Discussion:
Ting/Consumer Cellular/Page Plus Comparison
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SMS
2014-06-15 23:08:49 UTC
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I compared four options for four phones with at least 500 minutes, 500
texts, and 500MB of data per user on Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Page
Plus. The cost was extremely close, $113-114. But there are significant
differences. Ting was the worst of the four. Consumer Cellular probably
the best. I added Cricket as well, which is cheaper, but the lack of any
roaming is an issue. Cricket does offer 128Kb/s data after you use up
your LTE/HSDPA allocation.

<https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1noIS9kg41kbzjIfTc2WvGsi38ar0xln0cAN4gwjSHJQ/edit?usp=sharing>
Igor Sviridov
2014-06-16 08:48:37 UTC
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Post by SMS
I compared four options for four phones with at least 500 minutes, 500
texts, and 500MB of data per user on Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Page
Plus. The cost was extremely close, $113-114. But there are significant
differences. Ting was the worst of the four. Consumer Cellular probably
the best. I added Cricket as well, which is cheaper, but the lack of any
roaming is an issue. Cricket does offer 128Kb/s data after you use up
your LTE/HSDPA allocation.
<https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1noIS9kg41kbzjIfTc2WvGsi38ar0xln0cAN4gwjSHJQ/edit?usp=sharing>
My Ting taxes are in 8% range;
Sprint also has 800MHz coverage in some locations (converted iDEN)
and legacy WiMax, which i still find useful (until Sprint LTE rollout completes).

In my experience Sprint's 3G is definitely worst of 4 major carriers;
it's when combined with WiMax, LTE and low price/a-la carte Ting
offering when it becomes attractive. It's the only CDMA/EVDO offering
which is close in convenience in activating/deactivating devices to GSM
(when you can move SIM cards around).

You've listed Cricket as CDMA/EV-DO carrier (which they were until AT&T purchase), but AT&T native coverage.
Can you really buy a CDMA/EV-DO + GSM/HSDPA device and enjoy combined Sprint + AT&T coverage on Cricket?
I doubt it's possible simultaneously, but even ability to chose either network on-demand would be nice.

--igor
sms
2014-06-16 11:37:13 UTC
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Post by Igor Sviridov
Post by SMS
I compared four options for four phones with at least 500 minutes, 500
texts, and 500MB of data per user on Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Page
Plus. The cost was extremely close, $113-114. But there are significant
differences. Ting was the worst of the four. Consumer Cellular probably
the best. I added Cricket as well, which is cheaper, but the lack of any
roaming is an issue. Cricket does offer 128Kb/s data after you use up
your LTE/HSDPA allocation.
<https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1noIS9kg41kbzjIfTc2WvGsi38ar0xln0cAN4gwjSHJQ/edit?usp=sharing>
My Ting taxes are in 8% range;
Ting must be absorbing some of the taxes and charging a fixed amount
since in California it should be about 13% before the carrier starts
adding their own non-mandatory fees, and about 19% with all the fees.
Post by Igor Sviridov
Sprint also has 800MHz coverage in some locations (converted iDEN)
and legacy WiMax, which i still find useful (until Sprint LTE rollout completes).
That 800 MHz spectrum is not the same as the regular CDMA 800 MHz
spectrum (which is really 850MHz). It is "CDMA 1x Advanced" with one
band from 817.9-862.9MHz and one band 819.15 to 864.15MHz. You need a
handset that will support that band of which there are few. The more
commonly used CDMA frequency band is 824–849M Hz and 869–894 MHz.

Sprint also took a giant step backwards with their "Spark" devices which
support all three of their LTE bands, and presumably the 800MHz "CDMA
Advanced" band since these new devices don't support simultaneous voice
and LTE data. This is very odd since one of the big advantages of
getting LTE was to be able to do simultaneous voice and LTE data (except
on the iPhone which has hardware design issues that don't allow
simultaneous voice and LTE data on any carrier).
Post by Igor Sviridov
In my experience Sprint's 3G is definitely worst of 4 major carriers;
it's when combined with WiMax, LTE and low price/a-la carte Ting
offering when it becomes attractive. It's the only CDMA/EVDO offering
which is close in convenience in activating/deactivating devices to GSM
(when you can move SIM cards around).
You've listed Cricket as CDMA/EV-DO carrier (which they were until AT&T purchase), but AT&T native coverage.
My mistake. Fixed it.
Post by Igor Sviridov
Can you really buy a CDMA/EV-DO + GSM/HSDPA device and enjoy combined Sprint + AT&T coverage on Cricket?
Possibly you could do this with a Nexus 5 if you could still buy Cricket
CDMA service.

