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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: partgypsy on January 20, 2016, 04:03:58 PM

Title: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: partgypsy on January 20, 2016, 04:03:58 PM
I made the plunge to smart phones, got two smart phones and signed them up with Platinumtel last month. Yesterday I emailed them for two different inquires, and got the message that they cannot help me with either, as they are "discontinuing service". I wanted to give everyone a heads up in case they were considering them.
Back to the drawing board.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 20, 2016, 04:54:40 PM
I just found out and got confirmation myself. At least we have a heads up.

End date is January 31st, last day to port your numbers out is January 26th. More info here (http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/01/ptel-and-giv-mobile-reportedly-shutting.html).

This is a sad day to see one of the best MVNOs of 15 years shut down like this. It's also probably the first of many smaller shop closures as a consequence of the major carriers undercutting their own wholesale service with brands like Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, users of America Movil brands, and all the short sighted people who want more data and cheaper service than smaller bills and higher quality customer service.

Edit (01/22):
ATTENTION P'TEL/GIV CUSTOMERS!

I recommended P'tel to a lot of people over the years, and the current news is sad and a little unexpected, but the news needs to be spread as P'tel is swamped as it is. The more who know and can pass on the info to others, the better, and the info needs to be consolidated down.

The contents of this message is also posted at the two following locations:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-discussion-thread-1/msg948232/#msg948232 (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-discussion-thread-1/msg948232/#msg948232)
http://www.techmeshugana.com/2016/01/ptel-is-closing/ (http://www.techmeshugana.com/2016/01/ptel-is-closing/)

On January 20th, P'tel announced to their dealers and began the process of informing their customers that after fifteen years of business, P'tel and Giv Mobile will be shutting down on January 31 and that January 26th should be the safe guaranteed number port-out date (http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/01/ptel-and-giv-mobile-reportedly-shutting.html). It's short notice, it's unexpected notice given there were no early warning signs, but it's notice all the same. I'm trying to help get people out as best as possible given I helped get them in, and for what it's worth my own family is in process of dealing with this first hand and porting out as well.

For anyone who has P'tel/Giv and are looking to switch to one of the other carriers from the communications guide (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/) and are wanting to keep your number, it is important to port out sooner than later as P'tel is running on a skeleton crew currently. This means obtaining SIM cards locally as opposed to getting them shipped might be a better option if express shipping isn't on the table. Fortunately, I can provide the most useful information to help most people port out now. Here's the pertinent details...

Treat January 26th as your safe number port out deadline, so the sooner you port, the better.

Account information:

Your current P'tel account number is your ten digit phone number (ex: 8185551212)
The PIN associated with your account will be 0000

You can obtain SIM cards for the following carriers from the guide at these locations:

Consumer Cellular (https://www.consumercellular.com/) SIM cards are available at most Sears (http://www.sears.com/consumer-cellular-all-in-one-sim-card/p-00350755000P) locations.

H2O Wireless (https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/) SIM cards are available at most Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/h2o-dual-sim-card-yellow/7324099.p) locations.

Airvoice Wireless (https://www.airvoicewireless.com/) can activate new, unactivated AT&T SIM cards in a pinch (though they prefer not to), which can be obtained from any location that sells AT&T phone service.

Puretalk USA (https://www.puretalkusa.com/) SIM cards are available at select K-Mart (http://www.kmart.com/puretalk-sim-card-starter-kit/p-018W007520199001P) and Sears (http://www.sears.com/puretalk-sim-card-starter-kit/p-00352035000P) locations in addition to phones at both Sears (http://www.sears.com/search=pure%20talk%20usa) and K-Mart (http://www.kmart.com/search=pure%20talk%20usa).

Ting GSM (https://ting.com/) SIM cards are starting to become available at select Staples and Kroger (http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/mvno-ting-adds-fewer-subs-q3-points-continued-pain-sprint-mvno-rule-changes/2015-11-06) locations (not listed online yet, call or visit stores directly).

SIM cards for major carriers not listed in the guide such as Tracfone, NET10, StraightTalk, Cricket, MetroPCS, etc., can be found at nearly any brick and mortar store that carries cellphones. Tracfone, NET10 and StraightTalk historically have a higher reported failure rate with number porting (both in and out) than most other carriers. This isn't to say it can't be done, but there may be a higher risk of number loss if your number is really important to you. This is reported only for the sake of general awareness.

P'tel also has exit offerings from Ting and Ultra Mobile posted to their website now (https://www.ptel.com/), and both carriers do offer express shipping of SIM cards if cards cannot be obtained locally.

It's sad news, and not a good sign long term for the independent MVNO industry when one of the longest surviving brands shuts its doors. If you remain with the smaller independent carriers, be alert, pay attention to MVNO industry news (http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/), and keep an escape plan with SIM card handy. Unfortunately, without wholesale wireless regulation, the major carriers are now undercutting their own wholesale customers to increase profits and bring back lost postpaid customers with in-house prepaid services offered through older purchased network brands such as Cricket Wireless (owned by AT&T) and MetroPCS (owned by T-Mobile). This strategy is working. That means there might be more surprises in the future from other long time and seemingly stable independent MVNOs, and as the network operators gain back direct billing control over customers, price increases might not be far behind.

Be well, all of you. May the ports that need to be done go smoothly for one and all.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Paul der Krake on January 20, 2016, 05:06:04 PM
Oh no, only a week of notice, that's not cool. I wonder what the backstory is.

Well, now I know what I'm doing tonight!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: geekette on January 20, 2016, 05:14:53 PM
At least they didn't pull a SunRocket (http://consumerist.com/2007/07/17/sunrocket-voip-is-dead-run-away-while-you-still-can/)!  That debacle hung my parent's phone number in limbo for at least a month.  I baked cookies for the BellSouth rep who finally got it back for them.

Hang in there, Airvoice!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Hey It's Me on January 20, 2016, 07:16:02 PM
WHATT..... :( What alternatives are you all using?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 20, 2016, 07:21:16 PM
WHATT..... :( What alternatives are you all using?

Recommended escape plan for most is going to be Airvoice Wireless (https://www.airvoicewireless.com/), Puretalk USA (https://www.puretalkusa.com/), Truphone (https://www.truphone.com/us/), H2O Wireless (https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/)/easyGO (https://easygo.h2owirelessnow.com/), Consumer Cellular (https://www.consumercellular.com/) and Ting (https://ting.com/) depending on your usage levels.

Of that list, only Consumer Cellular, Ting and Truphone are really large enough to weather longer term.

This is seriously a sad day... it does not bode well for any longer term diversity in the American MVNO industry.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Paul der Krake on January 20, 2016, 07:59:02 PM
It will be interesting to see if they refund the remaining balance to us PAYGO users, or prorate whatever was left for folks on the unlimited plans. Not that it's big sums of money.

Personally I'll be going to Airvoice's $10 plan. I ordered SIM on ebay tonight and the last time I used this seller it came within two business days- I should be good to go before the 26th. Airvoice got rid of the horrible USSD notifications since I last tried them, so yay for that. My wife was already on Puretalk, so I guess that makes us a 100% AT&T family now...

I'm still actively looking for a good replacement for someone I introduced to MVNOs. He uses about 3GB of data, some texting, and virtually no minutes: the $30 was a great deal for him. The good news is that he has a world iPhone that does both GSM/CDMA, he can take his business virtually anywhere he wants.

I guess this really shows how it's good to have backup plans and maybe keep a SIM of a competitor at hand, just in case. It sucks that they couldn't provide more notice, but at least it didn't happen while I was out of the country.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: TheThirstyStag on January 20, 2016, 09:35:40 PM
Wow.  What happened?  Did they just become insolvent?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: alsoknownasDean on January 21, 2016, 04:34:15 AM
A week's notice is a bit of a surprise. You'd expect a bit more unless they've hit the wall financially.

Any chance of them getting acquired by a bigger MVNO?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Frs1661 on January 21, 2016, 06:05:40 AM


I'm still actively looking for a good replacement for someone I introduced to MVNOs. He uses about 3GB of data, some texting, and virtually no minutes: the $30 was a great deal for him...

My wife uses the $30 prepaid T-Mobile plan with unlimited data and text (up to 5gb high speed) and 100 minutes, she's very happy with it.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Jack on January 21, 2016, 07:17:51 AM
I'm still actively looking for a good replacement for someone I introduced to MVNOs. He uses about 3GB of data, some texting, and virtually no minutes: the $30 was a great deal for him...

My wife uses the $30 prepaid T-Mobile plan with unlimited data and text (up to 5gb high speed) and 100 minutes, she's very happy with it.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

I use that plan too, but I'm annoyed at T-Mobile because of their Net Neutrality-violating "binge on" service. Since I never come anywhere close to the 5GB soft limit, I'm considering looking for an even cheaper plan. (I don't pay attention to my usage most months; I should start doing that so I know how low I can go.) I think I'm over 1GB though, so it looks like none of the choices IP Daley listed would actually save me anything.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 07:51:20 AM
Wow.  What happened?  Did they just become insolvent?

Don't know for certain, but when an MVNO closes shop, it's usually due to finances. P'tel had survived for a decade and a half in an industry of thin margins, but this past year was the first time they had to genuinely compete against the major carriers undercutting them.

Unfortunately, MVNOs in this country aren't like the ones in most other countries where there's government regulation and a mandate for equal wholesale network access to enable competition. In this country, it's not too much different in that the MVNOs are buying wholesale airtime from the major carriers, except there's nothing stopping the major carriers from undercutting the wholesale pricing with their own product. That's exactly what's started happening with the major carriers to reclaim customers who'd defected to cheaper prepaid MVNOs in this country over the past five years. Of course, the options being offered by the major carriers are still overpriced, but they've lured people away in droves with promises of "cheaper" data and "unlimited" talk and text versus their own postpaid plans using stealth brands like MetroPCS (owned by T-Mobile), Cricket Wireless (owned by AT&T), Boost Mobile (owned by Sprint), etc., using huge ad campaigns, massive boilerplate loaded with gotchas, even crappier customer service, hidden fees, cute gimmicks, funny math, and new ways to bring back the hidden mandatory contract through subsidized phone sales and minimum service times before unlocking handsets.... and the people slurped it up in droves. Even a fairly significant number of people on these very forums openly boasted about how they didn't give a crap, they just wanted more for less, even after I warned them of the longer term game plan with these boutique corporate owned MVNOs. Nobody cared and I even got ridiculed for saying so on a couple occasions.

Telecom regulation in this country is so lax and screwed up, that it took overpriced wholesale sellers repackaging overpriced airtime into smaller package plans over a decade and a half to break the price dam stranglehold of postpaid pricing in this country and force the carriers to be more competitive. Now the carriers are fighting back to eliminate this competition so they can raise prices back up.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost because of consumer sukka tendencies in this country and even in these forums, and one of the oldest and most financially stable pioneer MVNOs in this country, one of the MVNOs that helped BUILD this prepaid market and save people genuine money over the postpaid alternatives without sacrificing quality customer service and support after fifteen years is having to shut their doors. This is the first casualty in this new prepaid mobile market without regulation and required competition. We're losing what little genuine competition that was left in the mobile market now, and without a miracle will probably be soon left with nothing more than Carlos Slim's monopolistic empire America Movil, and their MVNO brands here in the states (Tracfone, NET10, Page Plus, SIMple Mobile, Straight Talk, Total Wireless), the big four carriers pretending to be other independent carriers (Cricket, MetroPCS, GoSmart Mobile, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and their in-house prepaid brands), and hopefully the likes of Consumer Cellular and Ting.

At this point, I'm not holding much long term hope for many on the recommended list in the guide anymore. For those staying with them to support the smaller shops through the end, prepare in advance with an exit strategy. Stay on top of closure reports over at Prepaid Phone News (http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/), and remember that the good MVNOs usually wind up giving between 7-14 days notice before closing, which is better than no notice as a lot of the bad MVNOs have done over the years.

As the casualties mount up in the months ahead, and the last of the good independent competition dies off, expect to see prices creep back up again and current offerings either getting more expensive or new offerings with less replacing what's available at the same price. These price changes will start with the major carrier owned prepaid rebrands.

Consider this a warning to everyone here. Stop chasing after excessive data access with slightly cheaper prepaid plans, that's how these independent shops are being undercut and killed off, as well as how the major carriers are tightening the financial noose around your own neck. Start pushing for stronger regulation and proper wholesale access for competition in the mobile industry and stop directly financially supporting the big four now if you want to keep mobile service in this country affordable. As it stands, our future is starting to look a lot like Canada's mobile landscape... and that 'aint good.



Any chance of them getting acquired by a bigger MVNO?

Nope. Even if they did, about the only company who does acquire MVNO brands here is Carlos. I'd rather see P'tel shut its doors than be taken over by them and turned into Yet Another Zombie Tracfone brand.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Jack on January 21, 2016, 08:38:34 AM
Consider this a warning to everyone here. Stop chasing after excessive data access with slightly cheaper prepaid plans

I agree with you on the regulation/predatory business practices by network owners issue, but is where you lost me: who are you to say how much data is "excessive?" I say texting and non-VOIP voice should be abolished entirely, and that's just as valid an opinion as yours.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: NathanP on January 21, 2016, 09:06:01 AM

Any chance of them getting acquired by a bigger MVNO?

Nope. Even if they did, about the only company who does acquire MVNO brands here is Carlos. I'd rather see P'tel shut its doors than be taken over by them and turned into Yet Another Zombie Tracfone brand.

To be a successful MVNO you need to scale up in order to spread customer service and operating costs across a larger user base. Also, being big likely helps in negotiating airtime costs from the big-4 network providers. Too bad that P'tel couldn't make this work.

I agree with the comment above that there are pre-paid options for users who use a lot of data as well as those who do not. Cricket and Metropcs are great choices for those who want to be able to watch video and will use multiple gigs per month. You also do not have to worry about your provider going out of business with 1 weeks notice!

I use Airvoice (low data user with a Google hangouts number for VOIP on wifi) and my wife uses Cricket. I don't feel morally superior to my wife because I am not giving my money to AT&T directly. Congrats to them for offering nearly the full AT&T service at the cut rate of $35 per month via Cricket. Urging people to use 'lesser' MVNOs out of principle is like eating at a crappy restaurant just so they don't go out of business.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 09:10:05 AM
Consider this a warning to everyone here. Stop chasing after excessive data access with slightly cheaper prepaid plans

I agree with you on the regulation/predatory business practices by network owners issue, but is where you lost me: who are you to say how much data is "excessive?" I say texting and non-VOIP voice should be abolished entirely, and that's just as valid an opinion as yours.

Does this help? Use less data, stop chasing after promises of "unlimited" mobile data, and choosing plans at slightly higher price points with way more data offered than most people actually use. The carriers are getting people with promises of "cheap" "unlimited" plans with 2GB and higher allotments. Most people on modern smartphones who strip off the time wasters and use it as a tool shouldn't need more than 500MB a month, 1GB at most without even really trying. Many here who don't stream media, keep local files of useful stuff, and browse with images turned off while on mobile data frequently and easily come in well under 250MB.

The point is, the carriers aren't using minute and text costs to undermine the competition in the market as much as they're using mobile data pricing as their pricing weapon of choice to keep people under their thumbs and undermine the competition. It costs almost nothing for them to provide "unlimited" texting and phone calls over the native network, and even with the average usage patterns in this country, 1000-1500 SMS messages and 650 minutes a month is cheap to provide. Unfortunately, offloading these services to straight data by end users to "save money" is now actually helping further their cause. I'm all for net neutrality and everything should be billed equally, but it's this hunger for more data at lower prices by the average Joe that's cutting the legs out from under the indie MVNOs, because the carriers have dropped wholesale talk and text package prices down, but not data.

Most indie MVNOs can now offer "unlimited" talk and text for $20 or less a month, but with very little data. You still wind up having to pay about $10/GB with them, and it's this price differential on the wholesale end that the major carriers are exploiting to provide cheaper data and overkill data packages to customers at the $35/month and higher price points that's doing it. People want data, including yourself... and it's that desire that's being exploited to undermine the competition.

You want data because you use a lot of it including to make phone calls and texting cheaper. I get that, I really do, but I'm saying these things because it's data pricing that's being used as both the carrot and the whip. Not minutes. Not texts. Data. You still use minutes and texts, but your approach to how you access them while mobile is how they're slowly nailing people to the wall, because everyone is doing it now. The only way to fight back against market control through a specific service is to use less of it. Use less data, and they lose their ability to charge you more money.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 09:17:56 AM
I use Airvoice (low data user with a Google hangouts number for VOIP on wifi) and my wife uses Cricket. I don't feel morally superior to my wife because I am not giving my money to AT&T directly. Congrats to them for offering nearly the full AT&T service at the cut rate of $35 per month via Cricket. Urging people to use 'lesser' MVNOs out of principle is like eating at a crappy restaurant just so they don't go out of business.

Quite the contrary! These are not lesser MVNOs as you imply. A more apt comparison if you're going to use the restaurant theme is a fast food joint with huge portions (Cricket) and a smaller high quality restaurant that serves fresh, high quality local grown food in smaller portions for maybe 10-15% more than the average meal price at the fast food joint. The latter is outfits like Airvoice. Unfortunately, people only care about quantity, not quality. If you don't support the smaller guys, all that's eventually going to be left is McDonalds crap food and crap customer service.

P'tel WAS a successful MVNO for FIFTEEN YEARS! They were one of the originals in this country, and they outlasted 90% of the competition that's popped up over the past decade and a half. At the end of the day, whether it's a failed contract with T-Mobile on pricing or straight up financial straits, they're shutting down because T-Mobile is undercutting their own wholesale customers to eliminate the competition on their own network that was offering more affordable pricing than they historically offered by providing smaller packages to their customers. It's being done to bring those customers back into the fold, eliminate the competition, and raise prices back up.

These MVNOs can't compete because they're not being given access to the same prices that outfits like T-Mobile and AT&T is using internally for their brands like MetroPCS and Cricket. This is just straight up unethical business practice. So yes, there is a moral superiority of not supporting the unethical business practices of corporations no matter how you try to paint things.

This also isn't to say that there aren't a lot of crappy restaurant MVNOs as you imply. Outfits like Republic and LycaMobile, and countless pop-up fly-by-night MVNOs fit that definition well, but the MVNOs like P'tel and Airvoice, the MVNOs listed in the guide I wrote, have been anything but that. They always provided fair prices, excellent customer support, had a large customer base, and had a long presence in the market. Losing P'tel is not good in the long run, and I doubt they'll be the last.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: ooeei on January 21, 2016, 09:34:24 AM
I use Airvoice (low data user with a Google hangouts number for VOIP on wifi) and my wife uses Cricket. I don't feel morally superior to my wife because I am not giving my money to AT&T directly. Congrats to them for offering nearly the full AT&T service at the cut rate of $35 per month via Cricket. Urging people to use 'lesser' MVNOs out of principle is like eating at a crappy restaurant just so they don't go out of business.

Quite the contrary! These are not lesser MVNOs as you imply. A more apt comparison if you're going to use the restaurant theme is a fast food joint with huge portions (Cricket) and a smaller high quality restaurant that serves fresh, high quality local grown food in smaller portions for maybe 10-15% more than the average meal price at the fast food joint. The latter is outfits like Airvoice. Unfortunately, people only care about quantity, not quality. If you don't support the smaller guys, all that's eventually going to be left is McDonalds crap food and crap customer service.

P'tel WAS a successful MVNO for FIFTEEN YEARS! They were one of the originals in this country, and they outlasted 90% of the competition that's popped up over the past decade and a half. At the end of the day, whether it's a failed contract with T-Mobile on pricing or straight up financial straits, they're shutting down because T-Mobile is undercutting their own wholesale customers to eliminate the competition on their own network that was offering more affordable pricing than they historically offered by providing smaller packages to their customers. It's being done to bring those customers back into the fold, eliminate the competition, and raise prices back up.

These MVNOs can't compete because they're not being given access to the same prices that outfits like T-Mobile and AT&T is using internally for their brands like MetroPCS and Cricket. This is just straight up unethical business practice. So yes, there is a moral superiority of not supporting the unethical business practices of corporations no matter how you try to paint things.

In what world is the "food" from a small MVNO superior to that from a big carrier?

It's more like going to McDonald's (Cricket) for a burger, or going to a small local place (MVNO) that gets the exact same pre-packaged stuff from the McDonald's distributor wholesale, but has the menu items arranged slightly differently in a way that may or may not be more cost effective for you depending on what you eat.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: boarder42 on January 21, 2016, 09:39:11 AM
get on a Tmobile family plan if you have 8 lines its under 20 a month per line.  family can be friends.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 09:39:30 AM
In what world is the "food" from a small MVNO superior to that from a big carrier?

It's more like going to McDonald's (Cricket) for a burger, or going to a small local place (MVNO) that gets the exact same pre-packaged stuff from the McDonald's distributor wholesale, but has the menu items arranged slightly differently in a way that may or may not be more cost effective for you depending on what you eat.

It's an imperfect analogy, and not one I picked... but I stand by the analogy I used.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: geekette on January 21, 2016, 09:57:18 AM
How 'bout the big guys want you to pay for the all-you-can-eat buffet, but all you want/need is the meat and two veg plate. 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 10:10:26 AM
How 'bout the big guys want you to pay for the all-you-can-eat buffet, but all you want/need is the meat and two veg plate.

That works, and the other main difference is the clean kitchen, facilities, utensils, and friendly staff that doesn't want to shiv you or steal your wallet when your back is turned.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Paul der Krake on January 21, 2016, 10:20:12 AM
How 'bout the big guys want you to pay for the all-you-can-eat buffet, but all you want/need is the meat and two veg plate.
QFT. As far as I know, none of the insider brands offer true pay as you go. It's very clear that they want customers to buy packages, hey it makes earnings forecasts and accounting super easy when everyone pays a fixed price every month. The same thing is happening in the software world, it's all about subscriptions now.

Cricket has been bombarding us with millions of dollars in advertising during prime time football games for two years now, yet they have managed to keep their "underdog" allure to the general public. Well played.

Thank you to those who mentionned T-Mobile's $30. I'll probably end up recommending that to my friend. He gets roaming and faster data for the same price (plus taxes? not sure). The other $30 options are inferior in every way.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 10:31:34 AM
Thank you to those who mentionned T-Mobile's $30. I'll probably end up recommending that to my friend. He gets roaming and faster data for the same price (plus taxes? not sure). The other $30 options are inferior in every way.

I'm still processing how to move forward on recommendations, as a part of me wants to double down on eye-thumbing the major carriers for these practices while preserving what competition there still is. In that spirit, Consumer Cellular would probably be the cheapest option I could safely recommend long term at $40-45/month plus tax... but, anyone using 3GB of data a month is going to care more about quantity over quality. It's hard to sell them on spending more to support lower prices longer term.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Thegoblinchief on January 21, 2016, 10:38:39 AM
Bummer. Glad I had picked AirVoice when first looking at MVNOs. Hopefully their days aren't as numbered as Daley seems to think.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Chris22 on January 21, 2016, 11:15:32 AM
Quite the contrary! These are not lesser MVNOs as you imply. A more apt comparison if you're going to use the restaurant theme is a fast food joint with huge portions (Cricket) and a smaller high quality restaurant that serves fresh, high quality local grown food in smaller portions for maybe 10-15% more than the average meal price at the fast food joint. The latter is outfits like Airvoice. Unfortunately, people only care about quantity, not quality. If you don't support the smaller guys, all that's eventually going to be left is McDonalds crap food and crap customer service.

How do you define a quality cut on data?  You either have access or you don't, and you have speed.  Are your favored guys offering more speed or access?  If not, why is there a quality cut?  And on customer service, quite frankly, if I have to engage with customer service that means to me the quality is not being met.  I haven't talked to my cellular providers in decades aside from the odd equipment upgrade.

Asking from the perspective of spending 5+ years working in telecom.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 11:29:20 AM
How do you define a quality cut on data?  You either have access or you don't, and you have speed.

It's an imperfect analogy, and not one I picked.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 21, 2016, 11:41:09 AM
Aww crap!

I just got directed here.. of course I didn't get a notification.

I just signed up with pure talk.. lets hope my SIM gets here before I lose my number....:(
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 11:46:43 AM
I just signed up with pure talk.. lets hope my SIM gets here before I lose my number....:(

Contact Puretalk's customer support, they might be able to put a rush on it for you. Otherwise, I know other AT&T MVNOs have been able to activate AT&T branded SIM cards in the past, explain to Puretalk the situation and ask if they can do likewise.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: NESailor on January 21, 2016, 11:57:42 AM
Damn, I ALMOST signed up with P'tel 2 weeks ago.  I'm no expert on this  and readily admit I'm a sucker so I signed up for Google Fi (I do travel abroad and very much appreciate the roaming and texting to overseas family who do not have smart phones).  How's this going to affect the hybrid services like Republic and Project Fi?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 11:58:38 AM
How do you define a quality cut on data?  You either have access or you don't, and you have speed.  Are your favored guys offering more speed or access?  If not, why is there a quality cut?  And on customer service, quite frankly, if I have to engage with customer service that means to me the quality is not being met.

I've been thinking about this question a bit more, and it deserves a better answer than I gave. Data access is more than just speed and latency with mobile access. It's also about privacy and the number of thumbs in the proxy servers looking over your usage. AT&T postpaid customers have had HTTPS traffic forced through their proxy servers in the past. Sprint has outright spied on their postpaid Android customers. These are just a couple examples. A lot of MVNOs such as Walmart Family Mobile, Target's former Brightspot Wireless, RingPlus, FreedomPop and many other MVNOs have privacy policies in place where they data scrape your usage and sell it to third parties as well. Privacy policies and EULAs have always been a part of the vetting process with my list of recommended carriers, and I always valued providers with stronger privacy policies. So yes, using a carrier that doesn't scrape your usage data and resell it or try to compromise secure connections with their own proxy servers is going to qualify as providing higher quality service even if the end user doesn't see any visible difference.

Regarding customer support, again, I've chosen providers that provide good quality customer support because as you rightly pointed out, good quality customer support results in needing to contact them less in general... but sometimes you just have to talk with someone to straighten things out. The providers most infamously NOT on the list provide little to no customer support at all when things do occasionally go wrong, and have histories of really bad billing issues. More MVNOs than not have pretty crappy customer support, and that was one of the secondary points of the guide. Helping you save money without dealing with the BS of the cut-rate and popup vendors.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Chris22 on January 21, 2016, 12:00:02 PM
How do you define a quality cut on data?  You either have access or you don't, and you have speed.

It's an imperfect analogy, and not one I picked.

Well it's not only imperfect, it makes zero sense.  Basically data is a commodity, you buy ONLY on price for quantity.  You advocate something else; why? 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 12:03:05 PM
Well it's not only imperfect, it makes zero sense.  Basically data is a commodity, you buy ONLY on price for quantity.  You advocate something else; why?

Perhaps you should read the post I provided a minute before this response.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Chris22 on January 21, 2016, 12:05:08 PM
These MVNOs can't compete because they're not being given access to the same prices that outfits like T-Mobile and AT&T is using internally for their brands like MetroPCS and Cricket. This is just straight up unethical business practice. So yes, there is a moral superiority of not supporting the unethical business practices of corporations no matter how you try to paint things.

Except that in general, AT&T/VZW (not sure about TMO) are the ones who built the networks that they are then selling access to.  It's like if I built a pool in my backyard, and let my kids (sub brands) swim there for free, and charge your kids $1/day.  That's not unethical, that's simply using their own assets as they want. 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Chris22 on January 21, 2016, 12:08:16 PM
How do you define a quality cut on data?  You either have access or you don't, and you have speed.  Are your favored guys offering more speed or access?  If not, why is there a quality cut?  And on customer service, quite frankly, if I have to engage with customer service that means to me the quality is not being met.

I've been thinking about this question a bit more, and it deserves a better answer than I gave. Data access is more than just speed and latency with mobile access. It's also about privacy and the number of thumbs in the proxy servers looking over your usage. AT&T postpaid customers have had HTTPS traffic forced through their proxy servers in the past. Sprint has outright spied on their postpaid Android customers. These are just a couple examples. A lot of MVNOs such as Walmart Family Mobile, Target's former Brightspot Wireless, RingPlus, FreedomPop and many other MVNOs have privacy policies in place where they data scrape your usage and sell it to third parties as well. Privacy policies and EULAs have always been a part of the vetting process with my list of recommended carriers, and I always valued providers with stronger privacy policies. So yes, using a carrier that doesn't scrape your usage data and resell it or try to compromise secure connections with their own proxy servers is going to qualify as providing higher quality service even if the end user doesn't see any visible difference.

That's fair, but it's an awfully specific aspect to consider, and irrelevant to most people.  Look at how popular "free with little privacy" services are, such as Facebook and Gmail.  Clearly people don't care. 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 12:09:39 PM
Damn, I ALMOST signed up with P'tel 2 weeks ago.  I'm no expert on this  and readily admit I'm a sucker so I signed up for Google Fi (I do travel abroad and very much appreciate the roaming and texting to overseas family who do not have smart phones).  How's this going to affect the hybrid services like Republic and Project Fi?

Google Fi isn't a hybrid provider, they're using UMA/GAN and VoLTE access with T-Mobile and Sprint. As for how it impacts them? Well, Google's a heavy hitter, but if the wholesale market dries up, even they will feel the pinch and see price increases.

Similar can be said about Republic, especially if early reports are true about them finally ditching their proprietary mVoIP setup and transitioning to T-Mobile for UMA/GAN access as well. Of course, this transition means another price increase making them even less financially competitive, and if the general wholesale MVNO market is about to contract and a carrier is known for high churn to begin with....
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 12:12:18 PM
That's fair, but it's an awfully specific aspect to consider, and irrelevant to most people.  Look at how popular "free with little privacy" services are, such as Facebook and Gmail.  Clearly people don't care.

Well, some people still do, and it's been a major shaping point to the guide in general. Avoiding datamining and not rewarding unethical practices is what has helped keep the quality of the information in the guide so timeless and useful. It's what separated it from the xerox of all the other ultra-cheap guides that every FI blogger pushes out. I cared about quality, privacy, and corporate integrity by rewarding the players who didn't bend over backwards to abuse their customers' goodwill.

It's also why I've gotten so few complaints from end users who have heeded my advice over the years. I consider things that most users don't in my recommendation process because it almost invisibly impacts overall, long term satisfaction.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Chris22 on January 21, 2016, 12:15:34 PM
That's fair, but it's an awfully specific aspect to consider, and irrelevant to most people.  Look at how popular "free with little privacy" services are, such as Facebook and Gmail.  Clearly people don't care.

Well, some people still do, and it's been a major shaping point to the guide in general. Avoiding datamining and not rewarding unethical practices is what has helped keep the quality of the information in the guide so timeless and useful. It's what separated it from the xerox of all the other ultra-cheap guides that every FI blogger pushes out. I cared about quality, privacy, and corporate integrity by rewarding the players who didn't bend over backwards to abuse their customers' goodwill.

Fair enough, but I think it's a stretch to consider your pet principles under the overall umbrella "quality" and tell people they should pay more for it without explanation.  It smacks of the "organic/GMO" scams, insisting something is higher quality and therefore deserving of a higher price based on some highly suspicious criteria.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 12:19:18 PM
Fair enough, but I think it's a stretch to consider your pet principles under the overall umbrella "quality" and tell people they should pay more for it without explanation.  It smacks of the "organic/GMO" scams, insisting something is higher quality and therefore deserving of a higher price based on some highly suspicious criteria.

If you ever read the guide, I lay it out in the introduction (http://www.techmeshugana.com/theguide/), and it's only a part of the greater approach.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: NESailor on January 21, 2016, 12:24:22 PM
Damn, I ALMOST signed up with P'tel 2 weeks ago.  I'm no expert on this  and readily admit I'm a sucker so I signed up for Google Fi (I do travel abroad and very much appreciate the roaming and texting to overseas family who do not have smart phones).  How's this going to affect the hybrid services like Republic and Project Fi?

Google Fi isn't a hybrid provider, they're using UMA/GAN and VoLTE access with T-Mobile and Sprint. As for how it impacts them? Well, Google's a heavy hitter, but if the wholesale market dries up, even they will feel the pinch and see price increases.

Similar can be said about Republic, especially if early reports are true about them finally ditching their proprietary mVoIP setup and transitioning to T-Mobile for UMA/GAN access as well. Of course, this transition means another price increase making them even less financially competitive, and if the general wholesale MVNO market is about to contract and a carrier is known for high churn to begin with....

Thanks for the clarification!  I do tend to use my devices less than the general public so was going back and forth on some of the providers you recommended in the guide (p'tel and Airvoice) until I stumbled upon Fi.  I didn't think I could do much better than $25 a month without some extra work and I wasn't interested in that.  Service at my house is also generally very poor no matter who you look at so the voice over Internet came in handy.  I understand Google is tracking and quite possibly profiting off of the information I voluntarily provide by using their service.

At any rate.  Bummer that it looks like further consolidation in the market when things were looking pretty good for a little while.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: robartsd on January 21, 2016, 01:11:36 PM
My wife's phone was moved to P'Tel in part due to I.P. Daley's recommendation status in October (my own phone usage is very light, Page Plus $80 pay as you go lasts me more than a year). After WiMax shutdown turned off our FreedomPop home internet, we bumped her to the $25 unlimited 2G data plan. Now it's time to look for replacements. Having access to the internet at home is very useful (even at just 2G speeds) so our best options seem to be:
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 01:26:46 PM
My wife's phone was moved to P'Tel in part due to I.P. Daley's recommendation status in October (my own phone usage is very light, Page Plus $80 pay as you go lasts me more than a year). After WiMax shutdown turned off our FreedomPop home internet, we bumped her to the $25 unlimited 2G data plan. Now it's time to look for replacements. Having access to the internet at home is very useful (even at just 2G speeds) so our best options seem to be:
[snip]

I do apologize that you and everyone else I've turned on to P'tel is going through this. If it helps, I'm going through the pains of transition myself and with my family, and trying to help others local to myself as well. This has caught a lot of people off guard.

Regarding your options on the AT&T MVNO end, there's also H2O Wireless and their sub-brand EasyGO, which might be a better option to Airvoice's $20 plan with their a-la-carte $10/GB rollover data model and 100Mb of unthrottled data... but similar long term viability concerns will continue, and the service won't be quite as good as Airvoice. If you're willing to switch and keep supporting the smaller guys as long as possible, keep using but keep a backup plan handy.

Of course the big brands are always an option, but I personally won't recommend them for already stated reasons.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: APowers on January 21, 2016, 02:42:44 PM
So.

I have PTel and they've been great. I have a GSM Moto e. I can just order an H2O Wireless SIM card off Amazon and then....? I'm not sure how the whole transition process works. How do I get H2O to recognize that I have a phone that I haven't bought from them and a SIM card that I haven't bought from them? I didn't notice anything in the "create an account" phase that said anything about how to BYOD.

Maybe this should be another, separate thread?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 21, 2016, 03:32:35 PM
So.

I have PTel and they've been great. I have a GSM Moto e. I can just order an H2O Wireless SIM card off Amazon and then....? I'm not sure how the whole transition process works. How do I get H2O to recognize that I have a phone that I haven't bought from them and a SIM card that I haven't bought from them? I didn't notice anything in the "create an account" phase that said anything about how to BYOD.

Maybe this should be another, separate thread?

The porting process should probably be in place in this thread. For those wondering, it looks like P'tel has switched to using our phone numbers for account numbers and 0000 as the PIN to use in porting.

Regarding H2O specifically, when you go to port your number in (https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/mainControl.php?page=transfer1) (or just register), it will ask for an ICCID (the serial number) inscribed on the SIM card as well as the phone's IMEI. Once you set up the account and provide those two bits of info, you should be able to just slip the SIM card into your phone and off you go.

