Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

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aceoperations
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Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by aceoperations » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:09 pm

After 9 long years of a cell phone contract with AT&T that cost us an average of $1600 a year for 2 phone lines (2x$200 for iPhones, and $120/mo avg.), we finally abandoned AT&T and went the MVNO route with AirVoice Wireless!

Our rationale for making the switch:
We were still on a contract for the next 6 months. So in that time:
  • If we stayed with AT&T: We would be paying AT&T $150 x 6 = $900 (we currently pay $150).
  • If we left AT&T: It was going to cost us a total of $290 to break the contract and move to an AirVoice Wireless plan of $30x2=$60/mo. Total cost for 6 months = $290 * $60 x 6 = $650. We come out $250 ahead in 3 months, and we should have done these numbers years ago! :oops: Additionally, after all these years, we decided it's time for us to be more frugal with our phone plans.
How it actually worked out:
  • Ordered airvoice wireless sim cards a week in advance. It took about 5 days to get to us.
  • When sim cards arrived, called AT&T and canceled the contract. Agreed to pay the early termination fee, and paid it over the phone immediately. Once you cancel the contract, your online account ceases to exist which means that you have to pay the balance over the phone for an extra $5 or go to the store and do it for no extra cost than what you owe. Also, when you cancel the contract, your wireless account ceases to exist. This means that porting your phone number becomes difficult, but read on.
  • Requested an iPhone unlock from AT&T. My spouses phone was unlocked in a couple of hours, but mine was done the next morning. You are notified via email.
  • Back up each iPhone, erase completely and restore using iTunes. We both got messages saying it was unlocked. Our iPhones were not jail broken.
  • Called AT&T again a day after canceling contract, and asked them to re-instate the account so that the number can be ported. They do a credit check for this, and bring the account back up again.
  • Called AirVoice wireless and requested that they port over the phone numbers from AT&T. After a couple of hours, they were ported over. After this, you can buy a prepaid plan from AirVoice and your phone will come to life after a restart.
There do seem to be a few quirks and I have already been warned about one by AirVoice, such as MMS (not over iMessage) not working properly. I think I can live with that. Till then, :sharebeer

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noyopacific
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by noyopacific » Thu Oct 01, 2015 8:59 pm

When you reinstated the account in order to port your phone # to AirVoice, should I I assume AT&T charged for this service?
After the account is reinstated in order to port the #, is it necessary to cancel the AT&T service again to prevent further charges?
Thanks for the tips.
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autonomy
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by autonomy » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:06 pm

Why didn't you port your number to begin with?
I went from AT&T to Cricket and the service has been the same for much less money. Contracts need to go away.

takeshi
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by takeshi » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:38 am

noyopacific wrote:After the account is reinstated in order to port the #, is it necessary to cancel the AT&T service again to prevent further charges?
The port request with the new carrier will terminate the account with the prior carrier. Typically one would just issue the port request with the new carrier but the OP had to end the contract and pay off the ETF in order to get the devices unlocked. At least, I assume that's the case. I'm not aware of the how at&t handles unlock requests. Some carriers will unlock even if under contract though certain requirements may need to be met.

The Wizard
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by The Wizard » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:57 am

This thread highlights the problem with buying a phone via two year contract.
Much cleaner to buy the unlocked phone outright, though sticker shock will stop some folks.

I'm actually thinking of switching TO AT&T from Consumer Cellular to get data roaming functionality across the US.
But I'll be doing a monthly prepaid plan, no contract...
Attempted new signature...

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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by The Wizard » Fri Oct 02, 2015 9:04 am

aceoperations wrote:
There do seem to be a few quirks and I have already been warned about one by AirVoice, such as MMS (not over iMessage) not working properly. I think I can live with that. Till then, :sharebeer
How much Cellular data do you get with that AirVoice plan?
An iPhone with no data when you're on the road is no fun...
Attempted new signature...

richardglm
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by richardglm » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:48 pm

The Wizard wrote: I'm actually thinking of switching TO AT&T from Consumer Cellular to get data roaming functionality across the US.
But I'll be doing a monthly prepaid plan, no contract...
Make sure you examine the coverage map closely, AT&T gophone customers don't get the same roaming as postpaid customers

aceoperations
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by aceoperations » Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:30 pm

When you reinstated the account in order to port your phone # to AirVoice, should I I assume AT&T charged for this service?
After the account is reinstated in order to port the #, is it necessary to cancel the AT&T service again to prevent further charges?
As far as I know, AT&T did not charge anything for re-instating but they did run a credit check. Once number is ported, AT&T account ceases to exist. I guess I'll really know only when I get my final bill, for the remaining days that I was on the billing cycle. I will need to keep a close lookout for any funny business from AT&T at that time.
Why didn't you port your number to begin with?
You need an unlocked phone to be able to port a number out of AT&T. But once you unlock the phone, AT&T closed my account, which means my number is put into the pool of available numbers for others to use. I think I re-instated my account quickly enough to hold on to the number, and complete the port out of AT&T.
How much Cellular data do you get with that AirVoice plan?
I have signed up for the $30 per month unlimited talk/text 1GB data (500MB @4G, 500MB slower). If I have travel planned, I can bump up my plan to $50 for that month alone, and that should give me 5GB. Also, if my family is travelling with me, it is sufficient to upgrade data on just one of our phones.

