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A Disillusioned T-Mobiler's Hopeful Lament

Discussion in 'Sprint' started by fattank, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    I've been with T-Mobile (GSM) for well over a year -- ever since a few months before the fateful HD2's release. I stood in line on release day and was so happy to receive the wonderful device (which runs Winmo 6.5.5 to 7 and Android up to 2.3 without hitch, and even runs Ubuntu sort-of well). I run the thing with a stock Desire HD ROM locked at 1.5Ghz, and it gets me through the day.

    But I recently heard that T-Mobile plans to "merge" with AT&T (and by "merge," we all know Big Blue/Mama Bell is going to ravenously consume T-Mobile's flesh just prior to defecating on its lifeless corpse), and I was very frustrated. At the same time, I was also looking to upgrade the phone itself. While still runs like a champ, the qHD (3D!) screen and the promise of even more ludicrous overclocking/computer potential to come, I salivated over the 3VO like no phone before or since (I use "since" loosely since it hasn't even been released yet). What's better, since I was looking to change carriers, Sprint seemed the logical choice -- the features included in its "Everything Data" package (both individual and family varieties) utterly eclipsed its counterparts offered by T-Mobile, even though the price was a tad (or more than a tad) higher.

    I'm at a crossroads here, and I'd love it if the intelligent, helpful, insightful members of this community would help me make a decision -- and in so doing, provide a valuable public service to all those facing a similar decision in the present and near future. I'll lay out what I know so far, and all I ask is that the information be verified, corrected, or superior alternatives proposed as regards either the facts stated or the conclusions therefrom drawn.

    The NOW:

    • I currently pay just over $100 total every month for a non-contract T-Mobile family plan with 3 members, one of whom is signed up for 200MB data. Unlimited texts, 750 shared minutes.
    • I currently pay ~$40/mo for 7mbps Qwest DSL for home internet. Another member (#2) also pays $40/mo for the same DSL.
      • Member #1 (me) uses Qwest DSL fairly heavily -- I use from ~5-50GB per month (yes, it's a ridiculous range).
      • Member #2 barely uses her Qwest DSL (1-2GB/mo tops)
      • Member #3 uses T-Mobile's 200mb data plan (email, research, chat, news, etc) on her old G1 and frequently goes a bit overboard, resulting in additional charges up to $10.
    • T-Mobile's non-contract plans will no longer exist after the merge, so to upgrade phones, we are forced to pay full price (or get them used from sleazy secondhand sources). When I upgrade, I'll need to pay through the nose for a Sensation (a rough equivalent of the Evo 3D with less RAM, smaller battery, and of course no 3D camera/display). Either that or sign onto a more expensive contract with soon-to-be AT&T anyway.
      • Member #1 (me) has an amazing 1st gen device, the HD2, but for the above geeky reason is looking to upgrade to a 3VO.
      • Member #2 has no smartphone, but is interested in an older/entry model (or at least a significant upgrade) "one of these days."
      • Member #3 has an ancient G1 and is looking to upgrade "nowish/soonish."
    The NOW Network(TM):

