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SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

Old Sep 22nd 2012, 3:10 pm
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Default SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

Hi guys we are looking to buy our first pay as you go SIM card in California (voice calls and maybe data on contract later once we are more settled).


In the UK we went with Vodaphone because the light increase in cost came with rural coverage you could rely on, along with credit that didn't expire after 60 days.


Which network provider offers the best coverage and value?
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Old Sep 22nd 2012, 3:36 pm
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

Trust me, if you want data and don't *have* to have a contract phone, you don't want a contract, they're very expensive here compared to what you're used to in the UK.

The big question is, do you also need phones or do you have unlocked phones?

There are only two large providers here that use GSM, T-Mobile and AT&T. If you have a 3G smart phone already, you're pretty much stuck with AT&T unless you can live with Edge connectivity on T-Mobile (although they're supposed to enable 3G frequency that are compatible with "European" phones later this year). There are a couple of virtual providers that use the networks of the big providers also.

The one package that looks pretty good to me and includes data is Straighttalk. Their GSM version runs on the AT&T network. Cost is $45/month for unlimited calls/texts/data.

I personally run my unlocked UK iPhone on a T-Mobile prepay tariff ($30/month for 100 minutes/unlimited text/unlimited data). T-Mobile has a bunch of other prepaid plans and the more expensive ones have add-ons that allow unlimited talk and text to 50 countries abroad when you pick one of their $50+ offerings and get the $10 bolt-on. Coverage even out here in the sticks is OK.

For my own use I've discounted the "real" PAYG use as that tends to be fairly expensive for even my minimal usage patterns. Keep in mind that incoming calls count against your minutes as well so even "just" being called can get expensive.
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Old Sep 22nd 2012, 3:49 pm
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

T-Mobile is probably your best bet if you want cheap with a bit of data as a PAYG.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 1:36 am
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

Virgin do 300 minutes a month with unlimited data for $35 a month, with no contract.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 2:48 pm
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

thanks very much for all the information!

We think AT&T is probably the best network for us, we have a UK GSM quad band and UMTS 3G iphone 4.

Can you guys tell us what you think of this AT&T MVNO network? We like the low monthly fee and rollover minutes. As a light user this plan looks good for us with no annual contract and a free SIM card

http://www.puretalkusa.com/mobile-flex-plan.php

Last edited by Kisin; Sep 23rd 2012 at 2:53 pm.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

I don't see any data for their cheaper plans and their expensive plan that includes 600MB data is within $2 of the Straighttalk plan with unlimited data that runs on the same network.

If I were you I'd want something that includes data at least for the iPhone.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 4:20 pm
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

I think Straighttalk is your best bet. Virgin Mobile is CDMA so is not applicable to an unlocked GSM phone.

http://straighttalksim.com/ $45/mon unlimited talk,text and 'unlimited/2gb' Internet.

You also have Net10 which I am not all that familiar with but has SIM cards and are run by the same company as StraightTalk.
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Old Sep 29th 2012, 2:19 am
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Default Re: SIM Card shopping, Bay Area CA

If you have a smartphone check out Google Voice for calls at 2c a minute to the UK over a data connection, ideal in the Bay Area where there are WiFi hotspots everywhere.
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