Discussion:
10 alternative carriers that can save you serious cash on your smartphone bill
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Roy
2015-02-02 20:12:31 UTC
Permalink
The Wifi only phones look interesting. The article doesn't mention if
tethering is allowed on any of these services.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2878298/10-alternative-carriers-that-can-save-you-serious-cash-on-your-smartphone-bill.html
Peter Lawrence
2015-02-03 16:43:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roy
The Wifi only phones look interesting. The article doesn't mention if
tethering is allowed on any of these services.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2878298/10-alternative-carriers-that-can-save-you-serious-cash-on-your-smartphone-bill.html
No mention of PagePlus though, one of the better options that uses Verizon's
network.


- Peter
sms
2015-02-03 17:56:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roy
The Wifi only phones look interesting. The article doesn't mention if
tethering is allowed on any of these services.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2878298/10-alternative-carriers-that-can-save-you-serious-cash-on-your-smartphone-bill.html
Another clueless article from PC World.

When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a
lot of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the
Bay Area on Sprint or T-Mobile? Twice I've given presentations on
alternative carriers and both time when I ask which carrier people in
the audience are on, there have been _zero_ on Sprint or T-Mobile. It's
about 70/30 for Verizon/AT&T. Anyone in the Bay Area that has tried
Sprint or T-Mobile has quickly returned to AT&T or Verizon.

There are three important requirements for alternative carriers (and
regular carriers for that matter):

1. AT&T or Verizon network. Avoid Sprint and T-Mobile at all costs.
2. Off-network roaming, preferably including data roaming.
3. LTE support.

Actually number 2 has become a little less important as AT&T and Verizon
have bought out smaller carriers. But with AT&T, for example, without
roaming you have no coverage in a large part of Nebraska, and even a
small part of California.

On Consumer Cellular, which I have now, tethering is allowed. Full
roaming is included. Currently we're paying around $110 for four lines,
but that's with only 2.5GB of shared data so we are careful about data
usage (no streaming video). The big issue with data usage these days is
that many texts are being sent as MMS rather than SMS and data is
required for receiving MMS messages. It's stupid to send plain text
messages as MMS but some phones automatically do this for text messages
with multiple recipients.

If you can live without off-network roaming, AT&T's Cricket prepaid
service is a very good deal. They just upped the data on their smallest
plan to 2.5GB of LTE (throttled to 8Mb/s but still fast enough) then
unlimited data at low speed after that. No tethering allowed. Five lines
of service with 2.5GB each are $100, total ($40+30+20+10+0). One line is
$35 with auto-pay discount. If you can share a plan with five people
you're at $20 per line for 2.5GB of data on AT&T's network. I think AT&T
has declared war on Carlos Slim's company.
Steve Pope
2015-02-03 20:08:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a
lot of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the
Bay Area on Sprint or T-Mobile? Twice I've given presentations on
alternative carriers and both time when I ask which carrier people in
the audience are on, there have been _zero_ on Sprint or T-Mobile. It's
about 70/30 for Verizon/AT&T. Anyone in the Bay Area that has tried
Sprint or T-Mobile has quickly returned to AT&T or Verizon.
I've been on T-mobile for 5+ years. The first few on their $0.10/min
plan, then $30/month prepaid, then $50/month prepaid, and now
$60/month postpaid. I'm reasonably happy with them.

At any given time, T-mobile's product offerings have been more attractive
than AT&T's.


Perhaps T-mobile users are not going to "alternative carrier presentations"
because they are okay with T-mobile.


Steve
sms
2015-02-03 20:53:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Pope
Post by sms
When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a
lot of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the
Bay Area on Sprint or T-Mobile? Twice I've given presentations on
alternative carriers and both time when I ask which carrier people in
the audience are on, there have been _zero_ on Sprint or T-Mobile. It's
about 70/30 for Verizon/AT&T. Anyone in the Bay Area that has tried
Sprint or T-Mobile has quickly returned to AT&T or Verizon.
I've been on T-mobile for 5+ years. The first few on their $0.10/min
plan, then $30/month prepaid, then $50/month prepaid, and now
$60/month postpaid. I'm reasonably happy with them.
At any given time, T-mobile's product offerings have been more attractive
than AT&T's.
Perhaps T-mobile users are not going to "alternative carrier presentations"
because they are okay with T-mobile.
Well this was in my Toastmasters clubs so they weren't showing up for
any particular subject.

