Author Topic: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider  (Read 1241 times)

shmadas

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Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« on: June 08, 2019, 12:11:42 AM »
 Hey Mustachians-

Looking for recommendations for a cell phone company for a 6-month road trip around the United States. BYOD (iPhone) is a must.

Thanks in advance!

Syonyk

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2019, 09:02:38 AM »
How much data are you likely to use?  And, if you're coming from outside, presumably you have a GSM-only device?

I'm making good use of one of AT&T's prepaid plan - it works out to $30/mo for unlimited talk/text, and 1GB of data, but that might be a bit lower than you want for full time road tripping.  They're GSM and have good coverage most places (less than Verizon, but... you probably don't want Verizon and they're not pure GSM).

$40/mo (with autopay) gets you 16GB, which should be livable.

https://www.att.com/prepaid/plans.html

There are plenty of other providers, but I've been quite happy with AT&T - there are only a few places I don't have coverage that I'd like coverage, and they tend to be small towns in the mountains with one tower, from one cell provider.

geekette

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2019, 09:34:00 AM »
I use Red Pocket. They have plans for Verizon (CDMA) and ATT (GSM) as well as Sprint and TMo (which I wouldnít recommend if youíre going to be getting away from cities and major highways). Prices from $10 and up, depending on usage.

teltic

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2019, 12:06:37 PM »
I think your best options are

1. Mint Mobile ($15 for 3gb, $20 8gb, $25 for 12gb.. per month).  T-mobile towers.
2. Red Pocket ($19 for 1GB, $30 5gb).  They use all 4 carriers (you get to pick.  Verizon is the best (CDMA))
3. Straight Talk ($35 for 3GB, $45 for 25gb)  I believe they us AT&T towers.  You can buy the sim card at Walmart.



Khaetra

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2019, 03:25:46 PM »
Where are you coming from and is your phone unlocked?

Daley

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2019, 09:28:11 PM »
Let's think this through logically. If someone's bringing in their own carrier unlocked GSM handset from out of the country to use in the US (BYOD, remember), there's really only one carrier left that's actually going to work with most international GSM handsets that include 850/1900MHz band support - that's AT&T... at least until 2022 when they shut down their 3G network, unless 850MHz (band 5) 4G-LTE becomes an international standard on global handset inclusion. Any AT&T MVNO, for now, should be fine. So aim for the best bang for the buck. Red Pocket's on the short list for that.

CDMA networks as we know it don't really exist outside of North America, so Verizon and Sprint are both out, and will remain out until CDMA is wholly turned off, if ever, due to LTE network fragmentation in this country and most of their VoLTE service bands being somewhat uncommon bands used abroad. T-Mobile re-farmed nearly their entire 1900MHz 3G spectrum over for LTE data use (no 4G voice service, not that that spectrum of coverage on their network map is great), and their 2G 1900MHz coverage is abysmal, which eliminates them as a reliable provider with any serious coverage as well.

I could add more, but it only devolves into a screed about planned obsolescence and proprietary devices from here, and doesn't include very flattering words in regard to the US mobile telecom industry.

shmadas

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2019, 06:13:39 AM »
Thanks all for the responses. Sorry for disappearing; I assumed that I would get an email whenever someone replied, but that was incorrect.

To answer your questions:

How much data are you likely to use?

Looking back over my usage over the past year, it's been about 2-3 GB a month. But then again, that was on an unlimited plan so I never really had to be conscious about it. Presumably if I did I would be able to reduce it. But on the flip-side, if we are travelling, we won't necessarily have wi-fi to come home to. So hard to say exactly, so I'm going to use the 2 to 3 GB as the base for my search.

Where are you coming from and is your phone unlocked?

It's a standard iPhone purchased in the USA, purchased new unlocked. I'm not familiar enough with the technical specs to say if that makes it GSM-only.

Let's think this through logically. If someone's bringing in their own carrier unlocked GSM handset from out of the country to use in the US (BYOD, remember), there's really only one carrier left that's actually going to work with most international GSM handsets that include 850/1900MHz band support - that's AT&T... at least until 2022 when they shut down their 3G network, unless 850MHz (band 5) 4G-LTE becomes an international standard on global handset inclusion. Any AT&T MVNO, for now, should be fine. So aim for the best bang for the buck. Red Pocket's on the short list for that.

