How to try out AT&T?

Long story short: Verizon service has degraded here to the point of unusability. I can’t even get Wi-Fi Calling to turn on anymore. AT&T is now an option, and I hear it’s much better, but I want to try it out on my iPhone before porting my entire family over.

I figure it’s as easy as ordering a SIM card, paying for a month of service, and sticking the card in my phone, but I’m wondering what gotchas there may be. Ideally I would talk to someone, but there’s no AT&T store in my town and I’m always leery of phone support.

Has anyone tried something like this recently? And how did it go for you?

At least in my area, I was able to switch from Verizon to AT&T by getting a SIM kit at Target for Consumer Cellular. If you get the right package (marked for AT&T) it contains an AT&T SIM and it’s much cheaper than switching to AT&T directly. I now have much better reception in my area then I got with Verizon and it’s at least 50% cheaper than Verizon. My wife and I have a shared plan through Consumer Cellular, using AT&T towers.

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Last time I checked, Consumer Cellular did not allow tethering. If this is important to potential users, they should investigate before switching.

No, that’s not true. You just have to ask for it. I think it was 35 gigs if you ask for it and you can increase it if you’re running out and traveling by calling them. Their website is not entirely user-friendly or clear on this, I had to dig and verify it with the customer service person.

Thanks, I’ll get a SIM card and give them a go.

I got my SIM activated and it’s working great so far, much better than Verizon. I had to call support to get calling and Wi-Fi activated, which was a pain, but smooth sailing ever since. I’ll give it a bit more time to test before porting my number and moving my family over, but this is a great solution that is going to save us a lot of money.

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I’m sorry, but what does this mean? It sounds like you needed to call to enable voice calls. If that’s the case, then what did the SIM enable? Also, does getting Wi-Fi activated mean you can use the device as an access point? I know @RobJohnson said Consumer Cellular allowed it, but since the person who answered the Consumer Cellular number told me it wasn’t allowed, I’d like to get confirmation. Thanks.

When I first installed the SIM, data worked great, but I couldn’t make phone calls. I tried to activate Wi-Fi Calling when I got home but got an error message. I called customer support and they cleared both issues right up.

I’m not sure about their tethering policy, but this blog post from 2017 says they will enable it if you call.

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Thanks, Josh. The blog post was explicit, and exactly opposite what I was told when I called. Consumer Cellular could have had an additional customer. I was surprised to see that the hot spot turns itself off after 15 hours.

I looked at the coverage map, and it used terms like LTE2100, LTE1900, and LTE with smaller numbers. Do those refer to expected data transfer rates?

When you contacted Consumer Cellular, did you specify that you wanted an ATT SIM? Are you aware of a way to request an ATT SIM on the web page when ordering a SIM? I couldn’t see a way, and I understood that it could be an ATT or T-Mobile SIM.

Thanks.

I can verify that I have had tethering working since the first day I activated. As I mentioned earlier, the fact that they offer hotspot tethering is completely absent from their website but speaking with customer service rep they assured me that they could enable it for me. It has worked flawlessly for me, just as well as Verizon and AT&T before it. You receive tethering for the full amount of your data plan.

Regarding selecting AT&T as the provider under Consumer Cellular, the service rep told me the best way to ensure that is to just go to the Target store and find a package that is marked for Consumer Cellular with AT&T. That’s what I did, although I had a couple of glitches in trying to self activate the SIM as Josh did, but calling them and finishing online completed the process. They had told me that if you just order the service on the web or over the phone you may not get an AT&T SIM which is why they advise people who want that provider to go to the store to make sure. They do end up refunding you the cost of what you paid for the SIM at Target so that’s a wash.

Overall, the performance has been excellent, equal to the many years I had AT&T on my iPhones prior to switching to Verizon. The same is true for when I travel out of the bay area — there are no obvious-to-me holes in the nationwide roaming. And finally I pay about $80 a month for unlimited data, text and calling for two phones on our shared plan. The best I was ever able to do for equivalent service under Verizon or AT&T was about $125 a month for the two phones. Based on my experience at least, I can’t recommend Consumer Cellular highly enough.

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Thanks, @RobJohnson. It looks like I can save about 30%. I just wish the sales person who answered the phone about four years ago had known about tethering being possible.

With the 250 Minutes Talk & Unlimited Text plan, do you know if the minutes roll over?

I would be switching two phones. Is there anything I should be aware of beforehand? Is it easy to link two SIMs to one plan after getting them at Target? Would there be any problem getting an ATT SIM and some other SIM and putting the two phones on the same plan? (I would do that to decrease the chance of being somewhere with no service.) Thanks again.

I don’t know the answer regarding if your 250 minutes would roll over to the next month. You would have to talk to customer service.

Regarding connecting two phones with two SIMs to the same plan I can confirm that that worked for us, but again this was done through customer service once I had the SIMs in hand.

I’m not sure, but I think it would be possible for you to have one phone with an AT&T SIM and another with a T-Mobile SIM, although you shouldn’t quote me on that because I didn’t ask about that option when I worked with customer service to get our plan activated. (That is a clever idea, though, and it would be a good option if you do a lot of roaming across the country in the back woods.)

If you have a recent enough iPhone and the carrier supports it, you could use the built-in eSIM to associate a second number with your phone.