Author Topic: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid  (Read 1959 times)

kms

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Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« on: September 27, 2021, 09:07:54 AM »
I need to kick T-Mobile to the curb. I've been with Simple Mobile, a T-Mobile MVNO, for a year now and have been very dissatisfied with T-Mobile's network and service quality here in central Texas. Wherever I go more often than not I get one bar (if even), maybe two if I get lucky, and data speeds are abysmal most of the time. I can make phone calls over their network just fine but using VOIP services such as Facetime, Teams, or WhatsApp to make a simple phone call (re: not even a video call but a simple audio-only conversation) often ends disastrous and in constant flow of can you hear me nows. Even simple things as sending a photo via iMessage or WhatsApp often takes minutes and multiple attempts. In my house I have decent reception on one end (36 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up) and pretty much nothing on the other (2 Mbps down, 0.3 Mbps up). I was with AT&T before, and their network and service quality was much better than T-Mobile's, but I cannot go back for moral and political reasons that I don't want to get into now.

At this point, after struggling for a full year with T-Mobile, I am not really concerned with prices anymore, and I'd much rather pay more for good service that I can use when I need it than less for shoddy service that fails me whenever I try to rely on it. The best network in my neighborhood and my part of town is Verizon anyway, and since I spend most of my time in this area I am now looking at Verizon MVNOs. As we speak, I am paying $62 for two phones with Simple Mobile (2x 5GB plan) and am looking at $64 for Total Wireless (30GB shared), $78 for Tracfone (2x 10GB plan), $78 for Verizon prepaid (2x 15GB), or $132 for Verizon postpaid.

Does anyone have experience with Total Wireless and Tracfone, the latter specifically on the Verizon network? I would be particularly interested in how bad the congestion throtting is when compared to Verizon's own prepaid and postpaid plans.

MudPuppy

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2021, 09:15:15 AM »
Have you considered Visible? Itís what we use and I regret not switching sooner. The base per line is $35/ month and it can go as low $25/ month. This includes unlimited everything. Is it just you or are there multiple people you need service for?

Edit: youíre right it starts at 40. My brain was being a shit and thinking the price my spouse and I pay as a party of two
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 11:39:49 AM by MudPuppy »

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2021, 09:48:49 AM »
I need two lines of service, one for me and one for my wife.

I have not yet considered Visible, thanks for pointing me that way. Is it just me or is their website very confusing? It took me several minutes to find the actual price. If I understand correctly it's $40 for one line and $35 per line for two with Party Pay, which is in line with what others are charging. It'd be very tempting, but there seem to be two deal-breakers, at least as far as I can see: their mobile hotspot is capped at to 5 Mbps, and they don't offer international calling to Europe at all, not even as an optional extra. Unfortunately, I need a fast hotspot and international calling to Europe for my business on a regular basis.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 09:54:35 AM by kms »

geekette

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2021, 09:57:30 AM »
I've been with Red Pocket for a few years, on Verizon towers.  I can't say it won't happen, but I don't think I've ever been throttled.  Ignoring the "half off the first month" promo, their prices are still good. 

I don't think they offer a hotspot, but will allow tethering, and they include international calls.

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2021, 10:15:50 AM »
Tethering = hotspot. I am not looking at dedicated hotspot plans but need to use my iPhone as hotspot regularly.
Thanks, I'll look into Red Pocket as well. Never heard of them to be honest.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 10:17:32 AM by kms »

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2021, 10:34:07 AM »
I would like to add one more time that at this point, I am not really concerned with prices any more. I am sick of paying for what is basically no service at all, and I would much rather pay more to get decent speeds and coverage. My biggest concern is that given the densely populated area that I live in some MVNOs might be affected by Verizon's congestion throttling more regularly than others, and I fear that the more obscure and the cheaper it gets the worse it will get. After all we all know that while all MVNOs are equal some are more equal than others.

So I guess the biggest question really is whether Verizon treats their own in-house prepaid plans different from their own in-house MVNOs (e.g. Tracfone), and whether they treat their own in-house MVNOs different from external MVNOs (e.g. Red Pocket). This will be hard to answer though but maybe someone has a source or personal experience they can share.

MudPuppy

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2021, 10:51:27 AM »
For myself, there was a call drop spot on my commute to work that no longer drops, but otherwise I have noticed no change. I donít do mobile hotspots or European calls, so I canít speak to any comparisons there.

geekette

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2021, 11:31:51 AM »
I don't remember it being difficult to swap carriers, so you could try for a month or two.  I know Red Pocket's monthly plans are no contract. 

Daley

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2021, 12:15:11 PM »
One thing to keep in mind with any MVNO is given you're wanting to tether, most all plans that offer "unlimited" data with X amount of LTE/unthrottled data and unlimited "2G access speeds" will likely not permit data tethering under their terms of service and will likely terminate your account. The only MVNO plans that typically will allow tethering are plans either with hard data caps, or will typically provide a $10 add-on service tier that charges you extra for tethering access. US Mobile does this charge with their "unlimited" plans, but they also allow tethering on their custom plans with hard data caps.