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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:32 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (cellphone contract).
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richardglm
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by richardglm » Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:29 pm

You need an unlocked phone to be able to port a number out of AT&T. But once you unlock the phone, AT&T closed my account, which means my number is put into the pool of available numbers for others to use. I think I re-instated my account quickly enough to hold on to the number, and complete the port out of AT&T.
You were very lucky you were able to get your number back, as this is a rather risky way to do it. Unfortunately since AT&T doesn't care about customers who are leaving, they're not going to advise you better ways.

There's quite a few things that I would consider before closing the account:

1. Just ask AT&T to unlock the phone. With only 6 mo. left on contract, there's a chance they approve the request. There's an online form to do it, one form for AT&T customers and one form for non-customers. Actually, some people report that the form for non-customers works more often (even for customers). Only unlocking the phone does not cancel the account or break the contract, as there are many reasons why someone might want an unlocked phone and stay with AT&T.

2. If AT&T doesn't approve your unlock request, then try to switch your plan to a non-contract plan, like mobile share value. This switch should trigger the ETF, and after paying the ETF, you can unlock the phone. The only downside is you likely have to do this over one billing cycle, as you have to wait for them to actually charge you the ETF on your bill.

3. Have a third party to unlock the phone. It'll cost some more money in addition to the ETF. As long as AT&T gets their ETF, it seems to me the contract is satisfied.

4. Use a cheap or backup unlocked phone for the transfer. I like to have a backup phone handy anyway.

rs899
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by rs899 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 5:47 am

Another idea would be to port your number to Google Voice or Ring.to. That way, if you are not happy with Airvoice, you can easilt switch to another AT&T MVNO, or even T-mo or one of their MVNOs without ever porting again.

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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by Browser » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:50 am

rs899 wrote:Another idea would be to port your number to Google Voice or Ring.to. That way, if you are not happy with Airvoice, you can easilt switch to another AT&T MVNO, or even T-mo or one of their MVNOs without ever porting again.
That's what I did several years ago, and it has allowed me to switch between MVNOs as I see fit. Since rates are always changing, it's nice to be able to move to a lower-cost provider seamlessly by simply getting a new SIM. Started with AirVoice but have since wound up with Consumer Cellular.
We don't know where we are, or where we're going -- but we're making good time.

aceoperations
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by aceoperations » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:56 am

Google voice does not seem that cut and dry. Android seems to provide operation that is more seamless compared to iOS especially regarding outgoing calls. Unless you switch MVNOs that frequently, is it worth the extra hassle?

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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by Browser » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:20 pm

aceoperations wrote:Google voice does not seem that cut and dry. Android seems to provide operation that is more seamless compared to iOS especially regarding outgoing calls. Unless you switch MVNOs that frequently, is it worth the extra hassle?
I just had my old number ported to Google Voice for $25 charge. You have to set up GV so it will forward calls to that number to your new cellphone number (whatever that is). Seemed pretty easy to me. If I change MVNOs and get a SIM with a new number, I just make the change in GV. Never have to have that number ported again. Also, I sort of liked the idea that my public phone number is not the actual number in the cellphone.
We don't know where we are, or where we're going -- but we're making good time.

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ThirteenEleven
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by ThirteenEleven » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:56 pm

aceoperations wrote:
When you reinstated the account in order to port your phone # to AirVoice, should I I assume AT&T charged for this service?
After the account is reinstated in order to port the #, is it necessary to cancel the AT&T service again to prevent further charges?
As far as I know, AT&T did not charge anything for re-instating but they did run a credit check. Once number is ported, AT&T account ceases to exist. I guess I'll really know only when I get my final bill, for the remaining days that I was on the billing cycle. I will need to keep a close lookout for any funny business from AT&T at that time.
Why didn't you port your number to begin with?
You need an unlocked phone to be able to port a number out of AT&T. But once you unlock the phone, AT&T closed my account, which means my number is put into the pool of available numbers for others to use. I think I re-instated my account quickly enough to hold on to the number, and complete the port out of AT&T.
How much Cellular data do you get with that AirVoice plan?
I have signed up for the $30 per month unlimited talk/text 1GB data (500MB @4G, 500MB slower). If I have travel planned, I can bump up my plan to $50 for that month alone, and that should give me 5GB. Also, if my family is travelling with me, it is sufficient to upgrade data on just one of our phones.

