Author Topic: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide  (Read 150456 times)

zoltani

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #100 on: May 31, 2012, 01:20:47 pm »
I recently switch from AT&T to Ting, and so far I am happy, but I am only about halfway into my first billing cycle.  So far I think it will be about $60-80/month cheaper than AT&T, and with Ting we have smartphones...

I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #101 on: May 31, 2012, 01:49:57 pm »
Given that I've gotten another private message on the process and related difficulties of Platinumtel Samsung Intercept rooting and after consolidating the previous advice sent in PMs on the subject this afternoon (and also did the boneheaded thing of not proof-reading as closely as I should and being distracted and screwing up some code IDs), I figured I'd just post it here. It's been a learning process for myself, but I've gotten it down to a sweet science mostly thanks to the work of others.

First, why did I root my Intercept? I'll go into greater detail later, but ultimately because it's a cheap hackers phone... this phone is usable stock configured with the current FB01 update, but most people hate it, and for good reason. In the hands of a skilled tech, the phone can sing. I've been working IT for nearly a decade and a half and one of my many hats is *nix sysadmin. I know what I'm doing, and I'm not afraid to be stupid. ROOTING YOUR ANDROID PHONE IS STUPID! If I could make that sentence blink as well, I would. Got that? Good. If you need or want a phone that doesn't require rooting to make it awesome and highly usable, spend the extra money on a better phone like the HTC Hero when it's in stock.

Also, my apologies in advance for spending the time posting this instead of the updates the guide so desperately needs. Anyway, here we go:

ROOTING YOUR SAMSUNG INTERCEPT TO MAKE IT SUCK LESS
Lessons and experiences tempered by the past month of living with the Pink Platinumtel Samsung Intercept

Normally, I don't like helping others root their devices at all, but I'll make a minor exception with this one post. Rooting the Intercept is actually one of the easier phones to root with the highest payback reward for success versus risks taken (which is great from a Mustachian standpoint), but you need to know a couple things and ask some questions going in.

First question: Why do you want to root the device, and do you already know the security risks involved with a rooted device?

Read this article before going any further. If you're doing it for the right reasons given what I know of the Intercept, fantastic, but I want to make sure you know as well because the stock FB01 update isn't that terrible... it's still got some bloatware and the vestigial remnants of CarrierIQ, but it isn't terrible, and it's better than having your phone be vulnerable to every fart in the wind and virus that comes knocking on your door. Clockword Mod Recovery (CM01) is a fantastic bootstrap replacement to have on your phone, but you don't need to leave your phone rooted to use it, or even necessarily need it rooted to install at all given the work done by spaztecho at SDX... heck, you don't even have to have it installed at all. It's not necessary to make it go.

Second question: What firmware version are you running?

The phones being shipped from P'tel should be running DL05, but there's been a firmware update from Sprint since this past March (FB01) that will change your approach as the GingerBreak exploit being used to root DL05 had been patched (which isn't a bad thing). Of the two methods, DL05 is far easier to root than FB01, but if you've already upgraded to FB01 before rooting, all is not lost.

Third question: Do you have your MSL code handy?

Before you do any of this, make sure you have the MSL code and voicemail number for your phone from P'tel handy (those were the numbers you had to enter to configure the phone number and voicemail number) as you will need to re-configure your voicemail settings afterward.

Finally, don't forget: You're doing this of your own free will. I will not take responsibility for or help you repair or unbrick your phone if you run into problems. I'll do my best to keep you on the straight and narrow in the rooting process, but things can and do go wrong, including turning your new $60 Intercept into a doorstop. Fortunately, doorstop mode is pretty difficult to achieve if you've succeeded in getting Clockwork Mod Recovery on the device and been sane enough to back up the stock firmware (both data and system), but this is why I don't normally recommend rooting to anyone but really savvy technical people who know su from their elbow.

Haven't scared you off from the task at hand? Alright, you've been warned. Let's begin!

Getting there from DL05
If you're running DL05 still, all you need to do is install the Intercept Root APK on your phone and run it and have it install CM01 (Clockwork Mod) after the root reboot: http://code.google.com/p/intercept-root/

From there, here's what you do:
  • Boot into CM01 (Clockword Mod) recovery either from the Intercept Root app or by holding the Vol-Down+Call+End buttons to turn the phone on.
  • Do a reset on the phone, wipe battery cache, make a stock backup image of the firmware, install T.J. Sanders FB01 Almost Stock followed immediately by JosephMother's CrappyKernel 1.5 (note, JM's Crappy Kernel is pre-rooted). (Official report on Smoke Kernel 1.2 after testing: really great performance, effin' kills the battery... like 8 hours in airplane mode kills. Definitely use CK. These two steps brings you current on Android FroYo build and gives you a kernel that outperforms stock in everything - speed, battery life, app management, etc.)
  • While in recovery mode, do permissions and file system fixes, and make recovery images of the new install for data and system.
  • Install ES File Explorer after rebooting into the phone (it'll take a while first boot, don't panic) and re-configuring voicemail using the MSL code configuration. Use ES to back up system apps and gut the Sprint bloatware and remove the following CarrierIQ files:
    /system/bin/iqmsd
    /system/lib/libiq_client.so
    /system/lib/libiq_service.so
  • Do a single 100% charge and battery drain until it powers itself off to set battery life range, then charge as normal.
That's all there is to it. It'll bring the firmware current, fully remove CarrierIQ, it's fast, battery life is excellent, relatively secure (at least as secure as a rooted phone can be). Customize to your heart's content from there, and don't be afraid to uninstall ES File Explorer after you're finished with it. It's useful for cleaning up and gutting, but in day to day usage, it's a bit too heavy in its memory footprint to use with this phone.

Minor note: why use T.J. Sanders FB01 Almost Stock at all in this process? Because the released FB01 stock firmware images that I have found don't work and I'm too busy/lazy to release myself. Honestly, you're better off updating to FB01 over upgrading from DL05, but rooting and installing CM01 is so much easier from DL05. With the exception of gutting Sprint bloatware, I always recommend running as close to stock as possible for the base firmware and system software.

Getting there from FB01
Getting root is a bit different with FB01 as the approach is a bit different, and you'll need access to a Windows machine to pull this off. You'll want to start here: http://forum.sdx-developers.com/index.php?topic=15586.msg194417#msg194417

You'll note that although spaztecho hasn't been able to autoroot FB01, he has released a Clockwork CM01 auto-installer script for Windows (there at the bottom, read the whole post). Once you've got CM01 recovery installed, you can boot into recovery mode (power on holding volume down + call + end call) and do a factory reset, cache clear, root install, and/or kernel/firmware flash from there.

From that point, here's what you do:
  • Boot into CM01 (Clockword Mod) recovery by holding the Vol-Down+Call+End buttons to turn the phone on.
  • Do a reset on the phone, wipe battery cache, make a stock backup image of the firmware, install either Superuser from ChainsDD or JosephMother's CrappyKernel 1.5. Superuser will give you root and proper SU support for the device, and I consider it more secure (as secure as the spectrum of what secure can be on a device that's running as root can be, anyway) than Crappy Kernel at the moment. Superuser is also easier to remove, making it far easier to UNroot the phone when you're finished needing root access - THIS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • While in recovery mode, do permissions and file system fixes, and make recovery images of the new install for data and system.
  • Install ES File Explorer after rebooting into the phone (it'll take a while first boot, don't panic) and re-configuring voicemail using the MSL code configuration. Use ES to back up system apps and gut the Sprint bloatware and rename or backup plus remove the following CarrierIQ files:
    /system/bin/iqmsd
    /system/lib/libiq_client.so
    /system/lib/libiq_service.so
  • Do a single 100% charge and battery drain until it powers itself off to set battery life range, then charge as normal.
You'll notice that the instructions are similar after the second step. GIGANTIC WORD OF WARNING, HOWEVER! Removing the CarrierIQ files shouldn't brick the phone with the stock FB01 kernel given it should be deactivated, but I have not personally tried doing it. It is entirely possible and even probable that you could boot loop your phone on reboot after removing these files! I know for a fact that you will if you did it with DL05 as the kernel is built with dependencies on those libs! I'd love confirmation on how safe it is to remove them without checking myself, but like everything else in this less than detailed guide, JUST DON'T DO IT, especially if you don't know how to restore those files from a command line! The presence of CarrierIQ binary libs are bad even if unused, but a $60 electronic doorstop is worse!

Is there anything else that should be done while rooted?

Maybe yes. Autostarts is a good thing to buy and run at least once, but just like everything else that relies on root, you can mess your phone up and boot loop or brick it if you don't know what you're disabling, but with cautious disabling of certain apps, you can help improve overall system performance and memory management.

Personally? The combo of CrappyKernel, Autostarts, and Zeam Launcher with Kik, Wunderground's weather app (we live in tornado alley), a mostly disabled Winamp, Dolphin Browser, K-9 Mail, Easy Battery Saver, Calls Blacklist, Note Everything, Unlock With WiFi, Google Voice, WiFi Widget, and WiFi on on AC Power has treated us well (no, we aren't currently running Sipdroid). Data usage is low, battery life ranges close to 60 hours on 3G (with Easy Battery Saver disabling 3G for 8 hours a day), 40 on WiFi, 72+ish on airplane mode, and used base memory hovers around 100MB out of the available 161MB, so it's responsive most of the time but can still choke with heavier apps. Since removing ChompSMS, I've also been nearly two weeks without restarting my phone yet. My wife's phone has run similarly.

