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Study Shows Drivers Do More Than Text

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I think most people can agree that texting while driving is a really bad idea. In fact, it’s been outlawed in almost all of the United States including the District of Columbia. However, smartphone users have not only continued to text, but have expanded to doing even more dangerous and ridiculous things with their smartphones while behind the wheel.

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Who Uses Prepaid Phones?

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Prepaid phones are pretty awesome. You have freedom, choice, cheaper plans—what’s not to love? But, I find that a majority of my friends and family members don’t really use prepaid. I’m obviously in the minority, but exactly what kind of minority are we talking about? Have you ever wondered what the average prepaid user looks like? I did, and here’s what i found:

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1 in 3 Toddlers Use Cell Phones

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It seems like children are getting their hands on smartphones at younger and younger ages. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a toddler with a smartphone in hand while in the line at the grocery store, or an elementary schooler playing a game on a phone in the parking lot. A new study was released earlier this week that indicates that smartphone usage is starting even earlier than anyone could have predicted—sometimes even before a child’s first birthday.

Researchers from the Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia conducted a survey of 370 parents from October to November 2014. In the survey, researchers asked parents how often and and at what age their children used smartphones, what activities they used smartphones and tablets for and why the parents gave children their smartphones. Their findings are, to me, a little shocking. Here are some of the findings:

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Missouri to Add 911 Phone Tax

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The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a measure that will change the taxes that mobile phone users pay. The proposed bill will add a statewide tax of 3% on all phone sales. The funds from this tax will go towards upgrading outdated 911 services in the state.

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Why You Shouldn’t Use Bitcoins for Top Ups

I came across an article and a website the other day that advertised using bitcoins to purchase prepaid minutes at a discount. So, of course, I clicked on it. I mean, I’m all about saving money–that’s half of the reason I am even interested in prepaid phones in the first place.

Turns out there are multiple companies like Bitrefill and Piiko which sell minutes for prepaid phones at a pretty decent per-minute discount. The more you buy, the better your discount is. Top ups can be purchased for quite a few popular companies around the world and in the US.  Sounds good, right? Well, there’s a catch: you have to use bitcoins for all of your Bitrefill purchases, and bitcoins are far from stable.

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How Addicted to Smartphones Are We Really?

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Smartphones are pretty much everywhere. They are prolific in a way that few things have been before them, and smartphones have, in some ways, taken over our lives. But, while we all know that smartphones are incredibly useful and that most people have one, an Internet analytics firm, comScore has released a report that puts into nice numbers exactly how addicted we really are.

So, to celebrate the proliferation of smartphones, here are some of the scary figures comScore released in regards to its study:

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One More Reason to Use Prepaid

T-Mobile was the first wireless carrier to make Equipment Installment Plans (EIP) popular, and since then all four of the main carriers have introduced the option. EIPs, as you probably know, are meant to allow customers to feel like they’re paying less for their phones by separating out the cost of the phone from the actual monthly plan. They’re pretty worthless, in my opinion, and unfortunately it looks like they’re here to stay.

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US LTE Ranks Low on Speed, High on Use

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LTE is awesome. I love nothing more than to see that little tiny green 4G next to my signal bars to let me know that I can browse, stream and do just about anything on my phone. But, what if I told you that despite the fact that you’re in one of the most LTE-connected nations in the world, your “super fast LTE” connection is, in global terms, not super fast at all?

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5 Apps We All Use

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When we’re children, parents and guardians go out of their way to remind everyone that we’re all unique. Everyone is different, and we all do different things. You’re one-of-a-kind. No one else is like you.

As it turns out, when it comes to mobile apps, that’s nowhere near true. In fact, a new study shows that 61% of the time, most people are using one of the same five apps. I guess you can be original the other 39% of the time.

So, what apps are we all using? I bet you can name them, but here they are in order of popularity:

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Net Neutrality Overview

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So, you probably read about it already but in case you haven’t heard, the Net Neutrality proposal passed yesterday with a vote of 3-2. There’s a lot of misinformation, bias and rejoicing going on over this issue. The FCC was rather tight-lipped about the specific details of the proposal prior to voting, but now that it has been passed, you can find it online fairly easily.

These regulations will effect both fixed and mobile broadband and will apply, for the first time, to wireless carriers as well as more traditional Internet companies. The rules are easily the most firm and strict rules yet enforced, and depending on where you stand, that might be a good or bad thing.

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Are Carriers Following Unlocking Policies?

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Last year, all four of the main carriers promised the FCC that they would voluntarily change their unlocking policies to become more user friendly. The FCC outlined six guidelines that all carriers were supposed to follow including:

  1. Implement prepaid unlocking policies
  2. Implement postpaid unlocking policies
  3. Offer unlocked devices to active, overseas service members
  4. Post clear and concise unlocking policies
  5. Respond to unlock requests within 2 business days
  6. Notify customers when phones are eligible to be unlocked

Doesn’t sound too hard right? All four of the main carriers voluntarily agreed to follow these guidelines, which went into effect last week. Well, as it turns out, they’re not exactly holding up their end of the bargain.

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Smartphone Blood Testing Coming Soon

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Image: Samiksha Nayak for Columbia Engineering

Your smartphone can do a lot of things. I mean, for a phone, it’s pretty smart. From playing games to unlocking your car, changing the channel or finally settling once and for all arguments over lyrics, the smartphone has become an incredible device capable of making just about anything easier–including blood tests.

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Prynt Case Valentine’s Promotion

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A couple weeks ago I talked about a new case that hit Kickstarter and within 30 minutes reached its goal. This case, called Prynt, basically turns your phone into a Polaroid camera and will print off any image you have stored on the device instantly. It hasn’t launched yet, obviously, but as of this writing, the kickstarter has received more than 1000% of its original intended goal… so the odds are pretty good.

All of that being said, Prynt is currently running a promotion with the intent to give away a free Prynt case to one lucky winner. And the best part? All you have to do is snap a photo. Piece of cake! Here’s how to enter:

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SIM Unlock Laws Take Effect Wednesday

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You might recall last summer President Obama signed into law that all carriers had to allow customers to unlock phones and take them to whatever carrier they wish. Well, that law is officially going into effect on Wednesday, February 11, 2015. This law goes for both MVNOs and primary carriers, from what I understand.

Here are what the current unlocking policies for prepaid devices with all four of the main carriers look like as of yesterday:

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Prepaid Subscriptions Decline in 2014

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ShareTracker has released their study of 2014 wireless communications trends, specifically comparing customer growth in the postpaid and prepaid industry. And, as it turns out, prepaid customers have declined in the last two years, while postpaid subscriptions have increased.

Here’s a chart they released along with the report:

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Cablevision Launches WiFi Only Service in Feb

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Cable and home internet provider Cablevision has announced that it will be launching a new WiFi only phone service called Freewheel next month. While the service will be focused and advertised mostly in the company’s home state of New York, it will be available nationwide via the website. However, unless you are a Cablevision customer, the service isn’t really going to be that great of a deal.

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Wyoming Considers Prepaid 911 Tax

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The state of Wyoming has brought forth a bill that would create a 1.5% tax on all prepaid phones and prepaid phone cards in order to better fund 911 emergency services and operations. Currently, the 911 tax is only charged to postpaid wireless and landline consumers in the state, although the emergency services are available to all.

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UK MVNO Announces Plans to Launch in US

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You might recall a few months ago, The People’s Operator (TPO), a UK based phone company, was raising money to launch their services here in the United States. Well, as it turns out, the campaign was a success and yesterday TeleoGraphy announced that TPO will be launching MVNO services here ‘in the spring.’

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Microsoft Debuts More Low Cost Phones

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Despite Windows Phones fans clamoring for a new flagship from Microsoft, the tech giant has instead delivered two more mostly nondescript windows phone devices this week: the Lumia 532 and the Lumia 435. Neither device is really all that impressive, but they are definitely cheap–both phones ring in at under $100.

