Author Topic: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)  (Read 3893 times)

RetireAbroadAt35

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I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« on: September 16, 2014, 10:21:14 AM »
I'm currently on Consumer Cellular, who is an AT&T MVNO.  Service is fine but they changed the plans with an effective rate increase for me and I'm spurred to consider my options.

I'd like to stick with AT&T as it means I can use a GSM phone and swap SIMs when I travel abroad.  I'm willing to consider other options provided the cost of a new device isn't prohibitive.  For example, I recently learned that Verizon sells world phones that appear to be both CDMA and GSM?

Currently I have:
  • Unlocked Google Nexus 4
  • 600 anytime minutes.  I typically use 500.  Incoming & outgoing calls count against these minutes.
  • 15,000 SMS messages.  I typically use about 50.
  • 2.5GB of data.  I typically use 1-1.5GB.

This comes out to $73$62 a month with taxes and fees.

How can I do better?  I use the phone for work.  It is not reimbursed.  Data & voice are essential services.  Android/iOS only.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 02:26:10 PM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

Daley

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2014, 10:38:17 AM »
Your biggest cost is data, full stop. Unfortunately, figure at least $10/GB of data, and a base cost of $30 for "unlimited" talk and text plans to get to that price point. Given you prefer AT&T coverage, that limits you. You're going to have to commit to a base cost of around $50 no matter which MVNO you choose to ensure enough data for those months where you exceed 1GB. If T-Mobile only coverage is sufficient for your needs, that opens up a few additional alternatives with some better pricing on the data end, especially if you don' t mind 128kbps 2G/EDGE service.

If you can go on a serious data diet (most people can), you'll be able to get things down nice and affordable. Otherwise, you're looking at around $50/month.

A list of recommended AT&T and T-Mobile MVNOs are in the guide.

Scandium

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 11:13:25 AM »
IP is right on with the price. I used to be on Cricket (AT&T) and they charge $45/month for 3GB. Get down to $35 if you can stay below 1GB..
https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phone-plans

What do you use so much data on? Check the usage screen.. I decided to do a test month trying to stay under 500MB, and just limiting a few apps (mainly music and auto-downloading podcasts) to wifi only I have no problem staying below ~300MB. Even when we traveled and used maps+yelp almost every day it was fine. Google maps doesn't really use much. So I downgraded my plan and now pay $27/month with H2O wireless for 500MB. You can go cheaper if you push a little more and pay per MB, but I'm reasonably happy with this price for now.

https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/mainControl.php?page=planMonth
(ps: should mention that this is with 10% off for auto-refill.)

note: Cricket is 4G LTE, h2o is not I believe (don't have an LTE phone)

« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 06:45:05 AM by Scandium »

Daley

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 11:21:57 AM »
Currently I have:
  • Unlocked Google Nexus 4
  • 600 anytime minutes.  I typically use 500.  Incoming & outgoing calls count against these minutes.
  • 15,000 SMS messages.  I typically use about 50.
  • 2.5GB of data.  I typically use 1-1.5GB.

This comes out to $73 a month with taxes and fees.

You know, I just double checked the Consumer Cellular website. The plan you're on (if there's only one handset) should already set you at a $50/month + taxes price point. This raises the question of why you're getting charged $23 a month in taxes and fees. That's insanely steep, even for postpaid. You need to look closer into this and maybe give CC support a call and inquire about this.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2014, 02:24:55 PM »
Your biggest cost is data, full stop. Unfortunately, figure at least $10/GB of data, and a base cost of $30 for "unlimited" talk and text plans to get to that price point.
$10/GB would be cheap!  That's $20 at CC. 

Quote
Given you prefer AT&T coverage, that limits you.
It's not the coverage - it's the technology.  I prefer GSM networks because:
1) I have a GSM phone (takes a SIM)
2) I can use it abroad (by buying local SIM cards)

I use ATT rather than T-Mobile because T-Mobile uses odd frequencies that aren't found abroad.  AT&T is more portable.

Quote
If you can go on a serious data diet (most people can), you'll be able to get things down nice and affordable. Otherwise, you're looking at around $50/month.
Interestingly my phone claims I use a few hundred MB in a month while CC claims I'm using just over a GB.  Not sure what to make of that.

Quote
A list of recommended AT&T and T-Mobile MVNOs are in the guide.
Perfect, I'll check it out.

Quote
The plan you're on (if there's only one handset) should already set you at a $50/month + taxes
You're right.  Fees are about $12.  I had upgraded to a 1200 minute plan for an extra $10 after a VOIP outage & some travel had me using minutes for work.  My bill with 2.5GB of data & 600 minutes is $62 with taxes/fees.  Not quite as bad as I'd thought.  Still, it would be nice if I could get free incoming calls.

dbanta

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2014, 02:30:35 PM »
Can you share an ATT plan with anyone?  We have 5 of us on an ATT 10gb plan and it comes to $35/pp.

Daley

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2014, 03:57:19 PM »
$10/GB would be cheap!  That's $20 at CC.

That's $10/GB on top of a roughly $25 base price for phone and SMS service. Nobody sells PAYG data access at that rate except RedPocket, and only with T-Mobile coverage... but that's data only, no phone service can be added onto that. You want that rate, you're going to need a dual-SIM handset.

It's not the coverage - it's the technology.  I prefer GSM networks because:
1) I have a GSM phone (takes a SIM)
2) I can use it abroad (by buying local SIM cards)

I use ATT rather than T-Mobile because T-Mobile uses odd frequencies that aren't found abroad.  AT&T is more portable.

AT&T and T-Mobile both work on 850/1900 bands, which are pretty much US/Canada GSM bands. T-Mobile also uses other bands (1700, 2100), but some of T-Mo's pentaband handsets have global 900/1800 GSM bands, and most global 850/900/1800/1900 handsets work just fine on T-Mobile US, with HSPA+ 1900 data access even being available in most metro areas on T-Mo's network.

Interestingly my phone claims I use a few hundred MB in a month while CC claims I'm using just over a GB.  Not sure what to make of that.

CC's legal boilerplate (section 1.5) claims they calculate data transport by the kilobyte (rounding up), but they also mention the possibility of calculating by the megabyte (rounding up) as well. Call and ask about this. The discrepancy could be accounted for if they're rounding data sessions by the MB (instead of the KB) and you're constantly disconnecting, but that shouldn't happen as best I can tell by the standards of their own terms. Also ask if it's possible that you're getting billed for WiFi data usage. I know there's a documented issue with Airvoice and iOS7 handsets where if you don't turn off 3G data in the background while connected to WiFi, somehow the data usage count gets increased on Airvoice's end as well. I've not personally heard of this problem outside of Airvoice, but it might be a rare issue on the AT&T MVNO end. Never hurts to ask.

Still, it would be nice if I could get free incoming calls.

The only per minute plans I know of with free incoming calls are either VoIP backboned or Truphone's PAYG service. Truphone does both AT&T and T-Mobile coverage (as well as seven other countries at the same rates), and though calls and texts incoming are free, it's 9/minute/text/MB out.

bugbaby

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Re: I think I need a new MVNO (Consumer Cellular / ATT)
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2014, 09:27:44 PM »
i have a Nexus 5 unlocked GSM. I've had great experience with Black wireless. prior to that had Airvoice, but BW has better deals : I got 1/2 off first 2 months, excellent AT&T coverage and free int'l calls. I'm on $30 plan - unlimited talk+ txt with 500mb, the 2g data plan is $50 incl tax, unlimited for 60. 

I'd say if you can control data usage 500mb is plenty

PS you may use my referral coupon code 8633V for $5 off
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 10:09:47 PM by babybug »