Author Topic: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide  (Read 398153 times)

Z

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #250 on: September 09, 2012, 08:28:20 PM »
Let it go, Z.

If you don't agree with IP, feel free to start your own thread with your own opinions.  Or by all means, post in here, but don't get upset if IP doesn't agree.. This clearly is a thread of his information and opinions.

I'd be happy to read a thread with your thoughts, but for now this doesn't seem to be productive for either of you.

Just my thoughts, feel free to ignore me.  Hoping one of you will be the bigger man though. ;)

Fair enough.  Adios.

LadyM

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Re: Communications & Tech - ISPs, VoIP, Cell
« Reply #251 on: September 11, 2012, 01:04:38 PM »

Airvoice Wireless - http://www.airvoicewireless.com/
Currently the king of cheap pay as you go AT&T MVNO providers at 4 a minute, 2 a text, and 33 MB data with 30 day refills. Although one of the most expensive per MB of data, Airvoice is technically now cheaper per minute than even Platinumtel, and 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 a GSM carrier so long as you have either an AT&T based or unlocked GSM phone. They've recently gone into 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. One would hope that Airvoice's soft usage cap would still fall roughly in line with those usage numbers, but the change (as of mid-August) is still recent enough that that has yet to be reliably determined. SIM cards cost $5 and can be ordered through them directly or from them directly through Amazon. Parents will be on Airvoice as of end of August.
Pros: BYOD support, especially easy with AT&T phones. Perfect for the AT&T refugee as it's just a new SIM card in your old phone and off you go. Decent customer support. AT&T GSM network coverage. Free number porting. Rollover for unused balance.
Cons: AT&T GSM network only! No roaming off network. AT&T GSM network coverage. Expensive data rates. Short airtime credit, forcing a minimum budget of $10/month. Online or Western Union purchasing of refill cards only. No device tethering.

I.P.!!!  You Magnificent Mustachian!!

I'm making the move from AT&T GoPhone (@ $25/month for 250 mins talk & unlimited text) over to AIRVOICE WIRELESS (@ $10/month for 250 mins talk & 500 texts)!!!  We have 2 cell phones, so that's a $30/month savings ($360/year, $3600/10 years)!!!

Thanks again for all of your great info.  Your latest post describing their customer service prompted me to look through the original guide again to see if I could do any better than AT&T, and sure enough!  You rock.

"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #252 on: September 11, 2012, 02:44:11 PM »
I.P.!!!  You Magnificent Mustachian!!

I'm making the move from AT&T GoPhone (@ $25/month for 250 mins talk & unlimited text) over to AIRVOICE WIRELESS (@ $10/month for 250 mins talk & 500 texts)!!!  We have 2 cell phones, so that's a $30/month savings ($360/year, $3600/10 years)!!!

Thanks again for all of your great info.  Your latest post describing their customer service prompted me to look through the original guide again to see if I could do any better than AT&T, and sure enough!  You rock.

Keep in mind that's 250 minutes OR 500 SMS messages, not both. Otherwise, glad to have helped. I just point the info out, I'm not setting the prices. ;)

I might also suggest just to be on the safe side... you probably don't have to worry, but it never hurts to unlock your GSM phones anyway. Have a guide on how to do with with AT&T prepaid before you bail.

LadyM

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #253 on: September 12, 2012, 07:34:55 AM »

Keep in mind that's 250 minutes OR 500 SMS messages, not both. Otherwise, glad to have helped. I just point the info out, I'm not setting the prices. ;)

I might also suggest just to be on the safe side... you probably don't have to worry, but it never hurts to unlock your GSM phones anyway. Have a guide on how to do with with AT&T prepaid before you bail.

Oh my, I didn't read the fine print again!  Dang!  I saw "$10 Talk & Text" and went with that, but given the math and their rates, that makes more sense.

One question is with that $10 plan: what are the rates if you GO OVER?  Are they still $.04/minute talk and $.02/text?  If so, that's not horrible.  If you don't know, I'll call and ask.  Customer service seems pretty decent, as I've already had to call to figure out how to get their system off the ground.

Another question about AirVoice is:  How easy is it to access and view your plan usage to monitor yourself so that you don't go over?  I had to search a little bit to find it for AT&T gophone, just to see what my current usage is.

Thanks again!  I'll look into the unlocking thing too....my husband's phone is the only original AT&T phone.  Sounds like I have to call them to unlock it.  Awesome.

"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

LadyM

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #254 on: September 12, 2012, 10:59:54 AM »
I just called them and *sigh*, if you go over the 500 texts or 250 minutes of voice, you're essentially screwed, and the features cease to work.  Unless you have enough money for the next month's refill, in which case it will roll into the next month's minutes.

I might still go that route in the future, but right now we're texting (mostly) and talking more than what the plan would allow, and it would take some doing to cut down on that.  And as I don't want to pay for the unlimited $35/month plan, when I'm currently paying $25/month to AT&T, I'm going to stick with AT&T for now.

THANK YOU though for CLARIFYING for me the "OR" in the middle of that statement.  I would have assumed it was "AND" and gone until our phones shut down, which would have been unfortunate.

I'll keep combing through the superguide and keep my eyes peeled for cheaper cell service.
"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #255 on: September 12, 2012, 03:01:04 PM »
Actually, you can re-up with another $10 plan recharge any time. If you burn through the balance in three weeks, you just pay for your next $10 a week early. It restarts the clock at 30 days, you still get rollover if it goes unused before the next refill, yadda yadda. View it like a traditional pay as you go plan with rollover, but with only $10 refill cards and 30 days of air time: minutes stack, airtime never exceeds 30 days. My mother's going on a trip shortly, and wanted to make sure she had plenty of minutes, so she'll be applying two $10 Talk & Text cards to the account before leaving. Airvoice is cool like that. Also, they give you a system message with your remaining balance at the end of each call, which is awesome.

I'm not a great fan of the idea given you seem to have perfectly good phones you're happy with already... but if you were willing to switch to a CDMA carrier (Sprint network with Verizon fallback) and replace your handsets (feature phones are under $80), Ting would give you two handsets and a bucket of 500 minutes and 1000 texts to use between them for $26 a month. It'd mean replacing handsets, e-waste, learning new devices and other minor inconveniences, but the ROI on the two new entry-level handsets versus the savings per month over what you're currently spending would be less than seven months. Nice thing with Ting is that they're flexible, if you use less than the tier you sign up for, you get billed for the lower tier. Works the same way with overages, you just get kicked up a tier for the month on the overage. Also, friendly Canuckistanis from Toronto man the phones. Might be worth looking into.

Once of these days, we'll find the perfect plan for you and your husband, Ladymaier!
« Last Edit: September 12, 2012, 03:03:58 PM by I.P. Daley »

LadyM

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #256 on: September 13, 2012, 01:23:57 PM »
Actually, you can re-up with another $10 plan recharge any time. If you burn through the balance in three weeks, you just pay for your next $10 a week early. It restarts the clock at 30 days, you still get rollover if it goes unused before the next refill, yadda yadda. View it like a traditional pay as you go plan with rollover, but with only $10 refill cards and 30 days of air time: minutes stack, airtime never exceeds 30 days. My mother's going on a trip shortly, and wanted to make sure she had plenty of minutes, so she'll be applying two $10 Talk & Text cards to the account before leaving. Airvoice is cool like that. Also, they give you a system message with your remaining balance at the end of each call, which is awesome.

I'm not a great fan of the idea given you seem to have perfectly good phones you're happy with already... but if you were willing to switch to a CDMA carrier (Sprint network with Verizon fallback) and replace your handsets (feature phones are under $80), Ting would give you two handsets and a bucket of 500 minutes and 1000 texts to use between them for $26 a month. It'd mean replacing handsets, e-waste, learning new devices and other minor inconveniences, but the ROI on the two new entry-level handsets versus the savings per month over what you're currently spending would be less than seven months. Nice thing with Ting is that they're flexible, if you use less than the tier you sign up for, you get billed for the lower tier. Works the same way with overages, you just get kicked up a tier for the month on the overage. Also, friendly Canuckistanis from Toronto man the phones. Might be worth looking into.

