Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2  (Read 4223 times)

Daley

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Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« on: January 15, 2018, 10:47:06 AM »
Welcome to the current discussion of the Son of the Communications Superguide.

For the sake of thread sanity, I've learned that it might be best to keep commentary separate from the core guide itself... which is why this is here. If you've got questions, comments, suggestions, or anything else related to the guide? Post it in this thread.

Previous discussion thread can be found here (locked).

Index

Introduction
Internet Service Providers
Cell Phone Providers
Home Telephone Providers
Home Entertainment
Closing & FAQ

The original Superguide (locked)

tj

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 06:32:46 PM »
There seems to be a new player, Lunar Wireless, which gives you free inbound calls and texts, and charged $0.25 per day for outbound usage or app usage. I don't know how what they are offering is sustainable.

https://lunarwireless.com/how-lunar-works
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With This Herring

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 08:21:21 PM »
Would you be bothered by their device requirements?
https://lunarwireless.com/shop
Quote
Can I use my existing phone with Lunar?
No. Lunarís Pay What You Want service relies on proprietary technology, and only works with phones purchased from our shop page.

It looks like this means you must purchase the phone directly from them as well, as opposed to just owning a specific model:
https://lunarwireless.com/terms-and-conditions/
Quote
14. 60 Day Limited Warranty.

a. Phones may be in new or refurbished condition upon delivery. The Phone has been adapted by Lunar to include; the App and the corresponding software technology.  Regardless of whether it contains a logo or other trademark of a third party, the Phone has been altered by Lunar through the removal of certain original technology and the installation of the App. Lunar, and not any other party, is responsible for the performance of the Phone, the App, and any corresponding software technology.

b. Lunar warrants for a period of 60 days from your date of purchase of the Phone, that the Phone, the App and the corresponding software technology will be fit for their particular purpose. In the event that the Phone, the App and the corresponding software technology do not perform as described within the 60 day warranty period, Lunar will, at its expense and in its sole discretion, do one of the following: (1) replace the defective Phone; (2) perform bug fixes on the App or the corresponding software technology; (3) use commercially reasonable efforts to correct any nonconformity of the Services; or (4) terminate these Terms and provide you up to a full refund for the Phone and any charges paid by you, less the charges for calls, text messages and other features of the App used by you.

And no tethering is permitted:
https://lunarwireless.com/terms-and-conditions/
Quote
7. Content and Your Use. You are solely responsible for your use of the Phone, the App, and the Services, and any other individual for which you purchase Phones and Services. Your telecommunications access may be affected by actions of Lunar based upon a customerís usage threshold (sometimes called ďcongestion managementĒ or ďspeed throttlingĒ), and by Lunar in terms of the size of the messages or data that you can send or receive, and the space your Account is allotted. You may not allow anyone else to use the Phone or the App (whether to make a call, send or receive a voice or text message, upload or download content, or whether connected to a computer): (a) for any unlawful purpose, (b) in any way which is, or is intended to be, malicious, fraudulent or hoax (including to the emergency services), (c) to breach the rights of any third party (for example, copyright), (d) to use the Phone as a modem to connect other devices to the Internet, including tethering (e) in any way which may damage or affect the operation or quality of Lunar, the Internet or any other telecommunications system. If you do not comply with any provision of this paragraph or the AUP, you shall be liable to Lunar for all liabilities, claims, and damages, losses and costs (including attorneysí fees and legal costs) which we may suffer as a result. You must tell us immediately if anyone makes or threatens to make any claim against you because of your use of the Phone and/or the Services.

What happens if Lunar changes their set of phones?  Would they require you to purchase a new one?  Would your old one, modified by Lunar, be easily resold?  I'm thinking they might be able to keep this sustainable by requiring you to buy a new Lunar-refurbished phone every few years.

I know little about these things, but this doesn't sound like such a good deal.
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tj

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 08:26:17 PM »
Wow, I read the T&C and didn't even notice some of those.

I guess it would only really be a cost efficient option for foreigners studying abroad here for a few months.
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alsoknownasDean

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2018, 06:06:02 AM »
Yeah it looks like they charge you on a per-app basis. Looks like they want to nickel and dime you 0.25 a time with each app (0.25 each for Facebook, a web browser, Spotify, Google Maps and a messaging app would add up, then add your bank's app or a news app). It wouldn't be so cheap once you add everything up.

The phones are designed exclusively for use on one carrier and can't be taken to another carrier. That level of vendor lock-in is antimustachian. If the carrier changes their prices or the service no longer suits your needs, rather than just putting in another SIM and continuing on your way, you're required to replace the phone. A significantly better option is for an phone that's either unlocked (or easily able to be unlocked), and can be used on multiple carriers.

Wow, I read the T&C and didn't even notice some of those.

I guess it would only really be a cost efficient option for foreigners studying abroad here for a few months.


I don't even think it'd be a great option for foreigners studying in the US. I know if I went to the US for a few months, I'd be wanting a US SIM to use in my existing phone, not spending hundreds of bucks on a new device (and if I did buy a new device, I'd want to be able to use it back home too).

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2018, 02:55:59 PM »
There seems to be a new player, Lunar Wireless, which gives you free inbound calls and texts, and charged $0.25 per day for outbound usage or app usage. I don't know how what they are offering is sustainable.

Herring and Dean already nailed it. It's pretty ugly no matter how you slice the service... especially when you consider their "flat data rate" per app per day. Why in the blue blazes would I spend money on a proprietary smartphone, and then spend up to $7.50 a month per app for email, IM client, web browser, GPS maps, etc., especially when I already get all those things for $2 and under 100MB in a month with my own phone now?

They're clearly exploiting the ability to prioritize data and restrict internet access now with this service. Thanks FCC. Forget that noise.

Wow, I read the T&C and didn't even notice some of those.

And, yes... when a deal sounds too good to be true, read the legal boilerplate. This is why I'm so discriminating on what providers get into the guide.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 02:58:32 PM by Daley »

geekette

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2018, 11:15:27 AM »
Quote from: geekette on January 11, 2018 (previous thread)
Speaking of Red Pocket, I bought their $10 sim plus 3 months package in December. Yes, it took several frustrating hours and lots of misinformation and corrections to get it started on their Verizon network, but eventually we got it working. 

A couple days later I noticed, though, that my online account said I was paid through 1/11, so I initiated a chat and was told thatís normal and it would automatically renew.

A week ago I got a text urging me to renew, so I chatted and was told again that it would automatically renew, and they would turn off the automatic texts.

Yesterday I got a text urging me to renew. Busy and tired of being reassured, I ignored it. This morning, of course, no service. Yet another chat quickly fixed it, but sheesh!  Anyway, it now says my month of service ends 2/11 (free bonus day - W00t), and Iím paid through 3/13, so I think itís working now.

I tell you, 500 minutes, 500 texts, and 500 meg for $10 is a bargain, as long as renewals go smoothly. Letís hope!

Aaaand a month later, I check online just to make sure I won't be disconnected in the morning, and my ending date has been reset to 2/21, lopping 3 weeks off my 3 month plan.  What the...

After 30+ minutes, a disconnect, reconnect, I'm told they will manually reset my plan tomorrow.  It really shouldn't be this hard.

Mongoose

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2018, 01:33:49 PM »
I've read the Superguide several times but am nearly tech illiterate so hopefully this isn't too dumb a question.

I use Verizon for my flip phone on a grandfathered plan with very little data (250 MB). I can't get a plan with no data. I text and call a fair bit but have 2 issues. We are in the boondocks and the service is spotty. As far as I know, I can't use my flip phone on wifi. And some of my kids activities only use fancy text messages that come through blank.

I think it might be helpful to have a smart phone that could get fancy texts while out and about and be used over wifi as a phone and maybe on the Internet while at home. I still don't think I need data unless txt messages are data as long as I can use wifi. Ditto for voice minutes. I have good wifi at home. I would be ok with getting this as a second number if the price was good. Am I searching for a unicorn?

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2018, 08:27:05 AM »
Am I searching for a unicorn?

On prepaid with Verizon? Yup. Verizon postpaid is the only Verizon network based plan that offers WiFi calling support for customers, which would require one of the short list of expensive smartphone handsets that supported the feature.

As for the "fancy text messages", those are MMS messages, which does require mobile data to use.

This said? Given you're on a feature phone with a grandfathered plan, I suspect it may be old enough that you're using a pre-LTE, CDMA only handset. The only way to be sure is to know the make and model number of the phone you're currently using. That means that your current representation of reception isn't consistent with what Verizon is actually currently offering. It also may not be as bad on other carriers as you used to remember, either, as AT&T and T-Mobile have been growing out their coverage maps with 4G LTE as well, which might open up some alternatives. I'm happy to check coverage maps for you if you supply a ZIP code in a private message.



It really shouldn't be this hard.

No, it shouldn't. Unfortunate to hear. Also why I caution against multi-month plan purchases.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 08:28:56 AM by Daley »

geekette

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2018, 01:18:58 PM »
It really shouldn't be this hard.

No, it shouldn't. Unfortunate to hear. Also why I caution against multi-month plan purchases.
It was a starter pack - $20 for a sim card and three months of service, so it won't happen again.  That said, their customer service is underwhelming. 

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2018, 01:42:17 PM »
It really shouldn't be this hard.

No, it shouldn't. Unfortunate to hear. Also why I caution against multi-month plan purchases.
It was a starter pack - $20 for a sim card and three months of service, so it won't happen again.  That said, their customer service is underwhelming.

That seems to be becoming far more common, and goes hand-in-hand with inventive sustained revenue streams. Used to be places like H2O and Red Pocket, despite their lower quality support compared to other smaller independents, was still at least a notch or two above America Movil.

I have to be honest, I believe the MVNO industry may be finally imploding. Enjoy it while it lasts.

historian

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2018, 10:19:06 AM »
I'm starting to dig into switching plans from Verizon (two of us, 100 a month, easy place to cut and contract is up in November).  My biggest issue is finding a CDMA compliant company so I don't have to buy a new phone!  Any recommendations?  I have a Galaxy S8, and DW has LG G2.

Thanks!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2018, 10:29:49 AM »
I'm starting to dig into switching plans from Verizon (two of us, 100 a month, easy place to cut and contract is up in November).  My biggest issue is finding a CDMA compliant company so I don't have to buy a new phone!  Any recommendations?  I have a Galaxy S8, and DW has LG G2.

Thanks!

US Mobile offers Verizon service without roaming with their "Super LTE" plans. There's also Selectel, but their prices haven't kept up with some of Verizon's reduced wholesale prices. Red Pocket has Verizon service as well, but reports from others trying to set service up and use it have shown furthering cracks in their support structure.

