Author Topic: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide  (Read 150943 times)

Done by Forty

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #400 on: January 17, 2013, 08:47:43 am »
IP Daley:

My wife and I are about to take the plunge to move from our $75/mo ATT service with two flip phones, to a MNVO.  We had a few questions (and apologies in advance if they've been asked in this thread already):

-We are looking at PlatinumTel but aren't sure if T Mobile coverage is good or not in our area (zip 85257, South Scottsdale AZ).  T Mobile's map looks pretty good but I'm unsure if they're counting 'subcontractors' or partner's coverage.

-Are we better off buying one of PlatinumTel's phones (e.g. - refurbed Iphone 3) or buying an unlocked phone (or perhaps even a used phone that is on T Mobile's network) via craigslist/ebay?

-Are there some good Android phones you'd recommend buying used?  The choices are overwhelming.

-I think I can figure out how to make outgoing calls using WiFi only, via an app like GoogleVoice (I don't have experience doing this, as I've never had a smartphone, but I assume it's similar to how GV works on my laptop).  But how would you receive calls via Wifi?  Do you just leave that app open all the time?


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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #401 on: January 17, 2013, 09:24:38 am »
-We are looking at PlatinumTel but aren't sure if T Mobile coverage is good or not in our area (zip 85257, South Scottsdale AZ).  T Mobile's map looks pretty good but I'm unsure if they're counting 'subcontractors' or partner's coverage.

Looks like there's good native T-Mo coverage all over the sprawling Phoenix region, so you should be fine. When in doubt with coverage until someone can convince them to use the right map, use another T-Mo MVNO's map, like GoSmart Mobile's. Otherwise, the only part you should be ignoring is the yellow crosshatched areas.

-Are we better off buying one of PlatinumTel's phones (e.g. - refurbed Iphone 3) or buying an unlocked phone (or perhaps even a used phone that is on T Mobile's network) via craigslist/ebay?

-Are there some good Android phones you'd recommend buying used?  The choices are overwhelming.

Are you happy with your current AT&T handsets? If you are, get AT&T to carrier unlock your handsets before you leave, then you can keep using the same phones after swapping the SIM cards out. The only advantage of buying a smartphone from P'tel or a T-Mo handset is going to be for HSPA+ speeds on data. If you're not planning on using much data, don't bother.

As for smartphone recommendations... start here with my latest post on the subject of iPhones and smartphones in general: Are iPhones worth it?

If you still want an Android handset recommendation after that... if you're technically inclined? Any handset officially supported by the CyanogenMod team. A good low-end starter on that list is the LG P500 (Optimus One). Otherwise, you'll want something that can officially run and has had firmware upgrades to ICS to ensure security and enough hardware beefiness to handle VoIP calls without you needing to know what you're doing. You can narrow the list using this tool.

-I think I can figure out how to make outgoing calls using WiFi only, via an app like GoogleVoice (I don't have experience doing this, as I've never had a smartphone, but I assume it's similar to how GV works on my laptop).  But how would you receive calls via Wifi?  Do you just leave that app open all the time?

Are you planning on only making VoIP/GV calls while at home on your WiFi connection? Is this the only reason why you're considering upgrading your handsets from what you already have? If it is, I've got a cheaper, better solution in the form of the Obi100 ATA. Just configure, plug in your old landline phones and go. Beyond that, if you're still looking to do the smartphone WiFi calling thing, it's territory I've covered on the blog as well: About Google Voice and Viber.

As to the question of receiving VoIP calls over WiFi... yes, to receive via that mehod, you've gotta leave the app running and the phone connected, which'll drain your battery.
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TheDude

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #402 on: January 17, 2013, 01:39:05 pm »
Hey I.P. I see you have mentioned the  Obi100. How does that compare to the Linksys PAP2T? I just ordered a PAP2T I am planing on giving a VOIP.ms as try. Should I have bought a  Obi100  instead?

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #403 on: January 17, 2013, 03:20:38 pm »
Hey I.P. I see you have mentioned the  Obi100. How does that compare to the Linksys PAP2T? I just ordered a PAP2T I am planing on giving a VOIP.ms as try. Should I have bought a  Obi100  instead?

I actually personally like the PAP2 and the Grandstream HT-286 from a configuration and design perspective over the Obihai products, but that's partly because I don't have hands-on with them yet, however I have heard good things here and elsewhere. The reason for recommending it specifically was due to the mention of using Google Voice, which the Obi100/110/202 is set up to basically let you do the GV as your sole VoIP provider with your handset thing... something the Linksys and Grandstream units can't do.

On the flip side, I'm not hugely keen on the PAP2 due to a propensity for capacitor failure at location C40 on their circuit board, it's repairable, but a pain in the keester. Early failure symptoms include heavy static on the line. The Grandstream's held up better than the PAP2 so far, but I do fear that it may eventually fall victim to cheap caps as well. I can't personally speak one way or the other on the Obihais and hardware quality.
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Done by Forty

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #404 on: January 17, 2013, 03:33:36 pm »
-We are looking at PlatinumTel but aren't sure if T Mobile coverage is good or not in our area (zip 85257, South Scottsdale AZ).  T Mobile's map looks pretty good but I'm unsure if they're counting 'subcontractors' or partner's coverage.

Looks like there's good native T-Mo coverage all over the sprawling Phoenix region, so you should be fine. When in doubt with coverage until someone can convince them to use the right map, use another T-Mo MVNO's map, like GoSmart Mobile's. Otherwise, the only part you should be ignoring is the yellow crosshatched areas.

-Are we better off buying one of PlatinumTel's phones (e.g. - refurbed Iphone 3) or buying an unlocked phone (or perhaps even a used phone that is on T Mobile's network) via craigslist/ebay?

-Are there some good Android phones you'd recommend buying used?  The choices are overwhelming.

Are you happy with your current AT&T handsets? If you are, get AT&T to carrier unlock your handsets before you leave, then you can keep using the same phones after swapping the SIM cards out. The only advantage of buying a smartphone from P'tel or a T-Mo handset is going to be for HSPA+ speeds on data. If you're not planning on using much data, don't bother.

As for smartphone recommendations... start here with my latest post on the subject of iPhones and smartphones in general: Are iPhones worth it?

If you still want an Android handset recommendation after that... if you're technically inclined? Any handset officially supported by the CyanogenMod team. A good low-end starter on that list is the LG P500 (Optimus One). Otherwise, you'll want something that can officially run and has had firmware upgrades to ICS to ensure security and enough hardware beefiness to handle VoIP calls without you needing to know what you're doing. You can narrow the list using this tool.

-I think I can figure out how to make outgoing calls using WiFi only, via an app like GoogleVoice (I don't have experience doing this, as I've never had a smartphone, but I assume it's similar to how GV works on my laptop).  But how would you receive calls via Wifi?  Do you just leave that app open all the time?

Are you planning on only making VoIP/GV calls while at home on your WiFi connection? Is this the only reason why you're considering upgrading your handsets from what you already have? If it is, I've got a cheaper, better solution in the form of the Obi100 ATA. Just configure, plug in your old landline phones and go. Beyond that, if you're still looking to do the smartphone WiFi calling thing, it's territory I've covered on the blog as well: About Google Voice and Viber.