Set your expectations low, don't expect those results with your phone.

Final notes and thoughts.

Why exactly did I root and I recommend considering rooting the Platinumtel Intercept specifically?

Because this is a phone that has the reputation of people loving to hate it. It's got a good hardware backbone to it, it should be a good phone, but between Sprint and Samsung's firmware, the experience is a bit... stunted and frustrating. Without rooting, I wouldn't have been able to disable software startup events, remove bloatware, replace certain software with leaner replacements, have greater control over the firewall and traffic blocking/shaping, etc. Normally, I recommend people not to do extreme modifications to their phones as it typically only makes things worse. For the Intercept, it's already near the bottom of the barrel, so there isn't much to lose. After all, we're talking about a $10 Android smartphone subtracting the airtime card. Stock firmware also has CarrierIQ spyware on it, and the kernel can't handle proper voice multiplexing for VoIP calls on Sipdroid (more on this in a moment). Fact is, my wife went from hating her Intercept to loving it after I finally rooted and modified the thing... but I'm also a bit of an old tech hand and had hammered out all the learning curve bugs with this device on my Intercept and all the consequent headaches therein before doing it for her.

Why do I both recommend and warn away from using JosephMother's CrappyKernel 1.5 on the Intercept?

The great thing about CrappyKernel is its performance, memory management, the VoIP sound fix, and battery management. Heck, I'd say the phone is almost like a completely different model running CrappyKernel. They're all great things to have, but it's a permanent root solution which frankly gives me the heebie jeebies running as even though I've secured the phone quite well otherwise and I know what the crap I'm doing with a rooted phone. I haven't sat down yet and properly looked into the process necessary to run JosephMother's beautiful kernel yet without his implementation of root, but it is on my short list. I'd like to gut his permanent root solution and replace it with Superuser eventually to do it right, but it takes time that I haven't had yet and just going in and deleting su from inside Clockwork isn't enough. If you don't need VoIP on this phone, I recommend just sticking with stock and taking your lumps with the slightly shorter battery life. It is technically a $10 Android smartphone after all, keep those expectations low.

Is there anything else that can be done to improve performance and life beyond rooting?

Yes! The biggest suggestion would be to replace the stock homescreen with Zeam Launcher. Keep running widgets on your screen to a minimum. Also, don't listen to my recommendation in the guide for using Juice Defender or Onavo Count, you don't need them. Easy Battery Saver is worth it for the battery life, though. Also, don't take me up on my suggestion of using ChompSMS. After a month, my family collectively gave up on it. There's memory leaks, long delays on delivery at times, etc. We've all settled on Kik instead, and Kik seems to be a more palatable option to the SMS junkies and is sufficiently lean on data that it's still a frugal text message solution. Also, keep installed apps to a minimum as well.

What about general phone security beyond just keeping track of it, keeping it off strange networks, and not just randomly downloading applications?

That leaves physical theft as the primary security topic outside of simply not listening to any of the advice on rooting your phone that I offer or take me as an authority on these subjects or do as I suggest without vetting my knowledge for yourself and understanding the risks associated with it.
  • Again, the most obvious suggestion is to not root your phone ever! Not temporarily. Definitely not permanently! Use security best practices and be cautious about what you install. Also look over application permissions and don't download free or knock-off games on Google Play as they're usually the infected ones. Having the Intercept Root app use GingerBreak can be a good thing, but having some knock-off of Angry Birds that utilizes GingerBreak to root your phone can be disastrous. And don't rely on those free (or even paid) antivirus solutions to keep you fully safe, they're mostly snake oil.
  • The next most obvious is not to use your phone to carry any truly sensitive information or use it for any sort of banking. I know a lot of people are pushing for that, but banking on a mobile phone is financial russian roulette. Like jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, just because your friends are doing it doesn't mean its a good idea.
  • Use aggressive locking for when out and about. This is why I suggest installing Unlock With WiFi so the aggressive security is only annoying when you're away from home. The number pin method is the fastest to unlock and adapts well to mental alphanumeric wordcodes for remembering (think Seinfeld: BOSCO!), IMHO. I'm not a fan of the touch pattern because it makes it potentially harder for your S.O./friend/etc. to unlock if they need to, YMMV.
  • CM01 recovery supports passwords: set one. This means that they can't just boot into recovery mode, wipe the phone and get past the password locks to start using it.
  • Install Contact Owner from Paranoid Android to set basic contact info on the lock screen. Offer an undisclosed "Good Samaritan reward" - it's a psychological gambit trying to immediately trigger a biblical "do the right thing" emotion on first view.
  • Place a similar message in the SD card's root directory with a file named IF-FOUND-README.TXT. You could also include emergency contacts and brief medical history in the file as well, if so desired.
  • Install and configure Android Lost from Theis Borg. Website here. Related review video here. The app is awesome. Tiny, doesn't chew up battery life, and gives you enterprise grade remote management of your phone. Remote wipe, photos, turn on GPS, intercept SMS messages, sound alarm, have it speak, the whole nine. It even has the option to hide itself from the app menu. Well reviewed and liked, but it also means your phone can now be spied on by anyone who has your Gmail credentials without you necessarily knowing it.
That should slow a thief down and overall make it worth their while to try not to snoop too hard and just return the thing (unless you're being specifically targeted). Most casual convenient phone thieves aren't smart enough to know how to get past most of that, and there's no value in a doorstop.

All that said, best of luck with your little pink phone that could, fellow Mustachians! Just remember, listen to your old pal Daley: Don't be stupid like he is.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 05:29:26 pm by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

atelierk

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #102 on: June 01, 2012, 06:16:59 pm »

Have you done any regular checks with Speedtest.net and Pingtest.net to confirm service quality? If you do have as many analog line troubles as you seem to be implying, I'm a wee bit hesitant about suggesting a VoIP transition as analog phone service is far more resilient to line noise than digital would be. Best suggestion would be to perhaps try out an Obi110 with Google Voice or take advantage of the 30 day trial with VOIPo before porting your number to see how it performs under average conditions (you can port it after you establish service). Perhaps look into internet service via the cable company, too, if they aren't on your crap list and they actually exist as an alternative in your region.

Okay, I've done multiple checks over the last couple of days on both Speedtest and Pingtest. Most of the time, I'm getting the download speed I'm paying for - usually around 1.5 Mbps. Checks on Pingtest however, having me thinking I could do lots better with another ISP. Mostly Pingtest gives my connection a 'D' - occasionally an 'A' or 'B' (usually before 8 AM) but otherwise Verizon DSL is getting a good solid 'D'.

You mentioned the cable company, which here is Time Warner. I'm not in love with them, but I'm not in love with a $160 monthly Verizon bill either, so I could live with a change-over, especially since it looks like it will save me money. My biggest beef with TWC is that they raise their rates like clockwork at the beginning of each year, which suggests to me they simply want more money, not that their cost of doing business have necessarily increased. When I cut my cable TV to their bare bones package, it was $13/ month. It's increased $1 or so each year so that now, it's $18.25/month.

That said, Time Warner has a basic plan (up to 3Mbps) for $20/month, and their standard plan (10 Mbps) is $30. I would need a cable modem which they lease for $2.50/month but since I'm wary of open-ended subscriptions like that I did a quick check of prices of one of TWC's "approved" modems on Amazon, and found they start at $50. One that would be compatible with their top high speed plans ("DOC SIS 3.0") is $90. However, I want to go wireless, and an TWC "approved" cable modem with wireless router is $128. Still, it would pay for itself in a bit over 48 months and since I would hope that this would be a permanent solution, I think it would be the better choice (assuming modems are reliable for more than 4 years).

If I switched from Verizon to TWC for my internet connection (probably the 10 Mbps so I could cancel my cable TV and stream movies from Netflix), then I could switch my phone service to something like VOIPo since I would then have good internet.

TWC also has phone but it would cost about $24/month - much cheaper than I'm paying now, but still 3 or 4 times more than VOIPo.

So:
10 Mbps cable internet with TWC for $30 (almost 7 times faster for $5 less/month)
VOIPo for phone (saving $45/month)
Cancel cable TV completely (saving $18/month)
Keep existing cell phone with Verizon ($36/month for 1/2 of bill; saving $0)
Total savings: $68/month

One question would be if I really need the 10Mbps service. Would "up to" 3 suffice for streaming movies and shows?

Have I missed anything here? Thoughts?

« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 05:17:01 am by atelierk »
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I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #103 on: June 01, 2012, 07:19:59 pm »
(a whole bunch of stuff)

One question would be if I really need the 10Mbps service. Would "up to" 3 suffice for streaming movies and shows?

Have I missed anything here? Thoughts?

Yeah, a few thoughts actually:

1) There's clearly line noise issues with Verizon's DSL service in your area given the Pingtest results, and this will wreak havoc on the reliability of your IP (VoIP) telephony.

2) You don't necessarily need DOCSIS 3.0. There's technical reasons that you might want to err on the side of caution with it for better future IPv6 support, but overall with the right modem, that's not an issue IMHO. This was actually discussed at length at the beginning of this thread by Somnambulist and myself as well as in the guide itself regarding modems and routers.

