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Consumer Cellular: yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by MoodyBlues, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    Since there's absolutely no activity in its forum, I'm putting this Consumer Cellular advice-seeking post here.

    I've had AT&T for so long (late '90s) it went through two name changes, first to Cingular, then back to AT&T. Before I moved back home to California, I had no connectivity issues. Before I moved, I gave them the address and asked if there would be good reception there; they said there was excellent coverage--but I'd need to upgrade my [pre-Android] phone, so I did.

    Okay, so I arrive at my house...and find I get ZERO bars. Inside. If I walked all the way through the backyard, between the lemon and tangerine trees, I'd get one...sometimes two bars.

    Two cell phones and five smartphones later, I still get virtually no reception in my house. Thank goodness the landline (and same phone number!) we've had for 48 years is 100% reliable.

    The ONLY time I take my phone off airplane mode is when I leave my house, like for doctor visits. I'm paying the lowest rate I could negotiate with AT&T, ≈$38/month. I LITERALLY use zero data minutes most of the time; the only texting I do is via WhatsApp on wifi.

    I've seen Consumer Cellular ads with rates as low as $15 or $20 a month. I know the company is geared toward, well, old geezers. Now, I have nothing against old geezers...since I'm one of them. But I'm not a CLUELESS old geezer, you know?

    I'd like to know if CC would work out for me. Can I keep my existing phone and number? Does it work reliably on wifi? Is there any reason NOT to switch? Like customer service--or, as we see a lot today, a lack thereof. If you have any personal knowledge or experience with them, I'd love to hear it.
     


    Rico ANDROID likes this.
  2. Well a quick bit of Googling shows that Consumer Cellular uses AT&T's network as well as T-Mobile's, so depending on which one they use in your area you may not see an improvement in service quality although it will probably be cheaper. You may want to look into a different third-party carrier that uses Sprint or Verizon towers, assuming those provide better service where you are.
    Is your current phone a fairly recent AT&T branded model? If so it should have Wifi calling built into it, so as long as you have good cable internet service and Wifi at your house you should be able to get cell service at home by using the Wifi calling regardless of how poor the cellular service is. If your phone doesn't have Wifi calling (too old, not carrier-branded) then you can upgrade to a new one that does and that may solve your issue without having to change carriers.
     
  3. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    Fortunately, I live in Arcadia, a lovely city in the beautiful San Gabriel Valley. Unfortunately, the spectacular San Gabriel Mountains nearby make reception awful, regardless of carrier. My live-in helper has T-Mobile and gets spotty reception depending on where she is in the house. Visitors on other carriers have gotten zero to spotty, again depending on location.
    Brand new Moto Z² Force Edition, running Oreo 8.0.0, which I purchased directly from Motorola.
    Yes, I have fast, stable cable Internet and wifi.
    Well...hmmm... I've never used wifi calling; these are all the AT&T apps that came with the phone:

    Screenshot_20181230-174309.png

    If it's there, I'm not seeing it!

    And just FWIW, I'm not looking to get rid of the landline, in case anyone's wondering.

    Thanks, Fox, for the input! :)
     
    #3 MoodyBlues, Dec 30, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
  4. I don't have AT&T or that phone, but the Wifi calling if available should be an option in your phone settings. When active you should see an icon for it on the status bar.
    However since you got the phone directly from Motorola and not through AT&T, it probably doesn't have the Wifi calling option built in as the non-branded/ unlocked phones usually don't.
     
  5. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    I just looked at its "Network & Internet" settings (which seemed most logical) and there's no such creature.
    Oh, okay...but I wonder if it's something I can get from AT&T. :thinking:
     
  6. Milo Willamson

    Milo Willamson Android Expert

    There is google duo, think you can do wifi calls that way. I have not tried it yet.
     
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  7. Milo Willamson

    Milo Willamson Android Expert

    Correction there is wi-fi calling dear, you can long tap your middle button, it will pop up google and speak "Wi-fi" calling :)
     
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  8. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Keep in mind there's not just carrier-implemented WiFi Calling, you can use a number of third-party services that also work really well. Google Hangouts, Google Duo, and Google Voice apps; a number of texting/messaging apps like Signal Private Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.; along with apps like Viber, Skype, or Fring all have WiFi Calling capabilities.
    I use Hangouts (well technically, Hangouts Dailer), Voice and Signal frequently for this.

    As for Consumer Cellular, Wirecutter gives them very good ratings, mentioning high marks from other sites like Consumer Reports, PC Mag, and JD Power:
    https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wireless-carrier/
     
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  9. Yes it may be possible to make calls over Wifi with the Google app, but not with your existing number unless you port it to Google.
    The only way to get seamless Wifi calling with your current number is on a carrier-branded phone.
    If that doesn't matter to you then a third-party calling app can be an option.
     
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  10. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    I saw all that AT&T bloat on a friend's Moto a few days ago, and all of it completely useless with China Mobile. I was asked to have a look and see what I could do, because the internal storage was full. the Wechat cache was 8GB.
     
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  11. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    I'm not sure what you mean by "middle button." Plus, I've HIGHLY customized the phone, particularly via ADWLauncher 1 EX. So your middle button and mine may not work the same.
     
