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Boost’s Low-Cost Plans Now Available Online

Earlier this year, Boost launched two low-cost plans that were only available in stores. Now, the plans are available online also. Both plans include unlimited minutes and texts. The plans differ in their data allotments:

  • 1GB for $10 per month
  • 2GB for $15 per month

SIM cards for these plans come with a one-time cost of $10. Only new customers who bring their own devices are eligible to sign up.

The 2GB plan is similar to T-Mobile’s 2GB Connect plan that also costs $15 per month. I don’t see a strong case for choosing Boost’s 2GB plan over T-Mobile’s 2GB plan.

I find Boost’s 1GB plan more exciting. It’s among the cheapest, mainstream plans on the market today. It’s an awesome option for light data users that don’t need extensive coverage.

Double data

Boost is running a promotion where customers who purchase one of these plans will get double the usual amount of data for the first three months of service. The $10 per month plan will include 2GB of data for the first few months, and the $15 per month plan will include 4GB of data.

I’m not a big fan of promotions that involve extra data for a short period. Subscribers that benefit from the extra data are likely to find their data allotments insufficient after the promotional period. Subscribers that are well-matched to the plans are unlikely to need extra data in the first place.


Thanks to Dennis Bournique for sharing this news on Twitter.

Verizon To Acquire Bluegrass Cellular

Verizon is planning to acquire over 200,000 subscribers and some assets from Bluegrass Cellular, a network operator in central Kentucky. In comparison to recent mergers and acquisitions in the cellular industry, this latest acquisition is small. Bluegrass subscribers represent less than 0.1% of subscribers in the U.S. market.

Earlier this year, I was surprised to see a company as small as Bluegrass on the short list of only eight carriers that support the latest Apple Watches. I wonder if Bluegrass only made the list because an acquisition by Verizon was in the works.

The planned acquisition will have to be approved by the FCC. Verizon expects the deal to close in late 2020 or early 2021.

Verizon 5G Updates For Samsung Galaxy Phones

On Tuesday, I posted about Verizon’s launch of low-band 5G. I mentioned that my 5G-compatible phone was still connected to 4G even though I was supposedly within the coverage area for Verizon’s 5G.

As it turns out, a handful of 5G-capable devices need updates to work with Verizon’s low-band 5G. Yesterday, software updates became available on several Samsung Galaxy phones sold by Verizon:

  • S20 5G UW
  • S20 Ultra 5G
  • S20+ 5G
  • Note20 5G
  • A71 5G UW
  • A51 5G UW

After installing an update, my Galaxy S20 connected to Verizon’s 5G without trouble. Note that software updates may not be available yet for those who purchased one of the phones on the list from a retailer other than Verizon.

AT&T’s “Free” iPhone 12 Offer

AT&T will be offering the iPhone 12 for pre-order starting on October 16. The phone will be available for regular ordering online and in stores on October 23. AT&T is running a big promotion that can make the phone kinda-sorta free for both existing customers and new customers.

Customers that buy the iPhone 12 on a 30-month installment plan and trade-in a phone AT&T values at $95 or more are eligible for 30 monthly bill credits that effectively cancel out the cost of installments. Customers that cancel service before the 30 installments are complete will be responsible for paying off the remaining cost of the iPhone 12.

Customers wanting to take advantage of the promotion must meet two more conditions:

  • Customers must be “well-qualified” according to AT&T’s criteria.
  • Customers must subscribe to one of AT&T’s postpaid, unlimited plans.

Is it really free?

While the promotion is a great deal, there are two senses in which the iPhone 12 won’t truly be free. Customers that take advantage of the promotion will still need to pay a $30 activation fee. Further, the eligible trade-in devices are limited.

While $95 doesn’t sound like a lot relative to the iPhone 12’s purchase price of $800, only fairly recent phones make the cut. AT&T values the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 at less than $95, so those devices won’t work for the promotion. The iPhone 8 and Galaxy S9 are among the oldest phones that are eligible. You can see how AT&T values different trade-in phones here.

US Mobile’s Low-Cost Plans

US Mobile is a low-cost carrier that offers service over Verizon and T-Mobile’s networks. In the last few months, US Mobile launched two plans that look like great deals for subscribers that opt for Verizon’s network:

  • $15 per month – Unlimited minutes and texts + 2.5GB of data
  • $30 per month – Unlimited minutes and texts + 10GB of data

US Mobile charges more in fees than most of its competitors. The final cost of these two plans will probably be about $5 per line higher each month than the base prices.

I often think of T-Mobile’s Connect plans and Mint Mobile’s 3GB-8GB plans as the cost leaders in the U.S. wireless market. While these plans have excellent prices, coverage on these plans isn’t as good as the coverage offered by Verizon’s network.

US Mobile’s plans are more expensive than Mint’s plans and T-Mobile’s Connect plans, but the price differences are relatively small. US Mobile may have some of the best options for people that want extensive coverage but also want cheap service. I’m planning to test and review one of the new plans soon.

Visible’s Plans For 5G

Visible, a flanker brand of Verizon, just shared details about its plans for 5G service (hat tip to Dennis Bournique who tweeted about the news).

Visible will soon offer 5G service for phones in the iPhone 12 line. 5G service for some Android phones will be available a bit later.

5G won’t cost extra, but Visible suggested it may impose a speed cap (emphasis mine):

We believe that people deserve a better phone service experience, which is why we’re including 5G, with speeds up to 200 Mbps, as part of our core plan at no additional cost. No hidden fees, no forcing you to upgrade into a different, secretly-more-expensive plan.

I’m not confident the 200Mbps cap will be enforced, at least initially. In the past, Visible mentioned a 5Mbps limit on hotspot speeds, but the company didn’t strictly enforce the limit.

It looks like Visible’s 5G service will include both Verizon’s sub-6 5G and Verizon’s millimeter wave 5G:

At launch, 5G will be available for Visible members where Verizon 5G coverage is available.

Verizon’s Massive 5G Expansion

Today, Verizon announced a huge expansion of its 5G service.

More millimeter wave

According to today’s press release, Verizon added ultra-fast, millimeter wave 5G service to parts of 19 cities, 19 stadiums, and 6 airports. In total, millimeter wave service from Verizon is now available in parts of 55 cities and 43 stadiums.

Nationwide, low-band 5G

Verizon also announced that it’s now using dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) to offer slower, low-band 5G to over 200 million customers.1

With DSS, when customers move outside Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area, their 5G-enabled devices will remain on 5G technology using lower bands of spectrum.

According to Verizon’s coverage map, the low-band 5G service is available in most densely populated areas, but only a minority of the U.S. by land area. Here’s a screenshot from the map today:

Verizon coverage map showing areas with 5G coverage

I’m writing this post from an area allegedly in Verizon’s 5G coverage profile. My Galaxy S20 5G phone is still showing a 4G connection.

Carrier aggregation

Today’s press release also includes a boast about Verizon’s recent achievements with bleeding-edge carrier aggregation technology:

Using carrier aggregation, a technology that 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 record-setting multi-gigabit speeds in parts of some cities. Using this technology, customers will see double the download speeds they have historically experienced on 5G Ultra Wideband, with peak speeds up to 4Gbps possible in some locations.

Tello After The T-Mobile & Sprint Merger

The carrier Tello has offered some of the best prices in the industry for a while now. Until recently, the major downside of Tello was that it ran over Sprint’s lackluster network.

Ever since the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint closed, I’ve been wondering what the future would look like for Tello. On Friday, Tello shared a blog post that shed some light:

  • Tello plans to start implementing service over T-Mobile’s network in late 2020.1
  • Tello does not plan to change its pricing structure at this time.2
  • Sprint-only service is expected to be available until at least mid-2021.3
  • Sprint-only phones may see a big decline in the performance of data service before mid-2021.4

Phone compatibility with T-Mobile

Fortunately, many Tello subscribers already have phones that are compatible with T-Mobile’s network. High-end phones purchased in the last few years are particularly likely to work with T-Mobile.

If you bought a phone in the past 2 years — such as a recent iPhone or Galaxy — it likely already has support for both networks. Same goes for iPhone XR, XS, or later that should be good for the full T-Mobile experience, but devices older than 2018 may not be able to tap into the full capabilities of the new network.

Tello recommends using phones that support LTE bands 2, 4, 12, 66, and 71 along with VoLTE. Customers without compatible phones will probably need to upgrade their devices if they want to remain with Tello after the legacy Sprint network shuts down.

The long term

Tello has said it won’t raise prices, but I don’t think that’s a long-term commitment. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a price hike by the end of 2021. Tello will be more appealing with the expanded coverage offered by T-Mobile’s network. Additionally, the market for low-cost service is likely to become less competitive as Sprint disappears and large companies buy out a number of MVNOs.

While we may see a price increase eventually, I’m tentatively excited for Tello’s future. T-Mobile’s network is likely to offer Tello subscribers a far better coverage experience than Sprint’s network ever could.


Visit Tello’s website


T-Mobile Expands LTE Home Internet Options

T-Mobile just announced that it will massively expanded the pilot program for its LTE home internet service. Almost 500 cities are being added to the service. T-Mobile shared a list of new locations in its press release.

In the press release, T-Mobile takes a lot of shots at AT&T’s recent decision to cease offering DSL service:

What AT&T takes away, T-Mobile brings back. Following news that AT&T is discontinuing DSL home broadband in many communities, T-Mobile is massively expanding its Home Internet pilot service to give another option to an additional 20 million households in parts of 450 cities and towns — many in rural America — being abandoned by AT&T in the middle of a pandemic when connectivity has never been more important.

While I’ve only looked into it briefly, T-Mobile’s service seems promising. With automatic payments enabled, it comes in at $50 per month. It looks like that $50 includes taxes, fees, and hardware costs. Further, T-Mobile doesn’t appear to be pushing subscribers into long-term contracts.

The service seems to be in its infancy. I entered two different address on T-Mobile’s website to whether the internet service was available. In both cases, I didn’t actually get an answer. Instead, T-Mobile requested my contact information and suggested the company would get in touch if service was available in my area.

You can find more information about T-Mobile’s LTE home internet service on the company’s website.

US Mobile Improves Fee Transparency

In the past, I’ve been critical of the carrier US Mobile hiding fees.

I now want to give US Mobile credit for adding a fee disclosure to its website (hat tip to Stetson Doggett for pointing out the change):

Fee disclosure screenshot

While the new disclosure might still count as “in the fine print,” it’s a huge improvement. US Mobile used to avoid acknowledging added fees until customers were near the end of the checkout process.

On Twitter, US Mobile’s CEO, Ahmed Khattak, raised an interesting point:

In many ways, I agree with Khattak. Hidden fees continue to be a big problem with carriers other than US Mobile. However, I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to make more of a fuss about US Mobile’s hidden fees than other carrier’s hidden fees. US Mobile’s fees are often much larger than the fees charged by similar carriers (i.e., other low-cost MVNOs).1

Hidden fees generally

Going forward, I’m going to push against hidden fees throughout the industry. AT&T and Verizon continue to have significant hidden fees. T-Mobile is doing a bit better, but the carrier still has room for improvement.2 In the long run, I’d love to see all universal fees (i.e., fees that aren’t location-specific) built into plans’ advertised prices. If carriers could coordinate to simultaneously stop hiding fees, consumers would have better information, and carriers would experience limited downsides.3