Francis' family all have different smartphones, and they are having a hard time with calls and text messages, no matter what phones they are using. They are all updated phones, all on T-Mobile, and they don't really know what to do. Leo says that the issue is likely cellphone towers and coverage in her area. Maybe a few towers are down for maintenance? Or were the towers shut down when T-Mobile merged with Sprint? Since that's when the problem started, it's likely the merger is a main culprit. It may also be time to change carriers.
Doug is having trouble with using wifi calling on his older iPhone on Verizon. Leo recommends calling up Verizon and request a Femtocell (microcell). Verizon calls it a 4G Network Extender. The FemtoCell offers cellular wifi calling in areas that cellular coverage doesn't work well. It's essentially a mini cell tower connected to your wifi. And if you are nice and tell them your service won't work in your home, so you may as well not be a customer, they should send it to you for free. Don't pay for it.
Julie's mom in Buffalo has very poor cellular service. They've tried just about everything. Should she try Verizon? Leo says that it's best to see what the local coverage is. T-Mobile, for instance, is very good in cities, but not in rural areas. Ask her neighbors. Verizon may be better, but they're more expensive. Spectrum, though, uses Verizon's network. In fact, check with MVNOs. They buy cell service in bulk and resell it.
Jay called in to talk about a new service that's a portable cell phone system, that can be set up with drones immediately. The drones can be tethered, and be up within minutes. The drones can stay up in the air for up to ten hours. The service is also agnostic, being an unlocked tower. The service us called 34 North Drones.
Jeff wants to get a new iPhone (he's using an iPhone 4) but he doesn't wait to pay a lot for data. Leo says to go with Mint Mobile (who is a sponsor on the TWiT Network). It's an MNVO (mobile virtual network operator) and you can pay $300 a year and get 12GB annually. That's a pretty good deal. Another option is Google Fi. It requires one of their phones, but you can pay as you go and it's very affordable. Plus you get access to multiple networks: it's great for international travel.
Gary got an offer to sign up with Spectrum for mobile service, but he just learned that they use AT&T. Do smaller carriers use the big carriers lines all the time? Leo says that the big four is AT&T, Verizon, TMobile, and Sprint. The smaller cell companies, called MVNOs, interconnect and ride piggyback on multiple lines. It's pretty complicated. But if you sign up with a smaller carrier, you're actually running your traffic on the largest carrier.
Catherine wants to know that since everyone has a cellphone now, is it a waste of money to have a landline? Leo says that most people don't have landlines, but the issue is that with 911, they know your location on a landline. They can send police and fire directly to you. But with mobile devices, the 911 is "e911" which is a regional 911. They don't really know where you are, other than your GPS coordinates. Then they have to forward your call to a local fire and police department.
Chris is traveling to Brazil and he's noticed that the data rates down south are extremely slow. Would the SkyRoam Solis help? Leo says no. If the 4G/LTE is a lousy carrier, it really won't matter what you use. Leo recommends to go to Prepaidwithdata.wikia.com and read the most up to date information. You may be better off with a local SIM.
Jade keeps getting a security alert from Gmail that someone is trying to open her Gmail account. Leo says that Google will send warnings like that when someone is trying to break in and use her email account. but they usually include a location. If there's a button, DO NOT CLICK ON IT. It could be a phishing scam. Leo also recommends turning on two-factor authentication. That way, even if a bad guy has your password, they still need your phone to complete the login. She also needs to know what gov't phone company she should get her low-income smartphone from. Leo recommends ASSURANCE.
Jeff has kept his landline because his dad taught him to keep it in case of emergencies and natural disasters. Leo agrees but says phone companies are now relying on internet service for a lot of their service. They're even cutting the copper phone lines so they don't have to maintain them anymore. That's where HAM radio operators come in hand during a disaster. But he can still get universal lifeline service for under $10/month, and it's Real 911. Make sure it's powered by the central office.