Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

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simple man
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Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by simple man »

All - I like Verizon service but am tired of paying Verizon fees. Reviews suggest Total Wireless is the best MVNO using the Verizon network. Do you know of any downsides to their service vs using Verizon directly? - Also, do you know if you can use your phone as a hotspot on Total Wireless? Thanks - as always.
Bitzer
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Bitzer »

I use Tracfone which is one of the "sister" companies to Total Wireless. I started off with Total Wireless, but realized I didn't need the unlimited monthly phone time, so I switched to Tracfone. I think both are fine, but Tracfone related companies are known for poor customer service.

My phone is a Samsung S6 which doesn't allow tethering, at least not on Tracfone. Other phones may vary. Perhaps tethering isn't allowed on any Tracfone related service; I'm not sure. If tethering is important to you, there are online phone service forums that are very helpful; I like howardforums if I am allowed to mention that.
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jeffyscott
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by jeffyscott »

It's Tracfone: https://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2017/1 ... eless.html

That profile says: "Total Wireless's terms and conditions prohibit using the phone as a wireless modem for a laptop or other device (tethering). Hotspot is disabled on the phones Total Wireless sells."

We had actual Tracfone service years ago, never really had any issues except changing phones was a convoluted process at that time, do not know if that has changed. My son continues to have Tracfone only problem I know of is once or twice there was an inordinate delay in text messages but can't be sure if that was his service or mine.

FWIW, I have also been comparing MVNO plans recently, ran across one called Twigby that primarily uses Sprint, but roams on Verizon for voice and text. Not using it but, Twigby is one of the few prepaid plans I have found that offers unlimited free 2g data with any plan that includes some LTE data.
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HZ49
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by HZ49 »

I am currently using Total Wireless. No complaints here :happy . The coverage is outstanding. We went out to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Page, AZ, Utah then back to Las Vegas. My Total Wireless had signal most the time. But not so much on my wife's. She has Cricket which is on AT&T network.

The downsides are one customer service, two network speed. When I first switched, it wasn't a smooth transaction. Spent couple of hours on the phone with them. But you may get lucky with no problem at all. I don't think you will get Verizon speed. My speed at home location: download 12.5mbps; upload 2.11mbps. For me these speed are more then enough.

You can't use your phone as a hotspot.
Cheyenne
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Cheyenne »

Something to consider is prioritization. In places and times of network congestion (Super Bowl, Disney World, inner cities, etc.) postpaid customers receive network priority and are served first. Next in line comes prepaid, and the MVNOs (TracFone and Total Wireless etc.) get what's left. A few years ago I had service with TracFone. I was working at an outdoor event in a small city and needed to view a radar Wx map to determine if I needed to relocate indoors because it started to drizzle. I was unable to pull-up a Wx radar map, but all around me there were people viewing Wx maps on their phones. I went back to Verizon postpaid.

The other issue is service. With Verizon MVNOs there are no stores to walk into with problems. CS is located in Mexico City. Some speak English well and some do not. It's best to chat rather than call. The CS people try to be helpful but their IT equipment is antiquated and they can't always resolve problems. I've heard more than once of TracFone customers having their minutes disappear, and there can be problems with porting numbers. From my experience and from what I've read, I definitely would not port an important phone number into any of the American Movil owned MVNO's (Total Wireless and TracFone, Page Plus Cellular, NET10, Straight Talk and SIMPLE Mobile).
Topic Author
simple man
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by simple man »

Wow. Great info! Thanks for taking the time to share and teach - for me and others! Greatly appreciated. :sharebeer
moneywise3
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by moneywise3 »

A great many of these services are the same company. They brand it differently. When you call, they even offer to activate your service as any of these brands. Customer service is located in Caribbean.

Not just prioritization, even multiple users under the same plan as you can affect the service. They lease a limited bandwidth from network carriers (Verizon et al). Then their business plan is just to maximize the subscribers within this bandwidth.
ehendu13
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by ehendu13 »

I switched our family plan from Verizon to Total Wireless one year ago this month and we've been very happy.

No noticeable difference in coverage (Chicago and central Iowa in this time frame). We went from a Verizon plan that was about $120/mo with limits on voice, text, and shared data (2 GB) for 2 phones to a TW plan that has unlimited talk and text and 15 GB of shared data. New plan cost is about $64/mo. So we are saving about 50% and we get a much better plan!