3) You don't need a modem with a built in WiFi router, in fact, I'd advise against it. Thoughts why are in this post of the guide. This way, you're just technically dealing with the modem cost, which with a Motorola SB5101U would break you even at about 20 months of rental, and you could use something like the Asus RT-N12 with it, or back with Verizon, or with any other broadband provider's modem you may have in the future. The router becomes a personal network infrastructure investment versus an ISP investment.

4) As for going with TWC directly, look into what options might be offered through Earthlink as well. No arguing for smaller packages, no arguing over cable TV service, no arguments about bundling services, it's just internet over the exact same bleeding wire.

5) Finally, as for the speed? I should probably correct you briefly, you appear to be mentioning download speeds, not upload speeds. Upload speeds are the speeds you get for loading things from your computer onto a remote server, not the speeds from the server to your system. For most people, download speeds are the more important of the two. Most people can easily get by on 3Mbps down. I'm able to do remote desktop support, server administration and web development along with streaming video and phone service on 3Mbps... uploads can be painful on larger projects for me, but it's definitely doable. Other people have successfully run at that speed or slower. Don't pay for the extra bandwidth unless you can soundly justify it or the price difference between service tiers is trivial.

So:
10 Mbps cable internet with TWC for $30 (almost 7 times faster for $5 less/month)
VOIPo for phone (saving $45/month)
Cancel cable TV completely (saving $18/month)
Keep existing cell phone with Verizon ($36/month for 1/2 of bill; saving $0)
Total savings: $68/month

If you go with the 10Mbps service (I can't imagine you being able to save much more than $5 a month for a lower tier with them or Earthlink which is borderline trivial for not so insignificant speed/bandwidth cap differences - not that you shouldn't check anyway), then yes, that seems to be the size of it.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

atelierk

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #104 on: June 02, 2012, 05:13:41 am »

2) You don't necessarily need DOCSIS 3.0. There's technical reasons that you might want to err on the side of caution with it for better future IPv6 support, but overall with the right modem, that's not an issue IMHO. This was actually discussed at length at the beginning of this thread by Somnambulist and myself as well as in the guide itself regarding modems and routers.

Thanks. I will go back and reread.

Quote
3) You don't need a modem with a built in WiFi router, in fact, I'd advise against it. Thoughts why are in this post of the guide. This way, you're just technically dealing with the modem cost, which with a Motorola SB5101U would break you even at about 20 months of rental, and you could use something like the Asus RT-N12 with it, or back with Verizon, or with any other broadband provider's modem you may have in the future. The router becomes a personal network infrastructure investment versus an ISP investment.

So I can use my current "Wireless DSL Gateway" along with the cable modem? Probably getting ahead of myself here, but if I can, then I'm guessing the cable modem gets connected to the wireless gateway with an ethernet cable instead of ethernet directly from the cable modem to the computer?

Quote
4) As for going with TWC directly, look into what options might be offered through Earthlink as well. No arguing for smaller packages, no arguing over cable TV service, no arguments about bundling services, it's just internet over the exact same bleeding wire.

Just checked. Earthlink's only offered plan in my area seems to be the 15 Mbps plan for $40/month, jumping to $52/month after 6 months. Didn't want to go that high, so I guess I will have to argue with TWC. :-(

Quote
5) Finally, as for the speed? I should probably correct you briefly, you appear to be mentioning download speeds, not upload speeds. Upload speeds are the speeds you get for loading things from your computer onto a remote server, not the speeds from the server to your system. For most people, download speeds are the more important of the two.

You're right. Download speeds. I will go back and fix it.

Quote
Most people can easily get by on 3Mbps down. I'm able to do remote desktop support, server administration and web development along with streaming video and phone service on 3Mbps... uploads can be painful on larger projects for me, but it's definitely doable. Other people have successfully run at that speed or slower. Don't pay for the extra bandwidth unless you can soundly justify it or the price difference between service tiers is trivial.

Now that I think of it, I have watched movies streamed from Amazon on my existing gimpy Verizon DSL with no problems that I recall. So it sounds like 3 Mbps would be the place to start. Besides, I'm sure TWC would be happy to upgrade me at any time.

Thanks again!
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #105 on: June 02, 2012, 10:00:47 am »
New guy here. First of all, props to MMM for the site and forum.

Second, while alot of people seem to be saving big bucks in this thread, I think alot are doing it in the wrong way. It looks like several on here have switched to a lower tier plan to save money, which unless you are in a contract isn't the best way to do it. You need to threaten to cancel (and be prepared to do so if they call your bluff). Let me give you a personal example:

I have my internet through clear. They have a 1.5mbps plan at $34.99/mo and an unlimited plan (up to 6mbps) for 49.99/mo. The 1.5mbps doesn't cut it for me (hold your laughter, please), but the unlimited is out of line for high speed pricing. Queue phone call...

CSR: Hi thanks for calling clear, blah blah blah....
Me: Not happy with service, costs too much, would like to cancel.
CSR: Blah blah blah, we can switch you to the $34.99 plan to save you some money.
Me: No that wont work, too much for too little, tranfer me to cancellations.

Cancellations CSR: Blah blah blah, why aren't you happy with us?
Me: (restate above reasons)
Cancellations CSR: Blah blah blah, several reasons why their service is a good deal.
Me: Reiterate that the service isn't the issue, but the price.
Cancellations CSR: Blah blah blah....
Cancellations CSR: Well, before we cancel you plan, there is one thing we could do (offers unlimited plan for $24.99/mo).
Me: Yes, I think that will work.

All in all about a 15 minute phone call. I get a nice discount and the cancellations agent gets one 'saved' account on their record. A win-win for both.


Really, in just about any semi-major area, there should be a competitor with a nice intro offer that you can pitch against your existing provider. And this isn't just for internet companies either. Lots of them will give you some sort of discount, either a lower rate or some term of free service if you are ready to cancel. There is no need to be dishonest. Tell them you need to cut your bills down and cant afford their service or that there is a better deal around or whatever reason you have. You'd be surprised how well this works.

Fully agree.  Usually you'll get big discounts by following the advice  above.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #106 on: June 02, 2012, 10:30:01 am »

One question would be if I really need the 10Mbps service. Would "up to" 3 suffice for streaming movies and shows?

Have I missed anything here? Thoughts?

The 3Mbps service will definitely work for streaming video, but 10Mbps will get you full quality on Netflix HD while allowing you to do other things on the connection at the same time. Also, buy the cable modem and a seperate wireless router. That way if you ever switch back to DSL or go to FIOS you will still have a wireless router to use. It should also be cheaper.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #107 on: June 05, 2012, 09:58:46 am »
As I was researching VoipO further, to see if I wanted to switch from Vonage, I found out that the fantastic offer of $129 ($165 when you add taxes & fees) for 24 months of service is only promotional!!!  After that initial 24 months, it's $149/year ($175 w/ taxes & fees), which basically brings it to what I pay now monthly for Vonage. 

I'm trying to decide if it's worth the hassle to switch to VoipO for 2 years to get the savings, then back to vonage.  At the same time I'll research other options.  If the $129/24 months was ongoing, then I'd say "HELLZ YEAH!", but since it's only introductory, I think I might want to look elsewhere.

Just a heads up to anyone else who might not have seen that in the fine print.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #108 on: June 05, 2012, 05:24:54 pm »
As I was researching VoipO further, to see if I wanted to switch from Vonage, I found out that the fantastic offer of $129 ($165 when you add taxes & fees) for 24 months of service is only promotional!!!  After that initial 24 months, it's $149/year ($175 w/ taxes & fees), which basically brings it to what I pay now monthly for Vonage. 

I'm trying to decide if it's worth the hassle to switch to VoipO for 2 years to get the savings, then back to vonage.  At the same time I'll research other options.  If the $129/24 months was ongoing, then I'd say "HELLZ YEAH!", but since it's only introductory, I think I might want to look elsewhere.

Just a heads up to anyone else who might not have seen that in the fine print.

From what I understand of the service, you can actually re-up and buy additional service time during one of their frequent promotions at whatever advertised rate is available before the end of your contract. That higher rate is only billed if you don't do anything and go into auto-billing at the end of the initial service period. This was actually one of the things that initially impressed me about VOIPo.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #109 on: June 06, 2012, 10:57:51 am »
Well, if that's true, then it's a good thing.  I read the auto-renewal price in the fine print portion of the site, and confirmed it by chatting with customer service....and unfortunately they didn't mention the possibility of re-upping at a promotional rate....but I didn't ask them that direct question.

I'm actually going to try going in a direction similar to MagicJack, but NOT MagicJack....I'm going with NetTalk.  http://www.nettalk.com/

I've purchased the adapter from Amazon.com for $49.95, and it includes a year of service with purchase.  After that, service is just $29.95/YEAR for unlimited local and long distance!!
http://www.amazon.com/Nettalk-Duo-VOIP-Telephone-Service/dp/B0045S2JE8/ref=sr_1_1?m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1339001628&sr=1-1

Since I've been using Vonage over my FiOS connection for awhile now, and it's been quite clear and good, I'm fairly confident that this will work well for us.  And even better than MagicJack, you don't need a computer!!  It's just a little adapter that sits between your ISP router and phone, a lot like all the other VOIP services out there.  NetTalk also offers free number porting, unlike MagicJack.