Thanks for the in-depth analysis. I'll check out AT&T's MVNOs, since it seems like that's the best/only option from what you're saying. Any reason for Red Pocket as opposed to the Straight Talk teltic mentioned?

Thanks again!

HipGnosis

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2019, 07:14:01 AM »
I second (3rd) Red Pocket.  It is $15 / 30 days w/ 1 gB of data.  No Contract, renew online w/ credit card. 
You will have to pay extra to buy their Sim from a dealer, since (if?) you won't have an address for them to mail one to you.

There are apps that can tell you where the nearest free WiFi is.  But I just find the nearest McDonalds - they have free WiFi, and I can usually access it from the parking lot.

Daley

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2019, 09:06:36 AM »
It's a standard iPhone purchased in the USA, purchased new unlocked. I'm not familiar enough with the technical specs to say if that makes it GSM-only.

[snip]Stuff about GSM carriers with international handsets.[/snip]

Thanks for the in-depth analysis. I'll check out AT&T's MVNOs, since it seems like that's the best/only option from what you're saying. Any reason for Red Pocket as opposed to the Straight Talk teltic mentioned?

This changes a lot of things. First, unlocked domestic iPhone = more domestic carrier support, sort of, depending on the model. Mentioning an Apple smartphone exponentially complicates recommendations because of their iron fisted practices and consumer-level opacity.

If it's an unlocked from factory 6s/6s+ (A1633, A1634, A1688, A1689) or newer (SE, 7/7+, 8, X, Xs/Xs Max, Xr), that opens up T-Mobile MVNOs (such as T-Mobile Prepaid/MetroPCS, Red Pocket GSMT, US Mobile GSM LTE, Ultra/Mint, Walmart Family/Simple Mobile) as that gives you VoLTE band 12 support, allowing you to actually make phone calls on their far larger LTE network, and possibly going with a Verizon MVNO (Verizon Prepaid, Red Pocket CDMA, US Mobile Super LTE, Puppy, Selectel, Total/PagePlus) as well. It also means that you won't be locked out of MMS settings if you're able to go with a T-Mobile or Verizon MVNO, which is a good thing (you'll understand in a moment why).

If it's an iPhone 6/6+ or older (5/5S/5C, etc.), your only option is AT&T directly (either GoPhone or Cricket) or a small handful of AT&T MVNOs that are actually blessed by Apple to be used by iPhones (Puretalk USA, Tracfone/StraightTalk) due to the inability to access MMS settings, thus breaking all but sub-160 character text only messaging with all non-iPhone contacts. I think the factory unlocked US model 6/6+ (A1549/A1522) could also do Verizon (which adds in the mentioned Verizon carriers as well), but I'm not 100% on that, so check if it is. I've had to look back up most of this stuff already because I personally don't like keeping up with Apple's squirrelly nonsense and wasting precious neurons remembering trivia about these things.

$30-40/month should be a good price point target for you, giving you around 5GB of data. Short list to look into on the T-Mo/Verizon MVNO end will be Red Pocket, US Mobile, Walmart Family/Simple Mobile/Total Wireless, and short list to look into on the AT&T MVNO end will be Puretalk USA and Tracfone/StraightTalk. Beyond that, there's always AT&T GoPhone/Cricket, T-Mobile Prepaid/MetroPCS, and Verizon Prepaid. The only advantage of the Tracfone brands (Tracfone/StraightTalk/Simple Mobile/Total/Walmart Family Mobile) is availability of SIM cards and airtime at Wally World, which along with Best Buy also has AT&T GoPhone, T-Mobile Prepaid and Verizon Prepaid SIM cards and airtime. Cricket and MetroPCS have retail locations (both corporate and franchise) scattered about (usually in the auto parts and pawn shop parts of town), and the respective primary carrier prepaid options are available at their corporate stores. If you can live without broad brick and mortar access for SIM cards and airtime cards, Puretalk USA, Red Pocket and US Mobile will likely be the better deals - but you'll need a US address to get the SIM cards mailed to you.