But the bottom line is that if you're going to do a "shared pool" type
of family plan, I think that Consumer Cellular is a much better option,
especially since the cost is virtually the same, for the following reasons:

1. CC has far more data coverage, both because it's on AT&T's native
network plus data roaming is included.

2. Most AT&T voice is on 800 MHz while Most Sprint voice is at 1900MHz.

3. You can have simultaneous voice and LTE service on all LTE devices
except the iPhone (the iPhone offers simultaneous voice and 3G data)

4. Far better selection of handsets.

Cricket is a good deal if you're willing to give up roaming coverage
which loses you coverage in a bunch of rural central and western U.S.
areas. You could just keep a Page Plus phone active for $30 per year and
take it along when traveling through the areas with no AT&T coverage. If
Ting were not so expensive for low usage then you could add Ting service
to a Nexus 5 and get roaming voice and data when there was no AT&T service.

Cricket throttles LTE data but it's still fast enough (I would think
that it would be bad for their network to throttle data if they're
giving you the same quantity of data just slower). The unlimited low
speed data is still fast enough for things like e-mail and low speed
Pandora.
sms
2014-06-16 15:43:05 UTC
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On 6/16/2014 4:37 AM, sms wrote:

<snip>

Ting does have one positive that I had left out but I have now added.
They are one of the few MVNOs that allow international roaming. You can
only roam to CDMA countries of course, but at least that covers North
America and most of Asia. <https://ting.com/outside_usa>.

<http://tinyurl.com/mvnocomparison>
Steve Pope
2014-06-16 21:26:14 UTC
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Post by sms
But the bottom line is that if you're going to do a "shared pool" type
of family plan, I think that Consumer Cellular is a much better option,
1. CC has far more data coverage, both because it's on AT&T's native
network plus data roaming is included.
2. Most AT&T voice is on 800 MHz while Most Sprint voice is at 1900MHz.
3. You can have simultaneous voice and LTE service on all LTE devices
except the iPhone (the iPhone offers simultaneous voice and 3G data)
4. Far better selection of handsets.
Agree, except why would (2) be an advantage?

Two sort-of disadvantages we noticed about CC. One can only monitor
one's data usage with a lag of 2 to 3 days (as opposed to instantly
for T-Mobile; not sure about native ATT). Also the voicemail
was difficult to configure, but that could have bene a handset issue.
Neither is a showstopper, but I like the T-Mobile network telling
you instantly how much data you've used that month.

Steve
sms
2014-06-16 23:27:18 UTC
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Post by Steve Pope
Post by sms
But the bottom line is that if you're going to do a "shared pool" type
of family plan, I think that Consumer Cellular is a much better option,
1. CC has far more data coverage, both because it's on AT&T's native
network plus data roaming is included.
2. Most AT&T voice is on 800 MHz while Most Sprint voice is at 1900MHz.
3. You can have simultaneous voice and LTE service on all LTE devices
except the iPhone (the iPhone offers simultaneous voice and 3G data)
4. Far better selection of handsets.
Agree, except why would (2) be an advantage?
800 Mhz has better penetration into buildings and requires fewer cells
to cover a given area. It's one reason why Verizon and AT&T consistently
have better ratings for coverage and fewer dropped calls.
Post by Steve Pope
Two sort-of disadvantages we noticed about CC. One can only monitor
one's data usage with a lag of 2 to 3 days (as opposed to instantly
for T-Mobile; not sure about native ATT). Also the voicemail
was difficult to configure, but that could have bene a handset issue.
Neither is a showstopper, but I like the T-Mobile network telling
you instantly how much data you've used that month.
I see a great many complaints about CC in terms of customer service,
coverage, over-charging, and configuration. I tried to see about signing
up online and it's not possible four four phones on one account. When I
called them they were kind of obnoxious with "we'll see if you qualify
for four phones on one account based on your credit rating." I get the
feeling that if I went to AT&T/CC I'm going to have a lot of coverage
issues that I didn't have with Verizon/PP.
Steve Pope
2014-06-16 23:36:11 UTC
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Post by sms
Post by Steve Pope
Post by sms
2. Most AT&T voice is on 800 MHz while Most Sprint voice is at 1900MHz.
Agree, except why would (2) be an advantage?
800 Mhz has better penetration into buildings and requires fewer cells
to cover a given area. It's one reason why Verizon and AT&T consistently
have better ratings for coverage and fewer dropped calls.
I agree this is a common belief, but I don't necessarily believe
it is grounded in any sort of solid science.
Post by sms
Post by Steve Pope
Two sort-of disadvantages we noticed about CC. One can only monitor
one's data usage with a lag of 2 to 3 days (as opposed to instantly
for T-Mobile; not sure about native ATT). Also the voicemail
was difficult to configure, but that could have bene a handset issue.
Neither is a showstopper, but I like the T-Mobile network telling
you instantly how much data you've used that month.
I see a great many complaints about CC in terms of customer service,
coverage, over-charging, and configuration. I tried to see about signing
up online and it's not possible four four phones on one account.
The combination of rather high fees for going over your limit,
and not being able to check your exact usage without lag, it an issue.

