MVNOs

Which Cell Service is Good in Buffalo?

Buffalo

Episode 1634

Julie from Downey, California

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.

Do smaller cell carriers use their own networks?

Spectrum

Episode 1601

Gary from Southern California

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.

Are 3rd-Party Phone Carriers a Good Deal?

cricket

Episode 1583

Steve from Calabassas, CA

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. 

Should I switch my mobile provider?

Meter

Episode 1510

Jerry from Tri Cities

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.

Why can't my phone work with my new carrier?

Cell Phone Tower

Episode 1435

Mark from Vienna, VA

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.

What carrier options do I have for my Moto X?

Motorola Moto X

Episode 1230

Bill from Virginia

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.