Well, after 28 years of activating phones for all of the major carriers, I am finally FREE! What that means is Dr Wireless no longer relies on activation commissions from the carriers as we once did. We even gave up all of our carrier Demo lines so there would be nothing they could dock, hold against me, or take away. Our revenue now comes from consulting and cloud services. We can still activate for T-Mobile and Verizon, but only do this now for our VIPs and Robin Hood Plan subscribers, upon request.
The reality is, they'll still pay us about $100 per activation when "going by the book" and activating their various advertised Unlimited rate plans. Well, after decades of working with each carriers retention departments, I'm aware of many ways to get a much better deal. The problem is they won't pay me "for beating the system", but you can. Several of the ways are through Off-sheet rate plans, discretionary credits, and loss leader plans they do not publicly offer (pay their sales people). Last year, we began offering our Robin Hood Program. For a one-time cost of $200, we guaranteed that Dr Wireless would reveal how to save $400+ per year on your wireless bill. If we couldn't deliver, we didn't charge the $200 fee. Today, we are dropping the Robin Hood Program fee to $100, that's half price. Dr Wireless will guarantee yearly savings, of $300+ or we won't charge you anything. Obviously, if you're on a single plan, this won't apply. If you're on a two line or more family or business plan paying over $150 per month though, I'd highly recommend getting our FREE Plan Analysis. We can immediately tell whether we can obtain big savings or not.
Aside from consulting, Dr Wireless now helps new and growing businesses with Unified Communication solutions, Information Technology support, and Social Media Marketing. We will no longer be sending out monthly NewsAlerts but still publishing current content this blog.
Finally, I'm still getting asked which are the best Unlimited plans. The answer is nothing from AT&T or Sprint and everything from T-Mobile or Verizon. T-Mobile just won the Open Wave, and OOKLA Best Carrier awards for fastest data speeds and best 4G LTE coverage. Verizon always offers solid, reliable speeds and coverage too. For global travelers, I'd go TM, otherwise, it's a toss up. What you need to know is there are now 3 types of Unlimited plans. To see the benefits of the newest T-Mobile One + International and Verizons "Beyond Unlimited" plans.
The problem: I recently moved from a Subaru Outback to Forester. My iPhone 6s+ worked flawlessly with the Outback. When I paired my Galaxy S8+ the Forester, it worked fine. When i paired my iPhone 6s+, each time i turned off the car, the device would need to be re-paired. To make matters worse, this can only be done while the car is stopped. I went through Subaru's manual and did not notice any solution.
When I bought the car used, I had to delete multiple iPhone profiles but when I paired my phone, it would only allow one phone at a time to be paired. This meant that every time I got into my car with my iPhone, I had to pair it. Well, here is the solution. Delete the profile and do not try to set this up from the menu on the radio. The best way to set everything up and get full functionality is doing it with the handsfree system on the steering wheel using the voice prompts. The only possible reason to use the limited BlueTooth setup through the radio would be if you have a passenger that wants to temporarily play music or use their phone through your car sound system one time..
If I'm an IT expert and struggled with this, I can only imagine how frustrated the general public must me. I struggled for weeks with this until stumbling across the solution. Now I have both phones paired and can easily toggle between them.
You'd think that an Unlimited plan would be just what it implies but that is no longer the case. Today, most carriers offer two or three different types of Unlimited plans. Usually, the basic plans are the ones that you will see advertised. These are the basic Unlimited no frills plans that feature 480p (DVD quality) resolution and anywhere from 22GB to 50GB of 4G LTE service, depending on which carrier you choose.
For those who like to use their SmartPhones as a 4G LTE Hotspot for their iPads or computers, the carriers have more deluxe plans that offer 1080p high resolution and some pre-designated amount of 4G LTE Hotspot usage. For those that also travel globally, there is a more deluxe version, usually about $25 per line more, that gives the kitchen sink. Below is T-Mobile's One + plan which is an additional $10/per line.
Stepping up to their International One + plan below is an extra $25 per line...
In Verizon's case, your Unlimited plan options are the following...
Verizon is now even allowing plan members to mix and match the above. Not surprisingly, their price points mirror those of T-Mobile. While activations are not something that we promote these days, we still do them for our VIP clients and can have everything handled and your devices hand delivered with direct carrier billing.
These days, all of the wireless carriers offer acceptable coverage. Obviously some (Sprint) have limitations like not being able to use data or text while on a phone call. This is because their CDMA network (older technology) does not support this as all the other carriers that are now 100% LTE (Long Term Evolution) would.
That being said, I am often asked which network I am personally with and who I would recommend. Domestically, Verizon and T-Mobile would both be great choices. Verizon because of their bullet proof reliability and coverage in the sticks. T-Mobile's perks are fastest data speeds, no fees or taxes, and in many cases, FREE Netflix.
For those who travel overseas regularly, T-Mobile is the only intelligent choice. With all other carriers, you must notify your carrier and usually select a "bolt-on" roaming plan that "reduces" the roaming costs from obscene to expensive. In some cases, if you don't add one of these packages, your phone may not work at all. This is where T-Mobile is the best. All of their Unlimited plans included FREE Global Texting and Data in over 140 countries. Voice calls are usually $0.20 per minute in these countries.