As for most smaller AT&T MVNOs that people may be switching or porting into, if time is a concern, most should be able to activate your service on an AT&T branded SIM card (which are free to obtain at most mobile stores), but you'll usually have to call support to do so. (If their cards don't support auto-configuration of data and MMS settings with iPhones, they'll likely be able to activate an AT&T SIM.) If in doubt, call and talk to the provider you're switching to first. Ask what can be done about getting a SIM card to activate sooner.

Despite initially thinking of going Puretalk USA for ourselves, we instead finally opted for Ting and they were kind enough to give us free SIM cards and rush shipping when we explained what was happening. Point is, call and talk with customer service if you don't have a fast line on a new SIM card before ordering through the website (or elsewhere). There may be options they have available that aren't immediately obvious. There's still ten days of service time at this point with a little under a week for guaranteed number port out, but wisdom would be to not dawdle on the migration as opposed to trying to bleed the last of your credits off and leave at the last second.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: robartsd on January 21, 2016, 04:03:41 PM
Regarding your options on the AT&T MVNO end, there's also H2O Wireless and their sub-brand EasyGO, which might be a better option to Airvoice's $20 plan with their a-la-carte $10/GB rollover data model and 100Mb of unthrottled data... but similar long term viability concerns will continue, and the service won't be quite as good as Airvoice. If you're willing to switch and keep supporting the smaller guys as long as possible, keep using but keep a backup plan handy.
EasyGo does sound like a slightly better deal than Airvoice right now.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: alsoknownasDean on January 21, 2016, 06:56:44 PM
You'd hate to be overseas right now using a Ptel SIM.

Sent from my LG-D855 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: 10dollarsatatime on January 21, 2016, 08:22:43 PM
Any thoughts on US Mobile?  They have a pricing approach much like Ting, but still use T-Mobile's network. 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: CCCA on January 21, 2016, 08:38:24 PM
 I've used alot of different cell services, never used a major carrier with a contract.  I've been on GoPhone(AT&T), Airvoice, PTel, Airvoice and now Tracfone.  I've also gotten friends and relatives on Pageplus and H2O wireless.  So my knowledge, while not as good as IP Daley, is fairly comprehensive on lots of different MVNOs.  He is right that I have focused on getting the best deal, and not worried about who was providing the service, but I'm not sure I should be chastised for that.  I've switched when I felt that I could get better service (reception/data speed) or a better price.  I'm not sure I owe it to any company to do more than that.

He can lament that a "good" company is going out of business, though I have not way of knowing who is a good company or not, except for IP Daley's insistence on it.  Each of these companies are just a bunch of websites with prices and quotes.  I rarely have to call and talk to customer service, mostly just do live chats cause it's easier and I can do other things at the same time. 

Even if we were to pay more for higher quality product, it's not clear that this would provide a viable business model compared to the competition, since there’s no easy way to tell the "good guys” from the “bad guys”.   

As for me, right now Tracfone seems to provide the best product for my money in terms of service and value.  BTW, this is not one of IP Daley's approved companies.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: accolay on January 22, 2016, 05:17:09 AM
Well, shit.

Is it April 1st?

When exactly was PTEL going to disclose this information? I received no text or email. Their website says nothing and except for that link to the obscure Prepaid Phone News, I can't find anything else.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: reader2580 on January 22, 2016, 06:24:51 AM

Does this help? Use less data, stop chasing after promises of "unlimited" mobile data, and choosing plans at slightly higher price points with way more data offered than most people actually use. The carriers are getting people with promises of "cheap" "unlimited" plans with 2GB and higher allotments. Most people on modern smartphones who strip off the time wasters and use it as a tool shouldn't need more than 500MB a month, 1GB at most without even really trying. Many here who don't stream media, keep local files of useful stuff, and browse with images turned off while on mobile data frequently and easily come in well under 250MB.

I have an employer provided iPhone.  I have used a total of 4GB of data in two years even though my allocation is 2GB per month.  We are allowed personal use within reason and I don't even have a personal phone.  I don't have Facebook or any other social media accounts so that probably helps.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 22, 2016, 06:43:20 AM
Well, shit.

Is it April 1st?

When exactly was PTEL going to disclose this information? I received no text or email. Their website says nothing and except for that link to the obscure Prepaid Phone News, I can't find anything else.

Accolay, they have been working on trying to notify customers. The dealers were notified first, and there have been waves of SMS message notifications and emails. I know a couple people who've gotten direct notification thus far, but I myself have not. Unfortunately, they're winding down with a skeleton crew and have heard reports that there's only about 10 people manning the shutdown at this point and working to help people port out, and as you can imagine they're stretched thin.

It stinks. P'tel survived and ran for a decade and a half, which is one of the reasons why I recommended them in the MVNO market. Unfortunately, profit margins in the wholesale wireless industry are thin. When a financial wall is hit, wind-down happens fast. A ten day notice is pretty generous when it does happen, and P'tel is only giving a date of the 26th for guaranteed port-out. Most MVNOs when they hit that wall say nothing at all to dealers or customers, they just vanish overnight and you lose your number. It's about perspective.

You know now, and you have time to act.

The news is troubling, though. If we're starting to lose the successful old timers, it means the entire MVNO scene could be shrinking long term and we're about to lose a majority of what meaningful competition we had in the wireless industry.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Chris22 on January 22, 2016, 08:06:02 AM

Does this help? Use less data, stop chasing after promises of "unlimited" mobile data, and choosing plans at slightly higher price points with way more data offered than most people actually use. The carriers are getting people with promises of "cheap" "unlimited" plans with 2GB and higher allotments. Most people on modern smartphones who strip off the time wasters and use it as a tool shouldn't need more than 500MB a month, 1GB at most without even really trying. Many here who don't stream media, keep local files of useful stuff, and browse with images turned off while on mobile data frequently and easily come in well under 250MB.

I have an employer provided iPhone.  I have used a total of 4GB of data in two years even though my allocation is 2GB per month.  We are allowed personal use within reason and I don't even have a personal phone.  I don't have Facebook or any other social media accounts so that probably helps.

Facebook and other web surfing consumes minimal data.  It's streaming media (YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, etc) that chew through data. 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 22, 2016, 08:29:30 AM
Cross-posting to get information out.

ATTENTION P'TEL/GIV CUSTOMERS!

UPDATE: To help people secure SIM cards faster than shipping for people wanting to port out of P'tel before the crush, the following options are available for people not choosing America Movil/Cricket/MetroPCS/AT&T/T-Mobile:

Consumer Cellular SIM cards are available at most Sears (http://www.sears.com/consumer-cellular-all-in-one-sim-card/p-00350755000P) locations.
H2O Wireless SIM cards are available at most Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/h2o-dual-sim-card-yellow/7324099.p) locations.
Airvoice Wireless can activate new, unactivated AT&T SIM cards, which can be obtained from any location that sells AT&T phone service.
Puretalk USA SIM cards are available at select K-Mart (http://www.kmart.com/puretalk-sim-card-starter-kit/p-018W007520199001P) and Sears (http://www.sears.com/puretalk-sim-card-starter-kit/p-00352035000P) locations in addition to phones at both Sears (http://www.sears.com/search=pure%20talk%20usa) and K-Mart (http://www.kmart.com/search=pure%20talk%20usa).
Ting GSM SIM cards are starting to become available at select Staples and Kroger (http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/mvno-ting-adds-fewer-subs-q3-points-continued-pain-sprint-mvno-rule-changes/2015-11-06) locations (not listed online yet, call or visit stores directly).
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 22, 2016, 09:19:18 AM
Cross-posting to get information out.

ATTENTION P'TEL/GIV CUSTOMERS!

UPDATE: To help people secure SIM cards faster than shipping for people wanting to port out of P'tel before the crush, the following options are available for people not choosing America Movil/Cricket/MetroPCS/AT&T/T-Mobile:

Consumer Cellular SIM cards are available at most Sears (http://www.sears.com/consumer-cellular-all-in-one-sim-card/p-00350755000P) locations.
H2O Wireless SIM cards are available at most Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/h2o-dual-sim-card-yellow/7324099.p) locations.
Airvoice Wireless can activate new, unactivated AT&T SIM cards, which can be obtained from any location that sells AT&T phone service.
Puretalk USA SIM cards are available at select K-Mart (http://www.kmart.com/puretalk-sim-card-starter-kit/p-018W007520199001P) and Sears (http://www.sears.com/puretalk-sim-card-starter-kit/p-00352035000P) locations in addition to phones at both Sears (http://www.sears.com/search=pure%20talk%20usa) and K-Mart (http://www.kmart.com/search=pure%20talk%20usa).
Ting GSM SIM cards are starting to become available at select Staples and Kroger (http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/mvno-ting-adds-fewer-subs-q3-points-continued-pain-sprint-mvno-rule-changes/2015-11-06) locations (not listed online yet, call or visit stores directly).

So I have an old airvoice (previously activated) SIM card.. i wonder if I could simply activate the Puretalk onto that SIM?.. I.e are all SIM cards the same but just have the carrier's logo printed on the outside?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 22, 2016, 09:36:02 AM
So I have an old airvoice (previously activated) SIM card.. i wonder if I could simply activate the Puretalk onto that SIM?.. I.e are all SIM cards the same but just have the carrier's logo printed on the outside?

No activated and used SIM card can be reactivated once service is terminated, and SIMs can't exactly be passed from one MVNO to another. It just doesn't entirely work that way. I've already talked with Puretalk customer support, and though it is theoretically possible for them to activate a new AT&T SIM card, nobody there has been trained on how to do it so they're just not going to support it. The advice given was actually to port to Airvoice instead for a month or so as Airvoice CAN activate AT&T SIMs and then port to Puretalk if a Puretalk SIM can't be located locally at a Sears or K-Mart. They also offer express shipping at a premium, but you have to call in to talk with support for that option.

I'm doing everything I can to help you and others out here.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 22, 2016, 09:47:18 AM
Really appreciate your help IP Daley.

Yes it seems the easiest thing is to go pick up whatever cheap SIM card is available locally activate and port your number for a month, then port to your desired MNVO when the SIM card shows up.

My puretalk was shipped this morning, if I get a delivery date of the 26th or before i'll wait. If not do one month thing.

I assume most cheapo plans you buy in the store allow you to port numbers in and out?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 22, 2016, 10:39:18 AM
I assume most cheapo plans you buy in the store allow you to port numbers in and out?

They do, but porting numbers back out of AM brands such as Tracfone/NET10/StraightTalk has historically been dicey due to internal policies and poor customer service. Doesn't mean that it can't be done, but there is a much higher failure rate.

If we don't see our own Ting SIM cards by Saturday, we'll personally be parking at Airvoice for a month.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: sser on January 22, 2016, 10:43:15 AM
Does anyone have recommendations/ good experiences with MVNOs that will work with a Verizon device? Have a Samsung Galaxy S4 that I don't want to replace yet, but would like to find a good alternative to the Verizon Plan that we got pushed into. It looks like a lot of the MVNOs suggested, like Ting, won't support my phone (believe that it should be unlocked but I guess it won't work on the GSM networks?).
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 22, 2016, 11:17:18 AM
I assume most cheapo plans you buy in the store allow you to port numbers in and out?

They do, but porting numbers back out of AM brands such as Tracfone/NET10/StraightTalk has historically been dicey due to internal policies and poor customer service. Doesn't mean that it can't be done, but there is a much higher failure rate.

If we don't see our own Ting SIM cards by Saturday, we'll personally be parking at Airvoice for a month.

Just found Consumer cellular SIM cards at my local AAA store for free so thats probably what we'll end up doing for a month.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 22, 2016, 11:21:48 AM
Does anyone have recommendations/ good experiences with MVNOs that will work with a Verizon device?

Selectel (http://www.selectelwireless.com/).
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: robartsd on January 22, 2016, 01:53:19 PM
Verizon LTE phones are all unlocked; however, the LTE bands they work with are usually exclusive to Verizon. Most (if not all) should work for voice/text on GSM networks (GSM on device is requried by LTE standards) but would have very limited (if any) mobile data capabilities outside of Verizon's network.

