MacInTouch Amazon link...

Internet (and phone) services

Channels
Other, Products, Internal/development, Questions
After hearing an NPR piece yesterday including a discussion of 5G with a Verizon executive, it dawned on me that Apple's bailing from the WiFi router market may be due to a perception that all current WiFi hardware, mesh and otherwise, will be legacy hardware (at best) when 5G becomes widespread in a few years. The first 5G products to be rolled out, supposedly, are not phones but hotspots, which will provide very high bandwidth in-home or in-business connections. Ethernet- or fiber/cable-connected WiFi may be a fading memory five or six years from now.
Good point, but fiber is still going to be the backbone, because the high frequencies that offer the broadest bandwidth don't travel reliably over long distances. The big question is how far the fiber will go and how aware users will be of its presence.
Usually cellular "Hotspots" use WiFi to make a miniature LAN, which is then connected to a single IP number on the device. Or are you suggesting that 5G architecture will somehow obviate the need for a LAN altogether, with every single device directly attached to the carrier and getting DHCP'd an IP address directly by the carrier, like a cell phone?

That seems impractical for a large range of reasons; let's start with setting up company file servers and printers. WiFi, whether in a "hotspot" or a Mesh system or some other system, will be here a little longer; 5G may cut some wired carriers out of the loop, but it changes nothing for LAN administration in the home and office.

With respect to fiber.... what do you think connects all those 5G towers they'll be rolling out? Now is a great time to invest in fiber and cell tower companies, but I digress...
 


Xfinity is now selling mobile plans (for their cable TV/internet users only) that piggyback on the Verizon network. If you BYO phone, you can even use old iPhones (e.g. SE), and the price can't be beat. They have two plans: unlimited and 'by the Gig'. I chose the latter plan at $12/GB/mo. for two iPhones, and they put both phones on the one data plan. Basically it's free unlimited calling and txts (even free int'l txts to many countries!), and if I use less than 100 MB/month of mobile data, there's no charge except for $4 in taxes. Since we mostly use our phones at home with our Xfinity internet service (150 MB/s download) I don't expect to pay hardly anything for mobile phone service... beats paying the $80/mo. I was paying through AT&T.
 


Woah! I just visited an article at TechRadar.com on cloud hosting <https://www.techradar.com/news/best-cloud-hosting-providers>
Best cloud hosting services in 2019
I clicked on the first (i.e. "highest listed)" HostGator link to their site. When I arrived, I found this at the bottom of the HostGator page:
Thanks for visiting! Since you landed on this page of our website, we wanted to let you know you visited one of our paid endorsers while researching your purchase.
Well, kudos, of course to HostGator, and a huge "booooo" to TechRadar for not disclosing that this "article" (and others?) are in fact just advertising!

Not cool.
 


Does anyone have experience with T-Mobile's new broadband wifi ISP service? Speed, security, service? It claims to use their 4G infrastructure to deliver unlimited data at about 50Mbps for a flat $50/month.

I recently got an invitation to join here in Salt Lake City. I filled in an acceptance form at their website, and it said I qualified and someone would contact me soon. After no contact in a week, I called the 800 number provided. The message was that the circuit was overloaded and I should call back later.

A week later, I called 611, the internal customer service number. The roboanswer was that both voice and data circuits were overloaded and my expected wait time exceeded 30 minutes. It suggested pushing 1 for a call back, and I did that. Immediately a new message said that those circuits were overloaded and I would not be getting a call back. Doesn't sound encouraging. Anyone with experience?
 


Xfinity is now selling mobile plans (for their cable TV/internet users only) that piggyback on the Verizon network. If you BYO phone, you can even use old iPhones ... the latter plan at $12/GB/mo. for two iPhones, and they put both phones on the one data plan. ... ...
Do they support the Watch?
 



Does anyone here have experience or know anything about the iPhone 6 on a Verizon Wireless network? A friend of mine, who has some disabilities, including vision issues, has an iPhone 6, which she has set up with software (not Siri), that will read incoming text messages, and she can dictate text messages.