Once of these days, we'll find the perfect plan for you and your husband, Ladymaier!

I might experiment then, and switch just MY phone over to Airvoice to see what I think of it.  If you can put extra money in for it to roll, then fine.  Even if I spend $20 for one month, I'm still cheaper than AT&T by $5, and as you say that's probably technically $20 for say 6 weeks, assuming I use up all my minutes in 3 weeks instead of 4....that's a decent savings, averaging around $13/month. 

The usage between my husband and I varies.  I text less on the plan because I get terrible reception at my office, so I use Yahoo IMer (which costs me nothing) to text my home daycare lady and my husband, who is a school teacher.  Texts work better than phone calls when he gets a break here or there.  Because he texts exclusively with his phone, he tends to run up his text total faster than I do.  In terms of calls, neither of us tend to use too many minutes.  I used only 68 minutes last month, but the month before used twice that!  If I can keep my usage lower, and actually TRY to fit within the $10/month, that would be mighty ideal. 

By the way, thanks for clearing that up.   And as for devices, you are right, I'd like to keep what we have.  On the one hand, my husband likes his current phone (LX Xenon GR500) and hates touchscreens, so an all-touchscreen phone is out for him.  For me, I just bought a new phone to replace my old one, also an LG Xenon.  I dropped the old one while running after the space shuttle when it did one of its many fly-bys here near Dulles airport.  Total doofus move, I know...it didn't work anymore after that fall.  So I'm not ready to give up my brand new phone just yet.

I think I'll try Airvoice and get back to you with a review.  I think I can be more efficient in my usage, and fit within the plan limits.  Thankfully with pre-paid, it's not like we're on any sort of family plan, and I forgot that for a minute.  Then it dawned on me that I can take my phone wherever I wanted to, and so could the Mister. 

Again, many thanks.  You're quite the resource.  :)
"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

WootWoot

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #257 on: September 16, 2012, 11:58:06 AM »
Dear IP, thank you for this most valuable information.

I have just read through some (but not all of the posts). Looking for a bit of advice.

We currently have two cell phones with unlimited call minutes within the provider's (Verizon) network. With Verizon, we also have our land line and our DSL. Our land line also has many free minutes of long distance (something like 500?).  It took us a long time to negotiate the price of same. It's about $70 for the two phones (we have texting also, but no internet and that is fine), $15 for the Internet and the balance is the land line.

We do not currently stream movies, although it is attractive and we've considered it. We don't text as often as we used to. I do text my sister and vice versa about once or twice a week.

My entire family and my husband's, and a number of friends live long distance from us. So we kind of need to have that feature.

I've considered being w/o a cell entirely...but...right now we have one car and here's an e.g. as to why I'm glad I have a cell phone. In the summer, I had a fender bender that resulted in my being stuck near work. I was really afraid to move the car. My husband could not get to me as he has no car. Using my cell phone, I was able to take photos of the damage and send them to him. He was also able to talk to the police officer involved, as well as the tow truck men.

Now I realize this sort of thing does not happen every day. But since it is really hard to find pay phones, or you could be in a remote area and have an emergency, or just want to call from the grocery store and ask if we need milk...I don't really want to be w/o one.

I'm not a very techie person--so a lot of the previous posts went over my head. What do you think might work for our situation? I've been afraid to change providers or the status quo because I thought I was getting such a great bargain. Now I'm wondering if we are overbundled.

Thanks--and sorry if I am babbling.



Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #258 on: September 16, 2012, 04:38:44 PM »
WootWoot, I'll see what I can do here quickly, and I'm sure a couple of our other well-versed forum denizens will have some ideas as well.

First, I'm a bit unclear as to how much you're paying on your home phone as it reads as though you're paying $70 for two cell phones and $15 for the internet, but no other price points have been cited as reference to the balance. Apologies if I'm being daft.

First question would be how much the internet would increase if you dropped the land line, as I'm guessing that price is dependent upon bundling the services. Odds are, the differential in price between picking up a VoIP provider like VOIPo and the increase in the internet cost should still be less than paying for both the internet and land line currently. In case the internet spikes considerably higher cost-wise, look into third party dry-loop (DSL without phone) Verizon DSL providers like DSLExtreme. With a one year contract, their 3Mbps service is $25+tax a month, $35+tax without. Ideally, if you can get Verizon to provide that speed at those prices or less without a phone line, stay with them if possible as it's usually easiest to deal with the owners of the copper coming into your house for line quality issues than through a third party.

If you do migrate over to a VoIP home line plus third party DSL provider, keep in mind to port the home number out first before switching DSL providers, as third-party DSL providers nearly always have to re-re-provision after the phone service gets yanked, and that costs extra money and/or might be viewed as a premature contract termination... so plan ahead in that regard. Another thing to check before doing so is the quality of the internet service you're receiving before making the plunge into VoIP... utilize speedtest.net and pingtest.net to check your connection speed and quality as well as learn to properly configure your router to best serve your VoIP provider that you choose for optimal call quality. I like VOIPo for their 30 day trial period and ability to port your number over after establishing service as it gives you the opportunity to bail out if your internet connection sucks. Utilizing a VoIP provider for your home phone will help tackle your dependence on your cell phones, though, as 5000 minutes on nearly any reasonably priced VoIP provider will be cheaper than any cell phone package, even "unlimited" ones.

As for the cell phones themselves, best to start with examining the bills to see exactly what you're using per month on average, and figuring out how much of that usage might be successfully moved away to your new low-cost VoIP call provider. The remaining balance of minutes/texts/etc. can then be more easily tackled. Coming off Verizon, PagePlus might be your easiest transitional move as you can port both your phones and your numbers over easily so long as you're either not under contract or you bought your contract out with Verizon before the transfer. Their "The 12" plan is kinda popular amongst the mustachians, but their "Talk 'n Text 1200" isn't terrible for the price either for that usage tier, and are pretty competitive cost-wise with Ting for that level of service. Additionally, PagePlus' standard prepaid minute cards can be bolted onto the account and the balance kept rolling on top of your monthly plan to absorb any overages. Only major gotcha with PagePlus to keep an eye out for is their roaming charge fees, so make sure your phones are never roaming if you make a call.

In your case if you're wanting to completely drop your cell phone to keep costs low, but don't want to give up the convenience of having one for emergencies and aren't hardcore enough to go the deactivated handset for emergency calls with ARN to call AAA route that I proposed in the cell phone portion of the guide... there's a middle ground called PlatinumTel. You'll have to pick up one of their phones, but you can keep the service on life support for about $3.35 a month using their Real PayGo service, which will give you roughly 66 minutes or 165 SMS messages or 33MB of data (or some combination there-in) to play with a month. You just need to make sure you keep some sort of activity going within a 60 day window to keep the service active... fortunately, that's pretty easy to do these days between the occasional spam text message and background data usage with smartphones. Enough minutes and data to be useful in a month without costing an arm and a leg, and cheap enough to not feel an obligation to actually use it. They're even running an excellent loss-leader special currently with a Sanyo SCP-3810 feature phone that gives you the phone and $50/6months of airtime credit for $40. Bam! Cameraphone for no investment and under $3.50 a month to maintain.

Overall though, you're really not doing too terribly for what you're getting if your home phone service is costing you less than $25-30 a month. There's room for improvement, sure, but not quite as much as you might think across the board. The biggest place where you can cut costs will be with your cell phones, followed with home phone. Hope this helps to get you started!

WootWoot

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #259 on: September 17, 2012, 11:49:53 AM »
IP, thank you for your quick and extensive reply.

My bad: I forgot to say that I am paying a total of about $135 a month for bundled 'Net, cells and landline. So it looks like $50 for the landline when I do the math.

Another question about the security aspect. I use the landline for "sensitive" issues such as anything where I'd have to give a social security number or a credit card number. Will the VOiP be as secure as a landline? For e.g., my uncle has his phone through his cable company. He still believes that he has a "landline" but in truth, it's all digital (and I feel, not secure). What are your thoughts on this?



Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #260 on: September 17, 2012, 10:11:58 PM »
IP, thank you for your quick and extensive reply.

My bad: I forgot to say that I am paying a total of about $135 a month for bundled 'Net, cells and landline. So it looks like $50 for the landline when I do the math.

Another question about the security aspect. I use the landline for "sensitive" issues such as anything where I'd have to give a social security number or a credit card number. Will the VOiP be as secure as a landline? For e.g., my uncle has his phone through his cable company. He still believes that he has a "landline" but in truth, it's all digital (and I feel, not secure). What are your thoughts on this?

Yeah, $50 for the phone line's pretty terrible.

As for security? Digital, analog... it's all about as equally secure. You either have faith in the privacy of the infrastructure or you don't. The only way to be certain is to have end-to-end encryption, and good luck getting your bank on board with that.

That said, there is one advantage to the security of VoIP over analog POTS... with VoIP, there's no NID that someone can tap into the lines with and hear your conversations using $5 of off the shelf electronics... it takes a couple hundred and Wireshark. Sleep well!
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 10:15:41 PM by I.P. Daley »

WootWoot

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #261 on: September 18, 2012, 03:18:40 PM »
Thank you, again. Some things to mull over here. I guess I've just been going along paying this bill for so long I didn't realize I had a choice!



LadyM

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #262 on: September 26, 2012, 12:48:06 PM »
Actually, you can re-up with another $10 plan recharge any time. If you burn through the balance in three weeks, you just pay for your next $10 a week early. It restarts the clock at 30 days, you still get rollover if it goes unused before the next refill, yadda yadda. View it like a traditional pay as you go plan with rollover, but with only $10 refill cards and 30 days of air time: minutes stack, airtime never exceeds 30 days. My mother's going on a trip shortly, and wanted to make sure she had plenty of minutes, so she'll be applying two $10 Talk & Text cards to the account before leaving. Airvoice is cool like that. Also, they give you a system message with your remaining balance at the end of each call, which is awesome.

I'm not a great fan of the idea given you seem to have perfectly good phones you're happy with already... but if you were willing to switch to a CDMA carrier (Sprint network with Verizon fallback) and replace your handsets (feature phones are under $80), Ting would give you two handsets and a bucket of 500 minutes and 1000 texts to use between them for $26 a month. It'd mean replacing handsets, e-waste, learning new devices and other minor inconveniences, but the ROI on the two new entry-level handsets versus the savings per month over what you're currently spending would be less than seven months. Nice thing with Ting is that they're flexible, if you use less than the tier you sign up for, you get billed for the lower tier. Works the same way with overages, you just get kicked up a tier for the month on the overage. Also, friendly Canuckistanis from Toronto man the phones. Might be worth looking into.

Once of these days, we'll find the perfect plan for you and your husband, Ladymaier!

Update I.P.~!!!

We went with Airvoice - switched over last night!  Number porting was flawless and we're now up and running on the $10/month plan, plus an extra $10  for my husband just in case (and if I stop texting him with Google so much, he probably won't need it before the 30 days are up).  I LOVE the instantaneous feedback on the balance....very nice.

We got to keep our current devices, porting was fast and easy, and being a former AT&T customer, I'm pretty familiar with the coverage.  We've gone from $51/month for 2 cell phones, down to $20/month.  Thanks so much for the recommendation.

Also, thanks to MMM and this post, our Communications and Entertainment spending has gone from a whopping $261/month down to just under $100!!

Before: 
$262/mo total Communications/Entertainment expenses
$150/mo for Fios Cable TV, Home Phone, Internet
$23/mo for Tivo Service
$8/mo for Netflix
$81/mo for cell phones - AT&T Family Plan (post-paid)

A few self-inflicted punches + I.P.'s Super-Guide post....

After:
$98.50 total for Communications/Entertainment expenses
$55/mo for Fios Internet ONLY (killed cable & phone)
$2.50/mo for NetTalk Duo home phone ($30/year VOIP)
$8/mo for Netflix
$8/mo for Hulu+ (they have a WWE channel)
$20/mo for cell phones - Airvoice Wireless pre-paid ($10 talk&text plan x2 phones)
$5/mo for misc. Amazon Instant Video or MP3 purchases

A savings of $163.50/month, $1962/year, and $19,620 over ten years.

Thanks for schooling me I.P., and for all the help and clarification.  You rock!

"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #263 on: September 26, 2012, 01:22:34 PM »
I have to admit, this string gives my non-tech savvy brain a headache. That being said, I've got a question that hopefully someone will be able to answer since our phone bill is astronomical.  We've been keeping AT&T because I have an email address that, if we cut off AT&T, will be disabled. It's the email address I've been using for forever. Is there anyway around this issue or do I just have to suck it up and change my email address?

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #264 on: September 27, 2012, 08:55:44 AM »
A savings of $163.50/month, $1962/year, and $19,620 over ten years.

Thanks for schooling me I.P., and for all the help and clarification.  You rock!

Woohoo! Excellent to see and hear!

I have to admit, this string gives my non-tech savvy brain a headache. That being said, I've got a question that hopefully someone will be able to answer since our phone bill is astronomical.  We've been keeping AT&T because I have an email address that, if we cut off AT&T, will be disabled. It's the email address I've been using for forever. Is there anyway around this issue or do I just have to suck it up and change my email address?

Well, from what I understand of AT&T e-mail account policy, they do convert most of their e-mail addresses to free accounts after disconnect. The line appears to be along which e-mail web portal you use to access your account. If you can sign into your e-mail account through a regular Yahoo mail portal, I believe you should be good to have the account convert over to free access after terminating your DSL service so long as it's done at your request, and not disconnected for lack of payment or breach of ToS. You probably won't ever be able to access the account again through a stand-alone e-mail client, but you should still be able to access it through Yahoo's web portal. At least, this is what I gleaned from Frohike over at BBR, who works at AT&T and has a long standing reputation in their forums:
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r22653837-Keep-sbcglobal.net-or-att.net-email-address-after-DSL-cancel

That said, this conundrum highlights the problem of using your ISP's e-mail address for e-mail. If something happens to your relationship with them, you can lose your address which is a very bad thing for some people who use their address for business purposes. For the same reason why most people running a business where the mailing address is critical for customer contact and shipping wouldn't use a P.O. Box, so too should you not use an ISP's e-mail address for business communications. At minimum, spend the money on a domain you own and can control through a registrar like Namecheap, and just use their e-mail forwarding service to forward on to any other e-mail address you like from any other provider with the ability to change where it forwards to at any time. Seamless and transparent so long as you change your reply-to address on your account to match.

If you want your own personal mail server for your domain (at least for the non-to-marginally-technical), sign up for either a free Google Apps or Zoho Domains account and configure your e-mail service with your registrar accordingly. (Namecheap's also got a new e-mail hosting service available in beta starting at $3/year for a 3GB account.) Granted, you're still dependent upon others to provide you your e-mail service, but if they ever bomb out, you can at least transfer hosting to another company and keep receiving messages or switch over to e-mail forwarding with the registrar if they offer it.

Of course, this applies to personal e-mail address users as well. It's difficult not to be attached and invested in a specific contact point, but it's best not to get so attached that you can't disengage for any service that falls outside of your direct control and ownership. If address stability is important, make the investment to have it. Otherwise, if you have to change addresses, you have to change addresses. (You'd technically have to in your situation anyway if stability is that important.) It's an extreme example, but you'd think someone paying on a $500k McMansion with a mortgage and only a $30k/year income with no savings or investments just to keep the street address to receive Christmas cards would be mad as a hatter, right? If for whatever reason you can't keep your e-mail address despite the relatively positive news from the linked BBR thread, do what you have to to move on to reduce costs.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #265 on: September 27, 2012, 09:07:22 AM »
Thanks. I have my own domain with hosting that I just got, so I can probably just switch over to it. It's just a PITA to do it. I know, tiny violin.  I do have an sbcglobal.net address, so it sounds like I can keep that address, have it forwarded to my domain email address and then transition over time instead of a hard stop.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #266 on: September 28, 2012, 08:15:54 AM »
Yeah, it really does help when you can have a leisurely transition. Sounds like you've gotten it squared, then. Good to hear!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #267 on: October 01, 2012, 05:25:44 PM »
Update! I just got off the phone with Ladymaier and her NetTalk provided VoIP service. (Thank you so much for calling and helping us all out, Ladymaier!)