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UK Prime Minister to Ban Encrypted Chat Apps

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In the last few months, there have been a lot of articles, debate and general discussion involving the idea of smartphone privacy, what it means and how far the government can go.  Here at Prepaid Reviews, we even wrote a brief article explaining the debate for those of you who don’t really watch the news.

Well, as it turns out, the United States isn’t the only country questioning the idea of smartphone privacy versus public security. Earlier this week British Prime Minister David Cameron said that unless popular messaging apps with encryption abilities (such as Snapchat, iMessage, FaceTime, and WhatsApp) provide government backdoors for surveillance purposes, he wants to see them banned in the UK.

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Microsoft Introduces $29 phone

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I don’t think anyone can deny that phone prices are pretty ridiculous right now. I mean, the iPhone 6 Plus, if purchased without subsidy and a binding two-year contract can easily run you almost $1000! Prices like that are not only out of the range of many hardworking people in first world countries, but in other places as well.

Well, Microsoft has joined Google in developing lower priced phones designed for emerging smartphone markets, and surprisingly, the phone looks pretty nice. I want preface this with the notice that this phone isn’t available in the United States right now. But, it might be soon. 

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Do Children with Smartphones Get Less Sleep?

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A new study conducted at the School of Public Health at the University of California Berkeley shows that having a smartphone in the bedroom can lessen the amount of sleep a child gets even more than a TV. These small screens can not only reduce sleep time but also decrease the value of the sleep that children do get.

“Despite the importance of sleep to child health, development and performance in school, many children are not sleeping enough,” lead researcher Jennifer Falbe told WebMD. According to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, pre-teens need at least ten hours of sleep a day, while teenagers need at least 9 hours.

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TCL to Resurrect Palm Brand

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Chinese company TCL, owner of the Alcatel OneTouch brand, has confirmed its purchase of Palm, Inc. from HP and has issued a promise to Palm fans that their beloved Palm products will soon be brought into the 21st century. And, even more important, it will be done with advice from the community.

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Mariposa Rumored to Launch MVNO

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Business News Americas has reported that Mariposa Holdings, Inc. has announced plans to launch a MVNO targeting the United State Hispanic market, although neither an expected date nor name of the proposed company was announced.

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New FCC Complaint Website

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I hesitated to even write an article about this, but with how frequently and easily new prepaid providers can go under, I thought it might be prudent. Today, the FCC has debuted a new online consumer help center to make finding resources and, should you need to, filing complaints much easier.

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Alcatel Announces Affordable Smartwatch

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I fully believe that smartwatches are the future of the mobile market and while normally smartwatches aren’t something that I would cover on this blog (as they aren’t exactly prepaid), I can’t help but be excited about this one. Unlike its more expensive cousins, the Alcatel OneTouch Watch seems like the sort of thing that just about anyone–especially prepaid customers–would and could use.

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Apple Sued Over iPhone Storage

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When your average person runs out of storage space on your device–be it an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or laptop–the common sense thing to do is either delete something to make space, or to find alternative ways to store things (ie. cloud storage). But, now you have a new option: sue Apple.

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Apple Owned Holiday Smartphone Market

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Studies show that if Santa brought you a cell phone for Christmas this year, it was most likely an Apple product. Of course, with the recent release of the iPhone 6 and the first ever iPhone phablet, the 6 Plus, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that holiday shoppers flocked to Tim Cook’s doorstep to complete their shopping lists. Apple probably has one of the most dedicated followings of any tech company in the market today, and it certainly shows.

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2014 Prepaid News Highlights

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As 2014 comes to a close, I like to go back through the old stories and review the top prepaid news that we reported on this year. As it turns out, there were a lot of interesting things that happened including several companies closing, new companies starting and new issues, like smartphone privacy and kill switches became important.

