4 Best Cheap Phone Plans (2021) - Wired in Anna Maria, Florida

Published Jan 21, 22
4 min read

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Using an old cell phone with a new plan Since smartphones can cost well over $1,000, you may want to keep your device longer than a couple of years to get your money’s worth. Usually, you can keep your own phone even if you switch carriers, as most cell phone companies allow you to bring your own device to a new plan.

Some carrier-purchased smartphones have a software lock in place that prevents them from working with any other carrier. Factory unlocked phones do not have this problem, nor do many phones from Verizon. Your phone may have a lock if it was purchased through your carrier or if you chose a specific carrier when purchasing your phone from the manufacturer.

AT&T, for example, requires a request. If your phone comes through a prepaid provider, it may be locked for a much longer timespan – possibly up to a year. After unlocking your phone, make sure your device is compatible with the network you want to switch to. Within the U.S., there are two prevailing wireless technologies.

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Some phone manufacturers build phones that support both CDMA and GSM networks, but others only have modems for one. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have simple methods to check if your phone is compatible with their networks, and we recommend consulting them before switching.(Image credit: Samsung)Postpaid vs. prepaid cell plans, Traditional cell phone plans operate on a postpay basis: You use your cellular service for the month and are billed for how many minutes and messages you racked up and how much data you used during the billing cycle.

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Some do this through prepaid service cards, while others operate online or through stores, similar to their postpaid counterparts. Both styles of cellular service have their strengths. For example, traditional service offers better deals and payment options for new phones. Also, postpaid plans tend to have extras or freebies, while prepaid plans rarely have perks.

Still, prepaid plans can save you money compared to plans from the big three, and they give you the benefit of knowing exactly how much your phone service costs each month without bill-time surprises. Prepaid plans prevent any unexpected data overage charges. All of the big three carriers have their own prepaid plans, but they are usually more expensive compared to plans offered by network subsidiaries like Boost, Cricket or Metro by T-Mobile, which are owned by the network carriers (AT&T and T-Mobile, respectively).

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Network congestion & data deprioritization Cellular networks all have a threshold for how much data they can handle at any given time. If there are too many people on the same network in the same place, it causes network congestion. You’ve probably experienced the effects of network congestion at huge events where your wireless service, particularly data, acted sluggish.

Congestion is like a traffic jam, where more people are trying to get the same amount of data through the network at the same time. Because there isn’t enough room for all the cars on the freeway at the same time, each has to wait in a queue for its turn to move forward.

Generally, the network’s direct, postpaid customers get first dibs on data. A Verizon customer with a traditional plan who has not exceeded their high-speed data limit for the month has prioritized service over someone using Verizon’s prepaid MVNO service, a Verizon prepaid plan or a traditional Verizon plan that has exceeded its data limit for the month.

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Scams and robocalls According to a report released by First Orion, fraudulent calls increased drastically, from 3. 7 percent of all calls in 2017 to almost 30 percent in 2018, and that number has increased further into 2021. Many of these calls appear to come from local numbers, a practice called "neighborhood spoofing" spammers use to trick you into thinking the call might be important.

These spoofed numbers are also a large part of why many call blocking techniques are ineffective at stopping the onslaught of robocalls, as many call-blocking tools only prevent calls from known spam numbers. Adding your number to the Do Not Call List prevents certain legitimate telemarketers from contacting you but does little to deter illegal calls.

Don’t say anything, especially any personal information, since the call may be recorded. Don’t press a button to remove yourself from the list or to talk to a live person because these interactions encourage spammers to keep calling you. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently called phone providers to arms against robocallers, encouraging adoption of two authentication frameworks designed to catch spam calls before your phone rings.

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