Author Topic: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide  (Read 446380 times)

mdjd

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #900 on: September 29, 2013, 07:52:23 PM »
Thanks IP!  Really appreciate your quick response.  Will sell both asap.  I think Target buys these, right?  And we shop there when not at Costco.  Is there a better place to sell them?

We live in San Ramon, CA (east bay sf).  I need a phone very sporadically just to briefly tell my wife when me & the kids will be back home.  I also haul them around during the week to various cool kids places, like parks, museums, etc.  The ability to use Google Maps when needed would be great (but I'm really trying to wean myself off of this by planning ahead using google maps offline).  And for emergencies.  So, for voice, maybe 5 minutes/month at most.

Thanks again for your help!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #901 on: September 29, 2013, 08:15:24 PM »
Thanks IP!  Really appreciate your quick response.  Will sell both asap.  I think Target buys these, right?  And we shop there when not at Costco.  Is there a better place to sell them?

We live in San Ramon, CA (east bay sf).  I need a phone very sporadically just to briefly tell my wife when me & the kids will be back home.  I also haul them around during the week to various cool kids places, like parks, museums, etc.  The ability to use Google Maps when needed would be great (but I'm really trying to wean myself off of this by planning ahead using google maps offline).  And for emergencies.  So, for voice, maybe 5 minutes/month at most.

Thanks again for your help!

Sell them yourself, you'll get more money. Just be sure you pay off the ETF with Verizon first so the devices have a clean ESN for reactivation by someone else.

I can look at coverage maps all day, but coverage maps lie. Please do a little research and find out who provides on average the better network coverage in your area. Name those networks, and I'll steer you accordingly.

Eliminating the Google Maps crutch with navigation will save you massive amounts of money and significantly lower the bar on equipment needs. Being familiar enough with the general area, a little pre-planning before the trip, and a Rand McNally city map should cover all your needs. Nail this one, you can forgo the cost of a smartphone entirely and easily stick with a super cheap feature phone. Alternately, stand alone GPS. An Android handset just beefy enough with a GPS chip to do offline Google Maps downloads seems like overkill, though it'd be an option as well.

Try and get a firmer grip on voice minute usage needs. You say five minutes now, but remember that MVNOs bill in whole minute increments. One minute five seconds is two minutes billed. All that said, on the micro-usage end, you've really only got three networks to choose from for MVNOs: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Here's the magic numbers on the low end to keep in mind:

$3.12 Budget
35 Minutes
55 SMS Messages
8MB of Data

Falling below those numbers on average monthly usage goes into "do I actually need a phone at all" territory, but it does represent the bottom line you'll be looking to cough up a month to keep the phone lit up and functional as anything but a 911 dialer.

Airvoice PAYG (AT&T), P'tel Real PayGo (T-Mobile), Spot Mobile PAYG (T-Mobile), and Page Plus PAYG (Verizon) would be the four services I'd be recommending from if your usage is really looking to be that low. There's nothing currently on the Sprint end under $10/month that I'm aware of.

Anything else, just shoot me a PM.

livetogive

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #902 on: September 30, 2013, 12:11:58 PM »
Sorry TurboLT, I'm going to use you as a case study on how not to do cell phone service.


Just saw the response, sorry for the delay.  I agree with your points to some extent, but unfortunately I need a lot of voice minutes for work.  I do get reimbursed ($24) for my trouble.

After using the T-mo setup for a while I'm waffling between going with Solavei or a cheaper plan + trying to just curb my data usage.  Periodically listening to music keeps me sane at work but I can accomplish the same thing with Freedompop.  I have to run Good for Enterprise in the background so a super low data plan likely won't work in my case but again, I get reimbursed.

I disagree with your points about flashing a new radio on the N4 and I found Skype call quality to be fantastic even with higher latency and non LTE.  My biggest issue is Skype just doesn't ring sometimes and it's frustrating.  Feel free to laugh with an "I told you so."

This is my delimma:  My peers communicate mostly with text and are frankly unwilling to change that.  Electing no or very low texts just means less social communication.  I'd like to find a happy medium between super low prices (ting, etc.) and corporate subsidized Verizon (~$60/mo per line) with enough data to use maps in the car, use the web, etc.  I'll re-read the mobile posts but I still feel like they focus almost exclusively on the <1GB data users.

EDIT:
Ok after re-reading the post again (so sick of this mobile thing but the ends should justify it) I'm waffling between $40/mo for Airvoice with 1GB or $50/mo for Solavei with like 4GBs.  I'm betting I could slide under 1GB with freedom pop at my desk at work.  I'll check back in a few weeks when I can either unlock my current phone or trade it for an unlocked phone and let you know how it ends up.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 12:21:41 PM by TurboLT »

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #903 on: September 30, 2013, 01:04:09 PM »
EDIT:
Ok after re-reading the post again (so sick of this mobile thing but the ends should justify it) I'm waffling between $40/mo for Airvoice with 1GB or $50/mo for Solavei with like 4GBs.  I'm betting I could slide under 1GB with freedom pop at my desk at work.  I'll check back in a few weeks when I can either unlock my current phone or trade it for an unlocked phone and let you know how it ends up.

Why Solavei? They're a young MLM (pyramid scheme) with a shaky track record and is run by people who have been sued for fraud in the past.

Why is data quantity/speed still so important if you ditch the VoIP in the setup? Good for Enterprise is a VPN for text-based content.

Why do you need to have live-updating Google Maps? There's plenty of offline smartphone GPS map options available that use none of the mobile data.

Why do you think you need so much data for browsing the web? You use a browser that lets you turn off image loading (like Dolphin) and you've easily eliminated at least 90% of the bandwidth used while browsing, and you'll be surprised by how little you'll miss the images that load with page layouts and articles, especially on a small screen.

You have a Nexus 4, why do you need to listen to streaming music? You have both fixed and expandable storage space. There's MP3s, the radio...

I see no dilemma in your choices... an "unlimited" talk and text plan is going to suit your needs, but your choice comes down to a data package, and I'm still not entirely sure you're approaching that data need pragmatically since it sounds like most of your major data needs are things of convenience.

mdjd

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #904 on: September 30, 2013, 01:28:02 PM »
An Android handset just beefy enough with a GPS chip to do offline Google Maps downloads seems like overkill, though it'd be an option as well.
Would my Samsung Galaxy SIII work for this, if I decided not to sell it?

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #905 on: September 30, 2013, 02:48:51 PM »
An Android handset just beefy enough with a GPS chip to do offline Google Maps downloads seems like overkill, though it'd be an option as well.
Would my Samsung Galaxy SIII work for this, if I decided not to sell it?

As for the existing phones, the iPhone 4 is technically not permitted on Page Plus, and the Galaxy SIII is an LTE device which cannot be activated on PagePlus without firmware flashing and disabling the LTE radio... you might as well start from scratch and sell both after doing factory resets.

Additionally, although the CDMA SIII has an LTE chipset and SIM card, there is no GSM radio band support. You can't take it Page Plus because of the LTE support, and you can't take it to a GSM provider (like you can say with the Verizon iPhone 5) because it's technically incompatible. You could theoretically just use it as an offline GPS device, but you can sell it right now for a lot more than you'd ever pay buying a brand new dedicated GPS unit, never mind picking up a used one.

gimp

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #906 on: October 01, 2013, 11:01:06 AM »
I just noticed this thread and wanted to give a shout-out to republic wireless. I have their Motorola Defy XT (which I paid $275 or so for up front, including taxes, but I could have gotten it cheaper later).

Never a single problem. Sprint works well for almost everywhere in the country - and the only times I didn't have service (deep mid-west), neither did verizon. I've had it for almost a year now. It's definitely a bit slow, and has outdated android, but it's a phone, not a computer replacement. If you want a computer replacement, the Defy XT is not for you.

$22/month after taxes.

I love the phone because I need something hardy - it's waterproof and dustproof to a very large extent. I added a thick, heavy case and it's awesome.

However if you want a more up-to-date phone, the Moto X is coming to the network with more flexible plans. $5/month gets you wifi, $10/month gets you wifi+cell, $25/month gets you wifi+3G, $40/month gets you wifi+4G. The phone will end up contract-less and half price. I'm not sure the $40/month plan is worth it, but the other ones certainly are if they fit your use case. The Moto X is today's cream-of-the-crop; it doesn't have the highest raw specs, but it's incredibly smooth in the way that some higher-spec phones are not. Also the new phone will fix most of the little complaints people currently have (no MMS, no smooth wifi-to-cell active call handoff, things like that).

Other reasons I love RW: their interface is just so simple! Forget the tons of cruft your phone provider's website has. RW's website is just a pleasure to use, because it's so simple, and only has the information you need. Their built-in software functions well (its trade-off has more power saving, a bit less aggressively keeping wifi alive when your phone is idle), and their add-on app is awesome (more info, more control, better phone handling).

Here's the kicker. Verizon was charging me $35/month for dumbphone + unlimited text. That's before taxes. Compare that to $22/month for unlimited smartphone use, please use wifi when possible including taxes. If you assume "free" dumbphone upgrade versus $275 up-front smartphone cost, the ~$15/month savings pays off in just over 1.5 years, significantly less time than I keep my tech alive. It's not even fair how utterly verizon loses the competition: higher cost for a dumbphone over the upgrade cycle than the smartphone, and oh yeah, I get a computer about as powerful as my first PC in my pocket.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 11:05:25 AM by gimp »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #907 on: October 01, 2013, 12:13:46 PM »
I know it's been talked about, but freedompop phone is out now. I'm going to signup for it and try it at end of October. I currently use sprint so the coverage will be the same. I'm hoping it isn't too bad, but for $100 for phone then 0$/month (for what I need), I should be set to recover money in 4 months.

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #908 on: October 01, 2013, 01:15:40 PM »
Geez... are Republic's ad monkeys astroturfing this thread now?

Even with the new plans, the math doesn't hold up, and the caveats are too many for the money. I'm glad that there's people out there who don't think they've been ripped off with the service and getting what they've paid for, but there's better deals with far fewer issues.

Also, handset costs should always be factored in on ROI, no matter the carrier. Leaving it out falsely skews operational costs... especially with a provider who effectively doesn't allow handsets to be resold, reactivated, or taken to a competitor.



I know it's been talked about, but freedompop phone is out now. I'm going to signup for it and try it at end of October. I currently use sprint so the coverage will be the same. I'm hoping it isn't too bad, but for $100 for phone then 0$/month (for what I need), I should be set to recover money in 4 months.

No offense implied, eyem, but good luck with that.