I can't imagine paying $60/month for 3GB of LTE data on T-Mobile when on
Cricket it's $35 for 2.5GB and you have far better coverage.
Peter Lawrence
2015-02-03 22:09:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Pope
Post by sms
When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a
lot of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the
Bay Area on Sprint or T-Mobile? Twice I've given presentations on
alternative carriers and both time when I ask which carrier people in
the audience are on, there have been _zero_ on Sprint or T-Mobile. It's
about 70/30 for Verizon/AT&T. Anyone in the Bay Area that has tried
Sprint or T-Mobile has quickly returned to AT&T or Verizon.
I've been on T-mobile for 5+ years. The first few on their $0.10/min
plan, then $30/month prepaid, then $50/month prepaid, and now
$60/month postpaid. I'm reasonably happy with them.
At any given time, T-mobile's product offerings have been more attractive
than AT&T's.
Perhaps T-mobile users are not going to "alternative carrier presentations"
because they are okay with T-mobile.
Well this was in my Toastmasters clubs so they weren't showing up for any
particular subject.
I can't imagine paying $60/month for 3GB of LTE data on T-Mobile when on
Cricket it's $35 for 2.5GB and you have far better coverage.
My brother now has two cell phones, his legacy one on Sprint (which he has
had for over 12 years) and a new one on T-Mobile for his newer Android
phone. He's on the WalMart plan on T-Mobile and an old grand-fathered
legacy plan on Sprint.

He finds coverage to be fine on both phones.

Myself, I have three smartphones, a Windows Phone on Verizon, a iPhone on
AT&T and an Android phone on Ting (Sprint). For phone calls, all are
serviceable and get the job done. For data -- depending on the area --
either Verizon or AT&T is better. Ting (Sprint) is noticeably worse in this
regards compared to AT&T and Verizon. Not so much in regards to coverage,
but to actually speed and responsiveness of their data network.


- Peter
Steve Pope
2015-02-06 20:41:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
Post by Steve Pope
I've been on T-mobile for 5+ years. The first few on their $0.10/min
plan, then $30/month prepaid, then $50/month prepaid, and now
$60/month postpaid. I'm reasonably happy with them.
I can't imagine paying $60/month for 3GB of LTE data on T-Mobile when on
Cricket it's $35 for 2.5GB and you have far better coverage.
Well there are several issues here. I will explain.

We are a two-person household and prefer GSM as we travel extensively.
For maximal domestic coverage, we want one phone on ATT and the second on
T-Mobile. (Yes, there are areas of the US where T-Mobile has better
coverage than AT&T, including isolated stretches of highway where
you definitely want one of your phones working.)

The solution in our case is to have one phone on Consumer Cellular
and the second on T-Mobile. T-Mobile roams internationally at low
cost (I notice Cricket only roams to Mexico). This is especially
useful for receiving business phone calls / texts while out
of the country (compared to switching sim's and phone numbers).

One could definitely use the $50, and maybe the $40 T-mobile plan
and still get the international roaming. (Not the $30 plan.)

Tangential question: my wife's Consumer Cellular phone behaves
as if they are blocking tethering. Any ideas on what's causing this?
(HTC Windows phone.)

Tangential observation: it seems a cheap way to go domestically
would be to get a dual-sim phone, one sim Cricket, the other
the cheapest pay-as-you-go T-Mobile sim for emergencies.

Steve
sms
2015-02-06 21:11:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Pope
Post by sms
Post by Steve Pope
I've been on T-mobile for 5+ years. The first few on their $0.10/min
plan, then $30/month prepaid, then $50/month prepaid, and now
$60/month postpaid. I'm reasonably happy with them.
I can't imagine paying $60/month for 3GB of LTE data on T-Mobile when on
Cricket it's $35 for 2.5GB and you have far better coverage.
Well there are several issues here. I will explain.
We are a two-person household and prefer GSM as we travel extensively.
For maximal domestic coverage, we want one phone on ATT and the second on
T-Mobile. (Yes, there are areas of the US where T-Mobile has better
coverage than AT&T, including isolated stretches of highway where
you definitely want one of your phones working.)
I have one T-Mobile line (on the old $10/year plan). I've NEVER found an
area where T-Mobile has service but Verizon and AT&T do not. But lots of
areas where T-Mobile has only 911 coverage.
Post by Steve Pope
The solution in our case is to have one phone on Consumer Cellular
and the second on T-Mobile. T-Mobile roams internationally at low
cost (I notice Cricket only roams to Mexico). This is especially
useful for receiving business phone calls / texts while out
of the country (compared to switching sim's and phone numbers).
That's the big plus of T-Mobile postpaid. Though data roaming is only 2G
apparently.
Post by Steve Pope
One could definitely use the $50, and maybe the $40 T-mobile plan
and still get the international roaming. (Not the $30 plan.)
Tangential question: my wife's Consumer Cellular phone behaves
as if they are blocking tethering. Any ideas on what's causing this?
(HTC Windows phone.)
I've tethered on my Moto G LTE no problem. I've never met anyone with a
Windows phone before.
Post by Steve Pope
Tangential observation: it seems a cheap way to go domestically
would be to get a dual-sim phone, one sim Cricket, the other
the cheapest pay-as-you-go T-Mobile sim for emergencies.
That would be TruPhone. Plus it roams at no extra charge (for voice and
data) on other GSM carriers. And it works worldwide. It's just no
bargain to use internationally. In the U.S. it can be very inexpensive.
Incoming calls are not charged. No minimum time for adding more money.
Steve Pope
2015-02-06 21:31:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
I've NEVER found an
area where T-Mobile has service but Verizon and AT&T do not.
I have no experience with Verizon, but areas with T-Mobile coverage
but no ATT coverage are common in northern New Mexico, and on
Hawaii if you are away from the bigger towns.