Long story short, she was at a Verizon store yesterday,because her daughter needed to upgrade (probably an iPhone 5), because she could not use with apps she needs for college. While they were there a sales rep told her that come December, she would have connectivity problems, so she ended up purchasing a Google phone yesterday at the suggestion of the sales person who claimed it would be a good phone for her.

When she got home and worked with the phone, she realized that she cannot use it because of her visual problems, so she is returning it to Verizon today. She still has her iPhone 6, so she will ask Verizon to reactivate the phone.

Question, I know that Verizon uses CDMA, on which, after doing some internet searches to try to help my friend out, they're not going to activate phones that are not HD Voice-compatible starting in Jan. 2020, and the CDMA network will be completely phased out starting in Jan. 2020.
Is there someone here who can tell me if Verizon is giving my friend accurate information? The worst that happens is that she gets her iPhone 6 reactivated and has a couple of months to look for another phone.
 


Question, I know that Verizon uses CDMA, on which, after doing some internet searches to try to help my friend out, they're not going to activate phones that are not HD Voice-compatible starting in Jan. 2020, and the CDMA network will be completely phased out starting in Jan. 2020.
Is there someone here who can tell me if Verizon is giving my friend accurate information? The worst that happens is that she gets her iPhone 6 reactivated and has a couple of months to look for another phone.
Near the bottom of the Verizon page you linked, it lists "Impacted Devices", including "4G LTE smartphones that do not support HD Voice (ex. Apple iPhone 5s or prior)."
It would appear your friend will be still be good with her iPhone 6.
 


... While they were there a sales rep told her that come December, she would have connectivity problems, so she ended up purchasing a Google phone yesterday at the suggestion of the sales person who claimed it would be a good phone for her....
In the note, the CDMA network is available until December 31, 2020. If you have a "fixed in stone" device, it will still work. Verizon just isn't going to let you change anything (if the phone needed to be replaced in a fix. that would be be a change). No adjustments to features, etc.

iPhone 6 is outside the zone of desupport, and those looking to delay as long as possible still have time to put together a plan. Verizon is cranking up the urgency messages, because otherwise more folks will wait until the very last minute.

If the recommendation was a Pixel 3a, due to the price point being closer to her budget, then an iPhone 8 may work better over the long term than an iPhone 6 (unless she needs the headphone jack).

There are big changes in iOS 13 voice control that may obsolete the 3rd-party app/extensions she's working with. Accessibility got some major upgrades.

However, Android 10's ability in text-to-speech (at least via Google Assistant) is also much better than previously. I don't think Google's accessibility is better than Apple's latest move, but it also is moving forward.
 


Near the bottom of the Verizon page you linked, it lists "Impacted Devices", including "4G LTE smartphones that do not support HD Voice (ex. Apple iPhone 5s or prior)."
It would appear your friend will be still be good with her iPhone 6.
Thanks for the notation about impacted devices. I feel a little stupid, because I did read that and forgot to say that it seems like my friend's iPhone 6 will not be impacted. I thought that one of you fine people might know a little more about this then I do.

Does the linked Verizon page look like good information; is there more to this that I do not know and can pass on to my friend? I don't quite believe that she will have connectivity problems come December, but I may not know the whole picture.
 


In the note, the CDMA network is available until December 31, 2020. If you have a "fixed in stone" device, it will still work. Verizon just isn't going to let you change anything (if the phone needed to be replaced in a fix. that would be be a change). No adjustments to features, etc. iPhone 6 is outside the zone of desupport, and those looking to delay as long as possible still have time to put together a plan. Verizon is cranking up the urgency messages, because otherwise more folks will wait until the very last minute.