I'm still using a pre-LTE Verizon device. I use (and am happy with) Page Plus for my very light service requirements. Page Plus cannot/will not activate LTE phones at my service level - Selectel seems to have beter support for Verizon LTE devices. I.P. Daley recinded recommendation for Page Plus when TracPhone bought out the company.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: accolay on January 22, 2016, 06:03:12 PM
H2O Wireless SIM card purchased and porting my number. I'll give it a whirl.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: ChicagoGirl on January 22, 2016, 06:09:35 PM
I finally received the email from PTEL regarding closure, but there is no mention of the 26th as the last day for porting out your phone number.  The email only mentions end of service by the end of the month.  I don't want to take my chances and miss the possible 26th cut-off.  I have run out of options as I do not have a Kroger store where I live.  I have called several Staples that do not carry the TING cards.

I did go to AT & T to pick up free SIM cards to use for Airvoice, I started the porting process only to be called by Airvoice to say they were not allowed to port any Chicagoland area codes.   Now back to square one, I am worried TING cards won't make it here in time to keep my phone number.

Gulp.  I don't want to end up back at the big carriers and my family member actually works for one of the big carriers and we still don't want to go back even for his discount.  This. is. a. bummer.




Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Paul der Krake on January 22, 2016, 06:09:46 PM
Received an email from them but no text. They have transitional offers for ting and ultra.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 22, 2016, 07:00:11 PM
Well that was weired,

I found out there is an AT&T store in town and they have the free sim card on the website.. so I called my store and asked "how much for the SIM" and they told me if I have an AT&T account or an authorised user blah blah the card was free..

So I said,.. nope I dn't have an account but I want the SIM.. and the gal had no idea if they were free or not..

Well I have to go see if I can get one now don't I...:)
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 22, 2016, 07:27:35 PM
The P'tel website (http://) is officially updated with the news as of this evening, and exit promos have been extended with both Ting and Ultra Mobile. Both Ting and Ultra offer express shipping on SIM cards.

For people taking the January 26th deadline too seriously, just remember that it is a soft deadline to guarantee porting. P'tel is clearly making good faith efforts to serve their customers well on the way out, and it's honestly a relief to see the official announcements finally go public. It doesn't mean you can't have a successful number port after that date, but the closer you cut it to deadline, the higher risk you take of not completing it in time. That said, the current reported port-out turnaround times are still under an hour. Don't sweat it too much. Act with expediency, try to avoid the last minute crunch if possible, but don't freak out if you can't port before next Tuesday.

As for those picking bones with me earlier about how subjective my terms of "quality" was in the guide with independent MVNOs, I point to PlatinumTel's official announcement this evening and the partner discount exit strategies they extended to their customers while there's still nine solid days left on the clock for service. This is what a good, quality independent MVNO does when it shuts down. They exit with class if they have to shut their doors, and you have to really get a feel for their policies and support staff to be able to see that quality. Spot Mobile did likewise in 2014. Both were in the guide. MVNOs start up and shut down all the time, it's true. The market churns fast sometimes. For every one that shuts down like P'tel, I can show you a dozen who just took the money and ran with nary a whisper in advance. That's why I thoroughly look at long term viability, customer support quality, and legal contracts before officially recommending a provider. It's also why losing P'tel is a major blow. If a fifteen year old MVNO finds it has to close its doors, it doesn't bode well for anyone long term.

Have a restful weekend, all. Good Shabbos.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 22, 2016, 08:31:08 PM
Well the AT&T store refused to give me just a SIM card. They would only hand one out if I was about to sign up for an AT&T contract right there, or were replacing a SIM card that I already had.

The gal told me she would get fired if she simply gave me a SIM card.

YMMV

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: ChicagoGirl on January 22, 2016, 08:57:53 PM
ExFlyBoy I went to my AT & T store and explained the situation and she said that was fine and the SIM was free.  We don't have an AT & T account and they gave them to us no problem.  She did have to take the SIM card numbers out of their system.  The whole process took 2 minutes. Maybe try another store if you have one near you or Best Buy.

 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on January 23, 2016, 07:13:12 AM
Hey folks,
Sorry to see PTel go!  Wanted to post that as of this morning, the PTel website home page has been updated and now says that customers have UNTIL FEBRUARY 5th to port numbers.  Phew!  That gives us all a few more days to obtain SIM cards from a new provider. 

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 23, 2016, 07:50:03 AM
Good news on the extended port deadline! That should take some pressure off people wanting to go to smaller providers that might take SIM card shipping.

Quoted from another thread:
As for the new VidaExpress offer that cropped up overnight, apparently it's a middle-man offering with Ultra and SIMPLE Mobile, a sort of virtual mobile dealer setup. I have to be honest, I've never heard of them. It appears someone bought the domain in March of last year after it sat fallow for nearly a decade, and there's been nothing on it until the past few days. Make of that what you will. Doesn't mean that they can't potentially be trusted, it just means they're very new and there's no track record.

Caveats for SIMPLE Mobile applies as to all other America Movil brands (Tracfone, NET10, StraightTalk, Page Plus, Total), I can't recommend them in good conscience. My feelings on Ultra are mixed. They're still relatively new (under three years), and there's minor quibbles with their legal policies, so I haven't felt comfortable adding them to the guide, but one could easily do worse than Ultra.

I don't normally post today, but I'm trying to help ensure folks transition and migrate smoothly since most people here have P'tel on my recommendation.

Anyway, back to B'shallah (http://www.jtsa.edu/PreBuilt/ParashahArchives/jpstext/beshallah.shtml).
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 23, 2016, 11:39:00 AM
AWESOME!.. My Puretalk USA SIM arrives on the 26th...:)
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on January 23, 2016, 12:20:06 PM
Thanks, Daley, for your guidance in getting us to PTel in the first place.  Your research is again very helpful as we have to transition to another provider.

We've decided to go with Ting.  They were very helpful when I called them, even offering to send free SIM card ($9 on the website, and not available in stores near me) and promising some hand-holding when it's time to port the numbers. 

Wanted to also mention here that I just contacted PTel to see about a refund of $$ recently loaded to our account.  Despite a long wait to get a live chat agent (not surprising, they must be crazy-busy this week!) they will refund the balance to our credit card.  Nice!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 23, 2016, 12:44:10 PM
Question on the unlimited ULTRA deal.

It says you can get the $19 unlimited plan for just $5... Does this mean you can get the unlimited plan for $5 per MONTH.. Forever?.. Seems way too good to be true.

Or is this just a one time discount of $15 on the plan set up?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: ldavidjm on January 23, 2016, 07:14:24 PM
I actually just signed up for Ptel on January 15th so this kind of stinks.  Anyway, I am porting my number to Google Voice and was planning on having Google Voice forward my calls from now on.  In trying to choose a new provider from the guide, I notice that some of them do not support call forwarding.  Does that mean that my plan to use Google Voice forwarding would not work for those providers, or does that mean that they don't support forwarding from, say, Airvoice -> Somewhere else but it would be OK if someone called my Google Voice number -> Airvoice phone.

Thanks for any help
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 23, 2016, 10:32:24 PM
It says you can get the $19 unlimited plan for just $5... Does this mean you can get the unlimited plan for $5 per MONTH.. Forever?.. Seems way too good to be true.

Or is this just a one time discount of $15 on the plan set up?

Probably just the one shot discounted month. The verbiage isn't great.



In trying to choose a new provider from the guide, I notice that some of them do not support call forwarding.  Does that mean that my plan to use Google Voice forwarding would not work for those providers, or does that mean that they don't support forwarding from, say, Airvoice -> Somewhere else but it would be OK if someone called my Google Voice number -> Airvoice phone.

You can forward from GV to any mobile provider, but you can't forward the mobile number from most providers to GV voicemail or some such. That's what unsupported call forwarding means.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 23, 2016, 10:37:50 PM
Thanks, Daley, for your guidance in getting us to PTel in the first place.  Your research is again very helpful as we have to transition to another provider.

I appreciate it, but I'm only sharing what the good L-rd has gifted me with, so it's not for my benefit.

A sort of tikkun olam, and all that, if you will.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: ldavidjm on January 24, 2016, 08:13:42 AM
Thanks for clarifying for me!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: DaBears on January 24, 2016, 05:55:25 PM
Definitely sucks to here this; Ptel was perfect for me. I had also just bought a Ptel sim for the $20/mo for my mother-in-law off of eBay; I'm guessing my chances of getting a refund are slim to none.

What I liked about their pay-as-you-go plan was that it was good for 60 days, which meant I could sometimes get by on just $10 for two whole months. Now it looks like most of these other options are just $10/mo plans, save for H20 wireless, but they're pretty expensive at 5 cents/text.

That being said, does anyone happen to know if PureTalk's plan is strictly a monthly plan, or do top-ups last more than 30 days?
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 24, 2016, 06:16:47 PM
Definitely sucks to here this; Ptel was perfect for me. I had also just bought a Ptel sim for the $20/mo for my mother-in-law off of eBay; I'm guessing my chances of getting a refund are slim to none.

If you bought from a dealer, odds are slim. If you bought from P'tel directly, you might have a chance.

That being said, does anyone happen to know if PureTalk's plan is strictly a monthly plan, or do top-ups last more than 30 days?

Their only rollover plan is their Family Plan. The Simple plans reset every month. It's also worth noting that SMS messages are billed at 1/3rd of a minute each, so for example the $5/month Simple 80 plan will give you either 80 minutes or 240 SMS messages.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 24, 2016, 06:49:54 PM
Definitely sucks to here this; Ptel was perfect for me. I had also just bought a Ptel sim for the $20/mo for my mother-in-law off of eBay; I'm guessing my chances of getting a refund are slim to none.

What I liked about their pay-as-you-go plan was that it was good for 60 days, which meant I could sometimes get by on just $10 for two whole months. Now it looks like most of these other options are just $10/mo plans, save for H20 wireless, but they're pretty expensive at 5 cents/text.

That being said, does anyone happen to know if PureTalk's plan is strictly a monthly plan, or do top-ups last more than 30 days?

I asked Puretalk's customer service what happened if you go over your minutes. Apparently you will get a warning on your phone when you are getting close to running out. You can then either call customer service and buy more minutes (they didn't mention a cost), or go into your account on-line and do the same.

If you reach your limit the phone will stop working until te next billing cycle.

For me I think most of the time I can keep withing the $5 plan.. occasionally I will go over. I mostly text (and make calls from Skype) which cost about 2c a minute just like PTel. The calls are 6.25c/min unlike PTel at 5c.

So I'll try the $5 simple plan and see how it goes. If I find I keep going over, one option is to cancel my USA skype calling plan at $3/month and up my Puretalk plan to $10 simple (250 mins).

The only advantage to me is not having to buy a phone on Republic Wireless if I do that though. Wife is happy with RW and its unlimited.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: robartsd on January 25, 2016, 08:41:06 AM
Definitely sucks to here this; Ptel was perfect for me. I had also just bought a Ptel sim for the $20/mo for my mother-in-law off of eBay; I'm guessing my chances of getting a refund are slim to none.
P'Tel often had 25% off coupon codes available. I think you needed to purchase a device or SIM to use the discount (intended to attract new customers), but the discount also applied to the plan that you purchased with the device. For higher level plan refills, it may have been cheaper to buy a $15 SIM card and get the discount than buying the plan without the discount. As far as I could tell when I purchased in October, there was nothing to tie the refill purchased to the SIM card until you loaded the value at activation. I think this might account for the source of unused P'Tel SIMs that showed up on eBay. I would not expect P'Tel to provide any refund for these SIMs.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on January 25, 2016, 01:22:09 PM
My wife didn't get notified until yesterday. She's only be on ptel for about 8 months. Can't believe that it took them an entire week just to send a text message. Interesting, her phone now says 'No Service', but it is still able to receive and send texts and calls. Just bought a H2O sim. Hope they stay in service for a while.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 25, 2016, 02:36:39 PM
My wife didn't get notified until yesterday. She's only be on ptel for about 8 months. Can't believe that it took them an entire week just to send a text message. Interesting, her phone now says 'No Service', but it is still able to receive and send texts and calls. Just bought a H2O sim. Hope they stay in service for a while.