RedPocket is decent, I've used them myself for a couple years on the AT&T SIM card end without incident, and we're looking at having to migrate to their Verizon service ourselves due to the pending VoLTE switch and our phone choices. However, tethering kinda kills that option for you. Never mind, it looks like RedPocket will do tethering if you ask to enable it, though I don't know if it costs extra as I'm on their $10 plan. My only other official Verizon MVNO option I'd recommend would be US Mobile who I used in the past without any problem, though I understand their customer support isn't what it used to be. It might be worth checking out their plans and pricing, though.

Verizon's in talks to buy out Tracfone (et al, and their ten bazillion operating brands which includes NET10, StraightTalk, PagePlus and Total Wireless as Verizon MVNO brands most relevant to you). Dunno how that's gonna shake out, but it's not great for competition.

Other than US Mobile, going Verizon's internal (we're totally not Verizon, guys!) boutique brand Visible may be your cheapest option with the highest pecking order on the towers and hotspot included without going Verizon postpaid.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 12:32:26 PM by Daley »

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2021, 12:32:06 PM »
It also might be worth mentioning WhistleOut to compare plans a bit easier and see what all is out there.

https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones

This said, if you restrict things to Verizon only providers, you're likely gonna see Twigby pop up, repeatedly. Ignore Twigby, it's a Sprint MVNO with Verizon roaming, so definitely not the same thing. They're also mentioning Ting (owned by Dish Network), Reach (never heard of 'em), GenMobile (personally don't know much) and Wing (again, don't know 'em).

geekette

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2021, 12:41:20 PM »
RedPocket is decent, I've used them myself for a couple years on the AT&T SIM card end without incident, and we're looking at having to migrate to their Verizon service ourselves due to the pending VoLTE switch and our phone choices. However, tethering kinda kills that option for you. Never mind, it looks like RedPocket will do tethering if you ask to enable it, though I don't know if it costs extra as I'm on their $10 plan.

I hoped you'd pop in, Daley!

I asked, and was granted, tethering with Red Pocket, Verizon towers, and a pretty cheap yearly plan off eBay (I think it was $100 for the year).  1000 minutes/unl text/1G data, which is plenty for me.

I don't use tethering much at all, but it's worked the few times DH wanted access on his tablet.

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2021, 12:58:12 PM »
Thank you, @Daley. I was hoping you'd pop in :-)

I'm not really interested in unlimited data plans. On average, I use between 3-4 GB of data per month with occasional peaks of up to 8 GB in months where I travel a lot and have project meetings on-site with customers. I never understood the craze for unlimited data as all it does IMHO is to drive up prices.

Red Pocket ist starting to look really interesting. I've already ruled out Visible due to their 5 Mbps limit on tethering and the fact that they have no international calling option available. Red Pocket, however, does, so I'm going to have to look at them in more detail. I will also take a closer look at US Mobile, thanks.

Daley

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2021, 01:04:43 PM »
I don't use tethering much at all, but it's worked the few times DH wanted access on his tablet.

Well, you're also on the hard cap 1GB plan, like I am. Unfortunately, not knowing kms's data usage either in general, or for tethering purposes specifically, it's a bit of a blind stab in the dark given the data plan sizes getting tossed around by them.

I still can't believe I forgot Ting does Verizon service now, but then, Ting is also owned by Dish now. I just don't keep up with this stuff as much anymore beyond immediate needs. The whole Windows Phone and 3G shutdown thing's been quite the pip on our end, though.



Red Pocket is starting to look really interesting. I've already ruled out Visible due to their 5 Mbps limit on tethering and the fact that they have no international calling option available. Red Pocket, however, does, so I'm going to have to look at them in more detail. I will also take a closer look at US Mobile, thanks.

Maybe give Ting and GenMobile (lol, nevermind, it's Sprint roaming) a look as well, and do keep in mind that you're likely going to encounter some level of throttling no matter what.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 01:23:32 PM by Daley »

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2021, 02:06:41 PM »
US Mobile is out. Not only is their website the most confusing and useless bit of internet I have come across this year (still looking for how much the thethering addon actually costs) but as per FAQ they don't support international calling at all, which is a deal-breaker for me. There really doesn't seem to be any reliable information on how exactly Verizon (or any other network operator) handles congestion throttling ad how bad it can get, so I guess I will have to do what @geekette suggested and simply start with one MVNO and move on if I'm not satisfied.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and help. I will keep you posted for future reference.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 02:29:24 PM by kms »

Daley

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2021, 02:51:54 PM »
I've been poking around a bit. Honestly, it's starting to look like between the Verizon MVNO front, international direct dial calling support, no throttling desires outside of the expected tower congestion using an MVNO, and a desire to tether without data throttling... your only two realistic options seem to be RedPocket and Ting.

I don't know if RedPocket's going to charge extra for tethering on their "unlimited" or family plans, but given they're willing to charge $1 month for visual voicemail? It might be worth talking with a salesperson first to find out. This said, Ting's 5GB plan allows for all 5GB of data to be used as hotspot data, but they charge extra for international calling instead of giving you a $10 credit like RedPocket does. It's worth noting that Ting allows for international roaming, too.

