Sunday, November 11, 2018

Open Mobile Looks Closed

We could have predicted the demise of Open Mobile in Puerto Rico when they agreed to "share" their network with Sprint.  Today, Open Mobile doesn't actually say they have given up the business, but their stores are now all branded as Boost Mobile.  Since last year's hurricanes, wireless customers in Puerto Rico have suffered from spotty service and the carriers suffered from a reduction to their income stream.  Sprint can survive this but Open Mobile can't.


This may have been a decision made before the storms but the result is that the network will work better under a major player.  As usual, we hate to see another carrier bite the dust, but if you live on the island, you should be glad the way things turned out..at least for your wireless service.

Friday, November 2, 2018

When 5G Isn't Quite 5G

Verizon Wireless was the first to start with what they call "5G", but it's really only a step closer.  Verizon's 5G, called "Home", is actually a slowed-down version of their ultimate high-speed Internet service.  In order to win the 5G footrace, Verizon is offering fixed wireless equipment that does not use the universally-accepted technology (3GPP), and they do not yet offer the near 5G speed standards, near 20Gbs.  Verizon does plan to pick up the speed and eventually offer the latest technology, but will need to replace customer equipment when it becomes available.

Similarly, AT&T doesn't yet offer a true 5G experience, instead, they call their high-er speed data, "5G Evolution."  That means that they're getting faster in some areas on their way to eventually offering real 5G performance.  AT&T also claims they will have 5G mobile coverage, soon.  So, there are some name games going on here.  We're trying to figure out how to respond, both on our 5G Coverage Map page, and on our new 5G web site, Mountain5G.com.

Related: 5G for You?

Sprint will eventually offer a faster data experience but they have numerous headwinds getting to that point.  T-Mobile, who has been able to expand new coverage across the country at a surprising rate, claims they will offer a hefty 5G product that will be available in several large markets soon, also available for mobile use.

Don't overlook the other 2 hurdles that must be crossed: 5G-capable devices, and that so much new wireless infrastructure is required,  with so many obstacles to building it.  We don't doubt that each of the major carriers will get there and the race to 5G does include many methods of getting us increased broadband downloads.  Enjoy the trip to fast...slowly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cheapest Prepaids Update

This is from our Cheapest Prepaids Page:


Bargain-basement Prepaid starts as low as FREE! Here are examples of how low it can go.
  • FREEDOMPOP
    FreedomPop gives you a certain number of Talk minutes, Text and Data for FREE!  The idea is that you'll like their service enough to add some of their low-priced features after you sign up and see how much you like their service. Even after adding features, your monthly price can be super low. Get more info on FreedomPop.

  • UNREAL MOBILE
    Unreal Mobile offers plans starting at $10 that include Unlimited Talk & Text and 1Gb of Data. They also offer a 2 week trial period and Data drops to 2G at the end of your allotment. Both CDMA and GSM phones are supported.  Lean more about Unreal Mobile.

  • T-MOBILE PREPAID
    T-Mobile's lowest-priced Prepaid is only $3 a month and there's no penalty for going over your allotment, they just charge you at the same, per-use rate. It's easy to keep the account going without much action from you with Auto-Refill.

  • TELLO
    Tello plans start at $5/month.  Get 100 Min. Talk/ 250 Texts/ 200 Mb Data for just $9/month. Add or subtract features as needed for more savings. Get More Information About Tello.

  • TWIGBY
    In the same price range, Twigby offers 300 Min. Talk/ Unlimited International Texts/ 200 Mb High Speed Data + Unlimited 2G Data for just $9/month.  Get More Details about Twigby.

Friday, September 28, 2018

What Does 5G Mean for You?

Here it comes! 5G wireless holds the promise of big and fast data, but what does it mean to the average Joe wireless user?  There are so many potential uses of this newest hot technology we'll need to prioritize.  To us, the most immediate promise is the availability of a real competitor to the established cable and DSL Internet providers.  Most cellular carriers will initially be offering 5G as a Fixed Wireless product, meant to be used in the home or office.  Get your box and you're online at super speeds.

The advocates of 5G claim it will revolutionize everything from cars to toothbrushes.  In order for that to happen, the carriers will need to add 5G to each and every cell site in the nation, and a bunch of new sites as well.  So, for the dream of the Internet of Things to be realized, there will be quite a bit of work to be done.  The short term dream is for us to enjoy the capabilities of that device we carry in our pocket to work faster and better, but that's pretty narrow thinking.  5G can be much more than that.