Finally, resources to aid your own further research if needed:
http://www.spectrumgateway.com/compatible-phones
https://everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/index-iphone-specs.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_mobile_virtual_network_operators
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204039#usa

Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 09:10:52 AM by Daley »

SaucyAussie

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2019, 09:12:28 AM »
I use AirVoice Wireless which gives you 2GB for $20/mth or 6GB for $30/mth.

shmadas

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2019, 05:38:28 AM »
This changes a lot of things. First, unlocked domestic iPhone = more domestic carrier support, sort of, depending on the model. Mentioning an Apple smartphone exponentially complicates recommendations because of their iron fisted practices and consumer-level opacity.

Wow, this is intense. Thanks for all this information - now I just need to process it all.

It's an iPhone 8, btw. 

I'm trying to develop a framework for making the decision, and it seems like first I have to choose which of the four underlying networks to go with, limited by the constraints of the device in question. The two major factors that I identify seem to be coverage map and network speed - am I missing other parameter to consider?

Then it's a question of which MVNO to go with within that network's ecosystem, where the decision seems to be about price vs the quantity of data/minutes offered.

Does that make sense?

shmadas

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2019, 05:47:52 AM »
Also I just checked a bit online, and it is a model A1863, which according to https://www.apple.com/iphone-8/specs/ supports the following networks:
FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 66)
TD-LTE (Bands 34, 38, 39, 40, 41)
TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A)
CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900, 2100 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Now I just need to figure out which of those corresponds to which carrier.

Peach

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2019, 09:11:16 AM »
We've had great luck with Twigby.com. They run primarily on the Sprint network (talk, text, and data) but will use Verizon for talk and text if you're outside of the Sprint network.

You choose your own plan.  Text is always included for no extra charge.

Right now they're running a special for 25% off for the first 6 months.  You can choose the lowest options and set it so that if you go over the limits, you will be automatically upgraded to the next higher level for that time period.  With this special, the lowest you could get would be 300 talk minutes plus 200MB of data for $9 plus tax.  More realistically might be unlimited talk and 2GB of data for $17.25 plus a small amount of tax.  You choose what works best for you.

They have a page where you can check to see if your phone is compatible by checking your MEID/IMEI number.

Their online chat is very responsive.  We've never had any billing problems.

Daley

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2019, 10:46:26 AM »
Also I just checked a bit online, and it is a model A1863

Okay, this kind of simplifies things despite having both CDMA and GSM support. Trying to get Sprint MVNO support usually requires that you have an existing Sprint LTE SIM card already paired with the phone, plus, Sprint is the least of the big four in terms of native network coverage and network reliability, roaming agreements or not, which makes them very hit-and-miss by region - so, let's just take it off the table.

T-Mobile's LTE coverage is actually pretty decent, nation-wide speaking, and especially in metro areas.

Verizon's got the most native network coverage of the four, followed only by AT&T.

AT&T MVNOs have the "must be Apple blessed and approved" to have MMS working, which simplifies your choices.

There's also the poor antenna design issues with the CDMA iPhones, and the fact that they do better with 700MHz block spectrum reception over 850MHz. That places a minor bias towards Verizon (and surprisingly T-Mobile LTE) over AT&T anyway.

Network speeds are really a non-issue unless your demands are unreasonable. Given you're only using 2-3GB of data on an un-optimized iPhone, I doubt that's really an issue. Outside of insanely bloated mobile web pages and trying to stream video (which your target usage level can't handle anyway), nobody is going to notice much difference past about 4Mbps anyway. Faster access just means you're likely to blow through your data cap faster, anyway.

As for call/text levels, you really only have "unlimited" plans with 2GB+ data availability. Just note that "unlimited" usually translates into around 1500 minutes or so a month with most MVNOs, which is around 25 hours of talk time, but it's more of a soft cap than hard. If you're looking at needing to be on the phone consistently for 30+ hours a month doing business, you need to go with a postpaid plan.

Really, all three will probably mostly be just fine for your needs, unless you plan on wandering out into the middle of nowhere on a regular basis and demanding near perfect reception while doing so (geographically speaking, usually the non-city/interstate parts of 40įN or higher, between the Rockies and the Mississippi, but is hardly all-inclusive - the hollers of Appalachia come to mind, as well as most larger rural farming regions). Verizon postpaid with roaming agreements would be your best option under that scenario.

That really only leaves one question. Do you want brick-and-mortar access to SIM cards and airtime or not?