People note the difference in customer service....we have honestly not had to contact TW since we set up the phones. To activate TW, I bought a used iPhone on Swappa and bought my wife a new iPhone 5s at Walmart. I brought the phones to Walmart and they helped to activate them.
wisevermilion
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by wisevermilion »

In the United States, América Móvil operates through its subsidiary TracFone Wireless, Inc. under the brands TracFone, NET10 Wireless, Straight Talk, SIMPLE Mobile, Telcel América, Page Plus Cellular and Total Wireless.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/América_Móvil
In the past, I have used Sprint (postpaid), Ting (Sprint/T-Mobile), Page Plus (Verizon) and now I have been on Total Wireless for 1.5 years. I have also used numerous other MVNOs.

Price-wise, I've almost always found it better (for me and for family/friends) to use an MVNO and buy a used phone (1-2 years old) from Swappa.

This Reddit thread links to a Google Sheets spreadsheet which has a good list of MVNOs, pricing, and features.

Common downsides to MVNOs (these vary from MVNO to MVNO) as compared to postpaid:
  • Different/more limited coverage
  • Different/limited device support - may require special SIM or device
  • Different/limited roaming coverage (and possible additional costs) - you can get a Total Wireless SIM at Best Buy for $1
  • Slower/capped speeds
  • Different/worse network prioritization
  • Unsupported (or prohibited) tethering
  • Missing features such as VoLTE and Visual Voicemail
  • Bad customer service - América Móvil brands can be especially bad
IowaFarmBoy
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by IowaFarmBoy »

We've been with Total Wireless for about a year with a family plan composed of me, my spouse, our daughter and her husband. We switched from Sprint.

I think we all feel the coverage is generally better than Sprint was. We see some gaps where roaming isn't available but they aren't common and I think every carrier has that issue in some locations. I haven't noticed issues with data speeds but since this is on a phone, we aren't doing big data pulls. And most of our data comes through wifi anyway.

The only thing that I wish they would change is to support wifi calling. My daughter has some signal issues in the basement of her work building and it would be nice if she could make wifi calls from there. Otherwise we are quite happy and am paying a lot less than we did with Sprint.
fareastwarriors
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by fareastwarriors »

My business phone is on Total Wireless. The coverage is good but it "feels" like the data speed is not as fast as my old Verizon line. The savings justify it though.
Jags4186
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Jags4186 »

You should switch to Verizon prepaid and then buy your refills on eBay.

Unlimited talk/text/15gb internet is nominally $40/mo but you can purchase $40 verizon cards for $25 on eBay. Wait for an eBay coupon, stack with a cashback portal, and then stock up....you can get 1 yrs worth of this type of service for $200-$250. You’re prioritised behind Verizon postpaid but ahead of all the other MVNOs. You’re also not given an artificial speed limit. I have LTE speedtests greater than 100mbps on my iPhone XR.
hmmm
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by hmmm »

I'm contemplating a switch to TW as well, and have been trying to look into issues I may encounter. I have some targeted questions that the answers to may have changed as time has passed.

-It appears WiFi calling will work if your device supports it. Can anyone verify this?
-Are there any TW customers who are able to use visual voicemail?
-On Verizon I'm able to text internationally to iphones without charge. Is this possible on TW?
Mkeatty
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Mkeatty »

I have had TW for almost 2 years. No complaints. Visual Voicemail is active on my phone. I have not tried WiFi calling. I do not text internationally, so no info on your last question.
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Taz
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Taz »

1. Visual voicemail works on my phone (Moto X4) but not on my wife's phone -- also a Moto 4X. Go figure.
2. Also, trying to stream Hulu at a bowl game so I could watch a different bowl game was spotty - possibly due to conjestion or due to Hulu. For everyday use I have not had a problem.
3. It would be nice to have tethering as I'm thinking about getting a 2-1 notebook but I'm at the point where I really can't justify getting one.

-- Taz
The destination matters.
mw1739
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by mw1739 »

Jags4186 wrote: Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:12 pm You should switch to Verizon prepaid and then buy your refills on eBay.

Unlimited talk/text/15gb internet is nominally $40/mo but you can purchase $40 verizon cards for $25 on eBay. Wait for an eBay coupon, stack with a cashback portal, and then stock up....you can get 1 yrs worth of this type of service for $200-$250. You’re prioritised behind Verizon postpaid but ahead of all the other MVNOs. You’re also not given an artificial speed limit. I have LTE speedtests greater than 100mbps on my iPhone XR.
I switched to Verizon prepaid a couple weeks ago from postpaid and I’m thrilled with the decision so far. Saving 30 percent off our old bill and got more data in the process.