I should have it in about a week.  Once I have it up and running, I'll report back with my findings.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #110 on: June 06, 2012, 06:12:29 pm »
Ok I feel stupid...Let's say I use one of the BYOD plans for my cell - how exactly does it work with my Sprint EVO 4G specifically? Do I get a new number? Am I replacing a SIM card? What exactly am I doing?

Sorry for the dumb questions!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #111 on: June 07, 2012, 01:24:09 am »
Ladymaier, I'm actually familiar enough with NetTalk to know some of its hard limitations. The same things that make MagicJack almost insufferable are present with NetTalk as well. In an effort to save on bandwidth, their VoIP implementation isn't full duplex and their compression is aggressive (this on top of banking on people not maxing out their talk minutes). The effect is similar to using Google Voice and a cellphone in a bad reception area at the same time. There will be time delays and talking over of one another. Sometimes it's usable, sometimes it's insufferable. There's also known issues with a pile of routers because of this. If you're cool with that, go for it. I know a lot of people who love MagicJack despite my considering it terrible, so YMMV. Best to set expectations, though.

It's time I backed up my reasoning for avoiding the el-cheapos. Just for giggles, let's crunch some numbers: figure about $1 a month for e911 regulatory fees, $2 a month on average for most DIDs (phone numbers), about $1 per gigabyte of data for average going rates with rackspace as reasonable consumer billed rates with razor thin margins to handle support, hardware failures and rackspace overhead and still turn a modest profit. We're already at $4.50 a month for 3000 minutes (which is what NetTalk caps at) at 30MB/hour (1.5GB), which is the lowest bitrate I'd be willing to go on the best voice compression to keep DTMF working and the call relatively clear. (You'll note interestingly enough, that these numbers could peg true for cell phone service as well and might explain the ballpark minimum pay-as-you-go rate of $3.33/month with Platinumtel - $3 for DID and 911, $0.03 for the data to run an hour of calls.)

What I've found in my research over the years is that although you can get it cheaper, there seems to be a cost floor with reasonable quality VoIP service of around $5 a month (not factoring e911 fees, or around $7.50 with) for "unlimited" or high use plans, and you can see why when you run the numbers. Free is one thing, which is why I'll tolerate Google Voice on occasion, but shoddy service with any price tag is too much. It's why I don't suggest Ooma or MagicJack, either. Quality diminishes rapidly with lower costs, because when you gut customer service and force cheap device lock-in yet provide e911 and have to cough up FCC taxes and fees, the only place left to cut corners and still make a profit is bandwidth, and digital telephony lives and dies by bandwidth. So ask yourself where the money is coming from for these cut-rate outfits to be able to offer $20-30 a year service, pay your necessary regulatory fees and taxes and DID lease, and still manage huge profits.

If you found the outgoing minutes of Vonage 300 manageable, maybe consider Future Nine's Bare Essentials package. 250 outgoing minutes, 2000 incoming minutes for $6.25 a month paid in yearly chunks and a penny a minute for overages. E911 is only an extra buck a month on top of that if you want it. You'll have to purchase and configure your own ATA and the service options aren't as numerous or polished, but Nitzan runs a tight ship. I also recently discovered that CallCentric also has added on a 500 minute package for $6.95 a month plus tax. So, there are still options to significantly cut costs without sacrificing quality and worrying about not being able to keep renewing at lower promo prices as you seem to be concerned about with VOIPo.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 01:37:05 am by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #112 on: June 07, 2012, 01:24:36 am »
Ok I feel stupid...Let's say I use one of the BYOD plans for my cell - how exactly does it work with my Sprint EVO 4G specifically? Do I get a new number? Am I replacing a SIM card? What exactly am I doing?

Sorry for the dumb questions!

Your Sprint EVO is a CDMA phone, which means there's no SIM card to swap for phone service. Short of ESN spoofing (which is heavily frowned upon), you're stuck with a Sprint MVNO that will actually support porting in the device, which makes BYOD very limited in your situation. Even with an ESN spoof, you're then mostly limited to PagePlus, Cricket and Ting outside of the Sprint MVNOs, and if you're asking these sorts of questions, I would highly recommend against trying to do anything heavily technical with your phone. If it's out of contract with a clean ESN, Virgin Mobile or Boost might be able to take it in, but your package selections aren't going to save much money. You could also check with Germain over at ACRS to see if it's a phone model he can port over to Platinumtel, but I'm not holding my breath personally. Sprint and Verizon both don't appear to be too antsy to support 4G devices on their MVNO networks.

Your best bet might be to buy a new phone through whichever provider you choose and sell the EVO if Virgin or P'tel won't take it in.

As for your current phone number, you can actually port it over to whichever provider you choose.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #113 on: June 07, 2012, 07:04:06 am »
Virgin Mobile (sprint MVNO) is now offering an HTC Evo 4G with some good monthly plan rates.
Unlimited texting always, and "unlimited" 4G data (capped at 2.5GB, or 3.5GB if you buy the hotspot option).  300 mins is $35, 1200 mins is $45, unlimited mins is $55.  Add $15 if you want the wifi hotspot option.
The phone is $299 and there is no contract.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #114 on: June 07, 2012, 08:34:28 am »
That's potentially good news then for our friend here, Frugalman. If Virgin's carrying the EVO, then they may also support a port of an out of contract Sprint EVO. That's what I get for not checking their website.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #115 on: June 08, 2012, 03:55:12 am »
Just went to the Virgin Mobile website to relook at the HTC Evo 4G, and, lo and behold!

Their banner ad says iPhone 4s coming soon!  Wow!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #116 on: June 08, 2012, 08:35:47 am »
Just went to the Virgin Mobile website to relook at the HTC Evo 4G, and, lo and behold!

Their banner ad says iPhone 4s coming soon!  Wow!

Yeah, that I did know about. Them and Cricket. Half a grand buy-in, SUCH A BARGAIN! *twirls finger*

I'm just gonna leave this here.

>.>
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #117 on: June 09, 2012, 09:59:51 pm »
I.P. & frugalman,

Thanks for your help - Virgin Mobile would constitute a 50% reduction in my cell phone bill. While this isn't the barebones cost that I.P. has demonstrated with his awesome setup, it could be a nice compromise for me and maybe a stepping stone to an even cheaper solution down the line. I will absolutely not hit the 2.5GB limit and I might even be able to get myself down to 300 minutes/month if I become more prolific with skype.

I'm looking forward to saving $20-30/month!

Quick question:
I couldn't find a definitive answer to this with some Google searches or tooling around the Virgin Mobile website - do you get charged minutes on inbound calls? It looks like the answer is yes, but I'm trying to confirm.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #118 on: June 10, 2012, 09:40:51 am »
Quick question:
I couldn't find a definitive answer to this with some Google searches or tooling around the Virgin Mobile website - do you get charged minutes on inbound calls? It looks like the answer is yes, but I'm trying to confirm.

Yes. With any pay as you go outfit (or really any carrier now with quoted minute plans, unless they state otherwise) the minutes mentioned are a combined total for both incoming and outgoing.

As for your mention of using Skype, I'm not a great believer in using Skype on mobile data plans or non-WinMo phones. I've noticed that Skype frequently performs worse on a mobile data connection than most other VoIP codecs/services, but YMMV. Also something to consider is that since Microsoft bought out Skype last year, its fate on non-Microsoft platforms has also become a bit tenuous long term. I don't say this with certainty, just with experience with other multi-platform products they've bought over the years (Bungie and Halo being the most famous, but Skype for Linux development has ground to a halt) and their general lack of concern for non-Windows development. That might be changing, though... too early to tell, and corporate culture is hard to change. There's also the per-minute cost unless you're shelling out $2.99/month for unlimited North American calling (which the break-even point is at 130 minutes of usage).

Something worth looking into might be outbound data calls using Sipdroid with Google Voice, completely free and about on par with the quality of Skype calling. Alternately, if you're considering home phone service with a VoIP provider, just use that account with Sipdroid instead. Then you aren't double-paying for IP telephony services, and you can get a proper dedicated callback number that people will recognize as you instead of one of the random pool of Skype caller ID numbers. Just a couple things to consider.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #119 on: June 11, 2012, 09:34:46 am »
I think Nice might be referring to an android app like Google Voice for when he is in a wifi hotspot, such as at home,  which would allow him to make free calls using his Google Voice number to stay under his 300 minute monthly limit. I do this with my old android to place calls when my wife is on our home phone for what seems like an endless amount of time.  Free!

Great cartoon, I.P. The slickest phones and their $130/month everything plans can cost you $3,500 over the life of their 2 year contract.  And then, maybe you will reup and get the latest phone for another 2 year contract.  What a game.  Since I still owe money on my mortgage, I am officially in a "financial emergency" according to MMM, so I shouldn't be wasting money on the cool phones.  I am really enjoying my $3.33/mo PlatinumTel dumb phone.  People that need to call me can get me at my office or home.  I only call OUT, briefly, on my PlatinumTel phone, thus stay under the 67 minutes a month limit before I have to pay more than $3.33.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #120 on: June 11, 2012, 12:11:40 pm »
I got the Intercept with PTel a few days ago, and I'm looking into the google voice/wifi route on it. I don't need it for myself (I'd use less than half the 3.33/mo. if it were a dumb phone) but if my wife were to go this route her 700+ minutes and 200+ texts per month would benefit greatly. (Also, her primary motivation for switching is that we get really lousy reception in our current apartment, so wifi VOIP would be a big improvement.)