    • I am entitled to a (permanent?) 10% Sprint discount certificate for all plans except Unlimited voice plans (I think most such discounts work in a similar fashion -- just ask Sprint, your employer, or your educational institution if you are eligible -- you may be surprised!)
    • "For a limited time, move your number to Sprint and get up to a $125 service credit. Learn More" on their site.
    • SAVE50 promo code
      • What does this do? Does it stack? How is it used?
    • The Everything Data(TM) Individual plan is listed as $62.99
      • "For a limited time, pick our 450 minute plan and score an extra 300 Anytime Minutes!"
      • What on earth is "Direct Connect"? Does it work with the 3VO? Something tells me it's a walkie-talkie-type relic from the Nextel era.
    • The Everything Data(TM) FAMILY plan is listed as $116.99.
      • Extra line (for three people) costs an additional $20 -- or is the 10% discount applied to the "updated" total as well? It looks like it's a straight "$136.98"
    • I have heard rumors that there is some sort of sneaky/hidden "activation fee" and/or "premium data fee" in addition to standard state/federal taxes.
      • What the heck are these, and how much are they?
      • Just as often as I've heard rumors about some of these fees, I've heard (particularly for "activation fee") that it's easy to have it "waived" if you're a new customer. Is this true? What about the other fees?
      • Those of you with a data plan, how much are the taxes?
    • For new/upgrading customers and a 2-yr contract (not a problem for me even though I come from a non-contract policy), there is a steep discount on phones, some of which are even [apparently] "free."
      • Cheap/free phone upgrade for every line (and the new phones KEEP ON A-GIVIN' for at least a year) -- save up to $300 total per person per upgrade period?! Do I have that right?
      • Is it [ever] possible to get a 3G-tethering smartphone for free (for Member #2 in particular)? The cheapest one that "tethers" to a [Linux] laptop would be perfect. Recall that this member rarely uses up to 5GB/mo, but when she does she does it in bursts and expects it to be "a lot better than dial-up."
      • Cheapest 4G smartphone with tether support -- Evo 4G for $150? Anything cheaper? Or should I just convince Member #3 to just get a 3VO for $50 more?
      • What's the catch? Beside a 2yr contract, that is. Is there an "activation fee" or other hidden catch? See above dark bullet.
    • Putting aside all initial discounts (SAVE50, $125 number porting credit, etc) and all initial fees (potential "activation" fees, setup fees, and so forth), monthly cost of under $140 dollars for this family plan gives us the following advantages OVER the current T-Mobile plan:
      • Double our current shared minutes (750 -> 1500).
      • Unlimited "Nights" start 2 hours earlier (7PM!!)
      • Better voice coverage for everyone, according to Sprint's maps.
      • Great 4G data coverage for members #1 and #3, great 3G for member #2
      • Possibility to cancel our home DSL and just use Sprint's network with tethering, saving up to $80/mo from DSL
        • Member #1 occasionally uses data (potentially) very heavily but plans to get a 3VO with built-in tethering included for a reason. This member (me) might not terribly mind paying a "premium data" fee, too. ;)
        • Members #2 and #3 use internet extremely lightly and would absolutely hate paying a premium data fee for lighter usage than T-mobile's 2GB plan.
        • Are there ANY limiters on what the network can/can't be used for? Is it for all intents and purposes identical to DSL use (except for the higher latency/ping, but nobody here games online XD)
        • What's the speed like compared to 7mbps Qwest DSL? Reports/rumors indicate that a decent/good 4G area is something like 3-6-10mbps (lowerAv-upperAv-Peak) and 3G is 0.6-1.4-3.1mbps.
          • True or false? Is there a way to test my area's speeds first? I don't know anyone with Sprint and 4G in my area. I'd love if existing users could report your average speeds in addition to their "service quality"/"coverage experience" according to Sprint's map.
      • FREE included Sprint NavTec GPS with all smartphones? Is that right? If so, this would be a lifesaver (and a spacesaver on the card -- I'm sick of the free but bulky HTC Locations GPS on my HD2).
    • Current bill - new bill = $180 (incl DSL) - $140 = $0-$40 savings over our current plan with some great new features, phone discounts, and services.

    Obviously, if the final point there is true and I'm not overlooking any caveats, Sprint is practically a godsend for me (and heck, most anybody). I made this post because such an incredible deal is obviously too good to be true and I want to be informed here and now (to the benefit of all who are listening) what the real story is, and of any/all corrections/additions/caveats to my logic or my conclusion.

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  2. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns!

    Hey fattank,

    Moved your question to the Sprint forums, since your OP is really about carrier choice and not about the Evo 3D.
    fattank and treven21 like this.
  3. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Android Expert

    I have both T-mobile and Sprint cellular service. There is no catch with Sprint. If you have good coverage with Sprint where you live / work, then it's one of the best values going for smartphone users right now.
    momoceio likes this.
  4. Emmexx

    Emmexx Well-Known Member

    I have posted my comments in red in your original quote. I hope they help you. I ported my number over from T-Mobile earlier this month and picked up the Evo 4G for the interim time. I will be switching to the E3D on the 24th. I have had absolutely no regrets in my switchover.

    fattank likes this.
  5. ArmageddonX

    ArmageddonX Android Expert

    Normally I'm congratulating somebody on the high quality of their answers. In this case, wow what well thought out question...

    To the OP; I have been with Sprint for almost 10 years. I think it's a great carrier. If you have good Sprint coverage in your area then it really is the best choice in my opinion.
    fattank likes this.
  6. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    Wonderful! Emmexx, I can't thank you enough. I certainly look forward to hearing back from you about the tax info and the cheap 3G tethering-capable devices!