The explosion of mVoIP providers has been one of the worst things to happen to the cellular industry this year.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 01:22:03 PM by I.P. Daley »

livetogive

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #909 on: October 01, 2013, 01:45:39 PM »
Why Solavei? ...
Why do you need to have live-updating Google Maps?
Why do you think you need so much data for browsing the web?

All great points.  Solavei because it's only $10/mo per month for a ton of data vs. Airvoice's 1GB limit.  Now i'm VERY curious about how much data I'll use, especially if I keep wifi at work.  The music and youtube are the most extravagant consumers, and youtube can be cut easily enough.  Music is a little harder but I can probably swing that anyway.

Am I on the right track with the Airvoice 1GB plan then you think?  GFE doesn't use much data but I have to reserve the ability to download a legal document or presentation in an inconvenient place.  I don't like or want to do that, but it's part of my job.  Doesn't happen very often though...

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #910 on: October 01, 2013, 02:05:49 PM »
Why Solavei? ...
Why do you need to have live-updating Google Maps?
Why do you think you need so much data for browsing the web?

All great points.  Solavei because it's only $10/mo per month for a ton of data vs. Airvoice's 1GB limit.  Now i'm VERY curious about how much data I'll use, especially if I keep wifi at work.  The music and youtube are the most extravagant consumers, and youtube can be cut easily enough.  Music is a little harder but I can probably swing that anyway.

Am I on the right track with the Airvoice 1GB plan then you think?  GFE doesn't use much data but I have to reserve the ability to download a legal document or presentation in an inconvenient place.  I don't like or want to do that, but it's part of my job.  Doesn't happen very often though...

On the Solavei front, they might be $10/month more for "a ton of data" over Airvoice's 1GB limit, but GoSmart is a T-Mo (owned) and based MVNO that does 5GB of 3G data access and throttled 2G above that amount for $5 less than Solavei (and only $5 more than Airvoice), and no dealing with an MLM.

Odds are, if you genuinely stick to the whole cutting back on Youtube, music and more frivolous internet access while on mobile data thing, I think the 1GB of Airvoice data will eventually prove to be significant overkill for your needs. All the same, go on a data diet now so you can get a better idea of what your genuine needs are in advance. I suspect once you've cut out the cruft, you'll likely weigh in around the 300-500MB mark at most.

gimp

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #911 on: October 01, 2013, 03:11:06 PM »
Geez... are Republic's ad monkeys astroturfing this thread now?

Even with the new plans, the math doesn't hold up, and the caveats are too many for the money. I'm glad that there's people out there who don't think they've been ripped off with the service and getting what they've paid for, but there's better deals with far fewer issues.

Also, handset costs should always be factored in on ROI, no matter the carrier. Leaving it out falsely skews operational costs... especially with a provider who effectively doesn't allow handsets to be resold, reactivated, or taken to a competitor.

With all due respect:

- I included the handset cost
- I have no issues
- You have no right to call me anyone's monkey. Especially with no provocation. It's uncivilized, and you should apologize.

anneinpdx

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #912 on: October 01, 2013, 03:17:19 PM »
Hey all-

Been lurking round these boards a few months as I try to whittle away at those annoying monthly bills so I can knock off my grad school loans.  Our family cell bill is the major remaining target- $130/month for 2 iPhones.  I know, I know...  My phone will be off contract in November (Yay! and also face-punch for paying these stupid rates this long).  I am itching to get off ATT right away but it makes more sense to wait the month out vs paying the ETF.  Hubby is on contract for another year.

I can see the iPhone is not so popular around these here parts and I am a little fed up with the Apple world myself.  I would be happy to jump ship and sell my 4S to get another model.  However, the Mr is pretty dang attached to his iPhone5, uses texting and email extensively for work on it, and is also skeptical about changing plans.  My thought is if I switch for a month and show him that he can still do all the things he wants on an MNVO, then we can pay the ETF on his phone and he can keep it while I switch. 

My usage is really pretty low: average 300 min talk, 25-50 texts, 100 MB data each month over last 6 months.  I am on wifi for ~80% of my voice calls so I think I could get that number down significantly by off loading most calls to wifi.  For clarification: do people find this easier with a separate VOIP or using an app like Talkatone?   

Hubby averages 350 voice, 200 texts, 350 MB data.  He says he can cut his data way down as it is usually "bored surfing" on the bus or just because he doesn't bother signing into work wifi.   We don't really ever stream anything unless at home. 

I am looking at the Airvoice plans since they use ATT networks but also Ptel.  It seems the $10 Airvoice plans would work well if we can offload some of the voice calls and get data use down.  Do I have that right?

Also, if I do switch phones from iPhone4, any suggestions for me?  I have 2 little kids and my mom loves the frequent pics I send from my phone so I would like one with an ok camera.  Also, we use YNAB for budgeting and find the app super helpful.  I know it's not strictly necessary, but I would probably prefer an Android phone that could run this. 

Thanks for managing this awesome resource thread IP Daley.  I will definitely go through your web storefront if I need to buy any equipment.

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #913 on: October 01, 2013, 05:28:30 PM »
Geez... are Republic's ad monkeys astroturfing this thread now?

Even with the new plans, the math doesn't hold up, and the caveats are too many for the money. I'm glad that there's people out there who don't think they've been ripped off with the service and getting what they've paid for, but there's better deals with far fewer issues.

Also, handset costs should always be factored in on ROI, no matter the carrier. Leaving it out falsely skews operational costs... especially with a provider who effectively doesn't allow handsets to be resold, reactivated, or taken to a competitor.

With all due respect:

- I included the handset cost
- I have no issues
- You have no right to call me anyone's monkey. Especially with no provocation.

With all due respect:

- You paid $275 for a sub-$100 new Android handset you can't resell or reactivate or legally carrier unlock and you compared the plan to a single dumbphone plan from Verizon prepaid. Also, 21.15 months for a return on investment on a handset is not "just over 1.5 years", that's just about two... you don't even start to break even until you're under the three months out from the two year mark and that's getting into two year signed contract territory for a "free phone" math. Can you say with absolute certainty that nothing is going to happen to potentially change those calculations on the Republic end after this November and before your 22nd month? Have you actually read the legally binding documents that dictate your phone service and billing terms?

- You are the exception to the rule with users I've had to deal with coming off Republic, and the complaints and gripes I've heard get tiring, and the terms of service contribute to those problems. I'm happy for you that you've had good service from them except for the times that you haven't, and can wear deep enough rose colored glasses with your experiences to still feel okay about the service, but looking at the whole picture? Republic is not a particularly frugal or customer friendly option when weighed in total against its competition.

- If you're going to slag me for name calling, I guess that means you ARE astroturfing for Republic given the scope and focus of my quoted post. The second post in this very thread has links outlining the reasons why Republic will not be recommended in the Superguide (it can be replicated, problems and all, for less without a draconian ToS and higher call quality while off WiFi), and not a dozen posts before your own was a series of comments dissecting how the new Republic prices change very little after someone else came in quoting Republic's current marketing. Don't wear a hat made out of cheese to a bar in Minnesota without making sure it's cool first, and if you're unsure of the lay of the land in a 900+ post thread? Might be wise to read a few posts before you go putting on any particular hat.

You know what, if you aren't actually astroturfing for Republic Wireless, then I apologize for assuming that you were... but you a) came in here with a low post count, and b) post a comment that reads pretty much like advertising copy... but that's the extent of any apology you'll get out of me. Push the point further, and we'll have words about your username.

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #914 on: October 01, 2013, 06:31:40 PM »
Hey all-

Been lurking round these boards a few months as I try to whittle away at those annoying monthly bills so I can knock off my grad school loans.  Our family cell bill is the major remaining target- $130/month for 2 iPhones.  I know, I know...  My phone will be off contract in November (Yay! and also face-punch for paying these stupid rates this long).  I am itching to get off ATT right away but it makes more sense to wait the month out vs paying the ETF.  Hubby is on contract for another year.

I can see the iPhone is not so popular around these here parts and I am a little fed up with the Apple world myself.  I would be happy to jump ship and sell my 4S to get another model.  However, the Mr is pretty dang attached to his iPhone5, uses texting and email extensively for work on it, and is also skeptical about changing plans.  My thought is if I switch for a month and show him that he can still do all the things he wants on an MNVO, then we can pay the ETF on his phone and he can keep it while I switch. 

My usage is really pretty low: average 300 min talk, 25-50 texts, 100 MB data each month over last 6 months.  I am on wifi for ~80% of my voice calls so I think I could get that number down significantly by off loading most calls to wifi.  For clarification: do people find this easier with a separate VOIP or using an app like Talkatone?

Hubby averages 350 voice, 200 texts, 350 MB data.  He says he can cut his data way down as it is usually "bored surfing" on the bus or just because he doesn't bother signing into work wifi.   We don't really ever stream anything unless at home. 

Howdy! I typically recommend a proper home phone and VoIP account over doing it through the smartphone for a number of reasons (non-ionizing radiation exposure, added interface complexity, call quality over wireless versus wired), I'm not big on recommending Google Voice for another number of reasons (privacy, quality, reliability), and again on Talkatone for a few others (password management for your Google account), but you can do the GV+Talkatone setup to supplement with, and there's several folks here who don't seem to mind the setup. That said, I'll let others expand on that particular question further.

I suspect you could probably get that data usage down lower on your own phone if you selectively turned on and off your 3G data connection over letting it auto-connect, but that would depend on if you need or use any communications tools on the phone while out of the house (e-mail, SMS replacement apps - I won't expand and count GPS as a necessary data tool because there's offline options available ranging from free to paid even on the iPhone).

As to your husband's usage, same applies, and it sounds like he's already on board with cutting it back significantly.

Quote
I am looking at the Airvoice plans since they use ATT networks but also Ptel.  It seems the $10 Airvoice plans would work well if we can offload some of the voice calls and get data use down.  Do I have that right?

Correct. I'd also throw in a mention and consideration for Spot Mobile. They fill in some of the needed middle ground prices on the T-Mobile MVNO end that P'tel doesn't have. I have a very soft spot for P'tel, but when another long established competitor on the same MNO network finally offers plans that hit potential usage needs that can fall awkwardly between PAYG and monthly unlimited calling options at the $15-30 range... they're worth bringing up, and fair mention is deserved for any MVNOs that have prices, terms of service agreements, and established track records to warrant consideration. Do keep in mind that you could potentially be restricted to 2G EDGE data speeds with your iPhone 4s on a T-Mo MVNO due to GSM band incompatibility in some markets, but if you're looking to restrict data usage farther, that could play in your favor.

