Steve wants to know if MVNOs can be used in Canada. Leo isn't sure what the law is for MVNOs in Canada, but even if you did sign up for a US MVNO, and were compatible, you'd likely be on the hook for roaming. From the Chatroom - 7 Eleven has an MVNO for Rogers. It's called Speak Out. So you can go to a local store and pick up a card/phone.
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.
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.
Steve wants to know a good off-brand cell service that runs on the back of a major carrier (called MVNOs). What is he not getting for the cheaper price? Rich says it depends on what he wants out of the carrier. A lot of times, the virtual operators limit data speed when we access the network. It's like being stuck in the slow lane. But we get what we pay for. So it comes down to what Steve needs from the service. Also, look at the coverage maps to be sure the carrier has the best coverage in the area.
Jerry is a long time Verizon customer and is wondering if he should change to an unlimited plan from Spectrum for $45 a month. Leo says he'll have to look at the fine print because nobody really offers unlimited anymore without throttling down the speeds after a set amount. So like after 5GB of hotspotting, or 20GB of data, it'll get throttled down to 2G or 3G speeds. And the only real change, since Spectrum uses Verizon, is customer service. It's a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or reseller.
Mark's wife got a mobile phone through Verizon and he had it unlocked to use with an MVNO carrier, but it doesn't work. Leo says that it could be due to radio frequency issues. Leo says that unlocking doesn't guarantee that he'll be able to use the phone anywhere. But it's the first step. That's why everyone is going to LTE. That will smooth out the system and make it easier to transfer from one carrier to another.
Kathy has a friend who's thinking of moving to Consumer Cellular. Leo says that they are an MVNO, reselling coverage from another carrier like AT&T. It should work as well as the carrier and often they are a great deal.
Bill's cellular provider is CDMA and he's losing the ability to use his Motorola Moto X. Leo says that the good news is that everyone is moving to LTE/VoLTE, which means CDMA will disappear. Even now, when going with Verizon, you can see the phones have GSM SIM cards. But the older models won't work anymore. A newer one will likely work. Leo says it's time for a new carrier and T-Mobile would let him bring almost any phone to them. T-Mobile also has a pay as you go $30/month plan.
Christie was given an iPhone 5S with AT&T for a gift and she uses Sprint. How can she use it? Leo says there's an issue with wireless frequencies, so she can't use it on Sprint. But she may be able to use it with T-Mobile. Leo uses T-Mobile in Northern California in urban areas.
Soup is ready to get his first smartphone. Leo says the number one thing to decide is which carrier he wants. Then choose the phone from there. He'll want the carrier that offers the best coverage in his area. Service-wise, they're all horrible in some way. But coverage is better for some than others.