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Best pre-paid cellular access in LS?
September 26, 2004 4:44 AM   Subscribe

Pre-paid cellular access? (More inside!)

This might be a repeat on AskMe, but Google says not. Conversely, Googling for terms like "prepaid cellular" and related opens up a minefield of confusing, dangerous and questionable links, search spammers and other floatsam.

Any recommendations? I'm in LA. In descending order of importance: Tolerable rates and coverage area are a must. I'd like to be able to do true IM and/or SMS stuff, and hopefully unlimited IM or extremely cheap. I'd also like to be able to do data connections.

And yeah, my credit sucks. Plus it seems easier to limit and meter usage when one is using prepaid.

Thanks!
posted by loquacious to Technology (5 answers total)
 
Have a look here for an earlier thread on the subject. We went with Virgin, which uses the Sprint network, but we weren't looking for IM or SMS so can't advise you on those.
posted by NsJen at 7:01 AM on September 26, 2004


I use a Virgin Mobile phone with prepaid access. They have a little booklet that breaks down the cost -- if you do around 120 minutes a month + maybe 20 text messages, it's cheaper than a $30-by-the-month program.

I rarely use more than 90 minutes a month and I don't really text, so I spend QUITE a bit less.

The network is Sprint PCS so you can use online reports about Spring's coverage and that'll tell you about Virgin's coverage, too.

My phone is an Audiovox model which is dead simple to use and has the standard boring features.

(BTW, the concept of "prepaid" and "unlimited IM" [or unlimited anything] don't go together at all. They will charge you for every bit and byte they can think of.)
posted by bcwinters at 7:05 AM on September 26, 2004


My girlfriend already uses Virgin, so I guess that's encouraging. I didn't know it was sprintPCS. I've heard that sprint has decent data services.

Thanks for the thread, NsJen. I wonder why google couldn't find that.
posted by loquacious at 12:26 PM on September 26, 2004


We use Virgin as well. Sprint PCS coverage is good (although non-existent in Southern Louisiana as I discovered this week), customer service are very helpful, service is expensive (as are all pre-paid plans). Essentially, it's OK for what we need - no frills cell phone.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:31 PM on September 26, 2004


I like CallPlus myself, and live where you live. But it doesn't have the unlimited SMS and certainly doesn't have data (it's all TDMA). SMS inbound is free though, and you can find TDMA phones for dirt cheap everywhere, since the technology is old hat. I use CallPlus for my "local" cellular number.

Unlike the Bay Area, the GSM networks do tend to work acceptably well (Cingular and T-Mobile). I don't like Sprint in this area; too many poor reception horror stories. Verizon is my main carrier for the phone I usually use, and they also offer a prepaid option. I am pretty satisfied with them.
posted by calwatch at 11:16 PM on September 28, 2004


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