So, if you’re feeling a little nostalgic, or somehow missed out on updates this year, here are some of the top stories in the prepaid market for 2014:

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Vodafone to Launch MVNO

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Vodaphone, the United Kingdom based telecommunications company, announced on Monday that they intend to launch a MVNO venture using T-Mobile’s network. Vodafone America, the subsidiary of the companies that services the United States, Canada and Latin America, announced that the new MVNO will cater to Vodafone’s muntinational corprate (MNC) customer base–specifically those either based in the U.S. or who have a ‘strong presence’ in the country. A solid date for launch has not been announced, but the company stated it is aiming for a fall 2015 launch.

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Burner Offers PayGo Disposable Numbers

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In this increasingly digital world, everyone has multiple identities spread across dozens of platforms. Most people have more than one email account but, strangely enough, having more than one phone number is uncommon. At least, for now.

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LTE Coverage Progression Animation

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In 2010, when LTE was first launched, only 7.5% of the total US population had access to the now-standard 4G speeds. Now, in 2014, roughly 99.3% of the US can enjoy faster speeds. But have you ever wondered how it happened? Well, now you can watch the virus-like spread of the LTE network across the US with this cool animation.

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Best Cyber Week Deals for Prepaid Phones

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When most people think online holiday shopping, getting up at midnight on Cyber Monday probably comes to mind. And, while you can get some excellent deals with that tactic, many of the savings will extend all through cyber week. Here are a few of the best deals this cyber week for prepaid phones from various carriers.

  • Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE – $294.99 (reg. $599.99) from Cricket Wireless
  • Motorola Moto G – $39.99 (reg. $79.99) 12/1 only, from Boost Mobile

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Cyber Monday Sales on Prepaid Phones

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Well, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are both over, but the deals certainly aren’t! If you’re looking for some fabulous deals on prepaid smartphones, but didn’t make it out during the holiday rush, then check out these awesome Cyber Monday deals–many of which will go all through the week!

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Top Ten Black Friday Deals for Smartphones

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Electronics are easily one  of the most popular items for Black Friday shoppers with deep discounts available on just about every kind of electronic you could want. One of the hottest items this year will likely be the new iPhone 6, but for those of you looking for a slightly more affordable alternative, there are some pretty excellent deals today.

Here are my personal top ten Black Friday Deals on smartphones:

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Black Friday Prepaid Phone Sales Roundup

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It’s finally here! That time of the of the year when half of the country cooks the exact same meal on the exact same day, and then eats way too much of it. Then parades and football and giving thanks…

And then…

BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!

Just in case you missed all of the articles we’ve sprinkled over the last couple of days, here is a list for all of the Black Friday deals we’ve rounded up–many of which start this evening. So grab your shopping shoes and go get some savings! 

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Black Friday Deals for Prepaid Phones at Cricket

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As Black Friday draws near, more and more companies are beginning to advertise the incredible deals that customers can expect this holiday shopping season. Cricket Wireless released both Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping promotions for this year, and while there are only a couple, they are definitely worth checking out.

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Get Free Stuff Today from Verizon

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You might recall a couple of weeks ago, Verizon announced that they were going to make today “Connection Day” by giving out some free goodies to anyone and everyone, regardless of network. So, today (and today only) here’s the list of free stuff you can download and other offers:

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Black Friday Deals for Smartphone Accessories

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Buying your loved one a new prepaid smartphone is all well and good, but what if you’re looking to get some sweet accessories like a case or a bluetooth headset to go along with it? Well, turns out that Black Friday has plenty of those sales as well. Here are some of the better deals I found from Amazon, Best Buy and Radioshack:

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RadioShack Black Friday Sales on Prepaid Phones

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Radioshack has released previews of their Black Friday sales in ad form earlier this week, and some of the sales are not half bad. I admit I was a little surprised to see the sales with all of the recent bankruptcy troubles that Radioshack was having earlier this year.