So far outbound calls seem to work great, but to get inbound calls on the wifi requires that the phone have wifi on all the time - and that drains the battery in less than 24 hours. I need to look into my wife's usage in more detail to see how much is inbound/outbound now.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #121 on: June 11, 2012, 12:47:12 pm »
I got the Intercept with PTel a few days ago, and I'm looking into the google voice/wifi route on it. I don't need it for myself (I'd use less than half the 3.33/mo. if it were a dumb phone) but if my wife were to go this route her 700+ minutes and 200+ texts per month would benefit greatly. (Also, her primary motivation for switching is that we get really lousy reception in our current apartment, so wifi VOIP would be a big improvement.)

So far outbound calls seem to work great, but to get inbound calls on the wifi requires that the phone have wifi on all the time - and that drains the battery in less than 24 hours. I need to look into my wife's usage in more detail to see how much is inbound/outbound now.

I won't recommend to you that you root the device, but I will recommend you at least look over some of the changes and choices I've made with our Intercepts that have helped improve battery life. First post on the topic, and the follow-up.

The biggest changes without rooting will likely be Easy Battery Saver and Zeam Launcher, but don't expect miracles. Crappy Kernel unfortunately seems to be the secret sauce on major battery life improvement, but you know how I feel about recommending rooting.

That said, though... if you're just going to be using a Google Voice/WiFi/VoIP solution for home calls, why not just go all in and buy an OBi110 or some other dedicated VoIP ATA and just have a "home line" again? She can still text on the Intercept using Google Voice and the WiFi connection, still has a cell phone for out and about, and still gets the benefit of cheap calls at home with phones designed to be actual phones instead of a cheap computer designed to do everything in great mediocrity. Yes, it's spending more money, but it's a right tool for the job sort of thing. Why use your smart phone for a WiFi VoIP handset unless you absolutely have to? It's a terrible form factor for it's primary function that usually requires a headset to make it sufferable for any lengthy calls and still gets below average battery life for talk time when compared to standard POTS wireless handsets.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 12:49:33 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #122 on: June 11, 2012, 02:55:00 pm »
I won't recommend to you that you root the device, but I will recommend you at least look over some of the changes and choices I've made with our Intercepts that have helped improve battery life. First post on the topic, and the follow-up.

The biggest changes without rooting will likely be Easy Battery Saver and Zeam Launcher, but don't expect miracles. Crappy Kernel unfortunately seems to be the secret sauce on major battery life improvement, but you know how I feel about recommending rooting.

That said, though... if you're just going to be using a Google Voice/WiFi/VoIP solution for home calls, why not just go all in and buy an OBi110 or some other dedicated VoIP ATA and just have a "home line" again? She can still text on the Intercept using Google Voice and the WiFi connection, still has a cell phone for out and about, and still gets the benefit of cheap calls at home with phones designed to be actual phones instead of a cheap computer designed to do everything in great mediocrity. Yes, it's spending more money, but it's a right tool for the job sort of thing. Why use your smart phone for a WiFi VoIP handset unless you absolutely have to? It's a terrible form factor for it's primary function that usually requires a headset to make it sufferable for any lengthy calls and still gets below average battery life for talk time when compared to standard POTS wireless handsets.

I'm enough of a hacker that I'll probably try rooting eventually despite your warnings , but most likely not until the initial $50/6 months has about run out to minimize the potential loss. I've already looked into your other posts and followed most of the suggestions - the battery life is only an issue when trying to use it for incoming VOIP/wifi, which isn't a required scenario for me.

I'll have to look into the dedicated VOIP handset - even though it's higher hardware costs, if the monthly cost is nil-to-low and it lets my wife switch to a ptel cell then it will be a big net win.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #123 on: June 11, 2012, 03:11:54 pm »
So I can use my current "Wireless DSL Gateway" along with the cable modem? Probably getting ahead of myself here, but if I can, then I'm guessing the cable modem gets connected to the wireless gateway with an ethernet cable instead of ethernet directly from the cable modem to the computer?

Atelierk, sorry for missing this one last week. Saturday/weekend posts sometimes slip through the cracks for me.

If you're talking about a full fledged DSL modem/wireless gateway all in one device, most likely not. There's been a couple models over the years that allow usage as just a router and provide an Ethernet WAN port, but there's no telling for sure without you checking.

If there's a dedicated WAN port, you can use it. If there isn't, you're buying a dedicated router. It's always best to never combine the router and the modem when you buy these things, then you're stuck with a doorstop that fails at everything if one thing breaks.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #124 on: June 11, 2012, 03:26:13 pm »
I'll have to look into the dedicated VOIP handset - even though it's higher hardware costs, if the monthly cost is nil-to-low and it lets my wife switch to a ptel cell then it will be a big net win.

Personally, I think it's not just worth it to buy an ATA, but to actually pay for a decent VoIP provider and have "home phone service" again. Several folks here have gone the Google Voice route for making calls at home, but I've already been there, done that, and got the t-shirt... I prefer spending the extra money to get good service. Anyway, we wouldn't be able to survive on P'tel and have our total phone service costs so low if we hadn't brought the home line back to life. If any time is spent on the phone at all every month, it's well worth splashing out for a competitively priced VoIP provider. The money spent is well returned in savings on your cell phone minutes.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #125 on: June 12, 2012, 09:33:23 am »
Ladymaier, I'm actually familiar enough with NetTalk to know some of its hard limitations. Sometimes it's usable, sometimes it's insufferable. There's also known issues with a pile of routers because of this. If you're cool with that, go for it. I know a lot of people who love MagicJack despite my considering it terrible, so YMMV. Best to set expectations, though.


I.P.  - All good to know.

We use are home phone in about as bare bones a way as possible.  We really only have it because 1) our house is a 3 story townhouse, and we don't keep our cell phones on our bodies, so being able to answer a call (or even know we've received one) from anywhere is good, and 2) because we have small kids who can easily learn to work a regular cordless phone in case of an emergency.  Truly, this is the only reason we haven't cut off the hard line altogether.  We're not big talkers, so we can handle small amounts of minutes.

I'm happy to see that my router isn't on the "bad" list.  I'm also sort of banking on the fact that the Vonage version of VOIP worked well for us, and my hope is NetTalk is reasonably good as well, even though I do realize they are different carriers.  For now it's a bold experiment.  I just got the adapter and I will test it tonight.  If it's good, I'll port over my number, and if it's bad I'll return it to Amazon.  I will report back with my findings.

The reviews on it were about 50/50.  Some people I guess either have internet that isn't fast enough or live in a location with problems.  Some were even complaining about having to switch to 10-digit dialing, something we're used to.  All in all, I thought it was worth a shot to save a few $$.  If it doesn't work out, I'll look into Future9 and some of the other low-cost providers you mentioned.

 Thanks as always for the insight.  You are a wealth of information.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #126 on: June 14, 2012, 09:52:25 pm »
Found this article crop up on my news feeds today from Ars Technica:
http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/06/prepaid-mobile-phone-users-in-america-hit-record-high/

Thought it an interesting read, never thought myself to be a trendsetter. Heh.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #127 on: June 15, 2012, 11:54:24 am »
"As I was researching VoipO further, to see if I wanted to switch from Vonage, I found out that the fantastic offer of $129 ($165 when you add taxes & fees) for 24 months of service is only promotional!!!  After that initial 24 months, it's $149/year ($175 w/ taxes & fees), which basically brings it to what I pay now monthly for Vonage."

 VOIPo Services
Service Type   Phone Number   Billing Cycle   Next Renewal   Standard Rate*
Residential Service              Biennially           2014-06-15   $165.00

I just signed up for 2 years with VOIPo, and it's $129 + $36 or $165, every two years, and that's the deal. So there's no increase from $129 to $149 after two years.  All in cost is $165 / 24 or $6.88 per month, including e911 service.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #128 on: June 15, 2012, 12:27:11 pm »
I just signed up for 2 years with VOIPo, and it's $129 + $36 or $165, every two years, and that's the deal. So there's no increase from $129 to $149 after two years.  All in cost is $165 / 24 or $6.88 per month, including e911 service.

So I was correct in my understanding. Woot!

Also, you finally gave up on Google Voice, eh? (Forgive my lack of surprise if you did.)
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #129 on: June 16, 2012, 06:33:44 am »
Yes I gave up on Google Voice, mentioned that in a prior reply here.  Sometimes great voice quality, sometimes big delay, words missing, dropped calls etc.  We use our home phone enough that it was not tolerable.  So I switched back to Phone Power box, which costs $11.33/mo all in, but it is coming off the two year contract at the end of this month, so I decided to save money and switch to VOIPo at $6.88/mo all in.

Total communications costs now (voice, TV and internet):
Charter 3MBS internet $24.99
VOIPo home phone $6.88
Virgin Mobile 300 min wife's android phone $26.72
PlatinumTel dumb flip phone $3.33
Total is $61.92 a month.