As to the question of receiving VoIP calls over WiFi... yes, to receive via that mehod, you've gotta leave the app running and the phone connected, which'll drain your battery.

Thanks for all that information! 

To answer your question, my wife and I will mostly be taking calls in two places: at home or on campus (she's a grad student and spends maybe 8-10 hours a day there).  The rub with a wired ob100 is that it won't work for my wife on campus, but she does get free wifi there...we're both likely in wifi range for maybe 90% of our time.

Our current AT&T handsets aren't smartphones, but there's nothing really wrong with them.  That said, they wouldn't be able to make calls using wifi, so it may work out better to pony up the cash for a one time purchase of a basic smartphone.

I'm intrigued by the CyanogenMod idea, but just as with Linux, my curiosity is matched by my technical ignorance.  I'm fairly adept with technology but I am also lazy...it seems that it's worth the effort though.  I have some learning to do.

I'm guessing you'd suggest to buy a used, unlocked phone from Ebay or something like that, install the CM firmware, and then get to a MNVO like Ptel?

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #405 on: January 17, 2013, 04:05:43 pm »
Thanks for all that information! 

To answer your question, my wife and I will mostly be taking calls in two places: at home or on campus (she's a grad student and spends maybe 8-10 hours a day there).  The rub with a wired ob100 is that it won't work for my wife on campus, but she does get free wifi there...we're both likely in wifi range for maybe 90% of our time.

Our current AT&T handsets aren't smartphones, but there's nothing really wrong with them.  That said, they wouldn't be able to make calls using wifi, so it may work out better to pony up the cash for a one time purchase of a basic smartphone.

I'm intrigued by the CyanogenMod idea, but just as with Linux, my curiosity is matched by my technical ignorance.  I'm fairly adept with technology but I am also lazy...it seems that it's worth the effort though.  I have some learning to do.

I'm guessing you'd suggest to buy a used, unlocked phone from Ebay or something like that, install the CM firmware, and then get to a MNVO like Ptel?

The campus WiFi thing does pose a situation. The reason for the LG Optimus One running Cyanogen was due to Gingerbread support. Technically, any phone running Gingerbread should have a native VoIP app, which is going to be more secure and robust than apps like Talkatone for receiving calls, especially on public networks. (Details on why you should be cautious about GV third party calling apps were mentioned in the About Google Voice article I linked.) I might also mention that if you go that route, Symbian s60 v.3 and higher has a native VoIP app as well... so look into some Nokia handsets (again, more details in the iPhone article linked last). If you go that route, you could technically use both an Obi100 at home and a free CallCentric incoming VoIP account with GV on either an Android or Symbian handset with WiFi support.

Before you leave AT&T, whether you keep the handsets or not, unlock 'em. Even if you sell the things off, you'll get more selling them unlocked.

Finally, yes. Used or refurb with a clean IMEI off Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist or other. Just do what you want and slap the SIM card in when you're ready. You could technically jump to P'tel before you get the smartphone if you wanted, though.
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.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #406 on: January 18, 2013, 08:00:48 am »
Thanks a million, Daley.  So the LG Optimus One seems like a good, basic Android phone that would work just fine for us.  If we bought an LG Optimus One and installed Cyanogen, would the native VoiP app allow us to make "free" calls to each other over Wifi in a relatively secure manner?  (Or does installing Cyanogen remove the native Voip app?) From your article, it seems Kik would also allow this?  Or would the call quality be so bad that it's not even worth "free"?

Mainly, I just want to be able to call my wife who's a few miles away (or have her call me) without using minutes.  We talk to each other a lot during the day.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #407 on: January 18, 2013, 09:17:23 am »
Thanks a million, Daley.  So the LG Optimus One seems like a good, basic Android phone that would work just fine for us.  If we bought an LG Optimus One and installed Cyanogen, would the native VoiP app allow us to make "free" calls to each other over Wifi in a relatively secure manner?  (Or does installing Cyanogen remove the native Voip app?) From your article, it seems Kik would also allow this?  Or would the call quality be so bad that it's not even worth "free"?

Mainly, I just want to be able to call my wife who's a few miles away (or have her call me) without using minutes.  We talk to each other a lot during the day.

Since CyanogenMod for the Optimus One is running Gingerbread and I can't find any evidence of it being stripped of features or modified, there should be inclusion of Android native VoIP support. It might not hurt to ask around the forums first just to make sure, though.

As for Kik, it's a texting-only app, no calling. Viber, however, does support calling in addition to texting. If you're just looking for free voice calling over WiFi between yourself and your wife, it or Skype (Skype on Android's latest release appears to be pretty roundly panned for bloat and stability, though) or something similar to those lines might be a better solution than trying to use a combo of GV and a VoIP account on both ends (this would definitely make Cyanogen an optional thing), but all but Skype would require both parties to have smartphones.

There's no telling what the call quality will be like as I know nothing of the campus network, its traffic and congestion, latency, network shaping, blocked ports, and available bandwidth. Theoretically, full duplex calls only need to use about 500KB of data total per minute (both ways, or 250KB each direction) with the GSM codec, which isn't a lot of data from a bandwidth standpoint, but could be a lot on a campus-wide shared network... but what truly kills VoIP call quality isn't bandwidth as much as latency. You can run stuff like Speedtest.net and Pingtest.net on the campus network to get a rough idea, but it's still going to be an unknown variable in your situation until you just try it.

The most painless option if you guys want to keep talking a lot during the day with her on campus and you at home is probably just going to involve finding a reasonably priced plan that gives her more minutes to use. That means a $30-35 plan from either Airvoice or GoSmart depending on if she wants data access or not (I'm guessing not given your AT&T bill amount). More per month, and you'd still be looking at the Obi100 at home (mostly as a convenience, but not necessary given you said you use GV on your laptop), but far more simple to set up and there'd be no need for new wireless handsets. Given the minimum cost with P'tel would be $5 at minimum, even combined with a $30 plan for her, you're still only looking at $35/month for both handsets if you don't use more than 100 wireless minutes a month yourself. That's still less than half of what you're paying currently, and there's no reason she couldn't go to a cheaper plan after she graduates and your daily habits change.

There's also the option of just going more with text communication during the day over calling, or waiting until she's home to talk which is the cheapest solution of all, and would increase more quality face time with your spouse.

I don't suggest these options to discourage you from chasing the high-tech equivalent of the walkie talkie idea as that could save you a fair bit of cash on mobile voice minutes, but it's not the only way, and you have to weigh technical complexity and quality against cost as well.
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Tom Reingold

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #408 on: January 18, 2013, 11:14:46 am »
Hey I.P. I see you have mentioned the  Obi100. How does that compare to the Linksys PAP2T? I just ordered a PAP2T I am planing on giving a VOIP.ms as try. Should I have bought a  Obi100  instead?

I got an obi100 and hooked it up to voip.ms in November. Love it. I recently bought an obi110, and I'll be hooking it up in our second home to the verizon POTS line and the internet at the same time. My wife insists on keeping that POTS line, so it will be good for inbound and 911 calls. (God forbid we should need 911, but it's there.) I configured it so that when you pick up the phone, it dials out on voip.ms, giving the caller ID of the POTS line number.