If the recommendation was a Pixel 3a, due to the price point being closer to her budget, then an iPhone 8 may work better over the long term than an iPhone 6 (unless she needs the headphone jack). There are big changes in iOS 13 voice control that may obsolete the 3rd-party app/extensions she's working with. Accessibility got some major upgrades. However, Android 10's ability in text-to-speech (at least via Google Assistant) is also much better than previously. I don't think Google's accessibility is better than Apple's latest move, but it also is moving forward.
Thanks, Lyman. My friend has successfully returned the Google phone, perhaps a Pixel 3, not sure, and Verizon reactivated her iPhone 6. I suspect that as long as her iPhone 6 continues to work for her that she will stay with it, because it is set up the way she wants it. I, too, was thinking that iPhone 8 might work for her, but she is not asking me for recommendations on a new iPhone, so I will mind my own business.

I do appreciate what you shared about the changes in iOS 13 voice control, which perhaps may obsolete the 3rd-party app she is working with. Someone in her family is technically inclined and helped her set up the iPhone 6, and I suspect they will help her when she gets to the point of looking for a new iPhone.

I am sure that Google has good text-to-speech, but she is used to the Apple system and her software. I have no clue if she knows about Apple's accessibility software, but I will keep what you shared in mind if it comes up in future conversations.
 


Does the linked Verizon page look like good information; is there more to this that I do not know and can pass on to my friend? I don't quite believe that she will have connectivity problems come December, but I may not know the whole picture.
Beyond it being an official Verizon posting, I can't speak to the reliability. I tried to find more info about affected phones after the New Year deadline (we have an iPhone 5s), but couldn't find any more on the site. Lost patience on hold; it seems the phone company would rather not speak to their customers over the phone.
 


Does the linked Verizon page look like good information; is there more to this that I do not know and can pass on to my friend? I don't quite believe that she will have connectivity problems come December, but I may not know the whole picture.
On this FAQ page, question 7 says that iPhone 6 and newer supports HD Voice, so your friend should have no problem continuing to use her iPhone 6 after Verizon's transition.
 


On this FAQ page, question 7 says that iPhone 6 and newer supports HD Voice, so your friend should have no problem continuing to use her iPhone 6 after Verizon's transition.
At least in theory, HD Voice should be a good thing, because it doubles the range of audio frequencies transmitted, to 7000 Hertz, and should give significantly better voice quality. However, that requires a decent cellular connection to the base station and HD Voice compatibility throughout the network to another phone which uses HD Voice.

That has been a long time coming, and good outgoing voice quality still requires paying attention to the local audio environment on both ends (noise cancellation has limits).
 


Thank you for reading and for your comments; this has been very helpful to me.

I did some checking on the pre-iOS 13 accessibility features. I do not think that those were helpful to her, which is why her techie relative got her the app she uses.

I can see the changes in iOS 13 that might help her, but she is comfortable with her iPhone 6, her needs are simple, and it does what she wants, especially the ease of using voice-to-text and vice versa.
 


I use an iPhone 6 Plus on Verizon. It supports LTE and HD voice, and has done so for many years. CDMA (EV-DO, 1x, etc.) is only used as a fall-back technology when LTE service isn't available.

When CDMA is turned off, you won't have those fall-back protocols, but that shouldn't be a problem, because Verizon won't turn off CDMA on a tower that hasn't yet been upgraded to LTE. It should be safe to assume that when they turn it off network-wide, they will have upgraded every tower.

(BTW, if you are using an iPhone 6 and haven't replaced the battery yet, you may want to do so, since no 4-year-old battery is going to have its full capacity. If you have access to a local Apple Store, it's not a very expensive procedure)
 


At least in theory, HD Voice should be a good thing, because it doubles the range of audio frequencies transmitted, to 7000 Hertz, and should give significantly better voice quality. However, that requires a decent cellular connection to the base station and HD Voice compatibility throughout the network to another phone which uses HD Voice.
That has been a long time coming, and good outgoing voice quality still requires paying attention to the local audio environment on both ends (noise cancellation has limits).
If HD voice is not available (e.g. when the other end of the call is not HD), it will fall back to standard-def VoLTE (voice-over-LTE). This should work fine, even when CDMA is disabled, because it is still LTE.

