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LTE, GSM and CDMA Differences Explained

LTE Network

As you probably know by now, US Mobile runs on a GSM network. But what is really differentiating GSM from CDMA and LTE and why should you care? Well for one, you should understand what your options are when it comes to your phone plan and switching carrier.

LTE is short for Long Term Evolution and is a 4G wireless broadband technology developed to achieve high-speed data. 4G is the fourth generation of technology, following 2G and 3G. In order be classified as 4G connectivity, a phone’s connection speed needs to peak at 100 MB/s, and a mobile hotspot needs to reach at least 1 GB/s. LTE is a technology developed to enable 4G to reach those speeds and be noticeably faster than 3G.

GSM means Global System for Mobile communications, which is a network that supports both cellular and data. Both T-Mobile and AT&T operate on a GSM network.

CDMA is another network meaning Code Division Multiple Access, used by for instance Verizon and Sprint. Like GSM, CDMA supports cellular and data.

LTE Phone Compatibility

Historically, the way of knowing if a phone was compatible with GSM or CDMA was to check if the phone had a SIM card slot. If it had, it meant that it was a GSM phone.

GSM networks use a SIM card to store a subscriber’s identity and info, while CDMA devices have electronic serial numbers embedded in the device and require reprogramming to change networks. Consequently, it’s easy to go from AT&T to T-Mobile just by swapping SIM card in your device. Moving between GSM and CDMA has been inherently harder.

However, as LTE entered the market things have gotten a bit easier. The reason being that in order to access LTE and fast data speed, you need a SIM card no matter if you’re using CDMA or GSM. All LTE networks in the US are using GSM technology, as CDMA Technology is too old to handle LTE speeds. Due to this, newer Verizon and Sprint phones all use a SIM card and will, therefore, work on GSM networks. As a rule of thumb, if you have an iPhone 5, or a later/equivalent model, you can BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to different carriers with just the swap of a SIM Card.

To find out if your phone is LTE enabled, check out this list or click on the brand below.

Apple   –   Samsung   –   Huawei   –   LG   –   Alcatel   –   HTC   –   Sony

End of an Era for CDMA?

Seeing as all new phones aren’t using CDMA, it raises the question if CDMA will disappear once old CDMA phones aren’t active anymore? With an average cycle of replacing devices, pretty much all CDMA devices will be gone by 2020. Currently, just a fraction of Verizon and Sprint’s customers are utilizing the CDMA, as they’re mainly on LTE. Time will tell if and when Verizon and Sprint will get rid of CDMA altogether.

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Get a Free VPN to Protect Your Online Privacy

free vpn online

As the US Internet Privacy Regulation is repealed, Internet Service Providers will be allowed to share and even sell your browsing history and personal data to third parties without your consent. By using a VPN server, you can, however, stop this from happening.

At US Mobile we believe you have the right to privacy. This is why we have decided to partner with Windscribe. Windscribe is a leading VPN service provider who secures your privacy by encrypting your data, no matter which device you’re on.

What is VPN?

VPN means Virtual Private Network, which allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. It basically encrypts all data coming in and out of your device to protect your online privacy.

Let’s say you browse the web from your phone. When you connect to the internet an Internet Service Provider (ISP), like AT&T and Comcast, provides the actual connection to the site. That means that all the traffic in and out of the servers can be viewed by your ISP. When you use a VPN, your data instead connects through a server encrypting the data so that your ISP can’t see it. You’re basically surfing incognito, with 100% privacy. It doesn’t matter if your own your home network or on a public WiFi hotspot – no one will be able to view your data.

Free VPN with US Mobile and Windscribe

US Mobile has partnered with Windscribe, known as one of the best VPN Service on the market with stellar reviews. TechRadar even ranked them #1 for 2017 Free VPN! As a US Mobile customer, you get 100GB free bandwidth per month when signing up to Windscribe. 100GB is more than enough for everyday browsing and streaming of videos and music.