If you don't care about physical access and have a way to either get the SIM card to you before you arrive or mailed out to the first place/people you see after getting off the plane, go Red Pocket. Given the prices are identical between their T-Mobile and Verizon plans, just go with the Verizon SIM card if you want better coverage, or their T-Mobile SIM if you want international SMS support. Even though Red Pocket and US Mobile have the same prices for service, Red Pocket also provides outbound international calling support with these plans, though it isn't direct-dial.

If you want direct international dialing and SMS support, go Google Fi (T-Mobile with roaming agreements on Sprint/US Cellular).

If you do want physical store access, going Walmart will be the lowest common denominator. That, in itself, is a choice limiter.

And with that, I don't think I've much left to add to the discussion. This is kind of reminding me why I stopped doing the guide in the first place. The industry has become too much of a fragmented mess to keep up with.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 10:58:48 AM by Daley »

robartsd

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2019, 02:01:38 PM »
Now I just need to figure out which of those corresponds to which carrier.
As always Daley provides the best info on US mobile connectivity. You can also do your own research into carrier bands with a web search, but most listings don't keep up with all the MVNO's. Here's a pretty good listing:
https://www.signalbooster.com/pages/what-are-the-cellular-frequencies-of-cell-phone-carriers-in-usa-canada

Of course Daley's knowledge about Apple's blessing being required on AT&T MVNO's and particulars of iPhone CDMA antenna issues would be even harder to find.

Daley

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2019, 04:05:53 PM »
Of course Daley's knowledge about Apple's blessing being required on AT&T MVNO's and particulars of iPhone CDMA antenna issues would be even harder to find.

To be fair, technically the antenna designs for all iPhones have been some of the worst in the industry for years, and it's becoming more common with all smartphones in general as they try to converge all the LTE bands for every carrier into a single model, and it'll only get worse with 5G millimeter band support. Too much spectrum to cover, not enough phone to hold all the fractal antennas... but Apple has consistently done even more stupid things with their design and placement than normal for years, and never learned from "antennagate", because Apple markets itself as a cult and the brand matters more with most users than functionality. But I digress. Anyway, the lower bands always fair better in these situations than the higher due to the inherent benefits of greater signal penetration and propagation. It's like how pre-LTE, T-Mobile's US coverage was awful indoors compared to AT&T, despite similar tower density in urban areas. 850MHz penetrates deeper into buildings than 1900MHz does, and that hindrance had T-Mo first on board with UMA/GAN/WiFi calling nearly a decade before everyone else. 700MHz has just that much better reach than 850Mhz, so phones in general with bad antenna designs have an inherent physical bias towards lower frequencies, which in this country at this time means a functional bias towards predominantly lower/upper 700MHz spectrum based LTE carriers. Physics! Or something.

The AT&T MVNO issue is one of those dirty little secret details you pick up on buried in MVNO FAQs. When an iPhone detects an AT&T prefixed ICCID on the SIM card (it's the same method carriers use to lock out competitor's SIM cards), iOS locks the user out of the MMS APN network settings. This effectively breaks all multimedia, 160+ character, and group text communications between the iPhone user and literally every other not-Apple smartphone owner on the planet if the phone isn't set up to provide the proper APN settings on its own. It doesn't do this with T-Mobile SIMs, just AT&T. Given each MVNO has it's own unique APN gateway settings, you can see how this is a problem. There's only a small handful of AT&T MVNOs that have been approved by Apple with pre-configured APN settings that they allow. It's nonsense, and the only way around it is to jailbreak the fool device, which brings with it its own set of problems. Again, though... Apple gets away with this because they're selling a lifestyle, not a tool.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 04:19:44 PM by Daley »

FIREstache

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2019, 04:34:23 PM »
I didn't see anyone mention it, but I've been using Tello for over a year, and have averaged about $1/mo, but it's a PAYG plan, so I only pay for the calls, texts, and data that I use.  I'm almost always connected to Wifi when I need data, and I don't like to spend time talking on the phone, so if you need to use your phone more, it might not be right for you, but it's been the best option for me.

They also have a monthly plan with a few hundred minutes and unlimited texts, but that's about $12/mo with 1 GB of data.  And there are some more expensive options for more data, but I'm good with $1/mo PAYG.

It's a Sprint MVNO.