Verizon could more accurately say that “VoLTE is required”, but they've never used that term in their marketing, so doing so would confuse customers. They've always advertised VoLTE capability as “HD Voice”, and all of Verizon's supported VoLTE phones are HD compatible, so that's what they're referring to in their announcements.
 


It's been my experience that Verizon is conservative with its dates for phasing out services. For example, my first Verizon cell phone received text messages for a couple of years after Verizon sent me a letter that it would no longer receive text messages.

That said, tech cycles are getting shorter, so if you are using a particularly old phone on a Verizon network, it may be time to start thinking seriously about getting something newer. If cost is an issue, I notice that Verizon still offers iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models as very inexpensive "online only offers" in some areas.

I'm not an expert in cellular technology at all, so I'll defer to folks like David Charlap, but my understanding of the upcoming changes in the Verizon network is that they will be relatively minor for current Verizon users of the iPhone 5 generation and newer, as those phones support at least some level of LTE.

If I understand correctly, users of the iPhone 4/4s and earlier models will lose cellular service entirely when CDMA goes away. FWIW, I have an iPhone 4s. I disabled cellular service on it years ago, and it works very nicely as an improvized iPod Touch. It spends most of its time as a simple audio tuner attached to a compatible iHome radio.
 


I'm not an expert in cellular technology at all, so I'll defer to folks like David Charlap, but my understanding of the upcoming changes in the Verizon network is that they will be relatively minor for current Verizon users of the iPhone 5 generation and newer, as those phones support at least some level of LTE.
That is what I would expect, the big deal being that if the phone doesn't support VoLTE, it won't be able to place or receive any voice calls without the CDMA network. It should still work, however, as a data-only device on an LTE-only network. So you'll still be able to make calls using IP services like FaceTime, Skype and other similar services for as long as working apps remain available (and compatible with the corresponding network servers) for the platform.
 


Before worrying about a phone‘s ability to use LTE, I'd worry about Verizon providing LTE. My whole neighborhood is LTE-free. Finally got a 2nd-tier Verizon tech to admit we don't have any towers near enough to us. We're in a 40 year old suburban area, so there's no excuse. I'm supposed to get an extender, but they are on back order,
 


I use an iPhone 6 Plus on Verizon. It supports LTE and HD voice, and has done so for many years. CDMA (EV-DO, 1x, etc.) is only used as a fall-back technology when LTE service isn't available. When CDMA is turned off, you won't have those fall-back protocols, but that shouldn't be a problem, because Verizon won't turn off CDMA on a tower that hasn't yet been upgraded to LTE. It should be safe to assume that when they turn it off network-wide, they will have upgraded every tower. (BTW, if you are using an iPhone 6 and haven't replaced the battery yet, you may want to do so, since no 4-year-old battery is going to have its full capacity. If you have access to a local Apple Store, it's not a very expensive procedure)
Thanks for the suggestion on replacing an iPhone 6 battery, I will make that suggestion to my friend. As long as they don't screw up her phone, I think she will go along with it.

My friend and I live within 5 to 8 miles of each other, but she is slightly more rural than I am. LTE service in my county can be somewhat spotty at times. There are areas where I receive no LTE service, and it reverts to 3G. So, perhaps that is a tower that has not been upgraded yet. Or perhaps it is one of those dreaded dead zones between towers?
 


If HD voice is not available (e.g. when the other end of the call is not HD), it will fall back to standard-def VoLTE (voice-over-LTE). This should work fine, even when CDMA is disabled, because it is still LTE. Verizon could more accurately say that “VoLTE is required”, but they've never used that term in their marketing, so doing so would confuse customers. They've always advertised VoLTE capability as “HD Voice”, and all of Verizon's supported VoLTE phones are HD compatible, so that's what they're referring to in their announcements.
Oh, so there is a difference between VoLTE and HD Voice?
 


Oh, so there is a difference between VoLTE and HD Voice?
In the older 2G and 3G technologies, there are two different radio protocols used - one for voice and one for data.

