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Thread: Major carrier vs. MVNO: the value proposition

  1. #1
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    Major carrier vs. MVNO: the value proposition

    So I'm considering switching from Sprint to an MVNO (possibly Aio or ST) purely with the motivation of saving $400 per year ballpark. I've read the FAQ explaining the pros and cons of major carrier vs. MVNO, but I'd like your feedback about the value propositions of major carriers.

    In your personal experience, generally speaking, do major carriers deliver $400/year more value than MVNOs? Why or why not?

    Thanks.

    -SH

  2. #2
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    Service is service, there is no inherent additional 'value' attached to the 'major carriers'.

    So if the service provided is identical (minutes/txt/data/customer support/etc) then the value is identical as well.

    Simply put, I'm not sure what you're asking here.

  3. #3
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    I've been on prepaid since I got my first cell phone at 18. Although I did have postpaid on Sprint for a couple years through the Sprint SERO plan. I'm assuming you're asking if there's a catch or some kind of quirk for getting service cheaper through an MNVO as opposed to one of the major carriers. Simply put, there are MNVO's who have their quirks--especially Lycamobile and Ringplus--but overall you're not going to notice a degradation of service that'll make you wish you were on a postpaid contract again.

    Prepaid PROS/CONS:
    No contract, but no subsidy (pay full-price for a phone).
    Same native towers, but very few MNVO's have roaming.
    No ******** taxes/fees (administrative fee, etc), but most MNVO's don't have retail locations if you need in-person customer service.
    Same features as postpaid (411, voicemail, call forwarding, etc.), but generally higher ping times on mobile data (higher latency means less priority through the data network).
    Same awesome phones on postpaid networks (most GSM carriers, like you can get a Straight Talk SIM and pop it into a Galaxy S4), but some MNVO's have crippled and a limited selection of phones (Page Plus is a Verizon MNVO that can't activate Verizon LTE phones without modification).

    I could go on and on, but if you're new to the prepaid world, stick around, ask some questions, and we'll help you find a provider that fits your needs.

    Some questions that will help us narrow it down for you:
    Do you need great customer service?
    Which carriers work well in your area and places you'll need to use your phone?
    What's your budget?
    What kind of phone do you want to use?
    Do you need roaming?
    How many minutes/texts/MB's of data do you use?

    Since you're on Sprint, I'm going to assume it works well enough for you. There are a lot of MNVO's that work on the Sprint network. If all you need is unlimited talk/text, Ringplus has an unlimited talk/text plan for $15 a month. If you need some data, they have a unlimited talk/text and 2GB data plan for $33 a month. Just one option to consider.

  4. #4
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    Only you can decide if you are getting $400 worth of "value" from Sprint vs an MVNO. For most of the visitors to this forum, the answer would be no.

    via the HoFo App

  5. #5
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    You are better off with AIO than being on sprint.


    Sent from my Galaxy S5 using tapatalk.

  6. #6
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    Here are some of the drawbacks I see from going virtual carrier:

    -Loss of domestic and international roaming. Make sure the network you choose is strong in your market.
    -loss of various features. Some MVNOs don't do MMS picture messaging. Visual voicemail on iPhone is hit or miss. If your phone has a proprietary features (like navigation, MMS locked tied to your prior carrier, something stupid), it probably wont work on the MVNO.
    -loss of a retail store to walk into. I've ported less than smart friends to MNVOs and they wind up going back to ATT/Verizon/ect... because they were stupid and walked into a store to ask a stupid question about their (now MVNO) phone.
    -In general, a lack of customer support. Your on your own.

    Since you already have a sprint phone, i suggest you consider a Sprint MVNO first and reuse your existing sprint phone (think Ting, Ringplus, ...there are several). Unfortunately, it it's a little tricky: your current phone needs it's ID number (the MEID/ESN) released from sprint before a Sprint MNVO can port over your service and number. It's a catch 22 and kind of difficult to deal with. The CDMA phones have this problem (Sprint and Verizon MVNOs); on the GSM side (T-mobile and AT&T MVNOs) switching is much easier. All you have to do is swap sim cards and type in the new APN settings for data and MMS.

    That said, i'm very "pro MNVO." The savings are hard to ignore (especially if your not on a family plan). The service is very similar to being a native subscriber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by E_tron View Post

    Since you already have a sprint phone, i suggest you consider a Sprint MVNO first and reuse your existing sprint phone (think Ting, Ringplus, ...there are several). Unfortunately, it it's a little tricky: your current phone needs it's ID number (the MEID/ESN) released from sprint before a Sprint MNVO can port over your service and number. It's a catch 22 and kind of difficult to deal with. The CDMA phones have this problem (Sprint and Verizon MVNOs)
    The trick to get around this is a pain in the *** and you'll be without service for a little bit, but you can port your current Sprint phone to a free or cheap T-mobile SIM (or one of the multitude of SIM's you can get on Amazon for a penny), and then turn around and port to the Sprint MNVO you really want.

  8. #8
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    I use an MVNO because I only want access to the network, not access to the premium (in-store) customer service. I don't need roaming because the network I am on works almost everywhere, or at least everywhere I go. I don't mind spending some time up front to research to find a good deal, buying a phone separately, dialing the programming number myself and requesting an autopay myself. The savings are significant, as you pointed out, and with multiple lines in my household, even larger for me. Think about what the savings will amount to over the next 10 years and what you could do with that money.

