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Thread: What advantage does Consumer Cellular have over other AT&T MVNOs?

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    What advantage does Consumer Cellular have over other AT&T MVNOs?

    I just saw Consumer Cellular’s updated plans, and I like them better than what I remember from CC in the past. (They’re not nearly as good as T-Mobile’s 55+ plan, but I don’t want to upgrade one of our iPhones—a 4S—which I’d have to do to go with T-Mobile). I’ve been out of the prepaid-search / info-gathering stage for a couple of years, but I’m looking to move to a GSM MVNO.

    —Does CC still offer better coverage than other MVNOs? They used to be more like AT&T postpaid in coverage.

    —I know it varies by state, but about what percentage is taxes and fees? If you have a $55/month plan for two lines, would you allow another $10 for taxes and fees?

    —In comparison, I’m also looking at PureTalk, which offers more data for the money (though I’m usually on WiFi) and included tethering, at times a benefit but not most important. What benefit would CC have over PureTalk?

    I appreciate any insight. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
    I just saw Consumer Cellular’s updated plans, and I like them better than what I remember from CC in the past. (They’re not nearly as good as T-Mobile’s 55+ plan, but I don’t want to upgrade one of our iPhones—a 4S—which I’d have to do to go with T-Mobile). I’ve been out of the prepaid-search / info-gathering stage for a couple of years, but I’m looking to move to a GSM MVNO.

    —Does CC still offer better coverage than other MVNOs? They used to be more like AT&T postpaid in coverage.

    —I know it varies by state, but about what percentage is taxes and fees? If you have a $55/month plan for two lines, would you allow another $10 for taxes and fees?

    —In comparison, I’m also looking at PureTalk, which offers more data for the money (though I’m usually on WiFi) and included tethering, at times a benefit but not most important. What benefit would CC have over PureTalk?

    I appreciate any insight. Thank you.
    Coverage: still seems like At&t postpaid. But they also use TMobile network now too. You choose which network you want when you sign up. I have at&t as I have been a customer since before they added TMobile as an option.

    Taxes. As you said, it depends. The $55 could add $10 in taxes. My state adds around 18%.

    CC also allows tethering (at least it did). However, Puretalk is also a good choice. With CC, data is shared among all lines while on Puretalk, you get an allocation per line. Which is better depends on your families' usage patterns.

    I don't think you can go wrong with either CC or Puretalk.

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    Personally I haven't used Consumer Cellular, but the following link was last updated in February and indicates they have AT&T roaming. Most AT&T MVNOs do not have roaming, although AT&T Prepaid should also have some voice roaming. The one time we had Puretalk and traveled outside AT&T coverage their service certainly did not roam. On that trip Tracfone BYOP AT&T did roam for voice and text. I read one later report of similar Tracfone BYOP AT&T roaming, but Tracfone BYOP may not have complete AT&T coverage, since there was also another post about Tracfone BYOP AT&T not roaming along I-80. In the past I've read that Straight Talk AT&T has voice roaming, but since they currently share the same coverage maps as Tracfone BYOP, I'd similarly question if Straight Talk AT&T has full AT&T voice coverage, such as the gaps along I-80.
    http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2013...-consumer.html

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    Thanks for the very helpful information. I think I'm going to have to flip a coin.

    What about voice quality? Is the same with both? My secretary just call our landline from her Straighttalk CDMA cell phone, and the call was noticeably muffled.

    Consumer Cellular says this about their HD Voice:
    Voice coverage depicted in medium and dark orange. Shading represents coverage areas that should be sufficient for on-street, in-the-open, and some in-building coverage. Dark orange areas depict High-Definition (HD) Voice coverage, also called wideband voice. HD Voice provides superior audio clarity and enhanced background noise reduction. HD Voice requires both parties on the call to be located within Consumer Cellular HD Voice coverage with a compatible device and properly provisioned account.

    I take it that the other caller has to be on CC for HD Voice to work. Is that true? Is HD Voice that big a deal on the AT&T network? I've read that regular voice on AT&T towers is comparable to Verizon VoLTE (but one can read anything on forums, right?)

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    The prepaidphonenews.com site says CC has off network voice, text, & 2G data roaming.

    I thought I remember reading somewhere here on HF that coverage was voice & text roaming, but not data - but perhaps it was LTE data
    that was not included in roaming - however 2G data roaming apparently is included. We had them for awhile - very excellent OLAM.
    Taxes were about 14 -18 % here in SW Missouri, as I recall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trek83 View Post
    The prepaidphonenews.com site says CC has off network voice, text, & 2G data roaming.