In 4G/LTE, there is no longer a voice protocol - it's all data. That is, all traffic is packets of binary data - it is most definitely not all Internet traffic! In the early days of LTE, your phone would use LTE for Internet traffic and would use 3G hardware for voice calls. (Of course, Internet calling (e.g. Skype or FaceTime) would use LTE, since that's data traffic.)

VoLTE is a standard way to make voice calls over an LTE network. Like Internet calls, your voice is digitized and sent over the network as data packets, but these packets are not handled like Internet traffic - they are usually given higher priority; they are not usually sent over Internet links (remaining instead within the service provider's mobile network or forwarded directly to another service provider's mobile network); and their bandwidth is billed as voice traffic (consuming a voice plan's minutes instead of a data plan's gigabytes).

When you place a VoLTE call to another mobile phone that is also using VoLTE, the data packets are forwarded (through the mobile network) to the other phone. It's a straight data connection end-to-end. If you call a device that doesn't support VoLTE (e.g. an older mobile phone or a land line), then the VoLTE packets go to/from a media gateway server that relays traffic between the mobile data network and the legacy voice network (including all the necessary data conversion).

The VoLTE spec defines how the audio is digitized, in order for equipment to be fully interoperable across manufacturers and service providers. 3GPP specifies two different codecs for VoLTE. AMR-NB (narrowband) has sound quality and data rates roughly comparable to legacy voice calls. AMR-WB (wideband), marketed as HD Voice, has much better sound quality but uses about twice as much data.

3GPP requires networks use AMR-WB (HD Voice) whenever possible, but AMR-NB is still supported for backward compatibility - especially when the other end of the call is connected via the legacy voice network, which only supports narrowband audio.

In the future, we can expect to see newer codecs added to the VoLTE suite, as well. One to be on the lookout for is currently called "Full HD Voice", which promises support for frequencies up to 20 kHz (full range of human hearing) when both handsets and the network all have support.
 


A couple of minor additions to David Charlap's excellent explanation of the VoLTE and HD Voice:

Our hearing is very sensitive to delays in voice signals, which is why VoLTE calls to other VoLTE users are not handled as Internet traffic, which can be delayed. When digitized voice signals are sent as normal Internet traffic, heavy traffic can cause delays that get annoying, like a bad Skype call.

Voice signals may be converted between formats when going through the network, and every conversion can degrade the call. This can yield really bad results at peak traffic times on transatlantic cables. Conversion also can degrade calls between different carriers, or between a cellphone and a landline.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here is the latest Verizon trickery, which is just like my experience with Verizon a while ago. The company was charging more than $100 for a land line alone while advertising an all-in-one package for $79.99, but when I called to get it, the cheapest price I could get with a long effort was about $140/month (which I declined) – pure false advertising that should be illegal... if it isn't, in fact, already illegal.
Ars Technica said:
Verizon’s great FiOS offer to me: Pay $50 extra for slower Internet

In summary:
  • Verizon boasted that its new mix-and-match prices are available today for both new and existing customers, and that you can change your plan online
  • Actually changing my plan to get a better price online was impossible
  • A customer rep on Verizon's online chat service said I could make the change by calling Verizon's account management division
  • On the phone, a Verizon account manager told me they can't change my plan from their end and that I can only make the change online—which, as my second bullet point notes, is not currently possible
 


Here is the latest Verizon trickery, which is just like my experience with Verizon a while ago. The company was charging more than $100 for a land line alone while advertising an all-in-one package for $79.99, but when I called to get it, the cheapest price I could get with a long effort was about $140/month (which I declined) – pure false advertising that should be illegal... if it isn't, in fact, already illegal.
Don't get me started about Verizon. After having a landline (copper) for over 30 years, I finally had to cancel the plan when, after nearly a month without service, they were unable to give me an actual date when service would be restored. The technician who initially showed up suggested I switch to FiOS, which is not available in my building (or the one next door or the one next door to that one) and would bring me no added benefit. The service outage was due to a construction company damaging a group line to a distribution box up the block. So the problem affects me and about 20 other diehards. Their Web site is worthless.
 