It also might be worth running the numbers. You might save more money buying out the remainder of your contract and switching now than sticking things out until November. Have a calculator to do that with.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 10:32:52 AM by Daley »

mushroom

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2018, 03:03:51 PM »
@Daley Would love your advice.

I currently have a 9 year-old T Mobile flipphone I've been very content with on a grandfathered prepaid plan I spend $25 a year on and use <250 minutes a year. I use Google Voice for most calls/texts from home or mostly use my husband's smartphone when we're out (he uses Google Fi).

However, this winter we moved to a new home where the T Mobile reception is terrible. My husband wants me to get a smartphone so that I can receive wifi calls at home (he especially wants to be able to call me when he's out) + in case of running into trouble when I'm out alone with our son. I am very directionally challenged so having access to maps and things is probably not a bad idea. My husband is very resistant to the idea of getting a landline.

I leave my cell phone off most of the time because I like being untethered from electronic devices, especially if I'm outside. But I don't know how my relationship with my phone would change if I got a smartphone, if I would be drawn into using more apps and things and start using my phone all the time.

Right now what I envision is fairly low usage of minutes and data, but I probably do want to have access to data just in case. I wouldn't want anything like Facebook on my phone, but maybe I would find some other apps actually useful? This is kind of silly, but one friend is always texting me Bitmoji pictures and I want to be able to send some back too? I clearly don't know very much about this.

What would you recommend for a phone and/or plan? Maybe something that I could incorporate pretty well with Google Voice and not feel like I have to have my phone with me all the time?

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2018, 08:57:01 PM »
@Daley Would love your advice.

I currently have a 9 year-old T Mobile flipphone I've been very content with on a grandfathered prepaid plan I spend $25 a year on and use <250 minutes a year. I use Google Voice for most calls/texts from home or mostly use my husband's smartphone when we're out (he uses Google Fi).

However, this winter we moved to a new home where the T Mobile reception is terrible.

Okay @mushroom, I'm gonna stop you right here, 'cause we need some serious coverage clarification. Thanks to @HarbingerofBunnies, I saw your post in your journal, and between that and your opening paragraph? We gotta put the brakes to this train and determine exactly what is what, and clarify a few things.

Buckle up, this'll be a long one with a lot of information. Read. Re-read. Be willing to ask questions. There will be technical jargon, but don't get lost in understanding the specifics if you don't - focus instead on the clear implications I've made about how these technical details impact you. The most potentially confusing technical jargon will be detailing specific radio frequencies and phone network standards. Bolded parts are basically the meat, everything else describes the why and how.

You say that T-Mobile coverage at your new place is terrible, but you're also using a phone that dates back to their 1900MHz 2G GSM era, maybe with possible 3G UMTS service support on the 1700/2100MHz bands, maybe with 1900MHz 3G as well. I don't know for certain, as I only have a phone age and not a specific model (not that it matters much). It's worth noting that almost all of T-Mobile's 3G UMTS service on the 1700/2100MHz bands has been turned off, with the bandwidth re-farmed out for 4G LTE service outside of a small handful of markets. The same is actively being done with their remaining 3G UMTS 1900MHz service outside of a small handful of markets. This means that outside of a minimum coverage 1900MHz 2G skeleton network they've promised to keep active for the time, there's not much left of T-Mobile's legacy network at this point. That is the tiny network you're using, and barely represents all of the T-Mobile network footprint.

The all-in 4G LTE plan T-Mobile has been unfolding the past couple years has pretty well screwed everyone with a phone older than about three years old and not built specifically (and T-Mobile branded) for receiving all of T-Mobile's new 4G LTE coverage and specifically has LTE band 12 voice support, which pretty much screws owners of nearly every single cheaper unbranded aftermarket, AT&T and Verizon unlocked handset used for voice calling on their network as well. Again, this means your phone is only using a fraction of the T-Mobile network at this point due to aggressive planned obsolescence and network fragmentation. Fortunately, you're not alone in this problem. Now, this doesn't mean that you still can't be right about moving into a terrible T-Mobile coverage area, but this is a very important point to note all the same. You can't determine your current T-Mobile coverage at your new house based on your decade old phone due to a lot of real technical and messy network rejiggering.

Got it? Good. Let's keep going...

Now, you mentioned your husband uses Google Fi. Are you aware that Fi's primary home network is considered T-Mobile, and that as far as Sprint and US Mobile coverage is concerned, they're considered roaming networks? Do you know which network he's primarily using for coverage at your home and in your area? Is he still satisfied with Google Fi and has no desire to leave, or could he be persuaded off to another carrier? These are important questions to ask. We need to determine if T-Mobile coverage at your home actually is terrible, or if it's just your phone; and we need to know how flexible your husband is willing to be to maximize savings for both mobile phones as there could be advantages to going multi-line setup depending on his average usage given how little you use.

Next, let's just complicate things a little further and reference the post that brought you here to begin with. Republic Wireless. Republic used to be an awful proprietary VoIP over data "mobile" phone provider using Sprint's network first two generations of service, now they're just another privacy invasive T-Mobile MVNO offering WiFi calling and a gimmicky data billing model. If Republic's billing model and WiFi calling fallback makes you swoon that much, Google Fi is the superior option, and a second line with Fi will cost about the same as a separate Republic line - and we're not even considering the incredibly terrible idea of just using a data-only SIM to share the data on the existing Fi account, use Google Voice over that data, and run the risk of being royally hosed not being able to call 911 in the case of an emergency; but it is an even cheaper option still if you really want to taunt Murphy and his law and ignore the sound advice of paying for what you need. The only difference is Google's handset selection is a bit more limited, partly because of how many mobile networks they roam onto.

If T-Mo coverage is okay, and you just want/need WiFi calling as well, then that also opens up Ultra Mobile, Ting along with Consumer Cellular (using either of their T-Mobile SIM cards, though Ting and CC are only a good deal with two lines or more), and US Mobile (hopefully finally) going live itself with the feature sometime this year. You'll note, however, that the only MVNOs that offer "broad" WiFi calling support beyond just iPhones... are T-Mobile based - whether they roam or not. Even if you venture off the guide's beaten path, you'll note that even MetroPCS offers WiFi calling, but MetroPCS is owned by - you guessed it - T-Mobile. You noticing a pattern here?

This means needing to buy one of the small assortment of T-Mobile VoLTE Band 12 certified handsets available that also support WiFi calling if you want better coverage than you got already with any T-Mo MVNO.

So that brings us to the next two questions: How important is WiFi calling to you, and do you understand that WiFi calling with any of these carriers is considered billed as part of your used minutes?

I ask this because you originally were angling for Republic, and you mentioned WiFi calling at home. Clearly this seems to be an important feature for your husband, though it's hardly a necessary one even if a home phone is off the table (even a VoIP based one) so long as your primary mobile carrier provides sufficient coverage in your house. Proper UMA/GAN over WiFi calling support on a phone is a beautiful thing, and a handy thing that I myself love and have used in the past with my trusty rusty Lumia 435, but it is also a pretty unnecessary thing outside of Sprint and T-Mobile coverage maps unless you're deep in the belly of a building or only have 2G GSM voice and data coverage left with T-Mobile's network in your area due to the phone you own. *cough-lumia-435-cough*

We can keep talking plans and options here, but them's some questions and points to ponder that will greatly impact the quality of advice I can share.

My husband wants me to get a smartphone so that I can receive wifi calls at home (he especially wants to be able to call me when he's out) + in case of running into trouble when I'm out alone with our son. I am very directionally challenged so having access to maps and things is probably not a bad idea. My husband is very resistant to the idea of getting a landline.

It's a shame about his feelings on a home phone. There's really cheap ways of integrating GV with VoIP/SIP service and ATA devices such as the Obi200 that even let you still get E911 service.

If you must get a smartphone, it's not difficult to get offline maps for them anymore. No data usage required! Bonus savings.

This said, GPS drivers can frequently be dangerous because they turn off their brains and let the phone's voice prompts drive for them, which additionally diminishes their internal geographic memory and situational awareness. Take the time to actually study the paper maps of your area, learn the basics of navigation, and drive unassisted by GPS whenever possible. When and if you do use GPS from this point, double up on your situational awareness and be willing to ignore its directions and yelling at you if it compromises your safety, which it inevitably will. If my 68 year old mother, who my father gave up on trying to teach her how to navigate decades ago (I might add), can learn to do it oldskool....

Do the world and your family a favor, don't become another GPS zombie driver.

If you do anyway, understand that any cheap Android handset or tablet with a GPS chipset and enough offline storage for maps, even without a SIM card and service, can now act as an offline GPS for a lot cheaper than a dedicated Garmin.

I leave my cell phone off most of the time because I like being untethered from electronic devices, especially if I'm outside. But I don't know how my relationship with my phone would change if I got a smartphone, if I would be drawn into using more apps and things and start using my phone all the time.

Oh, it will change unless you consciously make an effort against it. It will change rapidly, and for the worse. Give the book Irresistible by Adam Alter a read, look over the attached infographic, and give the thread @Syonyk started on minimizing smartphone usage a read if you really want to go down the smartphone rabbit hole, which you will, if WiFi calling and GPS navigation are non-negotiables.

Right now what I envision is fairly low usage of minutes and data, but I probably do want to have access to data just in case. I wouldn't want anything like Facebook on my phone, but maybe I would find some other apps actually useful? This is kind of silly, but one friend is always texting me Bitmoji pictures and I want to be able to send some back too? I clearly don't know very much about this.

What would you recommend for a phone and/or plan? Maybe something that I could incorporate pretty well with Google Voice and not feel like I have to have my phone with me all the time?

Regarding Bitmoji, don't let it draw you in. Take a couple steps back from the app and ask yourself, "Is this service really necessary to enable effective communication, or is it just some stupid bauble spread through peer pressure that's designed to waste my time and mobile data and datamine the living daylights out of me?" You seem to have a common thread about wanting to keep mostly technology free, stuff like this and smartphones are anathema to that position.

On the table, if you seriously want to keep usage to a stark minimalist situation like you have in the past with a simple phone, is always Truphone SIM (assuming good AT&T network coverage in your area); which if you disable mobile data except for absolute emergencies and MMS, could keep you in line with your past mobile costs and give you both AT&T and T-Mobile coverage as well as potential international roaming, even with a smartphone set with extreme discipline and anti-mobile data prejudice. It would also let you keep using a newer, carrier unlocked domestic 850/1900MHz (such as AT&T's ZTE 223 flip phone, carrier unlocked) or international 850/900/1800/1900MHz (such as AT&T's LG B470 flip phone, again carrier unlocked) 3G UMTS feature phone while still offering excellent coverage. AT&T is looking to be the last network to let you do that with reasonable coverage in this nation as everyone else is slowly shutting down and forcing customers over to 4G VoLTE services for phone calls, which means no more actual weeks long battery life feature phones.

