Advice on phone service

(So… I just wrote this long email to someone asking for recommendations on cell phone service, and I figured I should post it here, both for my own reference and in case anyone finds it helpful or has something to add.)

I have a home phone, but rarely use it. It’s for telemarketers to use, and for when I want to call international, since cellphones don’t support the 101nnnn (like 1010-220 or 1010-345) dial-around long distance system.

Anyway, I have Sprint, and it’s okay. Its main benefit is trouble-free coverage, a good plan, and I have other family members with it. I have the “please don’t switch to AT&T” plan, at 36/month for 500 peak, 3000 off-peak, 500 sprint minutes. No home calling area, free domestic long distance. It’s only offered if you ask to cancel service with them.

I would recommend Sprint or Verizon (no preference), since they both have really decent coverage. The others have their own problems, which may or may not apply to you. I hear that Cingular is okay if you’re in SF or in LA, but fairly sucky in other places, like suburbs between SF and San Jose. Cingular may be better now, since they bought AT&T wireless. T-mobile has good plans, but their coverage isn’t very good. Still, if you don’t have a car, maybe you won’t go anywhere where the more spotty providers have deadspots.

Try not to get stuck with a contract greater than a year. But remember that the law says you can cancel any cell phone service and return the phone within 30-days of purchase.

All of them have bad customer service. I’ve had my own bad experiences with Sprint, and my friends have bad experiences with AT&T. I’ve heard of bad experiences with the others.

Actually, the cheapest long distance I’ve found is prepaid: . Its only problem is that the call quality would sometimes be bad when calling some overseas destinations. Oh, and your account expires if you don’t recharge it for 6 months (minimum $5 recharge). has similar rates, but had security problems in the past with leaking credit card numbers, so personally, I can’t trust them.


  1. Dude, ditch the land line and get Vonage or an equivalent.
    Its how I call Guam and Xyph out in Singapore.
    The only problem is you need to control you upstream bandwidth usage while on the phone. Newer units take care of if automatically, I fixed it by getting a hacked firmware for my linksys router that adds bandwidth shaping, and getting a BT client that can pause and cap upload speeds.


  2. I thought about Vonage… At the moment, the land line is shared with two other people, and the cost is included in rent.

    The universality of POTS(plain-old-telephone-service, for non-telco people) is still sometimes useful. The uptime requirements are really second-to-none. Uptime on comcast or sbc/dsl still has a way to go. It’s a good way to call the power company during a blackout (non-rolling, of course ;).

  3. more cheap long distance, 1 cent per minute domestically, no connection fees or monthly charges


  4. Actually RNK now has no-fee 0.5 and 0.33 c/min rates to USA and Canada, assuming you use the local access # from MA, RI, or NH: