Author Topic: Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!  (Read 69495 times)

I.P. Daley

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Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!
« on: February 26, 2014, 11:17:54 PM »
Introduction

Welcome to the new abridged and updated version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide, the primer for saving massive amounts of money on your communications bills! Originally started as the Superguide on these forums, it’s grown through further personal research and feedback from others within that community to be a relatively decent primer for anyone wanting to save money with their telecommunications bills.

“How much money could I save?” I hear you asking… well, let’s break down my household’s total monthly bills for one internet connection, two phone lines (home, business), two cell phones, and a rich on-demand entertainment catalog for two adults. This is what we’re getting (as of February 2014):
  • 25Mbps cable internet with a 250GB/month cap (Cox – $26 discount offer, 1 year – normally 5Mbps package@$47/mo.)
  • Two Nokia Symbian cellphones using on average 180 minutes a month total (P’tel – $12.50)
  • Home telephone via VoIP with e911 and 250 free outgoing minutes a month to US/Canada plus 1¢/min billing on overages (FutureNine – $8)
  • Two Google Voice numbers (Google – free)
  • One CallCentric account for incoming business calls paired with one of the GV accounts above (CallCentric – free)
  • OTA broadcast television (free)
  • Streaming video via Hulu, CBS, Crackle, etc. (free)
The total cost? Approximately $46.50 a month currently, with a current non-discounted baseline of $67.50. Sometimes a bit higher, sometimes a bit lower as the cell phones are our major wild card. Don’t think we’re starving on communications with the outside world, either. My wife and I text people on occasion (total of around 50-100 SMS messages a month), and we log on average about 20+ hours of talk time combined.

How did we do it? You’re about to find out.

The first thing to understand is that we have approached our communications needs in a holistic manner, even though our individual services are provided through separate providers. This means you should consider adopting this approach as your understanding grows as well. Anyone can just switch out to a cheaper cell phone bill and claim a savings victory (which it is – and this guide can certainly help you do just that), but by focusing solely on the parts, we can miss how all these services effectively relate to one another. If we miss that point, we might miss out on the greater savings and richer impact these tools can have on our lives simply by working with it as a whole.

Once you’ve learned how to adopt this mindset, you’ll grow to understand how two seemingly different services (like home internet and your mobile phone) are actually more directly tied than you even realized. Even though I have divided each section of this guide up into discrete topics to ease understanding and implementation, understand that each part still relates to one another and your internet connection is the backbone to the enterprise.

The other thing to keep in mind as you read through this resource is that every last service and piece of equipment cited here? Not one shred of it is necessary for your day to day life, and you need to put aside the idea that you must have any of it to live. They’re incredibly modern inventions, and civilization existed for generations without these items and services. You are not as important as you may think, and the world is not going to end because you can’t immediately respond to a tweet while you’re standing in line at the grocery store.

Now, let’s dispel some myths.

Myths

1) I need a cell phone data plan for my GB and GB of data every month!

No, you don’t. Use your cell phone as a tool. Learn to use its primary function as an emergency communications tool, nothing more. Lower priority text communications don’t need much data. You’d be surprised how little Google Voice, Kik, XMS, Nimbuzz, e-mail, IM, and GPS/map data for the times you don’t have a real paper map in the car for the area you’re in can really use. You also must not forget about the free data access available through the multitude of WiFi hotspots around… if you’re concerned enough about data, you likely own a phone that can connect to WiFi. Use it.

2) I need a cell phone plan for the hours and hours of time I spend a month talking to people!

Unless you’re a road warrior salesman/support guy or drive a truck for a living, no you don’t. Unless it’s business related, you should view phone time as a luxury to be done when you aren’t making money. As such, if you aren’t making money, you’re likely at home relaxing. Using VoIP and data on your home internet connection will always be cheaper.

3) I need really fast internet to be able to watch streaming video and play games and use VoIP services like Skype!

No, you don’t. As you read through, you will learn that 3Mbps is plenty for most folks. Although I wouldn’t recommend in this day and age any lower than a 3Mbps feed, I would be remiss to recommend much more, as well… unless time is money and money comes from moving huge wads of data on a daily basis. For networked gaming, ping time is more important than data speed, and any decent DSL or Cable provider should be plenty. For VoIP, you can almost get by on dial-up bandwidth. For streaming video, 480p is more than plenty – seeing the hair growing out of Bob DeNiro’s mole doesn’t make Heat a more enjoyable film. The only thing that disrupts these services on a 3Mbps line is heavy P2P file sharing, but outside of Blizzard game updates and Linux ISO discs, there’s not much legitimate use out there for torrenting, and smart configuration settings helps minimize that impact anyway.

4) Bundling my phone and data into a single portable device like a cell phone will cost less money!

This only holds true if you’re a true road warrior. We’re entering an era of data caps and paying by the MB for what we use, and wireless data is expensive. Given the portable nature of telephony these days, if you don’t travel much or you have WiFi access for say 75% of your time-spent locations, you’re golden. Luxury data usage time can wait until you’re home. Don’t cut that cable.

Disclaimer

Before we get started, there’s a lot of information already about how to save money with all of these services. In that regard, I’m hashing over redundant material… but this guide still brings something unique to the discussion. As with all things of this nature, there is the engineer’s iron triangle at play with the decision making process, and you can only pick two. For the sake of argument in regard to this guide and the information it covers, we’ll say the triangle in our case is EASY, GOOD, CHEAP.

Cheap is self evident. Good for our purposes as a category will do a blanket covering of reliable service, quality customer support, dependable billing, and faith in the general survivability of the business itself. Easy for our purposes will be defined as anything that doesn’t take any effort or self discipline in usage to achieve by choosing an excess of service quantity, or much effort to set up because the fiddly bits are done for you.

If you want Easy and Good, you need to stick with the major carriers… your Verizons, Comcasts and AT&Ts, and just eat the cost. If you want Easy and Cheap, this guide is not for you. Don’t waste your time reading this, and don't waste my time asking for help trying to go this route. Just understand that this path is littered with deceptive marketing, shoddy equipment, vendor lock-in, bad math, empty promises, treacherous terms of service agreements, insolvent businesses that vanish overnight, and abusive to non-existent support that makes the major carriers look like saints in comparison.

The Guide is going to assume you’re here and reading this information because you’ve chosen Cheap and Good, and these points will shape and influence all of the advice and guidance set forth. This also means that you’re going to have to put a bit of effort into these changes to make them work; but don’t despair, it’s not as difficult as you might think. I’ve been around the block a few times with this stuff, and the Guide was born out of wanting to help people not make the same mistakes I did in the early days when I started tweaking with the cheap end of the spectrum. There’s plenty of cheap guides out there on this stuff, even from financial independence gurus. If you want to be cheap? Go read their suggestions. If you want to be frugal? You’ve found your guide.

Index

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

Superguide Discussion Thread



For the complete, unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide which contains far more detailed topical information, reviews, supplemental information links, as well as hardware and software recommendations, please visit Technical Meshugana.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 12:05:55 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

I.P. Daley

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Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 11:18:07 PM »
Internet Service Providers

Since your home internet connection will function as the backbone to this entire frugal communications guide, we should start with your internet service provider.

What you do and don’t need.

As mentioned already at the beginning, you’d be surprised at how little bandwidth one actually needs from their ISPs. In this era of fiber to the home and demands of BIGGER FASTER MORE! from consumers, it’s quite easy to lose track of how much bandwidth the average family actually needs to supply a regular stream of ones and zeros to the house to provide a mess of services that other cables used to bring into our house.

Realistically, most people in this day and age can easily get by with no more than 3Mbps service. If you’re gaming online, ping time, quality of the connection and how oversubscribed the ISP is in your area will matter more than your actual speed. If you’re downloading large files, learn some patience. Voice services use very little bandwidth at all and can even squeak by on dial-up levels of bandwidth so long as latency is low. If you’re wanting to stream video, a high definition movie won’t truly entertain you any more than the low definition version of the same piece… unless it’s some sort of technological puff piece where lens flares and blue hair matter more than story and OHGOODGRIEFWHYWOULDYOUSPENDTWOTHOUSANDDOLLARSONATV-ANDSTILLWASTETWOHOURSOFYOURLIFEWATCHINGFERNGULLYINSPACEINTHREEDEE!

…but I digress. Good writing knows no bandwidth restrictions, and NTSC quality video is more than sufficient to get a good idea of what’s going on without feeling like you have cataracts. If you can’t see the wisdom in this statement, you’re probably a media glutton and likely need help with this part of your budget anyway… so pay attention. For streaming video, 3Mbps down is plenty for one feed, a phone call and light surfing all at the same time. It won’t necessarily handle two video streams very well at the same time, but come on! If you’re going to rot your brain away for a couple hours watching TV, make it a family event.

Knowing this, we can go into subscribing to an ISP confident of what we need and how much is reasonable per month to pay. 3Mbps down! National average of $40 a month (expensive for what it is, but that’s deregulation for you)! Fantastic. Now, let’s examine some of the potholes that might crop up on your quest for cheaper internet access.

Potholes

Pothole #1 – oversubscribing and data throttling.

Some ISPs, especially in the home consumer space, are money grubbing jerks. Some will oversell their available bandwidth for an area causing significant slowdowns during peak traffic periods (most commonly 5-9pm weekday evenings). Others will throttle certain providers or refuse to upgrade their back end to accommodate increased traffic from certain websites, frequently to make their own offerings more attractive (this is what the whole Net Neutrality argument thing you’ve likely heard about over the years actually concerns). This is where researching the ISPs you have available in your area on a site like Broadband Reports is useful and reading the fine print of your Terms of Service agreement are necessary. Find out in advance if there’s problems in your area from specific providers, the nature of that problem, and what the ISP is actually legally bound to do about it.

Also remember that with residential service, there’s no guarantee of specific speeds being provided by the ISP. If the ISP is incapable of providing what you’re paying for after dealing with tech support, don’t expect that buying a higher tier of residential service from that obviously crappy provider is going to magically fix your throughput problems. Let your money do the talking and either drop down to the speed package they’re actually providing or take your business elsewhere. The 3Mbps ideal is there to facilitate in streaming video and potentially supply lower cost entertainment as a cable/satellite replacement, but isn’t entirely necessary for the rest of your services.

If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who is in the position of not getting what you’re paying for and don’t have an alternative available, and you’re bound and determined to stream internet video reliably (or just need a reliable internet connection), look into the business service offerings from same said ISP. They will be expensive, but that price will provide a Quality of Service guarantee of uptime and minimum bandwidth speeds provided.

Pothole #2 – data metering.

This one’s becoming more and more ugly on a daily basis. ISPs left and right are deciding that users on smaller packages need less bandwidth, and try to push the cap down low enough that it potentially runs afoul of doing exactly what we’re wanting to do. The worst offenders are cable ISPs like Cox, Comcast, Suddenlink, Charter and Warner. For example, Cox and their $48/month 5Mbps down service is capped at 50GB of data a month. For our own usage, despite our frequent streaming of video (around 20 hours a month), we’re still well under that cap. Ironically, the same amount of video streaming on a faster connection actually uses more bandwidth yet rarely looks any better than what we’d have on that slower connection. Our router calculates out on average about 30-35GB of traffic a month for us, which brings us to…

Pothole #2-A – lies, damned lies, and data metering statistics.

Not all ISPs measure data the same way, and some ISPs have locally cached content that they won’t penalize you for on your bandwidth. Cox is a great example on this, but in a good way for the customer. They frequently report on average about 20% lower on data usage per month than our router that runs DD-WRT reports (more on that later). Although we would normally have a 50GB cap which is rather low amongst the 5Mbps plans, our data is used well. Inversely, we have AT&T who makes a habit of measuring bandwidth by adding on all the inflated PPPoE headers and rounding up; so even with a 150GB cap (currently) and their propensity to lower said caps while jacking prices up elsewhere in their marketing books, this is a very bad situation to be in as a customer.

We used to be with AT&T prior to their data cap policy, then I saw their metered bandwidth on our connection in comparison to the reality reported from our router. 45GB of traffic was reported as roughly 78GB. Although ugly, it’s not sinister. However, not slowing or suspending your account after hitting your cap in favor of billing you $10 per 10GB over with no rollover and that $10 being charged for just 1MB over… that was ugly, and I vowed to never do business with AT&T again. Be aware of bandwidth caps, and be aware of how honest your ISP is going to be with those measurements, and never trust their equipment to tell you how much data you’re actually using if they want to bill you for overages.

Pothole #3 – service bundling.