    I thought I remember reading somewhere here on HF that coverage was voice & text roaming, but not data - but perhaps it was LTE data
    that was not included in roaming - however 2G data roaming apparently is included. We had them for awhile - very excellent OLAM.
    Taxes were about 14 -18 % here in SW Missouri, as I recall.
    I read somewhere today, and the MVNO maps I've viewed seem to support this, that native AT&T coverage hardly needs roaming in the eastern half of the U.S. If that's true, I'm not sure that roaming would be an issue for us. We rarely venture outside the southeastern part of the country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trek83 View Post
    The prepaidphonenews.com site says CC has off network voice, text, & 2G data roaming.

    I thought I remember reading somewhere here on HF that coverage was voice & text roaming, but not data - but perhaps it was LTE data
    that was not included in roaming - however 2G data roaming apparently is included. We had them for awhile - very excellent OLAM.
    Taxes were about 14 -18 % here in SW Missouri, as I recall.
    I am not sure that has been updated since 2015. There has been much debate since then as to whether they really have roaming or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by comintel View Post
    I am not sure that has been updated since 2015. There has been much debate since then as to whether they really have roaming or not.
    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Consumer Cellular does include roaming. In the eastern half of the U.S., does it make any difference in coverage? Looking at various GSM maps, I don’t really see any difference between CC and others.

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    I live in the one of the less populated Western States and you definitely want roaming. Native ATT, T-Mobile and Sprint just don't cut it outside populated cities area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FriedRice1 View Post
    I live in the one of the less populated Western States and you definitely want roaming. Native ATT, T-Mobile and Sprint just don't cut it outside populated cities area.
    I understand that concerning the western part of the U.S., but what about the eastern part? I’m wondering if the native AT&T maps are accurate (which I take it as what PureTalk and Cricket are using). And that on matters if Consumer Cellular has some sort of roaming. It would be nice to get a straight answer from the companies, but perhaps their contracts with AT&T prohibit it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
    I'm not sure that roaming would be an issue for us. We rarely venture outside the southeastern part of the country.
    The AT&T maps show roaming areas as 3rd party. Looking at the AT&T maps, I don't see any significant 3rd party areas in the Southeast portion of the US. While Verizon postpaid does roam within their native coverage area, I've never ran across a reason to presume that AT&T might roam within their coverage area to the same extent for standard service. Our phones on AT&T providers have not indicated roaming within their coverage areas for the areas we've traveled, and the only time I've seen a roaming indicator (the PureTalk phone might have displayed emergency only) was in a 3rd party area. Assuming you don't have plans of traveling to one of the AT&T 3rd party areas, personally I'm not aware of a reason to prefer an AT&T service provider with roaming in the given situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
    Dark orange areas depict High-Definition (HD) Voice coverage
    My comments above are all in relation to standard service without HD Voice. I wasn't aware of any AT&T MVNOs having HD Voice. Comparing the Consumer Cellular maps with the AT&T maps, the Consumer Cellular maps don't actually have the dark orange HD Voice areas found on the AT&T maps. I can't find any other references to HD Voice on the Consumer Cellular site, so I'm not sure if they really have HD Voice. They might be able to answer if they do or not with a support call, but considering how AT&T only allows HD Voice on rather particular phones with AT&T postpaid service, I'm a bit surprised to see HD Voice references on the AT&T reseller map. I'm not familiar with Consumer Cellular's service to comment if they might have equivalent features as AT&T postpaid, and nothing really turns up in searches regarding HD Voice when purchasing service from them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alluringreality View Post
    The AT&T maps show roaming areas as 3rd party. Looking at the AT&T maps, I don't see any significant 3rd party areas in the Southeast portion of the US. While Verizon postpaid does roam within their native coverage area, I've never ran across a reason to presume that AT&T might roam within their coverage area to the same extent for standard service. Our phones on AT&T providers have not indicated roaming within their coverage areas for the areas we've traveled, and the only time I've seen a roaming indicator was in a 3rd party area. Assuming you don't have plans of traveling to one of the AT&T 3rd party areas, personally I'm not aware of a reason to prefer an AT&T service provider with roaming in the given situation.