Often in these cases it appears T-Mobile roams to some obscure
local carrier that ATT hasn't set up roaming with.
Post by sms
That's the big plus of T-Mobile postpaid. Though data roaming is only
2G apparently.
Internationally I see no throttling and full HSDPA speeds. I suspect
they simply haven't implemented throttling. I used about 1.2 Gbyte
of data while spending three or so weeks in EU last year.

You may have to buy their "data pass" to get LTE speeds, but my
phone is not LTE.

Steve
Igor Sviridov
2015-02-09 20:33:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Pope
That's the big plus of T-Mobile postpaid. Though data roaming is only 2G apparently.
Internationally I see no throttling and full HSDPA speeds. I suspect
they simply haven't implemented throttling. I used about 1.2 Gbyte
of data while spending three or so weeks in EU last year.
I believe they do throttle in many locales.
I've seen HSDPA connections and appropriate latency (~50ms), but not bandwidth while traveling in Europe.
Bandwidth was limited to 120-150Kbps downstream and about half that upstream, which was just fine for my purposes.
This is actually enough for VOIP over low bandwidth codec ;-)

My friend reports similar experiences with T-Mobile in Asia.
Post by Steve Pope
Steve
--igor
sms
2015-02-10 19:09:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Igor Sviridov
Post by Steve Pope
That's the big plus of T-Mobile postpaid. Though data roaming is only 2G apparently.
Internationally I see no throttling and full HSDPA speeds. I suspect
they simply haven't implemented throttling. I used about 1.2 Gbyte
of data while spending three or so weeks in EU last year.
I believe they do throttle in many locales.
I've seen HSDPA connections and appropriate latency (~50ms), but not bandwidth while traveling in Europe.
Bandwidth was limited to 120-150Kbps downstream and about half that upstream, which was just fine for my purposes.
This is actually enough for VOIP over low bandwidth codec ;-)
My friend reports similar experiences with T-Mobile in Asia.
The T-Mobile web site states that international data is at 2G speeds.
Not HSDPA or HSDPA+ or W-CDMA or LTE.

"Will I get the same high-speed network experience now internationally,
as I do here at home in the U.S.?

No. Customers will have unlimited web speeds great for web browsing and
e-mail, social networking and occasional use of certain features like
GPS/maps. Some applications like streaming music or video will be more
difficult than when on T-Mobile’s domestic network. However,
higher-speed data passes will be available for purchase when you are
abroad:"

Bhairitu
2015-02-03 21:56:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
Post by Roy
The Wifi only phones look interesting. The article doesn't mention if
tethering is allowed on any of these services.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2878298/10-alternative-carriers-that-can-save-you-serious-cash-on-your-smartphone-bill.html
Another clueless article from PC World.
When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a
lot of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the
Bay Area on Sprint or T-Mobile? Twice I've given presentations on
alternative carriers and both time when I ask which carrier people in
the audience are on, there have been _zero_ on Sprint or T-Mobile. It's
about 70/30 for Verizon/AT&T. Anyone in the Bay Area that has tried
Sprint or T-Mobile has quickly returned to AT&T or Verizon.
There are three important requirements for alternative carriers (and
I have T-Mobile's $30 a month pre-pay. It has 5 GB of data and 100
minutes of talk. There are months without 1 call on the bill but I use
anywhere from 500-1 GB of data. I hear it has been discontinued for new
signups but it was hard to find on the T-Mobile site in the first place.
Walmart was the only other place you could find it and at the time
even though WM advertised it they didn't have the kit in their cellular
department. Two weeks later they did so I asked a clerk about it and
they didn't know anything about it so I marched them over to the display
and pointed it out. Surprise, surprise! But I already had T-Mobile set
up through their web site.

