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Thread: Questions - prepaid vs postpaid

  1. #1
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    Questions - prepaid vs postpaid

    I wonder if someone with some knowledge would be kind enough to answer some questions regarding AT&T prepaid vs AT&T postpaid. It seems that if I search the internet and come up with 25 answers, I get about 25 conflicting ones!

    1 - Do AT&T prepaid accounts allow for roaming within the United States, or will they work only on AT&T towers?
    2 - If roaming IS available, is it so on ANY prepaid account or only with certain accounts (I've read in various places that it's only with $50 and up plans)?
    3 - Is there a difference in coverage throughout the USA using AT&T towers? Or are there some towers that just do not work with prepaid accounts?
    4 - Is there a difference in network prioritization between prepaid and postpaid accounts? If so, does this affect only data, or are phone calls affected as well? What about VoLTE calls?
    5 - Will VoLTE work using an unlocked Verizon branded iphone Xr?
    6 - I have seen that AT&T is slowly allowing for VoLTE and WiFi calling on prepaid when they did not do so in the past. Am I correct in assuming that yes, both will work, or that VoLTE will work (this is more important to me than WiFi calling)?
    Thank you so much. It is extremely difficult to get correct answers and even the AT&T reps contradict each other.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by californiajay View Post
    I wonder if someone with some knowledge would be kind enough to answer some questions regarding AT&T prepaid vs AT&T postpaid. It seems that if I search the internet and come up with 25 answers, I get about 25 conflicting ones!

    1 - Do AT&T prepaid accounts allow for roaming within the United States, or will they work only on AT&T towers?
    2 - If roaming IS available, is it so on ANY prepaid account or only with certain accounts (I've read in various places that it's only with $50 and up plans)?
    3 - Is there a difference in coverage throughout the USA using AT&T towers? Are there some towers that just do not work with prepaid accounts?
    4 - Is there a difference in network prioritization between prepaid and postpaid accounts? If so, does this affect only data, or are phone calls affected as well? What about VoLTE calls?
    5 - I have seen that AT&T is slowly allowing for VoLTE and WiFi calling on prepaid when they did not do so in the past. Am I correct in assuming that yes, both will work, or that VoLTE will work (this is more important to me than WiFi calling)?
    Thank you so much. It is extremely difficult to get correct answers and even the AT&T reps contradict each other.
    1) There is some limited roaming in the US. For instance, in the Nebraska and Wyoming areas I see roaming where there used to be no coverage.

    2) I believe it is all plans. The roaming on higher priced plans may be the Mexico/Canada roaming offered.

    3) I've not heard of any cases where working ATT towers won't allow prepaid usage.

    4) There is a difference in prioritization. Most likely only affects data.

    5) It depends on the phone. Even postpaid has limits on what phones they will support Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE. The iPhones are supported. I've at least temporarily moved my main prepaid line to Verizon since the $40 16GB plan wasn't offered to existing customers. Have to move the line away. So I'm in a wait and see mode since my iPhone also has Wi-Fi and VoLTE on Verizon. Though $5/month more for only 15GB.
    iPhone X is my current primary phone. I have older model iPhones and Moto phones available on other lines. Currently prepaid, though would consider postpaid on right plan.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    1) There is some limited roaming in the US. For instance, in the Nebraska and Wyoming areas I see roaming where there used to be no coverage.


    When you say you see limited romaing in Nebraska and Wyoming, are you saying there is none elsewhere?



    5) It depends on the phone. Even postpaid has limits on what phones they will support Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE. The iPhones are supported. I've at least temporarily moved my main prepaid line to Verizon since the $40 16GB plan wasn't offered to existing customers. Have to move the line away. So I'm in a wait and see mode since my iPhone also has Wi-Fi and VoLTE on Verizon. Though $5/month more for only 15GB.
    So if I have an iphone I am safe? What if it's an unlocked Verizon iphone Xr?
    When you say roaming in Nebraska and Wyoming, are you saying there is none elsewhere?

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    Quote Originally Posted by californiajay View Post
    So if I have an iphone I am safe? What if it's an unlocked Verizon iphone Xr?
    When you say roaming in Nebraska and Wyoming, are you saying there is none elsewhere?
    To see where prepaid roams using the AT&T coverage map https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html
    Click the AT&T Prepaid button.
    Click the + button to zoom in twice.
    Roaming areas are in orange.

    Besides in Nebraska and Wyoming, I see some roaming areas in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and Maine.
    Compare prepaid plans from all operators at PrepaidCompare.net.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yeswap View Post
    To see where prepaid roams using the AT&T coverage map https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html
    Click the AT&T Prepaid button.
    Click the + button to zoom in twice.
    Roaming areas are in orange.

    Besides in Nebraska and Wyoming, I see some roaming areas in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and Maine.
    Wow, great map, thanks!
    So it seems that there is a lot more roaming allowed with a postpaid account.

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    Questions - prepaid vs postpaid

    Quote Originally Posted by californiajay View Post
    So if I have an iphone I am safe? What if it's an unlocked Verizon iphone Xr?
    When you say roaming in Nebraska and Wyoming, are you saying there is none elsewhere?
    iPhones in general should be good - they were some of the first when AT&T fired up VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling on postpaid and later on Cricket. I think AT&T Prepaid followed a similar path and shouldn't matter where it came from.

    AT&T tends to not do much with roaming these days (other than a few spots that people have mentioned) - like Verizon, they'd rather you be on their native network and don't want to pay for roaming on competitors when they can either build or buy out smaller carriers (Centennial, Dobson, etc.) Since your Xr has LTE Band 14, it will get coverage in some of the areas that AT&T is building out completely new with their Firstnet contract (the public gets to use it in non-emergency situations as additional coverage/capacity).