Obihai stuff is great. It can do some of the stuff that voip services do, so you get a little redundancy. I think it's nifty, but I prefer to put as much functionality in server land as possible so as not to rely on the local power grid.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #409 on: January 18, 2013, 11:25:02 am »
Dang I just got a PAP2T that I order form ebay yesterday. It was only $20 so i guess if I decide I want to try the OBI I can just resell it. I'm pretty excited to try out VOIP.ms I just need to get a phone.

I did read somewhere the OBI is really close to the PAP2T but more update technology inside.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #410 on: January 18, 2013, 12:03:28 pm »
My wife insists on keeping that POTS line, so it will be good for inbound and 911 calls. (God forbid we should need 911, but it's there.)

You are aware that VOIP.ms supports e911, correct? Three-ish months of POTS phone bill will be enough money to buy a battery backup for your networking equipment that'll outlast the battery at your local node in an extended blackout situation, plus you get the added benefit of being able to turn it off and on to make it last even longer. Also, you have cellphones. You've basically got three levels of redundancy just to dial emergency services through a singular three digit number. Emergency services, I might add, that can also be direct dialed via their regular seven digit phone number.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 12:14:04 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #411 on: January 18, 2013, 12:06:45 pm »
Dang I just got a PAP2T that I order form ebay yesterday. It was only $20 so i guess if I decide I want to try the OBI I can just resell it. I'm pretty excited to try out VOIP.ms I just need to get a phone.

I did read somewhere the OBI is really close to the PAP2T but more update technology inside.

Don't sweat it, you got a good deal. All you're losing is the ability to do a crap-ass GV bridge and some of Obi's goofy VoIP bridge stunts. As glowing as Tom's assessment of the equipment, it doesn't speak to hardware durability.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #412 on: January 18, 2013, 01:53:53 pm »
Yeah I am pretty happy to find used one for 20.01. It mostly like does 100 times more than I need it to. I am really only getting it so I can talk to my dad. Right now I spend about 400min a month talking to my dad and most it from home. If I do that via VOIP then I can drop my plan to the 12 from page plus.

One question if I am reading VOIP.ms correctly can I get a INum number and my father get an INum number and we wont have to pay anything to talk to each other? Anyone have any experience with this?

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #413 on: January 18, 2013, 02:10:58 pm »
I set up E911 on our voip.ms service in our primary home. My wife is being illogical about wanting POTS in the second home. My plan is to chip away at her argument gently rather than bombing it away. Thank you for that bit of logic about batteries and POTS rates.

We were staying up the road from the second home (before we bought it) when Hurricane Irene hit. We were stranded by a downed tree, without power or running water.

We were in our primary home when Hurricane Sandy hit, leaving the home without power for eight days.

Predicting the next power outage is now impossible, so it's impossible to know what we need. It's just guesswork.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #414 on: January 18, 2013, 02:50:55 pm »
One question if I am reading VOIP.ms correctly can I get a INum number and my father get an INum number and we wont have to pay anything to talk to each other? Anyone have any experience with this?

Basically, yes. The whole inum thing is basically an international VoIP telephone number kind of deal. Technically speaking, if you've both got a VOIP.ms account, you don't also need inum as calls between VOIP.ms users (or to any SIP address termination, technically) is already free, but you need a VoIP provider that supports inum to get it (interestingly, Google Voice supports free inum calling). VOIP.ms requires a balance IIRC, but CallCentric, SIP2SIP, sipgate (on and on) all can provide free SIP credentials for receiving calls which you can program into your ATA, and services like SIP Broker can help you direct dial if you don't want to create a speed-dial entry. Technically, the Obi has its own hard-wired user network for doing the same thing. This is one of the great things about open standards SIP telephony, yes you can receive and terminate calls on the POTS network cheaper, but if you know anyone else who is also using open standards SIP telephony, you can call back and forth for free.

If you and your dad wanted to go 100% free SIP calling with seamless integration with home phone, there's no shortage of doing it up... some easier than others. If your dad has a POTS home line that he won't get rid of, the easiest for him would be an Obi110 (passthrough) set up with a free SIP account (like the CallCentric IP Freedom/Free Phone Number combo) and a dial-plan that uses SIP Broker combined with speed-dial, and you doing similar on your end... or you can direct dial the phone number if you're both on the same VoIP provider... just use Obi hardware at both ends... you get the idea. But yes, you can get both home phone with free calling if both parties have open SIP support with their service. (You can see though how from a simplicity and ease of use standpoint I just recommend VOIPo and re-inviting the home phone back into the mix... they're open enough to support BYOD VoIP/SIP devices if you want to tinker, and they're cheap enough per month with enough minutes that you can just direct dial and talk your head off without doing complex SIP routing.)
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 02:52:32 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #415 on: January 18, 2013, 03:01:49 pm »
Predicting the next power outage is now impossible, so it's impossible to know what we need. It's just guesswork.

If extended outages are a thing of genuine concern, I have two words for you: Electric Generator.

Also, in extended outages, pretty much the entire communications infrastructure isn't going to hold out longer than about 36-48 hours on their own backup batteries at the screaming most. That means your ISP, POTS telephone, cellphone, whatever... if there's no generator or juice getting to those nodes for an extended period of time, they're gonna fail no matter what. Buying a UPS just guarantees that your VoIP equipment can keep talking to the internet during that uptime window.

You want guaranteed long-term outage emergency communications? Invest in a CB or get into HAM radio.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 03:10:50 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #416 on: January 18, 2013, 05:47:36 pm »
Daley, with an obihai (obi) device at each end, you can call for free. And they're cheap. No need for any VOIP account.

My wife and I don't see eye to eye on emergency preparedness. I'm willing to wing it and see what happens. She thinks a POTS line is assurance. It's probably less reliable than the internet nowadays, though.

I don't want a generator. It's extreme overkill.

I don't agree that extended blackouts assure infrastructure goes down. Here in Maplewood, NJ, Verizon FIOS stayed up, Verizon POTS lines stayed up, and comcast went down, as far as I know. Of course, the geographical pattern of the outage was like a checkerboard, so we weren't totally blacked out for eight days.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #417 on: January 20, 2013, 09:38:29 am »
Daley, with an obihai (obi) device at each end, you can call for free. And they're cheap. No need for any VOIP account.

I know that Tom, that's why I said:
Technically, the Obi has its own hard-wired user network for doing the same thing.
and
just use Obi hardware at both ends... you get the idea.

However, there are cheaper ATAs on the market than the Obihai models, and my point was that this free calling option isn't exclusive to Obihai equipment, which TheDude does not own, or terribly complicated to set up with minimal effort using the provider he already is spending money with or an outfit like CallCentric, or specifically needing inum, or or or. I'd hardly call running out and buying two Obi100's a very mustachian solution given these circumstances.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #418 on: January 20, 2013, 11:19:56 am »
Hey no yelling at each other on account of me.

I like the idea of the OBI but I am a cheap ass. Plus why not dive head first into this VOIP stuff. Between all the options with VOIP.ms and all the options on the PAP2T I have a lot learning/tinkering to do.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #419 on: January 20, 2013, 11:46:30 am »
Hey no yelling at each other on account of me.