It hasn't been a week yet, my friend. Wednesday afternoon, the 20th was the day dealers were notified first - only four days from yesterday. Friday evening, the 22nd was the first official public notice on the website, and they have been swamped trying to help people and get the word out. My own wife got notice by email Friday night, but I did not until a day later. We both got SMS messages Sunday morning. Getting an SMS message on Sunday only puts it at most, 48 hours after the first official public notice, and still a full week until the 31st. They've since also been able to get T-Mobile to extend their port-out window to February 5th despite service ending on the 31st, as well. Currently, I still haven't ported out yet and just got the Ting SIM cards this afternoon, and I'm still able to place and receive calls and texts just fine with P'tel and the phone still reports them as my provider.

I know this is the internet, and people tend to exaggerate - especially when inconvenienced, but please keep this in perspective. The shutdown was sudden and a surprise to everyone, even the people at P'tel when it happened last week. There were no visible early warning signs, and unfortunately, T-Mobile appears to be getting aggressive with their wholesale customers. (Check into how quick Solavei had to shut down after a failed contract negotiation last year.) I know this stinks, I know it's a pain in the rump, but exaggerating the circumstances doesn't help anyone, and it's a bit unfair to everyone involved to do so. P'tel has handled this professionally, with pretty substantial notice all things considered, and is actively continuing to assist customers in moving elsewhere and issue refunds where possible on a limited timetable and with limited staff.

Be thankful the recommendation for P'tel was based on concepts like good customer support and service quality, and not simply who was the cheapest, damn everything else. Otherwise, you could have been with a provider that just disappeared overnight like a fart in the wind taking your numbers with them, which is how a majority of independent MVNOs shut down.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on January 25, 2016, 03:31:08 PM
My wife didn't get notified until yesterday. She's only be on ptel for about 8 months. Can't believe that it took them an entire week just to send a text message. Interesting, her phone now says 'No Service', but it is still able to receive and send texts and calls. Just bought a H2O sim. Hope they stay in service for a while.

It hasn't been a week yet, my friend. Wednesday afternoon, the 20th was the day dealers were notified first - only four days from yesterday. Friday evening, the 22nd was the first official public notice on the website, and they have been swamped trying to help people and get the word out. My own wife got notice by email Friday night, but I did not until a day later. We both got SMS messages Sunday morning. Getting an SMS message on Sunday only puts it at most, 48 hours after the first official public notice, and still a full week until the 31st. They've since also been able to get T-Mobile to extend their port-out window to February 5th despite service ending on the 31st, as well. Currently, I still haven't ported out yet and just got the Ting SIM cards this afternoon, and I'm still able to place and receive calls and texts just fine with P'tel and the phone still reports them as my provider.

I know this is the internet, and people tend to exaggerate - especially when inconvenienced, but please keep this in perspective. The shutdown was sudden and a surprise to everyone, even the people at P'tel when it happened last week. There were no visible early warning signs, and unfortunately, T-Mobile appears to be getting aggressive with their wholesale customers. (Check into how quick Solavei had to shut down after a failed contract negotiation last year.) I know this stinks, I know it's a pain in the rump, but exaggerating the circumstances doesn't help anyone, and it's a bit unfair to everyone involved to do so. P'tel has handled this professionally, with pretty substantial notice all things considered, and is actively continuing to assist customers in moving elsewhere and issue refunds where possible on a limited timetable and with limited staff.

Be thankful the recommendation for P'tel was based on concepts like good customer support and service quality, and not simply who was the cheapest, damn everything else. Otherwise, you could have been with a provider that just disappeared overnight like a fart in the wind taking your numbers with them, which is how a majority of independent MVNOs shut down.
Okay, granted it hasn't been a full week. Even so, I don't feel unreasonable for being annoyed to find that this cancellation posted on the MMM forums on the 20th while some paying customers didn't get the benefit of the news until the 25th. Maybe I should be grateful that it wasn't even worse, but I'm not feeling extremely generous at this point.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on January 25, 2016, 03:34:18 PM
My wife didn't get notified until yesterday. She's only be on ptel for about 8 months. Can't believe that it took them an entire week just to send a text message. Interesting, her phone now says 'No Service', but it is still able to receive and send texts and calls. Just bought a H2O sim. Hope they stay in service for a while.

It hasn't been a week yet, my friend. Wednesday afternoon, the 20th was the day dealers were notified first - only four days from yesterday. Friday evening, the 22nd was the first official public notice on the website, and they have been swamped trying to help people and get the word out. My own wife got notice by email Friday night, but I did not until a day later. We both got SMS messages Sunday morning. Getting an SMS message on Sunday only puts it at most, 48 hours after the first official public notice, and still a full week until the 31st. They've since also been able to get T-Mobile to extend their port-out window to February 5th despite service ending on the 31st, as well. Currently, I still haven't ported out yet and just got the Ting SIM cards this afternoon, and I'm still able to place and receive calls and texts just fine with P'tel and the phone still reports them as my provider.

I know this is the internet, and people tend to exaggerate - especially when inconvenienced, but please keep this in perspective. The shutdown was sudden and a surprise to everyone, even the people at P'tel when it happened last week. There were no visible early warning signs, and unfortunately, T-Mobile appears to be getting aggressive with their wholesale customers. (Check into how quick Solavei had to shut down after a failed contract negotiation last year.) I know this stinks, I know it's a pain in the rump, but exaggerating the circumstances doesn't help anyone, and it's a bit unfair to everyone involved to do so. P'tel has handled this professionally, with pretty substantial notice all things considered, and is actively continuing to assist customers in moving elsewhere and issue refunds where possible on a limited timetable and with limited staff.

Be thankful the recommendation for P'tel was based on concepts like good customer support and service quality, and not simply who was the cheapest, damn everything else. Otherwise, you could have been with a provider that just disappeared overnight like a fart in the wind taking your numbers with them, which is how a majority of independent MVNOs shut down.
Okay, granted it hasn't been a full week. Even so, I don't feel unreasonable for being annoyed to find that this cancellation posted on the MMM forums on the 20th while some paying customers didn't get the benefit of the news until the 25th. Maybe I should be grateful that it wasn't even worse, but I'm not feeling extremely generous at this point.
Sorry, I'm a day off. Today's the 25th. Yesterday was the 24th. Still miffed.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: accolay on January 25, 2016, 06:36:22 PM
H2O Wireless PayGo seems to be working fine for me at this point. They send a free account update after every call and text to show how much is left in the kitty.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on January 26, 2016, 06:08:42 AM
H2O Wireless PayGo seems to be working fine for me at this point. They send a free account update after every call and text to show how much is left in the kitty.

We got our phone number ported to H2O PayGo within around four hours. It was a bit unclear exactly how to proceed after submitting the port request. Within a couple of hours ptel service stopped completely and I assumed the port was underway. I eventually installed the sim. I never really received a 'It is completed' confirmation and further instruction email or text message from H2O, but finally just went ahead and created an online account with H2O and linked with her ported phone number. The account recognized the phone number and said the account was expired, which I assumed was because there was no minutes on it. I topped it off with $10 and we were up and running.

I definitely appreciated I.P.'s post listing the ptel alternative providers with sims that could be bought locally. That really helped to narrow the field and make the determination to go with H2O. Thanks I.P.!

Some comparisons with ptel...

1. H2O charges 5 cents for a text message, while ptel charged 2 cents. Price for minutes and data are the same.
2. H2O's $10 top off lasts 90 days, whereas ptel's only lasted 60 days.  That's nice as it should save us money in the long run as not a lot of minutes and text are used on the phone.
3. H2O seems to use the AT&T network, while ptel used T-Mobile. We noticed that there were coverage gaps in parts of western Kansas and Nebraska with ptel. H2O's coverage map seems to be more comprehensive. We'll see. Hopefully on our next trip across Kansas, service won't be a problem.
4. H2O's autorecharge saves 10%, but cannot be set to implement for a duration more than a month. Ptel's autorecharge could be set to implement when out of money or when the current minutes expired. With ptel I could just forget about it, but with H2O, I will have to manually top it off every 90 days or so.
5. Ptel's website allowed an account holder to get a list of phone activity in the last 45 days. I don't see this option with H2O.

Considering $10 for a new sim, with the longer lasting $10 recharge, if we stick with H2O at least 6 months we should break even with what we would have paid with ptel. After that' we'll be saving about $20 per year.

The ptel ting $75 credit was attractive, but I didn't like that the minimum monthly charge with ting would be at least $12 if one used even a small number of call minutes and text. That and I didn't want to worry about ordering a sim online and getting it shipped in time to make the switch over. If H2O fails, we'll likely go back to T-Mobile and sign on to their $3/month 30/30 pay as you go plan. Myself, I still have a legacy T-Mobile pay as you go account on my phone and only need to pay about $20 a year to satisfy my needs.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on January 26, 2016, 07:10:19 AM
Dramaman, Thanks for sharing your progress.  I thought we were decided on Ting (still waiting for delivery on the SIM cards), but I hedged our bets and ordered SIM cards from H2O Wireless too (I found a supplier on eBay $.01 per SIM card including postage ... but still waiting on that delivery too).  Will try to buy some locally if USPS disappoints.  Although the true contest may be which SIM cards I'll have in my hand before the PTel sunset, I am doing the math to see whether ultimately Ting or H2O will be better for us.  I don't like having to remember to top up every 90 days with H20 and, like you, will miss how that was automated with PTel.  I don't like the per device monthly charge for Ting, but their family plan is interesting given that we will have multiple phones on the plan, and the $75 Ting credit means that we could basically try them for a year for free. The T-Mobile $3/month plan is interesting too if you only need talk/text - I hadn't seen that one.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on January 26, 2016, 08:50:57 AM
Dramaman, Thanks for sharing your progress.  I thought we were decided on Ting (still waiting for delivery on the SIM cards), but I hedged our bets and ordered SIM cards from H2O Wireless too (I found a supplier on eBay $.01 per SIM card including postage ... but still waiting on that delivery too).  Will try to buy some locally if USPS disappoints.  Although the true contest may be which SIM cards I'll have in my hand before the PTel sunset, I am doing the math to see whether ultimately Ting or H2O will be better for us.  I don't like having to remember to top up every 90 days with H20 and, like you, will miss how that was automated with PTel.  I don't like the per device monthly charge for Ting, but their family plan is interesting given that we will have multiple phones on the plan, and the $75 Ting credit means that we could basically try them for a year for free. The T-Mobile $3/month plan is interesting too if you only need talk/text - I hadn't seen that one.

When I was at Best Buy, I noticed they had T-mobile sims for just $5. Theoretically one could buy that and use T-mobile's $3/month service as a temporary stop gap for porting a phone number if the sim for the provider one wants in the long term is unavailable in the short-term.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Paul der Krake on January 26, 2016, 08:54:39 AM
Still waiting for my SIM. The mail hasn't come since last Thursday because of the snow. Hopefully it gets here tonight, but it's a relief to see that the 26th isn't a deadline anymore.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 26, 2016, 11:54:36 AM
My wife and I got our Ting SIM cards yesterday, and I ported our numbers out this morning.

Ting has been terrific about it all, as has P'tel. The porting process took less than a minute for my number to go live and exactly 70 minutes for my wife's. Discovered that Ting offers WiFi/UMA calling for their GSM customers in the process as well. I'll have more to report on that in time.

Long story short though, with the right handset, Ting (just like P'tel could) can offer a better implementation of WiFi calling than Republic Wireless does, and is far closer to the pay as you go model without carrier lock-in, and perfect for multi-line households in that regard where flexibility is desired. Potentially cheaper, too.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Frs1661 on January 26, 2016, 01:07:40 PM
Be aware ting charges you airtime minutes for wifi calls... I use my Google hangouts app to make free WiFi calls instead.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on January 26, 2016, 01:11:11 PM
Be aware ting charges you airtime minutes for wifi calls.

I already know exactly how it works, and I don't have a problem with that. It's just UMA access to the same mobile network trunked through the internet and still billed accordingly. I know this, and most of my readers know this when I talk about this technology. It's also a superior method to your proposal of Hangouts, all things considered, if one needs reliable access and this access feature.