Quote
Also, if I do switch phones from iPhone4, any suggestions for me?  I have 2 little kids and my mom loves the frequent pics I send from my phone so I would like one with an ok camera.  Also, we use YNAB for budgeting and find the app super helpful.  I know it's not strictly necessary, but I would probably prefer an Android phone that could run this.

Get the iPhone carrier unlocked and stick with it. If it's already set up and working for you with all the features you need and want, and you're looking at staying in the smartphone camp anyway... it's paid for (or will be shortly). I'm not going to bother recommending an alternative unless you're just absolutely sick of the thing to the point of frustration, want to give Apple the double deuce, and are looking for something different in the Android camp. Even then, I'm going to encourage you to try and make do with the resources you already have.

Quote
Thanks for managing this awesome resource thread IP Daley.  I will definitely go through your web storefront if I need to buy any equipment.

Glad to be of assistance, and appreciate the generous offer. Let's see if we can get you sorted without needing to buy anything new, though. :)

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #915 on: October 01, 2013, 06:53:22 PM »

Get the iPhone carrier unlocked and stick with it. If it's already set up and working for you with all the features you need and want, and you're looking at staying in the smartphone camp anyway... it's paid for (or will be shortly). I'm not going to bother recommending an alternative unless you're just absolutely sick of the thing to the point of frustration, want to give Apple the double deuce, and are looking for something different in the Android camp. Even then, I'm going to encourage you to try and make do with the resources you already have.

I agree with Daley here. Although he's not an Apple fan in any way, I can assure you, annieinpdx, there are many users on this forum happily saving telecom dollars with aging Apple devices. My wife, for example, is very happy with her iPhone 4, currently on a T-Mobile prepaid plan. Regarding T-Mobile and possible Edge data limitations, there's a crowd-sourced map here showing where folks are seeing 3G connectivity with their AWS-lacking phones, which includes all iPhones produced before the T-Mobile version was released in February this year.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #916 on: October 03, 2013, 03:00:54 PM »
Thanks IP and madage for the feedback!  We'll keep the iPhones for now and I'll report back when I get my new system in gear.  My data's on track for about 30 MB this month now that I'm tracking it so I think we should do alright if  we go VOIP and I can get my other half on board with the data cutback...

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #917 on: October 05, 2013, 02:42:49 AM »
Daley, I'm in need of your guru guidance.

I've been using Ting + GV for the past year on a Galaxy Nexus, and I'm finally ready to retire the GV. Due to reliability issues with using Talkatone, delayed texts, and lack of MMS, it's really becoming more hassle than it's worth. MMS is a real stickler; I don't care about pictures, but as a 21 yo missing out on group messages has led to a really crappy social life (especially when the senders don't realize you aren't getting them).

Here are my usage statistics. These aren't exact since I've been using GV to subsidize my usage; I can count the aggregate texts using this but have no idea on the minutes. I didn't used Talkatone much last month as I've had several employment related calls and couldn't risk dropouts, so I'll use that as an upper bound on minutes.

Texts: ~600/month avg (7100 over past 12 months, all GV)
Minutes: 195/month Ting avg (double that including GV/Talkatone). Maximum in the past 12 months has been 709 minutes, and that was last month with no Talkatone and excessive phone usage (phone interviews, interview scheduling, etc), so is probably my true maximum anyway.
Data: 97MB/month avg, 238MB/month maximum. Maximum was during a 1000 mile weekend rush cross country move, so I don't see any scenario where I'd need more than that.


If I go full Ting and drop the GV usage subsidy, I'm looking at about $37-$47 per month, depending on where my data usage lies (Even with careful management, I'm always on the cusp. 100MB = $3, 101-500MB = $13). Without the texts and with half the voice usage my bill has been averaging $22/month, so I'll be seeing a doubling by dropping GV. It's worth it at this point for the ease-of-use and reliability factors alone, but not sure if a better carrier would suit me now.

Should I stick with Ting (and my still working great GNexus) or is there a better option for my usage pattern? Also note that ~70% of my texting is to iPhones, so could potentially lower my texting numbers considerably if I had an iPhone w/ iMessage (not that I particularly want one, but wanted full disclosure).


Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #918 on: October 06, 2013, 10:34:58 AM »
Daley, I'm in need of your guru guidance.

Regarding your situation, I suspect staying with Ting and saving money is doable, and switching to another MVNO (especially if you're looking at another handset investment - even reselling the current) isn't going to be that advantageous. The average numbers (not maximum) you've cited yourself fall comfortably into the medium minute and message buckets with zero change in the minute bucket tier even doubling your minutes, and you're squeaking in on the small data bucket which will be improved by ditching Talkatone/GV data usage for your SMS usage, and likely reduced further using a web browser like Dolphin where you can turn off image downloads while browsing on 3G, and using offline maps (if you're using GPS at all). Other tricks that might reduce data usage is ensuring apps are downloaded and updated over WiFi only and only download headers/text on email (leave attachments on the server) with whatever mail client you're using. You can also cap out your maximum data usage at 100MB and just do without until the end of the usage cycle from the Ting control panel if it's close enough but you just want to make sure you never exceed it. The M/M/S setup ($6 handset, $9 voice, $5 SMS, $3 data) should cap out at $23+tax/month... that should be your realistic average monthly baseline with the numbers you provided.

You could theoretically triple your SMS usage and at most only bump that average up $3/month. That leaves the real price difference between the tiers on the voice and data. As has been discussed already, data should be easy to rope in to avoid that $10 price bump and even add in some comfortable usage margins. That just leaves the $9 potential price bump in voice service, and where you need to figure out how often that might happen, if your truly mobile monthly usage is above or below 100 minutes (minutes not used at home), and if the price difference between those points are worth bringing a VoIP provider into the picture. Just remember, just because your max usage has the potential of spiking your bill up to around $37, that doesn't mean its the norm. It may sting a bit in the short term getting hit for an extra $9 one month out of twelve for the 1000 minute bucket, but if it only happens once a year, your average monthly cost for that year only increases by 75. Even if it happens once every six months, that still only doubles the number to an averaged extra $1.50 a month. Similar can be applied to the data usage numbers.

Ultimately, there's ways to save and potentially cut back using stuff like VoIP and SMS replacement apps, but the best advice I can give is to ensure you need what you're paying for, you pay for what you actually need, and don't sweat the occasional spike because it's probably not as horrible as it seems when you average it out.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 10:45:13 AM by I.P. Daley »

cosmie

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #919 on: October 06, 2013, 07:58:59 PM »
and you're squeaking in on the small data bucket which will be improved by ditching Talkatone/GV data usage for your SMS usage, and likely reduced further using a web browser like Dolphin where you can turn off image downloads while browsing on 3G, and using offline maps (if you're using GPS at all). Other tricks that might reduce data usage is ensuring apps are downloaded and updated over WiFi only and only download headers/text on email (leave attachments on the server) with whatever mail client you're using. You can also cap out your maximum data usage at 100MB and just do without until the end of the usage cycle from the Ting control panel if it's close enough but you just want to make sure you never exceed it. The M/M/S setup ($6 handset, $9 voice, $5 SMS, $3 data) should cap out at $23+tax/month... that should be your realistic average monthly baseline with the numbers you provided.

I completely forgot to account for the data usage reduction that will occur from not having GV and Talkatone in the background. That accounts for roughly 10% of usage and should make staying below 100MB more probable. I already have background data restricted for all apps that I deem unessential, cache offline maps, cache my Google Music, and have Chrome's compression settings enabled (showing a 45% compression improvement). Email is actually the killer data app for me; between my two jobs, freelance work, and 8 classes, I have four accounts that I have to stay on top of (I don't worry about my personal account). The scheduling flexibility I have at work is predicated on being highly responsive, so I can't queue them up and wait for wifi availability.

Quote
That just leaves the $9 potential price bump in voice service, and where you need to figure out how often that might happen, if your truly mobile monthly usage is above or below 100 minutes (minutes not used at home), and if the price difference between those points are worth bringing a VoIP provider into the picture. Just remember, just because your max usage has the potential of spiking your bill up to around $37, that doesn't mean its the norm.

I have a VOIPo (through 2015), so the minutes quoted were true mobile talk time. I'm usually gone ~12 hours a day, so VOIPo doesn't get too much love. I could always use my cell as a softphone for VOIPo on wifi, as the quality would still be way above what was achievable with GV, but not enough to go below the 100 min threshold.

Quote
Ultimately, there's ways to save and potentially cut back using stuff like VoIP and SMS replacement apps, but the best advice I can give is to ensure you need what you're paying for, you pay for what you actually need, and don't sweat the occasional spike because it's probably not as horrible as it seems when you average it out.

Thanks for your thoughts! I was thinking along the same lines, but wanted a consult before going through the process of porting my number.

dorkus619

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #920 on: October 08, 2013, 10:11:55 AM »
<celebration>
I SWITCHED TO TING AND GAVE VERIZON THE BOOT.
FUCK YES.
And when I brag about my shiny htc EVO 4G LTE and predicted $35 phone bill everyone GAWKS! HAHA YES. "But how much did you spend on the phone? What if you have to buy a new phone? Is that REALLY how much your bill will be? What about surcharges?"
I WIN
</celebration>

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #921 on: October 08, 2013, 10:32:32 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts! I was thinking along the same lines, but wanted a consult before going through the process of porting my number.

Not a problem!

As a brief backtrack to the data issue with email and browsing... if you restrict downloading your email to on demand only, even over 3G, it could save some data. Not much, but a little. Text doesn't use much, but attachments do. Why download those attachments until you need to open them? Certainly some (not all, but some) aren't time critical to open on the spot. As for the data overhead savings in Chrome browser, it's a good start, but something like 90% of web browsing bandwidth are images and most images downloaded and included with site templates are wholly unnecessary to the delivery of the primary text content. If Chrome itself doesn't have a way to disable image loading while on 3G data, maybe give the Dolphin browser a try and do just that, see if you even miss the images with most of your mobile web use. If it doesn't work to your needs, you'll know, but it's pretty low-hanging fruit to gut usage if it does. Just a couple extra points to ponder.



<celebration>
I SWITCHED TO TING AND GAVE VERIZON THE BOOT.
FUCK YES.
And when I brag about my shiny htc EVO 4G LTE and predicted $35 phone bill everyone GAWKS! HAHA YES. "But how much did you spend on the phone? What if you have to buy a new phone? Is that REALLY how much your bill will be? What about surcharges?"
I WIN
</celebration>

Rock on, Dorkus. *respect knuckles*

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #922 on: October 11, 2013, 06:24:14 PM »
ATT seems to think I use a LOT more data than my iPhone 4s does.  This becomes noticeable every couple months (when they text me that I've "used 65% of my 200MB data allowance"), but may happen more frequently than I notice.