Jags - any particular eBay seller you would recommend on the gift cards?
Jags4186
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Jags4186 »

mw1739 wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:56 pm
Jags4186 wrote: Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:12 pm You should switch to Verizon prepaid and then buy your refills on eBay.

Unlimited talk/text/15gb internet is nominally $40/mo but you can purchase $40 verizon cards for $25 on eBay. Wait for an eBay coupon, stack with a cashback portal, and then stock up....you can get 1 yrs worth of this type of service for $200-$250. You’re prioritised behind Verizon postpaid but ahead of all the other MVNOs. You’re also not given an artificial speed limit. I have LTE speedtests greater than 100mbps on my iPhone XR.
I switched to Verizon prepaid a couple weeks ago from postpaid and I’m thrilled with the decision so far. Saving 30 percent off our old bill and got more data in the process.

Jags - any particular eBay seller you would recommend on the gift cards?
I usually buy from the cheapest at the time. They generally range from $23.99 -$26.99. I always buy from someone with at least 1000 feedback. Most will send you PIN number within minutes. Avoid $50 gift cards for whatever reason the discounts aren’t as good.
TravelforFun
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by TravelforFun »

The only thing that has prevented me to sign up with TW is that it doesn't allow my phone to be a hotspot.

TravelforFun
gator1
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by gator1 »

Jags4186 wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:13 pm
mw1739 wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:56 pm
Jags4186 wrote: Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:12 pm You should switch to Verizon prepaid and then buy your refills on eBay.

Unlimited talk/text/15gb internet is nominally $40/mo but you can purchase $40 verizon cards for $25 on eBay. Wait for an eBay coupon, stack with a cashback portal, and then stock up....you can get 1 yrs worth of this type of service for $200-$250. You’re prioritised behind Verizon postpaid but ahead of all the other MVNOs. You’re also not given an artificial speed limit. I have LTE speedtests greater than 100mbps on my iPhone XR.
I switched to Verizon prepaid a couple weeks ago from postpaid and I’m thrilled with the decision so far. Saving 30 percent off our old bill and got more data in the process.

Jags - any particular eBay seller you would recommend on the gift cards?
I usually buy from the cheapest at the time. They generally range from $23.99 -$26.99. I always buy from someone with at least 1000 feedback. Most will send you PIN number within minutes. Avoid $50 gift cards for whatever reason the discounts aren’t as good.
Been doing this for a bit now. I hope this never goes away because this is the best deal I can find. I am on the $30 plan, so am essentially getting a free month of service every 4th month. I stack 3 months of cards, and it covers 4 months. Not bad.
mxs
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by mxs »

TravelforFun wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:27 pm The only thing that has prevented me to sign up with TW is that it doesn't allow my phone to be a hotspot.

TravelforFun
Update concerning TW. I bought an unlocked Moto G5s Plus from Best Buy a couple years ago and immediately put it on TW service. I was a little worried when first getting service set up but it went through just fine. I also got an ~ 2016 TW iPhone SE from Target for ~$100. That went on TW just fine as well.

We have never had problems turning either of our phones as hotspots for wifi tablets or other devices. We don't do it often but when we do it works.

I agree that the LTE data speed is likely slower than Verizon post or pre paid but it hasn't been a problem.

I just activated a new 2020 iphone to the account taking over the old 2016's line/phone number. I did it all through their app using a TW BYOP sim kit myself, no customer service needed. It took about 20 minutes for the service to actually register and switch over completely. There was a brief time when a phone call went to both phones, but the old phone stopped having service completely within 20 minutes.

(I believe this is what paying for premium Verizon or other service does, they do the above for you, likely in a nearly identical way. Log into account, insert sim card, type in the sim card number, type in phone IMEI number, and phone number. Restart phone and wait a few minutes and you are good.)

TW works well for me, and for ~$75 for two lines or ~$85 for 3 lines is way better than some people I know that pay $130 for one line on Premium services.