WHO'S YELLING!? ;)

I'll admit, I do get a little frustrated at times when I have to repeat myself, especially in regards to responses given where the counter-solution is to just buy more (proprietary) stuff. My apologies to all if that frustration shows at times more than I intend it to.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 11:48:39 am by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #420 on: January 20, 2013, 01:51:35 pm »
Don't worry about it.

I'm still extremely happy with my obi devices, even though I know I could have spent less. Daley, what are some of your favorites?

See, I'm getting a lot more out of them than just free calling. If that were all I wanted, I would go cheaper. I'm very pleased with the ease of setup and also the gigantic list of features. When it's easy to do the important things, it's only because they did their homework, and I really appreciate it. I'm a programmer by training, so I can navigate through the toughest user interfaces, but that doesn't mean I want to or that I'm willing to save any amount of money at the expense of my trouble and time.

We just have different cutoff points and different priorities, but we can both call ourselves mustachian. Besides, my mustache is huge. :-)
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #421 on: January 20, 2013, 05:31:51 pm »
I'm still extremely happy with my obi devices, even though I know I could have spent less. Daley, what are some of your favorites?

Actually, the Obihai hardware's crept onto my list of recommended equipment along with the Linksys PAP2 and most of Grandstream's equipment. Don't have a problem with 'em, they've got good features for the money, but I can't attest to their hardware quality as I've yet to own one (not that I can give the most ringing endorsements on the other parts and their hardware quality). My only point of frustration out of that was we were already talking already purchased, pre-existing hardware. I'm a big make due with what you have kind of guy, and mustachianism is all about minimalism and reducing frivolous spending (amongst other things). Open hardware and standards-friendly services with non-proprietary solutions are a big part of how this guide is so effective on potentially cutting costs for folks, not that they can't be a quick and easy way to cut costs in one particular fashion, but keeping platform agnostic with potential solutions makes services more flexible and cost effective long term.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #422 on: January 21, 2013, 02:58:58 pm »
Don't expect to be impressed with the hardware quality. Everyone wants to save money, especially the consumer, so the market responds to that. Of course, it includes a wall-wart, which are annoying. One of these days, I might install right-sized power supplies for my DC appliances and cable them all to the power supply. I might even do something crazy like running 12 VDC through the house for this.

I guess I should start a forum thread on that idea...
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #423 on: January 21, 2013, 04:12:11 pm »
Don't expect to be impressed with the hardware quality. Everyone wants to save money, especially the consumer, so the market responds to that. Of course, it includes a wall-wart, which are annoying. One of these days, I might install right-sized power supplies for my DC appliances and cable them all to the power supply. I might even do something crazy like running 12 VDC through the house for this.

I guess I should start a forum thread on that idea...

So, same crap capacitors, eh? Shock.

I've actually toyed with similar ideas myself... I think a good starting point with that particular idea for you might be Bakari's excellent non-grid-intertie solar write-up.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #424 on: January 21, 2013, 05:20:21 pm »
I saw that, and then I showed it to someone who knows stuff about that stuff. He said the recommended components are crap. Stuff made to be reliable and durable costs a lot more.

There's cheap, and then there's cheap.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #425 on: January 21, 2013, 05:46:29 pm »
I saw that, and then I showed it to someone who knows stuff about that stuff. He said the recommended components are crap. Stuff made to be reliable and durable costs a lot more.

There's cheap, and then there's cheap.

Now see Tom, it's comments like that that prove that you're not actually reading anything. Bakari didn't actually recommend any parts in the linked Instructable, he documented how to calculate the needs for and set up an easy and cheap to maintain non-grid-intertie 12V solar panel system using whatever parts you wanted to. You mentioned 12VDC in home power, I suggested a renewable energy method of doing so without a generator or AC inverter written by one of the other MMM community members, and you dismiss it as crap without even looking at it and only taking the word of your "friend" over, you know, reading it yourself.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #426 on: January 23, 2013, 07:04:18 am »
cough  So, back to telephones...

I have decided to go with Consumer Cellular for my Mom and I.  I am going to not let BEST DEAL get in the way of Lot Less Money Deal.  The selling points so far are that customer service was a nice, motherly sounding female who knew what she was talking about and Spoke English.  I figure if my Mom ever needs customer service she will be able to deal with the person who answers.  The customer service lady also told us that Sears sells the SIMS.  I'll be on a tight schedule when I get home to get us switched over, so having Mom be able to go get them beforehand (knowing we can return them if necessary) will be good.  The funny thing was that when Mom called the local Sears the first person she talked to didn't even know the store had them.  A supervisor was able to track down that the Consumer Cellular person did know what they were talking about and the SIMS were available in the store.

So, next month we will leave AT&T and switch to Consumer Cellular, saving at a minimum 2/3, probably a lot more.  Daley, a token of my thanks will show up in your tip jar in a couple of weeks when I get paid again.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #427 on: January 23, 2013, 07:40:50 am »
Excellent to hear, Shadowmoss, and much obliged!

I don't mention this to sway your decision, but one of the more significant criteria I usually factor on my recommendations is customer and technical support. For anyone interested, Airvoice Wireless, Platinumtel and Ting also all have very competent domestic support folks... it's why they're so frequently at the top of my list. If I'm accurate with my memory and accent deciphering, all three have their support based in and around the Great Lakes area. I know Ting's support is Toronto based, but I want to say both Airvoice and P'tel have folks from around the Wisconsin, N. Michigan, and Minnesota regions.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #428 on: January 24, 2013, 09:00:38 am »
To add to the discussion for pageplus users...I am happy to report that their customer service is a bit better now that they have an online chat durring work hours.  You have to login to your account at pagepluscellular.com but then its on the right side about midpage.  I was able to do an esn change in about a min for free.  Also, they do accept the iPhone 4 now with no questions asked in my case for the esn change.  I also swithced from the $12 monthly plan to the $80 prepaid card that lasts a year.  I managed to save $4 off the plan by buying from callingmart.com and using a promo code I found on the howardforums.  Anyways, it is great to see many making the changes to save money from this post and thanks again to I.P Daley for all the hard work.  Cheers!

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #429 on: January 24, 2013, 09:22:33 am »
Interesting news to hear, Dahlink. Sounds like they're either loosening up there at Page Plus, or there's a new crop of support folk who haven't been sternly lectured yet.

Anyway, aww shucks... I've enjoyed doing most of it for everyone, but we should thank you for helping inspire me to finally publicly catalog the resources and options I've known about in one spot. I may not have registered and started this thread if not for your initial posting bringing up the subject of MVNOs to begin with and the positive reception of the community as a whole to the idea and information. Thanks everyone for helping make this resource so great!
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #430 on: January 27, 2013, 03:19:22 am »
I hope you don't mind solid brick walls of texts, because I share that syndrome with you!

First off, beautiful, beautiful post Mr. Daley, despite my initial criticism and skepticism (Who's this disconnected old man trying to kid ? What does he know about tech ?) but I have to say that, after reading through the entire post, I was very humbled by your knowledge and awareness, as many of it is even unclear to me! I can't thank you enough for taking the time to come up with an appropriately titled Superguide.