NetTalk Duo:

The verdict? Not terrible. It was pretty close to what I expected, but NetTalk is serviceable and the overall call quality is certainly better than MagicJack (not that this particular benchmark is difficult to clear). It's got a few of the same shortcomings that Google Voice has, like duplex issues and brief cut-outs from background noise, only the latency is lower and the compression is a little more noticeable. The vocal frequency range is reminiscent of cheap walkie-talkies, a little flat and a touch hollow at times. All said, I'd still regard the overall call quality as a bit less problematic than Google Voice... maybe even a bit of an upgrade.

There's concern of course about router compatibility for some people, and the power brick is apparently pretty flimsy and cheap, but fortunately, the power connector is the USB port as well so it can be easily replaced with a high enough amperage cell phone charger. One must also remember that NetTalk is a proprietary VoIP provider tied to cheap hardware, and they've designed the service to be as cheap as humanly possible... so, quality isn't going to be at the forefront here. Apparently, number porting can take a couple weeks as well. However, for all the caveats, you do basically get e911 support, up to 3000 minutes of talk time (supposedly), and most of the other major calling features expected with most VoIP providers for about $2.50 a month plus initial and replacement hardware costs.

It's not perfect, but if you know the quirks and risks going in and it's to be used for far less frequent and important calling (kind of in the same camp as the Google Voice demographic) or to be taken along for cheap and frequent calling while on the road, and you just cannot bring yourself to sign up with VOIPo, Future Nine or another higher-end independent VoIP provider that allows you to BYOD, or you can't justify $7-10 a month for something you barely use and MagicJack is still looking attractive despite my warnings against 'em...NetTalk is functional and certainly superior to the alternatives in the market segment. Bonus points, their website doesn't look like an ad you'd find across from Ask Marilyn and Howard Huge in the weekly Parade. (Thanks for that analogy, Ladymaier!)

My current primary recommendation is going to be VOIPo first and foremost, but for the extra-frugal mustachians out there that don't potentially mind the near disposable nature of the hardware or the call quality and find Google Voice a PITA, NetTalk just might be the solution for you.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #268 on: October 01, 2012, 06:47:47 PM »
Any thoughts on FreedomPop's new free 4G now that it has gone live?

http://gigaom.com/mobile/freedompops-freemium-4g-data-service-goes-live/
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #269 on: October 01, 2012, 08:22:49 PM »
Small celebration for me! The husband has green lighted cutting the cable! My Internet/phone/cable bundle always comes out to around $200 a month! I tried negotiating and got no where. My contract is almost up, so the fee to break will be $30.00. Just cutting cable and keeping the phone and Internet would be $105 a month. Cutting phone and keeping the Internet alone will be $65 a month. THEY WANT $40 for my bare-bones, dial tone only phone? They can get bent.

So I haven't saved any $$ yet, spent some though! I'm more than 30 miles from the broadcast, so I bought a $50 antenna. A 6 foot difference in position took me from 6 channels to 26. (Had to buy a longer coax cable to do it, so add another $9). Not too shabby. But, still getting expensive. I headed to the flea market and got a used cable to attach the computer to the TV for $5. It works great!
I headed to the PagePlus dealer at said flea market and he sold me a used flip phone with charger for $20! I purchased 100 minutes for $10 and plan to keep this phone charged and off for emergencies. The phone seems to be in good condition and is holding it's charge so far. (I did not own a cell phone before).

My awesome mother bought me an ipad2 a few months ago, so I set it up with Google Voice and Talkatone. Yeah! Now, I can make and receive calls for no added cost over the wifi, except the $10 headset/mic I bought for comfort. Everyone I've talked to has said the call quality is just fine.

We are entertainment gluttons, so between the 2 Playstations, laptop (another gift from mom), iPad, Wii (gift from his mom), Nintendo 3DS, multiple TV's, and we already subscribe to Netflix anyways - we are well in position to cut the cord! The gluttony shall continue but we will be forced to be a bit more thoughtful about it.

Thank you IP Daley and thank you Hockey lockout for making this a possibility. I'll be back later to find out how the heck to watch the Bruins without NESN and Versus. I'll let you know how it goes over. So far, the idea hasn't been met with enthusiasm from my tenant/ sister in law, who requested a couple weeks notice before I cut the cable! I guess free cable must be pretty sweet. (I've been sharing it as a loving sister, not as an included utility). I'm setting the date for Oct 10th.

Thanks again! I'm cutting off Cox!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #270 on: October 01, 2012, 08:30:50 PM »
Any thoughts on FreedomPop's new free 4G now that it has gone live?

http://gigaom.com/mobile/freedompops-freemium-4g-data-service-goes-live/

I've a couple. The Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy aren't stroke inducing for anyone but privacy advocates, but that's to be expected given the nature of the service. It's blatantly obvious that one of their primary revenue sources is selling collected information about their users. Prices are pretty well in line with what I'm expecting revenue generation and average Clearwire/Sprint LTE prices per MB to be... especially come next year with Sprint. Reminds me a lot of NetZero's model, just ratcheted up to the next level with the vaguely ponzi-schemish social network datamining for extra revenue. It's also obvious that they're banking on overages given the following quote from this article:

Quote
The customer that poses a problem initially is the one that uses his entire cap each month without exceeding it, Miller said.

The iPod/iPhone clip-ons are interesting as well, but I'm a bit concerned about safety. A lot of people might use them for VoIP services while out and about, there's no available SAR values (though that might change after the devices are released), and although it's non-ionizing radiation, cellular data radiation still gets pretty potent... even with LTE. Even not using it for VoIP, since I think they'd qualify as modems and not phones, they might be exempt from the FCC's 1.6W/kg safety limit, and that alone is what most phone modems push up against... voice services are usually at least half that.

It's a cute idea, and they might offer some pretty attractive rates initially for data, but either they'll find they aren't making as much money as they thought and will change the prices accordingly to accommodate as the grand experiment wears on or people who want serious and legitimate wireless internet access won't like the tradeoffs that come with the service and price. There's no doubt that this will fill some form of niche in the prepaid/MVNO data market, 90% of the MVNO markets play to niches. Ultimately though, it comes back to the question of, "What price free?" that usually accompanies these sorts of companies. Only time will tell how the market bears the answer to that question with FreedomPop.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #271 on: October 01, 2012, 08:46:01 PM »
Small celebration for me! The husband has green lighted cutting the cable! My Internet/phone/cable bundle always comes out to around $200 a month! I tried negotiating and got no where. My contract is almost up, so the fee to break will be $30.00. Just cutting cable and keeping the phone and Internet would be $105 a month. Cutting phone and keeping the Internet alone will be $65 a month. THEY WANT $40 for my bare-bones, dial tone only phone? They can get bent.

.....

Thank you IP Daley and thank you Hockey lockout for making this a possibility. I'll be back later to find out how the heck to watch the Bruins without NESN and Versus. I'll let you know how it goes over. So far, the idea hasn't been met with enthusiasm from my tenant/ sister in law, who requested a couple weeks notice before I cut the cable! I guess free cable must be pretty sweet. (I've been sharing it as a loving sister, not as an included utility). I'm setting the date for Oct 10th.

Thanks again! I'm cutting off Cox!