So TW may have hotspots enabled, they do for me. It is possible that some TW phones have it deactivated, but our TW 2016 iphone SE and Unlocked Moto G5s Plus have had working hotspots.
shorty313
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by shorty313 »

I switched from Verizon to TW over two years ago. Coverage is good, but speeds can be slow. About 6 months ago they added hotspots and they work flawlessly. WiFi calling is also a newer feature. I spend most of my time on WiFi so the network speed isn’t usually an issue for us. Visual voicemail is great, but we never could get it set up on my husbands last iPhone. Customer service isn’t great, Expect to be on the phone at least an hour when you migrate. But the cost savings is worth the CS call I have to make every other year or so to activate a new phone...about $103 for 4 lines.
Generator515
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Generator515 »

simple man wrote: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:53 am All - I like Verizon service but am tired of paying Verizon fees. Reviews suggest Total Wireless is the best MVNO using the Verizon network. Do you know of any downsides to their service vs using Verizon directly? - Also, do you know if you can use your phone as a hotspot on Total Wireless? Thanks - as always.

Might want to consider Visible instead. It is a Verizon MNVO owned by Verizon. It has some features total wireless does not have such as wifi calling and some hotspot ability. It is an unlimited plan for $40. However, they have Visible Party Pay where you can join with anyone and get it down to $25 if have 4 people. I don't have four people but several sites connect people and unlike other group discounts each person controls their own number and billing so you are still on total control.

Answering the original question I had total wireless for a year and was great except for when the tropical storm just hit NJ and everyone had no power. My data speed and voice quality took a major fall as I was deprioritized.
mxs
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by mxs »

shorty313 wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 10:01 am But the cost savings is worth the CS call I have to make every other year or so to activate a new phone...about $103 for 4 lines.
I just put a new phone on an existing line using their app (Android version) without customer service. Took a total of maybe 30 minutes from start to the new phone receiving and making calls correctly. I suspect I could start a whole new account or add/subtract lines with the app and no customer service. I will be getting rid of a line within a month and see how that goes.
shepherd
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by shepherd »

I have TotalWireless. Biggest issue is no international data or roaming. Customer service has been improving but used to be painful.
IowaFarmBoy
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by IowaFarmBoy »

We've got TW for a family plan for myself, DW, DD and DSIL. We're in central Illinois, they are in Madison Wi. We're all pretty happy with the service and speed. We get out for about $25/mth per line after all the autopay discounts, etc. We have 100 gig of data available across the 4 lines and never come anywhere close to using it up. We all are on wifi at home and work. I don't think anyone is streaming much video.

I can use my iPhone 7 as a hotspot. I don't do it much but have done it. This may be something they fairly recently enabled.

I can make wifi calls with my iPhone 7. I don't think my wife or daughter can with their Androids (Samsung Galaxy 7 and 9, IIRC).

Customer service is probably lacking but we really haven't needed much, if any, over our 2-3 years on the plan.
mw1739
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by mw1739 »

We've had 2 lines on Verizon Prepaid for nearly 2 years. 15 GB each for $65/month. No complaints with the service and you're dealing with Verizon still, not a MVNO.
soobaerodude
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by soobaerodude »

Cheyenne wrote: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:48 pm Something to consider is prioritization. In places and times of network congestion (Super Bowl, Disney World, inner cities, etc.) postpaid customers receive network priority and are served first. Next in line comes prepaid, and the MVNOs (TracFone and Total Wireless etc.) get what's left. A few years ago I had service with TracFone. I was working at an outdoor event in a small city and needed to view a radar Wx map to determine if I needed to relocate indoors because it started to drizzle. I was unable to pull-up a Wx radar map, but all around me there were people viewing Wx maps on their phones. I went back to Verizon postpaid.
...
I experienced similar prioritization issues with another Verizon MVNO, Xfinity Mobile. It was difficult to use data when connected to congested towers at sporting events, concerts, and public transit during commute hours
tj
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by tj »

soobaerodude wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:51 pm
Cheyenne wrote: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:48 pm Something to consider is prioritization. In places and times of network congestion (Super Bowl, Disney World, inner cities, etc.) postpaid customers receive network priority and are served first. Next in line comes prepaid, and the MVNOs (TracFone and Total Wireless etc.) get what's left. A few years ago I had service with TracFone. I was working at an outdoor event in a small city and needed to view a radar Wx map to determine if I needed to relocate indoors because it started to drizzle. I was unable to pull-up a Wx radar map, but all around me there were people viewing Wx maps on their phones. I went back to Verizon postpaid.
...
I experienced similar prioritization issues with another Verizon MVNO, Xfinity Mobile. It was difficult to use data when connected to congested towers at sporting events, concerts, and public transit during commute hours
I would imagine that's going to be true on any MVNO. I don't know if Verizon gives Visible better priority than the MVNO's they don't own, but that would make sense.
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msi
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by msi »