Now, while I'll hold off most of my questions until I'm back home in Canada, I do have one that is currently relevant and very important to me. I currently live in Syria and seem to be stuck here for the foreseeable future. I use GV on my jailbroken iPhone (with firewall, don't worry. Only apps I allow, when I allow, can use data) with the aide of SMS and Phone extensions that blissfully integrate them into the native Messaging and Phone apps. Here's my problem however. While I don't mind that the sending of texts uses data, data is also required to receive texts, since GV doesn't support international forwarding, not even just for texts. As a result, I'm forced to continually check my gmail account for new texts and download them that way. As I'm sure you're aware, the iPhone is a data hog and, to make matters worse, the cellphone market is cornered here in Syria like a monopoly in a cul de sac. There are two "rival" companies that are owned by the same person, probably to simulate the impression of competition, though their prices are exactly the same, with the only difference being certain limited time offers. The largest data (EDGE) package (which, "offers discounts up to 60%!) is 25MB. That's not enough to last me 24 hours. And so, I've decided to try out their 3G offers (btw, 3G was released here when 4G was released everywhere else). They have much better packages, but not only are the prices not much better, but the chances of slipping and going over your allotted data amount is bafflingly risky. These companies here (run by the government obviously) are designed to use trickery and deception to suck as much money as possible from employees. And while customer service "seems" just fine if you want to activate services (i.e anything involving paying them more money), it's actually quite useless if you have problems. And don't even think about ever asking for a refund on anything, no matter how wrongfully stolen.

Here's my situation. I text quite a bit, and never call. All my contacts are in North America, but I'm still not likely to ever make calls as there's no workaround I'm aware of to call through GV (via GSM, not data) for free, as the ones that exist for those living in north america. However I would still like to have the option (as I still live here, after all) to make calls to Syrian numbers, even though it would cost me quite a bit, but as you've stated regarding e911, I'd feel much safer having that option when and if I need it, regardless of how much it would cost me.

I'm sorry, I talk a lot and it tends to confuse people. I'll simplify my requirements:

1- The ability to forward incoming texts from GV to my phone without using data, making incoming texts free for me, in which case I'd only be paying for sending them via data. I'm currently receiving texts through my gmail account, which seems to be burning through my data like anything. So, with this data cost limb amputated, I'll only be charged for sending texts via GV. Which, when done via the SMS extension (and NOT any official GV apps!) should cost nothing over 1kb, though I have absolutely no way to confirm that (if you can help with this, providing me a way to monitor my data usage for texting, that'd be great. Since I'm using data strictly only for texting, and as such it's the only thing I need to monitor)
2- The ability to call Syrian numbers via data free of charge, even for just a single minute, as stated above, exclusively for emergencies.
3- The ability to have calls from my Syrian number forwarded to my phone via GV.
4- The ability to activate Facebook texts using my GV number. Fb texts is unavailable in Syria, but I have nevertheless found a loophole 3 years ago to make it work on my phone. However my number's changed and I can't seem to add the new one. I've tried adding my GV number but I never receive a text from them. And texting FBOOK (32665 I think) from my GV number doesn't seem to work. Apparently GV can't text such "service numbers" or whatever they're called ? Because if I can activate FB texts, coupled with GV, that would permanently strip my data usage down to just texting and, if I manage to find a way to forward texts to my phone, I'll literally only be charged for sending the texts via GV on data, as receiving them will be free, via GSM.

I forgot to touch on number 3. If I was to make the transition to 3G (as opposed to EDGE) it would mean serious compromise. I'm not sure how they did it, but 3G SIMs here cannot be used for making or receiving calls or texts (except texts from Syriatel of course, regarding offers, ads and the status of your account) and as such my iPhone will become more like a miniature iPad 3G, without phone or text capabilities. Fortunately though, using GV, I'll be able to fill this gap, except for one loophole that I have yet to find a solution to, forwarding calls from my Syrian number (the SIM of which will remain unused, paying a certain fee to keep it active for a year) to my iPhone (via my GV number). Do you know if this is currently possible ? Regardless of what charges may apply. At the very least I'd like to use this as a mere notification of incoming calls on my Syrian number, at which point I can use a landline to call the person back. I have no problem routing my GV numbers through several DID's or SIP's, as long as it eventually works. I've tried VoxOx, which was very promising (it even has an option of forwarding texts to my cellphone), but I can't seem to receive calls on it in order to hook it up to GV so that's out.

Again, many many thanks for this article. I have yet to read through all the comments, which I'll start now. Keep it up! I'm proud to call myself a mustachian now because of you! :D

EDIT: Having only gone through half of the comments so far (on page 5 currently) I already have a few more questions to ask.

Also regarding SMS usage. I'm familiar with biteSMS (and I think I've heard of crunch) but not chomp. All I know is that bite is the "free" version of the app on iPhone. I use bite, but mainly for all it's amazing features over the native Messaging app. I was disappointed to realize that Textfreek only sends free messages to other Textfreek users, as it is literally impossible to get everyone I know to install it on their devices, and as such am still limited to using it with Google Voice. As for date rates/SMS, I've been burned by this. I once spent 15MB in under an hour and a half of texting via the GV app. That was when I decided to revert to receiving texts via email and sending them via the GV extension.

As for Android, I've never been a fan, especially being an iPhone user, but you've really convinced me with all your talk on the Intercept (though, if I bought one, I'd prefer to get a GSM unlocked model that I can use here in Syria as well as back home in Canada). And despite all your warnings, I will most likely try rooting it (though I'm sure it's a much more complicated process than jailbreaking an iPhone) as I find it a must to experiment with my devices to bring them to their fullest potential. After all, prior to acquiring my current POS iPhone 3G, I knew absolutely nothing about iOS, having always disliked MacOS. But less than a month later, I became a pro, despite all the hiccups I ran into along the way and getting the phone bricked several times. My iPhone now has (software) features unavailable to devices prior to the iPhone 4, yet I have to admit that it is extremely slow and laggy, but hopefully when I find the time to restore it, I'll remove everything I don't absolutely need (I installed a plethora of features that I don't need merely to make my device less depressing, removing those should significantly increase performance and battery usage at the cost of the look and feel of the device, but it's a worthwhile sacrifice for making your apps, even Phone, load in under 20 seconds, if at all). But one question regarding CarrierIQ. If and when I get an android (to the best of my knowledge, and I've read about CIQ a couple years back, it's not preinstalled with iPhones) CarrierIQ will most definitely have to be removed from my device. You mentioned that certain kernels have CIQ embedded deep within them, making it practically impossible to remove, could you please shed more light on that ? As I refuse to operate a device with CIQ installed, both for privacy as well as data/battery drain. Though I should note in regard to battery drain that I don't mind charging my phone every night, since I currently have to charge mine every few hours depending on usage lol Also, in terms of security, I haven't found jailbreaking to be a big deal, though I'm sure rooting a droid is an entirely different matter. As an "old tech hand", is there a way to keep the rooted device entirely secure ? If not, what are the risky loopholes that can't be filled and, are they worth leaving the phone rooted ? If not, after modifying the kernel to my heart's desires, can I unroot the device ? You mentioned something about permanent roots, does that mean there are temporary ones ? (As in opening the case, tampering with it and closing it again, only on a software level) Because that would make me much more comfortable if there are great security threats to rooting. And you can't install cracked apps ? No offense to any developers here, but that's a seamless and risk-free process on iOS, I'd be lying if I said I'm not slightly disappointed.