    Frankly, I think the big carriers are for people who don't know any better and just want to walk into a store and walk out with a phone and don't want to know any more about it than that and don't care much about the cost. Since you have posted on this forum, I don't think you fit that profile. You might as well get access to the same network at a fraction of the cost. However, if you already have more money than you can use, then there is no reason to use an MVNO, so stick with a major carrier.

  9. #9
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    However, if you already have more money than you can use, then there is no reason to use an MVNO
    That's it , in a nutshell.

    It takes a little time and research to find a MVNO to fit your usage pattern, but chances are, there's one out there for you.

    If you really need all you can eat voice text and data , all the time, everywhere plus handholding, you will pay for it.
    Enjoy Lycamobile...the Ryanair of mobile phone service providers
    Air , Water , Fire....LYCA

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saint_Houston View Post
    So I'm considering switching from Sprint to an MVNO (possibly Aio or ST) purely with the motivation of saving $400 per year ballpark.

    In your personal experience, generally speaking, do major carriers deliver $400/year more value than MVNOs? Why or why not?

    Thanks.

    -SH
    You could save money by joining a Framily as well.

    AIO (soon to be Cricket) is not an MVNO, it's a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T.

    I'd avoid the MVNO scene all together and choose one of the prepaid arms of a carrier.

    Plenty of savings compared to postpaid.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by billm261 View Post
    You could save money by joining a Framily as well.

    AIO (soon to be Cricket) is not an MVNO, it's a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T.

    I'd avoid the MVNO scene all together and choose one of the prepaid arms of a carrier.

    Plenty of savings compared to postpaid.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk
    FYI, There're a lot of people on slick deals looking for people to join their framilies if that's an option you'd be interested in taking.

    via the HoFo App

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by VisionsDivine View Post
    FYI, There're a lot of people on slick deals looking for people to join their framilies if that's an option you'd be interested in taking.

    via the HoFo App
    Since the OP already has Sprint he knows what he's getting for service.

    It's a great deal with 7+ members.

    I always thought there should be a Framily thread looking for members here on HoFo as well.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by VisionsDivine View Post
    I've been on prepaid since I got my first cell phone at 18. Although I did have postpaid on Sprint for a couple years through the Sprint SERO plan. I'm assuming you're asking if there's a catch or some kind of quirk for getting service cheaper through an MNVO as opposed to one of the major carriers. Simply put, there are MNVO's who have their quirks--especially Lycamobile and Ringplus--but overall you're not going to notice a degradation of service that'll make you wish you were on a postpaid contract again.

    Prepaid PROS/CONS:
    No contract, but no subsidy (pay full-price for a phone).
    Same native towers, but very few MNVO's have roaming.
    No ******** taxes/fees (administrative fee, etc), but most MNVO's don't have retail locations if you need in-person customer service.
    Same features as postpaid (411, voicemail, call forwarding, etc.), but generally higher ping times on mobile data (higher latency means less priority through the data network).
    Same awesome phones on postpaid networks (most GSM carriers, like you can get a Straight Talk SIM and pop it into a Galaxy S4), but some MNVO's have crippled and a limited selection of phones (Page Plus is a Verizon MNVO that can't activate Verizon LTE phones without modification).

    I could go on and on, but if you're new to the prepaid world, stick around, ask some questions, and we'll help you find a provider that fits your needs.

    Some questions that will help us narrow it down for you:
    Do you need great customer service?
    Which carriers work well in your area and places you'll need to use your phone?
    What's your budget?
    What kind of phone do you want to use?
    Do you need roaming?
    How many minutes/texts/MB's of data do you use?

    Since you're on Sprint, I'm going to assume it works well enough for you. There are a lot of MNVO's that work on the Sprint network. If all you need is unlimited talk/text, Ringplus has an unlimited talk/text plan for $15 a month. If you need some data, they have a unlimited talk/text and 2GB data plan for $33 a month. Just one option to consider.
    You have a link to that? I looked at the site and didn't see that anywhere.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by offthegrid View Post
    You have a link to that? I looked at the site and didn't see that anywhere.
    Well, I just did a quick Google search and found http://ringplus.net/plans/limited_international/.

    $14.99 BYOSD
    Lina
    Reach Out and Touch Everyone!
    Unlimited Domestic minutes
    Unlimited "Anywhere" Global Text Messages
    50MB LTE/3G data
    150 mins to over 100 countries
    Additional Texts/MB - 2˘
    Nationwide Coverage on the Sprint Network
    Access to In-Call Apps & RingPlus Radio
    No Contract
    $14.99/month + taxes

    Or, for $3/mo more, you can get an additional 300MB LTE/3G cellular data.

    $17.99 BYOSD
    Noelani
    Gateway To The World!
    Unlimited Domestic Minutes
    Unlimited "Anywhere" Global Text Messages
    300MB LTE/3G data
    250 mins to over 100 countries
    Additional Texts/MB - 2˘
    Nationwide Coverage on the Sprint Network
    Access to In-Call Apps & RingPlus Radio
    No Contract
    $17.99/month + taxes

  15. #15
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    Yup I'm on the R+ $14.99 plan, works for me.

    MVNOs are not for you if you insist on having

    1. a new subsidized phone
    or
    2. never tweaking your phone
    or
    3. not understanding what a MVNO is.
    I will be Judged on how I helped the poor, sick & others in need; strangers & loved ones alike.

    My plans:
    Visible (Verizon) UTT & Unlimited Data $25/mo
    Liberty Wireless (T-Mobile) UTT 09.06.22
    T-Mobile Gold Rewards $10yr exp 01.03.23
    Truphone (AT&T) every 180 days by 07.18.22

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