You are correct, you won't be able to use that phone you linked with Ting, nor will your mother hers. Ting's operating on Sprint and Verizon's IMT-MC/CDMA2000 networks. What you have personally is a purely GSM/W-CDMA/UTMS world phone that requires SIM cards to work, as does your mother, though without global band support if I were to guess. I also noticed your handset is a dual-SIM model, so I'm guessing that's a feature you'll need/want. No matter what choice you make, get those phones carrier unlocked by AT&T before you leave them. This will let you take them to a T-Mo MVNO or resell them at a higher price if needed.
It seems that you'd prefer to have a "family" plan going, but if you don't mind me asking, what's the big deal about separate accounts? If you need/want to manage re-upping the account yourself for your mother so she doesn't have to do it, nothing's stopping you from doing so. Anyway, let's start with GSM reception.Some considerations on GSM networks and emergency service reception:
As for AT&T versus T-Mo GSM prepaid providers, if you have to choose the best coverage for your mother's part of the world, she'd get about split difference coverage out of T-Mo Prepaid 4G
(AT&T) depending on general wandering habits, though they don't have family plans. Keep in mind, so long as you're in range of any GSM tower
, even if you don't have service with the owner of that tower and the phone may be showing no reception on your
network, you can still dial 911 and have the call go through. This level of emergency coverage will be no different than any other plan with any other provider on the US GSM network: you will either have a GSM signal to dial 911 to or you won't. This same idea applies to CDMA phones and coverage, as well.If you want to go with Ting, be prepared to drop some serious cash:
Your mom isn't the problem here, as a $50 feature phone
off Ting's website will work for your mom to replace the phone she has. It also is the best fit for the money from a paranoid general coverage area as she would have both Sprint and Verizon's CDMA network coverage, and CDMA has far heavier penetration across the Midwestern sticks than GSM does... so she'd technically have even better coverage there than with AT&T postpaid currently, even though that coverage hasn't been an issue.
Ting has BYO(S)D support now, so theoretically
you could hunt down a Sprint CDMA/GSM quad band world phone that you could then bring over to Ting and then stick your SIM card into for usage in Honduras, but good luck finding a Sprint CDMA/GSM dual-SIM quad band world phone. It'll be hard enough finding a decent model of Sprint phone with those specs and the GSM 850/1900 bands unlocked
for just a single SIM card that isn't Blackberry, let alone runs Android. (Let me tell you, this is a steep
order - I really tried and I'm coming up pretty empty.) Your best and easiest bet on that front would be to just ask Ting if you could get a full GSM unlock on their Samsung Galaxy SIII
) and be prepared to cough up over 500 clams on it if they will.If you want a GSM family plan, Consumer Cellular is your only option:
That said, if you absolutely have to have "cheaper" GSM service in the US that also allows for "family" plans and general roaming on both major networks, look into Consumer Cellular
. They're basically the AT&T GSM equivalent of Ting, only far more expensive, and you have to directly monitor usage like a hawk and juggle plan switching to avoid their insane overage fees of 25¢ a minute if you don't want to grossly overspend for services. Expect $10 a handset per month plus whatever minutes/text packages you need/want to park onto that. (A sane breakdown of their service plan rates here
.) Most MVNO's don't really offer any true off-network roaming outside of Ting and Consumer Cellular, and for the money and overly paranoid blanket coverage desired, Ting's the winner for your mother even if it means a new handset for her and it's nearly a non-starter for you....Some alternate ideas and approaches that might add some flexibility:
Now, the number parking raises another wrinkle and certainly explains the desire for a family plan, but it might open up some alternatives with some creative thinking. Yes, you could always go with T-Mobile's plan the way you suggested, but if I may offer an alternate idea. Normally, I don't like suggesting using Google Voice as the service is mediocre at best, but porting your own phone number
over to them (or another VoIP provider that does cheap number parking like Future Nine
if you don't trust Google, though you'd lose SMS support) might be a reasonable solution. Then you can just pick back up whatever is the cheapest GSM service stateside with the best coverage in whatever area you land when you're back, and have Google Voice (or your VoIP provider) forward your calls to that new number. Stick the SIM into your fancy phone there and go. For calling out with the Google Voice setup using cellphone minutes, use Voice+
(or CallCentric's Click2Dial app
if you port to them) to ensure your caller ID stays consistent and people don't get confused.
During all your times abroad and to integrate the configuration better with your phone, you could use something like Talkatone
(I'm nervous recommending apps that store your Google account credentials on their servers
, but for a simplified interface that handles all texting and data calls, it might be the way to go), or alternately set up a CallCentric Free NY State incoming phone number
, configure your native Andorid SIP client to connect to their service and use Voice+ to initiate calls back home for the price of data, either WiFi or GSM, and use the official Google Voice client for SMS texting. I'm also hesitant to recommend data calls on cell phones, especially over a cellular network due to increased SAR values for data transmission (and doubly so with something off Chinavasion, though if the FCC certification is legit, the SAR shouldn't be higher than 1.6W/kg - which is still a bit high, IMHO), but that can be mitigated with a headset.
Although some of this is a rehash of some of the guide info, it still took a bit of work to scrape the proper info together in the right order and peck out as your situation is a bit of a challenge. However, I think it'll open up your options a bit more than you were expecting with some cost-effective choices that doesn't require all new equipment, and better put your mind at ease in regard to other issues. I don't normally ask this when I provide help, but if you (or anyone else) really appreciate the effort, there's a way to pay back the kindness on my website
. I enjoy doing it, but this stuff sometimes takes more time and effort than I care to admit to, folks.