    Have you ever run a test at speedtest.net (try a few different servers) on your phone? It would be very cool if you ever got in the mood to try it out and post your experience (along with the coverage in the area you tested -- "fair", "good", or "best").

    Very, very cool point about the unlimited non-landline calls. That instantly doubles/triples the effective minutes for me right there.

    One more thing, you mentioned a "premium data fee of $10 for each relevant phone." Is this a one-time fee (like activation)? What benefits exactly does it afford the user? What makes a phone pertinent/applicable/chargeable in regards to this premium data fee?
  7. dbpaddler

    dbpaddler Android Expert

    Funny. I'm thinking of taking our work account from Sprint to T-Mobile. Have had nothing but non-existent service from them since our rep left for t-mobile, and i've been calling them about getting another dedicated rep for about 4 months now listening to the same crap over and over. "We escalated this problem...blah blah blah" and nothing. I can't make changes to my account online anymore, and their website just stinks for managing the account. Haven't had problems with signal/call quality. It's just a customer service issue. My guy is also telling me we'll save money over Sprint so I'm at least willing to listen.

    My problem is we have a bunch of Epics on the account now, we want keyboards and two of the key features in them is the dedicated number row and cursor keys. That option is nowhere to be found on T-mobile. The only other 4" slider I know of that fits that bill will be the Droid 3 on Verizon. the 4g Slider is only 3.7" and lacks both a number row and cursor keys. (4-way directional keys). So while I'd never leave a carrier just for a phone, I thinking of not switching due to a lack of phones. For us, the epic is rather unique phone and fits a need.

    On the plus side for T-mobile, my rep was saying how they'd be utilizing AT&T's towers next month which would be a plus for coverage, and I would imagine the 4g speeds would be better and more seamless than cdma/wimax handoffs.

    And to answer the one question, Premium Data ($10 fee) is per month, every month on all smartphones. That $10 is not discountable.

    And the free cellular to cellular on sprint is a big plus. peak landline minutes are the only ones that go towards your plan minutes. i scaled most of our lines back to 250 or 400 (business plans) minutes. On the business side we're also allowed to designate an office # for each line that we can call for free. Think there might be something similar for family plans as well (if you're going that route). Sprint is definitely a good value.

    Do keep in mind that Sprint's roaming contract with Alltel is done or close to being done, and they're going to lose a whole lot of coverage in certain parts of the country (mostly midwest to west) I believe. So that's worth looking into. The before and after coverage maps I was looking at makes Sprint look like a 2nd rate regional carrier.
    fattank likes this.
  8. brandas

    brandas Lurker

    of course there are ways around it (rooting) sprint charges for tethering - $30/month I believe.
  9. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    So now that I'm awake again and can't get back to sleep (against my own wishes, I assure you -- darn these rogue midnight texts), I'm back in the game for one last post today (tonight?).

    Our family might be a bit of an exception, but I don't think we take much (if any) advantage of customer service. As long as the company provides what they pay for, honors their promises, and accepts payments without too much hassle, we're okay (we've been paying by phone, but I admit a web form would be really nice to use). Plus, it's nowhere as bad as AT&T's customer service, based on complains from absolutely everyone I know on the network... and guess whose customer service guys will be kept after the merger, and/or how all the new trainees will be brought up. That's right, no more T-Mobile policymakers onboard. That said, in the long run switching to Sprint might be far better from a customer service perspective -- even if T-Mobile's last remaining bastion of service personnel is supposedly somewhat better (I honestly wouldn't know). But definitely something to keep in mind.

    I'd consider that a plus for AT&T, not T-Mobile. After all, whose plans are we going to be on at that point? Whose 3/4G bands? (The current crop of T-Mobile data devices will go obsolete eventually anyway -- there's just no more forward momentum in the meantime). As for the CDMA/wimax handoffs, the latest Android (not to mention the latest 3rd gen snapdragon chipsets from the company that practically designed CDMA2000 in its current incarnation) will largely render this problem, small as it was, virtually non-existent. So the theory goes.

    This is the crux of the matter for us. It means instead of saving $40, we'd only be saving $10-20. If anything. This is not a happy thing for me. Not happy at all. BUT it's still acceptable for a contract period IF the "$125 credit" applies per number, per line. That easily makes up for it for at least 12.5 months per phone. ;) And what about the SAVE50 promo code? Does that apply per line (or even apply at all anymore)?