Thank you for the warning all the same.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Frs1661 on January 26, 2016, 02:56:01 PM
Glad you're aware of how it works and it works for you :D

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Tecmo Super Bowl on January 26, 2016, 09:14:11 PM
I ordered an Airvoice SIM on Saturday morning and put in a special request to have it expedited on the order form.  I am very impressed to have the SIM in hand today, just 2 business days later.  They mailed it out on the day I placed the order (a SATURDAY)!

So I just wanted to share that speedy service story with you in case it helps someone.

I really appreciate the notice that you all provided here which allowed me to jump into action early.  And of course, thanks to Daley for all of the sage advice and direction.  I feel like a baby bird getting the regurgitated goop of the complicated telecom industry fed directly into my mouth for easy digestion.  Mmmmm.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Fishbot on January 27, 2016, 05:12:06 PM
Although I'm a little sad to be leaving P'Tel my experience with Ting so far has been great. Just received my SIM card and was able to port my number in about 3 minutes.

I use mostly wifi but like to have carrier backup for those just in case moments. My new game will be to see how close to the $6 device fee I can get every month.

Thanks to I.P. Daley for all the great info during the transition. It was much preferred to sitting on hold with P'Tel for who knows how long!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: klaykrusher on January 27, 2016, 08:16:51 PM
Question on the unlimited ULTRA deal.

It says you can get the $19 unlimited plan for just $5... Does this mean you can get the unlimited plan for $5 per MONTH.. Forever?.. Seems way too good to be true.

Or is this just a one time discount of $15 on the plan set up?

I contacted Ultra and this discount is for the first month only.  I have been with PTel for the last year and the service was not too bad.  In the essence of time and being able to port my 3 lines I choose the Ultra 12 month prepaid option instead.  So the $29 a month plan came to a little over $19 a month.  They use T-Mobile, so I expect we will get the same service that we had with PTel.  No refund on the prepaid plans after 15 days, so am taking a chance.  Oh, PTel says we have until Fed 5th to port numbers.  Probably sooner is better though...
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: REAL WORLD EXPAT on January 28, 2016, 12:57:57 PM
Singed up for Ptel about 6 weeks ago - loved it! Kiss of Death I guess, but no worries ported over to Ting last night when my new SIM card came with no issues.

Thanks for all your recommendations IPD!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Exflyboy on January 28, 2016, 01:24:23 PM
I ported out of PTEL last nigth to Puretalk.. It was complete this morning.

Phone works as normal
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: kaizen soze on January 28, 2016, 01:58:19 PM
Thanks also to IPD for his many suggestions.  I ordered my Ting SIM cards before I got word of the $75 credit. The way to take advantage of the credit is to click through from PTel's email to Ting's website, then order your SIM card. Because I was too fast to take advantage of this, I was able to email Ting and ask for the credit to be applied to my account, and they did it in about 24 hours. I'd have switched anyway, so this no-hassle customer service win bodes well for the service as a whole. 
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: partgypsy on January 28, 2016, 02:52:54 PM
I'm hoping I get my Ting sim cards soon. I ordered them last Friday (morning) was supposed to be 2 business days, haven't shown up (on east coast, so was affected by the storm).

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on January 30, 2016, 07:24:24 AM
I just got mine yesterday, but had to pick them up at the post office since the priority mail envelope required a signature (?!) and I missed delivery.  That was 4 business days since ordering ... it does seem that weather has caused some delays this past week.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Paul der Krake on January 30, 2016, 07:32:04 AM
I just got mine yesterday, but had to pick them up at the post office since the priority mail envelope required a signature (?!) and I missed delivery.  That was 4 business days since ordering ... it does seem that weather has caused some delays this past week.
Yup. Got my airvoice SIM and ported out only yesterday, a full 7 days after the ebay seller shipped it. Everything out of the North East has been heavily delayed this week. Another reason to spend the $1 a insurance to have a replacement lined up and at home before any talk of a shutdown.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on January 30, 2016, 07:35:43 AM
Another reason to spend the $1 a insurance to have a replacement lined up and at home before any talk of a shutdown.
Yes, smart!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: partgypsy on February 01, 2016, 11:52:54 AM
Got my sim cards this Sat (from Ting) installed on Sunday, no problems. And they say they will honor the $75 credit from Ptel. Glad that my daughter (and I) have a working phone again. Because of the way Ting is structured, I will have access to voice, text as well as data, but will try to use data emergency or home (wifi) use only.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on February 02, 2016, 04:36:33 PM
Two days up and running with Ting and I'm appreciative of the $75 credit while I try it out.  However, just checked my usage, and I'm now realizing (doh!) that I hadn't quite understood that I'd be charged $3 EACH for the "S" allotment of talk, text, data - that is, $9/month usage + $6 per device = $15+/month.
Not sure why I had it in my head that the monthly min. would be $9 ($6 for device + $3 "S" usage) ... their website has a table showing the rates, and I didn't look at it closely enough to get the full picture. 
(I'm missing PTel in that my average was <$5 a month.  Sniff!)
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: robartsd on February 02, 2016, 05:20:07 PM
Two days up and running with Ting and I'm appreciative of the $75 credit while I try it out.  However, just checked my usage, and I'm now realizing (doh!) that I hadn't quite understood that I'd be charged $3 EACH for the "S" allotment of talk, text, data - that is, $9/month usage + $6 per device = $15+/month.
Not sure why I had it in my head that the monthly min. would be $9 ($6 for device + $3 "S" usage) ... their website has a table showing the rates, and I didn't look at it closely enough to get the full picture. 
(I'm missing PTel in that my average was <$5 a month.  Sniff!)
PTel's payGo was great for light users. It's especially hard to find text rates below $0.05/text.

Where Ting shines best is multiple light to moderate users on a single account because they share a single bucket of each type of usage across all the lines.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on February 02, 2016, 05:54:20 PM
Two days up and running with Ting and I'm appreciative of the $75 credit while I try it out.  However, just checked my usage, and I'm now realizing (doh!) that I hadn't quite understood that I'd be charged $3 EACH for the "S" allotment of talk, text, data - that is, $9/month usage + $6 per device = $15+/month.
Not sure why I had it in my head that the monthly min. would be $9 ($6 for device + $3 "S" usage) ... their website has a table showing the rates, and I didn't look at it closely enough to get the full picture. 
(I'm missing PTel in that my average was <$5 a month.  Sniff!)

I thought the rate information on Ting's website was not straightforward and took some study to understand exactly how they calculated charges. Once I did, I decided the $75 credit wasn't worth it if I'd have to change again in less than a year and decided to go straight to H2O, which depending upon usage could only amount to $10 every 90 days.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: dramaman on February 02, 2016, 06:13:13 PM
Two days up and running with Ting and I'm appreciative of the $75 credit while I try it out.  However, just checked my usage, and I'm now realizing (doh!) that I hadn't quite understood that I'd be charged $3 EACH for the "S" allotment of talk, text, data - that is, $9/month usage + $6 per device = $15+/month.
Not sure why I had it in my head that the monthly min. would be $9 ($6 for device + $3 "S" usage) ... their website has a table showing the rates, and I didn't look at it closely enough to get the full picture. 
(I'm missing PTel in that my average was <$5 a month.  Sniff!)
PTel's payGo was great for light users. It's especially hard to find text rates below $0.05/text.

Where Ting shines best is multiple light to moderate users on a single account because they share a single bucket of each type of usage across all the lines.

Maybe for multiple moderate users, but for multiple light users, Ting may still not be the way to go. Keep in mind Ting charges EACH attached phone $6 per month even if they don't use their phone at all (not absolutely sure about that, but I presume the $6 is based merely on having a registered Ting sim). Then whatever combined minutes and texts they use get an additional charge. Being included in the group account would make no sense for the user if their individual usage amounted to less than $6 per month in charges with another service. For instance if they use less than 65 combined minutes/text per month, it would be cheaper for them to go with H2O where they can get 200 minutes/text that lasts 90 days for just $10, which comes to around $3.33 per month. If they used less than 30 minutes/text per month, then T-Mobiles $3/month plan would be cheaper.

At least that is my understanding of how it works. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.


My understanding is that Ting charges $6 for each multiple user per month, regardless of whether they use any voice or text or data. With H2O pay as you go, you can get 200 minutes/texts for $10 for 90 days. Ting would charge the same user $18 for those same 90 days as well as whatever minutes and texts that user contributed to the account's total.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: livingthedream on February 05, 2016, 04:52:44 PM
I switched to Ting for now but will switch to H20 as soon as the $75 credit runs out. Got my 1 cent shipped H20 SIM card from Amazon (how do they do that?) ready to go. Like some of the others here I was paying only $5 a month on Ptel by using Google voice and Wifi.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Senor Smallchange Soulpatch on February 07, 2016, 09:58:02 AM
FYI for everyone... if you have still have some money on a Ptel paygo account and didn't port your number out, your sim may still be working.

I never bothered porting my Ptel number because my "main" number is attached to Google Voice, so I figured I'd ride out Ptel until the bitter end then activate my new Ting sim with a new number and reconfigure Google Voice to forward to that number.  As of right now my Ptel sim is still working fine for both text and data and my Ting sim is still in the package.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: NathanP on February 08, 2016, 10:23:45 AM
FYI for everyone... if you have still have some money on a Ptel paygo account and didn't port your number out, your sim may still be working.

I never bothered porting my Ptel number because my "main" number is attached to Google Voice, so I figured I'd ride out Ptel until the bitter end then activate my new Ting sim with a new number and reconfigure Google Voice to forward to that number.  As of right now my Ptel sim is still working fine for both text and data and my Ting sim is still in the package.

Everyone Android users should all port their main "don't want to lose it" number to Google Voice. There are some nice benefits including the ability to forward calls to multiple phones (home, mobile, work), cheap international calling rates, and the full VOIP phone call option when on wifi. In android, the integration is seamless and people you call will see your main number in their caller id (not your phone's sim card's number).

The secondary (but more important?) benefit is the ability to switch carriers at any time. You simply allow your pre-paid credits to expire and activate your new phone service. A quick update to Google Voice will replace your old sim card number with your new number and voila, you are in business. No more waiting to port a number from carrier A to B. Ptel goes broke? No problem. Activate your new sim at your convenience knowing that your number is safe.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: headachemustache on February 08, 2016, 11:03:04 AM
Everyone Android users should all port their main "don't want to lose it" number to Google Voice. There are some nice benefits including the ability to forward calls to multiple phones (home, mobile, work), cheap international calling rates, and the full VOIP phone call option when on wifi. In android, the integration is seamless and people you call will see your main number in their caller id (not your phone's sim card's number).

The secondary (but more important?) benefit is the ability to switch carriers at any time. You simply allow your pre-paid credits to expire and activate your new phone service. A quick update to Google Voice will replace your old sim card number with your new number and voila, you are in business. No more waiting to port a number from carrier A to B. Ptel goes broke? No problem. Activate your new sim at your convenience knowing that your number is safe.

Thanks for this useful information.  Guessing this is only for Android users ... too bad for the rest of us!
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on February 08, 2016, 09:06:42 PM
Everyone Android users should all port their main "don't want to lose it" number to Google Voice.

As a long time user of Google Voice going back to the Grand Central days, and knowing how quickly Google just drops support for even popular services when they clean house with projects, I can say with reasonable authority that this is a really bad idea. Google Voice simply isn't reliable enough, especially for people who depend on reliable communications (such as for work), and without proper support or shutdown notices from Google if they ever decide to abandon the service...

