MVNOs

Are MVNOs like Mint Mobile a good deal?

Mint Mobile

Episode 1770

John from Lincoln, NB

John wants to know if a third-party cellular company, or MVNO, is really as good a deal as it seems. Leo says he can save a lot of money, but the MVNO buys bandwidth and resells it, so the main provider may prioritize their traffic over the MVNO. Also, traveling internationally may be an issue as he loses the international benefits. But Leo is very happy with Google Fi, which is probably the best. And they have the same international service. 

What's the Difference Between Spectrum and Verizon Cellular?

Verizon

Episode 1755

Andrew from Los Angeles, CA

Andrew wants to know how different Spectrum mobile is from Verizon. Leo says that Spectrum Mobile uses WiFi calling when users are home, but when users are out and about, Spectrum is just an MVNO that uses Verizon's network. The tricky part is a handoff from WiFi to the cellular network. But other than that, if one can save money on it, then why not? The only real negative is that some people may not have internet access with their routers. So, a phone could join a network and not be able to take or make calls because it's on a dead connection.

Is Yahoo Mobile a Good Phone Service?

Yahoo

Episode 1715

Esther from Central Valley, CA

Esther calls in to ask what Leo thinks of the new Yahoo Mobile Phone service. Leo says Yahoo is owned by Verizon, and as such, it's essentially Verizon repackaged as an MVNO. If Verizon is good in Esther's area, it's a good way to get a mobile phone service for a cheaper price. But one has to look at the details. Chances are, the data may be throttled during peak times, as full pay Verizon customers get priority. But for $40 a month for unlimited text, talk, and data, that's a good deal. 

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.