!!! Be mindful that when your At&t account was temporarily reactivated, contract(s) could have been reinstated on that account AND/OR significant activation fees ($45 per line) could have been triggered in the billing system. !!! I hope I am wrong about this but let's just say I'm in position to take a very educated guess about this (gotta be mindful of social media policy). Evaluate your next statement aggressively and call immediately if it is even somewhat late. Always port and then pay off ETF fees/unlock devices (use a temporary number in the meantime if you must) to avoid this.
Dishonest money dwindles away, | but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

CT-Scott
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by CT-Scott » Sat Oct 10, 2015 6:10 am

It looks like the carrier you've chosen is using the AT&T towers, but you won't get access to non-AT&T towers that regular AT&T customers would have roaming access to. That may or may not be an issue for you. For me, I'd be worried about it, because a cell phone is only as useful as its coverage area. On that note, I get good AT&T coverage just about everywhere I go, and my comparison with Verizon didn't show the latter to be any better (there were some spots where AT&T was better, others where Verizon was).

Coverage inside of my house is awful for all carriers, so I bought an AT&T Microcell a while back which is great when it works, but the phones often decide that they'd rather connect to the one-bar tower outside rather than the 4-bar Microcell inside. Two days ago, though, AT&T enabled Wi-Fi calling for iPhones model 6 or newer, and I'm very excited about that. So far it seems to stay locked to that signal rather than switch to the weak signal outside. Again, if coverage is good for you, this feature may not matter to you.

I *am* a bit confused by the cost comparison, though. (Sidenote: I'm on an older Family plan and I probably pay too much per month, but 2 of our 3 phones are on the grandfathered unlimited data plan, and I've been reluctant to give that up just yet). But looking at the current pricing on the AT&T site and comparing it to Airvoice Wireless, it looks like your $30/month plan is 1GB of data and unlimited talk & text. So, for your two phones, it's $60/month. Looking at AT&T's current offerings, it looks like you could have a comparable 2GB data plan for $30/month, plus two $25/month smartphone add-a-lines (assuming no contract, which you effectively accomplished by paying the ETF). So that's $80/month. So, really, at the end of the day, you're just saving $20/month (or $240/year), no?

amd2135
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by amd2135 » Sun Oct 11, 2015 8:40 am

CT-Scott wrote:But looking at the current pricing on the AT&T site and comparing it to Airvoice Wireless, it looks like your $30/month plan is 1GB of data and unlimited talk & text. So, for your two phones, it's $60/month. Looking at AT&T's current offerings, it looks like you could have a comparable 2GB data plan for $30/month, plus two $25/month smartphone add-a-lines (assuming no contract, which you effectively accomplished by paying the ETF). So that's $80/month. So, really, at the end of the day, you're just saving $20/month (or $240/year), no?
Not quite. Most prepaid plans include ALL taxes and fees in the listed refill price whereas contracts add a laundry list of expenses to what they advertise. When I autopay $28.45 for a month of Page Plus I really am paying only $28.45.

I just pulled up my final AT&T contract bill from 2014. Apparently my service (300MB data + phone/SMS) added to "$60" per month but I was actually paying $70.27 for the privilege of this awful plan.

My service quality on Page Plus far exceeds what I had on an AT&T contract. Far fewer dead zones or areas without data coverage (entire cities where I'm from!). Texting is faster and more reliable. My phone no longer sets itself +/- 10 minutes from the actual time from a misconfigured tower. Missed phone rings with only voicemail are now the exception, not the rule. On AT&T I would sometimes not even get a call or voicemail notification until the next day!

mikep
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by mikep » Sun Oct 11, 2015 9:10 am

Good switch. Does Airvoice still force you to call in after you've used half your data to activate the other half?

Cricket is more data and cheaper if you have a group, at $20/mo on the 5 lines/$100 plan, and lower cost further with referrals. If no group you can join/create one on reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/NoContract/com ... up_get_in/

aceoperations
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by aceoperations » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:09 am

The extra "fees" on top the basic plan costs is what is so irritating about contracts. Even if I were to go with the $80/mo plan, it really ends up costing about $90/mo. For us, $30/mo is a significant saving.

I looked at my usage reports on AT&T which I was still on contract, and saw that my spouse was using only about 250 MB/mo, which means that we were paying a lot more for data we did not use. I was a heavy user with about 2-3GB/mo, but that's only because I was grandfathered on the AT&T unlimited plan. Since I have access to WiFi all day, I now use significantly lower cellular data. MVNOs give you the option to tailor your phone plans to your current, and tomorrow's changing needs, which is really a benefit IMO. Also, I am not sure if I need to call into AirVoice to re-activate data once I reach about 1/2 of it. I'll need to get there first to find out.

aceoperations
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Re: Made the phone carrier switch out of AT&T!

Post by aceoperations » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:12 am

Oh, and I do agree that Cricket has some pretty good plans, but Airvoice gives me unlimited international calling which is something I use a lot to speak with family abroad. I have used Skype/Viber before, but I typically make my calls while on the road, and would have to use Cellular data. Now I just call.

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