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'[OT]: Cheap Cell Phone Service'
2001\11\06@234215 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi all,

Several times, I have seen people mention card-operated cell phone service
where you do not pay any monthly charges, you just pay when you buy the
phone and you pay for cards that allow a certain number of minutes of use.
I'd like to know what companies in the U.S. offer such service and how
widespread is it (i.e., does it use the same cell sites as the
pay-per-month type service and therefore cover the same area or is it only
in certain areas?)

Thanks,

Sean

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2001\11\07@014945 by Randy Glenn

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I think it's probably much the same as it is here in canada: You pay by the
minute at a rate 3x higher than monthly users, pay by the minute to leave
and retrieve voice mail, and, depending on the service provider, you may be
restricted to digital-only areas. Roaming is usually not provided (though
this varies by carrier - Telus Mobility up here offers Analog / Digital
coverage with roaming in Canada on the Rogers analog network, but no roaming
in the US. Not that we go there much with the sorry shape our dollar's in
right now...)

Airtime cards here generally last 30 to 90 days, depending on the dollar
value. If you refill your account before the balance expires, then your
entire account balance (what you had left + card value) is given an expiry
date consistent with the expiry of the card. Some providers give you a
discounted per-minute rate if you buy a larger card - to the tune of about 4
cents off the 33 cents/minute rate of the cheapest card, if you buy the
largest (again, this depends on the service).

Overall, if you're not going to be using the phone too much, I'd say it's a
good deal. Even if you wind up going through a $50 card every 3 months,
you're saving a bit of money - and if you use it even less, you save even
more.

If you find that the prepaid plan isn't working for you, I think you can get
the phone switched to a monthly plan, but ask first. If you think that might
be a somewhat likely path, make sure whatever provider you go through for
the prepaid service has a monbthly plan that sounds good. Otherwise, you'll
be buying a new handset, even if you switch to another provider that uses
the same technology (because of SP-locking).

The only US provider that I can find that offers a prepaid service is
Verizon, but then, I don't live there. You might want to check out the Sept
27, 2001 issue of the New York Times - there was a bit in there about it
IIRC, in David Pogue's State of the Art column.

Good luck,

-Randy Glenn

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{Original Message removed}

2001\11\07@033603 by Nick Taylor

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"Sean H. Breheny" wrote:
>
[snip]
> widespread is it (i.e., does it use the same cell sites as the
> pay-per-month type service and therefore cover the same area or is it only
> in certain areas?)

A google.com search on "prepaid phone card" yields all the info
you need.

Regards,
  -Nick T.

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2001\11\07@091552 by Lawrence Lile

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You are probably thinking like me - a device, say an alarm or a monitoring
device, that does not need to communicate very often at all.  If it is an
alarm, hopefully it will not go off and so not communicate at all.  If the
alarm is mounted on a portable device (say your car or your robot) and that
device is stolen, then you can home in on it, or home in on a GPS signal.


What are the alternatives to cell phone here?  Maybe you broadcast output
from a voice chip over channel 9 of the CB band:  "Attention.  This is an
automated distress call from a stolen Cragameezer [ or robot or whatever].
If you can recieve this message call the police.  "  But how to transmit GPS
codes?  this gets suddenly very complicated.

--Lawrence

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2001\11\07@105906 by DANNY ROWELL

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KMART sells this type of phone

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