A few weeks ago I wrote about just moving to Google Voice and VoIP for voice calls. It worked a bit, but not perfectly. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan - Straight Talk's AT&T service coupled with full Google Voice implementation. I know you are confused, this is the same guy who has insisted on every new phone, INSISTED the iPhone needed LTE (and I was right about the Verizon/Sprint versions) but now he's talking about pre-paid wireless?
Well the best kept secret in US telecom is Straight Talk. Wal-Mart's purchasing power has driven the price of every carrier's plans from well over $100+ a month, to $45 a month, unlimited. This plan provides the same data speeds as AT&T's non-LTE phones, and the exact same coverage (just none of the roaming). I can call out to whatever number Google Voice has, and it spoofs it as my phone number (the same one I've had since 2000). So just how did I pull of this little trick of voodoo? Well it was a little hairy, and I was nervous for a while, but it went off without a hitch.
My first step was to line up my Google Voice to port my current phone number from Verizon Wireless to Google Voice. When this was all set up (account information and payment squared away), I clicked go. At the same time, I had my Verizon Wireless account up and I requested a phone number change. The deal is, after you change your number (or stop paying your bill), your old digits go into limbo for 30 days. After which they start to be distributed again. So when you lose your number, it's available to grab for 30 days (just FYI). I wouldn't let much time pass however.
The next step was to get a new phone and new line of service. After a bit of research, I realized that Straight Talk had service that used all of AT&T's network, with just the buy-in cost of one SIM card and a month's service ($60). This works for any GSM phone (that runs on the AT&T spectrums). Likewise, you can choose the Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint carriers for your primary carrier (remember, no roaming though). You need to be sure of the spectrum that your phone uses (MHz) or else it will not work. Very few international phones have T-Mobile's 3G/"4G" spectrums, so if you go international make sure to select AT&T.
I made the switch a month ago and have been nothing but happy. I can get texts on any device, and likewise receives calls. It's possible for me type text messages instead of having to text them. If you are fed up with carriers, check out Straight Talk or add questions or comments below.
- Straight Talk SIM: The BFF of a Galaxy Nexus or iPhone (gigaom.com)
- Sprint: Google Voice deal 'extremely important' for us (reviews.cnet.com)
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