Some ISPs like to force you into bundling services together. Comcast is a great example of this as they hate giving people only internet access and actually had a history of charging more per month to internet only users than internet users who also ordered the basic channel TV package. Others like AT&T refuse to give third party DSL providers access to dry-loop installations forcing you to have a local only land line phone turned on with them for $20+ a month before you can subscribe to DSLExtreme where you can save $15 a month on their DSL service over AT&T’s for the same speed, making AT&T’s dry-loop DSL the only and cheapest DSL option for your area at $40+taxes and regulatory fees. Be aware of what sort of price and service restrictions you’re getting into with your ISP, especially if they're providing an "introductory" offer.

Pothole #4 – taxes and hidden fees.

Some ISPs charge regulatory fees and taxes on top of the quoted fees per month. Others don’t. The division line usually falls along which chunk of copper coming into your house is being used. Consider it fair warning, and keep it in mind when debating between cable and DSL.

Pothole #5 – Verizon FIOS and copper.

This is a very specific situation to consider and deal with, but for those of you who had cut the copper line and ever had FIOS installed at your house and are now looking to save money by scaling back your services… good luck with that. What they didn’t tell you during your fiber install is that they permanently severed your copper POTS cable going into your house, forever eliminating the slower, cheaper, traditional DSL service. Congratulations, you now get to spend an extra $25-30 a month for that same 1-3Mbps internet access because a shiny little light transmits your data now instead of an electrical pulse. Behold the march of progress!

Now that you’re better equipped to handle how to comparison shop for your 3+Mbps internet connection, let’s look at the bright side on where you can actually save some money under specific provider and location situations!

Regional/Circumstantial ISP Options

The first one actually involves Verizon phone service areas. If you do happen to live in a Verizon area and FIOS hasn’t been installed, you can actually get dry-loop access from DSLExtreme for $25+fees/month with a 1 year contract or $35+fees/month without contract.

If you happen to live in Time Warner or Comcast territory, look into signing up for your cable internet service through Earthlink instead of direct with the cable provider, as lower than advertised speed and overall lower price packages may be available to you without trying to argue with the cable sales reps to admit to the cheaper unadvertised internet packages that they offer (Basic package from Time Warner, Economy Plus package from Comcast).

For folks in California, Sonic.net’s new Fusion broadband/phone service available in roughly about 80% of the SF Bay and greater Los Angeles areas. I know that normally bundling services like this frequently winds up costing more than less, but Fusion is a very special exception. Subscribing to their Fusion service will turn on a DSL connection at the fastest rate your phone line will support, take over your traditional POTS phone line, and give you internet access up to 20Mbps with no data caps and unlimited phone calls to the United States and Canada for $40 plus about $10 in taxes a month. That’s it. No ATA equipment for making calls, no need for a UPS to keep phone service active during a blackout, no watching over data usage, no cutting back on data speeds to save money. Roughly $50 for all you can eat home phone and as fast as available ADSL2+ internet as they can provide, and you can even bring your own equipment.

Also, don’t be afraid of trying for even slower bandwidth service if it’s a significant savings option with your ISP. Just be sure to check for data caps and try throttling your connection at your router to the lower speed first to see how much it will impact things overall, but do keep in mind that one can still stream Hulu at its lowest compression rate even over a 768kbps down connection under most circumstances.

Of all the sections, this one will benefit the most from your hard work, diligence and research. As always, Broadband Reports is one of the best resources for researching ISPs.

The companion page, Networking Equipment can be found here.

Index

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

Superguide Discussion Thread



For the complete, unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide which contains far more detailed topical information, reviews, supplemental information links, as well as hardware and software recommendations, please visit Technical Meshugana.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 12:06:53 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

I.P. Daley

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Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2014, 11:18:17 PM »
Cell Phone Providers

First, let’s briefly discuss your bill: “How much am I currently paying? How much am I actually using per month? Can I reduce this usage if I had a home phone? What network am I on? Am I under contract? What’s it going to cost to jump ship?”

These are all questions you should be asking yourself before you shop the alternatives, and once you’ve got rough numbers and a plan or two together, you can poke numbers into the Wireless Plan Calculator to work out your ROI on switching.

The Basics

Let’s talk MVNOs themselves. Although sometimes risky, and often associated with “burner phones” used by drug dealers and Michael Weston, prepaid service is a perfectly legitimate means to have mobile phone service so long as you approach it intelligently. Going this route, you own your phone and you’re provided the service you pay for. No strings, no muss, no fuss… but there are some points to consider as you start to shop around.

The best advice is to stay away if at all possible from any provider that doesn’t allow you to bring your own phone (BYOD – bring your own device). Sometimes it can’t be helped in situations where you need CDMA service for example, but for the most part it is best to simply stay away from any MVNO that forces you to buy one of their handsets to get service, and won’t ever provide you the option to carrier unlock it to take elsewhere. The next best bit of advice is to stick with an MVNO that actually has some history and been established for a few years in the wireless market you’re getting service in (in our case, the United States).

The MVNO market can be cutthroat and the profit margins are razor thin, so it’s best to stick with a scrapper that’s not only proven themselves, but still prices themselves competitively with wholesale market rate changes from their parent network. This helps mitigate the risks of losing your number to an outfit that closes shop and blows away in the middle of the night like TalkForGood did. Established companies fresh to the wireless telecommunications market or foreign telecom brands trying to break into the US market don’t necessarily ensure success.

Plan Shopping

When shopping for plans, you should understand that of all the services provided, data will be your most expensive. If you’re not willing to go on a significant data diet, this guide isn’t likely to help you save enough money to warrant the risks of switching to an MVNO provider for your services. Before you shop for any plans, you should be aware of what your actual usage numbers are. Be educated about what you need. From there, you can work out how much you can potentially offload to other technologies and cheaper data networks with voice, SMS and data usage.

If you’re stationary at home most of the time when you’re making calls, perhaps consider bringing back the home phone with a VoIP provider, as mobile anything (voice included) is always more expensive than their wired counterparts.

As for SMS text messaging, understand first and foremost that text messaging is a racket and a cash cow, even in prepaid. A single SMS text message is roughly 1120 bits in size (8 bits to 1 byte, 1024 bytes to 1 kilobyte, 1,048,576 bytes to 1 megabyte, 1120 bits = 140 bytes). By the math alone (if I did it right), you should be able to send 7,489 text messages in 1MB of data. This means, at even 2¢ an SMS message at P’tel, you’re paying $149.78 for 1MB of data, and that’s one of the cheapest SMS rates!