You can always have your Google Voice calls and texts forwarded to the phone. Even if your phone doesn't support a GV/Hangouts app, you can still integrate surprisingly well by using GV's call/text forwarding functions and the callback numbers attached to those texts. You can also set up GV with a calling-card style autodialer as well for outbound calls where you don't have the contact's "alternate" GV callback number. It's a lot easier with a shorter list of contacts, but still doable. It's how I handle GV contacts on my Windows Phone without skipping a beat.

Of course, beyond that, you're going to be looking at spending at least $10/month most places anymore for a mobile line. At that point and given so many of the existing priorities without other knowledge and a firm entrenching in the Googleplex given both your entanglement with them already... no matter how much I want to scream on a mountaintop and tell you to run away or coach you through a whole mess of options after you answer the above questions, a second line with Fi is probably your best - though not cheapest - choice. That also pretty well dictates what sort of phone to buy as well.

There's two obvious options here, though. One that you'd probably be happy with, and another that your husband would prefer. One will take a $40 or less phone and maybe $30/year to run. The other a $250+ phone and $15/month to run. One that mostly leaves your life unchanged. One that could transform your life. There's middle ground as well, but it just complicates things further. Let me know if I can help or clarify anything, and do let me know what you decide.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 10:01:12 PM by Daley »

mushroom

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2018, 03:52:32 PM »
@Daley That was incredible! I was seriously blown away by that; thank you so much!

First, Tmobile coverage: I am basing this on the fact that we live in the same neighborhood as my in-laws and in general it seems like cell reception within our particular neighborhood is not very good (I think something about its geography) and T-mobile is especially bad. My husband had a Tmobile smartphone in the past and was never able to get any signal at my in-laws' when he visited. Since we visit our in-laws a lot, I would probably want to make sure I have either wifi calling or decent reception there, although they do have a landline as a fallback. I should ask them what they use now. I also have a close by neighbor who currently has a TMobile smartphone that mentioned only being able to use wifi calling from home since she gets no cell reception in her house. I am trying to make decent friends with several neighbors, so I wonder if I should value more a not-TMobile network when I'm visiting their houses assuming that I'm not going to be asking about everyone's wifi password. However, outside of our particular neighborhood, I think more generally TMobile within our city is fine.

The main reason my husband has Google Fi is that he loved the international features - we spent multiple months traveling around Europe last year, and I could see us still doing a decent amount of international travel in the future. He had thought about switching carriers when his other phone broke recently, but now that he has a new phone that he bought just a couple months ago, I doubt he's that interested in changing carriers currently. The main reason I hadn't really considered going for Google Fi myself before is the cost of the phone. We have a 2 year-old, and I don't want to have to be nervous about breaking a fancy device, and it seems rather excessive for what I really need and how much I would want to use it. But obviously you're right that over the long run the cost could become reasonable thanks to the cheaper second line. As long as I don't break the phone too early on :P.

I think you are picking up on my personal desire to continue in dumbphoneland. It feels very freeing currently when I see how attached/absorbed other people are with their cell phones, and I could see myself getting drawn into smartphone addiction, although I understand there are measures I could take to prevent that (thanks for your links). I am looking into a change because my husband has trouble reaching me sometimes, whether it's because I get crappy reception when we're out or because I have very little reception at home. So the potential change is mostly because of my husband + me seeing maybe some utility for safety reasons and a tiny bit of being able to use certain coupons and things.

My husband definitely agrees with you about the GPS thing, but he also has a superb sense of direction and can "sniff out" almost anything. I'm fine trying to navigate by map mostly, but I could see 1) having a smartphone with at least offline maps for backup 2) having GPS available when it involves a lot of turns among small roads to a new place being useful for me. I am also a very below average driver with very poor spatial awareness so I imagine GPS could be useful for helping me back once I take a wrong turn - I may or may not have a history of driving for very long periods of time in very wrong directions before.

I am intrigued by the ATA device you mentioned. I know very little about this, but maybe I could convince my husband along these lines. I would love not having to keep a mobile device on at home. I think he's afraid of getting a lot of junk calls at home, especially overnight, but if there's something cheap we can easily control/screen/automatically turn off overnight, I could see convincing him. Can you tell me a little more? Do I need to buy a land phone to go with it then?

However, from what you're telling me, at the very least I should probably upgrade my current phone to something different because of the crappy network :(. But it works and it's soooo cheap and the battery lasts for weeks with my minimal usage! It's a Samsung SGH T139, in case you're curious, which you were correct in assuming is 1900 MHz 2G (not that I actually know what that means :P).

As far as how important wifi calling is to me, obviously if I get a carrier with decent cell reception at home, it becomes less important, but I think it also depends on what kind of plan I have and whether I'm paying for unlimited calling/whether I get charged for wifi calls, etc.

I think the first decision I need to make is whether I really need a smartphone. Part of me really wants to go with a landline type thing and a minimalist phone if I can convince husband, and maybe down the road think about Google Fi, especially if we end up doing more travel and if they start offering cheaper phones? I will definitely keep you updated on what I decide and how I like it. Thank you so much for your detailed advice!!
« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 03:58:49 PM by mushroom »

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2018, 05:53:06 PM »
@Daley That was incredible! I was seriously blown away by that; thank you so much!

I do what I can to help others with the knowledge and talents HaShem grants me, @mushroom. If there's truly any good there, it's not me.

First, Tmobile coverage: I am basing this on the fact that we live in the same neighborhood as my in-laws and in general it seems like cell reception within our particular neighborhood is not very good (I think something about its geography) and T-mobile is especially bad. My husband had a Tmobile smartphone in the past and was never able to get any signal at my in-laws' when he visited. Since we visit our in-laws a lot, I would probably want to make sure I have either wifi calling or decent reception there, although they do have a landline as a fallback. I should ask them what they use now. I also have a close by neighbor who currently has a TMobile smartphone that mentioned only being able to use wifi calling from home since she gets no cell reception in her house. I am trying to make decent friends with several neighbors, so I wonder if I should value more a not-TMobile network when I'm visiting their houses assuming that I'm not going to be asking about everyone's wifi password. However, outside of our particular neighborhood, I think more generally TMobile within our city is fine.

All these anecdotes bring up a point worth re-iterating that I was not so subtly hinting at. It's a biased sample without much control. You haven't mentioned that your husband has any reception issues with his Fi phone at home or out and about off WiFi. Although it can and does roam onto Sprint and USCC outside of WiFi hotspots, its primary mobile network is T-Mobile. When someone tells me that T-Mobile reception is bad yet Fi (or especially third gen Republic) coverage is fine, that raises an eyebrow with me and inspires the response, "You don't say?"

This clearly leads to the inevitable question given the details. We have successful Fi usage (though that's not a great marker as has been explained why), and given how quickly the VoLTE transition has occurred on their network (especially in light of T-Mobile selling new handsets without this support built into it as little as 20 months ago)... we then have to ask: Of all your T-Mobile based family and neighbors in this neighborhood of yours who have reception problems even if they have WiFi calling support on their handsets - how many of them actually have phones with Band 12 VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calling support?

This is why I felt it important to find out how your husband's voice and network coverage is on Fi, and see which network his phone is defaulting to in the area and at home. For you see, his phone has Band 12 VoLTE support now, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that his previous phone did not. It's also possible that most all your neighbors have terrible T-Mo coverage in the area because nobody you know has Band 12 VoLTE support on their phones either and everyone's trying to crowd onto the overtaxed 2G 1900MHz PCS towers in the area, which has terrible building penetration anyway because of the frequency it utilizes (lower frequency = deeper building penetration, one of the reasons why T-Mo is doing the 700MHz spectrum push with Band 12 VoLTE calling).

Now, if one or more of them has an iPhone 6s or newer bought through T-Mobile and still has problems as well (though even here, it's worth noting that iPhone antennas have some of the worst designs in the industry and most other smartphone models will get reception in places they won't - so maybe we should make that a Galaxy S7 or newer), we'll definitely talk the possibility of bad coverage in the neighborhood, which means needing a primary network that's not T-Mobile... but until we hit that point? I still feel like we're dealing with Schrodinger's cat here existing in a state of quazi-sorta-un-death. I already gave you a link to the list of Band 12 capable handsets, check their phones against it.

If Fi works and T-Mobile is confirmed bad after finally opening the box on the cat and WiFi calling support just has to happen, it's just extra evidence to not go with a non-roaming T-Mo based provider for your area. So long list of cheaper WiFi capable handsets and MVNOs (including even Republic). Hello again Fi and your ridiculously expensive fragile handsets that could actually pay off lifetime chattel slavery debts in some undeveloped countries.

The main reason my husband has Google Fi is that he loved the international features - we spent multiple months traveling around Europe last year, and I could see us still doing a decent amount of international travel in the future. He had thought about switching carriers when his other phone broke recently, but now that he has a new phone that he bought just a couple months ago, I doubt he's that interested in changing carriers currently. The main reason I hadn't really considered going for Google Fi myself before is the cost of the phone. We have a 2 year-old, and I don't want to have to be nervous about breaking a fancy device, and it seems rather excessive for what I really need and how much I would want to use it. But obviously you're right that over the long run the cost could become reasonable thanks to the cheaper second line. As long as I don't break the phone too early on :P.

I think you are picking up on my personal desire to continue in dumbphoneland. It feels very freeing currently when I see how attached/absorbed other people are with their cell phones, and I could see myself getting drawn into smartphone addiction, although I understand there are measures I could take to prevent that (thanks for your links). I am looking into a change because my husband has trouble reaching me sometimes, whether it's because I get crappy reception when we're out or because I have very little reception at home. So the potential change is mostly because of my husband + me seeing maybe some utility for safety reasons and a tiny bit of being able to use certain coupons and things.

*cough cough* Truphone SIM. *cough cough* International roaming. *cough cough* Minimalistic PAYGO service with free inbound minutes and SMS even in the United States. *cough cough* Couples great with Google Voice. *cough cough* Already not T-Mobile coverage. *cough cough* You can use cheap flip phones. *cough cough*

*gasps for air and feels his throat go raspy* Don't make me go all Joe Ross on you here! OOH! OOH!

My husband definitely agrees with you about the GPS thing, but he also has a superb sense of direction and can "sniff out" almost anything. I'm fine trying to navigate by map mostly, but I could see 1) having a smartphone with at least offline maps for backup 2) having GPS available when it involves a lot of turns among small roads to a new place being useful for me. I am also a very below average driver with very poor spatial awareness so I imagine GPS could be useful for helping me back once I take a wrong turn - I may or may not have a history of driving for very long periods of time in very wrong directions before.