Edit:  I just found out they lowered their plan fees a week or so ago:

- 1GB + unlimited talk&text - $10/mo (used to be $14/mo.)
- 2GB + unlimited talk & text for $14 (used to be $19/mo.)
- 4GB + unlimited talk & text  = $19/mo (used to be $29)

And if you don't need unlimited talk, you can cut those down those same buckets of data and texts with limited minutes for a few $ per month less than the figures above.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 04:36:19 PM by FIREstache »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2019, 01:06:43 AM »
If you do want physical store access, going Walmart will be the lowest common denominator. That, in itself, is a choice limiter.

Yeah, I remember when I went to the US a few years ago, wondering why I didn't see any phone stores at the airport I arrived in (admittedly at Honolulu, might have had more luck had I arrived via LAX) selling SIM cards like in other countries I have been to before/since. Ended up finding a place downtown that sold SIM cards, but then I had to go with what's available :)

shmadas

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2019, 02:43:16 AM »
That really only leaves one question. Do you want brick-and-mortar access to SIM cards and airtime or not?

If you don't care about physical access and have a way to either get the SIM card to you before you arrive or mailed out to the first place/people you see after getting off the plane, go Red Pocket. Given the prices are identical between their T-Mobile and Verizon plans, just go with the Verizon SIM card if you want better coverage, or their T-Mobile SIM if you want international SMS support. Even though Red Pocket and US Mobile have the same prices for service, Red Pocket also provides outbound international calling support with these plans, though it isn't direct-dial.

If you want direct international dialing and SMS support, go Google Fi (T-Mobile with roaming agreements on Sprint/US Cellular).

@Daley , thanks again. I don't need brick-and-mortar access, I do have an address that could receive the card, and I don't need connectivity from the moment my foot strikes US soil.

I don't need international SMS support because I mostly use Whatsapp. The international calling is a nice perk of Red Pocket - I don't think non-direct-dialing would bother me.

I read your Son of the Superguide, and I really liked the idea of a data diet. Up to now I've been on an unlimited plan and so haven't really thought about it; the 2-3GB/mo number that I gave reflects that pattern of behavior. But with coming to the US and the landscape being different there, I think I would like to be more conscientious.

One question though - how to evaluate the different providers in terms of reliability? You mention that is important, but how to do it?

Also, I see Whistleout has a comparison tool - what are your thoughts?

Thanks for all your help.

Daley

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2019, 07:51:02 AM »
I don't need brick-and-mortar access, I do have an address that could receive the card, and I don't need connectivity from the moment my foot strikes US soil.

I don't need international SMS support because I mostly use Whatsapp. The international calling is a nice perk of Red Pocket - I don't think non-direct-dialing would bother me.
[...]
One question though - how to evaluate the different providers in terms of reliability? You mention that is important, but how to do it?

In your case, I don't think it really matters. Red Pocket with the Verizon SIM looks like the most promising option.

But in general, the pecking order for overall nationwide native carrier coverage without roaming access goes as follows:
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular.

Verizon and AT&T are the two best general coverage carriers, with Verizon being just a bit larger, footprint wise in the rural areas, and with slightly more dense tower coverage in some metro areas. T-Mobile and Sprint have large gaping rural and regional holes that are oddly complimentary, but Sprint's coverage basically disappears once you wander off the interstate or outside large metro areas. Between the two of them, if the merger goes through and once network roaming is tied together, they'll actually have nearly serviceable nationwide footprint, but until then, T-Mobile has a bit more coverage than Sprint, but less than AT&T, excuse specific regions. Unless you're dealing with very specific regional coverage quirks, like in certain parts of Appalachia, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, and very, very remote rural areas, most of the carriers are reasonably competent.

What you do is look at the coverage maps. Interestingly enough, WhistleOut these days does have far more realistic coverage maps for the carriers than the actual carriers have.

https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/Coverage#heading-1

It's a good rule of thumb for checking specific regions, but coverage maps from the carriers and MVNOs do lie in favor of themselves.

Also, I see Whistleout has a comparison tool - what are your thoughts?

They catch a good number of the MVNOs out there, but not all. There's a few minor holes in the list, like Airvoice, EcoMobile, Jolt, Liberty, Puppy, and Selectel which can have some interesting specialty/niche plans, but it's still pretty well rounded. Not a bad resource.