Before I leave the house, I reset my phone the morning of the 14th, the day my bill drops.  Currently, my phone says I've used 82.4MB of data, and ATT claims 114 (which isn't all that close to 65%, but I digress).  I've read that ATT counts headers and whatnot, but really - over 30% more? 

In a couple months I'm switching to Airvoice - will they pad the bill as well? 

cosmie

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #923 on: October 11, 2013, 06:56:13 PM »
ATT seems to think I use a LOT more data than my iPhone 4s does.  This becomes noticeable every couple months (when they text me that I've "used 65% of my 200MB data allowance"), but may happen more frequently than I notice.

Before I leave the house, I reset my phone the morning of the 14th, the day my bill drops.  Currently, my phone says I've used 82.4MB of data, and ATT claims 114 (which isn't all that close to 65%, but I digress).  I've read that ATT counts headers and whatnot, but really - over 30% more? 

In a couple months I'm switching to Airvoice - will they pad the bill as well?
Your phone counts the data it sends and receives; your carrier does the same. Sometimes the two aren't the same, particularly in low reception areas. As well, phones don't always account for the traffic overhead accurately, as you mentioned. But your big issue is most likely session rounding, where the carrier rounds up to the nearest unit of data at the end of a session. For ATT, it used to be to the nearest MB for postpaid customers, and nearest KB for prepaid. Dunno if it's the same as it was when that article was posted, but I'm sure they still do session rounding to some extent.

bray

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #924 on: October 14, 2013, 06:10:56 AM »
Hey, I've been trying to figure out a final system before making the jump to the world of MVNOs.  I have an iPhone 5 (I know, but I actually need it for work) with AT&T.  My average usage over the past 12 months:

276 mins
53 texts
113 MB

I have a pretty minimal plan on contract: $39.99 for 450 mins, $15 for 200 MB and $5 for 200 texts.  I'm grandfathered into the $15 data and $5 text plans.  I'm a bit worried that by leaving, if I ever wanted to go back I'd have to get the minimum $20 for data.  And the new minimum text plan is $20?!  That's insane.  I'd use the pay-as-you-go text plan at $0.20/text, but that'd be about $11 compared to my $5 plan.  My plan is obviously never to go back if I can make this work.

With my grandfathered plans (and 15% off the voice portion from a work perk), my bill is $63.42, which is still way more than what I'm using.

With this usage, I'd be paying right around $20 on Airvoice, using their $10 plan.  That's still a nice savings, even with my ETF of $195, but I'd like to keep it at $10/mo.  I'm having trouble figuring out a good way to make that work, where I have a single phone number (my current cell #).

I was thinking of porting my number to GV and using Talkatone/GV.  At home, incoming/outgoing calls and texts would be free, so that'd cut down my usage by a lot.  But I want to keep data disabled, and only enable it when I really "need" it.  When I go out, if I keep data enabled to be able to get incoming calls/texts, it'll drain my data usage.  But if it's disabled, I can't get incoming/outgoing calls on Talkatone/GV.

What I really want is to use something for free calls/texts when on WiFi, and use Airvoice minutes/texts when not on WiFi, but all using the same phone number.  Is that doable?

What about this: port my number to GV.  Get an Obi100.  Use the GV app but not Talkatone.  Have GV forward calls only to GChat.  For incoming calls, it'll ring home phone and iPhone's GV app.  Use Obi100 + handset when home for free incoming/outgoing calls, and use iPhone's GV app for calls which will use Airvoice minutes.  Texts via the GV app will always use Airvoice, but I'm fine with the $1/mo for that if need be.  And I could also give out my Airvoice number to a couple people that I text most with and also have iPhones, so those texts would be free.

But will that work?  If I forward GV to GChat and I have Obi100 and the iPhone GV app, will it ring both at the same time?  I thought I'd read that you can really only be logged into GChat in one place at a time.

Another option would be to use e.g. VOIPo at home, but then that'd be $6-7/mo and I'd have two phone numbers.  So it doesn't seem like VoIP will help?

Thanks!
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 06:38:56 AM by bray »

Whiskers

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #925 on: October 14, 2013, 10:11:47 AM »
Hi I.P. and Mustachians everywhere,

I'm new to the Mr. Money Mustache blog, this forum and this thread. I'm a little behind on the communications & tech curve when it comes to lingo and such; however, like many people here, I'm trying to cut my ridiculous cell phone bill.

Currently, my wife and I are chained to AT&T. We are grandfathered into their unlimited everything deal, which is part of the reason we have hesitated in making a move. The bill weighs in at $175 per month. She has an iPhone 4 that is "upgrade eligible" and no longer under contract. I have an iPhone 4s that is also "upgrade eligible", but is still under contract until January 28, 2014. Should I elect to terminate my contact at the end of this month, I will be hit with a $125 fee (or $115 at end of November or $105 at the end of December). The wife's phone is starting to crap the bed and she is anxious to get another. She likes the iPhone, but would be just as happy with a working 4 or 4s as she would with a 5. My phone is still cranking along for now. I too like the iPhone, but do not need the latest and greatest and would be willing to ditch for another device.

Average usage for the last 6 months:
Talk: 418 minutes (wife); 402 minutes (me)
Text: 188 (wife); 388 (me)
Data: 920 MBs (wife); 429 MBs (me)

Not sure how the iMessage function impacts these numbers, but I would imagine it would be very minimal impact on data, as opposed to a hard number for text usage. From what I've deciphered from this thread, it seems that Airvoice might be a good option for us, but only if we can drastically reduce our data usage. Would SmartTalk be a good alternative? Others?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #926 on: October 14, 2013, 10:11:57 AM »
Hey, I've been trying to figure out a final system before making the jump to the world of MVNOs.  I have an iPhone 5 (I know, but I actually need it for work) with AT&T.  My average usage over the past 12 months:

276 mins
53 texts
113 MB

I have a pretty minimal plan on contract: $39.99 for 450 mins, $15 for 200 MB and $5 for 200 texts.  I'm grandfathered into the $15 data and $5 text plans.  I'm a bit worried that by leaving, if I ever wanted to go back I'd have to get the minimum $20 for data.  And the new minimum text plan is $20?!  That's insane.  I'd use the pay-as-you-go text plan at $0.20/text, but that'd be about $11 compared to my $5 plan.  My plan is obviously never to go back if I can make this work.

With my grandfathered plans (and 15% off the voice portion from a work perk), my bill is $63.42, which is still way more than what I'm using.

With this usage, I'd be paying right around $20 on Airvoice, using their $10 plan.  That's still a nice savings, even with my ETF of $195, but I'd like to keep it at $10/mo.  I'm having trouble figuring out a good way to make that work, where I have a single phone number (my current cell #).

I was thinking of porting my number to GV and using Talkatone/GV.  At home, incoming/outgoing calls and texts would be free, so that'd cut down my usage by a lot.  But I want to keep data disabled, and only enable it when I really "need" it.  When I go out, if I keep data enabled to be able to get incoming calls/texts, it'll drain my data usage.  But if it's disabled, I can't get incoming/outgoing calls on Talkatone/GV.

Before getting started, this needs to be said...

If you need mobile communications service, and you especially need it for mandatory work-related communications, do not cut corners. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

Got that? Good. Onward and upward with some rhetorical questions.

You say you need your iPhone 5 for work. Did your employer pay for your phone? (You're under contract and have to pay the ETF, so my guess is NO.)

Is your employer compensating you for your monthly bill? (You're paying around $65 a month for your cellular service currently, you mention no subsidy from your employer, and you're quibbling over paying an extra $10-20 a month to get the service you state you actually need for a work tool. 15% off the voice portion of your bill due to a "work perk" is not paying you to be tethered to an obligatory financial anchor for work communications. Again, my guess is NO.)

Can you write your bill or handset purchase off as a business expense on your taxes? (Again, you're quibbling over saving an extra $10-20 on a bill that you can already easily slash in half with nearly no usage modification at all. My guess remains NO.)

Your usage levels also do not exactly follow the usage pattern of someone using a mobile phone for work related communications having to double for personal as well. This isn't to say that they couldn't as every person and employer is different, but work phone usage usually averages much higher than this when doubled up with personal usage, and strictly personal phone usage numbers don't.

This makes me ask: Do you actually need your iPhone 5, or are you just trying to justify keeping a luxury that you cannot actually afford?

I know I'm raking you over the coals on this one, but it's for a very deliberate purpose. Your numbers look like the average, low-end private cellphone user profile. If your personal communications needs fits the profile of our forums lovable curmudgeon, JamesQF, where $7 worth of Tracfone credits a month gets him what he needs to communicate with the outside world for non-work related stuff? Your employer needs to be footing at least a majority of the bill on your phone. Full stop.

Again, if using an iPhone 5 is a prerequisite of your employer? Your employer needs to be footing at least a majority of the bill on your phone. Full stop.

These points should properly address your work needs as well as most, if not all, of your bill. That means there's no excuse not paying for a mobile phone plan that doesn't actually fully cover what you need to the point that you think using free service through Google is a good idea to supplement usage. It's not, especially for work related communications. You get what you pay for.

If the reality of this is that this is strictly a mobile personal communications tool, you need to determine the value of that tool in your life. It appears that you've placed a value of $10/month on that service attached to a $600+ handset. Mobile phone service costs more than fixed access phone service, and your usage levels are going to force you to make a tough decision on what you value more. Is it mobility, is it communications, is it service quality, or is it your money? At a personally placed value of $10 a month paired with a hedonic adaptation machine designed for the primary purpose of extracting money from your wallet, you're going to need to compromise somewhere.

What I really want is to use something for free calls/texts when on WiFi, and use Airvoice minutes/texts when not on WiFi, but all using the same phone number.  Is that doable?

What about this: port my number to GV.  Get an Obi100.  Use the GV app but not Talkatone.  Have GV forward calls only to GChat.  For incoming calls, it'll ring home phone and iPhone's GV app.  Use Obi100 + handset when home for free incoming/outgoing calls, and use iPhone's GV app for calls which will use Airvoice minutes.  Texts via the GV app will always use Airvoice, but I'm fine with the $1/mo for that if need be.  And I could also give out my Airvoice number to a couple people that I text most with and also have iPhones, so those texts would be free.

But will that work?  If I forward GV to GChat and I have Obi100 and the iPhone GV app, will it ring both at the same time?  I thought I'd read that you can really only be logged into GChat in one place at a time.

Another option would be to use e.g. VOIPo at home, but then that'd be $6-7/mo and I'd have two phone numbers.  So it doesn't seem like VoIP will help?

Thanks!

Let's first answer your four questions: No, sort of, yes, and maybe.