On one hand, it makes those $5 or $10 unlimited text bolt on plans look more attractive, but you know what looks even more attractive still? That 10¢/MB data rate. Needless to say, this bit of information can pretty much justify the purchase of a low frills smartphone that can run SMS text alternatives like Kik or XMS. Of course, any data usage is your enemy when you’re being billed by the megabyte, so steps should be taken to stem that data usage as much as possible.

As for that data usage, keep in mind that the faster your connection, the faster you’ll likely burn through it. You don’t really need 4G LTE or even 3G service for sending text messages or emails as text is tiny. You don’t even really need much bandwidth and speed to browse the internet if you turn off image loading in your mobile browser. What eats up your data usage is media (music, video and photos), which coincidentally needs the fastest throughput in the first place to work. This means that you should use offline media for your music, videos and GPS data. This is the future right now, and smartphones have a ridiculous amount of storage capacity these days. Why should we be dependent upon network reception and have to pay a premium to download information that we can easily carry with us and have instant access to so long as the battery holds a charge?

It also typically isn’t cost-effective to try and offload your minute usage onto an mVoIP provider. It’ll be cheaper and the call quality will be more reliable if you just pay for the minutes you use or get an “unlimited” minute plan if you need to talk that much away from your house. Basically, PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED. This will be a valuable phrase to internalize as you read through the rest of this guide.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s introduce some of the most cost effective wireless providers available!

Recommended MVNOs

P’tel - A fantastic T-Mobile GSM based MVNO with pay as you go rates of 2¢ a text, 5¢ a minute, 10¢ a MB of data with airtime on refills starting at 60 days, and regarded as one of the granddaddies of the MVNOs. Monthly rates are available as well. Although not a cheap data provider, you’d be surprised how far a megabyte can go with text communications. They offer BYOD (bring your own device), and reasonably priced, good quality phones. For maximum flexibility and cost savings, I would highly recommend investing in a GSM handset that matches your needs if you don't have one already and just buy a SIM card. We’re longtime customers, and it’s good service.

Airvoice Wireless - Currently the king of cheap monthly pay as you go AT&T MVNO providers at 4¢ a minute, 2¢ a text, and 6.6¢ MB data with 30 day refills using their 250 Minute plan. Airvoice is technically now cheaper per minute than even P'tel, their customer service is superior to Locus’ H2O Wireless, and is technically one of the older GSM MVNOs in the nation. Trivially easy to BYOD as they’re an AT&T GSM carrier. They’ve returned back to the “Unlimited” talk and text trap as so many other providers have with bigger packages, but before they did, the same priced packages in question offered up to 5000 minutes and 10,000 text messages. It appears that Airvoice’s soft usage cap would still fall roughly in line with those usage numbers, but if you’re a heavy mobile talker, still be aware of the risks involved with undefined usage caps with “unlimited” plans. SIM cards cost $5 and can be ordered through them directly or from them directly through Amazon. My parents are on Airvoice.

Pure TalkUSA - Pure Talk is an AT&T MVNO that has been around since 2009, but owned by Telrite (a Georgia-based telecom), who’s been around since 2000 and doing MVNO business since 2004 (first with Verizon, but now only AT&T). Their prices are neither spectacular or terrible for the most part, but like Spot Mobile in relation to P’tel, there’s a couple shining little mid-range packages listed under their “Mobile Simple Plan” with better per minute and text rates than what Airvoice provides without going into the “unlimited” territory. On the down side, no data is included with these packages. They also provide smaller family usage plans with reasonable per line rates and rollover, even if their minute and data rates aren’t the cheapest. Support can be a mixed bag at times, but are usually pretty friendly (and better than Locus’ H2O Wireless support), and you can bring your own unlocked GSM handset without much trouble.

Ting - Relatively new on the scene (2011), Ting is owned by internet services giant Tucows.com and came out of beta back in March of 2012. They are a Sprint based MVNO with a twist – voice and SMS roaming on the Verizon network in country and roaming support in several other US territories and countries! That’s right, we have a CDMA MVNO that allows roaming off network, here, and this is partly made possible due to their doing business as a postpaid provider. Although not as cheap for what’s provided as other Sprint based MVNOs, they are quite reasonably priced for heavier users, SMS fiends, and people desiring “family” plans. Also, if your Sprint voice coverage winds up spotty in places, the little extra a month might be worth it to you for gaining the ability to roam off-network. Their pricing gimmick is tiered-based usage levels for voice/text/data with it acting as a usage bucket for all phones on the plan, and auto-adjusting to either the higher or lower priced service tiers depending on usage, so there’s no overages or paying for drastically more than you needed. Handsets can be expensive for buy-in, but they also have BYOD support now for most Sprint phones.

Consumer Cellular - I will readily admit that in the past, I have bagged on Consumer Cellular. I haven’t cared much for their advertising rhetoric, AARP old person technology fear tactics, and “oh, how gauche” attitude they take towards prepaid services, and it helped given the ridiculous prices they had going for the longest time. However, they have since gotten quite a bit more competitive with their pricing, especially on the data front. As to the customer service quality, given their AARP connection, they’ve got to keep their support levels up to keep their users happy. They’ve also been around since 1995, and are a big enough fish that they're now an AT&T wholesale reseller to other MVNOs. There’s still some serious caveats to the service that you should watch out for, but they’re a good option for GSM family plans and people who want to be voice-less data hogs. If you like the idea of Ting, but want GSM service? This might be the way to go.

Selectel - A reasonably decent Verizon based MVNO that supports Verizon CDMA and LTE handset activation with reasonably priced smaller monthly prepaid packages starting at $15/month for 300 minutes, 300 text messages and 15MB of data (LTE minimum package price $20/month). They also have a $75/year plan with 200 minutes and texts, and flex cards to handle overages on limited plans. Selectel has been around long enough to be stable, and a good place for both Verizon and Page Plus refugees looking to save money. They allow BYOD, and are a fantastic option for most Verizon refugees who are out of contract and close their account on good standing as you can bring most phones with.