While there are only a few deals available for prepaid phones, Radioshack has announced that they will be doing price matching for holiday shopping along with offering credit cards for making payments on items and free shipping if your item isn’t in store. Here are the advertised offers:

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Black Friday Prepaid Phone Deals on Amazon.com

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When you think Black Friday deals, you probably think brick and mortar stores. However, Amazon.com has decided to break the mold and is starting their online deals this week a little early. In fact, right now, Amazon.com is offering a whopping 50% off all no-contract phones as well as 35% off unlocked phones. Some of the deals are already available, while others will be available tomorrow, Thanksgiving or actually on Black Friday. In fact, they’re doing sales on various things this entire week, so if you’re looking for some good deals, then you might not even have to brave the crowd.

Here are some of the no contract phones that caught my attention:

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Black Friday Deals at Walmart, Kmart and Target

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If you’re on the lookout for Black Friday deals on prepaid phones and don’t want to have to fight the crowd and traffic to get to an electronics store, then you should probably check out the deals going on at Kmart, Walmart and Target. All three have some pretty nice prepaid phone deals, although there are not as many choices as shopping Black Friday at Best Buy.

Here are some deals you can expect to find:

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Carriers Commit to 911 Call Location Accuracy

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Imagine that you are looking for a lost koala bear in an area the size of an Olympic stadium. Now imagine the cuddly little guy is injured or unconscious and needs immediate medical care. That’s about the kind of challenge that faces your average EMT when you make an indoor call to 911 using your cell phone.

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Prepaid MVNOs Outrank Carriers in Consumer Reports

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Image by Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has published their annual review of cell phone service and, surprisingly, three MVNOs ranked at the top of the charts. Ting, Consumer Cellular and Republic Wireless all received top marks while the more traditional postpaid carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon were rated a little worse. Here are some highlights from the report:

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Best Buy Prepaid Phone Deals for Black Friday

 

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Best Buy is one of my go-to stores for most electronics. And, while they aren’t usually the first place you might think of to check out some prepaid phones, they actually have some excellent deals going on this year for several different carriers. Here are the deals they’ve announced:

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Reasons Not to Rent a Cell Phone

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One of the downsides to prepaid phone plans is the lack of phone subsidies. While there are plenty of good sub $100 phones and even several phones in the $150- $200 range that have some cool features, if you really want all the bells and whistles then you should expect to pay upwards of $600 for a phone which is not only very breakable but likely to be outdated in a year or two.

Let’s be honest, how many people have that much money just sitting around?

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Net Neutrality Debate Explained

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If you’ve been paying attention to the news (or Facebook) at all, then you’ve probably seen plenty of articles talking about net neutrality in the last couple of days. I’ve seen it praised by some, referred to as the “Obamacare of the Internet” by others and read notices from big telecom companies threatening legal action if certain measures are passed. It all sounds pretty scary and extremely polarized.

So, what exactly is net neutrality? Well, I admit that there are way more facets to the issue than I could cover in a simple blog post, but the issue is important enough that everyone should at least have an idea of what’s going on. So for those of you who haven’t been following the debate, or just want an abbreviated explanation, you’ve come to the right place!

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Wyoming Proposes Prepaid Tax

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One of the nice things about using prepaid services is that many states don’t have a separate tax like postpaid accounts do. In fact, around 24 states have absolutely no tax on prepaid services, while the remaining 26 states have minimal taxes. However, Wyoming legislature is currently contemplating adding a 1.5% tax for prepaid cell phones and phone cards. The bill will be voted in next year and if passed will start in 2016.

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Microsoft to Announce First Lumia Device

You might have heard quite a bit of hullabaloo in October when Microsoft announced that they intend to drop the “Nokia” title from their Windows phones. The new phones are now being referred to as Lumia devices. The first ever Lumia device without the Nokia title is expected to be announced tomorrow, November 11. A teaser announcement was broadcasted by Microsoft late last week. The invite featured the tagline, “Microsoft is delivering the power of everyday mobile technology to everyone.”

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First Dual-network Roaming Announced

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One of the most important parts of the prepaid world is understanding that there are two completely different networks–GSM and CDMA–and they are not really compatible. If you use T-Mobile or AT&T, then you’re on a GSM network. If you use Sprint or Verizon, then you’re CDMA and no matter which side you are on, the other half of the spectrum isn’t really going to be available to you.

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