...this just isn't a suggestion that improves the situation it's trying to "fix".
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: robartsd on February 09, 2016, 11:13:39 AM
My wife's line got ported to MetroPCS safely - eventually got her dual SIM, unlocked, 3G, Android phone working on MetroPCS too. We probably waited a little longer than we should have thinking it would be easy to drop in to a store and pick up a SIM and port. The first trip to port her number (Mon 1 Feb) the "Authorized Dealer" rep thought the SIM was not recongized. They suggested we go to the corporate store, which we thought we did, but later learned that the corporate store was in the shopping center on the opposite side of the intersection from the second "Authorized Dealer" we visited. After going home in defeat, we started quickly looking for a place to pick up an EasyGo SIM. On Tuesday, we realized that the reps who were trying the SIM card were probably being thrown off by the warning that comes up every time the phone starts up with one of the two SIM card slots empty. Armed with with this idea, on Thursday my wife went to the closest dealer, bought a SIM and porter her number. Her phone got droped from the network about 2 hours later. On Saturday we visited the second "Authorized Dealer" and the rep suggested we go to the corporate store (we thought we were at one) after checking the settings on the phone and saying they looked fine (they were). Longish line at the corporate store (15-20 minute wait), but the rep knew what she was doing. She said that the SIM looked rather old and could be the problem, also noted that the "Authorized Dealer" setting up the phone may have used the wrong IMEI, she replaced the SIM and updated their records and the phone has been working fine on the 3G network since. Lesson learned: don't go to "Authorized Dealers" for help with your cell phone.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Senor Smallchange Soulpatch on February 09, 2016, 03:33:26 PM
Everyone Android users should all port their main "don't want to lose it" number to Google Voice.

As a long time user of Google Voice going back to the Grand Central days, and knowing how quickly Google just drops support for even popular services when they clean house with projects, I can say with reasonable authority that this is a really bad idea. Google Voice simply isn't reliable enough, especially for people who depend on reliable communications (such as for work), and without proper support or shutdown notices from Google if they ever decide to abandon the service...

...this just isn't a suggestion that improves the situation it's trying to "fix".

Meh... I have to disagree somewhat.  We just witnessed Ptel pulling the plug with like a week's notice.  And while it's certainly true that Google has a tendency to shut down services for seemingly arbitrary reasons, I can't think of a single time when they've given users a shorter window to transition then Ptel just did (although as of right now my supposed-to-be-deactivated Ptel sim is still fully functional).

I would say that if constant communication and a stable phone number is really mission critical for one's job, they should just suck it up, pay one of the majors and consider it a cost of doing business.  IMO playing the low budget MVNO game in that situation is crossing over from frugal to cheap.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Pebs on February 09, 2016, 07:45:57 PM
I'm really hoping someone can help me.  I just bought a phone through PTEL in December for my daughter.  She had about one month of service with them before they closed their doors.  I searched all over locally to find a SIM card for one of the other inexpensive MVNOs and found one for PureTalk.  We weren't worried about keeping the same phone number so that is not an issue.

The PureTalk SIM card is installed and we signed up for a plan on the PureTalk website. It's been several days and the phone still has no service.  I admit to not really knowing what I am doing!  Tried contacting PureTalk for help but they essentially say that the problem is not on their end and I should buy a new phone. 

It looks like the phone may still be locked with PTEL??  When it is turned on, it is asking for the following:  SIM network unlock PIN

I thought the "0000" that was on the PTEL homepage should work but it doesn't.

Can anyone provide guidance?  Do I really have to toss this brand new phone and start over?  It is a SAMSUNG T699 GALAXY RELAY 4G GSM.

Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Daley on February 09, 2016, 11:21:33 PM
I would say that if constant communication and a stable phone number is really mission critical for one's job, they should just suck it up, pay one of the majors and consider it a cost of doing business.  IMO playing the low budget MVNO game in that situation is crossing over from frugal to cheap.

For the record, twelve days from dealer notice and ten days from public notice until last official day, with 16 days from public notice to port out your number successfully is not "like a week's notice." That's a good half month to safely get your number out.

That's also one of the ugly things about the P'tel shutdown, they weren't just any old fly-by-night MVNO, they had been around for FIFTEEN YEARS. Like the other providers in the guide, I had chose long-term, reliable, viable providers so you could get frugal and reliable service for more critical communications needs without veering into the cheap and dicey category. It was an approach that bypassed the usual cut-rate, high risk el cheapo, MVNO game. It's the entire point of the carefully selected and recommended providers in the guide.

The problem is that the major carriers are now screwing over their wholesale providers to pull people back in under higher cost and higher margin plans, and they appear to be doing abrupt account shutdowns to make the companies look bad. It didn't used to be this way. Yes, MVNOs fold all the time, but not MVNOs like P'tel or Airvoice. These are companies who had survived and outlasted several waves of competition and countless other brands over the past decade and a half. They had been a safe bet both as a frugal and reliable choice.

As much as the long term viability is now less certain on these older MVNOs, if something happens, there's still going to be a proper shutdown with them, with support and notice like P'tel had. One, Google simply doesn't do that sort of thing with their quick axe money losers, which GV could easily become even at this point - it's more of a, "Hope you read Slashdot or the Google dev blogs regularly, 'cause you're probably not gonna hear otherwise before the service stops working, and I hope you have backups of your data." Two, the remaining MVNOs in the guide will still dance rings around Google Voice reliability on voice and call quality, uptime, and SMS delivery.

It sucks, but it's still no less true.



Can anyone provide guidance?  Do I really have to toss this brand new phone and start over?  It is a SAMSUNG T699 GALAXY RELAY 4G GSM.

The device sounds like it is carrier locked to T-Mobile. The time to have gotten the unlock code from P'tel would have been before the 6th.

The phone should still work with Ting GSM, Ultra Mobile, and other T-Mobile MVNOs while carrier locked, and you might be able to get one of them to unlock it for you down the road if you explain the situation, but if you're looking to migrate to an AT&T MVNO as you have, you'll either need to pay a ridiculous amount of money to get the phone carrier unlocked from an independent dealer, or get another phone at this point. Don't know what else to say.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Pebs on February 10, 2016, 05:49:28 AM
The device sounds like it is carrier locked to T-Mobile. The time to have gotten the unlock code from P'tel would have been before the 6th.

The phone should still work with Ting GSM.

Thank you!  This is great news, actually, because Ting was my preferred service to switch to but could only find PureTalk SIM cards locally. I'll just eat the cost of the PureTalk SIM and order a new Ting SIM online. Much less $ lost than having to buy a new phone.  Yeah, I know we delayed too long but I naively thought the only rush was to keep the same phone number.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: Senor Smallchange Soulpatch on February 10, 2016, 07:56:35 AM
I would say that if constant communication and a stable phone number is really mission critical for one's job, they should just suck it up, pay one of the majors and consider it a cost of doing business.  IMO playing the low budget MVNO game in that situation is crossing over from frugal to cheap.

For the record, twelve days from dealer notice and ten days from public notice until last official day, with 16 days from public notice to port out your number successfully is not "like a week's notice." That's a good half month to safely get your number out.

That's also one of the ugly things about the P'tel shutdown, they weren't just any old fly-by-night MVNO, they had been around for FIFTEEN YEARS. Like the other providers in the guide, I had chose long-term, reliable, viable providers so you could get frugal and reliable service for more critical communications needs without veering into the cheap and dicey category. It was an approach that bypassed the usual cut-rate, high risk el cheapo, MVNO game. It's the entire point of the carefully selected and recommended providers in the guide.

The problem is that the major carriers are now screwing over their wholesale providers to pull people back in under higher cost and higher margin plans, and they appear to be doing abrupt account shutdowns to make the companies look bad. It didn't used to be this way. Yes, MVNOs fold all the time, but not MVNOs like P'tel or Airvoice. These are companies who had survived and outlasted several waves of competition and countless other brands over the past decade and a half. They had been a safe bet both as a frugal and reliable choice.

As much as the long term viability is now less certain on these older MVNOs, if something happens, there's still going to be a proper shutdown with them, with support and notice like P'tel had. One, Google simply doesn't do that sort of thing with their quick axe money losers, which GV could easily become even at this point - it's more of a, "Hope you read Slashdot or the Google dev blogs regularly, 'cause you're probably not gonna hear otherwise before the service stops working, and I hope you have backups of your data." Two, the remaining MVNOs in the guide will still dance rings around Google Voice reliability on voice and call quality, uptime, and SMS delivery.

It sucks, but it's still no less true.


My wife and I both got the shutdown text messages from Ptel on 1/22, and that message recommended port-outs be completed by 1/26, so from my view they gave us 4 days.  Prior to that I hadn't personally heard a thing.  Yes, they later revised that date and gave us more time, but there were some tense moments in my house that weekend while we scrambled looking for a suitable place to port my wife's number, which she's had for 15+ years and is very attached to.

I would never recommend GV as any type of blanket "solution" for all users, probably not even a majority of users.  I never put my wife's number on GV for the simple reason that she's not all that tech-savvy, so inserting another middleman in her communications routine would almost certainly result in a household tech support headache for me and I simply don't want to deal with that.

I just don't think it's fair to dismiss the idea of porting a number to GV out of hand.  I've personally saved a pile of money over the last 3 years by using their wifi-enabled features, as well as by sending/receiving texts at data rates instead of per message rates when I'm not in wifi coverage.  Having my voicemails transcribed is awesome, being able to send/receive texts from any of my computers is handy, forwarding my personal calls to my desk phone at work (which is apparently inside an impenetrable Faraday cage across which no T-Mobile signal shall pass) is convenient, etc.  The fact that I've been able to switch between 3 different MVNO's without worrying about porting a number is gravy.  The whole thing could go poof tomorrow and I'd still consider the experiment to have been worth it.

That said, I am the guy who's keeping up with the tech blogs/Slashdot/Reddit/whatever, and at the end of the day I'm not going to lose much sleep if my long-time phone number is lost for some reason.  So anyone reading this should keep that in mind if they're considering going the GV route.
Title: Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
Post by: NumberJohnny5 on February 10, 2016, 06:05:14 PM
Ok, maybe we should all spend more money for the greater good.

Well, I'm selfish. I just want the cheapest least-hassle phone service I can get. So I have:

Verizon Unlimited Data plan - costs about as much as DSL does, plus I can easily suspend when I'm away (lot of travel, so I'd have to either keep paying for DSL, or pay lots of reconnect fees). Plus I can use it on the go.

Google Voice for myself, my wife, and my mom.

Tracfone service for all three as well.

We've had our Google Voice numbers for almost five years now (had service since GrandCentral days, but I changed my number about five years ago). Only one time was any part of it "shut down". End of October 2013 it was announced that in May 2014 Google would stop allowing third parties to access their service. You could still use the service as originally designed (have calls/texts forwarded to a regular number, use their website to make/receive calls and texts). So I did have to change some things (we were relying on that third party support), but even with a new baby I didn't feel rushed. Yes, Google drops support for things all the time, but there has always been a LOT of advance notice. They have a decent track record as far as that goes.

With Google Voice, it doesn't matter what the underlying service is. As long as I have data, or a number for calls to be forwarded to, it will work. I've changed from Tracfone to Net10 to AT&T to T-Mobile to PagePlus...and I'm not counting the dozen or so times I've activated new Tracfone service due to some promotion. In fact I'm about to do it again, found a phone with 800 minutes that's good for a year for under $40 (once I activate, pay for a $1 BYOP sim, and transfer to an Android phone I'll end up with 800 minutes 800 texts and 800MB data for under $40). That's all we need for calls and texts (we'll use hardly any). One of us may need more data, $15 for an extra 750MB might do us for the year, $30 for 2GB should be plenty. That's $40-$70 for a year of service, or $3.33-$5.83 per month. Even if you don't game the system like that, you can keep it under $7/mo if you don't need much data.

Yes, Tracfone customer service leaves much to be desired. The only times I've had issues was when I was trying to transfer airtime from one phone to another (and even then, there's a US number you can call that seems much more competent, it's a well-known secret). It's been mentioned that porting numbers in/out of Tracfone related services can be problematic. Well, I don't ever use the underlying mobile number (just use Google Voice), so I'm never porting a number in or out. I've never had to call for any reason other than activating or transferring airtime.

No, it's not for everyone. If you want to pay more for better customer service, go ahead. If you want to pay more to support the underdogs (so AT&T can buy them out), feel free. If you're willing to risk a bad customer support experience in order to save some cash, that's fine too.

I'll say this. I'm glad I wasn't (solely) with PTel. I'm currently in Australia, and I'd have to deal with getting three different people's numbers switched over. And it'd all be done remotely, with my mom, over the phone. Yes, I'd do as much online as I could, but the sims would go to her address, she'd need to get the numbers to me, I'd have to tell how how to put it in her phone and possibly setup the APN, etc. Could take a mere 15 minutes, could take hours. As it is, our numbers are safe with Google Voice, and my mom's Tracfone service is working fine.