Free VPN

How Do I Get 100GB for Free?

Existing US Mobile Customers: US Mobile customers can request a custom activation code from our live chat team

New US Mobile Customers: Once you buy a SIM Card (only $3.99 & Free Shipping), you can then request the custom activation code from our live chat team. (They will only provide codes to customers who have purchased a Sim!)

How To Setup a VPN

Setting up your Windscribe VPN is easy. You just need to create a username and password to sign up. Windscribe doesn’t store logs, IP stamps, or visited sites. When you’re actively connected to a server it stores your username, the server you’re connected to and the amount of data transferred. This is erased three minutes after the session is ended.

Why You Should Use a VPN Service?

To recap, as the privacy regulation is scrapped your personal data is up for grabs to anyone your ISP is sharing it with. By using a VPN, you:

  • Keep your emails and messages private.
  • Avoid getting your IP address and location exposed, compromising your security.
  • Stop advertisers from following and targeting you wherever you go.
  • Browse the web anonymously.

 

Free VPN

It Just Got Cheaper – New Pricing and Plans Announced

We’re happy to announce that our prices just got even better. A whole lot better!

So what has changed? First of all, we’ve increased our minutes and text messages but kept the same prices. The biggest part of a phone bill these days is, however, data and that’s where we have made the biggest improvements. 250 MB has become 300 MB, 2.5 GB is now 4 GB and we’ve introduced the killer data plan: 10 GB for $30 – that’s $3 per gigabyte!

This means that our existing customers can enjoy more for the same price or simply a better price for the same amount of talk, text or data. Let’s say you had a plan consisting of 250 text, 250 min, and 2.5 GB data. Now you get an extra 50 texts, 50 minutes and 500 MB for $28 month. 6 GB used to be $35 and is now only $25 and for five more bucks you get 10 GB, perfect for all of you who like to stream music, TV-series, and movies!

New Pricing And Plans

Customize your mobile plan by choosing the talk, text, and data you need. All plans come with a 30-day risk free trial.

New Pricing Cheap Data

As always, all our plans are prepaid and on a no-contract basis.

How Do I Get Started?

We would, of course, love to see new customers taking advantage of our new pricing and affordable plans. Porting your number, which means that you get to keep your current number, to US Mobile takes approx. 24 hours and it’s free! The first step is to order a new SIM card. Once you have a US Mobile SIM card, just follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your account. Select “Activate SIM” on the top left of the page
  2. Choose “Keep My Number”
  3. Input your Account Number and Password or PIN (contact TPO if you don’t have your Account Number or PIN)
  4. Enter your SIM Card Number and Zip Code

Next, it’s time to choose a plan, accept the Terms & Conditions and select “Continue”. You’ll be redirected to a loading page, which will indicate the status of your port-in request. Read our Porting your Number post for more information. 

How Much is 1 GB?

In case you don’t know how much data you need, we suggest you look at your current usage. You should be able to find on your most recent phone bill. Otherwise, to provide some guidance of what 1 GB will get you, we’ve summarized the following:

  • 8 hours scrolling through Facebook and Instagram
  • 60 minutes streaming YouTube videos
  • Roughly 24 hours of jamming out t0 Spotify
  • 70 hours of web surfing

If you want to know more about what you need, check out our older post about data usage. We hope you’ll enjoy our new pricing and plans!

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How Much Data is a Gigabyte?

One Gigabyte (GB)

One Gigabyte (GB) is approximately 1000 Megabytes (MB). There is a whole spiel about that one GB really is 1024 MB. If you want to go into that type of detail, we recommend you to take a moment and head over to an article by Whistleout.

Since the amount of data is usually the differentiating factor when selecting phone plan, it’s important to understand what it means in actual usage. As a rule of thumb, the smallest file you have stored on your phone is four kilobytes (4KB) in size.

