Top 10 MVNO in 2017 – Best Alternatives To Major Cell Providers
Major cellphone providers may offer convenience, but that often comes with a large price tag. The average monthly phone bill is $120 – which adds up to a whopping annual figure of $1440. If you’re willing to improvise a little, you can cut the cost of your phone bill in half. MVNO plans can give you the same perks as a major cell provider for far less money.
What is an MVNO?
An MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) is a cell phone service provider that does not own its infrastructure. Instead, they purchase wholesale service packages from major retailers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. They then sell these service packages to the public for greatly reduced rates. While some MVNOs are actually owned by such retailers, but many operate independently.
Pros and cons of MVNOs
Low prices are the main selling point of MVNOs. MVNO plans can be as low as $20 per month. However, since their infrastructure is owned by their competition, they have some limits placed upon them.
MVNOs sometimes have lower than average monthly data caps and slower data transmission speeds. For example, an AT&T user can get LTE speeds of up to 20 mb/s in covered areas. Someone using Cricket Wireless (which is owned by AT&T) will only get LTE speeds of 8mb/s at best. Not all MVNOs have such limitations.
Another factor to consider when looking into an MVNO is the phone you choose. Some MVNOs require you to buy a phone through them, or to have a specific brand and model of phone. You may have to use an unlocked phone, meaning it is not tied to a specific network. Unlocked phones may sell for several hundred dollars. You likely must find an unlocked phone online, as you cannot go to a provider’s location. If you have any issues with your plan, you will have more of a delay since you are limited to phone calls and emails for service.
While an MVNO is less convenient than signing with a major cell provider, the financial cost is nonetheless worth the extra effort. The right MVNO plan can offer one with all the benefits of a major provider with a month bill far beneath the frightening average of $100 and more!
Top 10 MVNOs
These 10 MVNO plans aren’t necessarily in order. MVNO plans can be tailored to specific type of person. An independent provider’s plan depends on personal preference, just as it does with a major provider.
10. Simple Mobile
If you’re the type of person who keeps a cell phone around out of necessity and for the occasional emergency google, a plan like Simple Mobile may be ideal for you. Simple Mobile operates on the AT&T and T-Mobile’s infrastructure. It offers three plans for $40, $50, and $60. These plans all come with unlimited talk and text. There is a small catch, however – your speed is throttled after you use a certain amount of data. The three plans respectively offer 1GB, 3GB, and 5GB of 4G speed data before data transmission is throttled to only 2G speeds. Irregardless, Simple Mobile is quite the bargain unless you’re a heavy data user. View Simple Mobile’s plans here.
9. T-Mobile Prepaid
T-Mobile offers a prepaid service to those who want the coverage of a major provider without the cost. Monthly rates range from $30 for 100 minutes of talk and unlimited text with 5GB of 4G data (which is throttled after the cap), to $70 for unlimited 4G everything. You can also chose from their pay as you go plans. View T-Mobile Prepaid plans here.
8. Republic Wireless
If you simply want to avoid using data whatsoever, networks like Republic Wireless rely on wi-fi for calls, texting, and data. Instead of always being connected to a network, they route traffic through wifi and then the network to save money. When you are not connected to wifi, they default to T-Mobile and Sprint network. Plans start at $15 for unlimited talk and text without data to $90 for 10GB of data. It is best to have a fast internet provider when using a service that uses wi-fi. View Republic Wireless plans here.
7. Page Plus Cellular
A plan from Page Plus Cellular is ideal for the truly minimal data user. It operates on the Verizon network. Plans start at $12 per month for 250 minutes of talk, 250 texts, and 10mb of data. The
most expensive plan is $70 for unlimited talk and text and 10GB of 4G data that is throttled to 2G after the data cap is passed. View Page Plus Cellular plans here.
6. Net10 Wireless
Although more expensive than the average MVNO, Net10 Wireless can fulfill the needs of most cell phone users on a budget. You can choose from monthly plans that start at $60 per month for unlimited international everything – no throttling. There are also pay as you go plans that start at $20 for 200 minutes. The main caveat of Net10 is that you cannot tether your device(use it as a wireless access point) on their network. View Net10 Wireless plans here.
5. GoSmart Mobile
An MVNO like GoSmart Mobile is ideal if you use more data than talk or text. For just $45 per month, GoSmart mobile gives you unlimited everything with the first 12.5GB of data at 3G speeds, throttled to 2G after the a data cap.. If your budget is tight, you can pay just $30 per month for unlimited talk and text with 4GB of unthrottled data. View GoSmart Mobile Plans here.
Tello is by far the cheapest cell provider out there. If you hardly use a cell phone at all, it is the least wasteful option. For just $9 per month, you receive 100 minutes of talk, 200 texts, and 200mb of data. The costliest plan is $52 with 5gb of data monthly. You can customize your plan if Tello’s main options do not work for you. View Tello plans here.
Few other cell providers can rival FreedomPop’s business model – FREE service. FreedomPop’s Basic plan gives you 500 texts, 200 minutes, and 500mb of data routed through wi-fi absolutely free. Additionally, texts between other phones on the FreedomPop network are unlimited. You can receive data bonuses from referring your friends and completing certain offers. The many perks of FreedomPop make it so popular that availability is limited. You must periodically check to see if a slot has opened. View FreedomPop Plans here.
2. Google Project Fi
Google has always been an innovative company, so naturally their cell phone service is built on a unique business model. You pay a flat rate of $20 per month for unlimited talk and text. Each gigabyte of 4G data is $10. If you use less than your gigabyte, you are refunded. For example, if you only use 500mb of data, you receive a $5 refund. The refund is credited to your account, so if you exceed your data limit another month, you can easily pay it. You must have a Nexus phone to use Project Fi. View Google Project Fi plans here.
1. Straight Talk
Out of all MVNO providers, Straight Talk is perhaps the most versatile and is consistently the highest rated. Plans start at on $30 per month, to $500 for one year of unlimited everything. You can also pay $45 per month for unlimited everything instead of prepaying $500 for 365 days. Additionally, you can chose from a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM card depending on the coverage in your area. View Straight Talk Plans here.