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NOTE: There will be one more Zen Tech show this month on 8-31-16
Glenn was in the studio. Paul is on vacation and called in from just over the Oregon border in a place called Summer Lake.
Paul said he’s been encountering people coming from the north who are headed to Burning Man, which Glenn said starts this weekend and goes thru Memorial Day.
Marilyn sent in an email asking the guys about saving money on cell phone data and calling plans. Paul has a plan from H2O Wireless with unlimited talk and text (txt) with 3gig of data for $40/mo. But it lags by 72 hours in reporting how much data he’s used. So, on his phone he goes to Settings -> Cellular where it tells him “in this period” how much data he’s used and which apps used the data. But he’s not clear what is meant by “this period”.
Glenn uses the Pure Talk $45/mo plan that includes 2.5gig of data. He’s thinking of switching to their new plan for $35/mo that comes with unlimited talk & text and 2gig of data. What he likes about his current plan is that if he goes over his data limit, it just stops. It doesn’t automatically switch to a very high cost premium rate for the data.
Paul said some plans charge $10 per 100meg of additional data, if you exceed the data limit; that’s $100 per gigaByte. In Paul’s case with H2O Wireless, if he exceeds his data limit, he’s normal 4G speed of about 2 or 3 megaBytes/sec is throttled back to 2G speeds (120 KBytes/sec). He said one should be aware of throttling when shopping for plans that advertise unlimited data. The H2O Wireless plan that Paul has doesn’t allow him to buy an incremental amount of data if he goes over his data limit for the 30-day period. He speculated that MVNOs <Mobile Virtual Network Operator>, like H2O Wireless, buy large chunks of data and don’t want to spoon out small amounts to their customers. With PureTalk you’re allowed to buy small chunks of extra data, Glenn said.
Looking at an email from Marilyn, Glenn noted that she has a GoPhone and pays $25 for 90 days with 10 cents/minute for phone calls.
Dave “Buzz” Barnett joined Glenn in the studio and Paul told him that he’s getting a strong cellular signal, stronger than he expected for such a remote area. He noted that the cell service depends, more than anything, on the number of people using it. Buzz said that it might just be that the antenna is at a high elevation.
Glenn told Paul he’s phone call is coming in on iMessage thu his cellular data. He asked Paul if iMacs can handle iMessage. Paul said they could if you use an app called Messages. If you have an iMac and you only have a text plan on your cell phone, “the iMac will see those text messages because they’re relayed to you from your phone. As long as you’ve got an iMessage account it will work on a Mac”. iMessages won’t work on a PC.
There are 2 things that work on a Mac that won’t work on a PC. One is Facetime, which won’t work on Linux. The other is iMessage, Paul said.
Paul mentioned that there was a meeting at Nevada City Hall concerning the Verizon cell repeaters, but nothing came of it. Buzz said one member of the planning commission had to recuse himself because he owned property nearby. It ended up with a 2 to 2 vote. They’re supposed to try again in about a month. This was a topic in the 8-10-16 Zen Tech show.>
Glenn thanked those who support KVMR with their membership. If you’d like to become a member, you can call the station at 530-265-9073 or go to kvmr.org. If you’d like to join the conversation during the Zen Tech show, you can call the studio at 530-265-9555.
Paul said that it’s not hard to get your phone away from AT&T and use it with another phone company. But there might be some confusion about what access your new company needs at AT&T to port your phone number. In Paul’s case, H2O Wireless needed his PIN number (called the security code), not his password, to his AT&T account.
Jeff called about the ambiguity Paul found with the phrase “in this period”, earlier in this show. He said that refers to the billing period. Glenn said on the iPhone if you go to Settings -> Cellular and then scroll to the bottom, you can reset the data counters back to zero. He said he’ll be doing that every month <billing period> to see where his data is being used.
Glenn offered a tip to reduce you cellular data usage. Use wi-fi at places that offer it for free: Starbucks, McDonalds etc. Usually, you can use it even if you don’t go inside. <Coffee shops often make it available.>
Glenn went on to say that if you’re a Xfinity or Comcast internet customer, you can use Xfinity Hot Spots to get on the net over wi-fi for free. <It shows up on your list like any other wi-fi connection. On the login screen they offer 2 hours/mo for free to everyone, just to try it out.> However, Paul said that though he was able to use the hot spots when he had a business account with Comcast, his domestic account now says it “not available to your tier of service”.
Buzz says he uses the MVNO called PagePlus for his cellular provider. He pays about $31/mo with 1gig of data. To find how much data he’s used, all he has to do is send them a text message with the word: bal.
Paul said that CDMA cellular providers like Verizon will, nevertheless, use a SIM card for the data portion of their service. After the iPhone 4 the same phone can be used with either a CDMA or GSM network. Just be sure to unlock the phone before you switch providers so it won’t be tied to a particular provider.
Paul said that he might experiment with the Facebook Live Stream and stream the next Zen Tech show.
Glenn looked at the PureTalk website and noticed another plan at $24/mo with unlimited talk and text, 200meg of data and 200 MMS messages. For 1gig of data & unlimited MMS it’s $29. And there’s a plan with 4gig of data at $50/mo.
Johnny called. He has an AT&T iPhone 6 that coming to the end of the contract. He asked for tips to switch to another carrier.
– Unlock it first. Google the words: att unlock.
– If you’re unhappy with the service at AT&T and switch to a MVNO like H2O, it’s not going to work any better. <H2O uses the AT&T network.>
– See what provider people are using in your location to find which works well.
– Note what the trial period is so you have time to check out the new service.
– Though he stands to be corrected, Paul believes that the cellular providers don’t give you phones anymore. now they’re leased.
– Port your number to the new provider before your current contract ends or you’ll loose the number.
– Buzz said to google the words: mobile virtual network operator. You’ll find a Wikipedia page listing the MVNOs in the US.
<A list of MVNOs and from whom they buy access.>
Bob called from Brazil. He said he makes phone calls for free using Skype. He asked what the guys know about Republic Wireless for phone service. Glenn said he’s heard it mentioned on the Clark Howard Show, and referred Bob to the website clark.com.
Last Updated 10:16 PM 8-24-2016