Fantastic news and steps in the right direction! You could probably even scale back the connection speed with Cox to their Preferred or Essential package and save another $13-25 a month without even being able to tell much difference. As for Bruins games after the lockout ends, you can either listen on the radio or spend the money to subscribe to NHL Gamecenter Live which supports several of your toys. They usually only charge about $80 a season for access. Hardly mustachian and still deserving of a facepunch... but as a recovering Leafs fan, I can't punch too hard out of sympathy.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 08:48:37 PM by I.P. Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #272 on: October 01, 2012, 08:58:54 PM »
Thanks for the FreedomPp thoughts.

I'm gonna go ahead and give it a shot.  All I have to lose is opportunity cost on the device deposit and a few bucks for shipping it.

I agree on the sustainability, it'll be interesting to see what tweaks they'll end up making.

I thought the comment at the bottom of the article I linked to was interesing about how they expected a household, or perhaps even single user, to have multiple devices, and that's okay, but they'd curb it if it was abused too much.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #273 on: October 01, 2012, 09:08:18 PM »
Love to hear your feedback off the experience, dude.

I'd caught the same comment at the end of the article as well, but much like the rest of the service, only time will tell to see how sustainable that aspect of the service will prove to be. Personally, I'll give it a year before they cap it to about 2-3 devices per household unless they entirely abandon the freemium model. Something about this feels a hare too optimistic about the level of data services they'll be able to provide for the money.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #274 on: October 01, 2012, 10:00:30 PM »
Absolutely, I wouldn't be surprised if the free tier is completely gone in a year and has at least a nominal fee, say $5/mo. (or becomes severely throttled, or covered with 10x more ads, or whatever).

But hey, I'll check it out while it's available, and I'll definitely report back.

I do like that you can just "add" friends and get extra space, but you don't have to have them sign up through a referral code or anything, and it's a mutual thing (i.e. you both add each other and you both get extra space), from what I understand.  Much better than the typical annoying MLM type idea.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #275 on: October 03, 2012, 11:34:06 AM »
Update! I just got off the phone with Ladymaier and her NetTalk provided VoIP service. (Thank you so much for calling and helping us all out, Ladymaier!)

NetTalk Duo:

The verdict? Not terrible. It was pretty close to what I expected, but NetTalk is serviceable and the overall call quality is certainly better than MagicJack (not that this particular benchmark is difficult to clear).


My pleasure I.P!

I just wanted to throw in a few things.  First of all, I was mistaken when I told you that number porting took a couple of weeks.  I went back and checked my emails from NetTalk:  my Port Request was made June 13th, and the "Your number has been ported" email came through on June 22nd....so 9 days, which isn't too bad.  My apologies for mis-remembering... ever since I started having kids, my ability to estimate time has taken a hit.  I can't keep track of anything that doesn't have a birthday.

So we've been using the NetTalk since June with no complaint.  We run it through our Verizon FIOS router, and of course the high-speed FIOS connection.  I'm not sure it matters, but I can be on the phone while the kids are streaming Netflix on the Wii and my husband is on Hulu, and there's no noticable problems with the phone.  As you stated, it's not like call quality is stellar, but it's decent, and for our purposes "decent" is enough.

The web interface is easy to use, setting up and registering the device was rather painless, as was putting in the porting request online - I don't think it took me more than 5 minutes.  Like with most porting scenarios, you get a temporary number to activate the device while you wait for your number to be ported.  I plugged it in, it played nice with my router, and I had dial tone in no time. 

The only other funny thing about it is the ring....it's shorter than a normal ring, I'd say by almost about half.  I don't know why this is, and it takes a little getting used to, but it's not bothersome.  The service also plays nice with our answering machine.

I don't know there's much else to say about it, other than to echo what I.P. said: it's a practical home phone solution if you're like me and your home phone is used very little.  If I had to use my home phone fairly often for family calls or as a business line, I might go with a beefier provider like VoipO.  But for us, NetTalk is perfect.

One more note, I've been using the NetTalk DUO plain vanilla wired version.  It costs $50 and includes the 1st year of service...so think of it as a $20 device with your first $30/year of service included.  There's also the NetTalk DUO II, which is also wired, but costs just $34.95 and only includes 3 months of service.... so $20 for the device plus $15 for 3 months of service??  I don't get it....that's funny math to me.  It seems worth the extra $15 to get the year of service....the DUO II will cost you more in the long run because after the first 3 months, it appears you would then purchase a year at $30.  There seems to be no other advantage to this device.  It will only cost you more.  As for the WiFi version, I wrote it off because to me, wireless anything is a one-way ticket to the land of headaches.

Lastly - I ordered my DUO via Amazon, and got it with free shipping.  I don't recall getting it cheaper from them at the time, but currently you can save about $5, as they are selling it for $45.30, plus free super-saver shipping! http://www.amazon.com/Nettalk-Duo-VOIP-Telephone-Service/dp/B0045S2JE8

If for some reason I have anything further to add in the future, I will.  And anyone who has any questions regarding the service, feel free to post them here or private message me.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #276 on: October 04, 2012, 12:36:29 AM »
I must admit that reading this thread is a lot like listening in on a conversation between people speaking a different language than mine. Every once in a while, I think I understand the gist of it :)

I did close our AT&T mobile account. We were paying about 116$ a month for two phones (one iphone and one non-smart phone).
We got airvoice wireless. I am sure my husband will have no problem being under 10 a month. I did the 10$ thing but I will likely be refilling early :) But still, even if Im paying 20 per month, we will be saving 80-90$ a month. Wow. (Im also only using wifi data on my iphone) Also, my Brother in Law says he will give his "old" iphone to us when he upgrades to the 5 sometime soon. Be nice for the kids, really, to have another device to play on, but will still keep to wifi data only.

I also canceled our Directv service. I got an antenna and it works fine on the tv. Im fixing up a tivo I bought on CL that will hook into the computer (so we dont need a landline like the first generation tivo we have and dont use right now). saving us another 100/month.

An aside about the Tivo. I bought it in jan 2003. I believe I paid 249 for the machine and my account says it was 199$ for the lifetime service. A few years in the hd crashed, and my brother replaced it for me as a gift, and he made it so we could record more hours as a bonus. Money well spent, imho.
Its been a huge time saver in our lives (no commercials! no waiting around for shows to start) and so convenient for me as a mom to small kids (watch in the wee hours up nursing an infant!) It still works, but it needs a landline to operate and in Chicago, it seems impossible to get one of those for less than 35$ a month not including the bs installment and device fees. Lame. I tried to figure out if I could hack my tivo to network it, but I couldnt find any solid info that that would work, so I bought a second gen tivo from CL for 20$ (and it has lifetime service!) It can be networked easily. I had to fix the HD on this one, too (we even tried to use the other HD and transfer it but they are different mfrs and it didnt work) but for 150 I got a zillion hours of recording space (127?) and Im super psyched to get it set up and program in the OTA channel shows that me and my kids enjoy. (and I am going to sell my other tivo!)

back to the thread appreciation: I do think that I want a VOIP so that I can have longer conversations with my sister and friends, but will have to go try to read the thread again to figure out how to do that.  Im also unclear on if I need to get google voice. If I have an iphone with airvoice wireless, what are ways to maximize its use, like Ive heard mention of using gvoice to get rid of text fees? I just am not a native tech speaker!


:) but what a great resource!! Thanks!!!

N

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #277 on: October 04, 2012, 10:25:33 AM »
I must admit that reading this thread is a lot like listening in on a conversation between people speaking a different language than mine. Every once in a while, I think I understand the gist of it :)

.....

back to the thread appreciation: I do think that I want a VOIP so that I can have longer conversations with my sister and friends, but will have to go try to read the thread again to figure out how to do that.  Im also unclear on if I need to get google voice. If I have an iphone with airvoice wireless, what are ways to maximize its use, like Ive heard mention of using gvoice to get rid of text fees? I just am not a native tech speaker!

Great to hear you've made some major positive changes to your budget using some of the info here, and also great to hear you've been able to work out keeping a TiVo going for free.

As for the comment, I think you've done a lot better understanding the conversation than you realize. If you didn't, you wouldn't have successfully axed your cell phone bills so thoroughly or dropped the satellite service, and those two are the largest reduction points you can really make.

Let me answer and try to clear up the remaining questions, though. First, establishing VoIP service is pretty easy. In the case of VOIPo, you order the service, they ship you the device you need to bridge your network to your home telephones, you plug it in and finish setting up the service with them (which includes number porting if you need it), and you start using it like a regular telephone. It's pretty self explanatory when you get the device, really. Depending on your router make and model, you might have call quality issues from VoIP provider to VoIP provider. At least in the case of VOIPo, there's an excellent user community and support group for troubleshooting and fixing call quality issues, which usually turns out to be something stupid simple to fix like disabling an option in the router. The only other point of failure might be the connection quality of your ISP. You can check to see if this might be a problem before ordering service by checking out speedtest.net and pingtest.net first, and then put in a trouble ticket if you're having speed, latency or noise issues.

As for Google Voice, you don't need to get it, but a lot of people use it as a way to get text messaging at the cost of data. If you're on WiFi most of the time, you'd basically get close to free text messaging on your iPhone. It doesn't integrate in as nicely with the iPhone as it does with Android (unless you jailbreak), but its quite serviceable otherwise. Two things to consider about GV these days, though: 1) the pool of numbers available currently is pretty well picked over in many areas and the remaining numbers can be heavily used, so you might inherit junk SMS message and solicitation call issues. You can set filters to deal with most of it, but you really almost have to whitelist your contacts and ban everyone else if you wind up with a number like that. 2) If you don't have data enabled with Airvoice and your APN properly set, you won't be able to send or receive your GV SMS messages (or any other data reliant messaging replacement) while you're out and about as it relies on data.

One thing to remember with Airvoice as your carrier and the 33/MB data structure is, yes, you'll save a wad of money with text messages using Google Voice so long as you do so on WiFi access. Given the shockingly high data overhead for Google SMS messages though at around 30+kb plus the cost per MB on Airvoice, and text messaging through your data plan works out to about a penny a text given you'd get about 33 text messages per MB. Half the price over directly sending SMS messages through Airvoice, but still only half the price. If you only text when you're out and about and never when you're home or don't text often, it might be something to consider from a convenience vs. savings perspective... especially when having multiple phone numbers confuses most other people.

Kik is also an option for your most frequently texted people if everyone has a smartphone and they're willing to install it. It doesn't replace SMS messaging, it just provides a really cheap alternative to it. It's like a multi-platform BBM if you've ever used a Blackberry, and you can get a couple hundred messages or more per megabyte of data. Since 90% of our own text messaging was done between each other and about three people and they were all amenable to Kik, we just went the Kik route instead of integrating GV for texting on our own phones. Wound up being far less hassle for our situation. YMMV.

Did I help, or just confuse you more?

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #278 on: October 08, 2012, 11:22:25 AM »
Actually, you can re-up with another $10 plan recharge any time. If you burn through the balance in three weeks, you just pay for your next $10 a week early. It restarts the clock at 30 days, you still get rollover if it goes unused before the next refill, yadda yadda. View it like a traditional pay as you go plan with rollover, but with only $10 refill cards and 30 days of air time: minutes stack, airtime never exceeds 30 days. My mother's going on a trip shortly, and wanted to make sure she had plenty of minutes, so she'll be applying two $10 Talk & Text cards to the account before leaving. Airvoice is cool like that. Also, they give you a system message with your remaining balance at the end of each call, which is awesome.


I.P. - Just writing for clarification.  When you say "rollover", you mean if say I bought 2 $10 cards to cover myself for a month, but actually only end up using 1 of the $10 cards, the 2nd $10 card will then become active ("rollover") for the next month?  I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to lose that 2nd $10 card.  I believe that's what you've said above, but I just wanted to confirm it.  And the airvoice wireless site doesn't really talk about this in detail.  Thanks!
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #279 on: October 09, 2012, 08:23:14 AM »
I.P. - Just writing for clarification.  When you say "rollover", you mean if say I bought 2 $10 cards to cover myself for a month, but actually only end up using 1 of the $10 cards, the 2nd $10 card will then become active ("rollover") for the next month?  I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to lose that 2nd $10 card.  I believe that's what you've said above, but I just wanted to confirm it.  And the airvoice wireless site doesn't really talk about this in detail.  Thanks!

I just talked with my mother last night about this very topic, and I want to apologize for the news I'm about to share. The good news is, technically speaking, Airvoice is still the cheapest per-minute GSM MVNO with their $10 a month 250 minute plan. The bad news is that they appear to have recently redone their terms of service and have discontinued any form of stacking and rollover on this plan, and as such you can never have greater than a 250 minute balance. This means if you add a card early, you'll lose any remaining balance from the previous card when you activate it. This appears to be a relatively recent change given what little I've dug up on the subject from around the various wireless communities.

I'm a bit frustrated and disappointed by this news, because although it's not a major change, it's still a disappointing one that doesn't make them as attractive as they used to be as the manual refills now become a bit of a liability. Much like the switch over to "unlimited" minutes on their larger plans, I suspect this might be partly due to whatever new rates AT&T pushed through a few months back for their MVNOs. No matter the cause, the changes are clearly not for the benefit of the customer. Once again, prepaid GSM customers are getting the shaft on the AT&T end of the spectrum.

Meanwhile, in the CDMA camp... handset portability is about to get really awesome. Sprint's really been shaking up their MVNO market the past couple months in a good way, trying to bring more features and devices as well as better resource management and partnering deals, which is smart given how big of a percentage their business is infrastructure leasing to MVNOs. This might explain why ACRS dropped BYOD activation a few weeks ago, as I suspect that true BYOD might be coming shortly for all the non-Sprint owned-but-based prepaid carriers. They recognize where the market is heading, and they appear to be responding appropriately.

I'll be updating the guide appropriately with this news. Updated.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 08:37:33 AM by I.P. Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #280 on: October 09, 2012, 10:50:38 AM »
I.P. - Just writing for clarification.  When you say "rollover", you mean if say I bought 2 $10 cards to cover myself for a month, but actually only end up using 1 of the $10 cards, the 2nd $10 card will then become active ("rollover") for the next month?  I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to lose that 2nd $10 card.  I believe that's what you've said above, but I just wanted to confirm it.  And the airvoice wireless site doesn't really talk about this in detail.  Thanks!

I just talked with my mother last night about this very topic, and I want to apologize for the news I'm about to share. The good news is, technically speaking, Airvoice is still the cheapest per-minute GSM MVNO with their $10 a month 250 minute plan. The bad news is that they appear to have recently redone their terms of service and have discontinued any form of stacking and rollover on this plan, and as such you can never have greater than a 250 minute balance. This means if you add a card early, you'll lose any remaining balance from the previous card when you activate it. This appears to be a relatively recent change given what little I've dug up on the subject from around the various wireless communities.


I just gave Airvoice Wireless a call to find out about this very thing, since I was getting nervous about possibly flushing $10 down the drain.

Since I applied 2 $10 cards to my husband's phone on September 25th, apparently his current remaining balance is shown to be like $15.60, and it expires on November 23rd.  SO...Apparently I bought those 2 cards DAYS before they changed their policy/terms of service, as I was told by the customer service rep I just spoke with.  Apparently this is the change you speak of....kinda stinks.

ALSO - If you buy a $10 talk/text card on say 9/25, and your expiration for that card is 10/24....and if you USE UP YOUR MINUTES BEFORE 10/24, and apply another $10 card....that NEW $10 card will still expire on 10/24 (your original expiration date)....the clock does not restart from the point of purchase of the new $10.  That stinks even more.  According to customer service, you can buy a new card within a day of your rate plan expiring, and at that point the new date will begin.  Annoying.

The only good bit of news, if you want to cut it close and get the most bang for your buck, is that you have a 30 day window after your rate plan expires before your phone is shut off and your number dropped.  So if you want to eek it out until the last second, you can without penalty.