Virgin Mobile - Virgin is a Sprint owned MVNO on their own network, which is a bit of an oxymoron. Although they have only moderately reasonable minute packages under the PayLo brand, their Broadband2Go service is one of the cheaper prepaid data providers you can get starting at $5 a day for 250MB of data, and $55 for 6GB for a month. This is the provider you want if you’re away from home for a few weeks every so often and you need a more secure network connection and more reliable bandwidth than the local hotel can provide. Used Virgin USB modems and MiFi hotspots can be picked up on eBay and CraigsList for cheap. Their Beyond Talk plans are also reasonably priced for you data junkies out there.

Honorable Mention

There’s still a few MVNOs worth at least a mention if any of the above plans/providers don’t quite work for you. These are providers who have a couple warts, like uneven customer support, untried business history, or overly niche plans, but are better options to consider than the providers in the next section. I won’t suggest them personally and will encourage you to make one of the above providers work if possible, but they still deserve some extended research if that can’t happen.
  • Kajeet - Sprint
  • RedPocket - AT&T (Sprint, Verizon service still new)
  • H2O Wireless - AT&T
  • BYO Wireless - Verizon CDMA (still new-ish)
  • EcoMobile - Sprint
  • Liberty Wireless - T-Mobile
The Brands to Ignore

There’s Net10/TracPhone/StraightTalk (America Movil) which isn’t the cheapest, and support can be a nightmare unless si tu habla español. Additionally, they have terrible phones, you can’t bring your own device (with the exception of StraightTalk and specific NET10 “unlimited” plans), and if you ever need to replace a SIM card with one of their handsets, forget it… you’re better off buying another phone. If you want a new phone, you’ll have to re-register and port internally if you want to keep your phone number. It’s just awkward and not worth the money for the most part. If you’re interested in why you see so many recommendations for StraightTalk’s service on the internet from various bloggers, it’s because they pay a high commission rate.

T-Mobile has their own prepaid division, but it’s not the most competitively priced. With the exception of the 100 minute/5GB package for the data fiends, there’s not much ground to bother mentioning them as their offerings at best are no better than some of the worst rates available from other MVNOs on their own network. You’ll also notice a lot of T-Mobile branded prepaid services being sold through department stores like Walmart Family Mobile and Target’s Brightspot. Read their terms of service and privacy policies carefully, and be aware that signing up for service through these providers is basically giving these cathedrals of consumerism a level of unrestricted access to your communications habits that would be a dream come true for pretty much any data broker to gain access to. Goodbye privacy!

Finally, there’s Republic Wireless… the little provider that’s pretending what’s old is novel. Their gimmick is $10-40 a month unlimited usage with WiFi and Sprint network coverage. Theoretically, it’s a great idea. A pre-configured Android phone that defaults to WiFi for calling and seamlessly integrates cell service and VoIP? Fantastic! Unfortunately, execution’s left a lot to be desired and their entire sales pitch is so oiled up pushing your greed buttons that most people ignore the math and the fine print gotchas. The reality is, if you understand how it works (and you can potentially do that after reading this guide and other resources posted here) you can replicate it on your own likely for less using any cheap carrier and an Android phone with Google Hangouts instead, amongst countless other methods.

Although Republic has appeared to make a concerted effort to address some stickier points, there’s already a history of ongoing shortcomings and issues, and the execution is still left wanting. Their terms of service are harsh, and the service for what you pay for isn’t as competitively priced as it appears. Don’t even consider it if you’re looking at their $25+ rates. Like StraightTalk, they also pay out a healthy bounty on referrals which is why you’ll see so many bloggers out there singing praises about the service. If you still insist on going with a proprietary VoIP on a smartphone solution from a young MVNO, consider going with TextNow‘s setup instead as the pricing is more honest for what you’re actually getting, they offer actual phone and email support, and they’ll even let you bring your own Sprint Android handset instead of forcing you to buy their own.

There’s other carriers spanning good from bad, new and old, but the brands above (both good and bad) are the providers that you should be aware of the most going into this venture.

The companion page, Cell Phones can be found here.

Index

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

Superguide Discussion Thread



For the complete, unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide which contains far more detailed topical information, reviews, supplemental information links, as well as hardware and software recommendations, please visit Technical Meshugana.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2015, 05:29:53 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

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Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2014, 11:18:26 PM »
Home Telephone Providers

Before diving into this particular topic, I should briefly touch on what VoIP is and how it can save you money. VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol, and is a data communications technology that bridges internet-based voice communications with the global Bell-based plain old telephone system, or POTS. Google Voice is based on VoIP, so is Vonage, and AT&T uses it in their traditional phone service between exchanges to keep their costs down (even if they don’t pass that savings on to you). So long as you have an internet connection and a VoIP provider that can provide you a phone number and a connection to local exchanges, you can make calls to anybody on the planet with a traditional phone line or cell phone through your internet connection.

The great thing is that VoIP leverages the internet’s bandwidth to keep connection costs low by keeping your call as data up to the point of the local exchange of the person you’re calling, which especially helps with international call costs. It will also provide the cheapest per minute calling rates you’ll ever see (a fraction of wireless minute or traditional wired long distance costs), which is why it’s best to offload as much of your calling time as possible to a VoIP provider at home instead of spending money on some wireless “unlimited” minutes package.

It’s also important to point out that you need a good internet connection to make this service work reliably. Available bandwidth isn’t as important as latency is, so if you have noisy lines or high ping time, you might be in trouble. If in doubt, run tests.

As we look at providers, we should establish some criteria to help guide us in our decision making process. How many minutes are needed? Would the freedom to bring your own device be better for your needs over obtaining a pre-configured device? Will you be making a lot of international calls? Would you like the freedom to leverage free internet calling from a regular telephone? Might FAX services be needed? Would you like to have SMS functionality attached to the number? Do you have a loved one in another country and want to give them a phone number local to their area for calling you? Would you like to reuse your old house phones?

One of the great things about VoIP services is that with the right carrier based on open SIP standards, the features and flexible options available in usage and configuration are only limited by your imagination and skill (and a little bit of physical technical limitations). By sticking with these more open carriers and potentially putting in a little extra technical effort, you can do everything from replicate Google Voice functionality to setting up your own IVR call routing system, or direct dial local phone number access for heavily discounted international calls, and using the system as a calling card style long distance portal… all things that if implemented appropriately could be leveraged to save even more money. With a little technical know-how and the right ATA, you could route all your domestic calls through one provider and your international calls through another! Even if you don’t want multiple phone numbers and would rather just route everything through your cell number, VoIP can still help you save money with outbound calls at home by using outbound only plans that let you set your outbound Caller ID information to show your cell phone number.