    My comments above are all in relation to standard service without HD Voice. I wasn't aware of any AT&T MVNOs having HD Voice. Comparing the Consumer Cellular maps with the AT&T maps, the Consumer Cellular maps don't actually have the dark orange HD Voice areas found on the AT&T maps. I can't find any other references to HD Voice on the Consumer Cellular site, so I'm not sure if they really have HD Voice. They might be able to answer if they do or not with a support call, but considering how AT&T only allows HD Voice on rather particular phones with AT&T postpaid service, I'm a bit surprised to see HD Voice references on the AT&T reseller map. I'm not familiar with Consumer Cellular's service, and nothing really turns up in searches regarding HD Voice when purchasing service from them.
    Thanks for this. I wasn't getting an answer in this thread so I just posted the question as a separate thread. Maybe answers there will help others who may not go into this thread.

    You're right in that the map and description do not line up. There are no lighter and darker orange areas indicating regular voice and HD Voice, respectively.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
    I just saw Consumer Cellular’s updated plans, and I like them better than what I remember from CC in the past. (They’re not nearly as good as T-Mobile’s 55+ plan, but I don’t want to upgrade one of our iPhones—a 4S—which I’d have to do to go with T-Mobile). I’ve been out of the prepaid-search / info-gathering stage for a couple of years, but I’m looking to move to a GSM MVNO.

    —Does CC still offer better coverage than other MVNOs? They used to be more like AT&T postpaid in coverage.

    —I know it varies by state, but about what percentage is taxes and fees? If you have a $55/month plan for two lines, would you allow another $10 for taxes and fees?

    —In comparison, I’m also looking at PureTalk, which offers more data for the money (though I’m usually on WiFi) and included tethering, at times a benefit but not most important. What benefit would CC have over PureTalk?

    I appreciate any insight. Thank you.
    I see that they've increased the charge for each additional line by 50%, from $10 to $15. But they've also addressed one of the biggest problems they had, and increased the maximum data per account to 10GB.

    I left CC because they didn't have any large enough data plans for our four lines, but now they do.

    Taxes and fees are high with CC, expect 18-20% extra. Cricket costs me $100 for five lines with 4GB each. CC would cost me about $118 for four lines with 10GB shared, which would be fine too.

    If I wanted to travel to Canada or Mexico, I could up my plan to the $50 level on Cricket and get roaming in those countries, but can't do that with CC.

    I switched to Cricket and I've been happy with them. But I haven't been traveling into any of the roaming areas where CC has coverage and Cricket doesn't. Definitely a difference in coverage, with CC having roaming coverage, at least for voice and SMS, in a lot of areas where Cricket has no coverage.,

    I used to tether occasionally on CC, and can't do that on Cricket, but simultaneously I got an unlimited data iPad from an employer, so I don't miss the tethering.

    Just be certain to get AT&T on CC, not T-Mobile on CC. T-Mobile coverage is abysmal in the western U.S., tried them for a couple of months and could not deal with the awful coverage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broadus View Post
    I read somewhere today, and the MVNO maps I've viewed seem to support this, that native AT&T coverage hardly needs roaming in the eastern half of the U.S. If that's true, I'm not sure that roaming would be an issue for us. We rarely venture outside the southeastern part of the country.
    That's true. the issue with roaming is in the western U.S..

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    Quote Originally Posted by smsgator View Post
    I see that they've increased the charge for each additional line by 50%, from $10 to $15. But they've also addressed one of the biggest problems they had, and increased the maximum data per account to 10GB.

    I left CC because they didn't have any large enough data plans for our four lines, but now they do.

    Taxes and fees are high with CC, expect 18-20% extra. Cricket costs me $100 for five lines with 4GB each. CC would cost me about $118 for four lines with 10GB shared, which would be fine too.

    If I wanted to travel to Canada or Mexico, I could up my plan to the $50 level on Cricket and get roaming in those countries, but can't do that with CC.

    I switched to Cricket and I've been happy with them. But I haven't been traveling into any of the roaming areas where CC has coverage and Cricket doesn't. Definitely a difference in coverage, with CC having roaming coverage, at least for voice and SMS, in a lot of areas where Cricket has no coverage.,

    I used to tether occasionally on CC, and can't do that on Cricket, but simultaneously I got an unlimited data iPad from an employer, so I don't miss the tethering.

    Just be certain to get AT&T on CC, not T-Mobile on CC. T-Mobile coverage is abysmal in the western U.S., tried them for a couple of months and could not deal with the awful coverage.
    Wow: 15-20% is high. For the less than total price sharing 3GB on two lines with CC, I could get 3GB on each line with PureTalk and for a few dollars more 4GB on each line with Cricket.

    Being in the Southeast, I don't think that I'll be affected if on only native AT&T. One thing in Cricket's favor over PureTalk is HD Voice, although I don't know whether that's a big deal.

    Thanks for your perspective. That helps.

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