Either option, the best price going for two lines and 5+GB of data looks like about $50/month plus extras and taxes with either carrier. If support with Ting hasn't suffered under Dish's ownership, Ting might be the better choice of the two.

geekette

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2021, 05:34:34 PM »
Is Visual Voicemail where it shows if you have a message on the phone?  I have that, and don't pay $1/month for it.  If it's something else, then nevermind...


Daley

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2021, 05:39:01 PM »
Visual Voicemail is where they transcribe the voicemail message and send the text to your phone to read so you don't have to call in. It's entirely possible that it used to be free, but the CDMA SIM card I activated to kick the Verizon tires last month on the $10 plan wanted to charge an extra $1/month for it now.

geekette

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2021, 07:36:16 PM »
Apparently Iíve never had it.

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2021, 11:23:45 AM »
Ting has me very confused about their international calling rates. According to their International calling and roaming FAQ they claim to offer free international calling to 60+ countries and direct you to threir International calling guide to find out which countries are included, and which will incur a surcharge. Unfortunately, when you perform a search not a single country will show up as included for free, and every country will incur at least a 5ct/min surcharge including the countries listed as free/included on their exemplary screenshot! Plus, their roaming option may seem nice at first but at $0.25/MB it would be the financial disaster for anyone who ever attempts to use it. Truth be told the confusing and contradictory nature of their website would have me worried all of the time when using their service.

It's back to Red Pocket, Total Wireless, or Tracfone. Thanks, @Daley.

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2021, 02:49:25 PM »
Ting has me very confused about their international calling rates. According to their International calling and roaming FAQ they claim to offer free international calling to 60+ countries and direct you to threir International calling guide to find out which countries are included, and which will incur a surcharge. Unfortunately, when you perform a search not a single country will show up as included for free, and every country will incur at least a 5ct/min surcharge including the countries listed as free/included on their exemplary screenshot! Plus, their roaming option may seem nice at first but at $0.25/MB it would be the financial disaster for anyone who ever attempts to use it. Truth be told the confusing and contradictory nature of their website would have me worried all of the time when using their service.

I did point out they're owned by Dish, now, right? The same company who offers satellite TV service, now owns Boost Mobile, and is supposed to build out our "fourth" major wireless network under that brand after the T-Mo/Sprint merger because they sat on unused and undeveloped spectrum they won at auction for years and the FCC told them to use it or lose it... and the rollout is going about as well as you'd expect with a satellite television provider deploying a wireless telecommunications network during a global pandemic with supply chain shortages, massive Chinese telecom equipment embargoes, and with T-Mo not honoring their merger, access, and network sunset agreements with Dish. Boost is now an AT&T MVNO barely more than eighteen months after the merger and buyout, and their own 5G network deployment map still looks like two polar bears fighting in a snowstorm.

Outdated and contradictory documentation, you say? [insert surprised pikachu face here]
« Last Edit: September 28, 2021, 03:02:12 PM by Daley »

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2021, 05:38:32 AM »
Thank you for that background information, makes perfect sense. I'll stay away from Ting for the time being then.

kms

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2021, 12:15:11 PM »
Well, after some digging and about an hour spent on the phone I can report that Total Wireless is out. As are all other Tracfone-operated Verizon-powered brands. As it turns out smartphones that have been registered with a Tracfone brand that doesn't use Verizon towers, such as Simple Mobile, cannot be activated on any other Tracfone brand that does, such as Total Wireless or Tracfone's epynomous main brand, even if they are fully unlocked and technically capable thereof. Both mine and my wife's iPhones were purchased more than 12 months ago as Simple Mobile-branded devices with a 12 month carrier lock that has since been removed. Both iPhones come with GSM and CDMA modems and are fully Verizon-compatible (iPhone XS Max, model A1921). However, Tracfone has them branded as "GSM-only" internally since Simple Mobile operates on T-Mobile's network exclusively, and their support was unable to change this branding to allow me to activate the phones on Total Wireless. That's $2.14 well spent on Total Wireless SIM cards.

Long story short: I ended up with Visible and activated both phones using their eSIM plan. After my research indicated that Visible's 5 Mbps hotspot throttling isn't currently enforced and I can use a different service for international long-distance calls (Skype calls come to mind) they turned out to be the best and easiest deal currently available. A side benefit is that I can now keep my German SIM card that I previously always had to swap in and out of my iPhone for the last couple of years every time I went to Europe on business installed in my SIM card tray permanently and simply disable and enable it in software at will.

Thanks everobody for recommending Visible, I would have never known otherwise.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 12:30:04 PM by kms »

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2021, 01:18:10 PM »
Iím glad you found a solution!

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Re: Total Wireless vs. Tracfone vs. Verizon prepaid/postpaid
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2021, 05:13:22 PM »
FWIW, we had a snafu with Ting upgrading our SIM cards, and wound up with multiple charming, patient, understanding customer service folks helping us out. I was fairly charmed, especially since part of the problem turned out to be teenager-self-inflicted, and not Ting's fault at all.