A few days before Christmas, I ordered an upgrade phone from Verizon, to replace my daughter’s iPhone SE with an XR. The site promised two-day delivery to a store near her. After placing the order, it said I would get status emails. After a couple of days with no emails, I logged on to check the order. The status was “Refund approved.” This was news to me, as I certainly never asked for a refund.

I called Verizon customer service. The call was answered by robot that really wanted to help me, even though it could not. It took me a while to figure out the right magical incantation to talk to a person. (I don’t recall if I tried pressing 0 or * repeatedly, which sometimes works elsewhere.)

When I finally got an agent, she was very courteous and helpful. She said she saw that the order had been canceled but could not tell why it happened. Something “in the system.” She helped me redo the order and offered me $20 off their “we-will-make-more-money-from-you-and-you-get-to-pay-for-the-privilege” fee, which they euphemistically call the upgrade fee. That was nice, but it added 10 minutes to the call while she got approval from her supervisor. She also suggested I have the phone shipped directly to my daughter, who could then take it to the store to migrate her data. I agreed. After an hour of total time, including the initial waiting time, the order was set.

The phone arrived on time (based on the new order), and my daughter did the migration on her own, so no need to go to the store.

Verizon’s IT is clearly lacking. I wonder how many contractors they have scattered all over the world.

Incidentally, Verizon offered me $18 to trade in the SE. We declined, and she has repurposed the phone for her two young daughters.
 


People who order Verizon FiOS say that they are promised a rate but later discover that it includes a number of limited time discounts that expire, but they thought the rate was for the duration of the contract. Also, they find taxes and fees added that were not made clear when they ordered. I couldn't ever get a straight price when I ordered, so I cancelled everything but the internet, which works very well. If they won't renew for a reasonable rate, I'll just switch to Spectrum, which has a great introductory offer. Because I order no phone service and stream everything, switching is simplicity itself for me.
 



The airlines advertise a price. When you get the full details, there is about 20% of the price I have to pay in fees that were not a “part” of the advertised price. I expect coin pay toilets soon, along with charges for a five-ounce cup of water and stale pretzels.

Back on topic, I got tired of AT&T charging around $130 per month for a land line and internet access at my home in another state. I asked how we could get a more reasonable price. The answers were infuriating. So I cancelled phone service and kept DSL that costs $65 per month for their bottom tier while I looked for a solution.

I'm planning on acquiring a 4G cell service modem from “5G” and installing the chip from one of my Verizon MiFi modems. While expensive, in less that a year the cost of the modem will be recovered. I have an unlimited data Verizon plan and will give AT&T walking papers. I am there only a few days per month.

I believe when 5G cell service becomes widespread, land phones and cable companies will become relics of the past.
 


People who order Verizon FiOS say that they are promised a rate but later discover that it includes a number of limited time discounts that expire, . . .
I recently had to find a new Comcast package. Two years earlier the best rate I could find had to include their home security package, which got boxed up in the laundry room after the installer left. This year they found me a cheaper package without the security, and a higher internet speed. The shocker was that they tried to quote only the complete package price inclusive of all fees. Sort of like Twilight Zone when they do things right. Next thing I know I will discover a gold mine on an equatorial Pacific island.
 



I believe when 5G cell service becomes widespread, land phones and cable companies will become relics of the past.
Full 5G service, which includes gigabit-class data rates transmitted wirelessly at 28 Gigahertz over short distances (circa 100 meters), may well take a decade, if it happens at all. A lot of infrastructure has to be built to get backhaul from those base stations back to the network, and you can bet it's going to take a while. Near-term, the only difference is going to be adding 5G service at frequencies of 6 GHz or below to existing cell towers.

Cellular voice quality is still sadly lacking. Many cell phones have HD Voice, but the networks generally can't deliver it all the way to the other end, so it doesn't do much good. I need intelligible voice connections for work, so I'm sticking with digital voice.

We have FiOS, and the service is much better than the service provider. Verizon has been morphing into a cable company.
 


Amazon disclaimer:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts