Want iphone carrier suggestions
September 10, 2012 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I got an IPhone so that I can play games while at dialysis to pass the time with. I chose AT&T because GSM network friendly phone can be unlocked and used on ANY GSM network carriers. I got mine unlocked and currently using a Simple Mobile plan which gives unlimited voice/text/data for only $40. A Verizon unlocked Iphone can only be used with international GSM networks (see this link explaining that: GSM Iphone vs CDMA. So that was the reasoning on choosing ATT. My unexpected dilemma is GSM (ATT, TMobile, Simple) does not work at my dialysis center. And I get spotty signal at work depending what part of the building I am in. So I just don't get calls when at dialysis or work. I have to forward the calls to my work phone.

My question is if I switched to a Verizon Iphone. Can anyone suggest a plan that is around that $40 amount. I really don't use the phone that much for calls (between 100-200 mins a month). I don't really need text, because I use google voice for that. Having DATA is the important thing. I need the data to play games and access google voice.
Forwarding the calls to my work Blackberry has been a work around, but I don't know how much long I will have it. Thinking about finding another job.
Can you think of another solution? Would a cell tower booster be a good option so that I can just stay on my current plan?
posted by udon to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing the dialysis place does not have wifi? Can you get a pay-as-you-go phone that gets signal where you need it and forward your calls to that, since you barely use the minutes?
posted by desjardins at 8:52 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh - and AFAIK, you cannot get a data-only plan with Verizon unless you are deaf (since they don't need the voice option). I have the most bare-bones plan they'll allow me with an iPhone and it's still $88/month (2 gb data, 400 min, 0 text messages).
posted by desjardins at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2012

You also want to consider that the verizon phone might not work any better in those buildings.
posted by HuronBob at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2012

You could look into Virgin Mobile USA. They have a plan starting at $35 a month using the CDMA iPhone. I believe they are just reselling the Sprint network, so coverage will be equivalent to Sprint's in your area.

Cricket also offers the iPhone prepaid, but I think the plan costs a little more and isn't available in all regions.
posted by Nothlit at 9:21 AM on September 10, 2012

Yeah, I think you're looking at this from the wrong angle: ask around amongst the patients and staff at your dialysis center, see if anyone's phone gets good reception. Especially if it's attached to a hospital or medical office building, there could be an MRI on one of the floors screwing up reception for everybody.
posted by Oktober at 9:37 AM on September 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Agreeing with HuronBob. I'm in and out of doctor's offices frequently and I have a monthly IV infusion treatment at my rheumatologist's office. I have very little signal in any of those locations (Sprint) and am totally unable to use my phone during my infusion.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 9:37 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I believe they are just reselling the Sprint network, so coverage will be equivalent to Sprint's in your area.

Not exactly: a Sprint plan will allow roaming to Verizon's networks in places where its own CDMA coverage is sparse, while a Virgin plan is confined to Sprint's own towers. Also, Virgin doesn't allow non-Virgin phones to be switched onto its plans.

nthing those suggesting that the facility might just be a black hole for reception.
posted by holgate at 9:40 AM on September 10, 2012

Yeah, I've never had good reception inside a hospital. I have my doubts that it would improve with a different provider.
posted by stopgap at 10:06 AM on September 10, 2012

I know everyone is suggesting that you may have problems with any carrier, but as contrary anecdotal evidence, the hospital I work in has brutal AT&T reception (even though it works just fine once you are out the door) and perfectly fine Verizon reception. No idea why, but the different networks seem to have different penetrating strengths in this building.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:33 AM on September 10, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far.
My Verizon BB is on Verizon, although I only get 3 bars. It's still way better than the "no service" I get on my IPhone. I did ask several of the dialysis techs what they use, and they all have Verizon.

Two things in common with my dialysis center and work building is all the network cables that flow through the place. So I suppose it created a shield againts GSM signals. Some how CDMA signals are able to get through.

Forwarding calls has been an OKAY work-around, just not an option I prefer to keep doing, because sometimes I forget to forward before I go in, and by the time I am hooked up and strapped to the chair, it's too late. So I don't get some calls until 4 hours later, after treatment.

it's beginning to sound like what I have is the best plan, so I just need to forget about getting calls for 4 hrs, 3 days a week.
posted by udon at 10:42 AM on September 10, 2012

Can you choose a different dialysis center - one with wifi?

Alternatively, you might want to talk with your nephrologist about your dialysis modality choices. At-home hemodialysis has many advantages over in-center dialysis (being able to access your phone is just one of them) so this might be something to consider as well. It might sound like a radical option, but you do have a choice about how you want to manage your kidney disease.
posted by k8lin at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2012

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