A quick question regarding VoIP, you inferred that it costs hoards of data when really, I had a 256kbps connection here at one point and I was able to make Skype calls with one-party video. Video quality was cray of course (then again that does depend entirely on the type of cam used, and most of them suck) but apart from constant breaks and missing packets, voice was decent enough, especially when video is turned off. This is on a bandwidth of 25/30KB/s. Now I'm obviously not suggesting that this is ideal, I'm just comparing notes. If such pathetic bandwidths are capable of handling VoIP, why can't 1Mbps+ do it ? Could it be, since Skype uses their own proprietary stuff, that they require less bandwidth ? Does that make using Skype for DID and VoIP an ideal option ?

I'll most likely avoid piling onto this post with my questions regarding the second half of the comments (should there be any) and will post a new reply instead lol but sadly I can't continue reading them now and may not be able to until tomorrow (to your relief, I'm sure :D)

I should also note that, for all of my questions, I require explicitly free services as I have no access to credit cards while I'm here, and as such cannot make online purchases. And it's not like I have Walmart or Canadian Tire in my backyard for any requirements lol
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 06:45:49 am by Ace2213 »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #431 on: January 27, 2013, 01:47:07 pm »
Ace-

I've read your post, but I think this is subject material and circumstances well beyond my scope for a multitude of reasons. I suddenly feel a bit like one of those old gurus sitting up atop a mountain for decades and getting handed a koan by a student that makes him stand up, politely nod and walk back down the mountain in silence.

I could go into much closer detail on the subjects you posted on and the restrictions and technology involved, but it might not be the most constructive usage of either of our time to do so given everything. I'm genuinely sorry that I cannot be of greater help than to tell you that what you're after really isn't going to happen without money, resources, and data. That's unfortunately the rub of trying to communicate to the outside world using technology in a country run by a dictatorship who owns the communications infrastructure and is actively pursuing censorship.

Best of luck, though, and when you get back to Canada, we as a community are happy to have you around and will be more than willing to come together and help you with any frugal lifestyle advice. In the mean time, stay safe and be well. :)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 11:35:37 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #432 on: January 28, 2013, 02:19:00 am »
I'm well aware that you wouldn't know much about the telecom industry here (or the lack thereof) but all I'm asking for is internet services, really. DID's, SIP's that allow me to forward texts to an international number ? I'm sure you've come across something like that. Forget the more tricky parts of my request, like all the calling features I previously asked for, can't the international forwarding of texts alone be done ? I know this isn't unreasonable or technologically unfeasible. In fact, like I said, VoxOx offered this, but I couldn't receive calls on it for some reason. And their support is as useless as can be. I have yet to hear back on them regarding this issue, on both my VoxOx accounts.

And while I agree that this is a "whole other planet" in terms of trying to communicate with the real world, with the aide of a few proxy servers, VPN's and TOR, you're capable of practically anything. (That being said, I'd feel morally responsible if I didn't inform you that, the other day while I was sitting in a net cafe, the military busted in and searched all of us, apparently in search of an Iraqi that was there earlier that day. The most likely explanation is that they tracked down some of his web activity that was frowned upon and tracked it back to the IP's of the net cafe xD) And I'm assuming this is the reason you're reluctant to help me ? There really aren't any ramifications or anything to help me. You're bound to US and International law, at worst. I'm the one who's screwed xD With this in mind, the fact that my connection is constantly secure (I'm sure the mods can even see my not-so constant IP address to make sure of this), would you consider helping me ? Besides, many of my questions are entirely irrelevant to my geographic, like the general ones regarding droids, SMS, etc. I should also point out that, when on conventional DSL/ADSL home wifi connection, most of my questions become obsolete, as there are no data caps and you're not getting charged per MB as you do on a phone. But not only am I out and about often and would like to remain connected 24/7, but more importantly, it's not a snap of a finger to get ADSL here (as with everything else). Signing up for a new POTS phone line alone is not worth the hassle, not to mention that waiting for the setup to be complete and ready to use could take north of 6 months. And I don't need to tell you that, everything ISP's do in North America to rip people off is done here on a much more magnified scale.

I understand your reluctance, though with no basis, but I hope you would reconsider as this is a really big deal for me
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 02:29:42 am by Ace2213 »

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #433 on: January 28, 2013, 03:20:54 pm »
As many of you have heard unlocking cell phones is now illegal. If you disagree with this interpretation I urge you to sign this petition at we the people.

http://wh.gov/yA9n


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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #435 on: January 28, 2013, 07:47:38 pm »
As many of you have heard unlocking cell phones is now illegal. If you disagree with this interpretation I urge you to sign this petition at we the people.

http://wh.gov/yA9n

Thirded. Thanks for posting this and reminding folks, Dude.

Gotta love the DMCA and decisions like this. These were the same sets of rulings that made my old rooted Nook ST illegal because it was an Android device with a screen larger than a phone. When the ruling came down, I flashed the firmware back to B&N factory and cursed the fact that nobody is making an open tablet form factor computer with eInk display that isn't now illegal to root under the law. I'm sorry, using Calibre to convert my RSS feeds into ebook format is stupid complicated compared to just running an RSS reader on the device, and not worth the trouble.

The cynical part of me can't help but wonder if this is what's partly driving this whole idiotic oversized phone "phablet" fad lately... trying to make phones physically large enough to fall into the rooting size exemption.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 07:49:52 pm by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #436 on: January 29, 2013, 09:27:35 am »
Hey MMM would you mind tweeting out the link to the above petition. I tweeted it but my whole 7 followers wont make much difference. On the other hand you 3500 might make dent.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #437 on: February 15, 2013, 10:44:29 am »
I have an iphone 4 on Straight Talk Wireless.  I used a service for a few bucks to unlock it when I got it on Christmas.  How can I check to be sure it was unlocked?  I'm thinking about switching to Airvoice Wireless $10 plan, as I'm finding that I'm in wifi most of the time.  Also can anyone tell me if using imessage in wifi will use my minutes?  Anything else I should know? 

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #438 on: February 15, 2013, 04:12:23 pm »
I have an iphone 4 on Straight Talk Wireless.  I used a service for a few bucks to unlock it when I got it on Christmas.  How can I check to be sure it was unlocked?  I'm thinking about switching to Airvoice Wireless $10 plan, as I'm finding that I'm in wifi most of the time.  Also can anyone tell me if using imessage in wifi will use my minutes?  Anything else I should know?

Is that iPhone4 an AT&T GSM model that you bought a Straight Talk SIM card for? Just checking, as they have a hideously locked down and overpriced CDMA model for sale through Walmart now.

As for checking to ensure it was unlocked, the only real way to test is to put in a T-Mobile based SIM card... like something from Platinumtel. Doesn't have to be an active SIM, just has to be a SIM not from AT&T or an AT&T MVNO. Though, if the Straight Talk SIM is working fine, you'd probably not have any problem going to Airvoice as they're AT&T as well.

iMessage should be data only, so long as you restrict its usage to WiFi, you should be fine.