    Milo Willamson likes this.
  12. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    It's not so much that it 'may be possible' but it's a reality that lots of people including myself use frequently. As for my omission that Google Hangouts and Google Voice do rely on a Google Voice phone number, my mistake then. Still there's an extensive feature set that's included with a free Google Voice phone number, so you can use one of those two apps (well one as Hangouts is being rebranded) or access them via a computer with headphone/microphone:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Voice#Features
    https://www.androidcentral.com/google-hangouts-reportedly-shutting-down-2020

    Also, just so it's clear to all that Duo and the other texting/messaging apps do rely on your already established, carrier phone number.
     
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  13. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ...eschew obfuscation...
    Moderator

    Moody,
    I purchased a Moto X4 unlocked direct from Moto, so my settings should be similar to yours. WiFi calling shows up under Settings | Network & Internet | Mobile Network | Advanced | WiFi calling. I'm fairly certain AT&T supports it as they offer free WiFi connectivity on thier Comcast hotspots (If I'm remembering which cable company they bought).

    One thing you may be missing though. When I set mine up I had to enable it at the carrier first. WiFi calling doesn't allow for precise location, so it messes up 911 calling. Basically to enable online you acknowledge that 911 won't know where you are (damn lawyers) and you enter a address to report to 911 if you call it while on WiFi (which in your case your home address sounds ideal).

    Lastly, I wanted to confirm some things, and found this. Looks like you need to have a certain plan and they charge you like you are using cellular data, which is a bummer. I'm using Mint Mobile (a T-Mo MVNO) and used WiFi calling on the hotel WiFi in Aruba and it cost me nothing to call and text back home, but AT&T has to be AT&T. :(
    https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/features/wifi-calling.html
     
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  14. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    You know, last night when I checked its "Network & Internet" settings--and saw that "Mobile network" was grayed out (since I was in airplane mode), I THOUGHT about looking there, but didn't because wifi calling isn't a mobile network.

    So I turned off airplane mode just now so I could follow your path. Here's what I got:

    Screenshot_20181231-082613.png

    Screenshot_20181231-082426.png

    Screenshot_20181231-082435.png

    o_O Nothing. o_O
    This I'll have to check into.
    Okay, wait, I'm sorry it's early [for me] and I've had but one sip of coffee--you seem to be contradicting yourself. See bolded text above.

    As always, I appreciate your input. :)
     
  15. Milo Willamson

    Milo Willamson Android Expert


    The circle button :) Press and hold above the button, or your home button is, it should summon google assassitant.
     
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  16. Rico ANDROID

    Rico ANDROID Android Expert

    Ahh i remember the Att-Cingular-att days. Replying so to stay in the loop on your Consumer Cellular option/ question. Our area lately were having signal outages intermittently which now i think were due to their prepping for 5G rollout. Regardless-my bill is waaaay too high and CC would cut it more than a half.
     
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  17. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ...eschew obfuscation...
    Moderator

    I was only on my first few sips of coffee myself, so maybe I wasn't clear. :D

    I didn't mean to seem to contradict myself (and I don't know if that even makes sense. :p) I was offering a contrast between WiFi calling with AT&T and with Mint Mobile.

    AT&T charges for wifi calling and texting internationally the same rates they charge if you use cellular. That is a bummer.

    For comparison, I'm not using AT&T. I'm using Mint Mobile, which is an MVNO for T-Mobile. I went to Aruba and was able to use the hotel's WiFi to make phone calls and texts on my Moto X4 with no charge.
     
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  18. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    Ha ha, I did not know that! Thanks. :)

    I don't actually use Google Assistant, but this is good to know.
     
  19. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    That was a weird time, like they couldn't make up their collective minds.
    I DVR anything I might want to watch (so I can skip the ads), except for the local news. So I actually paid attention this morning when a CC ad came on. Among other things, it said its unlimited talk and text plan is $25/month, with no contracts. That's pretty impressive!
     
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  20. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    << excellent explanation snipped >>

    No problem. Now I get it!
     
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  21. Rico ANDROID

    Rico ANDROID Android Expert

    It sure was a quirky time in Big Bad MaBell's time. You'd think they"d acquisitioned Cingular instead of the other way around… which left many of us wondering what was really behind that move… lol. Yes that is a sweet deal from CC and that's what i am currently eyeballing!
     
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  22. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    Yes indeed. It was like, *I* never left AT&T, they left me...and then they didn't. :)
    No kidding. Even though I don't need unlimited talk and text, at that price--compared to what I'm paying AT&T for a limited plan--it's mighty attractive!
     
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  23. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven ...eschew obfuscation...
    Moderator

    Mint Mobile has some pretty good rates. I'm paying less than $20 / month for 5GB of LTE (3g after that) and unlimited talk and text.
    https://www.mintmobile.com/plans/

    Right now they are offering 3 months of 5GB for $20 Total!!! I buy one year at a time and get the most bang for my buck. I paid $200 for the year for my 5GB plan which is more than enough for me.
     
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  24. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Just wanted to add something that might also be relevant to a lot of us (well, here in the U.S.) now that landline phone service is waning and a lot of us only have cell phones. Sign up for an account at Smart911:
    https://www.smart911.com/
    This should then automatically tie you into your local county's 911 service. As an example, my :
    https://www.dupageco.org/smart911/
    By putting in relevant info about you, your family, and of course your residence than if there is an emergency at home the local authorities will have at least something to work off of.
     
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  25. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues Compassion is cool!
    VIP Member Thread Starter

    That's excellent advice, @svim. So good, in fact, that I think it deserves a thread of its own. If you're up for it, why not post a thread so more people can learn about it?
     
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