I just had a client with both a Verizon and T-Mobile line ask me which he should use on a trip to South Korea next month. Again, No Brainer as you can see below. With Verizon, he would pay $1.79 per minute and $0.50 per text. With T-Mobile, voice calls are $0.20 and all texting and data is totally FREE. Duh!
From 1990 until recently, the majority of my business was activating cellular phones. In the beginning, it was a great gig. We installed car phones and sold transportable devices as big as Samsonite suit cases. Back then, the phones only made calls. The toughest thing was finding the transceiver, then "burning" a Numerical Assignment Module (NAM) which had to be carefully inserted into the transceiver.
I had developed the first "corporate" cellular program for businesses in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Company recognized this and brought me in to manage many of their corporate heavyweight accounts including Capital Records, Virgin Records, Gannett Enterprises, Chemical Waste Management, Paramount Studios, Fox Studios, Hard Copy, CBS News, Price Waterhouse, Latham and Watkins, Caltech, UCLA among others.
Strangely, nearly 30 years later, wireless services have become a commodity like gasoline. The irony is now, the carriers pay their sales people next to nothing for new activations and upgrades, despite the fact that today's devices are more powerful and sophisticated than the top of the line desk top computers from just ten years ago. In the old days when the activation dollars where flowing, nobody minded spending an extra hour or two instructing clients how to use their new smartphone. Now you know why the kids in the carrier stores refuse to spend time "teaching" customers how to use their devices.
I took much c**p from all of the carriers for many years because I was reliant on getting paid by them each month. Last year, I decided that it was no longer economically viable to continue activating phones. I discovered that as a wireless consultant, I could now utilize my knowledge of each carrier to work them over for my clients. After working with their retention departments, I'm aware of discretionary credits and secret non commissionable plans the public will never hear about. I find it very satisfying to make them sweat for a change...
So here's the deal... Our Dr Wireless Robin Hood Program is the culmination of my efforts. With this program, we offer a FREE Wireless Evaluation to determine if we can save you at least $400 per year better than your current costs. If we could guarantee these savings, would you be willing to make a one time payment to me for $200 to make this happen? See what our clients are saying...
One of the good things about Apple appears to be one of the bad things too. In the old days, the carriers welded the stick and the device makers made what they asked for. Over a year ago, T-Mobile spent $8 Billion as the exclusive winner of the FCC's auction of 600mHZ spectrum.
What put T-Mobile in the game in the first place was their previous $435 Million purchase of 700mHZ. Obviously, the lower the mHZ, the better the signal under ground and indoors. LG and Samsung already have made devices that support this new T-Mobile "Band 71" technology. The problem with Apple is since no other carrier can offer this band, they don't seem very motivated in adding it to their devices just for the benefit if TM customers. To make matters worse, it's not something that can be pushed out as an updated software patch.
I am currently using a Samsung S8+ and an iPhone 6s+. I refuse to buy an iPhone X until it supports Band 71. Until then, I will just plug in my JBL 3.5mm Headset into either of those devices and can wait as long as needed...
Recently, I've been doing a little more travel than usual. There are some subtle ways of getting around a lot of normal inconveniences. There is also some wrong information out there which I will clarify...
Yes, you can bring your own water without having it confiscated. The trick is freeze it the night before. They will let you bring frozen water but not regular water.
You can bring your own food too! I typically pick up a Jersey Mikes SUB sandwich with the oil and vinegar on the side. I cut it in quarters and pre-wrap each. I oil them up when eating to keep them fresh. The alternative is paying a premium price in the airport or taking your chance on the plane. On a Delta flight to Tampa last week, the attendant apologized for running out of food before serving the whole plane. I was glad I brought my own food.
Pre-boarding trick. I personally register online and use my cellphone as my boarding pass. One of the benefits is unlike your boarding pass, the electronic boarding pass is read cellphone face down. That means if you are in zone 4 and want to board with an earlier zone, they won't notice. Try that with a paper boarding pass and it never works.
TSA Pre-Approved. TSA Pre✓ provides expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. Airports. Global Entry provides the TSA Pre✓ benefit plus expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the United States. TSA Pre✓ costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership. Travelers interested in Global Entry must apply through the Trusted Traveler Program website.
For frequent global travelers, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI are programs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. These programs offer travel benefits to pre-screened members. If you join Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI, use your membership number as a “known traveler number” in airline reservations to receive TSA Pre✓®.
Answer a call from your surfboard. Ask Siri to send a message. Stream your favorite songs on your run. And do it all while leaving your phone behind. Introducing Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular. Now you have the freedom to go with just your watch.
The only peace, quiet and solitude I ever get is in the water. No Facebook, e-mails or phone calls...until now.
