Security abstract

Google Voice Call Forwarding And Security

Google Voice makes it easy for users to forward calls and texts from a Google Voice number to other phone numbers. It’s a great feature, but Google Voice users should be sure to disable forwarding on any numbers they don’t maintain possession of.

If you cancel service for a phone line and don’t port the number to another carrier, the inactive number can eventually be reassigned to another person. If someone else is assigned your old number and forwarding is still enabled, Google Voice will forward text and calls to the new owner of the number. Beyond the security and privacy vulnerabilities this presents, it can be a nuisance. The new owner of a phone number may get unwanted calls and texts. The prior owner of a phone number may miss calls—if a Google Voice call connects on a forwarding line, the same call can’t be picked up from the Google Voice app (or on other lines that calls are forwarded to).

In an ideal world, Google Voice would scan a database of phone numbers that recently turned inactive. With that information, Google could automatically stop forwarding anything to the numbers found in the database. Unfortunately, I don’t think the kind of database I’m imagining is available at this time.

Beyond Google Voice, phone number reassignment causes a slew of underappreciated security issues. I don’t think most people consider that numbers they stop using can eventually be picked up by someone else.

Image representing the idea of spam

Hello Mobile Spam

I’ve never used the Hello Mobile myself, but I’ve heard plenty of negative things about the carrier. Given how small Hello Mobile’s subscriber base is, the volume of negative reports is shocking. I like how a user in Reddit’s NoContract community, ruben3232, put it:

If there’s been an MVNO that’s had awful ‘reviews’ posted to the sub, it’s been Hello Mobile.

Today, I figured I’d post my own negative report. Hello Mobile seems to be using spam comments to promote the brand. Here’s a screenshot of two pending comments left on Coverage Critic:

Hello Mobile spam comments

I can’t be sure a Hello Mobile staff member (or a promoter hired by Hello Mobile) placed the comments, but I strongly suspect as much. While a competitor could be spamming to tarnish Hello Mobile’s reputation, I don’t find that plausible. Hello Mobile is a very small fish in the cellular market. Competing carriers have better ways to spend their time.

Telecom abstract

Verizon Expands 5G Coverage

Today, Verizon announced expansions of its 5G coverage.

More low-band 5G coverage

Verizon’s low-band 5G, 5G Nationwide in Verizon’s parlance, now covers about 25 million additional people. Here’s an excerpt from Verizon’s press release:

Verizon announced continued expansion of its 5G Nationwide service to millions more customers throughout Central Texas, Tulsa, OK, Upstate New York, and the New England area, bringing the total to 230 million people able to access Verizon’s 5G capabilities and benefits in over 2,700 cities.

New millimeter wave cities

Verizon added millimeter wave 5G to parts of four additional cities:

  • Tampa
  • St. Petersburg
  • Albuquerque
  • Durham

The additions bring the total number of cities with some millimeter wave coverage from Verizon to 61.

Verizon is also claiming to have millimeter wave coverage in parts of 48 stadiums. I’m not sure which stadiums Verizon added, but I believe Verizon’s count of stadiums increased by 5 since the company last shared a number publicly.

Carrier aggregation

Verizon’s press release included some boasting about the network operator’s carrier aggregation capabilities:

Using advanced technology called Carrier Aggregation, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network is reaching 4 Gbps peak speeds in some locations. This technology combines multiple channels of spectrum to provide greater efficiency for data sessions transmitting over the wireless network. Verizon combined eight separate channels of mmWave spectrum to achieve multi-gigabit speeds in parts of some cities. Using this technology, customers can see double the download speeds they have historically experienced on 5G Ultra Wideband, with peak speeds up to 4 Gbps possible in some locations. Customers will also see a boost in speeds with two carrier aggregation now available for uploads.
Rocket launching

US Mobile Updates Its Low-Cost Plans

US Mobile, an MVNO that offers service over Verizon and T-Mobile’s networks, just updated two of it’s low-cost plans:

  • $15 per month: Unlimited minutes and texts with 3.5GB of data each month
  • $30 per month: Unlimited minutes and texts with 30GB of data each month

Before today, US Mobile’s low-cost plans still offered good value but came with less data. The $15 per month plan previously came with 2.5GB of data each month, and the $30 per month plan came with 10GB of data.

Customers signing up for US Mobile will have to opt for either Verizon’s network (“Super LTE” in US Mobile’s parlance) or T-Mobile’s network (“GSM LTE”). While the plans are a good deal on either network, the Super LTE options running over Verizon’s network strike me as some of the best deals on the market right now.

Potential subscribers should know that US Mobile’s fees tend to be higher than fees charged by similarly priced carriers. The final cost of US Mobile’s 3.5GB and 30GB plans will usually come out about $5 per month higher than the plans’ base prices.1

You can find more information about the updated plans on US Mobile’s website.

T-Mobile Launches Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 & New Hotspot Plans

Last week, T-Mobile announced new mobile hotspot plans and the release of the Inseego 5G MiFi M2000.

Inseego 5G MiFi M2000

The Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 is T-mobile’s fanciest hotspot, and I believe the company’s first 5G-capable hotspot. The device supports both 4G service and sub-6 5G service. It does not support millimeter wave 5G, but that may be unimportant for now since T-Mobile’s millimeter wave coverage is extremely limited.

The hotspot has a base price of $336 (or 24 monthly installments of $14). With a promotion T-Mobile is running, customers that add a new line and purchase the device on a 24-month installment plan can get the M2000 for 50% off ($168 paid in $7 per month installments).

While I haven’t got my hands on the M2000 yet, I have been testing a very similar model offered by Verizon, the M2100, and I’m impressed.

New mobile hotspot plans

With the release of the M2000, T-Mobile also launched a handful of new plans for mobile hotspot devices. Most notably, a plan with a 100GB monthly allotment costs only $50 per month. Well-priced plans with 10GB and 30GB monthly data allotments are also available. T-Mobile shared this graphic in its press release:

Image detailing T-Mobile's new hotspot plans

While T-Mobile’s new offerings are excellent, the graphic represents T-Mobile’s competition unfairly. AT&T and Verizon don’t always offer plans with the data allotments shown in the graphic. To show prices competitors charge in these cases, T-Mobile slyly includes competitor’s overage charges. Additionally, T-Mobile doesn’t mention Verizon’s add-on hotspot plans. Verizon’s add-on plans are available to a substantial portion of the carrier’s subscribers, and the plans offer good value: 15GB for $20 per month or 30GB for $30 per month.1

5G city image

Visible Rolling Out 5G For iPhones

Visible, a flanker brand of Verizon, has just started rolling out 5G service. Yesterday, a Reddit user posted a screenshot showing an iPhone running over Visible’s service with a 5G connection.

At this time, it looks like Visible’s 5G service is only available to customers with devices in the iPhone 12 line that are running iOS 14.3. Here’s an excerpt from a Q&A on Visible’s website:

You’ll need the most up-to-date iOS software and carrier bundle for your device before you can experience 5G. Remember, we only offer 5G on iPhone 12 at the moment, and you’ll need to be in a 5G area to experience 5G.

It looks like Visible has updated its coverage map to show areas where 5G is available. As expected, Visible’s 5G coverage looks essentially identical to Verizon’s 5G coverage.

Now that Visible’s 5G has launched for iPhones, I don’t think it will be long before the carrier launches 5G service for some Android devices.

Cellular tower

Teltik Rumored To Be Transitioning To An MVNO Model

The business line reseller Teltik may be transitioning to a more conventional structure as an MVNO.

Earlier today, a Reddit user shared a transcript from a conversation with a Teltik support agent. The agent suggested that a migration is underway and that Teltik will accept new customers in a few weeks. Based on what the support agent said, it looks like Teltik will continue to run over T-Mobile’s network but will transition to a traditional MVNO model. Some perks Teltik used to offer, like international data access and T-Mobile Tuesdays, will not be available under the new setup.