You're already talking about stripping out data usage, but you can't do that if you're using data services for your SMS replacement, and iOS is a data pit in the wide world of smartphone platforms. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

If you actually need a smartphone and mobile data access, there are cheaper and better solutions. Unlike the iPhone, with some work you can gut background data usage on an Android device to nearly nothing and still leave it connected 24/7 or you can use both platforms on demand as you're currently considering. If you can eliminate mobile data access, ask yourself, do you need a smartphone at all? PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

By what you've described, it sounds like you could make a significant dent in your minute usage by making calls at home over WiFi with the GV/Talkatone setup. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

You're concerned about the possibility of having multiple phone numbers, yet your proposed solution relies on using multiple phone numbers. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

You're proposing to buy more equipment just to shoehorn a mediocre solution. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

Working off averages is great to calculate cost, but it's always a good idea to have a buffer and margin of error with prepaid service so you're never left stranded. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

You detecting a pattern here yet?

If you actually need mobile phone service, don't be afraid to spend the money to get it... but the key word here is need.

Texting in your budget is basically a non-cost if you can pay under 2.5 a text. The real back monkeys are the data and the minutes. If you try to supplement usage with any mobile data services, that cost isn't really going to disappear. If VoIP at home seems like a feasible option to significantly reduce mobile minute costs, but you're not using enough minutes to justify the expense and still want to have mobile service? Either pay for the mobile minutes, or just pay for the outbound VoIP while at home.

I'm going to close here with a few academic points and some links.

There are VoIP providers that can let you set the outbound Caller ID, let you pay for outbound service only, and there are SIP based softphones available for iPhone.

VOIP.ms is one of these mentioned VoIP providers that charges 1.25 a minute outbound to the contiguous United States for premium routing or 1.05 a minute for value, they do outbound only accounts, and you can set your outbound Caller ID information. They also support a great number of softphones for iOS and Android both.

There are social engineering tricks you can employ to reduce your incoming minute usage. People know they are calling your mobile number and you can say, "Give me a minute, let me call you back," without offending them or twigging them on to the idea that you're being frugal about your calling costs.

If T-Mobile coverage is an option in your area, don't forget about Spot Mobile and P'tel.

If AT&T coverage is necessary, don't forget about H2O Wireless, but do keep in mind that their customer support is the pits.

Just remember, even if you only slash your phone budget in half, that's still over $30/month in savings and you'll be saving over $360 a year versus AT&T with no need to go back. Even at its worst and without jumping through hoops to cut costs further, have confidence that your usage levels will always be cheaper through an MVNO.

Probably not the answers you were wanting to hear, but they're answers all the same. That should get you sorted, Bray... and welcome to the forums.

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #927 on: October 14, 2013, 10:34:11 AM »
Hi I.P. and Mustachians everywhere,

I'm new to the Mr. Money Mustache blog, this forum and this thread. I'm a little behind on the communications & tech curve when it comes to lingo and such; however, like many people here, I'm trying to cut my ridiculous cell phone bill.

Currently, my wife and I are chained to AT&T. We are grandfathered into their unlimited everything deal, which is part of the reason we have hesitated in making a move. The bill weighs in at $175 per month. She has an iPhone 4 that is "upgrade eligible" and no longer under contract. I have an iPhone 4s that is also "upgrade eligible", but is still under contract until January 28, 2014. Should I elect to terminate my contact at the end of this month, I will be hit with a $125 fee (or $115 at end of November or $105 at the end of December). The wife's phone is starting to crap the bed and she is anxious to get another. She likes the iPhone, but would be just as happy with a working 4 or 4s as she would with a 5. My phone is still cranking along for now. I too like the iPhone, but do not need the latest and greatest and would be willing to ditch for another device.

Average usage for the last 6 months:
Talk: 418 minutes (wife); 402 minutes (me)
Text: 188 (wife); 388 (me)
Data: 920 MBs (wife); 429 MBs (me)

Not sure how the iMessage function impacts these numbers, but I would imagine it would be very minimal impact on data, as opposed to a hard number for text usage. From what I've deciphered from this thread, it seems that Airvoice might be a good option for us, but only if we can drastically reduce our data usage. Would SmartTalk be a good alternative? Others?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

StraightTalk will never be a good alternative in my books. Better and cheaper elsewhere.

Moving on, if you change nothing in your usage, the Airvoice 1GB Unlimited plans for both will save you over $90 a month alone. If you want to find out if breaking contract is worth it? Run the numbers.

As to your wife's phone? Even if she wants to keep an iPhone, buying a refurb carrier unlocked outright will still put you ahead with these cost numbers. That said, is having an iPhone really worth it?

As to your usage numbers, the only way you can really gut costs will be to nearly eliminate data use, use SMS alternatives between one another (which presents a problem with data use on an iPhone, see previous post), and potentially drag a VoIP solution into the house for non-mobile minute use. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

If you abandon the data usage without modifying any other usage numbers, you could get both mobile service squared for under $60 a month total, and more realistically under $50 if you can jump to a T-Mobile MVNO. If you can slice your mobile usage in half using SMS alternatives (for the non-iPhone friends/family) and VoIP service at home, you could even theoretically break the $30/month barrier for everything.

You can save nearly $100 a month right now without doing anything but switching carriers. No optimizing, no self discipline, no effort but ordering the SIM cards, carrier unlocking your handsets, paying your ETF, and and filling out the number port form. You can always optimize further, but you're already in a position where you're throwing money away if you do nothing at all.

If a factory reset and/or downgrade to iOS6 doesn't fix your wife's phone stability, look into replacing it... but ask yourself if the price premium is necessary to buy another Apple product first. Everything else should be downhill.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 12:54:01 PM by I.P. Daley »

bray

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #928 on: October 14, 2013, 01:05:28 PM »
First, thanks for replying.  Sorry, I should have been more clear about work.  I'm a software engineer and we build apps for iOS, Android, and web.  I need a smartphone to test/use our apps, check out competitors' apps, etc.  My employer bought my last three phones for me - iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, and iPhone 5.  But they didn't pay for my service, which I'm fine with.  I was planning on buying an iPhone at that point anyway.  I don't need it for communication with work like a salesman would.  Which is why it makes sense to pay my own communications bill.  I need the device itself for work, but the voice/texts/data are all personal.

I'll keep the iPhone 5 for at least another year, whether or not I switch to an MVNO.  Whenever I do want a new phone, I'll either get it from my employer, or I'll buy an iPhone or Android device.  Even if I bought a new one at the ridiculous unlocked price, I'd still be saving money over the course of two years with an MVNO (not taking into account selling the "old" iPhone).  But I'll probably go used at that point.  I understand the iPhone is a data hog, nobody NEEDS it, but I like it.  For now.  I've read your blog post and comments about your dislike for iPhones and Google Voice, and I get it.  But let's just assume I understand that and still want an iPhone or an Android phone even if I don't NEED it.  Even if I didn't need the device for work, I would still want it for personal use.

Now that that's out of the way:


If the reality of this is that this is strictly a mobile personal communications tool, you need to determine the value of that tool in your life. It appears that you've placed a value of $10/month on that service attached to a $600+ handset. Mobile phone service costs more than fixed access phone service, and your usage levels are going to force you to make a tough decision on what you value more. Is it mobility, is it communications, is it service quality, or is it your money? At a personally placed value of $10 a month paired with a hedonic adaptation machine designed for the primary purpose of extracting money from your wallet, you're going to need to compromise somewhere.

It's not that I place a value on it at $10/mo, I simply want to pay for my usage instead of overpaying like I do now on AT&T.  Without any changes in usage or workarounds, I'll pay around $20/mo with Airvoice.  As I said, I'll be happy with cutting my bill by a third.  But I might as well cut it even further if I can get free voice/texts over WiFi.  If not, fine.  I was just asking if it's possible to do this with one phone number since I haven't been able to figure it out.

Quote
You're concerned about the possibility of having multiple phone numbers, yet your proposed solution relies on using multiple phone numbers. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

My main question and proposed solution is this:

What I really want is to use something for free calls/texts when on WiFi, and use Airvoice minutes/texts when not on WiFi, but all using the same phone number.  Is that doable?

What about this: port my number to GV.  Get an Obi100.  Use the GV app but not Talkatone.  Have GV forward calls only to GChat.  For incoming calls, it'll ring home phone and iPhone's GV app.  Use Obi100 + handset when home for free incoming/outgoing calls, and use iPhone's GV app for calls which will use Airvoice minutes.  Texts via the GV app will always use Airvoice, but I'm fine with the $1/mo for that if need be.  And I could also give out my Airvoice number to a couple people that I text most with and also have iPhones, so those texts would be free.

But will that work?  If I forward GV to GChat and I have Obi100 and the iPhone GV app, will it ring both at the same time?  I thought I'd read that you can really only be logged into GChat in one place at a time.

If this works, then I'll have one phone number (my current cell # ported to GV).  What I'm not sure of is this:


When someone calls that GV number, will it ring both my home handset hooked up to Obi100/GV and my GV app (not Talkatone) on my iPhone at the same time?  If so, then I can pick it up on the handset for free at home, and pick it up on my iPhone and use Airvoice minutes when out.  Do you know if that's possible?


There are VoIP providers that can let you set the outbound Caller ID, let you pay for outbound service only, and there are SIP based softphones available for iPhone.

VOIP.ms is one of these mentioned VoIP providers that charges 1.25 a minute outbound to the contiguous United States for premium routing or 1.05 a minute for value, they do outbound only accounts, and you can set your outbound Caller ID information. They also support a great number of softphones for iOS and Android both.

That sounds like an interesting option.  I'll look into that some more.

My plan right now is to port my number from AT&T directly to Airvoice and just use the service.  If there's a way to make free calls/texts while home, or at least cheap (e.g. VOIP.ms), using the same phone number, then I might switch to that, possibly by porting again (e.g. from Airvoice to GV).
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 01:08:30 PM by bray »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #929 on: October 14, 2013, 05:09:46 PM »
Hi I.P. and Mustachians everywhere,

I'm new to the Mr. Money Mustache blog, this forum and this thread. I'm a little behind on the communications & tech curve when it comes to lingo and such; however, like many people here, I'm trying to cut my ridiculous cell phone bill.

Currently, my wife and I are chained to AT&T. We are grandfathered into their unlimited everything deal, which is part of the reason we have hesitated in making a move. The bill weighs in at $175 per month. She has an iPhone 4 that is "upgrade eligible" and no longer under contract. I have an iPhone 4s that is also "upgrade eligible", but is still under contract until January 28, 2014. Should I elect to terminate my contact at the end of this month, I will be hit with a $125 fee (or $115 at end of November or $105 at the end of December). The wife's phone is starting to crap the bed and she is anxious to get another. She likes the iPhone, but would be just as happy with a working 4 or 4s as she would with a 5. My phone is still cranking along for now. I too like the iPhone, but do not need the latest and greatest and would be willing to ditch for another device.