I read your Son of the Superguide, and I really liked the idea of a data diet. Up to now I've been on an unlimited plan and so haven't really thought about it; the 2-3GB/mo number that I gave reflects that pattern of behavior. But with coming to the US and the landscape being different there, I think I would like to be more conscientious.

Never a bad idea. There's no shortage of guides for doing this with iPhones now. Review over a half dozen or so, reign in the data usage, and financially reap the rewards.

@Daley , thanks again. [...] Thanks for all your help.

Not a problem, glad I could help. I honestly don't do this sort of thing much for forum users anymore, though, and generally dislike wading back into the topic... but for some reason, I felt moved to respond this time around.

shmadas

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2019, 10:01:47 PM »
One question though - how to evaluate the different providers in terms of reliability? You mention that is important, but how to do it?

One small clarification - I was talking about evaluating the MVNOs for their quality.

Thanks again!

Daley

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Re: Suggestions for 6-month BYOD US cell provider
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2019, 10:54:29 PM »
One small clarification - I was talking about evaluating the MVNOs for their quality.

For that, I'll just reference you back to my closing advice after I hung the spurs up on maintaining the guide. Quote is trimmed to the most directly relevant for your situation, or you can read the whole thing here.

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

-Talk with tech support a couple times before you become a customer, and get to know the company you'll be dealing with. Know what to expect when you may need them the most.
-Always read the fine print. Read all the legal contracts before signing up, and if you find something you canít agree to, move on.
-If the service is free or the price is too good to be true, you are the product being sold, not the service. Understand this and the impact on your life it may have.
-If finances are tight, avoid companies that have hidden service fees for support. You never know when something might go wrong.
-Older companies can sometimes be more financially stable, but even established businesses fail. Pay attention.
-Never pre-pay more for a service than youíre willing and able to potentially lose.
-Never convince yourself that you need something you only want, and be willing to use less. You probably donít need it as much as you think you do.
-Let me encourage you to be longsuffering and deal upright with kindness, even in the face of mistreatment. Donít follow the previous model of behavior I slipped into. Be quick to forgive and act with love. Even the worst company in the world still has humans at the other end of the lines of communication. Donít devalue their life, and remember that we all make mistakes. Be kind.
-And as always, donít be afraid to pay for what you need.



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

-Finding the skinny on mobile carriers and MVNOs is best researched at HowardForums.
-Researching businesses beyond general search engine results can frequently be done using the earlier mentioned communities, the BBB and Ripoff Report (though both are for profit), Yelp (read the hidden reviews as well), and Reddit. Itís the internet, so take everything with a grain of salt and remember that people rarely provide feedback unless itís negative, but pay attention to patterns that may result in disruption of services.
-Getting to know a company as an employer can usually be done through GlassDoor, but here too, itís the internet. Grain of salt, low non-negative feedback, etc.
-You can almost certainly find your Internet and MMS APN settings for you MVNO and phone of choice at Gishan.net.
-To keep up with MVNO news and information as well as additional MVNO service information, use Prepaid Phone News and BestMVNO. Phone Dog also can be of use.
-For general mobile industry news and information, Fierce Wireless is a good resource along with Mobile World Live.

...unless you mean "speed and network reliability" quality. In that case, a prepaid MVNO is a prepaid MVNO, and actual reception, speed and reliability will be mostly equal between MVNOs on the same host network (there are exceptions, but those aren't on your radar). They're always third priority on the host network's tower traffic along with roaming partner users. Pecking order goes: postpaid MNO customers, prepaid MNO customers, wholesale roaming/MVNO customers. 99% of the time, you won't ever notice a difference between postpaid network connection quality and wholesale outside of data speed, which typically gets throttled back to somewhere between 4-10Mbps depending on the carrier and plan. Overall network quality from MNO to MNO kinda goes the same pecking order as network size.

For what it's worth, the wife and I finally wound up with Red Pocket ourselves last year using their $10/month 500/500/500 plan, though we use their AT&T SIMs. No real problems, no complaints, though I know others have had quirky issues during initial setup with their Verizon service, though that was a couple years ago at this point and they might have the bugs ironed out by now. Just read their terms of service and be aware of their CPNI/PII privacy policies and their opt-out process if that bothers you.