T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity 5G

In a press release shared yesterday, T-Mobile started referring to some of its 5G services as Ultra Capacity 5G. We’ve seen this kind of branding move before. Verizon calls its 5G service using low-frequency signals 5G Nationwide and its millimeter wave service 5G Ultra Wideband. AT&T calls its millimeter wave service 5G+.

T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity 5G will typically deliver excellent speeds, but it isn’t well-suited for extensive coverage. Ultra Capacity 5G stands in contrast with T-Mobile’s low-frequency 5G, which T-Mobile is branding as “Extended Range 5G.” T-Mobile’s Extended Range 5G has better coverage potential than Ultra Capacity 5G, but Extended Range 5G will tend to deliver slower speeds.

I expect T-Mobile intentionally copied the word “ultra” from Verizon’s term 5G Ultra Wideband. While Verizon reserves the phrase Ultra Wideband for millimeter wave 5G, T-Mobile is using Ultra Capacity to refer to both mid-band and millimeter wave 5G.1 I’m guessing T-Mobile is hoping consumers will incorrectly conflate the two terms.

While I’m not a fan of T-Mobile’s deceptive naming, I have to acknowledge the company’s cleverness. T-Mobile is leading the nation in mid-band 5G coverage, but the network is way behind AT&T and Verizon in millimeter wave coverage. By using a single branded term for both mid-band 5G and millimeter wave 5G, T-Mobile can brag about how extensive its Ultra Capacity 5G coverage is without drawing attention to how little millimeter wave coverage the network offers.

Trouble At Teltik

Teltik, a reseller of T-Mobile business lines, has been running into trouble lately. This summer, Teltik abruptly suspended activations of new lines. Starting yesterday, many subscribers began to report service outages. Hundreds of comments have been shared on a Reddit thread about the current issues.

Subscribers who lost service yesterday were often told Teltik would restore service within two hours. That appears not to have been the case. Today, Teltik’s website has a banner running across the top that reads, “Teltik is working aggressively with T-Mobile to resolve the service disruption we are experiencing. We anticipate a resolution by the end of the morning.”

Reports about the issues vary. Several commenters on the Reddit thread reported receiving an email from T-Mobile explaining that their accounts had been deleted. One user reported receiving the email three separate times over the last day. While most commenters reported losing service yesterday, a handful of commenters say their Teltik service hasn’t been interrupted. At least one commenter reported that his or her service worked yesterday and only ceased to work today.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I don’t think Teltik will manage to resolve the issue this morning.

2:47 MT Update: Teltik has updated the notice on its website. It now reads, “Teltik is working aggressively with T-Mobile to restore service on all disrupted lines. We anticipate all service interruptions to be resolved by the end of the day.”

Farmer with tablet

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase 1 Results

Today, the FCC announced the winners of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase 1 auction. In this reverse auction, the FCC had up to 16 billion dollars in funds available for compensating companies building out broadband networks in underserved areas.

The excerpt below comes from the FCC’s press release:

Auction results released today show that bidders won funding to deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses, almost 99% of the locations available in the auction. Moreover, 99.7% of these locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (over 85%) getting gigabit-speed broadband.

While up to 16 billion dollars was available in this phase, only 9.2 billion dollars were allocated. The leftover funds will be added to the pot of money available in the next RDOF phase.

Winning companies in this phase of the auction will have funding awarded over the next ten years (contingent on companies meeting certain milestones).


