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Cheapest way to get LTE service from Verizon/AT&T/USCC?


Trip
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So as Premier Sponsors know, I've been hard at work making various cell tower maps in my spare time.  Several months ago I bought a MetroPCS phone which, without activation, still connects to LTE such that I can get the GCI/PCI/TAC data even if nothing else goes through the network.  I am looking to do the same thing with AT&T, US Cellular, and Verizon, probably in that order, but I have a feeling I won't be as lucky with the LTE as I was with my MetroPCS phone.  (If anyone disagrees, please let me know.)

 

I have a Nexus 5 on the way for use with AT&T as well as an AT&T SIM in hand and an H2O SIM on the way.  The AT&T SIM is for testing and came from my wife's employer, and the H2O SIM is for their $10/90 days plan, but now I'm getting nervous that maybe that particular H2O plan isn't LTE compatible.  (It doesn't actually say on the website, that I can find.)  Any thoughts?

 

I also have my Galaxy S4 Mini from before I left US Cellular, which is compatible with Bands 5/12/17.  After it was deactivated, it now only connects to 1X for 911 calls and, since it technically has the same number as my Sprint phone, when it's powered on it causes calls to fail to connect properly on my main Sprint line.  On a whim I bought a new SIM on eBay for it in the hopes that I might get lucky with the LTE as I did with MetroPCS, but I'm not counting on it.  I plan to do a system reset before putting it in.  Thoughts?  I don't think any of the MVNOs use US Cellular, which means this may actually be the hardest one to manage cheaply.

 

Finally, I want to do something similar for Verizon.  Either pick up a Nexus 5 or some other used Verizon phone, then do something to get LTE information out of it.  Any ideas here?

 

Thanks. :)

 

- Trip

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Finally, I want to do something similar for Verizon. Either pick up a Nexus 5 or some other used Verizon phone, then do something to get LTE information out of it. Any ideas here?

 

Thanks. :)

 

- Trip

My Nexus 5 with no SIM in it will show Verizon LTE data on Band 4 only using CellMapper. I use it all the time to get new VZW Site numbers and map coverage. But it will not populate on SignalCheck Pro.

 

 

 

Using Tapatalk on Note 8.0

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Verizon is at 1GB and unlimited talk and text for $45 a month. Pretty decent price point for a test phone if you think about it. 

 

http://www.verizonwireless.com/prepaid/

 

Cricket is AT&T's network at a cheaper price, but GoPhone works as well and is prioritized above Cricket. No 8Mbps cap. Then MobileShare Value plans are $55 for 2GB, also with unlimited talk and text. That adds in VoLTE if you have a VoLTE capable AT&T phone (currently only the VoLTE phones AT&T sells). 

 

USCC... I have no idea. It's been a while since they have been in my market. 

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Fraydog,

 

I saw those price points; they're really expensive for a service I'm not even ultimately going to use.  I don't care about data amounts or priorities in the slightest, I just want to gather GCI/PCI/TAC.  I may even go so far as to root the devices and use a firewall to prevent any data from being used, not sure yet.

 

Robert,

 

That's fascinating.  Band 4 but not Band 13?  I wonder why it doesn't populate in SignalCheck.

 

- Trip

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Does your USCC phone support ##scrtn# in the dialer to erase your number from the device? Not sure if they use any of the same dialer codes as Sprint, but can't hurt to try.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

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Does your USCC phone support ##scrtn# in the dialer to erase your number from the device? Not sure if they use any of the same dialer codes as Sprint, but can't hurt to try.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

 

I'll try that.  Good idea.

 

I bought a bunch of Verizon Moto E's for 10 bucks from bestbuy.

 

Would something like that work?

 

As far as getting a device, yes.  The real question is whether or not those devices need service to show LTE data in SCP.  Do they?

 

- Trip

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I'll try that.  Good idea.

 

 

As far as getting a device, yes.  The real question is whether or not those devices need service to show LTE data in SCP.  Do they?

 

- Trip

 

No idea.  I'd be more than happy to sell you one for what I paid, call it 11 bucks with tax + whatever shipping costs to you

 

http://www.verizonwireless.com/prepaid/smartphone-plans/moto-e-in-black+prepaid/

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Fraydog,

 

I saw those price points; they're really expensive for a service I'm not even ultimately going to use.  I don't care about data amounts or priorities in the slightest, I just want to gather GCI/PCI/TAC.  I may even go so far as to root the devices and use a firewall to prevent any data from being used, not sure yet.