The Bytes Table

Before we get into what 1 Gigabyte means in usage, we need to break it down into smaller bits (bytes, bits – get it?):

8 Bits = 1 Byte

1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte

1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte

1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte

1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte

What 1 GB Will Get You

Depending on phone activity, you use different amounts of data and the amount of time 1 GB lasts will vary. US Mobile’s data plans range from 100 MB up to 6 GB. With the help of Confused.com, we’ve defined what our plans will get you in actual usage.

100 MB = 43 pages surfing; 1 hr Google Maps usage; 5 hrs of Facebook; 0 episodes on Netflix (streaming a 60-minute episode requires 720MB)

250 MB108 pages surfing; 4 hrs Google Maps usage; 12 hrs of Facebook; 0 episodes on Netflix

500 MB217 pages surfing; 8 hrs Google Maps usage; 25 hrs of Facebook; 0 episodes on Netflix

1 GB445 pages surfing; 17 hrs Google Maps usage; 51 hrs of Facebook; 1 episodes on Netflix

2.5 GB1114 pages surfing; 43 hrs Google Maps usage; 128 hrs of Facebook; 3 episodes on Netflix

6 GB2671 pages surfing; 102 hrs Google Maps usage; 307 hrs of Facebook; 8 episodes on Netflix

Please know that if you stream videos on Facebook, you should consider it as Netflix usage since streaming a moving picture requires a lot more data.

If you aren’t planning on getting a plan for your tablet or phone, head over to our piece about affordable plans for smart devices. It will guide you on what type and size of plan you need.

Getting an Affordable Plan for Your Smart Device

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Getting an Affordable Plan for Your Smart Device

Smart Device Plans

As an owner of a smart device, you’re likely using a SIM card to get connected. A smart device is an electronic device that is connected to other devices or networks, like an alarm, GPS, smartwatch, car, thermostat etc. Currently, there are about 8 billion connected things in play globally. By the year 2020, Gartner forecasts that IoT (Internet of Things) will reach 20 billion! All devices won’t need a cellular connection. However, if your device has a slot for a SIM card you know that it needs a GSM connection. Since US Mobile is a GSM carrier, our service is compatible with these types of connected devices.

Different Devices Need Different Plans

Our a la carte approach to plans makes them well suited for IoT. The pricing matrix allows you to customize a cellular plan for your device.

Cheap Cell phone plans

Many of our customers are already using our plans for other devices than phones and tablets. Therefore, we are able to provide you with some guidance on what your device’s usage might be based on our current users.

Alarms

When it comes to alarms, two popular alarms at US Mobile are PiSector Alarms and Kerui. Alarm systems usually just need texts or/and minutes, which means that plans start at $4/month (for text only) including fees. To get more insight on home security, visit our Alarm Plans Page.

GPS Trackers

Similar to alarm systems, many GPS Trackers need GSM connectivity. Reachfar and ATian are two examples of trackers using our GSM SIM card. Trackers usually need data in order to support the tracking functionality. It’s also common for the GPS to send out notifications per text messages. Therefore, a combination of data and text for $6/month is a suitable base plan. Depending on how you use your GPS, you might need to add more data but you can change your plan with ease through your personal dashboard at US Mobile.

Cars

The most popular connected car among our users is Audi but rest assured – the SIM card works in all connected cars. A data-only plan is the best way to go with a connected car. According to our internal data, the usage differs widely from 250 MB and 6 GB per month so we advise you to start with 1 GB per month and check your personal usage before making any potential adjustments.

Smartwatches

A smartwatch differs from other smart devices we’ve mentioned, as they commonly need talk, text and data. The reason is that many of these wearables actually works like a simplified phone (or an advanced GPS tracker if you will). Two examples are MyFilip and Tinitell, which are smartwatches designed for kids. Our talk, text and data plans start at $9/month (again, including all fees) which is a good plan to start with if you have a GSM-connected smartwatch.

We hope this will provide some much-needed guidance in the jungle of IoT devices and plans out there. We welcome feedback and questions so leave a comment in the box below.

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