Below, I share the full list of 180 winners sorted by the funding awarded.1

LTD Broadband LLC$1,320,920,718.60
CCO Holdings, LLC (Charter Communications)$1,222,613,870.10
Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium$1,104,395,953.00
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.$885,509,638.40
Windstream Services LLC, Debtor-In-Possession$522,888,779.80
AMG Technology Investment Group LLC$429,228,072.90
Frontier Communications Corporation, DIP$370,900,832.80
Resound Networks, LLC$310,681,608.90
Connect Everyone LLC$268,851,315.90
CenturyLink, Inc.$262,367,614.20
Etheric Communications LLC$248,634,963.10
California Internet, L.P. dba GeoLinks$234,889,665.70
Consortium of AEG and Heron Broadband I$194,378,552.00
NRTC Phase I RDOF Consortium$156,714,678.20
Segnem Egere Consortium$152,854,440.70
NexTier Consortium$126,287,693.30
RDOF USA Consortium$112,044,022.70
Prospero Broadband Consortium$100,366,008.80
Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC$78,414,413.10
Mercury Wireless, Inc.$68,310,842.00
Co-op Connections Consortium$61,485,589.50
Consolidated Communications, Inc.$58,873,337.50
Frontier Communications Northwest, LLC$57,202,650.80
Talkie Communications, Inc.$57,065,010.20
Citynet West Virginia, LLC$53,516,858.30
Consortium 2020$48,918,960.90
Computer 5, Inc. d/b/a LocalTel Communications$48,818,171.30
Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation$46,055,343.40
Bay Springs Telephone Company, Inc.$41,871,850.10
Continental Divide Electric Cooperative$38,004,786.20, Inc.$29,169,982.60
Commnet Wireless, LLC$28,436,936.10
GigaBeam Networks, LLC$28,067,881.20
Cincinnati Bell Inc.$26,887,580.40
Aptitude Internet LLC$24,655,295.20
Armstrong Telephone Company – Northern Division$22,009,640.50
Grain Communications Opportunity Fund II, L.P.$19,172,673.60
Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc.$18,462,273.10
RHMD, LLC$18,303,843.20
Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative$16,307,892.10
Direct Communications Rockland, Inc.$15,745,252.70
Connecting Rural America$14,180,599.00
Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$12,703,077.60
Halstad Telephone Company$12,141,118.40
South Arkansas Telephone Company$11,387,245.50
Pine Belt Communications, Inc.$11,126,003.10
Centre WISP Venture Company, LLC$11,086,348.40
Micrologic Inc.$10,036,047.70
Emery Telephone dba Emery Telcom$9,822,853.00
Digital Connections Inc. dba PRODIGI$8,583,001.40
Rural American Broadband Consortium$8,471,858.10
Chariton Valley Communications Corporation$8,070,272.00
Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries$7,799,035.00
Hamilton County Telephone Co-op$7,796,825.30
St. John Telco$7,116,876.00
Cox Communications, Inc.$6,636,520.50
Reedsburg Utility Commission$6,439,594.10
Savage Communications$6,090,479.10
Hawaii Dialogix Telecom LLC$6,009,953.00
Tennessee Cooperative Group Consortium$5,981,516.90
Peoples Telecom, LLC$5,668,121.40
Cherry Capital Connection, LLC$5,620,840.40
Pioneer Wireless, Inc$5,543,142.00
Atlantic Broadband Finance, LLC$5,407,684.70
Hotwire Communications, Ltd$5,150,040.00
Shenandoah Cable Television, LLC$5,059,616.50
Wisper-CABO 904 Consortium$4,974,442.30
Midcontinent Communications$4,960,473.00
Visionary Communications, Inc.$4,450,264.40
DoCoMo Pacific, Inc.$3,706,235.00
Daviess-Martin County Rural Telephone Corporation$3,565,039.40
Rivers High Group$3,540,398.10
Great Plains Consortium$3,427,873.30
Cellular Services LLC.$3,294,968.60
City of Farmington$3,179,884.50
4-Corners Consortium$2,598,030.00
Pine Cellular Phones, Inc.$2,303,742.10
Mediacom Communications Corporation$2,254,655.00
Hankins Information Technology$2,171,844.50
BEK Communications Cooperative$2,157,719.00
TruVista Communications, Inc.$2,059,050.80
Minnesota Connections c/o Consolidated Tel Company$2,040,278.70
Horizon Communications, Inc.$2,033,292.00