Average usage for the last 6 months:
Talk: 418 minutes (wife); 402 minutes (me)
Text: 188 (wife); 388 (me)
Data: 920 MBs (wife); 429 MBs (me)

Not sure how the iMessage function impacts these numbers, but I would imagine it would be very minimal impact on data, as opposed to a hard number for text usage. From what I've deciphered from this thread, it seems that Airvoice might be a good option for us, but only if we can drastically reduce our data usage. Would SmartTalk be a good alternative? Others?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

StraightTalk will never be a good alternative in my books. Better and cheaper elsewhere.

Moving on, if you change nothing in your usage, the Airvoice 1GB Unlimited plans for both will save you over $90 a month alone. If you want to find out if breaking contract is worth it? Run the numbers.

As to your wife's phone? Even if she wants to keep an iPhone, buying a refurb carrier unlocked outright will still put you ahead with these cost numbers. That said, is having an iPhone really worth it?

As to your usage numbers, the only way you can really gut costs will be to nearly eliminate data use, use SMS alternatives between one another (which presents a problem with data use on an iPhone, see previous post), and potentially drag a VoIP solution into the house for non-mobile minute use. PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

If you abandon the data usage without modifying any other usage numbers, you could get both mobile service squared for under $60 a month total, and more realistically under $50 if you can jump to a T-Mobile MVNO. If you can slice your mobile usage in half using SMS alternatives (for the non-iPhone friends/family) and VoIP service at home, you could even theoretically break the $30/month barrier for everything.

You can save nearly $100 a month right now without doing anything but switching carriers. No optimizing, no self discipline, no effort but ordering the SIM cards, carrier unlocking your handsets, paying your ETF, and and filling out the number port form. You can always optimize further, but you're already in a position where you're throwing money away if you do nothing at all.

If a factory reset and/or downgrade to iOS6 doesn't fix your wife's phone stability, look into replacing it... but ask yourself if the price premium is necessary to buy another Apple product first. Everything else should be downhill.

Thanks for the thoughtful response I.P...

I think the 1G Airvoice plan is the way to go for us, at least temporarily, as we experiment with weaning off the data teat. As you said, this will save us nearly $100 (take us from $175 to $80) by simply making the switch--overnight. Even with the ETF of $125, it makes sense to do it this month rather than waste more money getting gouged by our current carrier.

With regard to the iPhone, I have decided that my 4s will be my last iPhone. The wife will need some convincing. We are looking into a factory reset for her 4.... In any event, could you suggest some high-quality smartphone alternatives to the iPhone? The wife would be looking for something that is user friendly and, if possible, most similar to the iPhone (trying to make the conversion easy on her). Obviously, pricing will be an important factor. Looking around there are so many options; it's like paralysis by analysis..

Thanks again!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #930 on: October 14, 2013, 06:52:17 PM »

I say if your wife likes the iphone, stick with the 4s.  I don't own it, but it seems like a great phone and I think for the foreseeable future, it really is all the phone you will need.  Buy one on ebay and enjoy the cheap plans. 

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #931 on: October 14, 2013, 07:33:04 PM »
Thanks for the thoughtful response I.P...

I think the 1G Airvoice plan is the way to go for us, at least temporarily, as we experiment with weaning off the data teat. As you said, this will save us nearly $100 (take us from $175 to $80) by simply making the switch--overnight. Even with the ETF of $125, it makes sense to do it this month rather than waste more money getting gouged by our current carrier.

With regard to the iPhone, I have decided that my 4s will be my last iPhone. The wife will need some convincing. We are looking into a factory reset for her 4.... In any event, could you suggest some high-quality smartphone alternatives to the iPhone? The wife would be looking for something that is user friendly and, if possible, most similar to the iPhone (trying to make the conversion easy on her). Obviously, pricing will be an important factor. Looking around there are so many options; it's like paralysis by analysis..

Thanks again!

An Android device running v.4.0 or higher would probably be the best option. Use this search tool to help you get a bearing on some good handsets. Just look for carrier unlocked GSM phones for the 850/1900MHz bands. It's also hard to go wrong with a Google Nexus device if you insist on doing the smartphone thing.

If a factory reset doesn't fix your wife's phone, might I suggest you just hand your 4S off to her and take the plunge on an alternate handset for yourself instead? Might be the cheapest solution out with minimal inconvenience on the part of the person who's the most hesitant to change currently.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 07:35:19 PM by I.P. Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #932 on: October 14, 2013, 08:12:14 PM »
If this works, then I'll have one phone number (my current cell # ported to GV).  What I'm not sure of is this:

When someone calls that GV number, will it ring both my home handset hooked up to Obi100/GV and my GV app (not Talkatone) on my iPhone at the same time?  If so, then I can pick it up on the handset for free at home, and pick it up on my iPhone and use Airvoice minutes when out.  Do you know if that's possible?

The call will ring both the Obihai ATA and your cell phone through your Airvoice number. Basically, yes, that's correct.

All that aside, if your employer bought your iPhones, why are you under contract with AT&T? I'm sorry, but paying the subsidized price is not buying the phone outright.

As for my point about paying for what you need, I'm not sure you're quite grasping what I'm aiming at. I know you think you know what you're getting into, caveats and all, with pulling Google Voice into the mix... but let me be brutally honest here as someone who personally uses it and keeps having to help other people untangle from their own decision to drag Google into the mix just to try and save a few pennies. Don't do it. Pay for what you need. It's not going to be that much more expensive at your usage levels. Normally, I'm all over doing the whole home VoIP phone line thing for several reasons, but I'm not sure it's the right fit for you due to total price point and usage levels. It doesn't mean I don't think leveraging a paid VoIP solution couldn't be beneficial, but I'm not sure if the price difference could justify the added inconvenience for the setup you're desiring. I do understand the value of $10 saved, but I also understand the value of paying for what you need. A poor man can't afford to buy garbage, and a rich man doesn't remain rich buying garbage either.

Doubling up on the $10 Airvoice plan every month might appear to be a functional option to meet your usage needs if you pay in full and stay 100% mobile, but it's still not the best approach for an assortment of reasons. If the paid VOIP.ms solution doesn't work for you at home or you'd rather just leave VoIP out of the mix entirely (I know I would consider it if I were in your shoes, but I'm not you), if I'm already in for $20 a month, an extra five to give me plenty of breathing room without running out mid-month would be worth it to me. Again, if you've got good T-Mo coverage in your area, perhaps also consider Spot Mobile's $24 500min/500sms/50mb plan or the P'tel Real PayGo plan instead so you can keep a balance up front and put the monthly re-ups on autopilot. If an AT&T MVNO is absolutely needed, I know I'm not a fan of their support anymore, but again... if I were in your shoes, I'd probably opt for the H2O Wireless $25 Little Bit of Everything PAYG plan over doubling up with Airvoice's $10/month plan, or just bite the bullet and drop $30/month if I really wanted to stick with Airvoice and had to work with those numbers.

Finally, take it from a long time Google Voice user: I regret the decision to drag Grand Central into my business setup daily. The only thing keeping my number with Google at this point is momentum and an unwillingness to give Google a CC number. I don't rely on their texting service anymore, and if anyone calls on the number, I let it go to voicemail and call back without it, which does hurt my responsiveness with clients, but it's better than the call quality suffered otherwise.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #933 on: October 15, 2013, 05:45:13 AM »
Doubling up on the $10 Airvoice plan every month might appear to be a functional option to meet your usage needs if you pay in full and stay 100% mobile, but it's still not the best approach for an assortment of reasons. If the paid VOIP.ms solution doesn't work for you at home or you'd rather just leave VoIP out of the mix entirely (I know I would consider it if I were in your shoes, but I'm not you), if I'm already in for $20 a month, an extra five to give me plenty of breathing room without running out mid-month would be worth it to me. Again, if you've got good T-Mo coverage in your area, perhaps also consider Spot Mobile's $24 500min/500sms/50mb plan or the P'tel Real PayGo plan instead so you can keep a balance up front and put the monthly re-ups on autopilot. If an AT&T MVNO is absolutely needed, I know I'm not a fan of their support anymore, but again... if I were in your shoes, I'd probably opt for the H2O Wireless $25 Little Bit of Everything PAYG plan over doubling up with Airvoice's $10/month plan, or just bite the bullet and drop $30/month if I really wanted to stick with Airvoice and had to work with those numbers.

Thanks again.  Okay I think I'm convinced to avoid GV for now.  To keep it simple, I'll start with just an MVNO and maybe add VoIP to the mix later.

Why isn't doubling up on Airvoice's $10 plan not the best approach?  You mentioned running out mid-month - Airvoice tells you your balance after each call/text and (I believe) also reminds you when you're running low.  I know you can refill online or by phone - but are you suggesting that's a pain to do?  I can see that getting annoying, but it might not be bad if they make it a quick, automated, painless phone call to refill.  Is there anything else that makes this not a great idea?

Comparing it to H2O's $25 PAYG plan, with my average usage numbers above (for argument's sake) I'd fit nicely within that plan, with about $5 to spare.  But as you've said, their support is supposed to be not great.

Spot Mobile looks like a good deal, but leans more towards heavier talk/text vs data usage.  Which would be a good thing if I end up curbing my data enough.

P'tel looks very close to Airvoice's $10 plan, just a bit more expensive.  But they do have longer expiration periods which looks nice.

So why would you choose H2O's $25 PAYG plan over doubling up with Airvoice's $10/mo plan?

The great thing is I can easily switch if I'm not happy with the first one I choose.  They all look like good choices at this point.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #934 on: October 15, 2013, 07:52:22 AM »
Why isn't doubling up on Airvoice's $10 plan not the best approach?  You mentioned running out mid-month - Airvoice tells you your balance after each call/text and (I believe) also reminds you when you're running low.  I know you can refill online or by phone - but are you suggesting that's a pain to do?  I can see that getting annoying, but it might not be bad if they make it a quick, automated, painless phone call to refill.  Is there anything else that makes this not a great idea?

....

So why would you choose H2O's $25 PAYG plan over doubling up with Airvoice's $10/mo plan?

