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.
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.
Gary uses an MVNO as his phone service. But not all VNMOs will support his phone. Leo says to check out GSMArena for what phones support what ISP. You should be able to find out which MNVO supports your phone's radiofrequency.
Also, Google's Pixel 4a should be out this week.
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.
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.