Custer Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$1,954,488.00
American Heartland$1,821,520.00
FiberLight, LLC$1,772,705.80
Bandera Electric Cooperative, Inc.$1,689,601.50
LICT Corporation$1,675,826.80
NBVDS Investment, L.L.C.$1,655,443.40
Central Arkansas Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$1,629,930.50
Siuslaw Broadband, LLC dba Hyak Technologies$1,611,684.90
HomeTown Broadband, Inc.$1,424,229.00
Hughes Network Systems, LLC$1,273,784.00
Union Telephone Company$1,264,770.00
Roseau Electric Cooperative, Inc.$1,228,494.00
Safelink Internet LLC$1,197,661.50
Pembroke Telephone Company, Inc.$1,053,063.00
Fond du Lac Communications Inc.$1,046,123.00
Wikstrom Telephone Company$983,637.00
SLIC Network Solutions, Inc.$978,722.00
Altice USA, Inc.$849,880.00
DTC Cable, Inc.$834,597.00
Nova Cablevision, Inc.$785,400.00
Farmers Mutual Telephone Company$759,822.00
Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$755,841.60
Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$729,554.50
Terral Telephone Company$716,381.20
Worldwide Technologies, Inc.$700,874.20
Somerset Telephone Co., Inc.$669,564.00
AB Indiana LLC$668,304.10
Albion Telephone Company, Inc.$599,795.70
Palmetto Telephone Communications, LLC$570,024.00
Federated Telephone Cooperative$537,399.00
Daktel Communications, LLC$531,894.00
Redzone Wireless, LLC$507,752.00
MEI Telecom, Inc.$479,789.10
Zito West Holding, LLC$457,596.00
Baraga Telephone Company$444,490.80
Lakeland Communications Group, LLC$408,952.00
Heart of the Catskills Comm. Inc., dba MTC Cable$398,574.00
LigTel Communications, Inc.$385,924.00
Citizens Vermont Acquisition Corporation$373,680.00
Allen’s T.V. Cable Service, Inc.$371,348.10
Plains Internet, LLC$345,624.00
Reservation Telephone Cooperative$337,080.00
Miles Communications LLC$316,641.00
Mountain View Telephone Company$298,572.00
RC Technologies$263,796.00
QCOL, Inc.$235,146.00
Socket Telecom, LLC$232,768.80
St Paul Cooperative Telephone Association$190,908.00
Easton Utilities Commission$189,047.60
Newport Utilities$159,492.00
Mountain West Technologies Corporation$141,801.20
One Ring Networks, Inc.$137,715.00
Hamilton Long Distance Company$128,560.30
Bruce Telephone Company, Inc.$113,745.00
Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association$104,637.80
WC Fiber, LLC$98,189.50
Net Ops Communications, LLC$69,676.40
Enduring Internet$65,690.00
Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association$63,903.00
Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company$60,126.00
Skywave Wireless, Inc.$57,660.00
yondoo Broadband LLC$54,833.80
Pioneer Long Distance, Inc.$50,994.00
All West Communications, Inc.$46,648.00
XIT Telecommunication & Technology$43,254.50
Corn Belt Telephone$42,237.00
WTC Communications, Inc.$40,845.20
Consortium 904$40,470.00
MCC Network Services, LLC$36,204.00
Pinpoint Bidding Coalition$31,254.00
Wood County Telephone Company d/b/a Solarus$28,848.00
NMSURF, Inc.$26,964.00
KanOkla Telephone Association$26,538.00
Yucca Telecommunications Systems, Inc.$26,221.00
IdeaTek Telcom, LLC$23,590.60
Home Communications, Inc.$15,540.00
Barry Technology Services, LLC$14,502.00
LR Communications, Inc.$13,974.00
Farmers Mutual Cooperative Telephone Company$12,447.00
PVT NetWorks, Inc.$12,039.00
Baldwin Telecom, Inc.$11,370.00
H&B Communication’s, Inc.$11,301.60
NTS Communications, LLC$8,923.00
W. T. Services, Inc.$8,785.70
Computer Techniques, Inc. dba CTI Fiber$8,509.00
Sandhill Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$6,396.00
Taylor Telephone Coop., Inc. dba Taylor Telecom$5,466.00
Comcell Inc.$4,644.00
Peoples Communication, LLC.$4,140.00
Plateau Telecommunications, Inc.$3,150.00
Coleman County Telephone Cooperative, Inc.$3,142.80
Bloosurf, LLC$1,860.50
Unified Communications Inc.$1,604.00
Carolina West Wireless, Inc.$460.00