Most major US wireless carriers charge $50 or more for talk, text, and data plans. UppWireless charges as little as $15 per month.

You can even bring your own phone and pay just $10 for a SIM card.

UppWireless

The company’s secret is that it’s actually a data-only service. Phone calls and text messages are routed over the internet using a mobile data network, or preferably WiFi whenever it’s available.

In other words, UppWireless is a lot like Republic Wireless, another company that relies on WiFi when possible in order to offer cheap data service when it’s not.

There are a few things that make UppWireless different though.

  • You can bring your own phone if you don’t want to buy one from the company.
  • UppWireless offers 4G mobile data plans starting at $15, while Republic Wireless has 3G plans starting at $25 and 4G plans starting at $40.
  • Republic Wireless operates on Sprint’s mobile network, while UppWireless uses Red Pocket Mobile, an AT&T and T-Mobile MVNO.

The coverage map looks pretty good if you live in a major metropolitan area or on the East or West Coast. It looks less good for folks in less populated areas.

But the prices are hard to beat. For $15 per month you get unlimited talk and text in the US and Canada and 1GB of data at 4G speeds.

$35 per month gets you 3GB of data at 4G speeds, after which you’ll be throttled down to slower internet connection speeds. And for $55 per month you can get an “unlimited” plan with 5GB of high-speed data.

All you need to do is take the risk that you can get by with internet-only service and VoIP calling and messaging.

via CNET

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22 replies on “UppWireless offers cellular plans for $15 and up”

  1. This sounds Great. Where do I sign up?
    No. Really where do I sign up? I received my SIM card in the mail on
    Wednesday. Their website has been
    refusing to activate it for 3 days now.
    Every time I try, I get a message that says “*Sorry, there was a problem
    applying your refill, your card has not been charged. Please try again, or contact customer
    service.” I have emailed, used their web
    form, and called with no response.

    I think I”ll give them till Monday to get their act together, if not I’m
    thinking strongly of requesting a refund for the IMcard ($13 with
    shipping) Then again, I am not confident
    anybody will ever respond so maybe I should just dispute the charge.

    1. Theoretically you could, but you wouldn’t have any Voice or Texting since they rely on an app that is currently iOS/Android only. They are apparently working on a WinPhone8 app, but nothing about Windows Tablet app. If the tablet is Intel x86 though, you could use an Android VM like Bluestacks or Genymotion to run the Android app.

      Mixed messages about whether this network uses AT&T or TMobile as it’s backbone. Since some articles say it uses TMobile, but apparently UppWireless is leasing Bandwidth from an MVNO called RedPocket. However where RedPocket gets it’s bandwidth from is unclear since they have no coverage map on their site, and only refer to the “nation’s largest GSM network”. According to sites like Wikipedia though it uses AT&T, with some limited Sprint CDMA plans. So I’d say make sure your mobile device covers AT&T signal bands, with TMobile being secondary.

      1. The question is more if they block non-phone IMEIs. Carriers in the US often have more expensive plans for PCs. The WWAN modems on Windows 8 tablets will register as a PC device. These carriers then block the service when a phone or mobile OS tablet (ie. iOS or Android) SIM is used in a PC device (ie. internal modem, USB modem or hotspot).

      2. Also, if you go to Red Pocket’s site, they have 3 types of services:
        GSMA: A for AT&T. Plus the coverage map link goes to AT&T’s site.
        4G Mobile Internet: This is data only and uses T-Mobile based on a press release that was given to several news sites. The throttled “unlimited” data also matches T-Mobile’s service.
        CDMAS: S for Sprint. This is old news like the GSMA. The coverage map also mentions WiMax which Sprint uses.

        UppWireless seems to be reselling the 4G Mobile Internet plans.

        1. Oh ya, the coverage map image for the 4G Mobile Internet is named GSMT. I’m going to assume the T means T-Mobile.

    2. I want to know if Red Pocket’s data only service works on PCs, USB modems and hotspots. I don’t need SMS and VOIP from Upp.

      1. Then you should just use the company they get their data from, RedPocket. Prices are 5$ less for the same amount of data.

  2. So, test UppTalk first then make a decision as that will be your main SMS & VOIP.

    SMS & Voice are ONLY unlimited if you use UppTalk app, otherwise it will cost against your data.

    For a low cost alternative the $15 plan looks great for those in T-Mobile country — I might just try it. However, at $30+ it’s better to get the T-Mobile $30 prepaid with 5GB data/unlimited txt/100min Voice and use a VOIP of your choosing.

    At least they are offering a good alternative, and better than RW — I can actually use my unlocked device!

  3. In France, we have 20GB for Internet (4G/3G), unlimited text and calls (to a lot of countries), with offered roaming in some European countries for only €19.99 per month ($27).

    1. Yes but callers also subsidize your service by paying increased calling rates when calling mobile phones.

      1. Unlimited mobile calls are included in France but also in the USA, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, China.
        Why ? Because a French company decided to make cheaper AND better cellular plans than others. “A revolution” as Xavier Niel (the founder of this company) said.

  4. My phone does not have good battery life using data. So I assume these VOIP phone services are a bad choice unless your phone has good enough battery life to leave your data on all of the time (even when your screen is off.)

  5. I’m not so sure I’d be willing to try the all-data approach to voice calling, especially with Sprint’s network. I use Ting, another Sprint MVNO, and their rates are very good for most everything except data. I’m a minimal data user though, so it works great for me. However, from using Sprint’s network, I can say that their 3g data is ridiculously slow, and 4g wimax is nonexistent in my area. Having a phone that is not LTE, I can’t speak to the LTE capability, but I know that trying to use VOIP over Sprint’s 3g connection would likely be a total nightmare.

      1. Actually I think some mixed info is floating around. From what I can find UppWireless gets their Service from an MVNO called RedPocket, who supposedly get their GSM service from AT&T. I don’t know where the TMobile info came from. It’s not on either companies’ sites.

    1. You’re right. Sprint’s 3G network is abysmal for VoIP calling. WiMax is slow compared to LTE or HSPA+. Sprint’s LTE has the highest latency of all US LTE networks, but it should be fine for VoIP. Verizon’s LTE is the best for speed and capacity (amazing things on both counts coming here). You get what you pay for.

      It’s regrettable WiMax didn’t take off. It could have been even more disruptive than WiFi, and could have curbed cell carrier excesses. Naturally, most carriers didn’t embrace WiMax, so it failed to achieve economies of scale. WiMax is a cautionary tale on the hurdles of developing a new technology that challenges the status quo. So all we have left are the “31 flavors” of LTE.

      However, apps (WhatsApp, etc) are posing a new challenge to the cell carriers’ revenue stream. Apps are moving from app-to-app to app-to-landline and app-to-cell phone (see UppTalk). Already, apps have taken away a sizeable chunk of carriers’ SMS revenue. So there’ll be more VoIP, not less, in the future.

    2. UppWireless isn’t using Sprint, and probably not TMobile. From what I can tell UppWireless gets their Data from an MVNO called RedPocket who gets their GSM service from AT&T.

  6. The MVNOs and T-Mobile are finally shaking up the US
    cell phone business and bringing consumer benefits.

    Republic Wireless is more expensive than UppWireless
    because the former is a “true” MVNO while the latter
    actually only furnishes the UppTalk app. If you look
    at the fine print on the UppWireless web site, the phones
    are sold by another company (not UppWireless/UppTalk)
    and the 3G/4G data plan is provided by yet a 3rd
    company (not the phone seller or UppWireless/UppTalk).

    Also, Republic pioneered switching between the
    Sprint cell network and WiFi, and with the modified
    Moto X that Republic sells, the switching now appears
    to be seamless. With Republic’s old phone, the Moto
    Defy XT (which Republic no longer sells), calls would
    sometimes get dropped in the handover between WiFi
    and cellular. Republic appears to be renting its handover
    technology to other MVNOs.

    Sprint, taking a cue from its MVNOs, has introduced
    free WiFi calling.

    International seems to be the new battleground. T-Mobile
    has fleshed out its Simple Choice plan to include free
    international texting, and “unlimited” (not specifically
    mentioned by T-Mo as being capped) 128 kbps roadming
    data when in many countries (calls back to the US are
    free when calling from outside the US, calls to outside the
    US aren’t, but are discounted). T-Mo also still offers free
    WiFi calling to the US from anywhere. Or course, T-Mo
    can do all this as it’s owned by Deutsche Telekom, the
    German phone company.

    Verizon is also offering free international texting.
    AT&T? Rumored to be considering acquiring Vodafone,
    Verizon’s former partner in Verizon Wireless.

    1. Not a whole lot like Republic. Republic uses the voice side of the Sprint network for voice calls when not on Wi-Fi. Have you actually used VOIP over cellular data? Even on 4g it’s fairly awful in my experience.

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