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Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sat Sep 03, 2022 2:48 pm

Anyone have experience with T-Mobile prepaid (not to be confused with Metro by T-Moblile) ? I believe it is now branded as Connect by T-Mobile.

The speed tests I've seen on Stetson Doggett's YouTube channel look very promising, nearly on par with TMO's much pricier high end post-paid plan (called Magenta, I believe).

I also understand I'd receive some domestic roaming capability, which would be great in the boonies up north.


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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by TC Talks » Sun Sep 04, 2022 12:46 pm

I can tell you that Sprint is not existent in the traverse City area. I don't think T-Mobile has any hardware up here.

I can't imagine it would be reliable.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Sep 04, 2022 1:42 pm

While that was likely the case at one time, it certainly is not the case today. (As an aside, Sprint doesn't exist anymore; it's part of T-Mobile now.)

Looks like T-Mobile has good coverage up north aside from heavily wooded areas that are far from major roads. Most of the greater Traverse City area now has 4G LTE or 5G service from them, if their coverage map is reliable.

https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map


Verizon is certainly the gold standard for coverage in Michigan, though.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Mon Sep 05, 2022 8:21 pm

A word about deprioritization:
During last week's widespread power outages, my speeds on Mint Mobile were abysmal!

I was averaging 3 Mbps download speed and about 0.3 Mbps upload speed. Some of my speed tests were even poorer than that.

I've been doing more research on this topic and have learned that Google Fi is at the top of the pecking order, enjoying the same high level of priority as T-Mobile Magenta Plus postpaid users. Connect by T-Mobile prepaid users also are in the same high priority tier so long as their data cap is not exceeded.

On Verizon's network, Xfinity, Spectrum, U.S. Mobile and Verizon Unlimited Plus are at the top of the food chain. Verizon prepaid, Verizon Unlimited Essentials, and most MVNO customers (including Visible) are deprioritized roughly equally.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by TC Talks » Mon Sep 05, 2022 8:28 pm

MWmetalhead wrote:
Sun Sep 04, 2022 1:42 pm
While that was likely the case at one time, it certainly is not the case today. (As an aside, Sprint doesn't exist anymore; it's part of T-Mobile now.)

Looks like T-Mobile has good coverage up north aside from heavily wooded areas that are far from major roads. Most of the greater Traverse City area now has 4G LTE or 5G service from them, if their coverage map is reliable.

https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map


Verizon is certainly the gold standard for coverage in Michigan, though.
Poor in the first tier suburbs Non-existent in Leelanau County. Its useless.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sat Sep 10, 2022 9:09 am

Well, I just switched to T-Mobile's "Connect" prepaid plan. Their online order form has a glitch or two, but I was able to soldier through it. My zip code's post office is different than my actual municipality, which caused the e911 data form to pitch a fit, but a redo resolved the issue somehow.

Was able to use eSIM (although the instructions were not user friendly), which is great because (a) I avoided a $10.00 charge for a physical SIM card and (b) my phone's SIM card reader doesn't always work well.

Speeds seem better than Mint, as they should, since T-Mobile prepaid is higher priority on the TMO network. I'd say speeds are the same as Google Fi, which is considerably more expensive for a single line plan.

I will say Fi's phone app is very user friendly, and the free VPN is a nice feature. Not something I'm willing to pay an extra ~$15 a month for, though! Fi is a good choice if you live in a part of the country where U.S. Cellular operates.

TMO prepaid does offer free caller ID (name and number) and free spam block.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Sep 11, 2022 7:22 am

Analyzing speeds further, TMO's download and upload speeds in moderate signal areas with high user density are very underwhelming.

After a few speed tests, with about a -103 dBm low band 5G signal, I'm averaging about 10 mbps down and 1 mbps up.

When I had a Verizon post paid plan on my old Samsung S7 Edge, I averaged about 30 mbps down using 4G LTE. Signal strength was also better. I think the radio antennae built into the Pixel phones are not as good as the Samsung phones. I will be switching back to a Samsung device a year from now. I'd probably still be using my S7 today if my company's I.T. department would've allowed me to use an old version of Android (the S7 stopped receiving updates after Android 9, I believe).
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by sdaddy » Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:25 pm

If your phone can accept an eSim, T-Mobile is giving 90 days of their service free.
https://www.t-mobile.com/offers/free-trial

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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Tue Sep 13, 2022 6:18 pm

Holy crap! Wish I would've known about this last weekend. GOOD FIND!

My phone does indeed accept eSIM.

However, even if I had tried to take advantage of this free offer, I'm not sure I would've qualified. The red print includes the following:
Who is eligible for Network Pass?

Non-T-Mobile customers that have not previously participated in Network Pass and meet the following criteria:

-Have an eligible, unlocked phone with available eSIM and be located in the U.S.; a list of eligible phones can be found here
-Weren't a T-Mobile customer or customer using the T-Mobile network within the past 90 days
-Aren't current Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint customers, or customers of T-Mobile partners using the T-Mobile network
Mint uses the T-Mobile network, so if T-Mobile has any sure proof way of checking my carrier history, I would've been disqualified from taking advantage of the free trial.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Nov 06, 2022 9:33 am

Mint Mobile and Boost Mobile are now offering "early access" to big Black Friday cut rate deals.

Mint Mobile is offering buy 3 months, get 3 months free for all of its plans. This is the same special they offered a year ago:
https://www.mintmobile.com/plans/

Boost Mobile is offering 3 months of 4G/5G service for $15 months total ($5 per month), with pricing reverting to $15 per month ($45 for three months) thereafter:
https://deals.boostmobile.com/mypromo/s ... &utm_term=

By forewarned, with more & more Sprint traffic now being routed onto TMO towers, I noticed that de-priortization for data users who are MVNO customers has gotten really bad in some congested urban areas in recent months.

If your phone can receive a strong 5G signal from the nearest TMO tower such that it can use less crowded radio frequencies, this will be a non-issue. I've gotten download speeds upwards of 400 Mbps using mid-band 5G on Mint when sitting two blocks away from the nearest tower. However, if you are like me and live in a densely populated area more than a mile from the nearest tower so that only very low band 5G frequencies and 4G LTE frequencies are operable, be prepared for download speeds that are often 5 Mbps or worse.

Between Mint and Boost, user reviews seem to be more favorable for Mint. I've read of multiple issues on Boost regarding poor customer service, crackly / dropped call audio, SIM cards not working on certain phones, number porting issues, etc.

I've used Mint twice previously and found the customer service to be good. To cancel service and port out your number, you do need to call Mint or use chat through their app, which is mildly annoying, but both times I've done so, the whole process took less than 10 minutes. I've had no experience with Boost.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by craig11152 » Sun Mar 26, 2023 1:18 pm

To resurrect this thread I am no longer a happy Visible customer. It has to do with wanting a new phone. Lots of details I won't go in to.
I am a fan of the verizon network and not a fan of the T-mobile network in my particular area.

I am now thinking of trying US Mobile, a verizon MVNO since they will take the phone I was planning to buy, a Motorola Edge 2022. Its $350 at Best Buy and Motorola with 256gb of storage. The same phone at Visible, only 128GB of storage is $504. Visible says the 256GB phone isn't compatible. I think that is horseshit because all the other specs are the same. And Motorola says its compatible.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by Plate Cap » Mon Mar 27, 2023 1:30 am

Hi Craig,

There is no quick answer, as MVNOs are mixed bag of pros and cons. Mostly the only pro is the pricing. The cons are many: you might not have the option for free Mexico and Canada calls and texts....you might not be able to buy the 'international day pass' (really nice deal)....you may not have the full number of phones, models, memory amounts, and colors available....you will ALWAYS be considered a 2nd class citizen by the root carrier as regards their post paid customers....etc. You WILL most definitely be prioritized in times of network congestion.

I really stepped in the poop once. I like flagship phones and always have owned one. One year I decided to be smart guy and get an unlocked phone from Amazon . Quite a better deal. Well, yes, it worked on AT&T, but they intentionally withheld video calling, wifi calling (which I really need) and VoLTE from such 'BYO' phones. This happened even as a post-paid customer, with a normal account. They won't necessarily TELL you that is going on, but research on the web showed a number of customers with the same problem. I had to live with it all for a while, cycle the phone out, and buy a phone from AT&T before I got all the services back.

Most can live with most of this, but go into it with your eyes wide open. As I said, you will most definitely be a second class customer to the main carrier.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by craig11152 » Mon Mar 27, 2023 8:32 am

Plate Cap wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2023 1:30 am
Hi Craig,

One year I decided to be smart guy and get an unlocked phone from Amazon . Quite a better deal. Well, yes, it worked on AT&T, but they intentionally withheld video calling, wifi calling (which I really need) and VoLTE from such 'BYO' phones. This happened even as a post-paid customer, with a normal account. They won't necessarily TELL you that is going on, but research on the web showed a number of customers with the same problem. I had to live with it all for a while, cycle the phone out, and buy a phone from AT&T before I got all the services back.
Now that I did not know. If one did their due diligence could you know in advance what features the carrier might disable?
The frustrating thing with my Visible experience is that on the Visible website when looking at the specifications for a given phone, Visible provides a link to that phone on the manufacturers website for more information.
I was beyond stunned that Visible would give me that link then not accept that version of the phone.

Other than that I have not been unhappy. My wife is a full fledged postpaid Verizon customer and in the 22 months I've been with Visible nothing has really been noticeable about her data access verses mine. Now maybe if we walked around the football stadium on game day it would become noticable.

Visible now sells a "premium data" plan for $35 versus $25 for the standard plan. Supposedly the premium data plan puts you on a par or much closer to on a par with a Verizon postpaid customer. I don't know how true that is veses a sales gimmick to get you to pay more.

US Mobile has a similar claim but has a 40 gb or 100 GB cap on the premium data depending on the price you pay.

For me a vast majority of my data usage comes through a wifi connection rather than my provider. Whether I am at home or a kids house or work I tap into that wifi. I could probably live with a 5GB plan. But 15 or more would be a nice buffer.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by Plate Cap » Mon Mar 27, 2023 11:21 am

craig11152 wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2023 8:32 am
...........If one did their due diligence could you know in advance what features the carrier might disable?
That might be doable, but still a kind of tough. You would have to make a list of all the features you want to work, then sort of 'reverse research' complaints on support forums and boards not unlike this one. Then you would have to find the problem you are looking for, weed out all the outdated and just plain bad info, and make a determination. Tall order, and one that requires expert 'Googling' and patience.

I found, for example, that AT&T never actually came straight out and admitted that they had me penalized for using a new unlocked phone. When complaining about no VoLTE, video calling or (again, most important) wi-fi callling, I was eventually up several levels into technical support, and they were still either not aware of 'why' or really good at playing dumb as to the actual issue of the phone simply being directed by the carrier to shut those features off.

Be reminded that my problem was a new but unlocked non-carrier-supplied phone. You may not have a problem, but if you do yours might be the use of an MVNO between you and the carrier. If AT&T was willing to penalize me, a full-account postpaid customer, I don't think they would bat an eye at doing it to an MVNO's customer. That might make it even a little harder to get to the answer in advance. They probably have a list of 'penalties' they apply to the features available to subscribers using MVNOs.

Fine point: My wi-fi worked just fine for browsing. I just couldn't make a wi-fi based call in an area (my house, for example) where the MESH system has perfect coverage but the cellular coverage from the outside not so good. Now, with an AT&T purchased phone, it works very well....even transferring in and out of MESH to cellular coverage on a call.

I'm lucky enough that I can afford the carrier's postpaid rate; I'm grateful for that. Most of my bill comes from equipment purchases for my bride and I anyway. I'm getting stung a little on cellular service to a laptop, and need to work that out one of these days, but I digress.
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Re: Which mobile phone MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are best?

Post by craig11152 » Mon Mar 27, 2023 12:15 pm

I wonder if that is an ATT thing? We have now bought two phones from Best Buy for her Verizon account with no problems. When I was with Verizon I bought one phone from Best Buy. In all cases Best Buy got the phones activated and transferred data from the old phone to the new phone.

Eventually I left Verizon for the MVNO world. My first go was with Google Fi. I bought a phone from them. Then when I got tired of Google Fi I went to Visible and also bought a phone from them.
Now I want a second phone with Visible but don't want to pay a 43% mark up from the going rate.

I have some time to think on it since my current phone is working OK. Its 3 months short of two years old and I start looking for a new phone at about the 2 year mark. As mentioned before I buy phones in the $250 to $375 range.
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