As to the Airvoice $10 double-up plan, it's due to how its handled. IIRC, the unused credits rollover when you refill at the end of the month, but not before. Adding an extra $10 credit mid-month also doesn't reset the 30 day billing cycle window. As such, you cannot stack credits up front. You can somewhat automate the credit replenishment system on your end buying PINs from a reseller in advance and just activating it every time you run low, but it's still inconvenient and you run the risk of losing small chunks of airtime credit unless you run your balance to zero every time you refill mid-month (*888* + [pin number] + # saved as a phone number in your address book, then just select and press send at time of refill). You also run the risk of running out and having to take the extra time to add credit at the worst possible moment just to keep talking. This is always how I've understood the latest Airvoice policies to operate on the plan, and familial experiences echo those conclusions. If any other Airvoice users here know that I'm inaccurate in this assessment, please speak up and correct me. Basically, it's not that it can't be done, it's just a hassle compared to their automated monthly renewal option.

As to the H2O question and why, because the $25 plan would cover your needs with breathing room to spare as a 30 day plan, and you could also set up automated monthly refills. Basically, there's no worrying about running out mid-month or near the end of the month, and you don't have to worry about a manual refill at the 30 day window. You can set it up and just use your phone.

Same deal with P'tel as they have automatic refill options now as well. The data and minutes are a hair more expensive than Airvoice, but you could front load say $50 of credits, see how you fair over the course of the first 30 days, and then set up a $20 monthly refill at the appropriate time. With PAYG plans, the best rule of thumb approach is to take advantage of the rollover minutes and basically run a balance of one to two months worth of average usage credits at any one point in the billing cycle. (You can actually adjust anywhere between two weeks to two months cushion depending on actual usage numbers, usage patterns, and what works best to not carry too much of a balance, but still have enough.) You get a cushion to absorb the occasional surprise high usage spate without inconvenience or running out midpoint, and you can also take advantage of automatic credit refills.

I'm not a 100% on this, but I don't believe Spot has an automatic monthly refill option, so you'll still have to operate manually on that front. That said, you can still probably automate the refill process a similar way to Airvoice with pre-purchased PINs.

Edit: I should probably point out that the $20-25/month price point is a real threshold with PAYG plans, as you can start getting ridiculous overkill with monthly plans at that point for not much more. That said, in your case? Since you're looking to economize anyway by reducing data usage and possibly bringing a little VoIP into the mix, PAYG might be worth it anyway if you pick the right carrier as you can just scale back as you go. No changing providers, no additional number porting, no losing any unused balance... just reduce the amount of money you pump in every month, and run a smaller cushion.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 08:14:52 AM by I.P. Daley »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #935 on: October 15, 2013, 08:54:03 PM »
Hello, I'm looking into replacing my current phone with Verizon, and have some things I'm not entirely sure about. I'm currently piggybacking off my parents, but want to be ready to use my own provider when the time comes.

Will Verizon allow me to purchase a device without their branding and bring it to their store for activation? Would that require me to give something else up in the process?

From what I've seen while skimming this thread, it seems like CDMA is very fickle. Would buying my phone outright alleviate this, or just cause more problems?

I'm looking into doing some minor travelling (less than 3 weeks next year). Would it make sense to get a "world phone"? What search terms would I use to find one compatible with all the GSM and CDMA networks, if such a thing exists?

And finally, as a basic dumb-phone user (1st gen Kindle w/ Cyanogen does everything "smart" for me), what would be the best handsets to look at? I've seen a plug for Nokia, but I'm not sure if that applied to both the smart and dumb kind.

Thanks for helping all the people before me, and apologies if I come off as a little ignorant. There's so much info here I can't seem to keep it all straight. :-)

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #936 on: October 15, 2013, 10:37:01 PM »
Hello, I'm looking into replacing my current phone with Verizon, and have some things I'm not entirely sure about. I'm currently piggybacking off my parents, but want to be ready to use my own provider when the time comes.

Will Verizon allow me to purchase a device without their branding and bring it to their store for activation? Would that require me to give something else up in the process?

From what I've seen while skimming this thread, it seems like CDMA is very fickle. Would buying my phone outright alleviate this, or just cause more problems?

I'm looking into doing some minor travelling (less than 3 weeks next year). Would it make sense to get a "world phone"? What search terms would I use to find one compatible with all the GSM and CDMA networks, if such a thing exists?

And finally, as a basic dumb-phone user (1st gen Kindle w/ Cyanogen does everything "smart" for me), what would be the best handsets to look at? I've seen a plug for Nokia, but I'm not sure if that applied to both the smart and dumb kind.

Thanks for helping all the people before me, and apologies if I come off as a little ignorant. There's so much info here I can't seem to keep it all straight. :-)

For the sake of simplicity and argument, the only CDMA handsets you can activate with Verizon are Verizon branded handsets. CDMA isn't like GSM in that regard where the handset is independent of the carrier. You can pay insane full price for new and take to a carrier like Page Plus, but why do that when cheap used and refurbs without contract are all over Ebay?

If you've got good GSM coverage in your area through AT&T or T-Mobile, it would make more sense to go GSM instead of CDMA. Far more flexibility in handsets versus carrier and MVNO selection. If you want to take a Verizon handset to an MVNO, Page Plus is pretty well your only option, and only if the ESN (serial number) is clean and there's no outstanding unpaid contract on it. Outside of Blackberry handsets, there's maybe a half dozen Android CDMA/GSM world phones on Verizon that will just work... so again, why go Verizon unless it's the only carrier in your area with decent coverage?

Nokia only makes dumbphones for the GSM end of the market, so again... if you're wanting a basic Nokia handset, go GSM and an MVNO like P'tel, Airvoice or Spot Mobile over Verizon CDMA. Their midrange handsets are usually built quite well.

Hopefully that clears a few things up. Ask if you need anything else.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #937 on: October 16, 2013, 07:17:01 AM »
Hello, I'm looking into replacing my current phone with Verizon, and have some things I'm not entirely sure about. I'm currently piggybacking off my parents, but want to be ready to use my own provider when the time comes.

Will Verizon allow me to purchase a device without their branding and bring it to their store for activation? Would that require me to give something else up in the process?

From what I've seen while skimming this thread, it seems like CDMA is very fickle. Would buying my phone outright alleviate this, or just cause more problems?

I'm looking into doing some minor travelling (less than 3 weeks next year). Would it make sense to get a "world phone"? What search terms would I use to find one compatible with all the GSM and CDMA networks, if such a thing exists?

And finally, as a basic dumb-phone user (1st gen Kindle w/ Cyanogen does everything "smart" for me), what would be the best handsets to look at? I've seen a plug for Nokia, but I'm not sure if that applied to both the smart and dumb kind.

Thanks for helping all the people before me, and apologies if I come off as a little ignorant. There's so much info here I can't seem to keep it all straight. :-)

For the sake of simplicity and argument, the only CDMA handsets you can activate with Verizon are Verizon branded handsets. CDMA isn't like GSM in that regard where the handset is independent of the carrier. You can pay insane full price for new and take to a carrier like Page Plus, but why do that when cheap used and refurbs without contract are all over Ebay?

If you've got good GSM coverage in your area through AT&T or T-Mobile, it would make more sense to go GSM instead of CDMA. Far more flexibility in handsets versus carrier and MVNO selection. If you want to take a Verizon handset to an MVNO, Page Plus is pretty well your only option, and only if the ESN (serial number) is clean and there's no outstanding unpaid contract on it. Outside of Blackberry handsets, there's maybe a half dozen Android CDMA/GSM world phones on Verizon that will just work... so again, why go Verizon unless it's the only carrier in your area with decent coverage?

Nokia only makes dumbphones for the GSM end of the market, so again... if you're wanting a basic Nokia handset, go GSM and an MVNO like P'tel, Airvoice or Spot Mobile over Verizon CDMA. Their midrange handsets are usually built quite well.

Hopefully that clears a few things up. Ask if you need anything else.

I wish I had read this post before buying the iPhone 4s through Sprint :(

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #938 on: October 16, 2013, 08:34:52 AM »
I wish I had read this post before buying the iPhone 4s through Sprint :(

That's why I posted this and linked to it in the core guide.

I'm sorry that the info's gotten a little lost in the sea of information.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #939 on: October 16, 2013, 02:32:48 PM »
I wish I had read this post before buying the iPhone 4s through Sprint :(

That's why I posted this and linked to it in the core guide.

I'm sorry that the info's gotten a little lost in the sea of information.

Oh, it isn't your fault.   I bought it well before I joined the forums (shortly after it came out).  It was the second phone I had bought.  The first was the palm pre (I miss palm).

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #940 on: October 16, 2013, 06:47:47 PM »
As to the Airvoice $10 double-up plan, it's due to how its handled. IIRC, the unused credits rollover when you refill at the end of the month, but not before. Adding an extra $10 credit mid-month also doesn't reset the 30 day billing cycle window. As such, you cannot stack credits up front. You can somewhat automate the credit replenishment system on your end buying PINs from a reseller in advance and just activating it every time you run low, but it's still inconvenient and you run the risk of losing small chunks of airtime credit unless you run your balance to zero every time you refill mid-month (*888* + [pin number] + # saved as a phone number in your address book, then just select and press send at time of refill). You also run the risk of running out and having to take the extra time to add credit at the worst possible moment just to keep talking. This is always how I've understood the latest Airvoice policies to operate on the plan, and familial experiences echo those conclusions. If any other Airvoice users here know that I'm inaccurate in this assessment, please speak up and correct me. Basically, it's not that it can't be done, it's just a hassle compared to their automated monthly renewal option.

I called Airvoice with a few questions, and from what she said it works differently than what you and others have said here.  I said say halfway through the month I have $2 remaining of my $10 balance.  If I then refill another $10, will I lose that $2, and my new balance will be $10?  She said no, you keep your balance and your new balance will be $12.  The only way for you to lose anything from your balance is if you don't refill at least $10 per month (at which point I think they cancel your account).

So basically I will just make set up the monthly auto-renew so it adds $10 once a month to keep it active, and probably add an extra $10 at some point throughout the month.

I also asked about cash cards / PINs since I wasn't sure what they were for.  She said those are basically only to add extra data to their unlimited plans.  You can't use cash cards / PINs with their $10 250min plan.  That makes sense.

I'm still not 100% sure about all of this, but I'll just try it and see what happens.  I'm in the process of unlocking my phone now, so we'll see how it goes.

Thanks again for your help Daley!

Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #941 on: October 16, 2013, 08:16:39 PM »
I called Airvoice with a few questions, and from what she said it works differently than what you and others have said here.  I said say halfway through the month I have $2 remaining of my $10 balance.  If I then refill another $10, will I lose that $2, and my new balance will be $10?  She said no, you keep your balance and your new balance will be $12.  The only way for you to lose anything from your balance is if you don't refill at least $10 per month (at which point I think they cancel your account).

