stream if needed so long as you're not connected at 2G data speeds.

In a thread from September of last year you suggested these phones; from the URL I assume they meet the 3G GSM 850/1900MHz parameters you gave me above. Are they underpowered/obsolete/not ideal for my situation?

Those are getting harder to find, the prices aren't tracking lower, most of them are feature phones with many of them old enough to suffer from the same POODLE SSL issues that have bricked the older Nokias, and the remainder are Android handsets that you're only going to get moderately current and patched if its still supported by Cyanogenmod. Also, if you want to stream video to show people, you're just going to need a smartphone with a current OS.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll keep an eye out for a used 640 on eBay.

They're going for a good price, and the AT&T handsets support the key T-Mobile LTE bands that you're after.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #447 on: August 02, 2016, 06:43:45 PM »
Yeah, the carriers like to confuse/hide what bands cover what areas. Regarding "4G" with T-Mobile, one must remember that they have "two" 4G services. One, which is actually 3.5G UMTS/HSPA+, and the other which is true 4G LTE. They're farming all their 1700/2100MHz AWS band service from HSPA+ to LTE, and they should actually be done with that by now. Basically, any GSM phone with LTE support for bands 2 and 4 will pretty much receive what signal T-Mobile is providing.

I can't believe how nuanced the industry is. Is/was this part of your day job, or are you just an enthusiast? Either way, I'm glad you use your powers for good!

Unfortunately, it's not automated like Ting and Consumer Cellular are with going over on your plan settings. They'll notify you when you're running close to running out and you can purchase top-ups to provide more minutes/texts/data on the plan.

...

Absolutely. 3G HSPA+ data services are considered broadband and in the case of T-Mobile, are capable of up to 42Mbps. Basically, you're going to get plenty of throughput to stream if needed so long as you're not connected at 2G data speeds.

Good to know!

Those are getting harder to find, the prices aren't tracking lower, most of them are feature phones with many of them old enough to suffer from the same POODLE SSL issues that have bricked the older Nokias, and the remainder are Android handsets that you're only going to get moderately current and patched if its still supported by Cyanogenmod. Also, if you want to stream video to show people, you're just going to need a smartphone with a current OS.

Message received. Guess I'll stick to dreaming about physical keyboards.

They're going for a good price, and the AT&T handsets support the key T-Mobile LTE bands that you're after.

So, to summarize, I should be on the lookout for a used Lumia 640, specifically from AT&T for proper band support, specifically the prepaid version so I don't have to mess with unlocking it. I can stick a $4 SIM card from US Mobile in it and be on my way. I can use your used phone guide to mitigate risk when making my purchase. Any other tips/suggestions?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #448 on: August 02, 2016, 07:18:47 PM »
So, to summarize, I should be on the lookout for a used Lumia 640, specifically from AT&T for proper band support, specifically the prepaid version so I don't have to mess with unlocking it. I can stick a $4 SIM card from US Mobile in it and be on my way. I can use your used phone guide to mitigate risk when making my purchase. Any other tips/suggestions?

You'll need to be sure that the phone is already carrier unlocked, and most of the used market for the Lumia 640 is going to be used AT&T GoPhones that may or may not be carrier unlocked. If you want to use a T-Mo MVNO, you need it unlocked.

Otherwise, it looks like you got it nailed down.

Guess I'll stick to dreaming about physical keyboards.

I miss 'em, too...
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #449 on: August 02, 2016, 08:41:08 PM »
it looks like you got it nailed down.

Thanks again, Daley.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 02:06:03 PM by ofits »