    Value is what we need -- and the bulk of our calls are mobile to mobile but are charged heftily anyway by T-Mobile since a lot of our contacts aren't on T-Mobile (but still have mobile phones). And the remainder is usually in the evening after 7 anyway. Even then, 1500 "peak landline" minutes is incredible, since we'd double our current allotment of 750.

    Roaming? I don't recall ever having ever even used a cellphone outside of our high-coverage twin cities + suburbs range here in MN. Although a family member did go on vacation to Asheville, NC -- which, believe it or not, has Sprint's "Best" voice coverage and apparently stellar in-network 3G coverage, too. Long story short, everywhere we "live, work, and play" has [much] better Sprint coverage than T-Mobile's current stock according to the latest maps. Almost everywhere has 4G, too. We want to use Sprint to replace our main Internet and Phone service. The whole Sprint TV, Sprint Location, etc is just part of the package, but should still work splendidly wherever we go. Provided, of course, we don't take a vacation out to rural villages in the West (though again, to be honest, it looks like data just drops to a lower speed and voice/texts/etc work fine there, too).

    Of course there's always Boost Mobile (supposedly owned by Sprint), but does it work with the 3VO, EVO 4G and the like? I've heard mixed things -- and some strange things about hidden data caps, the "shrinkage" plan woes, etc. Aside from a (supposedly negotiable) ESN block on "Sprint exclusive" phones and the lack of 4G support on Boost, everything might just work for only $50/mo (to $35/mo after 15mo of "shrinkage"). Or is that absurd?
  10. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    Not on the 3VO -- according to their site, it's built and shipped with native tethering -- and that 'feature' is advertised like mad. Plus any 3rd party (root) tethering apps work fine with the older phones and Sprint has issued statements saying "they don't support it but won't block it."
  11. NOMster

    NOMster Android Enthusiast

    You've got some good coverage/plan answers going. So ill give some recommendations based on usage for phones.
    You know what you want. So get it.
    User 2-I recommend the optimus. Simple smartphone. Easy to root, easy to get free tethering to work, a good starting android and the price is not too shabby. I use one solely for the hotspot function and it always delivers at least DSL lite speeds if not better.
    You could also get the nexus s since it has free tethering built in and has a much larger screen but its a higher end device so the price reflects that.
    User 3-this ones tricky. My first thought was the Samsung replenish to help save yousome money on the monthly bill (it doesn't get charged the ten dollar data fee)and on the upfront price (its free) . But the user might not like the form factor of they are used to the g1. Unfortunately your options are not great for cheap phones. If you sign up with the first two lines at sprint then add the third through 3rd party retailer you may get a better deal. That said if they want a keyboard the options are epic,evo shift and xprt and replenish. If the keyboard/screen size doesn't matter I go back to the optimus. If the price of the phone doesn't matter I go back to the nexus. For someone accustomed to plain android it is the best choice.
    fattank likes this.
  12. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks so much for the individual suggestions! I've taken a good look at these thanks to your suggestions and I must say you seem spot-on with that advice. :eek:

    I only have a few lingering questions...

    1. What did you mean "through a third party retailer"? Something like RadioShack/Best Buy? Would they discount the third line?
    2. Does the $125 credit for "porting an existing number" apply to each line? Is it possible to get it through the third party retailer you mentioned?
    3. Has anyone tried using the "SAVE50" promo code?
    4. How would the 4G network be here:
    The "dark" orange is "BEST/In-building" and the light orange is "on-street". Would I still be able to use my 3VO as a 4G modem in my house? I don't think the walls are that thick here, and I just happen to lie in a small pocket of light orange in a sea of dark -- what does this mean?
  13. BenChase7

    BenChase7 Android Expert

    I would think you'd be ok, but no way to tell for certain. at least you got 30 days, risk free. :)
    fattank likes this.
  14. NOMster

    NOMster Android Enthusiast

    If you go for one of the higher end phones I listed, you would be better off going to best buy or amazon etc. The nexus is 50 for new lines at BB but its 200 at sprint. You won't get the port in credit so there is that to consider.
    For the lower end phones go with sprint.com to add your lines. The price is close and you get the credit.
    I will believe the new evo tethers 4g without root or paying when I see it.
    Never heard of save50. But you may want to look into an eprp plan instead of using your discount. Just Google it.
    fattank likes this.
  15. dbpaddler

    dbpaddler Android Expert

    If someone is coming from the G1 and wants a keyboard, just get an epic. They're not expensive from 3rd parties. The epic is really coming into its own and gb should put it over the top. You're paying the $10 premium data anyway so might as well get a phone that best takes advantage of it. It's pretty light weight too, same weight as the smaller but just as thick Shift and lighter than the Evo. Hs a full five row keyboard and the nie 4" screen. The processor still hums along nicely. Using the stock leaked gb rom it was almost or just as snappy as a tweaked froyo rom so...