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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #130 on: June 16, 2012, 02:42:00 pm »
Those of you using a paid home VOIP, do they offer the "one number for all phones" kind of thing that google voice does? Ie if I signed up for VOIPo, could I arrange it so that a single number rings both the home phone and my cell?

I would assume that it could be done by using both VOIPo and google voice, but then I would expect to lose the call quality advantage of the VOIP provider.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #131 on: June 16, 2012, 07:58:21 pm »
Those of you using a paid home VOIP, do they offer the "one number for all phones" kind of thing that google voice does? Ie if I signed up for VOIPo, could I arrange it so that a single number rings both the home phone and my cell?

I would assume that it could be done by using both VOIPo and google voice, but then I would expect to lose the call quality advantage of the VOIP provider.

That's one of the very specific reasons why I'd singled out VOIPo as a primary option and why we're planning to specifically switch to them, as they're one of the few VoIP providers that have global call hunt (they call it "Simultaneous Ring") and most of the other Google Voice calling features available as part of the basic service bundle. http://www.voipo.com/voip-features.php
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #132 on: June 16, 2012, 08:24:52 pm »
Yes I gave up on Google Voice, mentioned that in a prior reply here.  Sometimes great voice quality, sometimes big delay, words missing, dropped calls etc.  We use our home phone enough that it was not tolerable.  So I switched back to Phone Power box, which costs $11.33/mo all in, but it is coming off the two year contract at the end of this month, so I decided to save money and switch to VOIPo at $6.88/mo all in.

Total communications costs now (voice, TV and internet):
Charter 3MBS internet $24.99
VOIPo home phone $6.88
Virgin Mobile 300 min wife's android phone $26.72
PlatinumTel dumb flip phone $3.33
Total is $61.92 a month.

Guess I either missed that post or forgot in regards to GV (memory isn't always what it should be), sorry about that. I went back in the thread and found your initial post and re-ran the math on it. March 4th? A surprisingly frugal and reasonable for most Americans amount of $128.74 for the whole kit. June 16th? $61.92, a 52% a month savings, and it doesn't sound like you're missing a beat now.

Congrats, dude! *respekt knuckles*
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #133 on: June 16, 2012, 08:26:29 pm »
That's one of the very specific reasons why I'd singled out VOIPo as a primary option and why we're planning to specifically switch to them, as they're one of the few VoIP providers that have global call hunt (they call it "Simultaneous Ring") and most of the other Google Voice calling features available as part of the basic service bundle. http://www.voipo.com/voip-features.php

Sweet! That will make it much easier to convince my wife.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #134 on: June 16, 2012, 09:31:23 pm »
Sweet! That will make it much easier to convince my wife.

Excellent!



On an unrelated subject... if I may take a minute to be a bit sappy, I just happened to notice and actually pay attention to the thread count and post numbers here, and had a very sobering moment.

This thread is approaching 5000 page views, and contains 135 posts (as of this post - only 62 of which appear to be mine if I counted right, which does make the total count feel not quite as impressive, but still, it's not like I was totally talking to myself). I rummaged around to check, and this appears to be the second largest thread on the MMM forums after the new user introduction thread, which astounds me. It may not be that huge a thread compared to other forum or internet standards, but it's not insignificant either. I want to thank everyone here for forming such a great community and providing me an outlet, opportunity, and the trust to help you save with some of your most common and necessary utility services (by modern standards) after electricity.

I know I've made some miss-steps on advice here and there as I am just human, but thank you anyway for forgiving me for doing so and calling me on/overlooking them, allowing me the opportunity to correct those mistakes. I also haven't forgotten that I want to update the whole thing as some not-insignificant changes have happened the past three months, but I'll have to ask for your ongoing patience.

Thank you for everything, guys. This guide wouldn't exist or be as good as it is without you, your feedback and questions. <3
« Last Edit: June 16, 2012, 09:41:07 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #135 on: June 16, 2012, 10:49:01 pm »
This thread is approaching 5000 page views, and contains 135 posts

I think about 100 of those views are just me.  My contract is up soon and I've been spending a lot of time rereading this thread and researching the various options.

I'm a pretty typical smartphone user, only about 200 minutes most months and something like 2gb of data, mostly on streaming pandora or podcasts.

At first I was excited about Platinumtel, since their rates for talk and texts would be crazy low and I thought I could dramatically reduce my data usage using Doggcatcher to preload daily podcasts while my phone is on wifi at night, using my phone as as mp3 player instead of always streaming Pandora, and using Onavo Count to keep tabs on the usage.  The killer for me was Ptel's phone selection, which is pretty abysmal.  Their only android phones are so far out of date as to be kind of ridiculous.  I don't need the newest stuff, but within three generations would have been nice.

So unless I can figure out how to get a better device through ACRS's BYOD program, it looks like I'm going to end up on Virgin Mobile's unlimited data plan for $35/mo.  The LG Optimus Elite and the Motorola Triumph are both decent android handsets, only about two years behind the curve, and more than adequate for my needs.  Even this compromise would save me about a thousand dollars over the course of a normal two year phone lifetime.

Thanks for all of your hard work on this.  I've certainly found it useful.



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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #136 on: June 16, 2012, 11:54:11 pm »
This thread is approaching 5000 page views, and contains 135 posts

I think about 100 of those views are just me.  My contract is up soon and I've been spending a lot of time rereading this thread and researching the various options.

I'm a pretty typical smartphone user, only about 200 minutes most months and something like 2gb of data, mostly on streaming pandora or podcasts.

At first I was excited about Platinumtel, since their rates for talk and texts would be crazy low and I thought I could dramatically reduce my data usage using Doggcatcher to preload daily podcasts while my phone is on wifi at night, using my phone as as mp3 player instead of always streaming Pandora, and using Onavo Count to keep tabs on the usage.  The killer for me was Ptel's phone selection, which is pretty abysmal.  Their only android phones are so far out of date as to be kind of ridiculous.  I don't need the newest stuff, but within three generations would have been nice.

So unless I can figure out how to get a better device through ACRS's BYOD program, it looks like I'm going to end up on Virgin Mobile's unlimited data plan for $35/mo.  The LG Optimus Elite and the Motorola Triumph are both decent android handsets, only about two years behind the curve, and more than adequate for my needs.  Even this compromise would save me about a thousand dollars over the course of a normal two year phone lifetime.

Thanks for all of your hard work on this.  I've certainly found it useful.

I'm glad you've found it of use, Sol. If you don't mind me asking, is there a particular reason why you want to go with a Sprint MVNO specifically? Is it because you're coming off Sprint, or...

If you're with Sprint currently, I'd imagine you could just keep your current phone (if you're happy with it) and port it over through ACRS when the time came.

If you're with a GSM provider, consider possibly going with AirVoice or H2O instead if you've got decent AT&T reception, which would again let you keep your current phone while you just swap out the SIM card. If you're willing and able to stick with the low data usage approach, have decent AT&T coverage and are coming off Verizon, you could just buy whatever used GSM smartphone you like and still go with AirVoice or H2O. Even potentially upwards of $20 a month is still less than $35.

Otherwise, Virgin's $35 package isn't too bad for what you get, especially if you'll be happy with the phones. I know smartphone quality can sometimes make or break experiences, and the Good Lord knows I personally wouldn't have bought these Intercepts if I didn't have the skill sets I do.

Edit: I posted this before getting your PM. Check your inbox.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 12:34:33 am by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #137 on: June 17, 2012, 06:11:26 am »
No, thank YOU I.P. for your hard work and expertise.  Your expertise is invaluable on this subject.

Just saw one of my financially challenged older friends post on Facebook yesterday.  She is now the proud owner of a new Verizon Samsung smartphone.  Didn't say what model or plan, but I'll guess she's on the hook for $100/mo for 24 months. Oh she also has cable TV, very high speed internet and POTS.  Her total communications bill has got to be in the $250/mo range as a result.

I've chosen to go small in my communciations bills, because they are recurring monthly expenses.  And I have better use for my money, which is currently to pay down my home as fast as possible.  My debt IS an emergency! (that's my favorite MMM post!)

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #138 on: June 17, 2012, 06:06:34 pm »
No, thank YOU I.P. for your hard work and expertise.  Your expertise is invaluable on this subject.

+1.  Thanks I.P.  You rock!
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #139 on: June 18, 2012, 09:58:40 am »
VOIPo Services
Service Type   Phone Number   Billing Cycle   Next Renewal   Standard Rate*
Residential Service              Biennially           2014-06-15   $165.00

I just signed up for 2 years with VOIPo, and it's $129 + $36 or $165, every two years, and that's the deal. So there's no increase from $129 to $149 after two years.  All in cost is $165 / 24 or $6.88 per month, including e911 service.