Things had been in flux on the $10 plan and how it was to be handled, and stacking and rollover went through a phase of on again off again with this stuff back around the beginning of the year.

Good to hear, and hope it bears out to be accurate if you take that route.

Truckman

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #942 on: October 17, 2013, 04:31:37 PM »
I'm in the research phase right now, and I'm looking at other MVNO cell carriers.  We're on Verizon right now, and 3 of us have Droid Razr M phones. According to GSM Arena, they are GSM phones, no?  Can we use these phones on non-Verizon MVNOs? I was looking at the Ting website and it seemed like they wouldn't accept anything other than a Sprint phone.


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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #943 on: October 17, 2013, 05:09:24 PM »
I'm in the research phase right now, and I'm looking at other MVNO cell carriers.  We're on Verizon right now, and 3 of us have Droid Razr M phones. According to GSM Arena, they are GSM phones, no?  Can we use these phones on non-Verizon MVNOs? I was looking at the Ting website and it seemed like they wouldn't accept anything other than a Sprint phone.

Correct on the Ting/Sprint front. Page Plus takes Verizon phones, but 4G LTE handsets normally cannot be ported and activated on PP without some programming and deactivation of the LTE radio first.

As to the Droid Razr M, technically due to the FCC requirement that Verizon's bound to regarding their deal during the 700MHz spectrum purchase, all GSM capable Verizon LTE handsets should be sold global carrier unlocked. Unfortunately, they haven't entirely held true to that over the past couple years. I know the iPhone 5 will do what you're wanting, and the Razr M should be carrier unlocked as stipulated by law, but you won't know until you try. Borrow a friend's GSM SIM card and try popping it in. If it works, you're golden. If it doesn't, you're going to have to call Verizon tech support and drop some legal science on 'em to get the handsets unlocked.

Relevant bit:

Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 - Telecommunication.
CHAPTER I - FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (CONTINUED).
SUBCHAPTER B - COMMON CARRIER SERVICES.
PART 27 - MISCELLANEOUS WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES.
Subpart B - Applications and Licenses.
27.16Network access requirements for Block C in the 746-757 and 776-787 MHz bands.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/27.16

Truckman

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #944 on: October 17, 2013, 05:36:22 PM »
I'm in the research phase right now, and I'm looking at other MVNO cell carriers.  We're on Verizon right now, and 3 of us have Droid Razr M phones. According to GSM Arena, they are GSM phones, no?  Can we use these phones on non-Verizon MVNOs? I was looking at the Ting website and it seemed like they wouldn't accept anything other than a Sprint phone.

Correct on the Ting/Sprint front. Page Plus takes Verizon phones, but 4G LTE handsets normally cannot be ported and activated on PP without some programming and deactivation of the LTE radio first.

As to the Droid Razr M, technically due to the FCC requirement that Verizon's bound to regarding their deal during the 700MHz spectrum purchase, all GSM capable Verizon LTE handsets should be sold global carrier unlocked. Unfortunately, they haven't entirely held true to that over the past couple years. I know the iPhone 5 will do what you're wanting, and the Razr M should be carrier unlocked as stipulated by law, but you won't know until you try. Borrow a friend's GSM SIM card and try popping it in. If it works, you're golden. If it doesn't, you're going to have to call Verizon tech support and drop some legal science on 'em to get the handsets unlocked.

Relevant bit:

Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 - Telecommunication.
CHAPTER I - FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (CONTINUED).
SUBCHAPTER B - COMMON CARRIER SERVICES.
PART 27 - MISCELLANEOUS WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES.
Subpart B - Applications and Licenses.
27.16Network access requirements for Block C in the 746-757 and 776-787 MHz bands.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/27.16

OK, thanks!

Is it possible to turn SMS off, or on these MVNO's to not get it?  We go through an extraordinary amount of texting, and I'm looking at the alternatives (in addition to curbing the amount of use).

Just a quick breakdown of our outrageous bill, which will be increasing due to losing a corporate discount.

RazrM 1 - 507 mins, 2035 texts, 1GB+ Data (can't get accurate data usage off of bill)
RazrM 2 - 563 mins, 1389 texts, 1GB Data
RazrM 3 - 171 mins, 1214 texts, 1GB Data
Samsung QWERTY slide dumbphone - 38 mins, 889 texts
LG flip phone - 173 mins, <1 text

This is an average over 4 months, with a $250/mo bill.  It will increase to about a $275 bill.

The Samsung dumbphone just recently broke and needs replacing.

No idea what our ETF's will be yet, although 2 of the RazrM's are from around Feb/March so I suspect they'll be pretty high.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #945 on: October 17, 2013, 11:04:59 PM »
OK, thanks!

Is it possible to turn SMS off, or on these MVNO's to not get it?  We go through an extraordinary amount of texting, and I'm looking at the alternatives (in addition to curbing the amount of use).

Just a quick breakdown of our outrageous bill, which will be increasing due to losing a corporate discount.

RazrM 1 - 507 mins, 2035 texts, 1GB+ Data (can't get accurate data usage off of bill)
RazrM 2 - 563 mins, 1389 texts, 1GB Data
RazrM 3 - 171 mins, 1214 texts, 1GB Data
Samsung QWERTY slide dumbphone - 38 mins, 889 texts
LG flip phone - 173 mins, <1 text

This is an average over 4 months, with a $250/mo bill.  It will increase to about a $275 bill.

The Samsung dumbphone just recently broke and needs replacing.

No idea what our ETF's will be yet, although 2 of the RazrM's are from around Feb/March so I suspect they'll be pretty high.

You can deliberately request SMS services be disabled if desired, but without a major data diet, there's not much point if you're aiming for the GSM end of the MVNO spectrum. Airvoice (AT&T MVNO) does 1GB data with "unlimited" talk and SMS for $40/month/line.

You should consider dragging a home VoIP line or two into the home. Given you've got multiple lines already, PhonePower might be a good fit for the home phone service to cut minute usage as they do a two line setup with their ATAs and service by default, so you can have two conversations going at the same time.

Data based SMS alternatives should help with the texting needs to immediately get a couple of those lines easily into cheap PAYG territory... the rest will just need alternatives and discipline or big honkin' "unlimited" packages.

The big four MVNO brands to shop for price comparison will be Airvoice (AT&T network), P'tel (T-Mo), Spot Mobile (T-Mo), and GoSmart (T-Mo). There's also H2O Wireless (AT&T) if you don't give a toss about customer support quality.

That should hopefully get you started. Good luck!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #946 on: October 18, 2013, 11:37:39 AM »
So, I'm 24 hours into my new, slower, 2 megabit DSL plan, and I'm pleased to report it's not complete torture. Previously, I was paying around $100 for a landline plus the fastest DSL that is offered (about 6-7 times the speed of the 2 megabit plan). Now, I'm at around $50 per month for the landline and basic DSL service (can't get DSL without a landline here). Unfortunately, it's not possible to go lower than that without sharing internet access with neighbors, as my telco doesn't offer promotional pricing, and the cable service available to me is extremely unreliable. As for the slow-ass DSL plan, downloading a large file, like software updates for my computer, takes a lot of time, but there's not a tremendous difference for most other tasks. I watched a bunch of videos on vice.com last night, and they played perfectly, although there is a little bit of buffering before they begin playing. Amazingly, Youtube will play at 720p resolution without a hiccup, so I'd say it's much better than the 1 megabit or 768k plan which a lot of companies offer as the basic package. So long as I'm not trying to download large files simultaneously with streaming video, I think this should work almost as well as the expensive plan. $600/year savings!

I'm also in the process of porting my cell phone from Straight Talk ($45/month) to Airvoice. Even if I don't change my usage at all, I should be under $30 per month with Airvoice, and probably closer to $20. So, that's another $180/year in savings, at a minimum.

Anyway, thanks, I. P., for keeping this thread going!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #947 on: October 18, 2013, 12:24:11 PM »
I'm about to switch both my brother and myself to airvoice.

I've spent some time reading through this thread which is ENORMOUS now. Thanks to everyone for the helpful info!

I.P. (or anyone else) What are some good data based alternatives for SMS to reduce texting costs? (My brother basically only uses his phone for texting. probably ~1500 texts a month) The only one I've come across while skimming the previous posts is GV (and I understand your reservations about storing credentials with third-party and have heard reviews from friends about the lag time associated with GV texts).

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #948 on: October 18, 2013, 01:01:43 PM »
I use textnow and textme apps as well. They are both similar enough that I use textme because I like the number more >.> yeah, a shallow reason but still... And you can make calls with it as well. Watch a 30second ad to get 1 minute phone call, so I basically run it in background 10 times a month (I don't make a lot of calls)

Truckman

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #949 on: October 18, 2013, 08:55:51 PM »
OK, thanks!

Is it possible to turn SMS off, or on these MVNO's to not get it?  We go through an extraordinary amount of texting, and I'm looking at the alternatives (in addition to curbing the amount of use).

Just a quick breakdown of our outrageous bill, which will be increasing due to losing a corporate discount.

RazrM 1 - 507 mins, 2035 texts, 1GB+ Data (can't get accurate data usage off of bill)
RazrM 2 - 563 mins, 1389 texts, 1GB Data
RazrM 3 - 171 mins, 1214 texts, 1GB Data
Samsung QWERTY slide dumbphone - 38 mins, 889 texts
LG flip phone - 173 mins, <1 text

This is an average over 4 months, with a $250/mo bill.  It will increase to about a $275 bill.

The Samsung dumbphone just recently broke and needs replacing.

No idea what our ETF's will be yet, although 2 of the RazrM's are from around Feb/March so I suspect they'll be pretty high.

You can deliberately request SMS services be disabled if desired, but without a major data diet, there's not much point if you're aiming for the GSM end of the MVNO spectrum. Airvoice (AT&T MVNO) does 1GB data with "unlimited" talk and SMS for $40/month/line.

You should consider dragging a home VoIP line or two into the home. Given you've got multiple lines already, PhonePower might be a good fit for the home phone service to cut minute usage as they do a two line setup with their ATAs and service by default, so you can have two conversations going at the same time.

Data based SMS alternatives should help with the texting needs to immediately get a couple of those lines easily into cheap PAYG territory... the rest will just need alternatives and discipline or big honkin' "unlimited" packages.

The big four MVNO brands to shop for price comparison will be Airvoice (AT&T network), P'tel (T-Mo), Spot Mobile (T-Mo), and GoSmart (T-Mo). There's also H2O Wireless (AT&T) if you don't give a toss about customer support quality.

That should hopefully get you started. Good luck!

Sorry for the delayed reply, but thank you very much for getting me going in the right direction!