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Wireless newbie looking for prepaid plans

Discussion in 'Northeastern US Wireless Forum' started by Guest, Jul 15, 2002.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I'm looking to get into wireless, but I'm not sure a monthly plan is worth it for me. As such, I am looking to get a prepaid plan to see how I use wireless and whether or not I should upgrade later on to a monthly plan. I was hoping that you knowledgeable folks could help me out with the finer details of prepaid plans and the various carriers that offer them, including how they may compare to each other.

    I live in NYC, and will most likely make 99.95% of my calls from there. I have done some preliminary research into Verizon, Voicestream, and Cingular. They all appear to offer prepaid, as well as AT&T. Does anyone know if Sprint offers prepaid? I can't decide which one is the best for me, as I am not sure if prepaid limits me to the provided phone, or if I can get prepaid with any phone I want. Also, there's the issue of GSM vs. CDMA and call quality, etc. Here is what I think so far of the carriers and their prepaid plans:

    Verizon - extra cost for roaming; not sure about phone selection; pretty good coverage area

    Voicestream - not sure about phone selection; pretty good coverage for GSM (???); LD and roaming included

    Cingular - not sure about phone selection; coverage area is not as good as VS (???); LD and roaming included

    AT&T - may have better phone selection for prepaid than others; not sure about coverage area, LD, or roaming

    Sprint - not sure about anything (do they even have prepaid?)

    Nextel - not interested

    If anyone has any advice, suggestions, recommendations, information, etc., I would really appreciate it if you could post it here. Thanks in advance.

    8^)
     
  2. Mooby

    Mooby Senior Member
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    I was in a similar situation a while back.I tried AT&T and now I use FreeUp from Verizon. I also looked at Voicestream, Cingular, and Sprint's semi "prepaid" plan. In the end, Verizon is the best deal in the prepaid game.
    Verizon offers the best coverage for their prepaid plan. You can be anywhere on Verizon's network and not be charged for roaming. Most prepaid plans have small home areas and some don't allow roaming unless you provide a credit card number. With Verizon, I can be in CA and still be charged the same rate as when I'm at home. With Cingular prepaid west of CT, I'd have to charge calls to my credit card or be without a phone.
    Phone Selection. With FreeUp you can purchase any phone Verizon has and set it up for a FreeUp account, you don't have to purchase on of their prepaid packages, although they are cheaper.
    Cost. While Verizon isn't the cheapest(that would belong to Cingular), you can go as little as $15 a month that includes 50 free weekend minutes. Voice Stream's less expensive airtime cards expire in like 15-30 days instead of Verizon's 30-60($30 and up expire in 60 days)
    Verizon's customer service is great too. You have online access to your account online(which AT&T Free2Go did not) and the few times I've had to contact customer service, they've been much more helpful than the AT&T people were. Sprint offers a pseudo prepaid plan.It's really more of an installment plan where you pay for the phone and airtime in installments. If you've decided on prepaid, Verizon is probably your best bet. Plenty of phones to choose from, great coverage, and inexpensive(35 cents peak, 10c night and weekend and they give you bonus weekend minutes if you add $30 or more to your account)
     
  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Interesting. So with Verizon, you don't pay roaming as long as you're on the Verizon network, which is pretty extensive. Is Long distance included? If not, what is the extra charge?

    How is the service in NYC? By that, I mean call quality/clarity, frequency of dropped calls, etc. Also, does the per minute cost go down if you add more money to the account? Say it's 35 c/min for $20 or less. Would adding $50 push the cost down to say 25 c/min?

    Thanks for the info.

    8^)
     
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Also, which of the GSM carriers have the better prepaid plans?


    8^)
     
  5. coalminer

    coalminer Senior Member
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    Northcoast PCS is going to launch in New York soon, for $35 a month you get unlimited minutes. And they are a prepaid service, as long as your bill is paid before the due date, your service continues. I live in Cleveland and I use it alot, I think that for being the newest provider in Cleveland, they have built their network pretty darn good. Im not sure exactly when they are going to start their service but they are hiring people for the stores, and their numbers that they have reserved are active, so I dont think it will be long. I use Free-up for traveling and I like the way they do things, if you dont talk that much, that might be the way to go.
     
  6. ComicalMoodyDan

    ComicalMoodyDan Gold Senior Member
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  7. Mooby

    Mooby Senior Member
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    Long distance is included with FreeUp. Depending on how much you add to your account, the per minute rate varies. check out the FreeUp website that Dan posted for more info. FreeUp is not only a great prepaid service it's just good service period. Again, consult the FreeUp website for more info about coverage, prices, and all. If you decide to go with FreeUp, pick a Verizon phone you like(ensure it's a trimode phone if you buy a used phone online) and you'll be ready to go. I've used my FreeUp account all of CT and in Boston(haven't been to NYC since I got my phone) and on my Kyocera 2135, call clarity is excellent and I've never had a dropped call.
    Edit-Forgot to add, that with FreeUp as long as you add minutes before the expiration period(usually 60 days) all unused minutes roll over so you don't lose them.
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I have been using FreeUp for the last month and I must say that I the service is great. If your calling pattern is erratic like mine ( I can go for days w/o calling anyone), then FreeUp is the way to go. My first phone was the Kyocera 2135 and it was a good phone. But I got a Samsung T300 two weeks later and got it switched over while calling VZW CS on my Kyocera 2135. The CSR was polite and helpful. It is awesome that you can use any phone that works on VZW network for FreeUp. With other providers, they limit you to a certain model of phone and that's no fun!