Reception is good enough for calls in this house but when I bored
through the wall to power a security camera I got some foil from the
insulation back. When I helped my father put in insulation in our house
in the 1960s I recall the insulation was foil lined rolls. It probably
blocks a lot of signal but step outside and I may get 3-4 bars. In fact
about 5 years ago T-Mobile wanted to put a tower right behind my house
but neighbors fought it.
Patti Beadles
2015-02-03 22:32:45 UTC
Permalink
Do you know _anyone_ in the Bay Area on Sprint or T-Mobile?
My phone is on the Sprint network. I have a Nexus 7 on Verizon, an
AT&T MIFI, and I have a T-Mobile SIM that I can throw into the tablet
if I need to. My coverage needs are fairly specialized, though.
(You don't want to know about the amp & antenna situation.)

I have been in areas recently that are Sprint-only, and I know of
one spot where Verizon drops out 100% of the time but Sprint stays
connnected.

Both Sprint and T-Mobile do a perfectly fine job of coverage if you
are within the greater bay area. It's when you get to outlying areas
that you have problems.

-Patti
--
Patti Beadles, Oakland, CA |
pattib~pattib.org | All religions are equally
http://www.pattib.org/ | ludicrous, and should be ridiculed
http://stopshootingauto.com | as often as possible. C. Bond
David Kaye
2015-02-03 22:57:03 UTC
Permalink
When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a lot
of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the Bay
Area on Sprint or T-Mobile?
Yes. I live on the edge of San Francisco where there aren't a lot of
businesses, and thus few cell sites. My housemates have tried lots of
carriers. I've stuck with Verizon. I get coverage; they don't. I can
literally be shaving in the bathroom, which is a room inside a bedroom, so
lots of walls, and I still get excellent coverage. I can usually tell when
people are on other carriers because they have to stand outside to make
calls.




---
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
http://www.avast.com
sms
2015-02-04 14:47:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Kaye
When you look at the MVNOs and prepaid services you need to consider a lot
of issues that they don't even mention. Do you know _anyone_ in the Bay
Area on Sprint or T-Mobile?
Yes. I live on the edge of San Francisco where there aren't a lot of
businesses, and thus few cell sites. My housemates have tried lots of
carriers. I've stuck with Verizon. I get coverage; they don't. I can
literally be shaving in the bathroom, which is a room inside a bedroom, so
lots of walls, and I still get excellent coverage. I can usually tell when
people are on other carriers because they have to stand outside to make
calls.
Yeah, well the people you know will put up with a lot then.

I know my sister-in-law that works at Sutter on Castro has only Verizon
coverage inside in her area, not even AT&T works there, and of course
Sprint and T-Mobile don't. She has to stay on Verizon.

The urban problem with Sprint and T-Mobile is that indoor coverage is
poor because of the frequency they use, and coverage in general is poor
because of the combination of 1900 MHz and fewer towers. Sprint's hope
is to deploy its new Spark band (880 MHz) but you need new phones for it
(it's really 800 MHz, not the 850 MHz that is often called 800 MHz), see
<http://newsroom.sprint.com/news-releases/sprints-all-new-network-brings-sprint-spark-and-hd-voice-to-philadelphia-and-baltimore.htm>.
Oddly, the Spark phones lose simultaneous voice and LTE data.

Most of the people I know like to travel outside urban areas so they
can't use Sprint or T-Mobile anyway. Sprint does roam onto Verizon and
other CDMA carriers in some non-Sprint areas, but there are issues with
that as well. T-Mobile is hopeless in California once you leave the
urban areas. The only exception is that in some northern areas the
roaming arrangement with the old Edge Wireless (acquired by AT&T)
remains in place. But usually there is no AT&T roaming from T-Mobile.

Any doubts about the relative coverage quality of carriers can be
dispelled by reading some of the independent tests and surveys,
especially the ones that go by area.

on Sprint and T-Mobile you save some money, but you lose coverage and
quality.
sms
2015-02-03 18:12:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roy
The Wifi only phones look interesting. The article doesn't mention if
tethering is allowed on any of these services.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2878298/10-alternative-carriers-that-can-save-you-serious-cash-on-your-smartphone-bill.html
They also didn't mention Page Plus, which is one of the few prepaid
options that uses Verizon's network and that offers LTE service, and
roaming for voice and SMS.

Page Plus has deteriorated since Carlos Slim bought them, but is still a
good deal. Parts of their web site now look like they were written in
Spanish and translated by Google Translate, i.e.
<https://www.pagepluscellular.com/plans/talk-n-text-1200/>.
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