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Power-User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Tampa Florida USA
Posts: 177
Good Answers: 3

Changing Mobile Providers

01/20/2016 11:51 AM

Cell phone changes - (This is referring to older(2007) phones and newer android phones. I have no experience with Iphones and don't know if this will apply to them)

The mobile providers will gladly give you a good deal and entice you to port over to their service. If you get a shiny new phone in the process, good for you. However, if you try to use your old phone, you should be aware of a few issues you may have, that I learned the hard way in the last few weeks.

(I gave AT&T a chance to modify our features and price to stay with them. They didn't, until after we had already started switching. Too little and too late)

When upgrading a phone, most people don't get the "free" phone for two year contract anymore. That way, you're basically renting it. Last time we upgraded, I bought used phones that were last year's models for about half price. I looked for phones that came with a good protective case that were in pristine condition. I figured that for that typical two year life of the phone, we could afford to buy two of them for the price of new ones with insurance.

- Unlocking: Providers lock their phones when you get one with a contract. As soon as that contract is over, you have effectively paid for the phone and the provider is legally required to unlock it, if you request it. It's a good idea to go ahead and have it unlocked when it's eligible. It's easy. Just go to the provider's website, enter your IMEI number and submit an unlock request. I did that for some 2008 vintage phones and it took all of four minutes to get the unlock code. A few weeks later, I submitted a request for some newer phones and some took (the promised) two days. One of them ended up taking six days. Meanwhile I used an old pre-android antique.

- There are two types of phones:

GSM: uses SIM cards. T-Mobile and AT&T.

CDMA: no SIM. Verizon and Sprint

You can reuse your old phones only if the new provider has the same type phone, although I think some phones can work both ways. (Other services basically use those four networks.)

Once your phone is unlocked, you can go into the new provider's store, start up your new account, and within a couple hours, your old number can be ported over to the new provider.

When you try to use your phone, voice and texts should work okay, but when you start using your apps, you may find that some of them do not work anymore. The solutions were:first: call tech support. The second person I spoke to directed me to change the APN and MMSC URLs.second: go to the application manager, clear data and cache. This worked for some apps.third: reinstall the apps.

I haven't tested all apps, but so far this worked. For most.

The hotspot function is still not working. I suspect the phone has some server settings buried somewhere that are looking for the old ATT network and presence of the old SIM card. I talked to tech support again. When I told him the same error message appeared, he said, "Uh oh, that's the kiss of death. You can buy a new phone, or buy a standalone hotspot device and pay for another line." He says the ATT network info is probably hardwired into the phone on ROM.

I have now rooted the phone, installed several third party hotspot apps, but so far, nothing is working.

I think the providers should inform customers of these potential issues. We really use the hotspot function and if we have to spend more money to get it to work, my overall satisfaction will not be, let's say, "happy".

So far, I have been pretty happy with the quality of T-Mobile tech support.

For those who are not very tech savvy, be prepared to take your phone back to that store and let the happy smiling salesman that took your money fix your phone! I kind of enjoyed doing all that geeky crap, but it's getting kind of stale now. (three weeks so far)

Also be aware that poking around in your phone like this can potentially "brick" it! (I only bricked a phone once, but it was still under warranty and they replaced it. I was only following the official procedure for updating my android version.)

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Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 39882
Good Answers: 1587
#1

Re: Changing Mobile Providers

01/20/2016 4:09 PM

Playing this game is like going to Vegas to gamble.

You're not going to win, no matter what they tell you. They will get your money, no matter what you do.

And if you aren't careful when you play, you may come away with a surprise that won't go away, no matter what you do.

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Guru

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1237
Good Answers: 104
#2

Re: Changing Mobile Providers

01/21/2016 8:11 AM

A couple of things to add:

1) We found out the hard way that some providers will not unlock your phone unless you currently have service with them. I don't know if they can't or just aren't legally required to but either way you should unlock as soon as the contract is up even if you are not making any changes.

2) For a couple of years I have asked people why they would sign a contract for a "free" phone that actually costs them a huge amount of money if you look at the numbers carefully. I always thought the contract was a rip-off even with the "free" phone. If you don't get "free" phones any more then why would anyone sign a contract?

3) AT&T and some other major carriers now let you pay month by month with no contract. They still send you the bill so it seems the same but you have the freedom to switch to a better deal any time you wish.

4) For most people the Virgin Mobile phones at Wall Mart are a deal that can't be beat. A good quality phone that is brand new and technologically only one or two years behind the "top of the line contract phone". $100 - $200 for a good smart phone and $35 a month for service. There are others out there with similar offers but I know a happy Virgin Mobile $35/month customer. (I would use them but the metal building where I work only allows reliable cell phone service inside if we are using the AT&T tower two blocks away.)

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Commentator

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Schenectady NY
Posts: 57
Good Answers: 2
#3

Re: Changing (Mobile or other) Providers

01/21/2016 1:53 PM

Just spent a hellish week trying to transfer a Time-Warner phone# to a prepaid T-Mobile.

T-Mobile kept saying TWC reports a problem on the porting request. While we KNEW that you need to port the number over WHILE you currently HAVE service (we did!), we found that if you have an order pending, eg: we were selling house in a month and wanted TWC service gone ... well, as far as TWC was concerned in any porting arrangement, our service was "terminated" in their eyes.

So we were unable to port the number. <sarcasm>Strange, but TWC still considered the service in operation when they calculated our final bill! </sarcasm>

So port those TWC numbers BEFORE you talk to TWC about ending their service.

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