Failing Fones and Phony Forces

My current flip fone and wi-fi provider is failing to provide adequate service. I am seeking info about the strategies other people use to stay connected in the face of what is called an 'upgrade' and is in reality a ripping off of money for degraded forms of ever poorer service and prying commercial surveillance. Do you use two different providers for internet and fone, or the same? What is the cheapest option? Can there be shared service plans that allow two people to split the bill if both are on a fixed income? Any information will be useful for making a decision about how and even if to stay connected. CAn a person keep a flip fone through the next round of changes that are planned? I do not want an awkward, bulky, glass-screen with 'virtual' buttons--I want real actualbuttons not pixels to tap. Those things are way too sensitive and liable to error. Has anyone used fiber optics and a real oldtime-style phone handset?

ClareBroommaker's picture

I use a service called Ting with a phone bought from them. Cheap flip phone, cheap service, but do not text and no internet. My husband uses Trac Phone which is even cheaper, but even more limited. Same as me: flip phone, no internet. He will rarely accept a text, but does not send as it is too tedious on the tiny keyboard with 3-4 characters per button. We don't need a phone often. I can go for weeks without even turning it on. Was looking at some service even cheaper than Trac Phone in the last month or so, but I've forgotten what it even was.

Believe me, you are not the only one who only only uses a simple phone. I've seen a number of people here say they got turned away for corona virus vaccination because they could not display a confirmation of their appointment on a smart phone.

There are occasionally situations where people have been, um, maybe disgusted with me for not being more phone available or internet connected via phone. Too bad, so sad.

I used a bulky but electronic phone over the internet with Skype in 2006-10. Was okay, but often not good quality sound. Distortions due to internet limitations, I think. But no extra cost; just paid for internet as I was doing anyway. Now I use Skype on my laptop about twice a month, but for face to face calls rather than audio only. Don't know how it would function these days with a phone set. There are other options for that, but, sorry, I don't know them.

Thanks, I'll look into the one but the other gave me a bad taste when I first used them and I decided not to give them any more money.

For now you can still get "flip phones" with some providers, including mainstream companies such as Verizon. But their selection is limited, and I am not sure of their quality. Most will require you to purchase even a minimal data plan, as that is to which all communication protocols that these phone depend on are shifting to (as in the 4G and 5G systems, which are data systems at their core, and no longer truly phone as we think of it). Behind this is the retiring of the older communication protocols (for instance, 3G and CDMA), which is what the flip phone as you know it is still using. And these older systems are being retired because the vendors need to reuse the frequencies currently occupied by these legacy systems.

So I wouldn't necessarily count on the ability to have a flip phone as you think of it going too far into the future. For both the change of protocols mentioned, and in the need for even a basic phone to have a much more powerful processor onboard, along with different transmitters and receivers, just to handle the new modes. For a phone such as a flip phone, this will eventually become more than companies willing to make these phones will want to keep going.

As for sharing a phone, you won't be able to split the cost of one phone between between two people unless you handle that money exchange yourself. Sure, you can get only one phone, but it will need to be in someone's name, and that someone will be responsible for bill payment. There are plenty of people, particularly those considered elderly such as my in-laws, who have only one cellphone between them.

Another consideration is whether you get phone service through a mainstream provider (such as Verizon, AT+T, or T-Mobile, to name three in the U.S.) or through another system., which you also asked (in your question such as pairing with an internet provider). Please be aware of this - that at least in the U.S., most actual mobile phone traffic is through the towers of the three main big three, plus in a few regional areas, some smaller carriers (such as U.S. Cellular in the upper Midwest). These other companies, whether it be Charter-Spectrum as an example of a TV/internet provider that also sells cell phone service, or a service such as Consumer Wireless or Tracfone, while cheaper, are actually providing you service because they contract to purchase bulk service from one of the big three or so carriers. Therefore, when all is said and done, if you go with one of these other carriers, you will always be secondary traffic on their networks. That may or may not be a factor in your decision, depending on how reliant you are on using your cellphone. But push come to shove, there is always the possibility that you can be denied service (or given lower priority service) if you are not using a mainline carrier. Most of the time you may not notice, but down the road it could make a difference as systems continue to contract or merge, and the ability to keep the system going might become an issue.

Kevin Anderson

To a triple trilemma there are no answers, only further questions! But yes, this is helpful info. I hope that the other 'flippers' like me will occupy a big enough segment of the market to sustain the option of phone-alone phones for a little while longer. Those fragile costly glass boxes give me an instant-on raging headache and even the flips do it unless I hold the hardware at arm's length away from my head. I cannot have a regular oldfashioned set because there is a MONOPOLY in my neighborhood on who can provide service, that was handed over to a crooked and corrupt firm which regularly goes out of its way to gouge its captive clientele with needless 'service calls' that WE have to pay for. So they can break the phone anywhere along the line they please and charge double the monthly fee to send out a serviceman every month or more often if they need to boost their quarterlies.

SLClaire's picture

I have cell service with AT&T. Until a few weeks ago I had a 3G flip phone with a $100/year service plan. I'd gotten a text from them last autumn that they would be ending 3G service. It took till a few weeks ago to ready myself for the ordeal of going to the larger of the two nearby stores to see what they had, assuming that I would be forced onto a smartphone.

The service person (SP) started by showing me an i-version smartphone. Too much, I said. He took me to the android versions. I wasn't enthusiastic.; they weren't that much cheaper. It was about this time that I asked him about how much the plan would be a month for the phone, saying that my current plan is $100/year and I hoped to keep it, and that all I need is call and text service because I have a computer for email. That was the key; he then took me to the one 4G flip phone they had for sale. It cost under $100 and I kept my $100/year plan. The phone does have a browser and hooks up to the web so I could check email or look at websites, but I'm sure that would eat up $$ quickly so I don't use it for that. It's a little bigger and heavier than the 3G phone, but it works similarly. Although it wouldn't accept the old phone's card, the SP set up blue-tooth on both phones for me so I could send each contact record and picture that I wanted to save from the old phone to the new phone, which I did once I returned home. All in all I had a much better experience than I expected and got to keep using a flip phone.

If this option is available here, it might be the best solution. Then I could afford to get always-on internet access and switch my blog from weebly to something that actually allows me to edit my pages. Hopefully a free option, but if not an inexpensive one.