    Still, Nebraska and Wyoming are the notable roaming locations that have existed forever.

    Oh, and for prioritization, generally postpaid gets priority, then any plan that is capped in amount (i.e. 8GB) and unlimited plans that mention 22GB until they "may" get slower, then any other unlimited plans and plans that have passed the 22GB threshold. That's sort of the difference between the two current unlimited prepaid plans.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecs0013 View Post
    Still, Nebraska and Wyoming are the notable roaming locations that have existed forever.
    Actually, Nebraska and Wyoming are fairly recent roaming areas for ATT Prepaid. What is newer is that ATT apparently bought some coverage in the western half of the state (3G, not LTE), along I-80.

    The Verizon iPhone will work fine on ATT. Unlocked iPhones since the iPhone 6 work well. Newer models since the Xr/Xs, as stated, have B14 so are potentially better coverage.

    I use Nebraska as a reference point since it was a big hole for some time on ATT, and it is my native state. So I head back occasionally to see extended family. But coverage can drop off away from the interstate in spots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    Actually, Nebraska and Wyoming are fairly recent roaming areas for ATT Prepaid. What is newer is that ATT apparently bought some coverage in the western half of the state (3G, not LTE), along I-80.
    Yeah, I should've clarified that postpaid has sort of had the native AT&T hole forever and Prepaid was recent - thanks for catching that! AT&T Prepaid and Cricket have both had some spots added and some spots taken away over the last two or three years. I wonder what 3G coverage they're using because that was always rough when I traveled through there. Extra capacity/roaming from Viaero or Commnet?

    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    I use Nebraska as a reference point since it was a big hole for some time on ATT, and it is my native state. So I head back occasionally to see extended family. But coverage can drop off away from the interstate in spots.
    Nice to hear from someone that lives and deals with it regularly, since there have been so many changes and a lot of us have only seen it "in theory" with maps.

  9. #9
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    I didn't realize that Firstnet had benefits other than to first responders. That's good to know.
    So now that AT&T does have Firstnet, has it made a difference in their coverage compared to Verizon and Tmobile? And does AT&T prepaid make use of it?

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    Questions - prepaid vs postpaid

    Quote Originally Posted by californiajay View Post
    I didn't realize that Firstnet had benefits other than to first responders. That's good to know.
    So now that AT&T does have Firstnet, has it made a difference in their coverage compared to Verizon and Tmobile? And does AT&T prepaid make use of it?
    Yeah, basically with the FirstNet contract, AT&T got the license for Band 14 and some money. Newer phones support Band 14 and it's in the 700MHz range like the similar long-range Band 12, 13, and 17 that various carriers use. Those with FirstNet SIMs get priority on all of AT&T's frequencies, but otherwise Band 14 is just treated like any other AT&T bands.

    I'm not sure about coverage additions, but it also has given AT&T an excuse to climb towers and deploy other frequencies in the process if they aren't there. AT&T Prepaid will make use of it, too.

    Related: https://howardforums.com/showthread....S-AT-amp-T-map

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    AT&T has Band 14 deployed in my area, but only 10MHz wide (I thought it was to be 20?), but it doesn't seem to be fully tied in: I'm connecting to it via a Sierra Wireless EM7511 with the latest AT&T firmware and am on getting around 5-10Mbps down and about 30kbps up (that's not a typo). (I had to band lock to force the EM7511 to connect to Band 14.)

    I'm using a 10GB pre-paid account.

    I'll try it again sometime soon, but Verizon is my main provider although congestion has been so bad (as a post-paid VZ customer) that I may have to switch to AT&T.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmmec View Post
    AT&T has Band 14 deployed in my area, but only 10MHz wide (I thought it was to be 20?), but it doesn't seem to be fully tied in: I'm connecting to it via a Sierra Wireless EM7511 with the latest AT&T firmware and am on getting around 5-10Mbps down and about 30kbps up (that's not a typo). (I had to band lock to force the EM7511 to connect to Band 14.)

    I'm using a 10GB pre-paid account.

    I'll try it again sometime soon, but Verizon is my main provider although congestion has been so bad (as a post-paid VZ customer) that I may have to switch to AT&T.
    Interesting to hear that Verizon's post-paid congestion woes continue. I used to have Verizon post-paid and experienced congestion a few times. Then I switched to Verizon pre-paid and deprioritization got really bad. Verizon's traffic management is terrible and they deprioritize far too often.

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    FWIW regarding VZ congestion in my area: I'm in a rural area with VZ having deployed bands 4, 13, and 66. I haven't had a problem in more than 8 years, but things have taken a tremendous downturn since May with congestion throughout the weekend, and now 4-5 hours each afternoon during the week.

    Opening a trouble ticket with VZ Tier 2 support is pointless: "network is operating as normal". Many areas in town are getting slammed and many people are complaining. Hoping beyond hope that some of has to do with the work they are doing to sunset CDMA in this area, and that things will improve in time, but who knows.

    AT&T has not had a good presence or service here, but I am finding that AT&T provides decent enough -- but not great -- data service when VZ is "operating as normal" (unusable).

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    Yeah, I was wondering if the CDMA sunset might result in better performance from VZW. I tried it in December 2018, and it was totally unusable.
    Durham, NC


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    Quote Originally Posted by NCTed View Post
    Yeah, I was wondering if the CDMA sunset might result in better performance from VZW. I tried it in December 2018, and it was totally unusable.
    I tried Verizon for one month a year ago. The congestion was awful and it often was usable only for texting and email, like 2G speeds if available.

    The only place it really worked was when I was on vacation to Yellowstone. Worked fine there...

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