I don't believe that to be the case, and here's why:

From the Terms of Service page on Voipo:

"Billing

Accounts renew automatically unless canceled. Accounts will renew on or around the anniversary of your initial order based on your selected term. All VOIPo services are prepaid at least one month in advance. If you have a credit card on file, VOIPo will bill you automatically when charges are due. Customers are responsible for all international calling usage charges and premium calls (such as 411) billed to their accounts. VOIPo will bill your credit card periodically for these charges automatically. These charges may be delayed at our discretion or billed at any point immediately following the completion of such calls. Promotional plans will renew at standard pricing after the initial term. Promotional pricing is only available for new customers unless explicitly stated as being available for existing customers in an offer. Existing customers that are up for renewal at standard pricing may not cancel an account and re-establish it to obtain new customer pricing as they will not be considered new customers. Standard pricing for residential VoIP and small business VoIP accounts $149 annually for annual plans and $15 monthly for monthly plans. If you do not have a credit card on file and use another accepted payment method such as PayPal which may require manual payments to be made, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have a positive account balance at all times. VOIPo is a prepaid service and does not provide a grace period for billing. If invoices are not paid by the due date, your account may be subject to immediate disconnection and a $5 late fee."


Also, from a voipo forum post:

Re: Rate for year 3+ ?
The regular annual price is $149 per year and all prepaid accounts renew at that price. Our current new customer special offers 2 years for the price of 1. After the promotion expires on your account, you'd renew at the regular pricing.
Timothy Dick
Founder/CEO
VOIPo.com



This was further confirmed when I chatted with a customer service agent who repeated the above information: the 2-year rate is promotional only.

If there's some magical way I'm missing to continue to renew at the 2-year rate, then that's fantastic and good for you.  I'm not trying to be snarky or jerky here, but just trying to let people know that as far as I can tell, that rate is only good for the first two years.  If you want to save money beyond that, you might look into the other companies that I.P. suggested is all. 

I personally am trying the NetTalk (similar to MagicJack), and so far so good.  Quality isn't as great as Vonage, but then again Vonage isn't as clear as POTS lines were either....in fact, no VOIP system seems to be as good as POTS.  But NetTalk will work for our level of phone use, and at $50 for the adapter which includes the first year's service, then $30/year after that, I'm content with the service and saving a lot over Vonage.  I.P. has very good reasons for not recommending these devices initially, as they have some known hardware issues (unhappy with certain routers) and I think it's further influenced by data speeds and probably other things I have no concept of.  But we tried it, we liked it, you might try it to...or not. 

I'll wrap this up by giving a great big shout out to I.P.!!!  You rock and your information is sound.  I realize I didn't go directly with all of your recommendations, but you did get me thinking quite a bit about how I could get the same or better service for less money, and that these providers (most of which I've never heard of) exist with comparable services of the big named companies.  Thanks for being so very awesome and for all of the insight.  Keep it coming!

And I'll add to the kudos for I.P.
"While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery." - Groucho Marx

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #140 on: June 18, 2012, 06:24:00 pm »
I don't believe that to be the case, and here's why:

From the Terms of Service page on Voipo:
-snip-

There's a bit there in there worth noting, specifically:

Quote
Promotional pricing is only available for new customers unless explicitly stated as being available for existing customers in an offer.
(Emphasis mine.)

We've all been operating on vague understanding and internet hearsay here, so it's time we finally add a skimmer to this pool of mud. VOIPo has offered enough specials frequently enough to subscribers in the past (like their Black Friday deals the past two years) that you're bound to see a two-for-one re-up at least once before the initial two year contract is up. Here's a couple threads from their Black Friday special last year:
http://forums.voipo.com/showthread.php/4732-Is-the-quot-Black-Friday-quot-special-an-annual-thing
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r25561764-VOIPo.COM-2-years-for-149-thru-Friday-midnight

Note from the VOIPo thread:
Quote from: holmes4 on November 23, 2011, 12:12 PM EST
I took advantage of the last two specials and am good through 2015 as well - decided that going to 2017 was pushing it so I passed this time.

It's been posts like this all over that made me confident that you could keep the cheap service up past the introductory offer, and the fine print on the service (which I should have dug through and posted sooner) does back this up, and by its mere inclusion indicates a spirit of continuing to do so.

As such, it can be done, the ToS allows it to be done, it has been done and corroborated by others... I have no concerns about it continuing to do so and feel confident that it's enough of a non-concern to warrant not being concerned about it once we make the switch ourselves here shortly. Even if there's no guarantee in stone that they'll ever offer two-for-one discounts to existing subscribers ever again, after five years with an initial two-for-one offer and three spent at normal current annual rates, it still averages out to only $11.01 a month after taxes and service fees for that five years of service, and I have no doubt that a better competitor will likely be along before 2017 to transfer to as that's a lot of time in Internet business years.

I however, cannot fault you for your caution Ladymaier, it is frequently more prudent to take the more predictable and steady route and deal with fixed and predictable prices and only pay for what you'll actually use, and this should be a reminder to us all to always read the fine print. (Something I'm usually pretty good about but failed to do in this case sooner as opposed to just going on common knowledge.) It's why I finally mentioned those alternative providers, for just this sort of approach. Truthfully, the only reason why we're switching away from Future Nine to begin with is due to VOIPo's killer (almost) Google Voice like feature set, not their price or specials. Those are just gravy.

Anyway, there you go.



As for all the kind words from you all... thank you, but I still believe this is a community effort at heart. You deserve just as much thanks, which is why I said what I did.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #141 on: June 19, 2012, 09:54:32 am »
Monthly cost of first two years of VoipO, all in, is $129 + $36 or $165 / 24 or $6.88 per month.

If they raised the price on the renewal to $149+$36 or $185, the renewal monthly cost would be $185 / 24 or $7.71 per month.

Either way, this is a very cheap service for unlimited minutes plus e911.  I tried Google Voice, against I.P's advice, and it was just not the quality of service I am looking for at this time.  I received my VoipO box last night, but have to wait for the number to port over from Phone Power.  After I have used it for a month, I'll post a review as to the service quality.

Service quality issue with Phone Power - I don't know if this is the service's fault, but sometimes it is quite an echo back of my own voice.  I suspect this is much more the case when I am talking to someone on their cell phone more than when I am talking to a landline.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #142 on: June 21, 2012, 12:39:14 pm »
My ATT contract is up this month.  I'm trying to figure out a cheaper solution.  My problem is I want to use my iphone.  I'm on wifi almost everywhere I use the phone.  Are there any solutions that would let me do pay as you go and use my iphone without getting a data plan?  I dont need the data part, I never use the data on my phone without being on wifi. 

I could just get a cheap pay as you go phone and keep the iphone as an "ipod" basically to use on wifi but I'd rather not have to carry around 2 phones!   

I'm actually only paying 44.79 a month for att... unlimited data plan(Grandfathered), 200 txts a month and 550 minute family plan add on.   

Edit: Does anyone know if I can use H2OWireless with an iphone on the pay as you go plan and not use the data?  Their site says you need a monthly plan for iphone to work so I dont think this will...

You shouldn't need to jailbreak the iPhone like Ig suggested anymore, just have AT&T unlock the device under their new policy. Just takes a call to customer service. Going to an AT&T based MVNO means not even having to worry about unlocking an AT&T based phone for basic calling and SMS usage, but unlocking has its advantages as it allows you access to wireless network gateway settings and other non-AT&T GSM network sim card usage. Get the device unlocked before leaving AT&T as it'll make the phone more valuable and flexible with your providers without potentially compromising security or worrying about iOS upgrades, even if you have no intention of configuring or enabling data on the device.

As for usage on H2O wireless, I have not seen any such pre-requisite for iPhones to be on a monthly plan, just that if you want to use their data, it will require reconfiguration, which makes sense. Pay as you go means just that, pay as you go. If you use data or have a plan with data access, you'll be billed data no matter what phone you use, and if there's no data plan, they won't let you on the internet even if the phone's configured properly. Same with voice and SMS services, they're not actually dependent on a specific plan for a device to work. The only time where you might have troubles with using data services on a smartphone with a prepaid would be with Blackberry and needing a BIS provider as a go-between. So yes, you can use any prepaid plan you want and either opt to use data or not. That goes for H2O, Airvoice, etc.

PureTalkUSA can be a bit of a ripoff under most usage situations for AT&T network GSM prepaid, as cheaper service can be had elsewhere. Currently Airvoice Wireless is king of the frugal GSM prepaids with their $10/month 250 minute plan. Otherwise, H2O has the most flexible package options with the next most competitive pricing.

Follow up question to this... I just got my ATT iphone 4 unlocked and went on the airvoice wireless page to setup an account/order a sim card.  They only offer a regular size sim and the iphone 4 takes a micro sim.  I've seen a few sites that say you can cut a regular one down to micro sim size.   Is this what I'll have to do to get it to work?

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #143 on: June 21, 2012, 01:03:06 pm »
Follow up question to this... I just got my ATT iphone 4 unlocked and went on the airvoice wireless page to setup an account/order a sim card.  They only offer a regular size sim and the iphone 4 takes a micro sim.  I've seen a few sites that say you can cut a regular one down to micro sim size.   Is this what I'll have to do to get it to work?

Yes you will, and I'm glad you brought this up as it really is a topic that I should have addressed sooner. Unless you've got surgeon's hands or feel especially confident doing it yourself, it might be worth the investment in a unitasker cutter tool.