Still, CC is cheaper than T-Mobile (for many user scenarios) and
also better coverage. We couldn't identify a cheaper GSM provider
for plans that include data.


Steve
Peter Lawrence
2014-06-17 01:53:22 UTC
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Post by SMS
I compared four options for four phones with at least 500 minutes, 500
texts, and 500MB of data per user on Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Page Plus.
The cost was extremely close, $113-114. But there are significant
differences. Ting was the worst of the four. Consumer Cellular probably the
best. I added Cricket as well, which is cheaper, but the lack of any roaming
is an issue. Cricket does offer 128Kb/s data after you use up your LTE/HSDPA
allocation.
<https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1noIS9kg41kbzjIfTc2WvGsi38ar0xln0cAN4gwjSHJQ/edit?usp=sharing>
Another option to consider -- if you can live with only 100 minutes of talk
-- is the Walmart T-Mobile $30/month plan.

100 minutes of talk.
Unlimited text
5 GB of 4G data (then it's throttled back for unlimited data albeit at a
slower speed)

http://see.walmart.com/t-mobile/?povid=cat1105910-env542259-moduleA110913-lLinkLHNShopbyCarrierTMobile


- Peter
Steve Pope
2014-06-17 07:16:52 UTC
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Post by Peter Lawrence
Another option to consider -- if you can live with only 100 minutes of talk
-- is the Walmart T-Mobile $30/month plan.
100 minutes of talk.
Unlimited text
5 GB of 4G data (then it's throttled back for unlimited data albeit at a
slower speed)
This is a good reason to get a dual-sim phone. If you run out
of your 100 WalMart talk minutes, you can switch to a cheaper voice-only
SIM (either T-mobile pay-by-minute, or ATT pay-by-day, or other
choices) that costs you nothing until you use it.


Steve
Peter Lawrence
2014-06-17 07:54:19 UTC
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Post by SMS
I compared four options for four phones with at least 500 minutes, 500
texts, and 500MB of data per user on Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Page Plus.
The cost was extremely close, $113-114. But there are significant
differences. Ting was the worst of the four.
Thanks for the spreadsheet, but I think you're a bit too harsh towards Ting.

Specifically:

Native Network Coverage: you rate it poor. I would rate Sprint's network
overall as fair.

_Total Voice/Text Coverage_: you rate it fair (but you rate PagePlus as
excellent). Since Ting provides free and seamless talk and text roaming on
all other CDMA networks including Verizon, how can you rate it as just fair?
It should be rated as Very Good, if not Excellent.

_Voice Roaming and Text Roaming_: You ratings here are even more mind
boggling. You rate the voice and text roaming of PagePlus as Excellent even
though one needs to pay extra to roam networks inferior to its native
Verizon network, while you rate Ting's voice and text roaming only as fair
even though voice and text roaming are included for no extra charge and
allows Ting phones to roam on the excellent Verizon network. Again the Ting
rating on these two categories should be at least Very Good, if not Excellent.

_Handset Selection_: A rating of poor for Ting? Why? Ting offers a wide
selection of Android phones that should fit anyone's budget. Ting also
supports several versions of Apple's iPhones. At the very least, their
ratings for handsets should be Fair, if not Good or Very Good.


- Peter
sms
2014-06-17 09:56:05 UTC
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Post by Peter Lawrence
Post by SMS
I compared four options for four phones with at least 500 minutes, 500
texts, and 500MB of data per user on Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Page Plus.
The cost was extremely close, $113-114. But there are significant
differences. Ting was the worst of the four.
Thanks for the spreadsheet, but I think you're a bit too harsh towards Ting.
Native Network Coverage: you rate it poor. I would rate Sprint's
network overall as fair.
_Total Voice/Text Coverage_: you rate it fair (but you rate PagePlus as
excellent). Since Ting provides free and seamless talk and text roaming
on all other CDMA networks including Verizon, how can you rate it as
just fair? It should be rated as Very Good, if not Excellent.
Ting suffers from the same coverage issue as Sprint. Unless you take
steps to force roaming, it will simply have no coverage at all anytime
there is a minute (my-noot) Sprint signal. In the olden days there were
ways to easily force roaming onto Verizon. Now it involves an app like
Roam Control <http://www.roamctrl.com/>:

"Roam Control is an Android application that allows you to force roaming
on your CDMA cell phone. It is targeted towards Sprint users and
currently supports the Nexus 5 along with HTC, Samsung, and Motorola
phones. Please understand that root is required for the app to work
unless you have an older HTC phone (Hero, EVO 4G, EVO 3D).