For those who truly cannot miss an important call, the new Apple Watch Series 3 may be for you. I personally wear a RipCurl Search GPS watch in the water because it gives me GPS information, my wave count, top speed, distance and more. If you call me when I am in the water, you'll be greeted by my voice mail stating that "You have almost reached Joel, Please leave a message and I will get back to you ASAP". I have no personal desire to make or receive phone calls while surfing but if you do, hit me up and I can make it happen for you. Aloha!
With the race for Smartphone supremacy, there becomes a point where the manufacturer's stop being driven by consumers and driven only by the competition. In this case, Apple is battling Samsung for SmartPhone supremacy. The problem though is how big of a screen does one really need. In my opinion, the iPhone 4s, 5s and SE were some of the best devices Apple ever made. I particularly liked the pocket friendly size, feel and ability to operate it with one hand easily. The only bummer on these models was the tiny screen. We all know Apple built a better mouse trap and their iOS was always more stable and secure than Android. Apple should realize that they will never be able to competitively compete with Samsung. After all, how could they? Apple buys their Super AMOLED screens from Samsung. They previously bought their processors from Qualcomm who they are currently embroiled in a law suit with. Now they buy their processors from Intel. And you wondered why the cheapest iPhone X with only 64GB of memory starts at a grand?
I've been saying for years that Apple should come out with a moderately priced model instead of the $1000+ high end stuff. There has been plenty of rumors of Apple building some new iPhone X "budget" models with the less expensive LCD screen. I have been waiting for the wolf in sheeps clothing. That would be a newer iPhone SE model with the guts and camera of at least the iPhone 7 and the bezel less design of the iPhone X. Obviously, it would be much cheaper for Apple to use the LCD versus Super AMOLED screen and I am fine with that. It looks like my dreams may possibly come true based on a recent article from our friends art Cult of Mac.
About six months ago, I got bored of my iPhone 6S+ and sold it. Unfortunately, I was never impressed with the iphone 7 or 8 models. I pondered with the thought of buying an iPhone X but after insurance costs and tax, I could also easily buy two brand new surfboards. I ended up getting one new surfboard and buying a lightly used Samsung S8+. This blog post is about my journey, joys and frustrations with each device.
Starting with the obvious. The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is slimmer, slightly longer and has an AMOLED screen to die for. Neither one of these devices is very pocket friendly but I think wide is better than long in most of my pockets. It is not very friendly out of the box with it's default settings like Apple. I hated the Samsung keyboard but love Google's G-Board which is a free download. I also like the fact that I have a whole team of virtual assistants. If one is not responding properly, I call on the others. Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Bixby are all there for my beckoning. SIRI used to be very moody with me. If I didn't have great signal, she was totally useless.
While I loved the stability and security of Apple's iOS, I was getting angry with their imperious attitude and fact that they often made things far more difficult than needed. This was before they got busted for covertly throttling processor speeds with a software upgrade. For people like me that enjoy creating and using their own ringtones, Apple even hid the tones option in one of their recent software upgrades. Fortunately, a little know trick with Apple's GarageBand application makes it easy to make your own ringtones.
Technologically speaking, the S8+ is years ahead of the iPhone 6S+ or even the X for that matter in my opinion. I particularly like the Retina Scanner for ID unlocking. That's not the problem. With the exception of my RipCurl Search GPS watch application, most of the Applications are the same for me on both Apple and Android. The cameras are outstanding on both but I would say the S8+ is better.
Last week, I took the Samsung S8+ with me on an international trip and bought another iPhone 6S+ because I missed my GPS watch application and the simplicity of the device and iOS. Information technology services is my calling in life so if I find the S8+ to be extremely complex to set up and optimize, it's no walk in the park. Like a dummy, I intentionally left the iPhone home so I could get the full international experience on the Samsung device.
The first problem I encountered was after arriving in Mexico. My T-Mobile plan is 100% local and unlimited there but my phone did not now that. I kept getting an annoying data roaming costs may occur and to either press cancel or settings to turn data roaming off. The problem is I could not find where to turn of this annoying message which haunted me every 5 minutes.
I thought my iphone was a nuisance everytime I butt dialed the last person I called from my pocket. The Android would launch Apps I didn't even know I had. It would regularly turn off Bluetooth, wifi, and everything else. Once I hit under 10% battery life, the screen would go so dark, I couldn't see it making the phone useless. What really sealed the deal and convinced me to dump this thing and go back to the iPhone 6S+ happened on the last day. I left for the 45 minute airport drive to Zihuatanejo with a full battery. I closed every application and slipped the phone in my shorts pocked...without locking it. Once I arrived at the airport, I looked down at my pocket and noticed the flash light turned on by itself and 6 applications had opened resulting in a totally dead battery. I had taken my wireless charger and inserted it in my checked luggage. I assumed the Micro USB cable that plugged into the charger would also plug into the phone directly. Wrong! The phone has a micro C model, making it impossible for me to charge my phone on the plane. The bottom line is when you get used to taking LYFT and have to take a cab and pay double because your phone let you down, it's time to find another. Anyone looking for a good deal on a Samsung S8+? I've gone back to my iPhone 6S+ and will live with it's shortcomings until the new X series debuts.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.