A Word on Updates
Last week Apple put out minor but significant updates for the iPhone and iPad (iOS version 12.3) and the Mac. You can go ahead and do these updates if they were not automatically installed. Reading the bullet points that Apple provides does not do the updates justice. These notes may make you think the updates are not relevant. Not true. There are always security fixes that they don’t advertise (because Apple devices don’t have security problems, right? LOL). As far as the iPhone goes, there was a major feature relevant to my cell phone carrier that was disabled the day the update came out. When I finally installed the update 36 hours later, the feature was restored instantly. iOS updates should be installed promptly.
This feature — available on all late model iPhones and most newer Android phones — has been a lifesaver for several clients. The feature does not cost you anything and is offered by all major providers such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. If your cellular signal is weak at home or at a particular location, you can route all calls over your WiFi network. This can make your phone very capable. Avoid dropped calls and the need to change providers.
And that brings us to this week’s feature.
Switching Service Providers
This write up is not a sales pitch. I am not asking you to switch with me. I want to provide an honest review of switching to T-Mobile from Verizon Wireless. The switch happened during the first week of March. I had been part of the “Big Red” (Verizon) family, with limited interruptions, going back to 1999 when I got my first cell phone. Back then they were known as Bell Atlantic Mobile. I always trusted that Verizon had the best network in more places across the country. I still believe that statement to be true in terms of total coverage, with AT&T being a close second. However, I did my research. I took in a lot of data points about how T-Mobile coverage improved since 2013, when their merger with ATT failed and they were given billions of $$ in compensation. Those funds were used to build a better network and played into T-Mobile marketing themselves as “the Un-Carrier.” My wife and I did not switch our lines because we would have significantly more on regular monthly pricing. With that said, our service cost is $120 a month and no additional taxes versus $170 a month for a comparably adequate Verizon plan that does not include taxes. The main reasons for switching were
-The potential for a less expensive international plan: My wife was about to embark on a 21 day international trip that would have required a $210 charge due to 21 days of Travel Passes (at $10 / day). T-Mobile offers free international on their ONE unlimited plans.
-The promise that we could continue to use our Verizon smart phones and that T-Mobile would pay off the balances on our device payment plans with Verizon. This promotion was known as “Get out of the Red” and was only available to Verizon switchers.
I am pleased to say that T-Mobile came through with their promises. We submitted our final Verizon bill at the time of sign up and although it took me a few extra days to submit the installment contract on my phone specifically, T-Mobile provided us with 2 prepaid Mastercards within 15 days to pay off our $300 + balances with Verizon. Someone may wonder why they would even do this in the first place. T-Mobile recognizes there is an acquisition cost for new customers. They make this very public and use it to benefit new recruits. Next, I want to say that T-Mobile has some of the best customer service I have ever received from a company in the realm of technology services. While their phone based support has been fine, I have received outstanding service when I have contacted them numerous times via private messages on Twitter and Facebook. Using those 2 platforms puts you in touch with their TForce team. They really care.
T-Mobile offers free international service in many countries with their ONE plans @ a speed of 128 kbps. To give you an idea of what that speed means, the dial up internet connection you used 20 years ago was 56 kbps. It is adequate for messaging apps and e-mails only. Paying $15 more a month for a T-Mobile ONE Plus plan will gets you 256 kbps international speeds. Many of you could probably get by with that. However, my wife likes to do data based voice and video calls on What’s App when she travels as well as play A LOT of You Tube. Those speeds were not going to cut it. Fortunately, T-Mobile offers two more options for those who need the ultimate in high speed international data. For $50 a month, they give you 15 GB of 4G LTE data. This is comparable with the best speeds offered here in the U.S. On day 3 of her trip, I added the plan to the account. It worked. At $50 vs $210 with Verizon, I guess you can say that it was still a victory. Back home — on state roads in rural parts of CT, I was surprised that T-Mobile had good service. However, I found some places off the beaten path with no service. I like to listen to podcasts and often download new episodes when I am out walking or getting into the car away from home. In the places I frequent, I have noticed those downloads to take longer than when I was with Verizon. Furthermore, while T-Mobile coverage inside buildings is improving and will improve even more in the near future when local TV stations change frequencies — I have noticed some in building data service to be lacking. These minor issues did not usually affect basic Google searching or calling.
My bottom line conclusions are – great customer service, promises kept, better prices, big improvement in recent years, some rural coverage gaps, slower downloads on cellular data, and somewhat worse penetration inside buildings in certain areas.
Teacher’s Letter Grade: B+