I think it’s time to put the guide out to pasture, folks.
I’m thankful for all the people I’ve had the privilege and honor to help over the years to save money with their telecom bills and for all that they’ve returned to me in kind; but in reflection, there were moments where I missed the mark. For that, I deeply apologize to anyone I may have harmed in the process. I could be harsh. I went into the guide only wanting to highlight the good in the industry and lead others to that, but somewhere along the line, I went negative. In the process of defending why I didn’t include certain carriers, I blindly held up a mirror to myself in the process. For this as well, I am sorry. I’m not sure the changes to the telecom industry has helped with that over the past six years, either, but that’s neither here nor there. I got trapped in a vicious cycle of virtue signaling, and I have no stomach to do it again.
If there is any advice I can give moving forward, as you research on your own for ways to save some cash? It’s this:
-Talk with tech support a couple times before you become a customer, and get to know the company you’ll be dealing with. Know what to expect when you may need them the most.
-Always read the fine print. Read all the legal contracts before signing up, and if you find something you can’t agree to, move on.
-If the service is free or the price is too good to be true, you are the product being sold, not the service. Understand this and the impact on your life it may have.
-If finances are tight, avoid companies that have hidden service fees for support. You never know when something might go wrong.
-Try to stay away from proprietary solutions when you can. When buying hardware, aim for open industry standards, avoid proprietary vendor lock-in, and seek out some level of end-user friendly repairability – especially with devices that have batteries. Care for your tools. Use it up, wear it out.
-Older companies can sometimes be more financially stable, but even established businesses fail. Pay attention.
-If your phone number is important, don’t take unnecessary risks with where you port it. Dealing with companies outside of the network owners can and will increase risk.
-With mobile service, sticking with a carrier on the network you’re already on will let you keep the phone you already have and provide you with a level of service in the field that you’re already familiar with. Even still, make sure you get your handset carrier unlocked, as most non-AT&T handsets will at least work on AT&T, even if there’s not much portability between Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile at this point.
-Never pre-pay more for a service than you’re willing and able to potentially lose.
-Never convince yourself that you need something you only want, and be willing to use less. You probably don’t need it as much as you think you do.
-All of this technology is far more optional than society and marketing has conditioned you to believe, and it can get in the way of forming healthy friendships and feed unhealthy habits. Don’t be afraid to unplug.
-Let me encourage you to be longsuffering and deal upright with kindness, even in the face of mistreatment. Don’t follow the previous model of behavior I slipped into. Be quick to forgive and act with love. Even the worst company in the world still has humans at the other end of the lines of communication. Don’t devalue their life, and remember that we all make mistakes. Be kind.
-And as always, don’t be afraid to pay for what you need.
For the majority of this audience reading wanting research resources…
-Researching ISPs and VoIP providers are usually easiest looked into at DSLReports.
-Finding the skinny on mobile carriers and MVNOs is best researched at HowardForums.
-Researching businesses beyond general search engine results can frequently be done using the earlier mentioned communities, the BBB and Ripoff Report (though both are for profit), Yelp (read the hidden reviews as well), and Reddit. It’s the internet, so take everything with a grain of salt and remember that people rarely provide feedback unless it’s negative, but pay attention to patterns that may result in disruption of services.
-Getting to know a company as an employer can usually be done through GlassDoor, but here too, it’s the internet. Grain of salt, low non-negative feedback, etc.
-You can almost certainly find your Internet and MMS APN settings for you MVNO and phone of choice at Gishan.net.
-To keep up with MVNO news and information as well as additional MVNO service information, use Prepaid Phone News and BestMVNO. Phone Dog also can be of use.
-For RV/nomad telecom research, there’s the Mobile Internet Resource Center, though it’s partially paywalled.
-For general mobile industry news and information, Fierce Wireless is a good resource along with Mobile World Live.
-For broadband technology news, give Broadband Technology Report a look.
-For TV junkies, give Cord Cutting Report a look, though honestly? Do yourself a favor and feed your imagination instead of letting others tell you how to think. Go read a book.
-For mobile phone research and purchasing, give GSMArena, Phone Scoop, and Phone Arena a look. In addition to buying and selling, Swappa also has an IMEI/ESN checker if you’re buying used.
-For anyone doing third party ROMs and OS hacks on their phones, look no further than XDA Developers (they do more than Android).
May these resources be of use, and help you remain conscientious and informed customers going forward. And don’t be afraid to do without if the day comes, too. After all, our forefathers never needed this stuff. If it stops being a tool or it causes you to lose sleep over it, let it go.
The entirety of the guide is CC-BY-SA, and has been for years. If anyone wants to archive and spiff it up for whatever reason, let me know. Otherwise, I think I’ll let the site as it is currently slip into the mists of time and archive.org… and honestly, I’m not sure it’s worth much more than that at this point as a lot of the content can go stale quickly. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the domain from this point forward, but I’ve still got six weeks to figure that out.
It’s been a pleasure folks. I’m sticking around, but I’m on to the next adventure in this regard, even though I’m still not sure where I’m heading yet. All I can do is trust HaShem.