 

Robert,

 

That's fascinating.  Band 4 but not Band 13?  I wonder why it doesn't populate in SignalCheck.

 

- Trip

 

Yep.  No Band 13.  But B4 populates all day long.  As for SignalCheck, it tries to not display sites that it is not actually connected to.  That's by design.  If you look at Cellmapper and see all the sites your device sees, you can see why all that data would be problematic in a format like SignalCheck,

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Well.  I feel sheepish.  :wacko:

 

Good thing I didn't buy one of those for Verizon!

 

You might want to bite the bullet and just pay $300 for the Nexus 5X.  In one fell swoop, that would cover all of your bases -- except for AT&T band 30.  It might not be as cost effective as buying individual handsets on the cheap, but it could be close.  And you would gain the advantage of carrying around only separate SIMs, not juggling several different handsets while out and about.

 

AJ

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I actually want multiple phones tracking at the same time, plus I already have three phones in-hand, and my Nexus 5 for AT&T already on the way.  I just need one more for Verizon and I'm done.

 

- Trip

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Cricket is AT&T's network at a cheaper price, but GoPhone works as well and is prioritized above Cricket. No 8Mbps cap. Then MobileShare Value plans are $55 for 2GB, also with unlimited talk and text. That adds in VoLTE if you have a VoLTE capable AT&T phone (currently only the VoLTE phones AT&T sells). 

 

There's also Consumer Cellular that's good for low data amounts.

 

Trip could bill per use minutes and then select the lowest data plan if he just needs the signal for plotting. 

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There's also Consumer Cellular that's good for low data amounts.

 

Trip could bill per use minutes and then select the lowest data plan if he just needs the signal for plotting. 

 

Very interesting.  Looking at the plans on the Consumer Cellular site, I see $2.50/month for text and data.  Any idea if that's LTE?

 

EDIT:  Found some discussion elsewhere that, yes, Consumer Cellular does support LTE.

 

EDIT2:  But I see you need a $10 voice plan first.  Hm.  I'll think on this.

 

- Trip

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Last time I did the math, the cheapest route was to switch to Cricket for normal phone service, because Sprint will still authenticate to LTE with an inactive SIM just like T-Mobile does. IIRC the next best option was one of the really cheap Tracfone plans for AT&T mapping.

 

Walmart has a free, comprehensive guide to your options in their mobile department. Just about anything you would want is printed in it.

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Unfortunately, there is no GSM service of any kind at my parents' house.  I joined Sprint in the first place because it roams on US Cellular, the only service in the area.  (I stay for far more reasons, but that's still a big one.)

 

- Trip

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Does your USCC phone support ##scrtn# in the dialer to erase your number from the device? Not sure if they use any of the same dialer codes as Sprint, but can't hurt to try.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

 

Tried this idea this morning.  Doesn't work, unfortunately.  I'm also concerned that I may need to be in the US Cellular service area when I try to get things set up.

 

Is the number tied to the SIM card?  If so, then swapping out the SIM should solve it, I would think, and I already have a new one on the way.

 

- Trip

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For AT&T I would use there pay as go plan. Its $3 a day for Unlimited Calls and Texts but only on the days you use it. Data is $1 for 100MB for 24 hours. But you can add another package once you use 80mb's up. Basically its $10/GB. Buying the data package and using data doesn't trigger the $3 daily charge

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For AT&T I would use there pay as go plan. Its $3 a day for Unlimited Calls and Texts but only on the days you use it. Data is $1 for 100MB for 24 hours. But you can add another package once you use 80mb's up. Basically its $10/GB. Buying the data package and using data doesn't trigger the $3 daily charge

 

Hmm, interesting.  AT&T must have added a GoPhone pay per day plan recently.  One was not available the last time that I checked.  I have a T-Mobile prepaid pay per day plan grandfathered at $3 for 200 MB -- the current pay per day plan is $5 for 500 MB.  I use a pay per day maybe 3-4 times per year, tops, just to check up on the competition.  I have been limited to T-Mobile, but now I may pick up a GoPhone SIM today.  It would work perfectly in my 2015 Moto X or Nexus 5X.

 

AJ

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For AT&T I would use there pay as go plan. Its $3 a day for Unlimited Calls and Texts but only on the days you use it. Data is $1 for 100MB for 24 hours. But you can add another package once you use 80mb's up. Basically its $10/GB. Buying the data package and using data doesn't trigger the $3 daily charge

 

Interesting, I missed that too.  That definitely sounds like the best option I've seen so far, since I won't use any calls or texts.  I'll be looking at that one closely.

 

- Trip

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