This app is useful when you are in an area with a weak signal and your
phone does not roam onto a stronger roaming signal. Putting your phone
into a “roam only” mode will make your phone choose the roaming signal,
improving the reliability of your phone and improving battery life."

or figuring out how to change the PRL to favor Verizon.

Even those these methods work, if you are excessively roaming off of
Sprint you will have your service cancelled.

So while it's possible for a Sprint+roaming phone to have the same
coverage as a Verizon+roaming phone, at least for voice, the reality is
that they are not really equivalent.
Post by Peter Lawrence
_Voice Roaming and Text Roaming_: You ratings here are even more mind
boggling. You rate the voice and text roaming of PagePlus as Excellent
even though one needs to pay extra to roam networks inferior to its
native Verizon network, while you rate Ting's voice and text roaming
only as fair even though voice and text roaming are included for no
extra charge and allows Ting phones to roam on the excellent Verizon
network. Again the Ting rating on these two categories should be at
least Very Good, if not Excellent.
See above. Also, text roaming does not cost extra on Page Plus.
Post by Peter Lawrence
_Handset Selection_: A rating of poor for Ting? Why? Ting offers a
wide selection of Android phones that should fit anyone's budget. Ting
also supports several versions of Apple's iPhones. At the very least,
their ratings for handsets should be Fair, if not Good or Very Good.
Sprint bans Ting from offering many handsets that would technically work.
SMS
2014-06-17 16:11:37 UTC
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I think that given the roughly equivalent cost between Ting/Sprint and
CC/AT&T, that CC/AT&T makes more sense. If you force roaming,
Ting/Sprint would be acceptable for voice and text, even better than
CC/AT&T unless you get in trouble for roaming all the time, but you
would not get data service.

You get far more data coverage on CC/AT&T than on Ting/Sprint (or on
PP/Verizon for that matter). This is rather important to me at this time
since where my daughter goes to college the Sprint coverage is poor.
Verizon and AT&T coverage are fine.

I do find it annoying when in areas covered by both Golden State
Cellular and AT&T that I get no data service on Page Plus, and I go to
these places at least a couple of times a year.

One other thing I added to the spreadsheet is Puerto Rico. PP and Ting
don't include it, the other three in the spreadsheet do include it. I'd
been calling my friend who moved from Puerto Rico to Vermont on his
Puerto Rico number and did not realize how much it was costing me for
voice and text until my PP balance was down to $0.01 and I could no
longer call him.

While I've always preferred the superior coverage and voice quality of
CDMA, the availability of the latest models of new, relatively
inexpensive, unlocked, GSM/LTE Android phones, is attractive. The only
current model phone that works on Ting is the Nexus 5. For PP it's even
worse, you can buy a Boost Moto G and flash it to PP, but other than
that you're stuck with older phones. Most PP customers would not mind
only 3G data as long as they could use 4G LTE phones, but now you have
to go through a hassle to do this.

I did do some changes to Ting based on your input.

<tinyurl.com/mvnocomparison>
(null)
2014-06-17 16:36:56 UTC
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Post by SMS
<tinyurl.com/mvnocomparison>
I had thought that with the LTE rollout T-Mo moved HSPA/EDGE into the
1900 band. Was this not so? Or was it other services that they moved?
sms
2014-06-17 17:16:44 UTC
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Post by (null)
Post by SMS
<tinyurl.com/mvnocomparison>
I had thought that with the LTE rollout T-Mo moved HSPA/EDGE into the
1900 band. Was this not so? Or was it other services that they moved?
I saw what I put in at
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HSDPA_networks>

But you're correct, T-Mobile did add 3G to 1900 MHz (Edge was always
there) in order to attract customers bringing their 3G devices from AT&T
since the AT&T devices did not support HSDPA at 1700 and 2100. I fixed
that, thanks.
Fred Viles
2014-07-04 14:37:37 UTC
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...
The only current model phone that works on Ting is
the Nexus 5.
To be clear, you're talking only about the BYOD (Bring Your Own
Device) program. You can buy a new Samsung S5, HTC One M8, LG G2, or
LG G Flex direct from Ting.
sms
2014-07-08 00:33:44 UTC
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Post by Fred Viles
...
The only current model phone that works on Ting is
the Nexus 5.
To be clear, you're talking only about the BYOD (Bring Your Own
Device) program. You can buy a new Samsung S5, HTC One M8, LG G2, or
LG G Flex direct from Ting.
Yes, sorry.

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