The options can almost be overwhelming, but don’t let yourself get lost in the potential when trying to pick a home phone provider. Figure out the core functions you could really use most at the best price, and KISS. Anyway, on with the providers!

Recommended VoIP Providers

VOIP.ms - One of the older, gearhead friendly, BYOD VoIP providers around. VOIP.ms is also one of the cheapest and most competitively priced per minute providers available for bill-per-minute usage (good for infrequent/sporadic calling and high-volume business). There’s an assortment of mix-and-match plans with reasonable set-up prices, and multiple server locations throughout North America helps to provide lower network/call latency for most users. Phone and e-mail support is provided in addition to an extensively detailed wiki. Call filtering, global call hunt, and an assortment of unique technical options like call recording and IVR (interactive voice response – digital receptionist) are provided.

VOIPo - A feature rich VoIP provider that although is relatively expensive for month-to-month payment, has had bundled offers that have dropped the price of service as low as $5.30/month for 5,000 minutes or less so long as you pay in yearly chunks. Many of the convenience factors of Google Voice like number blocking are available with VOIPo, and e911 is included as part of the service (though that fee is hidden from the quoted price). They also provide a free ATA bridge for use with their service so long as your account is active, though the device is only leased and you don’t actually own it. Officially they also state they don’t support third party devices, but their official support forums have an entire section devoted to community supported third party devices.

Future Nine - One of the cheapest gearhead friendly VoIP providers available, Future Nine provides month-to-month basic phone packages starting at $7/month for a phone number, 250 outbound minutes, 2000 inbound minutes, and no e911 service (e911 is an extra $1 a month). Their feature list isn’t the greatest compared to most other providers, but what they lack in features, they make up for in some of the lowest international rates available through any VoIP provider around. Here’s a great example: I have a friend who lives in Ireland, and he has a cell phone with Meteor. Calling a Meteor phone in Ireland costs on average about 25¢ a minute or higher through every single VoIP and cell phone service I’ve found but F9. On F9, it’s 6.6¢, and the call quality is quite good. The owner of the company frequents the Broadband Reports forums and frequently tosses in on tech support himself. Even if you don’t decide to use F9 as your primary VoIP provider, they’re an excellent secondary provider for routing calls out on if you do any regular international calling.

CallCentric - Although not one of the cheapest VoIP calling package providers out there, CallCentric makes up for it in consistent customer support, documentation and reliability (even if support is e-mail only). They provide several custom mix-and-match calling packages to fit various needs, including the ability to mix flat rates with pay-per-minute on incoming/outgoing services. Excellent documentation for BYOD support and smartphone integration. They also provide a lot of unique and less common features such as FAX support.

PhonePower - Although the most expensive provider in this list on a month-to-month basis without discounts, PhonePower is a happy medium from a feature and flexibility standpoint between VOIPo and VOIP.ms for many users. They’re also only expensive in relation to these other specific providers, but still cheaper than alternatives like Vonage and traditional phone service.

Regarding 911 Emergency Calling

I know having access to 911 can be important, and this can be a sticking point for a lot of landline defenders who are worried about cutting the copper. The major argument against VoIP from these folks is usually in regard to service availability in a power outage. Well, that’s easily remedied with a beefy uninterruptible power supply (UPS), as a broadband modem, router and ATA don’t use that much electricity. Understand that a power outage, depending on its cause and duration, typically has just as much of an availability impact on your ISP connectivity as it would your home phone line. So long as the line isn’t severed, you should still have access. Remember too that the major communications sheds that phone and cable providers use have battery backups themselves that will only last 48-72 hours at most. If you park your modem, router and ATA on a dedicated UPS, depending on its size, you should theoretically be able to keep VoIP phone service active for several hours to days in a power outage.

It’s also valuable to understand how proper modern E911 service is handled with a VoIP carrier, and the features that the enhancement has brought. When implemented correctly with a VoIP carrier in the United States, you set the physical address location of your phone service with your provider, who then selects and routes emergency calls to the appropriate PSAP for your area, and also sends your address information to the operator of the call center you’re connected with when you call. Clearly, it’s important with this setup to always make sure your home address information is accurate for the ATA in question to ensure timely dispatching of first responders aren’t mis-routed. Knowing this helps too as you can ask how E911 services are implemented with various VoIP providers that you might look into, as not all VoIP providers will provide E911 service at all (Google Voice, Skype), or their implementation is just setting a dial-plan to your closest police station dispatcher or a national call center and not having the infrastructure in place to connect with the appropriate PSAPs, or send along the necessary location information with the call.

If 911 service is this critical to your family, be willing to have alternate methods available to call for help such as cell phones or GMRS/FRS radio equipment (and licensing), and take the necessary steps to learn how to respond to emergencies yourself. Remember that safety is an illusion, and that first aid, self defense and firefighting skills are all valuable life skills for anybody to know. Get the training and equip yourself with the appropriate tools. Remember, emergency response time of a person on site who knows how to hold their own in a crisis is immediate… prepare, but don’t run away from risk, and don’t obsess about safety.

You Get What You Pay For

I would be remiss to not at least give Google Voice another quick mention here. Personally, I’ve grown tired of using it and don’t value the “free” services offered for the level of datamining anymore, but it is still an incredibly useful service for those who need its features or want it. GV is also a great workaround for the cellphone use to save money on SMS text messaging with people you know who refuse to use anything but SMS and for providing a phone number other than your cell number to hand out to everyone. It’s also useful for those who whine about not wanting to tell people, “Give me a minute, I’ll call you back,” as it’s just a quick (*) key to ring the GV call over to their VoIP account even on their own cellphone (if they’re in a WiFi hotspot) so long as the GV number is given out instead of the actual cell number.

There’s also services like MagicJack and Ooma. MagicJack offers a dirt cheap price per year on phone service and a proprietary device, but they don’t permit using your own devices or software to make or receive calls, which is one of the cost savings benefits of using a VoIP provider with a WiFi enabled cell phone. Their call quality is rather inconsistent as well and “unlimited” comes with some fine print and monthly minute restrictions. Then there’s the issues with their customer support.

Ooma’s actually a bit of a racket as their “unlimited” free phone service still costs about $3-5 a month for the phone number, e911 support and regulatory fees, their “unlimited” comes with fine print as well, and their hardware is proprietary and starts at $200. Unfortunately, the Ooma hardware also has a bit of a track record of dying due to shoddy electronics components just outside the warranty period (around the 18 month mark, likely cheap capacitors – as is the bane of all electronics these days) and the issues with customer support themselves. You also have the same limitations on flexibility with the service as you do with MagicJack, and all of the useful VoIP features that get given away with other providers (Canada included in call area, Caller ID name, call forwarding during outages, anonymous call block, voicemail to email, call routing rules, etc.) winds up costing more per month to add to the Ooma account than competitors charge in total for an equal number of “unlimited” minutes with all the same features and without the overpriced proprietary hardware buy-in.

If you’re still interested in MagicJack and Ooma despite the caveats already cited, read these posts on the math. It’s not pretty. If you insist on going with an ultra-cheap, proprietary service, go with netTALK instead. It’s forum user approved within limitations.

Just remember, you get what you pay for. There’s no sense going with the absolute cheapest, cut-rate services available and sacrificing on call quality and customer support when the financial line between cheap/free service and reliable quality service is so marginal in the first place. Often times, the difference is less than $5-10 a month. Is that additional marginal savings worth sacrificing your personal privacy or service quality when you’re already able to save so much in the first place even using the higher-end paid alternatives versus the traditional carriers?

As with all things since I can’t say it enough, RESEARCH! Nothing is a one-size fits all situation, and that applies with these carriers, your usage, and if you want to use it for personal or business needs. A good place to do a lot of VoIP provider research is over at Broadband Reports. They have extensive reviews of VoIP providers, user forums, and they cover other topics such as ISPs and networking hardware.

The companion page, Home Telephone Equipment can be found here.

Index

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

Superguide Discussion Thread



For the complete, unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide which contains far more detailed topical information, reviews, supplemental information links, as well as hardware and software recommendations, please visit Technical Meshugana.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 12:15:05 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

I.P. Daley

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Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2014, 11:18:36 PM »
Home Entertainment

For those of you looking to do a Home Theater PC to take advantage of streaming content on your TV to make up for not having cable TV? A voluminous tome could be spent on this subject alone, but for the sake of brevity (ha!), let’s keep it simple. Any old beater desktop or laptop you have kicking around that you can connect to your TV is fine. If it can run Windows, Mythbuntu, or XBMCbuntu and full screen SD (480p or lower) Flash video without acting like it will crap itself, you’re fine. Install a front end like XBMC, buy a cheap media center remote, install Flash, work a little configuration magic, and you’re good to go. You can even chuck in a small ATSC/QAM tuner and turn it into a DVR if you have enough drive space. Just be sure to turn it off when you’re done to save electricity.

If you’re starting from scratch, buy a cheap little Intel Atom based machine with an Nvidia ION GPU (or a used 1st generation AppleTV) and load up OpenELEC. Quick and easy. Even cheaper, if you don’t mind losing Flash video sources, buy a $35 Raspberry Pi and load XBMC on it.

Alternately, if you like mucking around with cheap, headless, HDMI out, Android-based ARM systems like the G-Box Midnight MX2 or Pivos XIOS DS, you can load XBMC on one of those and go nuts between it and the plethora of streaming media apps on the Google Play store. This method might actually be the best one if more restricted and paid content is desired (Netflix, pro sports, etc.) and details on how to do this can be had at the next link.

Of course, we should also discuss antennas, as any cable cutting measures done without taking full advantage of over the air (OTA) broadcasts where available isn’t a complete solution. It’s a topic that a guy like me could waste hours on talking about building your own directional antennas and that sort of wonderful thing, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. First, find out the sort of antenna you’ll need for reception over at TV Fool, then shop or build accordingly.

If you have an older analog NTSC television or DVR (like the TiVo Series 2), you can still keep the old equipment running with a cheap ATSC tuner like the incredibly cheap and readily accessible Magnavox TB100MW9 and the RCA DTA800 DTV tuners off Ebay, amongst other makes and models at various flea markets, thrift shops, and yard sales. No need to retire that old tube set just yet.

Some people will buy things like a Roku box or AppleTV or the like to stream media to their televisions, but there’s a bit of a downside to these devices… they’re specifically designed and set up to bleed you for more money and get you hooked on al-la-carte content purchasing. Hulu Plus is a good example of this as you can’t use Hulu at all on a Roku box without subscribing to Hulu Plus. Using a proper computer will not preclude you from still purchasing and subscribing to content if you want it, but far more content is available for free if you don’t use one of these cheap little dedicated boxes. By simply putting in a bit more money and a little effort on a more open device (even Android), you can access far more content (both free and paid) than you could have otherwise being at the mercy of a media outlet supporting your device and/or the manufacturer dictating how you can use it and with what content to begin with.

This said, there is nothing cheaper and more rewarding than to cut the idiot box out of your life entirely. Your imagination will flourish, your family time will be more interactive and meaningful, you won’t be subjected to advertising, and you won’t lose scads of hours of your life to having other people think for you. If you have the opportunity, get a copy of Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television from your local library and give it a read before you decide exactly how you plan to cut back on your cable or satellite bill.

Replace the newspaper, magazines and smartphone.

There’s considerable research growing that staring into and using all these smartphones and tablets are not only bad for our emotional health and attention spans, but can be disruptive to our sleep patterns as well.

Anyone who is tired of reading news by staring into a lightbulb on their smart phones, tablets, or with their desktops just to catch up with the world, are looking to simplify and return back a more printed sort of news and media consumption format, but still would like the advantages of networked technology and the freedom of a more open media device… might I suggest the following: an Android-based eInk tablet like the Onyx BOOX (not available in the US outside of Ebay) which are fully open Android tablets, or the Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch, which runs Android (now illegal to root inside the United States).

It may seem a bit extravagant buying a $200 eInk tablet gizmo, but when I did this myself back when hacking the Nook ST was still legal, this small extravagant purchase made for a more positive change in my life that had resulted in less unproductive farting around on the internet saving electricity and time better spent elsewhere. It helped me plow through the daily news updates and comic strip reading frivolity quicker, and given the passively lit screen aping paper, I didn’t find reading the news in the evening before heading to bed quite as disruptive to my sleep patterns. I could also have it double as a regular e-book reader as it was originally intended, provide quick access weather forecasts, act as a TV guide, and be usable as a Google Voice dialer and address book for the home phone. It’s not an incredible investment, but it could be if you are one of the few remaining newspaper subscribers on the planet and hate staring into a blue light to be informed of the latest happenings or just find yourself getting itchy from spending too much time online.