    I have to read up more on the whole tmo/att acquisition. See how tmob plans are grandfathered and how the frequencies will be supported post merger. My rep knows it's not cut and dry. As far as CS, I used to get invites to phone releases, free phones, demos and such. A rep that can finagle contracts and such to maximize new hardware along with easy account changes to keep the bill down. A quick text or email usually did the trick. So trying to keep a bunch of personalities happy was easy to do. Now it's just a bear. But the grass isn't always greener, so...
    fattank likes this.
  16. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    Great! So, right after cancelling with T-Mobile, the following order of operations would be ideal (assuming yet another member, #4, wants to join under the same exact conditions as #2):

    1. Sign up for sprint SERVICE online (eprp), Everything Data Family, with two free Optimus units [#2,#4]: $140/mo
    2. Apply the "bring number to sprint" discount (I'm assuming there's just a web form that asks for your old T-Mobile number? How else would one just "move" their existing number from T-Mobile?): $125/line * 4 = $-500
    3. At "checkout" online, apply the SAVE50 promo code: $50 x 4 = $-200
    4. Waived activation fee (how to do this online?)
    5. Head to 3rd Party Retailer (Best Buy / Radioshack) to buy other two phones and lines w/waived activation: $200 3VO + $150 Evo Shift (Thanks again, NOMster!): $350

    Total: $140/mo + $350 CREDIT [essentially all free phones and 2.5mo free]. Plus tax.

    This assumes that getting the two additional lines from a 3rd party still includes the $125/line 'number transfer' bonus and the $50/line SAVE50 bonus. If this isn't the case, there's no need for 3rd party retailers for me! Hope the 3VO isn't sold out...

    Any further corrections?
  17. NOMster

    NOMster Android Enthusiast

    Do not cancel T-Mobile. Just sign up for sprint to do the port in. If your number is cancelled it won't count as a port in. So no credit.
    And you do not get the port -n credit from 3rd parties. Only from sprint/sprint.com

    I'm not sure where you're getting the total of 140/month for 4 lines unless you get a discount.
    130+40(2 lines)+40(data fee for 4 smartphones)=210
    fattank and BenChase7 like this.
  18. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    I see. I plan to use the discount online (with the $125 bonus), so I won't be going through a 3rd party.

    Last few questions!!

    • How can I ask them to waive the activation fees online (4-line share plan)?
    • Will the Evo 3D (the new flagship) be available to order normally online on the 24th with all the other phones?
  19. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    The answer to the first is "it is applied automatically. Check your cart prior to checkout."
    The answer to the second is "yes."

    I added an EPRP 1600 Family plan (1600 minutes, 4 lines) and chose the phone for each, including two 3D's, and everything was working until the very end, when I got this message:
    Apparently it's not possible for a new customer to sign up for a (discounted?) family plan with more than two lines. What a letdown. :( I'll call them tomorrow...

    Edit: after some reading, it seems they limit you according to credit history. I don't have a credit history. :rolleyes:
  20. fattank

    fattank Member
    Thread Starter

    I'm in! Everything worked except the SAVE50 code -- so far. I still haven't received my $125/line service credit (I did apply). I will wait the 61 days they advise before it shows up on my bill. Supposedly.

    One member has very poor reception. Is there any reception booster aid like the old "Airrave" that *does not* require an existing broadband connection? Obviously, one of the reasons we switched to Sprint was to replace our existing broadband connections. This particular member, member #2, only used her phone for internet anyway.
    Any suggestions?

    Oh, and 4G works wonderfully here. Getting from 4-8mbps (1 out of 3 bars usually).
  21. NOMster

    NOMster Android Enthusiast

    Is a phone issue?
  22. BenChase7

    BenChase7 Android Expert

    It works... if you ported an eligible number and filled out the online application it will show up exactly 61 or 62 days later as a credit on your bill, just like they say. At least it did for me when I added a second line to my account. So, I wouldn't worry. :)
    fattank likes this.
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