Tabling this point, but just a reminder that you could get a "dedicated" junk smartphone for GPS only and not bother with phone service in the thing if you just want to have a GPS handy in your purse/glovebox/etc.

I am intrigued by the ATA device you mentioned. I know very little about this, but maybe I could convince my husband along these lines. I would love not having to keep a mobile device on at home. I think he's afraid of getting a lot of junk calls at home, especially overnight, but if there's something cheap we can easily control/screen/automatically turn off overnight, I could see convincing him. Can you tell me a little more? Do I need to buy a land phone to go with it then?

If you're already using Google Voice, you already know about the call screening capabilities and the do not disturb settings which takes care of the very concerns he has. And actually, there are other VoIP providers that offer similar settings as part of the core service as well (such as VOIPo, VOIP.ms and Phone Power). But we're just talking about an ATA device that's specifically designed to take that GV account off of the computer and onto a physical telephone for home use. Couple it with a cheap cordless Vtech DECT handset or an old house phone you already have kicking around in a closet or drawer, and you've got the ability to make and receive calls over GV in your home without having a computer or smartphone running. All in a $40 box.

Of course, you can't make 911 calls with the service, but if you pay for a second account through say VOIP.ms and set up an account with E911 support, that fixes that problem for about $2 a month and gives you a backup home phone number that you can restrict and whitelist inbound calls from as a fallback for when GV isn't working (it happens) and your cell phone is turned off. You could even set it up as the secondary outbound account and set the Caller ID to the GV number just so you don't confuse others by showing a home phone number that you almost never use. There's also the power outage problem, but that too can be circumvented by attaching it and your home internet and network equipment to an uniterrupted power supply (UPS). More details on these sorts of setups are covered in the unabridged guide on my website.

However, from what you're telling me, at the very least I should probably upgrade my current phone to something different because of the crappy network :(. But it works and it's soooo cheap and the battery lasts for weeks with my minimal usage! It's a Samsung SGH T139, in case you're curious, which you were correct in assuming is 1900 MHz 2G (not that I actually know what that means :P).

I know, I know. The problem is, if you upgrade and stay with T-Mo Prepaid, you run into two problems: 1) Their only "feature phone" is an $80 KaiOS based monstrosity (more on this in a second) with VoLTE and WiFi calling; and 2) Your old SIM card won't work in the new phone for a number of reasons, which means transferring the account to a new SIM card for activation and use will result in you losing your old grandfathered plan.

Then you're stuck with them another year before they'll even let you unlock the thing and take it elsewhere if you even feel inclined to keep it in the first place.

Feature phones are becoming a thing of the past in this country (yet not the rest of the world). Any VoLTE capable "feature phone" on the market now isn't. It's either stripped down Android or KaiOS, and both are huge resource hogs needing ridiculous processing power, and battery life stinks for it. The AT&T models I recommended you are two of the last remaining of the pre-smartphone, oldskool, long battery charge variety. Couple it with a PAYGO MVNO that uses AT&T's network, charges 9Ę/min/SMS/MB out, gives you free inbound minutes and SMS, gives you international roaming, and only requires you to use the phone once a month to keep the account and balance active... OOH! OOH! What was that about Truphone SIM again?

As far as how important wifi calling is to me, obviously if I get a carrier with decent cell reception at home, it becomes less important, but I think it also depends on what kind of plan I have and whether I'm paying for unlimited calling/whether I get charged for wifi calls, etc.

Again, look into AT&T coverage. This said, if you already use GV as your primary contact number and you set GV up to forward both to your cell phone (and your cell phone to forward to your GV voicemail box) and have it set up with an Obi200 at home...

What's that? One number? Rings both places? No smartphones or computers needed? Hmmm.

I think the first decision I need to make is whether I really need a smartphone. Part of me really wants to go with a landline type thing and a minimalist phone if I can convince husband, and maybe down the road think about Google Fi, especially if we end up doing more travel and if they start offering cheaper phones? I will definitely keep you updated on what I decide and how I like it. Thank you so much for your detailed advice!!

Good place to start. Obviously, I've laid out options to let you keep doing what you'd prefer while addressing the hubby's "concerns" at the same time. Best part is, it's cheap. Really cheap. And even gives you the same international globetrotter advantages with a tiny little flip phone that he has by paying for his schmancy Google powered pocket supercomputer.

If you get a really cheap carrier unlocked, AT&T/international capable smartyphone to use as your GPS, that also gives you a smartphone backup that you could throw the Truphone SIM card into for the rare occasions where you might actually need a smartphone, just be sure to keep the mobile data off and configured for not to use mobile data in the first place (advice on that here). Just another thought.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 06:31:10 PM by Daley »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2018, 08:24:26 PM »
I see a lot of references to Wi-Fi calling.

Surely Wi-Fi calling is a last resort in case no carrier has service. After trying a device with updated network support, wouldn't the next step be to try another carrier?

I do realise that switching between networks is harder in the US than in many other countries, due to the whole CDMA thing and weird unique 3G and 4G bands for each carrier.

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Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2018, 08:44:52 PM »
I see a lot of references to Wi-Fi calling.

Yeah, it's a stop-gap and the fact that it's so popular in the US shows how lousy coverage really is. Not that we need more RF pollution in our lives.

Surely Wi-Fi calling is a last resort in case no carrier has service. After trying a device with updated network support, wouldn't the next step be to try another carrier?

That's normally how it should work.

I do realise that switching between networks is harder in the US than in many other countries, due to the whole CDMA thing and weird unique 3G and 4G bands for each carrier.

And it's only getting worse with LTE and the push by everyone to shut down both CDMA and the older pre-LTE GSM networks here. Yay fragmentation! Yay expensive phones with crappy antennas trying to handle too many frequencies! *sigh* 5G rollout and expansion into millimeter wave territory is where I'm calling it quits with all this meshugas. It's just getting absurd, and rapidly turning into a liability and quagmire. When that time comes around? If you need me, I'll probably be in my cave eating twigs and bark, ranting about the lobotomized "magic people" and their enslavement to their glowing bricks.

I'm kidding.

Maybe.

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Now, Dean, you know you can turn that off. :p
« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 08:50:27 PM by Daley »

historian

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2018, 08:00:57 AM »
US Mobile offers Verizon service without roaming with their "Super LTE" plans. There's also Selectel, but their prices haven't kept up with some of Verizon's reduced wholesale prices. Red Pocket has Verizon service as well, but reports from others trying to set service up and use it have shown furthering cracks in their support structure.

It also might be worth running the numbers. You might save more money buying out the remainder of your contract and switching now than sticking things out until November. Have a calculator to do that with.

Thanks for the tips!  We can't get out of our plan until November (very cost prohibitive), but we will probably go to US Mobile.  For both of us it would save us about 30 bucks.

mushroom

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2018, 10:48:28 AM »
Daley, thanks for your feedback!

I broached the subject this morning with my husband, and the first conversation did not go well. But that doesn't mean that we can't have another conversation! I think he thinks I'm being weird and difficult and stubborn (which, ok, maybe I am) by going through all these convolutions to avoid a smartphone.

Dean, I think another advantage of Wifi calling I haven't mentioned before is that we do a fair amount of camping, especially out West in rural areas that just don't get great cell reception period. So it is nice when you can get wifi access in a ranger station or some such once in a while to make calls. But yes, I understand that this should be a relatively small point compared to daily usage. We were nomadic on a prolonged road trip for most of 2016 so this was more relevant then, but husband especially valued wifi calling then and while we were abroad.

Daley, I asked husband about the network he's on and he hasn't really monitored it. When he looked at his phone at home today, it showed 2 or 3 bars on the "Fi Network" which I assume is probably T-mobile, but I don't know if it's obvious when he's roaming or not. I do recall that he's used Bluetooth to make calls within the car in our neighborhood without a problem, so I'm guessing that I would be fine with TMobile on a 12 band volte phone. There's been a few days here and there when he seemed to have problems with dropping calls, but it's mostly been fine. This was a while back, but when he was on Republic Wireless at our in-laws years ago, I seem to recall he could only be on the wireless connection and wasn't getting a cell signal there. But like you said, the big difference may be having a volte capable phone. You've convinced me that TMobile on a volte phone is probably fine here.

Speaking of volte phones, it pained me to see the prices on the link you sent on the TMobile website. I am clearly living in my own little lalaland after spending less than $20 on my current phone many years ago and since my last several computers have all been under $150.

Husband is resistant to me going for Google Fi since the upfront cost of the phone is so high. I probably agree.

Re: ATA device - does it take up any bandwidth when calls are not coming through? We've been having problems with slow internet speeds and bluetooth interference with our sound speaker, so my husband is suspicious of adding yet another device, but honestly, I think the main issue is that we're on the overcrowded 2.5 MHz and we need to switch to 5 MHz except my current computer does not support it (which I need to replace ASAP anyway because it's literally falling apart with the screen separating from the keyboard and I can't even close it. But I digress).

What I'm currently thinking if I can convince husband:

1. Get an Obi 200 that solves the immediate problem of lack of home reception.
2. Take my time in eventually transitioning to a different relatively cheap phone with better coverage. I'm not in a rush since I have plenty of minutes on my current phone and it works fine for me, especially once we get the home problem solved. A smartphone just for GPS coverage in the car is very intriguing, but unless it's very cheap, I think it may make more sense to just buy a new phone that includes GPS to keep things simple. I'm inclined to go for a fairly cheap smartphone and a fairly minimalist plan (huh? Did you say something about a Truphone whatsit? ;) You might need a drink of water. :P) If not, I might go for the ATT flipphones you recommended.

Thanks again for all of your very helpful advice!! I have a lot to mull over. By the way, on your website the link to your Amazon shop was broken - do you have a referral link for me to use if I buy off Amazon?
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 10:52:56 AM by mushroom »

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2018, 12:13:30 PM »
I broached the subject this morning with my husband, and the first conversation did not go well. But that doesn't mean that we can't have another conversation! I think he thinks I'm being weird and difficult and stubborn (which, ok, maybe I am) by going through all these convolutions to avoid a smartphone.

Are they really, convolutions, though? ;)

We're really not talking a huge change to avoid a smartphone, just the addition of what would basically be a free house phone outside of equipment costs that when combined with the cost of a "new" flip phone, would still cost less than a new smartphone, not go as obsolete as quick, be more robust around children, and yield a much lower recurring cost with little change in your daily routine while increasing your contact-ability. That seems like a win everyone can get behind!

Daley, I asked husband about the network he's on and he hasn't really monitored it. When he looked at his phone at home today, it showed 2 or 3 bars on the "Fi Network" which I assume is probably T-mobile, but I don't know if it's obvious when he's roaming or not. I do recall that he's used Bluetooth to make calls within the car in our neighborhood without a problem, so I'm guessing that I would be fine with TMobile on a 12 band volte phone. There's been a few days here and there when he seemed to have problems with dropping calls, but it's mostly been fine. This was a while back, but when he was on Republic Wireless at our in-laws years ago, I seem to recall he could only be on the wireless connection and wasn't getting a cell signal there. But like you said, the big difference may be having a volte capable phone. You've convinced me that TMobile on a volte phone is probably fine here.

If we're talking old Republic Wireless back when they were trying to do their VoIP+Sprint hybrid monstrosity, this adds another check to the T-Mobile is probably fine list, because Sprint really hasn't expanded their network much over the years, just refarmed bandwidth. There's a way to dig into the deep deep settings of an Android phone to know what network you're actually on, but it might be easier to just check using Signal Spy (caution, adware) just so you know.

At this point, I'm figuring either your T-Mo 700MHz LTE coverage is fine and that's what Fi is primarily using, or you live in USCC territory and somehow they're the dominant player in your region. As someone who lives in a USCC region and seen how "dominant" their network is outside of rural BFE territories? I'm not holding my breath on this one.

Speaking of volte phones, it pained me to see the prices on the link you sent on the TMobile website. I am clearly living in my own little lalaland after spending less than $20 on my current phone many years ago and since my last several computers have all been under $150.

Husband is resistant to me going for Google Fi since the upfront cost of the phone is so high. I probably agree.

Yeah, it's gotten pretty ridiculous. The market is charging the greatest price the people will tolerate, and conditioning them to keep doing it every 18-24 months. Capitalism!

It's a real shame Windows Mobile is on its way out. It's still a great platform, and still better than Android or iOS, IMHO, as it's a smartphone designed for people who want a communications tool instead of a toy. I paid $18 used for my Lumia 435 nearly two years ago, and I will keep using it until I can't (fortunately, I'm in one of the rare T-Mo markets that didn't get the 700MHz LTE expansion, so we still have decent 3G coverage here on the 1900MHz PCS band, and we don't travel out of state often). The wife feels the same way, partly because it's played better with her work's Outlook mail server than any other phone she's owned - including Android. They both have WiFi calling capability with T-Mo, and both run Windows 10. It will be a sad day that we have to give these things up. They've been little tanks.

The problem is, regarding Fi phone pricing? Any phone that you want if you're doing a T-Mobile MVNO is going to be that way because of Band 12 VoLTE and WiFi calling support. The cheap phones are terrible, so you need the pricier ones to not stink at their primary function of voice calls, and Android is just now catching up the past three years or so hardware-wise to properly handle these technologies without choking on it (VoIP technology on Android used to be awful). So in reality, they're not that much more expensive.

UMA/GAN and VoLTE spec are pretty old. Really old, especially with regard to WiFi calling. Yet, we're just now seeing "mainstream" adoption? Like I said, Windows Mobile? (*tips a 40*) Worked for years with this technology with phone hardware that's gutless by today's standards. Blackberry? (*tips another 40*) Same. Nokia Symbian? (*tips one last 40*) Ditto. UMA/GAN (WiFi calling) goes back over a decade to the finalized 3G standard in 2005. VoLTE may not have been the dominant approach to voice with the initial 4G spec, but it was expected given 4G required voice traffic to be VoIP packet based in the first place, and has been in service for five years now.

What I'm saying is, in addition to simplifying "support" on Republic's end, despite the fact that their T-Mo service would technically work with any T-Mobile certified WiFi capable phone, with or without LTE band 12? They narrowed the supported phone list down to the ones that don't stink as much and can still get voice coverage. They're at least good for something in knowing what smartphones you should probably be looking at if you want any sort of decent handset on T-Mobile's network. As it is though, there's only about 37 Android handsets currently available that work with T-Mo's current network anyway that are billed as even being able to support WiFi calling now, the rest are iPhones (which have WiFi calling crippled and won't work on T-Mo MVNOs), a lone "feature" phone, and one lone Windows Lumia 640. Told you T-Mo screwed their customers over here.

I may dislike doing business directly with AT&T to the point that I've personally blacklisted them in my life, but there's a reason why I've been steering people to AT&T MVNOs for the most part. They're the least terrible mobile network operator in this country right now and the easiest to keep hardware costs low with for the time... and that's saying a lot.

Re: ATA device - does it take up any bandwidth when calls are not coming through? We've been having problems with slow internet speeds and bluetooth interference with our sound speaker, so my husband is suspicious of adding yet another device, but honestly, I think the main issue is that we're on the overcrowded 2.5 MHz and we need to switch to 5 MHz except my current computer does not support it (which I need to replace ASAP anyway because it's literally falling apart with the screen separating from the keyboard and I can't even close it. But I digress).

The ATA is a hard-wired network device, no wireless bandwidth necessary.... not that it'd use much even with an active call. 56kbps is technically plenty for a VoIP call so long as latency isn't an issue. If you can successfully make a GV call from your laptop, you'll be fine.

What I'm currently thinking if I can convince husband:

1. Get an Obi 200 that solves the immediate problem of lack of home reception.
2. Take my time in eventually transitioning to a different relatively cheap phone with better coverage. I'm not in a rush since I have plenty of minutes on my current phone and it works fine for me, especially once we get the home problem solved. A smartphone just for GPS coverage in the car is very intriguing, but unless it's very cheap, I think it may make more sense to just buy a new phone that includes GPS to keep things simple. I'm inclined to go for a fairly cheap smartphone and a fairly minimalist plan (huh? Did you say something about a Truphone whatsit? ;) You might need a drink of water. :P) If not, I might go for the ATT flipphones you recommended.

Sounds like a plan. Just be careful, Android smartphones and PAYGO data frequently don't mix well unless you leave mobile data turned off all the time. It's like they're designed to make you spend more money on phone service. The nicest smartphone platform I ever dealt with on restricted mobile data has been Windows Mobile... but even then, it is still about 50MB/month leaving data on. Nothing but old feature phones will keep your data usage low to non-existent without turning data off entirely. Also, get used to plugging in a smartphone nightly if you do.

Thanks again for all of your very helpful advice!! I have a lot to mull over. By the way, on your website the link to your Amazon shop was broken - do you have a referral link for me to use if I buy off Amazon?

I missed taking down one of the links? D'oh! Amazon discontinued the aStore program a few months back. I'm strictly donation these days, and have seriously considered even just taking that down given how few donations I've gotten the past couple years. It's really never been about the money so much as just the helping.... not that the funds aren't deeply appreciated.

Glad to help all the same, though! Any kindness at all in return, even just faint praise, is a gift.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 12:19:41 PM by Daley »

mushroom

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2018, 09:40:02 AM »
Thanks again for your feedback, Daley!

I bought a computer today so we can switch to 5 MHz wifi.

I'm planning on buying the Obi 200 today as well (convinced hubs :P).

Once I use up my TMobile minutes on my current phone, I'm guessing I will probably go for an ATT flipphone + Truphone SIM. If I do go down the smartphone path, is it sufficient if the phone specs mention using LTE band 12 or do I need to check anything else to make sure I could use TMobile's 700 MHz?

Thanks for all your help!!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2018, 10:59:53 AM »
Thanks again for your feedback, Daley!

De nada.

I bought a computer today so we can switch to 5 MHz wifi.

Tell me you didn't buy a whole new laptop just to get 5GHz WiFi reception... *cringes* An $18 USB adapter could have done the same thing.

It's also worth doing WiFi site surveys, as you can ensure selecting channels with lesser interference that way, even in the 2.4GHz frequency. You'd be surprised how many people run the default channels 6 or 9 on their router in your area. Channel range 1-4 and 11 can usually be pretty quiet in most neighborhoods for WiFi traffic standards in the US.

I'm planning on buying the Obi 200 today as well (convinced hubs :P).

Hooray!

Once I use up my TMobile minutes on my current phone, I'm guessing I will probably go for an ATT flipphone + Truphone SIM. If I do go down the smartphone path, is it sufficient if the phone specs mention using LTE band 12 or do I need to check anything else to make sure I could use TMobile's 700 MHz?

Here's the thing, LTE is fragmenting networks again, and it's killing handset portability. Shop phones for the network you plan on using to ensure best compatibility. The flip phone? AT&T network. Truphone primarily uses AT&T in the US. Don't worry about T-Mobile compatibility on any smartphone unless you plan on getting T-Mobile based service. Honestly, I'd encourage you to stick with AT&T MVNOs if you do get a smartphone, which really opens up the field. Most phones from Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile when carrier unlocked should work fine on AT&T, but will have problems going to other networks.

Thanks for all your help!!

Yup.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2018, 12:48:48 PM »
Tell me you didn't buy a whole new laptop just to get 5GHz WiFi reception... *cringes*

Haha, don't worry, it's the 5 GHz thing + I can't even close this laptop anymore because the case is cracking so much and coming apart from the screen + I don't have enough space for a Windows 10 update on my tiny hard drive which I know there are workarounds for but there are also plenty of other reasons I need a new laptop anyway :P.

Thanks for the clarification on compatibility with a particular network - that makes sense.

Edit: I forgot to add, we have changed channels before and I think we're on 11 now, but we still have issues with slow speeds on what should be perfectly fine download speeds (25 MBps).
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 01:02:06 PM by mushroom »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2018, 02:47:40 AM »
If you got another smartphone today, what would you choose? It sounds like the window is closing(/closed depending on geography) on your current Windows phone. SWMBO’s OnePlus One is about to give up the ghost (planned obsolescence for the lose) and I’m about to turn in my company phone along with my laptop and badge next week, so there may be one or even two phone purchases in my near future. Ideally I’d like something small and with vanilla Android or at least Cyanogen-friendly but your point about Android guzzling background data is well taken.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #26 on: March 30, 2018, 12:24:06 PM »
If you got another smartphone today, what would you choose? It sounds like the window is closing(/closed depending on geography) on your current Windows phone. SWMBOís OnePlus One is about to give up the ghost (planned obsolescence for the lose) and Iím about to turn in my company phone along with my laptop and badge next week, so there may be one or even two phone purchases in my near future. Ideally Iíd like something small and with vanilla Android or at least Cyanogen-friendly but your point about Android guzzling background data is well taken.

I actually posted an answer to another thread just a couple days ago covering this very topic, so I'm just going to start by quoting that.

Very small and replaceable battery are two incredibly rare things these days, you almost need to pick one. Same with unlockable loader. Looks like you're dealing with a GSM carrier, so I'll be dealing with US GSM model numbers.

The phones I've been recommending lately "fitting your dimensions" have been the G4 Play (unlocked XT1607) and E4 (unlocked XT1768) as they tick off everything from your list but size. Both will be slightly bigger/around the same size as the Moto G 4G (first or second gen) you're already using, unless you actually meant Moto G4 in which case they will be a bit smaller. Yeah, handset size is getting ridiculous, and it's partly due to antenna band proliferation support, battery life, and a vicious feedback loop between battery life and screen size.

Now, this is an important point. Are you dealing with AT&T or T-Mobile as your primary carrier with your desire to get an LTE handset? If AT&T, you should have the freedom to do what you want and everything should be hunky dory. If T-Mobile and you're needing LTE to get back voice coverage, it's important to know a couple things. 1) Without 700MHz LTE band 12 VoLTE "certified" calling support with T-Mobile, you'll only get voice calling support with any phone on their remaining legacy 2G GSM network in most of the country. 2) Because of point one, they've basically locked out third party ROM support. Flash a third party ROM? Lose VoLTE calling. Just some points of academic curiosity.

As much as I loathe AT&T and won't do business with them directly anymore, they're honestly the least terrible carrier in the nation right now... which is saying something. If you're partly doing this (beyond replacing a fried device) for improved T-Mobile voice calling support, consider porting your number to an AT&T MVNO during your device change if you'd like to keep your handset freedom.

You'll note I'm primarily dealing with GSM service with these recommendations.

I know the two of you are moving back stateside here pretty soon (especially given your employment status), but support there in the UK could still be important at least short term, will it not? I don't know who you're using currently, so I don't know what LTE band support you really need. This said, the unlocked versions of those specific model numbers at least give you 2G GSM reception on both 900 and 1800MHz bands as well as 3G UMTS/HSDPA access on 900 and 2100MHz bands, and 4G LTE bands 1 (2100), 7 (2600), 8 (900) common between the two, and the G4 Play having LTE band 3 (1800) versus the E4 having band 38 (2600). This only leaves LTE bands 20 (800), 28 (700) and 32 (1500) wholly unaccounted for with network support, so hopefully there aren't any glaring coverage holes no matter who you're using. This said, the G4 Play looks to have broader LTE support in the UK given band 3 inclusion.

The G4 Play looks like the better international phone, but if you're potentially wanting/needing CDMA support stateside with Verizon or Sprint, you'll want to go with the E4 despite the loss of LTE band 3 there in the UK. Included all observations just to cover all potential bases here.

Of course, all the caveats with LineageOS (Cyanogen) and T-Mobile here in the US with VoLTE band 12 support remain true, so your greatest flexibility stateside will probably be AT&T first, Verizon distant second.



Regarding Windows 10 Mobile specifically?

Yes, I'm currently using the Lumia 435. Yes, it's lost a lot of coverage on T-Mobile. More importantly, it's in its twilight years. I always advocate others buy carrier unlocked, but our Lumia 435 purchases were a do as Daley says, not as he does situation. Given we were already on T-Mobile, we didn't bother getting carrier unlocked models partly for budget reasons, and of course we have no way to carrier unlock because of it - and honestly, we're kind of stuck on T-Mo anyway for similar budgetary requirements which means dancing their game. The phones are still getting security patches for another month or so for the Creator's Update on Fast Ring, but after that, there's no easy way to force Fall Creator's Update to carry us through to the end of 2019 without potentially sacrificing even more storage for page filing on an already really tiny phone. As such, we may actually be upgrading to T-Mo Lumia 640's here shortly, despite even the end of life, given we were given the opportunity to buy two beautiful A grade used models for really cheap - but again, T-Mo locked. If they work well (and I plan on putting them on Fall Creator's Update via Fast Ring and hacking them to enable Continuum), we may just spend the money on picking up a couple actual Continuum enabled handsets if we can get them cheap enough and retire the desktops.... my only concern is a lack of Night Light support.

Why stay with a platform that's winding down? We have reasons. Some known, some unknown. For all the Microsoft and Windows Phone haters out there who complain about loss of privacy, etc... I just want to point out that the sandboxing of apps on W10M is probably one of the reasons why the app gap. App developers couldn't datamine the crap out of your handset like they could iOS or Android.... and we're seeing the aftermath of that boondoggle unfolding as we speak. I may have an app gap, I may be stuck with a crappy Edge mobile browser, I may need to use a Nextcloud/Collabora Online subscription for reasonably priced office apps without using Google or Zoho that I still can't use offline (though given we're looking to leave Dropbox anyway), I may lose security updates in less than two years, but at least it's not quite as third-party privacy-invasive-friendly as Google or Apple are.

That said, I am such a hypocrite. I hate the handset turnover I've dealt with the past few years. I'm also getting sick of having technology in my life. Romans 7:15 keeps coming back into my head when I deal with this stuff anymore.... of all the things to have going through my head going into Passover season. Heh.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 12:37:56 PM by Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #27 on: March 30, 2018, 05:14:15 PM »
Iíve had the Moto G Play (4th gen) for a bit over a year and been reasonably happy with it, especially for the price. Camera isnít that great but in every other smartphone respect it subjectively beats my previous phone, which was a HTC One (first gen).

Works well on AirVoice.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #28 on: March 30, 2018, 06:06:16 PM »
What about the Moto G5 Daley? The G4 Play is getting on a bit.

IIRC the Moto G5 has a replaceable battery, but the G5 Plus and G5S/G5S Plus do not. My mum's recently bought a G5S to replace her Nexus S.

If that doesn't matter hugely, the new Nokia range looks nice too, and runs fairly plain Android.

Personally I didn't mind having to undo a couple of screws and slide the screen off to get to the battery (like my old iPhone 5), but repairing the HTC 10 I've got now would be a royal nightmare, because the screen is glued to the frame (sigh). I'll get it repaired by a shop when needed, I won't try DIY on the thing. That seems all too common with many Android devices lately.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 06:09:21 PM by alsoknownasDean »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #29 on: March 30, 2018, 06:56:05 PM »
Iíve had the Moto G Play (4th gen) for a bit over a year and been reasonably happy with it, especially for the price. Camera isnít that great but in every other smartphone respect it subjectively beats my previous phone, which was a HTC One (first gen).

And they're even cheaper used now!



What about the Moto G5 Daley? The G4 Play is getting on a bit.

IIRC the Moto G5 has a replaceable battery, but the G5 Plus and G5S/G5S Plus do not. My mum's recently bought a G5S to replace her Nexus S.

If that doesn't matter hugely, the new Nokia range looks nice too, and runs fairly plain Android.

Personally I didn't mind having to undo a couple of screws and slide the screen off to get to the battery (like my old iPhone 5), but repairing the HTC 10 I've got now would be a royal nightmare, because the screen is glued to the frame (sigh). I'll get it repaired by a shop when needed, I won't try DIY on the thing. That seems all too common with many Android devices lately.

Yeah, and it's one of the reasons why no matter how much nostalgic affection I may have for the brand Nokia, HMD's Android phones are, well... it's no that they're not nice phones, but their bootloaders are locked down tight, where as Motorola will actually let you boot unlock. Granted, if they truly keep to their word and do timely OS updates, that's great! But, these are still new phones, and we don't have a deep history with how long HMD will actually keep pushing updates and what defines "life of the phone" outside of promises. Of course, there's still the battery issue, too. Built-in and buried under panels and screws are not user-friendly replacements, and when the battery is buried under screws, the OEM replacements (outside of pulled used) usually aren't available to us mere mortals unless we have an authorized repair shop. Given how dodgy aftermarket can be sometimes on quality and swelling, I'd rather have a battery that'd pop the back of the phone off than break the mainboard due to installation if it's shoddy. So, I really don't have a whole lot of objections to the new Nokias, they're fine near vanilla handsets, but they fail my two most useful metrics for longer support life.

This said, any Moto phone that has a user replaceable battery is fine for both that and their officially unlockable bootloaders so you don't have to resort to exploit shenanigans.... couple that with my preferences towards smaller handsets for better battery life and easier carrying... things kinda make sense with my recommendations.



Anyway, sunset is rapidly approaching here. See you all on the flippity.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom! May Messiah Yeshua bring His people peace, healing and restoration in the days ahead and may Passover be joyous.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 07:01:33 PM by Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2018, 09:53:50 PM »
Yeah, and it's one of the reasons why no matter how much nostalgic affection I may have for the brand Nokia, HMD's Android phones are, well... it's no that they're not nice phones, but their bootloaders are locked down tight, where as Motorola will actually let you boot unlock. Granted, if they truly keep to their word and do timely OS updates, that's great! But, these are still new phones, and we don't have a deep history with how long HMD will actually keep pushing updates and what defines "life of the phone" outside of promises. Of course, there's still the battery issue, too. Built-in and buried under panels and screws are not user-friendly replacements, and when the battery is buried under screws, the OEM replacements (outside of pulled used) usually aren't available to us mere mortals unless we have an authorized repair shop. Given how dodgy aftermarket can be sometimes on quality and swelling, I'd rather have a battery that'd pop the back of the phone off than break the mainboard due to installation if it's shoddy. So, I really don't have a whole lot of objections to the new Nokias, they're fine near vanilla handsets, but they fail my two most useful metrics for longer support life.

This said, any Moto phone that has a user replaceable battery is fine for both that and their officially unlockable bootloaders so you don't have to resort to exploit shenanigans.... couple that with my preferences towards smaller handsets for better battery life and easier carrying... things kinda make sense with my recommendations.



Anyway, sunset is rapidly approaching here. See you all on the flippity.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom! May Messiah Yeshua bring His people peace, healing and restoration in the days ahead and may Passover be joyous.

Didn't realise that they had locked bootloaders. They look like such nice devices and well priced too.

I'm really hoping Project Treble improves things wrt Android updates. After all, a flagship Android phone (even a Nexus/Pixel) is lucky to get two major OS updates, yet even my brother's iPhone 5S still runs the latest iOS with up to date security updates. I've had experience with buying 'genuine' batteries (and replacing the screen) for my old LG G3, unfortunately there's too many counterfeit parts for those.

I'm hoping things improve in Android land, because at the moment the iPhone is almost looking like the 'least bad' option now for support/repairs. At least the batteries and screens installed at the Genius Bar are guaranteed to be genuine.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #31 on: April 03, 2018, 08:05:43 AM »
Didn't realise that they had locked bootloaders. They look like such nice devices and well priced too.

I'm really hoping Project Treble improves things wrt Android updates. After all, a flagship Android phone (even a Nexus/Pixel) is lucky to get two major OS updates, yet even my brother's iPhone 5S still runs the latest iOS with up to date security updates. I've had experience with buying 'genuine' batteries (and replacing the screen) for my old LG G3, unfortunately there's too many counterfeit parts for those.

I'm hoping things improve in Android land, because at the moment the iPhone is almost looking like the 'least bad' option now for support/repairs. At least the batteries and screens installed at the Genius Bar are guaranteed to be genuine.