Since there’s already been one blurb about the negative side of media consumption with television, we might as well carry that forward with internet usage as well and mention Marie Winn’s The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life as another book you should pick up and give a good read. As always, stepping back from one’s habits and re-evaluating them from a fresh perspective will always illuminate ways to help improve your life and reduce your budget. Any spending that falls into this category should definitely be examined with a critical eye.

Index

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

Superguide Discussion Thread



For the complete, unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide which contains far more detailed topical information, reviews, supplemental information links, as well as hardware and software recommendations, please visit Technical Meshugana.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 12:08:36 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

I.P. Daley

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  • Posts: 3570
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  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Communications & Tech - Son of the Superguide!
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2014, 11:18:50 PM »
Closing & FAQ

I know that the previous five sections can be a bit of a dense, meaty read even as an abridged guide, but it also covers a lot of ground regarding modern communications and how to take a machete to the bills that come along with it. If you’re having difficulty digesting it all, take it in chunks and focus on optimizing one portion at a time. Cell phone bills are the lowest hanging fruit, so it might be best to just start there.

It can be easy to let technology and information overwhelm you, but it need not do that. Your technology is designed to only do what you tell it to. By growing to understand and master the various ways you can control these tools, the more freedom you’re truly granted as your personal independence increases by that much more. This information isn’t going anywhere for the immediate future, so you have the time to re-visit and research further. Take command of these tools and this information, and empower yourself. You’ve been given the knowledge of how to take back control of a portion of your monthly recurring budget that currently plagues countless other families who want to save money but can’t figure out how to do so.

Although modern communications technology can be a terrific time and money saver in some regards, it’s also historically unnecessary, and at the levels most people spend on it, an absolute frivolous waste caught up in the illusion of necessity. This guide isn’t about doing entirely without, it’s about examining what’s important and making it work for you at a reasonable price.

Just remember, financial savings is the byproduct of not wasting money.

FAQ

I want to keep my money-pit iPhone, how can I save money with it?
Please read the following link before asking any other questions about how to migrate your iPhone over to an MVNO: How to save money with an iPhone

Some GSM MVNOs only sell big SIM cards, where can I get a smaller one to fit my ultra-high end smartphone?
It's really easy to cut one down, or you could borrow a SIM cutter.

I want to save money, but I'm still under contract! What can I do?
You should run the math on breaking contract, because odds are it'll be cheaper in the long run to break it and pay off your ETF than stay. Here's an ETF Calculator, and a Wireless Plan Calculator to do just that with.

I want to switch to a T-Mobile MVNO but I have an AT&T smartphone and want fast data access, is 1900MHz data turned on in my city?
Look here to find out.

You didn't mention [name of some MVNO], are they any good?
As always, try to do your own research. HowardForums is a great place to do that at, as is Prepaid Phone News. If you ask, I'll do what I can to answer your questions. Odds are though, there's probably a reason why I didn't mention them in the first place, and I was just trying to be polite about it.

This information is old, certainly things have changed! Why hasn't it changed?
I aim for quality, timeless advice. If something is genuinely worth changing, this guide will be updated. If it hasn't been, it's probably because the same advice from X months ago still applies today.

What's a good MVNO for [your region here]?
Well, which of the big four carriers gives you the best coverage in your area, and who are you with currently? The most natural answer is to pick an MVNO on the same network that you're currently happy with or on a network you know has good coverage in your area.

I've got a massive mobile data habit, but I want to save money! Which MVNO can I switch to to save the most money?
None of them without going on a massive data diet first. Sorry.

This is great if you live in the United States, but what about us Canadians?
The practical approach of the entire guide can mostly be applied to your situation as well, and most of the cited VoIP providers in this guide will also work up North. If you want a list of Canadian MVNOs, check here. As for alternate ISPs, look into TekSavvy.

So you'll help folks from Canuckistan, but not me in [your country here]? You're a jerk!
That's not really a question, but as I said, a lot of the philosophy can be applied broadly... take from it what works. Beyond that, ask some of your fellow patriots on the forums here about alternatives in your region... unless you're Australian.

Whazzat "unless you're Australian" crack about, ya tosser? Do I need to feed ya to the dingos?
It just means alsoknownasDean has a nice little resource on low cost Aussie mobile providers here on the forums, and I don't want you to miss out on his resource, mate. Give it a burl, 'cause it's worth heaps.

Why you gotta hate on StraightTalk/Republic/Ooma/MagicJack? I think they're fine and they work for me!
I care about the quality of the information provided, not your feelings. Since I hold myself and this guide to a very high standard, and have very concrete and sound reasons why I do not recommend these providers, I simply will not recommend them and will make a point to state why whenever they're brought up. If you still don't understand why I won't recommend them, I highly encourage you to do some due diligence on these providers as compared to the ones recommended to find out why. Don't take it personal.

Can I steal your content for my own website?
Go nuts, but do remember this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA 3.0), so take the time to attribute and link appropriately instead of being a jerk about it. If you use it to try and make money, consider passing a little bit of that good karma back my way through the tip jar on my website since nobody's paying me to write and maintain this, and I don't do paid ads or datamining on my own site. However, if you use it to try and sell StraightTalk or Republic service, I'll probably re-donate your money in your name to either the Flat Earth Society or the Church of Scientology... and if you do this without donating, I'll still give them money in your name.

You're a mean, arrogant [censored]!
That's not a question either, no matter how many times you tell me in private messages. Also, this is text, and I'm a bit dry at times. For the times we may not agree... I may not always show it (L-rd forgive me), but I genuinely love you anyway because it's the right thing to do.

If you’re still looking for some necessary information, try the full and unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide first, and if you have any remaining questions, drop me a line or ask the community in this thread.

Thank you for your time in reading this, and I truly hope you’ve come out a wiser and better prepared consumer as well as a money saving machine. May your communications needs be met, and your service bills light.

Index

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

Superguide Discussion Thread



For the complete, unabridged version of Daley’s Frugal Communications Guide which contains far more detailed topical information, reviews, supplemental information links, as well as hardware and software recommendations, please visit Technical Meshugana.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 03:37:37 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.