This is by no means a deal-breaker, because the price is so good, but it will force us to be even more careful how we use our cell plans, so that we use ONLY the $10 within our 30 days.  But if they continue to do weird stuff like this, I might consider going elsewhere in the future. 

If nothing else, the beauty of pre-paid is the ability to be a nomad among mobile phone providers.
"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #281 on: October 09, 2012, 11:35:55 AM »
ALSO - If you buy a $10 talk/text card on say 9/25, and your expiration for that card is 10/24....and if you USE UP YOUR MINUTES BEFORE 10/24, and apply another $10 card....that NEW $10 card will still expire on 10/24 (your original expiration date)....the clock does not restart from the point of purchase of the new $10.  That stinks even more.  According to customer service, you can buy a new card within a day of your rate plan expiring, and at that point the new date will begin.  Annoying.

.....

If nothing else, the beauty of pre-paid is the ability to be a nomad among mobile phone providers.

It won't even reset your expiry date leading to even more lost minutes? Oh, that is UGLY news. Thanks for that additional bit of reconnaissance and info. I've lost a whole lot of love for Airvoice in a matter of hours over this info. Unfortunately, this is the flip side to prepaid MVNOs and their terms of service, things can turn on you in a matter of days. Thankfully, as you pointed out, it does make pulling up your tent stakes easier.

I want to blame Airvoice directly for this nonsense, but one fact I can't seem to escape is the fact that they're reselling AT&T services... and I don't need to remind people how charming and considerate AT&T is with any of their customers, from the smallest consumer to the biggest corporate account. I can't help but suspect there's been a change at the reseller level that's caused this. It's looking more and more like the soundest long-term advice will be recommending people bite the bullet and just make the Sprint/CDMA switch unless T-Mobile pulls out some major Hail Mary play with their own services next year after their spectrum rejigger and LTE rollout. I suspect a few iPhone users here are not going to like this news...

It should also make MMM's upcoming mobile post a curious read, because I suspect they went Airvoice themselves from what little he's dropped so far (though I may be wrong).

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #282 on: October 09, 2012, 11:38:05 AM »
It should also make MMM's upcoming mobile post a curious read, because I suspect they went Airvoice themselves from what little he's dropped so far (though I may be wrong).

He should have you comment on the post before it goes live for the technical stuff (with him doing the nuts and bolts of how it's working for him in the real world).
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #283 on: October 09, 2012, 11:48:31 AM »
It should also make MMM's upcoming mobile post a curious read, because I suspect they went Airvoice themselves from what little he's dropped so far (though I may be wrong).

He should have you comment on the post before it goes live for the technical stuff (with him doing the nuts and bolts of how it's working for him in the real world).

I'll put a bug in his ear.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #284 on: October 12, 2012, 12:15:23 PM »
For any new readers of this thread by way of yesterday's MMM post who might be a little overwhelmed by this nearly 300 post wall of text, I figured I should point out that I started a new topic as an extension to the post here: Our New $10.00 Per Month iPhone Plans. It's located in the Continue the Blog Conversation category of the forums here.

Hopefully people can feel a little less overwhelmed asking questions about their cell phone plans there and it'll give us all an opportunity to extract relevant bits of info from here that might have been lost otherwise in all the reading for the new folks.

Also, I should repeat a couple things that I mentioned in that thread. First, I'm slowly developing the superguide into an easier to read wiki format. There's not much there yet outside of a few MVNO carriers and barebone info on them, but give me time. Second, I'm writing a series of three articles on my freshly launched companion blog to the wiki addressing some of the most common interests and issues from MMM's cellphone article discussion. The first one is here: Dial S for Savings.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #285 on: October 12, 2012, 12:16:56 PM »
Congrats on the launch of the blog and the wiki!

I almost didn't recognize you in your new duds! Ditching the mask for a mustache, nice.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #286 on: October 12, 2012, 12:21:41 PM »
Yet another scandalous avatar change on the forums. First Rebel, then you... now me. Gosh, whoever will be next, and how will anyone ever recognize us!?

Anyway, thanks Grant! Yeah, I figured it was time for a change and this thing's reaching enough of a critical mass I decided, "why not?"

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #287 on: October 12, 2012, 12:46:10 PM »
and how will anyone ever recognize us!?

I was nice enough to put my old one in sig to solve that issue, bearded stranger.  ;)
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #288 on: October 12, 2012, 01:08:06 PM »
So if we have a phone question that's not iPhone related, or another network question that's not about phones, does it still go here? Or do we post elsewhere?

(That one's not just theoretical; I'm weighing a switch. Hmmm...)

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #289 on: October 12, 2012, 02:49:03 PM »
So if we have a phone question that's not iPhone related, or another network question that's not about phones, does it still go here? Or do we post elsewhere?

(That one's not just theoretical; I'm weighing a switch. Hmmm...)

I don't have a problem continuing to talk about any of that here, I just figured a new, shorter thread directly related to the post at hand may be useful for folks new to the guide so they don't have six months of information to plow through.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #290 on: October 12, 2012, 03:12:28 PM »
Cool, cool.

I have the option of upgrading to a Galaxy Nexus (trade with my mom) from a dumbphone, for free. I've got to figure out if I would get anything more out of having it than having a dumbphone, but that's another discussion. We're on Cincinnati Bell, and as far as I know it's a GSM Galaxy Nexus originally intended for another carrier. (My dad may have said T-Mobile.) What would the process look like for switching? Do any GSM MVNOs not entirely suck? If I read your first post correctly, they all looked like varying shades of expensive and horrible.

(The only bonus is that I would only need like a couple dozen MB a month because I have great wifi everywhere I go at school, and I'm seldom anywhere but school or home.)

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #291 on: October 12, 2012, 04:27:20 PM »
Well, the first thing that's going to shape advice is going to be whether it's network locked or not and to what network. If it's AT&T, then you really don't need to bother as most of the GSM MVNOs out there are AT&T based and you don't have to unlock it. If it's T-Mobile, you can either go with a T-Mo prepaid account (which are expensive on a per-minute basis, and their cheapest prepaid monthly package is $30 for 1500 minutes) or it'll need to be unlocked if you want to use it on an AT&T MVNO. If it is locked to the wrong network, then you'll either need to go to the carrier and pay out the remaining subsidy on the unit to get it unlocked (which will likely be as expensive as buying an already unlocked refurb or used model), pay about $25-35 for the SIM unlock code from one of the many sketchy online phone unlock sites or independent local cellular dealers, or just trade or sell the thing to get what you're wanting. I say this because the Galaxy Nexus is new enough that there's no physical way the thing has spent two years under contract.

As for your understood assessment of GSM prepaid MVNOs mostly sucking, yes, you are correct. It's due to them all being AT&T resellers. There's a reason why I've mostly narrowed down to only recommending Airvoice for GSM these days, and it's a combo of price per minute and customer service. Those two points overcome what remaining deficiencies are there.

The switching process? If you're talking switching GSM carriers to an MVNO, it's pretty darn easy and not unlike switching between the major carriers. You just give them the number you're porting along with the relevant account info needed after buying your new carrier's SIM card when you go to activate. I can't get more specific without knowing who you're dealing with first.

The Nexus situation honestly sounds like it could possibly be more trouble than it's worth if it needs carrier unlocking as you're likely inheriting someone else's unpaid subsidy phone and all the baggage that that entails, and third party unlocking treads into a relatively gray legal area as the carrier still technically owns the handset until the contract is completed and/or the subsidy is paid out. Doesn't hurt sticking in your CincyBell GSM card though when you get it just to see what happens...

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #292 on: October 12, 2012, 07:49:23 PM »
It's a non-subsidized Cincinnati Bell phone (edit: I see why it was unclear) which was bought from Google directly, as far as I know. I just don't know what network it was originally for, because Cincinnati Bell is not big enough to get its own version of phones. I think that what was ordered is actually a T Mobile phone. Does that make sense?
« Last Edit: October 13, 2012, 07:37:00 AM by grantmeaname »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #293 on: October 14, 2012, 04:15:31 PM »
Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, Grant. Been busy.

If it was purchased from Google, it should already be carrier unlocked because they sold you the phone, not the service. If it was purchased from Cincy Bell without a subsidy and it's locked (this is doubtful if there's a TMo logo - branding's easy, even P'tel brands their phones), take that sucker in and get them to unlock it for you. Being branded T-Mobile likely only means it's the unlocked Google pentaband model - especially if it's already been used on the Bell network. This clarification simplifies things considerably.

Order a new SIM from the carrier of your choice, activate the service with your number port, slap that SIM in there, and you're off to the races.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 04:21:11 PM by I.P. Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #294 on: October 14, 2012, 06:56:05 PM »
I've been busy too. I don't expect my free, brilliant service to be instantaneous.

Thanks for the tip. If I decide to go for it I'll keep you posted, but I'm still not sure. Glad to hear it should be easy!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #295 on: October 14, 2012, 09:48:22 PM »
I wanted to provide an update:

I've been with Ting for a month now. As discussed in my previous post, I went with Ting over other (possibly cheaper) options due to their unique MVNO ability to roam onto the Verizon network when I don't get Sprint coverage.

I was trying to hold out for their BYOSD (with my Evo), but my Evo finally died so I bit the bullet and bought a Galaxy S2. With a $75 back-to-school discount code, the phone itself cost $351 after tax. Not the most Mustachian phone, but the cheapest ICS option.

I ported my old Sprint number to Google Voice, and got a new one with Ting. It's been working great with texting so far. I was using SipDroid with my Google Voice number for calls over wifi, but it was having some integration issues, so I'm trying out GrooVe IP lite to see if it's any better. I currently have GV set up to forward to both my Ting number and GTalk (so a SIP client can get it); to avoid double ringing on the phone, I use an app called AutoAP that disables cell network when connected to wifi.

So, I'm still experimenting and adjusting a month in, but all-in-all it's working well.

Price-wise:

ServiceUsageCost
Voice88 min$3
Text1 msg$3
Data64 MB$3
Service Base$6
Service Taxes$1.96
Total Cost$16.96

Next month there shouldn't be a text charge, so it should be $3 cheaper. The one text that came through was a Severe Weather alert that got mass-broadcast from my local tower and which I shouldn't have been charged for in the first place.

Data usage has been surprisingly easy to control, due to the ingrained controls for background data in ICS. 30MB of the usage was actually Spotify calling home in the background for 2 days, even with the app set to not use network data. After noticing it, I used the Android setting to restrict background data, and it's been fine since. I've also just installed an app called DataWiz, which was created by Princeton University and uses a neural network to monitor your usage and suggest aterations to minimize/optimize your usage.

I've also been with VOIPo for about 5 months now, and really love it. The service has been great, and I've offloaded a good bit of my talking to it. A side effect: People have learned to reach me at home in the evening, greatly reducing the distracting interruptions during the day.

Next up is my Comcast bill: I was on a 6 month promo that gave me their Blast Plus service (Blast internet with Digital Economy cable) for a grand total of $42/month, including the cable modem rental. That ran out this month and now it's $80/month, so I'm going to can the cable and drop down to the Performance internet, which has a current customer-special of only $20/month.

I'll also probably return the modem and purchase my own, as rental went up from $5/month to $7/month. At that rate, a Solid Docsis 3 modem will pay for itself in 11 months. Daley, should I go ahead and get that SB6121 or are there any cheaper but solid options? An 11-month break-even doesn't seem too bad on the SB6121. My current rented modem is an Arris WBM760.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #296 on: October 15, 2012, 08:50:24 AM »
I wanted to provide an update:

...

Next up is my Comcast bill: I was on a 6 month promo that gave me their Blast Plus service (Blast internet with Digital Economy cable) for a grand total of $42/month, including the cable modem rental. That ran out this month and now it's $80/month, so I'm going to can the cable and drop down to the Performance internet, which has a current customer-special of only $20/month.

I'll also probably return the modem and purchase my own, as rental went up from $5/month to $7/month. At that rate, a Solid Docsis 3 modem will pay for itself in 11 months. Daley, should I go ahead and get that SB6121 or are there any cheaper but solid options? An 11-month break-even doesn't seem too bad on the SB6121. My current rented modem is an Arris WBM760.

Hey, fantastic news Cosmie! Great to hear stuff's been working out so well on the phone front. Have you by chance called and talked with Ting about the SMS charge for the CMAS alert yet? That might be a bug in the system that needs to be addressed.

As for the cable modem situation, so long as the SB6121 is on Comcast's supported model list (which it should be), that's probably going to be your best bang for buck DOCSIS 3.0 modem on the market short of buying the thing used/refurbished. DOCSIS 2.0 modems will always be cheaper, and Motorola's SB5xxx series modems still on the market have good IPv6 support, but if they want you on DOCSIS 3.0, at least the modem prices have dropped sufficiently now to make it worth the money. Until I hear a relative consensus otherwise though, you'll likely never see me recommend anything but Motorola Surfboard modems. They've been the gold standard for cable modems going back to the late 90's, and you really can't go wrong with them if you take care of the things (well grounded cable line, quality UPS power source, well ventilated, keep the cat from sleeping on it, etc.).

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #297 on: October 15, 2012, 09:39:11 AM »
Hey, fantastic news Cosmie! Great to hear stuff's been working out so well on the phone front. Have you by chance called and talked with Ting about the SMS charge for the CMAS alert yet? That might be a bug in the system that needs to be addressed.
I didn't, because I already paid the bill in question and I've been so busy lately that it wasn't worth it for me. However, I really should report that to them (added to to-do list for the week).

I assumed it was a bug in their system,  in that Sprint incorrectly tagged the CMAS alert for the MVNO billing system, or that Ting's system wasn't configured to look for a CMAS tag attached to the message.

Quote
As for the cable modem situation, so long as the SB6121 is on Comcast's supported model list (which it should be), that's probably going to be your best bang for buck DOCSIS 3.0 modem on the market short of buying the thing used/refurbished. DOCSIS 2.0 modems will always be cheaper, and Motorola's SB5xxx series modems still on the market have good IPv6 support, but if they want you on DOCSIS 3.0, at least the modem prices have dropped sufficiently now to make it worth the money. Until I hear a relative consensus otherwise though, you'll likely never see me recommend anything but Motorola Surfboard modems. They've been the gold standard for cable modems going back to the late 90's, and you really can't go wrong with them if you take care of the things (well grounded cable line, quality UPS power source, well ventilated, keep the cat from sleeping on it, etc.).

Thanks, I knew they *used* to be the defacto standard, but didn't know if that still held true. As for the DOCSIS 3, that was one thing Comcast told me I needed, even if I downgrade to the Performance package. Whether that's true or not, I dunno; but the price difference is only ~$15 from a DOCSIS 2 modem.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #298 on: October 16, 2012, 01:42:10 PM »
Thanks, I knew they *used* to be the defacto standard, but didn't know if that still held true. As for the DOCSIS 3, that was one thing Comcast told me I needed, even if I downgrade to the Performance package. Whether that's true or not, I dunno; but the price difference is only ~$15 from a DOCSIS 2 modem.

Yup yup! Glad to help. :)



For those curious, I just posted part two to my follow-up to MMM's post last week detailing the difference between MNOs, MVNOs, prepaid and postpaid service.

<pseudospoiler>
I may need to start having my wife edit for length before posting. >.>
</pseudospoiler>

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #299 on: October 16, 2012, 01:58:31 PM »
First off, wow - thank you very much for all of the incredible information.

You may have already stated this in earlier posts, but am hoping to clarify the order of making changes.

My current situation:
AT&T DSL/Home Phone
Direct TV (I know...were canceling)

Proposed solution:
EarthLink Cable (6.0 to 10.0)
Voipo
OTA TV

I assume I can cancel the TV now, but should I order the new Internet Service and Voipo in a specific order?  In other words, should I order the new Internet service and once established, then cancel the DSL, and then order Voipo and cancel the landline (we do want to keep our number)?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Tim