If you're feeling brave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j3YmDNekVs

If you'd rather spend $5 on a reusable cutter tool to cut down your SIM cards instead of another $5 on a new SIM card after screwing the first one up, use one of these: http://www.amazon.com/s/url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=micro+sim+cutter
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #144 on: June 23, 2012, 07:18:47 am »
Follow up question to this... I just got my ATT iphone 4 unlocked and went on the airvoice wireless page to setup an account/order a sim card.  They only offer a regular size sim and the iphone 4 takes a micro sim.  I've seen a few sites that say you can cut a regular one down to micro sim size.   Is this what I'll have to do to get it to work?



I got a second gen Noosy [MOD EDIT: Link changed to non-referral link] for this purpose and was able to cut 2 Airvoice SIMs into microSIMs easily. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 12:30:51 pm by arebelspy »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #145 on: June 23, 2012, 09:14:47 pm »
Follow up question to this... I just got my ATT iphone 4 unlocked and went on the airvoice wireless page to setup an account/order a sim card.  They only offer a regular size sim and the iphone 4 takes a micro sim.  I've seen a few sites that say you can cut a regular one down to micro sim size.   Is this what I'll have to do to get it to work?

I got a second gen Noosy for this purpose and was able to cut 2 Airvoice SIMs into microSIMs easily.

I ordered a cheaper version of this off amazon yesterday and the airvoice SIM card.  Hopefully it works well. 

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #146 on: June 24, 2012, 08:34:19 am »
Follow up question to this... I just got my ATT iphone 4 unlocked and went on the airvoice wireless page to setup an account/order a sim card.  They only offer a regular size sim and the iphone 4 takes a micro sim.  I've seen a few sites that say you can cut a regular one down to micro sim size.   Is this what I'll have to do to get it to work?

I got a second gen Noosy for this purpose and was able to cut 2 Airvoice SIMs into microSIMs easily.

I ordered a cheaper version of this off amazon yesterday and the airvoice SIM card.  Hopefully it works well.

I went with the newer and somewhat more expensive Noosy due to the reports by people that they had a hard time getting consistent results with it.  The second gen has an improved design for more consistent results.  I cut 2 SIMs with mine without an issue.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #147 on: June 24, 2012, 08:45:55 am »
I realized that I should do a better job of explaining how I set up my iPhone on Airvoice Wireless for inexpensive prepaid service.  So far it's costing me about $20/month for service.  This is only useful for people who are fairly light users and rely on WiFi for almost all of their data usage.

I switched from AT&T to the Airvoice Wireless $10/month plan.  Airvoice Wireless is an AT&T MVNO, which means that they run on AT&T’s network.  It also means that you can use an AT&T iPhone without the need to jailbreak or unlock it.

Here are the charges:   
$0.04 per minute
$0.02 per sms
$0.10 per mms
$0.33 per MB

You need to add a minimum of $10 every 30 days to the account.  Any unused funds roll over when you add another $10.  You can also stack $10 credits.  For instance if you add 2 $10 credits then your expiration date becomes 60 days later.

What you will need [MOD EDIT: Referral removed from links]:
Airvoice Wireless SIM Card
Noosy Micro SIM card cutter (for iPhone 4 or 4S)
Airvoice wireless refill card

You will need to cut the Airvoice Wireless SIM down to a MicroSIM using the Noosy.  The Noosy comes with the instructions.  It’s just like using a hole punch.

Go to the Airvoice Wireless web site http://www.airvoicewireless.com and click on either New Activation (to get a new phone number) or Port Your Number (if you want to keep your phone number from your existing provider).  For the plan select 250 TALK OR 500 TEXT 30 DAYS.  Fill in all of your info and submit it.  Wait an hour then call 1-888-944-2355 to speak to a customer service representative.  Have them double check that your account is set up properly and ask them to enable data on the account.

Next you will need to configure your phone to log in to AT&T’s cell towers as an Airvoice subscriber.  Make sure that your iPhone is connected to WiFi.  Open Safari and go to http://www.unlockit.co.nz.  Select Custom APN then go to the Carrier menu and select Airvoice.  Select Create Profile, which will bring you to the Install Profile menu on your phone.  Select Install and enter your phone’s password if prompted.

You’re all set.  Enjoy the savings!
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 12:28:58 pm by arebelspy »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #148 on: June 24, 2012, 11:54:55 am »
I realized that I should do a better job of explaining how I set up my iPhone on Airvoice Wireless for inexpensive prepaid service.  So far it's costing me about $20/month for service.  This is only useful for people who are fairly light users and rely on WiFi for almost all of their data usage.

-snip-

You’re all set.  Enjoy the savings!

Ed, I appreciate the feedback, but there's a couple things I really feel necessary to say in response as points of concern and clarity for others.

1) Buying a $10 Noosy is unnecessary. All micro SIM punchers have their quirks and faults, including the second gen Noosy. What's more important with any SIM punch is that you double check the alignment and press slowly and firmly more than the brand name stamped on the cheap Chinese pot metal. I find it interesting that from a standpoint of user reviews of the Noosy compared to any other SIM punch, it has the exact same troubles sited on the bad reviews as any other cheap punch, and has roughly the exact same success-to-failure ratio (if not a bit lower) as the punches half the price. You're obviously not just buying a micro SIM puncher with the Noosy, you're buying a name. (Parallels could be drawn with people who buy Apple hardware as well, OS aside.)

2) The website linked is still technically utilizing a loophole and exploit to install your new wireless APN information. A properly unlocked iPhone is worth far more, and configuring your own APN manually or installing the APN directly from the carrier is far more secure. These are common sense things. Don't use hacks to do what your carrier will let you do for free if you just plan ahead.

Finally...

You can also stack $10 credits.  For instance if you add 2 $10 credits then your expiration date becomes 60 days later.

This info is rather surprising to read given the terms of service posted on Airvoice's website runs contrary to what you say. I also cannot find anyone else on the internet confirming this practice with a cursory Google search or anywhere on HoFo.

From their website (emphasis mine):
Quote
Account Balance:
All calls will be automatically deducted from your account balance. Balances are not transferable or refundable. Airtime cannot be moved from one phone number to another phone number. You should take reasonable efforts to safeguard your phone and replenishment airtime cards. Airtime expires “X” amount of days after card is added to your account whether you use your phone or not. If additional airtime is added before the current expiration date, our airtime will be forfeited on your expiration date. After the account reaches a zero balance or goes into an expired status, your phone number will stay active for 30 days. If there is still no balance or goes into an expired status, your phone number will stay active for 30 days. If there is still no refill within the 30 days, the phone number will be cancelled. The SIM Card cannot be reactivated once it is cancelled.
Quote
Airtime Expiration Dates:
When adding a new refill PIN to your account, the expiration period extends from the date you are adding airtime on, and not to your current expiration date. When adding multiple cards on at once, your airtime expiration dates do not add together. If your current expiration date exceeds the number of airtime days of your new card, your expiration date will not change.

I won't comment on what appears to be referral links in your addresses beyond pointing them out to other readers, and further mention that I have not once used referral links for any product I've directly linked on the MMM forums.

Sanitized links for those who care, though:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005DMWOUY/ <-Noosy
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005EMS1YG/ <-Airvoice Card
http://www.callingmart.com/products/wireless/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=152 <-Airvoice Refill Card
« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 12:11:42 pm by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

edmcquade

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #149 on: June 24, 2012, 12:23:39 pm »
1) Buying a $10 Noosy is unnecessary. All micro SIM punchers have their quirks and faults, including the second gen Noosy. What's more important with any SIM punch is that you double check the alignment and press slowly and firmly more than the brand name stamped on the cheap Chinese pot metal. I find it interesting that from a standpoint of user reviews of the Noosy compared to any other SIM punch, it has the exact same troubles sited on the bad reviews as any other cheap punch, and has roughly the exact same success-to-failure ratio (if not a bit lower) as the punches half the price. You're obviously not just buying a micro SIM puncher with the Noosy, you're buying a name. (Parallels could be drawn with people who buy Apple hardware as well, OS aside.)

I'm recommending the product that I personally used that worked.  I'm sure that some here would argue that such a single-use product is silly when you already own a perfectly good knife.

2) The website linked is still technically utilizing a loophole and exploit to install your new wireless APN information. A properly unlocked iPhone is worth far more, and configuring your own APN manually or installing the APN directly from the carrier is far more secure. These are common sense things. Don't use hacks to do what your carrier will let you do for free if you just plan ahead.

It's actually due to an annoying quirk in iOS that can't tell AT&T MVNO SIMs from AT&T postpaid ones.  My iPhone is factory unlocked and the APN settings menu gets disabled when my Airvoice SIM is inserted.  Airvoice customer service actually walks people through the same APN procedure over the phone.

You can also stack $10 credits.  For instance if you add 2 $10 credits then your expiration date becomes 60 days later.

This info is rather surprising to read given the terms of service posted on Airvoice's website runs contrary to what you say. I also cannot find anyone else on the internet confirming this practice with a cursory Google search or anywhere on HoFo.

I was impressed when the expiration stacking worked for just the reasons you outlined.

I won't comment on what appears to be referral links in your addresses beyond pointing them out to other readers, and further mention that I have not once used referral links for any product I've directly linked on the MMM forums.

Sanitized links for those who care, though:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005DMWOUY/ <-Noosy
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005EMS1YG/ <-Airvoice Card
http://www.callingmart.com/products/wireless/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=152 <-Airvoice Refill Card

Fair enough.  I've edited my post to label the links as referrals.