    Prepaid works out great for me as I get TOTAL control of how much I spend on my phone calls. I have always hated all that extra charges (taxes etc.) that appear on my landline phone bill. Why do I pay for stuff I don't use!! From what I understand, those charges also appear with the postpaid plan too. With FreeUp, I pay a certain amount, and I USE the amount I paid. No gimmicks! I am in total control. I rather pay slightly more and use every single bit I paid for. Also, VZW FreeUp website updates your account instantly. All your calls/SMS are reflected within seconds. From what I read on the newsgroup, this is not the case with postpaid plans, but I guess they are getting better.

    Now, the only thing I wish is that VZW will start to offer data access with FreeUp too. That would be sweet!! I wouldn't mind buying an additional card to activate a certain amount of data usage on my phone. Or they can even bundle it with the FreeUp cards! I am really hoping that it would happen eventually![​IMG]
     
  9. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    Yep, I looked at ALL prepaid options, FREEUP from Verizon is the best (I use it myself). I totally agree with everything Mooby said, I've used my phone in PA, MD, (I am in DE), Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Fran, and lastly Honolulu (just got back today!), only went off network ONE time, and that was in Chicago (I think my phone got confused when it went from Verizon to Sprint by accident). Their coverage and service is great.
     
  10. Mooby

    Mooby Senior Member
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    Airb,
    When you were travelling and not roaming, what did the roaming indicator on your phone show? When I've been to Boston, I've not been roaming(I've recieved and placed calls and been billed at the regular rate) but my phone said Digital Roaming with a solid Roaming indicator. I've been told that that's just the way it is but I'm curious as to what your experience has been.
     
  11. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    I have a different phone from you, but my step-dad has the 2135 with FREEUP. For me, once I leave DE or Philly, it's roam time. Instead of Verizon, it says "Roaming" even though when I dial 611 I am on Verizon and not charged the 99cents. For the 2135, it says Digital Roaming, with the solid little R, even though it's on Verizon's network. This to me is stupid, it should display Verizon as long as you are on the network, otherwise how will you truly know you are on Sprint, etc? Oh well.
     
  12. Mooby

    Mooby Senior Member
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    Airb,
    Exactly. That's why I brought it up. So is dialing 611 an easy way to see if you're on network? That's the thing that gets me, with no clear sign from the roaming indicator, short of memorizing the city list there's no way to tell if you're roaming or not. Oh well for as much as I enjoy FreeUp, I can deal with one minor nitpick [​IMG]
     
  13. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    Lol, I agree Mooby. Yeah I guess pressing 611 is the only way to find out, if it says Sprint, etc. I guess I wouldn't make a call, of course I've made a call or 2 on Sprint, when my phone wouldn't switch back over to Verizon 800 in chicago (stuck to the 1900 band for some dumb reason), and was never charged the .99 cents, I think it's cause it was in a listed city....who knows?! Hey Virgin Mobile is out, they seem pretty cool, lower peak times, but they don't have free weekends, and I think that sucks though.
     
  14. Guest

    Guest Guest

    When it comes to call quality/clarity, which is more important, the carrier's network coverage or the individual phone you're using? If I were to place or receive a call in the same exact spot with five different phones for the same carrier, would call quality be the same, more or less, or would it depend on which phone I was using?

    So I guess it's agreed that Verizon FreeUP is the best prepaid plan. Now what if I wanted a prepaid plan that allowed me to use my phone in other countries? Which carrier has the best prepaid plan for that purpose?

    Thanks for the responses. I really appreciate them.

    8^)
     
  15. roamer1

    roamer1 In Memoriam
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    If you roam a lot, CallPlus (www.ecallplus.com, www.icallplus.com -- uses AT&T IS-136/analog network) is by far the best option -- they roam with virtually ALL 800 MHz carriers (even most oddball and typically roamer-unfriendly carriers), and roaming and some intl. calling is built into the rather low airtime rates.

    Other notes:

    - SPCS does sell its own prepaid, but distribution is very limited (here in Atlanta I've seen it sold ONLY at Wal*Mart -- not even at Sprint Stores.)
    - Virgin Mobile (new player, uses SPCS network) does NOT roam off the SPCS network.
    - Nextel does NOT offer prepaid.
    - AT&T GSM does NOT offer prepaid that I'm aware of.
    - VS offers only regional roaming; in the Northeast you get a fairly large area, but it stops south of Delaware and west of Harrisburg (possibly even Reading right now) and Buffalo.
    - Verizon Freeup charges airtime for voicemail left and checking voicemail from landline, not just for checking voicemail from cell -- virtually everyone else has abandoned this practice. If you get FreeUp I recommend having voicemail shut off by customer service.