Verizon Wireless is already accepting signups for 5G if you live in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Houston and Indianapolis.  I'm now looking at the deposit I made for fiber to come to my neighborhood as maybe a bit premature.  The race is on and right now it looks like wireless will win.  We have established 2 web sites that help you navigate Interstate Highway 5G.  One is the 5G Wireless Coverage page on our Cellular Maps site, and a whole new web site that will help you decide when and how to sign up for 5G Wireless, Mountain 5G.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Net Neutrality or Kiss Your House Goodbye?

Verizon Wireless gets a thumbs down during the northern California wildfires. They denied a request to un-throttle firefighters' phones.  These firefighters had subscribed to an "Unlimited" plan. 

Verizon's Response: "Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations. We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires. In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake."

"Verizon Wireless' throttling of a fire department that uses its data services has been submitted as evidence in a lawsuit that seeks to reinstate federal net neutrality rules."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Breakaway Wireless Breaks Away in Utah

Breakaway Wireless, the aptly-named cellular service of the Manti Communications Company in Utah, has indeed broken away.  This ultra-small carrier leaves a small hole in the middle of the state and their few customers have few choices...all bad.


As wireless advocates, we hope they will continue to use their network for other uses such as wireless Internet service (they haven't told us what they're doing with the network).  Before their breakaway, Breakaway shared the facilities of the Rural Independent Network Alliance (RINA) which now puts that cooperative association in jeopardy as they approach the critical number of subscribers to keep their other associated networks operating.  This may also affect a small number of Sprint roamers...but it's a very small number.

Monday, August 20, 2018

NMobile in New Mexico Calls it Quits

NMobile, the renamed cellular arm of the LEACO Rural Telephone Cooperative of Hobbs, New Mexico has thrown the big switch.  Their cellular service has been discontinued and their customers were left to fend for themselves as of June 30, 2018.  Sadly, the old LEACO network was one of the best around but serving a very small population that probably preferred to go with the 'big boys.'


LEACO advertises that their Internet service offers "LTE Wireless Internet", which we guess is the new use of their old cellular network, but we can't find anyone there who can either confirm or deny it.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Enemy Fighting 5G

You think 5G is just around the corner?  It is in some places, but there are some areas that will see 5G long after we see it in China.  The problem is the same brick wall wireless providers have faced for years...local government.  A typical case is in Austin, Texas where multiple city departments know that installing the small cell sites desired for 5G coverage requires far more permits, licenses and steps of bureaucracy there than they do in any other city in Texas, or almost any where else.


We're not getting on Austin's case, but we know this is a big obstacle in a number of cites, counties and similar fiefdoms of this country, and you might be living in one.  Just a heads up, you may need to check in with your town to make sure your chances of seeing 5G coverage aren't held back by some well-meaning friends and neighbors who still think telecommunications lives and dies by the dial tone.

Ask your community development director or building department how the small cell/5G process is moving along in your neighborhood.  The city where I live owns their own fiber backbone and they would be thrilled to hook it up to some small cells and make our burg a connected community.  Or so we think.  We won't know until we check.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Stop the Robocalls with Wireless!

You might know I replaced my land line phone at home with a wireless home phone.  The box sits out of sight and feeds phones all over the house.  The family hasn't really noticed the difference...but neither have the robocallers.  The idea was to keep the existing home phone number and keep the phones that ring when someone calls the "Home" number.


Of course, most of us now call a person instead of a home, so the home phone has become pretty much just a backup.  With so few legitimate calls coming in on the home phone, we thought it may be time to turn off the ringer and just let the calls go to voice mail.  With the local phone company charging over $50 per month for a line we no longer answer, we are thrilled that the wireless replacement is just $15 per month.  Yes, we could just buy a bargain cell phone and use its voice mail, but my family has a tendency to lose a phone they don't use on a regular basis.  Replacing the home phone with the wireless box gave us what we want: the household backup phone (have you ever thought about what if the babysitter's phone battery went dead?) and a reliable voice mail system.

While we're not stopping the robocalls, few of them leave a message, and the occasional real caller who actually wants to contact us, can still keep in touch.  For a short time we considered the even cheaper broadband-based (VoIP) phone replacement, but our wireless box has work flawlessly for years, compared to our Internet connection that goes out for various lengths of time almost once a month.

BTW, those of you who moved in to your current home and never installed a "home phone", we can't help you.