Author Topic: heads up, ptel is ending their service  (Read 27624 times)

partgypsy

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heads up, ptel is ending their service
« 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #1 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.

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://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. 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 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 SIM cards are available at most Sears locations.

H2O Wireless SIM cards are available at most Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations.

Airvoice Wireless 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 SIM cards are available at select K-Mart and Sears locations in addition to phones at both Sears and K-Mart.

Ting GSM SIM cards are starting to become available at select Staples and Kroger 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, 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, 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.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 06:59:04 PM by I.P. Daley »

Paul der Krake

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #2 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!

geekette

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2016, 05:14:53 PM »
At least they didn't pull a SunRocket!  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!

Hey It's Me

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2016, 07:16:02 PM »
WHATT..... :( What alternatives are you all using?

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #5 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, Puretalk USA, Truphone, H2O Wireless/easyGO, Consumer Cellular and Ting 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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #6 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.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2016, 09:35:40 PM »
Wow.  What happened?  Did they just become insolvent?

alsoknownasDean

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #8 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?

Frs1661

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #9 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


Jack

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #10 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #11 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, 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.

Jack

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #12 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.

NathanP

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #13 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #14 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #15 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.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 09:37:40 AM by I.P. Daley »

ooeei

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #16 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.

boarder42

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #17 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #18 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.

geekette

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #19 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. 

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #20 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.

Paul der Krake

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #21 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #22 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.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #23 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.

Chris22

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #24 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #25 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.

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #26 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....:(

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #27 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.

NESailor

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #28 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?

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #29 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.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 12:01:55 PM by I.P. Daley »

Chris22

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #30 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? 

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #31 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.

Chris22

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #32 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. 

Chris22

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #33 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. 

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #34 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....

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #35 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.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 12:16:59 PM by I.P. Daley »

Chris22

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #36 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #37 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, and it's only a part of the greater approach.

NESailor

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #38 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.

robartsd

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #39 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:
  • MetroPCS - $30/mo, 1GB fast data (3G phone), unlimited slow data
    • + useful data on the go
    • + lowest cost solution which meets our needs
  • Airvoice - $20/mo, 50MB fast data, 50MB slow data
    • - need to reestablish home internet
      • CCI - ~$25/mo for 24 months (may want to move before contract expires)
      • Share neighbor's internet over WiFi (I'd offer them the $15/mo I used to pay Freedom Pop - already have needed equipment)
    • - higher likelyhood that service will be discontinued with little notice
    • + fast data for all devices at home
    • + service at least as good/price at least as low as we were getting just a few months ago

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #40 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.

APowers

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #41 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?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 02:59:45 PM by APowers »

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #42 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 (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.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 03:34:13 PM by I.P. Daley »

robartsd

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #43 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.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #44 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


10dollarsatatime

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #45 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. 

CCCA

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #46 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.

accolay

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #47 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.

reader2580

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #48 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.

Daley

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Re: heads up, ptel is ending their service
« Reply #49 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.