    -SC
     
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  16. roamer1

    roamer1 In Memoriam
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    FreeUp/roam indicator -- they need to build a new PRL for FreeUp that shows no roaming indicator anywhere on VZW network but shows a roaming indicator off it. I' m surprised they haven't yet!

    -SC
     
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  17. kyocera2235verizon

    kyocera2235verizon Junior Member
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    I heard that with FreeUp, that you can make a call from anywhere, like with regular billing. I dont completely understand it, but thats what the guy said at the Verizon store.
     
  18. Guest

    Guest Guest

    What everyone fail to mention is that w/FreeUP, if you are outside Verizon's network, you will be informed of the extra charge when you are about the place or answer a call. The system will alert you that this call will cost you more. So I wouldn't worry so much about the roam indicator.

    Yes, the vmail charge is a pain, but hey, if you have the T300 like I do, it has vmail built in. I just turn it on whenever I know I won't be answering the phone or don't want to be disturbed. It minimizes one of the charges, I still get charged when the caller leave a vmail (since my phone will answer it to take msg), but then when I retrieve it, I don't even have to dial up to Verizon to retrieve it. I guess it all depends on your personal need. It suits me just fine.

    One question though, I was under the impression that the FreeUp network is different from VZW's AC network. Is that true? I know the AC people still gets charged $.69/min if they go off the VZW network. Isn't the coverage different, or the FreeUp coverage is essentially the same as the AC, except that the FreeUp people gets charged $.99/min instead of $.69/min?

    Thanks![​IMG]
     
  19. coalminer

    coalminer Senior Member
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    Anytime you are not using a Verizon system you are getting charged roaming, and if you are on Sprint or Alltel roaming, they charge you more than that normal rate, but not 99 cents a minute. And also when you recieve a call if you are roaming, their system does not know where you are so you get charged the normal per mintute rate. I am sure that eventually they will catch up on that and figure out when it is roaming and charge accordingly.
     
  20. Chalumeau77

    Chalumeau77 New Member

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    That was not the impression I got when I signed up w/FreeUp. If you are correct, then it is unethical of VZW not to tell its FreeUp customer about the "more than $.99" charge when we roam on SPCS or ALLTEL network. Can other FreeUp user verify that this is true? Has anyone every got charged more than $.99 when you are off VZW network?
     
  21. coalminer

    coalminer Senior Member
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    Whoops, what I meant was that you got charged more than the normal rate, which is 35 peak and 10 off peak, but not .99, I was roaming in Georgia on Sprint, and it was charged like 49 cents for peak and 20 for off peak, those calls that I made are too far back to check for sure, but I am pretty sure that was what I was charged.
     
  22. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    Well I have been to many places with my freeup phone, and have went off on Sprint once or twice, all in Chicago since Verizon (in may) was split, half the town was 800 and 1900. At my hotel it was 1900, and when I left my phone decided to go onto sprint 1900 instead of the Verizon 800. Im told this was to be fixed soon, plus my nokia isnt good at changing over. I was never charged roaming, maybe since I was in a city listed, who knows. I don't see why many people make the fuss about the VM charges, its like that (on cingular I know) for post paid too. I don't see what the big deal is, you are using Verizon both times, yes it'd be nice not to be charged for a message left, but it's not a big deal really.
     
  23. ComicalMoodyDan

    ComicalMoodyDan Gold Senior Member
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    You do not get charged on post paid plans when somebody leaves you a message. It only takes off your minutes when you check the message from your cell phone.

    As far as I know FreeUp is the only service that I know of that takes off your minutes when somebody gets your voicemail and leaves you a message. Cingular DOES NOT charge you for messages left in your voicemail.
     
  24. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    My friend has detailed billing on cingular, and they DO deduct for VM's left, hmm better tell her they aren't supposed to. I still don't see the big deal anyway, Verizon is providing the service, so I think it's fair for them to charge. I would like it if they didn't of course! lol. For awhile Verizon was offering 20 cents a minute for FREEUP down in Florida, I hope that goes nationwide, that'd be great! They love to try out new stuff in Delaware since we are small (an well covered, unlike the other providers), I wish we got that nice little 3 month promo.
     
  25. ComicalMoodyDan

    ComicalMoodyDan Gold Senior Member
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    I think it depends, if you get a lot of voicemail messages that can add up. SunCom doesn't charge for voicemail's left, only when you retrieve them and for the most part that's pretty standard.

    That's really odd, Cingular didn't use to do that and as far as I know in their Southern GSM market they still do not charge for voicemail's left. Maybe Cryogenic can help me out here he has Cingular (GSM) in Knoxville, TN. He would know.
     

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