Inexpensive Cell Service Experience

Recently I went in search of new secondary service for a work phone. And my really old iPhone was totally dead. So I figured I grab my current ‘spare’ Samsung 8+, which is wholly owned by me supposed to be completely unlocked etc, and use that.
When I tried to get the phone ‘registered’ (have to check the IMEI on sites to see if compatible and not under contract etc.) with any MVNO it was showing that it was NOT TRULY unlocked by Sprint – still had some contractual issues.
To finally get that BS cleared up was a complete exercise in determined persistence. A hassle requiring 30+ hours of chatting and numerous calls!. More on that incredible story in and upcoming post.

I was looking for an inexpensive, non contract and non big three service provider – one that would compliment my current Sprint backbone phone service – CDMA network(s). But again, without the Verizon prices. And I won’t use ATT because of their horrid service everywhere I am or have been.
I searched far and wide for and MVNO that rides on Verizon’s and Sprint’s backbone. [More on what an MVNO is here
I finally settled on Twigby after checking out compatibility and network information of all the MVNO’s I could find that met my criteria.
And … I’m now using Twigby for my work phone. (I still have Sprint for main phone because I want the priority of a top tier provider for that phone)

Twigby is an MVNO that primarily provides talk, text and data service on the Sprint network with talk and text roaming on Verizon’s network – so you should be able to call from just about anywhere in the US.

Most newer iPhones and Android phones are compatible. If you currently have Sprint, Verizon, Virgin, Boost and just about any other CDMA network provider it’ll work.
GSM only phones (read many of AT&Ts older offerings) are NOT compatible with Twigby’s service.

I’m on WiFi most of the time and don’t take many calls – my work calls are usually pretty short. And Twigby’s plans come with unlimited texts.
They also have data overage coverage will bump you up a plan notch to keep you from getting hosed with giant bill.
I chose 300 minutes and 3GB data and it’s only $19/mo for 1st 6 months, and then $24 after. And you get hotspot included.
NO contract!
A few things I had to do. First when trying hotspot – it didn’t work/load so chatted with them online and they reset my ‘network/plan’ settings and then on phone updated settings and it worked!
When checking my LTE speeds at first I was frustrated because they seemed slow (using the Ookla Speedtest app), so signed into account and checked the bandwidth settings (they can be adjusted to enable you to throttle yourself so you don’t use loads of data), changed settings to lower speed, saved then back to unlimited and BAM ripping 4G speeds.

For the past few months now I have been amazed at the service – inexpensive and it works!

If you have an unlocked phone and want to check it out go here:
When signing up, on the last page I believe, if you enter my account (Account Number: 41549 in the referral section YOU and I will each get a $20 credit!

Reduce high cell phone carrier data usage issues on your Smartphone

A friend recently got a new phone – Samsung Galaxy S2 from AT&T, and she noticed that she is using loads of plan data somehow. Now I know that the aspect of having a new much more capable device might at first cause a spike in usage – downloading applications, watching videos, checking web services more etc. But she has notice that in a couple of weeks she was at 65% of her total plan allotment! Something is up.

I started to ask in forums and look around on the net and found that more than just a few others are noticing this too! What appears to be happening is that there are some apps that will keep using 3G connections to ‘check in’ using up data allotments. EVEN when WiFi is available.

In my previous post, here, I provided some information on how to use Titanium Backup to back up your system and remove or ‘freeze’ bloatware’ and other system applications.

One app I noticed that appeared as a common offender mentioned in many, many posts was the AP Mobile app. (I have already removed this app via Titanium so didn’t notice it I guess).

I would recommend that if you have this poorly written app you remove or at least ‘freeze’ it. Then check your data usage over the next few days.

Here is a very recent sample post from XDA forums:
“I didn’t think much about data usage until last week when I checked my AT&T account and noticed that I was already 50% through my allocated 2GB data limit. I’ve been mostly on WIFI since the device was activated and the few times that I was on 3G/HSPA was during my 30 minute lunch breaks. It didn’t make much sense considering I’ve had no time to mess around with the phone (aside from tweaking the widgets and checking my e-mails).

Anyways, fast forward a few days and after installing data manager, I discovered that AP Mobile (Stock TW widget) had used over 500MB+ of data. :-/ Apparently, I’m not alone. A quick glance at other forums and websites confirmed that AP Mobile was notorious for using heavy amount of data. It may not be an issue with users with unlimited data but to us fellow mortals, every megabyte counts. :-P?”

Another link with even more horror stories can be found here.

So clearly this is just one application I think everybody with a limited data usage plan should at least ‘freeze’ or better yet disable. I don’t like things ‘checking’ in that I haven’t allowed/authorized anyways so this is no big deal for me. There are others I’m sure but you’ll have to experiment with those.

One more thing to check is that your ‘web widgets’ – CNN and other types of web/news feeds (RSS) are not updating at too often an interval. Or that they are not updating at all unless you tell them too – manually.

I have an unlimited data portion of my plan (Sprint), so I’m not too terribly worried about ‘overages’ but I still want to know what’s going on.

So here are some more tips for lowering data usage all can use:

1. Manage all linked accounts, such as Gmail, (Google) Facebook, Twitter, and auto-sync apps (many come with the phone such as Stocks, Weather, News), though some may be downloaded. Most phones have this folder in settings. When un-checking the “Sync automatically” box, You can modify when and how often your linked accounts and apps sync to update their information. Some, you may still want to sync often and automatically (I have most that way, but again I’m not worried about data charges; yet!) But you may find it useful to change the frequency settings or change to sync when you open or actively use the app. Also uncheck boxes that state any apps can sync, receive, and send background data at any time. This applies to all other apps, like games or any you download from your app store.

2. You might want to make sure your GPS  is turned OFF, when not being used some carriers charge for this through data usage (not sure if AT&T still does – probably though). Many many people I know forget about this and/or don’t even realize when it’s on, and didn’t realize how much data it incurred as well as why their phone died so often. A good indicator of it being on is that it’s a MAJOR battery drainer. When using location serviced apps like maps that work better with GPS satellites, make sure you have it set to ASK every time it wants you to turn on GPS satellite access. And be SURE to turn it off when you are done using it. (not sure of others, but I have to manually turn mine off.

3. Utilize Wi-Fi when it is available. This is the best way to avoid data, granted you stay connected to Wi-Fi. Many people have trouble keeping an active Wi-Fi connection even if they are close to their router. [With the newer WiFi routers and expecially a good new phone this isn’t much of an issue anymore.]

** Most people also have the option to turn off the mobile network when your phone is idle or asleep, (not actively being used) so that nothing can sync. This means NO data can be sent, synced, or received (apps, email, internet, & mms txt messages) until you wake up the phone.  (which usually, unless manually set otherwise, toggles mobile network back on)

You can still receive calls & sms text messages without the mobile network enabled.  It will promptly resume when you do use the phone again unless you have it set where you must manually enable it. This helps people limit unknown data usages at odd hours as well as save battery life.

Well that’s all for now folks. Stay connected, be frugal and have fun. Peace Out.