Other than iPhones are designed to be money pits, not really... but that's a redundant statement from me. Just be sure to keep 3G data off unless you need it, otherwise that $10 Airvoice credit'll disappear faster than ice cream in the Mojave.
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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #439 on: February 15, 2013, 05:14:12 pm »
I have an iphone 4 on Straight Talk Wireless.  I used a service for a few bucks to unlock it when I got it on Christmas.  How can I check to be sure it was unlocked?  I'm thinking about switching to Airvoice Wireless $10 plan, as I'm finding that I'm in wifi most of the time.  Also can anyone tell me if using imessage in wifi will use my minutes?  Anything else I should know?

Is that iPhone4 an AT&T GSM model that you bought a Straight Talk SIM card for? Just checking, as they have a hideously locked down and overpriced CDMA model for sale through Walmart now.

As for checking to ensure it was unlocked, the only real way to test is to put in a T-Mobile based SIM card... like something from Platinumtel. Doesn't have to be an active SIM, just has to be a SIM not from AT&T or an AT&T MVNO. Though, if the Straight Talk SIM is working fine, you'd probably not have any problem going to Airvoice as they're AT&T as well.

iMessage should be data only, so long as you restrict its usage to WiFi, you should be fine.

Other than iPhones are designed to be money pits, not really... but that's a redundant statement from me. Just be sure to keep 3G data off unless you need it, otherwise that $10 Airvoice credit'll disappear faster than ice cream in the Mojave.

It is an AT&T GSM (I bought it from a friend who upgraded to the iphone 5).  I purchased the sim from ST & I also got a T-Mobile card which I used when setting it up.  That's the first I heard the ST was selling iphones.  I know that you aren't a fan of iphones but I was an android user & it was so buggy I had it for 2 years & I had lots of problems with it.  So far this phone has not given me any issues at all. 
   
Another question, seems obvious but with the $10 AV plan you can mix & match how you use the $10 correct?  If I were to run out of minutes, but still have days left on the plan, I can then fuel it up with more $?     

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #440 on: February 15, 2013, 05:37:08 pm »
It would just start you on another 30 days with $10. 

Mama Mia

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #441 on: February 15, 2013, 07:20:05 pm »
It would just start you on another 30 days with $10.
I was talking about the $10 cash card to extend the minutes not the $10 plan. 

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #442 on: February 17, 2013, 08:04:00 am »
It is an AT&T GSM (I bought it from a friend who upgraded to the iphone 5).  I purchased the sim from ST & I also got a T-Mobile card which I used when setting it up.  That's the first I heard the ST was selling iphones.  I know that you aren't a fan of iphones but I was an android user & it was so buggy I had it for 2 years & I had lots of problems with it.  So far this phone has not given me any issues at all. 
   
Another question, seems obvious but with the $10 AV plan you can mix & match how you use the $10 correct?  If I were to run out of minutes, but still have days left on the plan, I can then fuel it up with more $?     

I'll address the new question first. Yes, you can, sort of. Unless this policy has changed again recently, if your run out of time with the $10 a month plan, you can load another $10 a month plan, but I don't believe it resets the month cycle dates, so if you add it before the window at the end of the month, you'll have more talk time, but you'll lose any unused minutes and still have to buy another $10 plan at the end of the month. If they've reverted that policy as Kriegsspiel seems to have suggested, then adding a new $10 month card when you run out would just reset the month start date. This would easily be avoidable/simplified if they just allowed their $10 cash card to work with their $10 a month plan, but I want to say that it only works with their "unlimited" plans. Might be worth calling Airvoice support to ask about current policies and restrictions before switching. This is also one of the reasons why I prefer pay by the minute plans over monthly plans with light users, you just add more credit as you need it.

As for the rest of your post:

Yeah, StraightTalk is selling CDMA iPhones now.... total effing rip-off. Thanks to the new laws, America Movil's habits towards proprietary lock-in and refusal to carrier unlock their handsets in general, and the fact that CDMA handsets are hardly portable between carriers anyway, it's a slam-dunk cash cow for them. "Want an iPhone? Sure, we got iPhones! Walmart even offers financing with payments as low as $25 a month partly because our prices are $50-100 higher than our competitors or even from Apple directly for their GSM carrier unlocked phones despite having more expensive plans! Have fun paying $45 a month for the rest of that overpriced, unsubsidized phone's life if you ever want to use it because now it's illegal to carrier unlock it without our doing so to take that phone anywhere else, and we don't unlock our phones. By the way, you know Apple designed those handsets to need some form of hardware repair with battery replacement at least every two years, right? And let's not forget the draconian terms of service we'll subject you to that allow us to terminate your service because we're using the word "unlimited" with that $45 a month plan and refuse to specify the usage numbers that'll get you terminated... pleasure doing business with you!"

I sincerely doubt it's a coincidence that they only started offering iPhones right around the same time carrier unlocking became illegal, despite the availability of the phones through other prepaid carriers since last May. Kind of like how T-Mobile went completely unsubsidized with their phone offerings right around the same time. Instead of trapping customers with contracts, I suspect carriers are now trying to trap customers with the promise of "cheaper" plans and huge wads invested in more expensive handsets that they can't get unlocked to take elsewhere.... but I'm speculating without digging up enough proof to back this claim up yet and I've digressed.

As for the whole Android thing... Android's going to be buggy due to how most manufacturers and carriers completely ruin the install with poorly configured phones loaded with crapware. Experience with Android can be a very pleasant one if you use a Nexus handset or a handset that has CyanogenMod support, as those phones will behave like Google intended with their OS development. This isn't to say I even recommend the added expense and hassle of Android devices anymore, but do keep it in mind. Nokia Symbian based and Java feature phones can be just as bulletproof with the end user experience with no tinkering whatsoever, and can even do a lot of the same functions.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2013, 08:07:44 am 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.

TheDude

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #443 on: February 17, 2013, 08:56:26 am »
Android can be a little buggy but its probably more hardware or setup related if its that bad. As for as a stock phone software I really like HTC Sense. I think they have done the best manufacture mod of anyone.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #444 on: February 17, 2013, 09:42:13 pm »
I have made the break from AT&T!  =D  Well, I'm not all the way over the fence yet.  My phone is a second one on someone else's plan.  Was one.  We shut it off today!  Unfortunately, the early termination fee won't get paid until the next statement.  (We tried, but no go.)  So, I can't get unlocked until then.  Is it the case that since it was AT&T and I'm moving to AirVoice that I might be able to go ahead anyway?  I have my new SIM card for my iPhone, (haven't put it in yet) and have my $10 plan purchased and the phone backed up to my iTunes.  Do you know if I can sign up with a new temporary number and then port over my old number later and replace it?  Or do I have to wait until AT&T really lets me go to port the number?  :)  I have a plasticky cheapo go phone that will get me through a month or two for emergencies, so no huge hurry.  I just want my iPhone back in action.  Because I lurve it.

Also, I would love to know more about Google Voice.  Do I have another phone number and use that over wifi?  I keep reading about how people have it forward to their phone, but doesn't that use minutes then?  I need a "Google Voice and Why I Should Consider it 101" lesson.  :)

All in all, I will be at around $70 total per month for Internet, iPhone and Netflix.  I'll have cable TV for 6 months with that as a new customer, (switching to internet in my name) which I will cancel before I get charged.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #445 on: February 18, 2013, 04:01:33 am »
Kulshan, how do you figure out what early termination fee will be with ATT? I would be breaking 2 contracts. Been with them 13 years but I sure don't get any deals from it LOL.

I am very very confused about how this all works. With your new situation will you be able to text? I can live without it but my 2 teens can't as they text for fun, school, and work etc..  We are in the boonies and not enough wifi anywhere to count on that. Only Mcdonalds offers it and I live miles away from them.

I think I need a guide for rural areas  :D
Too long in the subdivision

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #446 on: February 18, 2013, 08:32:28 am »
I have made the break from AT&T!  =D  Well, I'm not all the way over the fence yet.  My phone is a second one on someone else's plan.  Was one.  We shut it off today!  Unfortunately, the early termination fee won't get paid until the next statement.  (We tried, but no go.)  So, I can't get unlocked until then.  Is it the case that since it was AT&T and I'm moving to AirVoice that I might be able to go ahead anyway?  I have my new SIM card for my iPhone, (haven't put it in yet) and have my $10 plan purchased and the phone backed up to my iTunes.  Do you know if I can sign up with a new temporary number and then port over my old number later and replace it?  Or do I have to wait until AT&T really lets me go to port the number?  :)  I have a plasticky cheapo go phone that will get me through a month or two for emergencies, so no huge hurry.  I just want my iPhone back in action.  Because I lurve it.

Also, I would love to know more about Google Voice.  Do I have another phone number and use that over wifi?  I keep reading about how people have it forward to their phone, but doesn't that use minutes then?  I need a "Google Voice and Why I Should Consider it 101" lesson.  :)

All in all, I will be at around $70 total per month for Internet, iPhone and Netflix.  I'll have cable TV for 6 months with that as a new customer, (switching to internet in my name) which I will cancel before I get charged.

Okay, if you've already terminated your line with AT&T and ou no longer have service with them on your handset, you've lost your phone number. If you want to keep your phone number, you never terminate your service with your current provider as you will lose your phone number and the act of porting your number out to your new provider would terminate it for you anyway. As for paying off the ETF, they should have let you do so when you called in or at the store without terminating your line or paying it off afterward. All you need to tell them is that you want to buy out the remaining contract on your device so you can carrier unlock it. The problem is, AT&T will not unlock any AT&T handset that is not attached to an AT&T account in good standing, and I fear they may have hornswaggled you. If I understood what you wrote correctly, it sounds like they knew you were leaving, so they burnt bridges, took your phone number, locked you out of your handset, and cut you loose.

Since your phone has not been carrier unlocked, you can still take it to Airvoice, H2O Wireless, or any other AT&T based MVNOs to use, but the carrier locking will make reconfiguring your data APN all that more difficult as you'll need to use the iPhone Configuration Utility to do it unless you want to jailbreak. Now technically, if you bought your phone before the third week of January, you still have the legal right to carrier unlock your phone yourself utilizing a service, but those services have started drying up for US carriers given the act has become illegal starting with handsets that have been sold within the past month or so.

If your phone number is still active with AT&T and service hasn't been terminated, then you would need to port your number at point of activation as you cannot do so after activation with Airvoice unless you want to buy another SIM card and $10 credit.

Here's some information regarding what Google Voice does and does not do. You'd get another phone number, and you could theoretically use it over WiFi with the appropriate apps, but it's neither a secure or good fallback option for out and about on public networks. Under normal configuration and default usage, yes, GV uses your minutes. Most people around here primarily use it as a way to save on texting costs using data.

Finally, the last thing I want to ask you is why take the free cable TV if it's only a limited time thing anyway? If you've no plan to do so long term, there's no point to keep it short term. Providers offer these sorts of deals in anticipation of trying to have you adapt to having the service and condition you into wanting it, then they make it difficult to untangle if you go to cancel 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.

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #447 on: February 18, 2013, 08:37:57 am »
Kulshan, how do you figure out what early termination fee will be with ATT? I would be breaking 2 contracts. Been with them 13 years but I sure don't get any deals from it LOL.

I am very very confused about how this all works. With your new situation will you be able to text? I can live without it but my 2 teens can't as they text for fun, school, and work etc..  We are in the boonies and not enough wifi anywhere to count on that. Only Mcdonalds offers it and I live miles away from them.

I think I need a guide for rural areas  :D

ETF Calculator here.
ROI Switching Calculator here.

As for WiFi, the anticipation is that you utilize your home internet connection to supplement your data habit on your smartphones when utilizing services like Kik, Google Voice, Nimbuzz, Viber or any of the classic IM services to replace your SMS habit with your most texted friends.

If you need further advice, I can certainly give you a few pointers, but I don't know what you're working with already. Fortunately, my own parents are out in the sticks, so I've got a pretty good idea how to bend services for that sort of environment.
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KulshanGirl

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #448 on: February 18, 2013, 09:13:28 am »
Well, we didn't really terminate service, just had one phone (mine) removed, all friendly like.  We've been on the phone with them and as soon as the early termination fee is paid and his account is updated, we should be able to use the online unlock form without a problem.  That's what they said on the phone, I think.  I don't get the impression that it was a big deal or a problem.  He is still in good standing with AT&T.  I'm not sure I understand how they could port my number if it was alreaty in use by AT&T.  No biggie though, I can just get a new number.  :) 

unplugged, I don't think this $10 plan would suffice for a texting teenager, but they do have a plan with unlimited text I think.  :) 

 

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Re: Communications & Tech - The ISP, VoIP and Cellphone Superguide
« Reply #449 on: February 18, 2013, 09:30:59 am »
Well, we didn't really terminate service, just had one phone (mine) removed, all friendly like.  We've been on the phone with them and as soon as the early termination fee is paid and his account is updated, we should be able to use the online unlock form without a problem.  That's what they said on the phone, I think.  I don't get the impression that it was a big deal or a problem.  He is still in good standing with AT&T.  I'm not sure I understand how they could port my number if it was alreaty in use by AT&T.  No biggie though, I can just get a new number.  :) 

That's what I mean, you had your service removed... this means your service has been terminated. Unfortunately, you can't just reach into the pool of numbers and pick one out as that's not how the system works. Different carriers own different pools of numbers, and numbers typically have to be out of service for X days before going back into service. If you want to keep it, you have to actively port it from one service in good standing to the other. It may seem counter-intuitive to you, but it requires being in service to preserve the number to another provider. You are, unfortunately, just going to have to get a new number at this point as the old one is gone unless AT&T will let you re-establish service with the line first. The only downside is, prepaid number pools tend to have more heavily used numbers circulating, so you might potentially wind up with more wrong numbers and unwanted text messages.

Fortunately with his own account still in use, you should hopefully be able to get the handset unlocked under these circumstances, but AT&T likes to pull cute stunts with their customers sometimes.

For future reference for yourself and others who might be confused, if it hasn't been clear, the order for porting out on a contract GSM handset goes: ETF fee, carrier unlock, number port to new carrier.

Do not call to cancel your service with your current provider, do not tell them what you're doing beyond wanting your handset "unlocked" for "travel", do not let them talk you out of being able to buy out your contract before you choose to terminate your service through number porting.
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.