Yup, most Android phones have locked bootloaders, that's why you have to root and exploit your way into installing aftermarket with so many. It's why I almost exclusively recommend most of the Moto line if you want to run Android now, because they open up the path to unlock it legitimately.

If Treble improves anything, it'll be a long while before we see and realize it, it'll probably only mostly be seen on the super expensive new handsets, and it's still dependent upon the OEM giving enough of a toss to actually release more updates and not try to sell more phones... but that might negatively impact profit margins. Better to waste resources and cook in planned obsolescence to keep making money.

Now, you mentioned HMD/Nokia, I mentioned HMD claiming to update their phones, and you brought up Treble. I'd just like to make an observation here - none of the Nokia Android handsets are Treble compliant. Not one currently on the market. Just an observation.

I know of the remaining standing smartphone platforms, intellectually, you're right about iOS. But it's still bad. I'm tired of having to compromise my integrity and choose evil things to labor and communicate with others. You should, too. Everyone should. We're continually and increasingly being backed into these extremist either-or binary choices that pit us against one another, where both are toxic and poisonous to ourselves and those we love. Either choice hurts us. What we need to increasingly realize and recognize is that we're not limited to just two options - there's always a third, and it's not just another variant or replacement of the first two. It's the hardest option for us to take, but if we have any conscience at all, take it we must. Stop tolerating evil. Stop supporting evil. Stop apologizing for evil. Stop excusing evil. Stop endorsing evil. Be it smartphones or leaders or anything in life.

We need to stop choosing a lesser man-made evil, and begin seeking the way to do no evil at all. Not just for our conscience's sake, but for those we love and care about as well. Man's system is broken, and every effort by our fallen and selfish hands that we take to try and fix what never should be will only make things worse. It doesn't mean we shouldn't still care and try to uplift and help others who are still trying to choose the lesser evil, but we need to be a ray of hope in a world of darkness, and delight in the option that is so unheard of and unthinkable to so many others. Yet we can't even begin to do that without the right redemptive tools given to us in mercy and love in the first place.

When the tipping point comes, don't believe the promises of, "We fixed it, this time it'll be better." It is yet another promise built upon a mountain of broken promises. We will be better served to take the exit. What you have as tools currently, use until the liability grows too high. Our lives are far more precious to HaShem than any man, and He wants us to live. Choose life.



Lumia Update: I've been working on the Lumia 640s. Interop Unlocked, Fall Creator's Update (slow ring), Continuum via Miracast enabled, swap file size increased to 512MB. Everything but WiFi calling seems to work, though it's hard to verify IMS provisioning and band 12 VoLTE without taking a trip out of state first. It's definitely an upgrade from the Lumia 435. I'll probably do likewise to those once data's migrated over, all but Contiuum anyway. We're still in need of these tools, given we haven't the financial freedom to not have them be a requirement, and as such will try to do as much good with them as possible in the mean time... as difficult as that may be. However, I suspect this will personally be my last mobile phone. Working on and controlling technology, bending it to my will... it exhausts me. My calling and focus in life is shifting, and if I don't keep up with and respond to that shift and instead persist in the old ways, it will devour me.

I think it may be time to start winding down the guide, not that I've updated it much the past couple years anyway. I'll still try to help when asked, but it may be time I start applying the lessons and wisdom learned from this chapter of life toward the next one. Not sure yet what that transition is going to look like, but I hope you'll join me on the path.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 08:08:13 AM by Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2018, 04:31:51 PM »
Hey Daley. Just wanted to say that
1) on the micro level, the phone recommendations are greatly appreciated and look like just what I had in mind. I didn't think a phone quite like the E4/G4 Play existed and am happy I was wrong. In case you are waiting with bated breath for our decision, we will update you in two or three weeks when we are stateside and can hopefully hold the devices in person before we buy.

and 2) on the macro level, your points about the ethics of who we do business with and the amount of time we should stare at smartphones have been really influential on my thinking and on the better half's thinking as well.

So, thanks massively for both. If you decide to hang up the cleats and do something else, I'll be cheering you on and following keenly.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2018, 07:41:40 PM »
So, thanks massively for both. If you decide to hang up the cleats and do something else, I'll be cheering you on and following keenly.

And Grant, thank you. For everything. There's already starting to be a shift in what I'm posting about here, and I'm still on the fence on whether I'm genuinely ready yet to perhaps roll out a "journal". I know @jordanread has been pushing me to do that for a while now. My wife, @Constance Noring, has been talking about possibly joining me on the endeavor as well from the historical end of things.

Keep me posted once you get stateside.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 07:45:23 PM by Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2018, 06:48:31 AM »
I'm still on the fence on whether I'm genuinely ready yet to perhaps roll out a "journal".

Nope, not yet. Still not quite where I need to be first. Last night thankfully drove that home.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2018, 02:31:12 PM »
I have a Verizon Samsung Intensity (old phone of a family member) on Page Plus and keep my usage within their $10/120 day pay-as-you go plan by using Google Voice to forward to my Obi at home and my desk at work. DW has a T-Mobile LG Stylo 2 Plus (paid off, over 1 year on T-Mobile, not yet carrier unlocked) on a family plan with her brother (~$10/mo - way down from $30/mo when we bought service for her individually). Sometimes when we are out and about together I WiFi tether a 7" Fire Tablet to her phone for data access.

I'm currently looking for solutions for two telecommunications problems:
I hate my handset. I was satisfied with my flip phone (Verizon Samsung circa 2006) until I decided the battery was too limited in 2016. I don't like this candybar slider because it is too easy to turn on/off in my pocket unintentionally. I've lusted after a smart phone since the first iPhone, but don't want to pay for expensive phone plans. I find my 7" tablet to be a great size for a PDA, but sometimes wish I had access to data when I am out by myself. If my BIL offered me a slot on his family plan similar to DW's I'd probably take it, but I don't think I'm willing to spend more than $10/month for the luxury of mobile data just for me.

We're traveling internationally. We'll be spending just over 7 days in England (primarily Southampton and London) in a few weeks. Would like some mobile data access while out there. So far I'm seeing options for 1GB+ data for 10 GBP (or 250MB for 5 GBP). Would like to be able to communicate as soon as possible after landing at LGW airport. We expect to stick together, so if DW's phone is capable (I'm not sure what bands UK services run on, can look up bands phone has) we just need a SIM/plan recommendation - otherwise might consider an Android handset I'd later use in the US.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2018, 03:06:09 PM »
I have a Verizon Samsung Intensity (old phone of a family member) on Page Plus and keep my usage within their $10/120 day pay-as-you go plan by using Google Voice to forward to my Obi at home and my desk at work. DW has a T-Mobile LG Stylo 2 Plus (paid off, over 1 year on T-Mobile, not yet carrier unlocked) on a family plan with her brother (~$10/mo - way down from $30/mo when we bought service for her individually). Sometimes when we are out and about together I WiFi tether a 7" Fire Tablet to her phone for data access.

I'm currently looking for solutions for two telecommunications problems:
I hate my handset. I was satisfied with my flip phone (Verizon Samsung circa 2006) until I decided the battery was too limited in 2016. I don't like this candybar slider because it is too easy to turn on/off in my pocket unintentionally. I've lusted after a smart phone since the first iPhone, but don't want to pay for expensive phone plans. I find my 7" tablet to be a great size for a PDA, but sometimes wish I had access to data when I am out by myself. If my BIL offered me a slot on his family plan similar to DW's I'd probably take it, but I don't think I'm willing to spend more than $10/month for the luxury of mobile data just for me.

Apologies for not getting back with you sooner, @robartsd.

First, the Intensity's days may be numbered, even if you didn't want to keep it. 2G CDMA is getting shut down in a little more than a year.

As for paying for "expensive" smartphone plans, well... look into US Mobile. They offer both TMo and Verizon plans, and they don't give a toss what type of device you use and activate... be it a tablet, a phone, a modem, or cyber-alpaca. So long as the device is network compatible, you prepay for what you want and that's the end of it. Just be aware that if you want to use TMo, you'll need a VoLTE band 12 device now for most voice calls, which'll limit your choices a bit, especially if you're trying to shop used. As for what Android handsets I recommend these days, note what I recommended grantmeaname a little up the thread (Moto G4 Play and E4)... model numbers will depend on if you're still wanting Verizon coverage or not.

We're traveling internationally. We'll be spending just over 7 days in England (primarily Southampton and London) in a few weeks. Would like some mobile data access while out there. So far I'm seeing options for 1GB+ data for 10 GBP (or 250MB for 5 GBP). Would like to be able to communicate as soon as possible after landing at LGW airport. We expect to stick together, so if DW's phone is capable (I'm not sure what bands UK services run on, can look up bands phone has) we just need a SIM/plan recommendation - otherwise might consider an Android handset I'd later use in the US.

I'm gonna try and rope @grantmeaname in on this one. Any local experience to chime in on this, Grant? All my suggestions are going to be TruPhone SIM and KnowRoaming sorts of things, and mobile data can get expensive with those roaming plans versus a local SIM. Suggestions on who, and the quickest way to get rolling off the tarmac?

As far as what bands are concerned and with whom... https://www.4g.co.uk/4g-frequencies-uk-need-know/
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 03:09:37 PM by Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2018, 04:34:49 PM »
As far as what bands are concerned and with whom... https://www.4g.co.uk/4g-frequencies-uk-need-know/
Thanks. It looks the LG Stylo 2 Plus would work on most UK providers on 2100 Mhz 3G. Best data coverage would be from EE or Three on LTE band 3 (1800 Mhz).

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #38 on: April 14, 2018, 01:27:24 AM »
The airports have free WiFi. Get off the plane, let everyone know you're alive in the line for passport control, then buy a cheap prepaid SIM sometime during your trip. Or, since it's only a week, try and go without data; use restaurants' free WiFi and just use your phone less.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #39 on: April 14, 2018, 02:25:46 AM »
The airports have free WiFi. Get off the plane, let everyone know you're alive in the line for passport control, then buy a cheap prepaid SIM sometime during your trip. Or, since it's only a week, try and go without data; use restaurants' free WiFi and just use your phone less.

Bingo. A quick WhatsApp message (or similar messaging app) over Wi-Fi to let everyone know of your safe arrival, and then pick up a local SIM at the airport.

I remember that the only time I arrived in another country on an international flight and wasn't able to find a vendor selling SIM cards at the airport itself was upon arriving in the US.

Even when I arrived in Auckland at midnight local time I could still buy a SIM card at the airport.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #40 on: April 14, 2018, 05:47:21 AM »
I did WiFi only communication last year at CM*TO. The bandwidth was limited enough that I didnít want to hog it for voice or video calls but my wife and kids sent me plenty of texts and pictures back and forth. If the trip had been longer than a weekend I might have bought a SIM, or just found a place nearby with better internet.
Factory farming is evil. Nor can you design a vegetarian (let alone vegan) holistic agricultural system that works. There is a third and better way.