soobaerodude wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:51 pm
Cheyenne wrote: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:48 pm Something to consider is prioritization. In places and times of network congestion (Super Bowl, Disney World, inner cities, etc.) postpaid customers receive network priority and are served first. Next in line comes prepaid, and the MVNOs (TracFone and Total Wireless etc.) get what's left. A few years ago I had service with TracFone. I was working at an outdoor event in a small city and needed to view a radar Wx map to determine if I needed to relocate indoors because it started to drizzle. I was unable to pull-up a Wx radar map, but all around me there were people viewing Wx maps on their phones. I went back to Verizon postpaid.
...
I experienced similar prioritization issues with another Verizon MVNO, Xfinity Mobile. It was difficult to use data when connected to congested towers at sporting events, concerts, and public transit during commute hours
Difficult to use, meaning that you couldn't stream video or music, but still fast enough that websites wouldn't time out? Or literally not useable at all?
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Tejfyy
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by Tejfyy »

I've been Red Pocket the last 2 years and have been satisfied. Had no problems. I've just switched to Tello because of their build your own plan pricing.

I don't know what you mean by "total wireless." All I know is that I can't believe how much Americans spend on their phone service with the big names. With RP, I paid $99 for an annual essential plan which gave me 500 min, 500 text and 500mb every 30 days. You can add minutes etc if you run out before the end of the month.
tj
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by tj »

Tejfyy wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:29 pm I've been Red Pocket the last 2 years and have been satisfied. Had no problems. I've just switched to Tello because of their build your own plan pricing.

I don't know what you mean by "total wireless." All I know is that I can't believe how much Americans spend on their phone service with the big names. With RP, I paid $99 for an annual essential plan which gave me 500 min, 500 text and 500mb every 30 days. You can add minutes etc if you run out before the end of the month.
Total Wireless is a MVNO like Red Pocket or Tello.
soobaerodude
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by soobaerodude »

msi wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:07 pm
soobaerodude wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:51 pm
Cheyenne wrote: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:48 pm Something to consider is prioritization. In places and times of network congestion (Super Bowl, Disney World, inner cities, etc.) postpaid customers receive network priority and are served first. Next in line comes prepaid, and the MVNOs (TracFone and Total Wireless etc.) get what's left. A few years ago I had service with TracFone. I was working at an outdoor event in a small city and needed to view a radar Wx map to determine if I needed to relocate indoors because it started to drizzle. I was unable to pull-up a Wx radar map, but all around me there were people viewing Wx maps on their phones. I went back to Verizon postpaid.
...
I experienced similar prioritization issues with another Verizon MVNO, Xfinity Mobile. It was difficult to use data when connected to congested towers at sporting events, concerts, and public transit during commute hours
Difficult to use, meaning that you couldn't stream video or music, but still fast enough that websites wouldn't time out? Or literally not useable at all?
Not useable at all, impossible to browse the web because all requests would time out
wfrobinette
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by wfrobinette »

soobaerodude wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:38 am
msi wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:07 pm
soobaerodude wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:51 pm
Cheyenne wrote: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:48 pm Something to consider is prioritization. In places and times of network congestion (Super Bowl, Disney World, inner cities, etc.) postpaid customers receive network priority and are served first. Next in line comes prepaid, and the MVNOs (TracFone and Total Wireless etc.) get what's left. A few years ago I had service with TracFone. I was working at an outdoor event in a small city and needed to view a radar Wx map to determine if I needed to relocate indoors because it started to drizzle. I was unable to pull-up a Wx radar map, but all around me there were people viewing Wx maps on their phones. I went back to Verizon postpaid.
...
I experienced similar prioritization issues with another Verizon MVNO, Xfinity Mobile. It was difficult to use data when connected to congested towers at sporting events, concerts, and public transit during commute hours
Difficult to use, meaning that you couldn't stream video or music, but still fast enough that websites wouldn't time out? Or literally not useable at all?
Not useable at all, impossible to browse the web because all requests would time out
I find that to be the case sometimes even with ATT and T-mobile. Anytime you put that many people in one place at one time you are bound to have congestion.
tj
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Re: Downsides to Total Wireless as alternative to Verizon?

Post by tj »

Looks like Verizon purchased all of America Movil's MVNO's.

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/veri ... e-tracfone
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