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robartsd

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #41 on: April 16, 2018, 08:31:41 AM »
The airports have free WiFi. Get off the plane, let everyone know you're alive in the line for passport control, then buy a cheap prepaid SIM sometime during your trip. Or, since it's only a week, try and go without data; use restaurants' free WiFi and just use your phone less.
We're thinking of trying London's bike share scheme for some of our exploration of the city (2 GBP for 24 hours of unlimited 30 minute rides, lots of docking stations in central London), so having reliable data at the docking stations may be required. It turns out that the T-Mobile plan DW's phone is on, Simple Choice North America, includes 2G speed data abroad - so we should be covered on her phone. Any high speed data we want can be over wifi. Thanks.

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2018, 03:42:45 PM »
Brief update that's mobile phone related.

I need to openly apologize to anyone whom I've casually mentioned either Ultra Mobile or Mint SIM (Mint Mobile) to over the years. I'll be honest, I've not had the time to do as much due diligence as I used to, and I haven't stayed as much on top of the more recent reports and feedback over carrier experiences as I perhaps should have.

The TMo end of decent MVNO providers has shrunk since the loss of P'tel a couple years ago, and in a desperate attempt to fill part of that void left on the "unlimited" end, I cut Ultra some slack... especially since they offered some migration relief to parting P'tel customers.

Well, today I got left a letter on the feedback form over at Technical Meshugana claiming to be someone from Mint SIM. I'm in the process of trying to actually confirm if it was one of their paid representatives, but it forced my hand to update my knowledge on them... and you know what? What I read over at Reddit and HoFo about both brands made my nostril hair curl. One HoFo community member described the experience of Mint SIM as being worse than that of Tracfone. Tracfone! I've always had reservations about their customer support quality, and the multi-month pay-in-advance model makes me very uncomfortable... especially in the current era and condition of the MVNO industry. But this? Reading what I did made me feel physically ill. The porting issues (both out and in), the billing issues, the loss of phone numbers on active accounts, the customer service quality....

What I have discovered has left me in a position of being less critical of Tracfone and Republic Wireless in comparison, and leaving me actually preferring to see people give those two outfits business over Ultra/Mint. Consider and weigh these words and where they're coming from carefully. This is how much the experience and gained knowledge has humbled me.

I have let my readers and this community down for mentioning these people at all, for giving them any sort of credibility, for not providing sufficient words of caution. I am deeply sorry.

I also need to apologize for forgetting to remove Virgin Mobile from the guide at the same time I did GoSmart.

The face of the MVNO industry has really changed over the past seven years, and it hasn't been for the better. Nearly everyone is a shell of what they used to be now. They're all scraping to stay in business and using creative math to do so. There's far less restraint with openly aggressive and abusive practices, as well. That's never a good sign from anyone you choose to do business with.

At the end of the day, I don't know if the contact message was legitimate or not... but it made me re-check them, and I'm thankful for that. If I've made a mistake, I need to repent of it. Whoever left that message, thank you, and I forgive you for all that you typed. You helped expose an injustice.

I made a mistake. Please forgive me.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 03:47:11 PM by Daley »

grantmeaname

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #43 on: May 01, 2018, 06:35:26 PM »
Keep me posted once you get stateside.
We landed a week and a half ago. On our first day back SWMBO bought the E4 plus, deciding that she'd prefer the bigger screen and battery to having a replaceable battery, and it was on sale for $140.

Yesterday I got the regular E4 Play for $130, and I absolutely love it. Yes, even the plastic back, which reminds me of my 2011 Nexus phone. I just wish it was about an inch smaller, but I'm the only consumer in the world who would say such things and handset makers haven't found me to be a sufficiently profitable market.

We are on a verrrry old Tmo plan right now that's is really cheap, although we will see if the terms get worse in coming days or months with the merger.

Sent from my Moto E (4) using Tapatalk


Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #44 on: May 01, 2018, 06:44:45 PM »
Welcome back, buddy!

I just wish it was about an inch smaller, but I'm the only consumer in the world who would say such things and handset makers haven't found me to be a sufficiently profitable market.

I know the feeling. I feel the same way about the Lumia 640, and both myself and my thumbs really miss the screen size of the 435.

Also physical keyboards. I miss those. *sigh*
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 06:50:18 PM by Daley »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #45 on: May 01, 2018, 07:15:58 PM »
Dammit, I was seriously considering moving over to Ultra, one of the only MVNOs with international roaming.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #46 on: May 01, 2018, 07:25:49 PM »
Dammit, I was seriously considering moving over to Ultra, one of the only MVNOs with international roaming.

I know. Trust me, I know. I hate bearing bad news about an MVNO, because it means that many fewer providers left that won't feel like a deal with the adversary... and the international roaming is a rarity as well. My wife and I had been tossing around the idea of going over to them as well, partly for the potential of getting back WiFi calling support. Now I feel like we dodged a bullet.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 07:27:29 PM by Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #47 on: May 19, 2018, 09:15:54 PM »
Well folks, I know I've said it already, but I'm hanging 'er up for good. I think it's time to put the guide out to pasture.

I'm thankful for all the people I've had the privilege and honor to help over the years to save money with their telecom bills and for all that they've returned to me in kind; but in reflection, there were moments where I missed the mark. For that, I deeply apologize to anyone I may have harmed in the process. I could be harsh. I went into the guide only wanting to highlight the good in the industry and lead others to that, but somewhere along the line, I went negative. In the process of defending why I didn't include certain carriers, I blindly held up a mirror to myself in the process. For this as well, I am sorry. I'm not sure the changes to the telecom industry has helped with that over the past six years, either, but that's neither here nor there. I got trapped in a vicious cycle of virtue signaling, and I have no stomach to do it again.



If there is any advice I can give moving forward, as you research on your own for ways to save some cash? It's this:

-Talk with tech support a couple times before you become a customer, and get to know the company you'll be dealing with. Know what to expect when you may need them the most.
-Always read the fine print. Read all the legal contracts before signing up, and if you find something you canít agree to, move on.
-If the service is free or the price is too good to be true, you are the product being sold, not the service. Understand this and the impact on your life it may have.
-If finances are tight, avoid companies that have hidden service fees for support. You never know when something might go wrong.
-Try to stay away from proprietary solutions when you can. When buying hardware, aim for open industry standards, avoid proprietary vendor lock-in, and seek out some level of end-user friendly repairability Ė especially with devices that have batteries. Care for your tools. Use it up, wear it out.
-Older companies can sometimes be more financially stable, but even established businesses fail. Pay attention.
-If your phone number is important, donít take unnecessary risks with where you port it. Dealing with companies outside of the network owners can and will increase risk.
-With mobile service, sticking with a carrier on the network youíre already on will let you keep the phone you already have and provide you with a level of service in the field that youíre already familiar with. Even still, make sure you get your handset carrier unlocked, as most non-AT&T handsets will at least work on AT&T, even if thereís not much portability between Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile at this point.
-Never pre-pay more for a service than youíre willing and able to potentially lose.
-Never convince yourself that you need something you only want, and be willing to use less. You probably donít need it as much as you think you do.
-All of this technology is far more optional than society and marketing has conditioned you to believe, and it can get in the way of forming healthy friendships and feed unhealthy habits. Donít be afraid to unplug.
-Let me encourage you to be longsuffering and deal upright with kindness, even in the face of mistreatment. Donít follow the previous model of behavior I slipped into. Be quick to forgive and act with love. Even the worst company in the world still has humans at the other end of the lines of communication. Donít devalue their life, and remember that we all make mistakes. Be kind.
-And as always, donít be afraid to pay for what you need.



For the majority of this audience reading wanting research resources...

-Researching ISPs and VoIP providers are usually easiest looked into at DSLReports.
-Finding the skinny on mobile carriers and MVNOs is best researched at HowardForums.
-Researching businesses beyond general search engine results can frequently be done using the earlier mentioned communities, the BBB and Ripoff Report (though both are for profit), Yelp (read the hidden reviews as well), and Reddit. Itís the internet, so take everything with a grain of salt and remember that people rarely provide feedback unless itís negative, but pay attention to patterns that may result in disruption of services.
-Getting to know a company as an employer can usually be done through GlassDoor, but here too, itís the internet. Grain of salt, low non-negative feedback, etc.
-You can almost certainly find your Internet and MMS APN settings for you MVNO and phone of choice at Gishan.net.
-To keep up with MVNO news and information as well as additional MVNO service information, use Prepaid Phone News and BestMVNO. Phone Dog also can be of use.
-For RV/nomad telecom research, there's the Mobile Internet Resource Center, though it's partially paywalled.
-For general mobile industry news and information, Fierce Wireless is a good resource along with Mobile World Live.
-For broadband technology news, give Broadband Technology Report a look.
-For TV junkies, give Cord Cutting Report a look, though honestly? Do yourself a favor and feed your imagination instead of letting others tell you how to think. Go read a book.
-For mobile phone research and purchasing, give GSMArena, Phone Scoop, and Phone Arena a look. In addition to buying and selling, Swappa also has an IMEI/ESN checker if you're buying used.
-For anyone doing third party ROMs and OS hacks on their phones, look no further than XDA Developers (they do more than Android).



May these resources be of use, and help you remain conscientious and informed customers going forward. And don't be afraid to do without if the day comes, too. After all, our forefathers never needed this stuff. If it stops being a tool or it causes you to lose sleep over it, let it go.

The entirety of the guide is CC-BY-SA, and has been for years. If anyone wants to archive and spiff it up for whatever reason, let me know. Otherwise, I think I'll let the site as it is currently slip into the mists of time and archive.org... and honestly, I'm not sure it's worth much more than that at this point as a lot of the content can go stale quickly. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the domain from this point forward, but I've still got six weeks to figure that out.

It's been a pleasure folks. I'm sticking around, but I'm on to the next adventure in this regard, even though I'm still not sure where I'm heading yet. All I can do is trust HaShem.

Stay gold,
-Daley
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 12:40:42 AM by Daley »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #48 on: May 19, 2018, 09:47:03 PM »
No, thank you.

Over the last 5 years, your guide has not only directly saved us a boatload of money, but also taught us how to fish for ourselves.

furrychickens

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #2
« Reply #49 on: May 20, 2018, 04:55:21 AM »
Definitely appreciate all the help over the years :)

What is your next adventure, if youíre willing to share?
Factory farming is evil. Nor can you design a vegetarian (let alone vegan) holistic agricultural system that works. There is a third and better way.

All flesh is grass. All life requires death.