BestMVNO 2017 Award Winners
BestMVNO Award Winners

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With 2015 now in the rear-view mirror it's time to reflect back on the year as it pertained to the world of MVNO's and no contract cellphone plan providers.

Welcome to the first annual BestMVNO.com end of the year MVNO and prepaid provider awards.

(Disclaimer: Some links are affiliate links, although rest assured affiliate relationships played no role in determining award winners.)

 

Most Disruptive MVNO

Ringplus

RingPlus LogoHaving been founded in 2006, Ringplus really made a splash in 2015 by offering a constant barrage of free plans and promotions.  Just have a look at our Ringplus news page and you'll see that it is littered with promotions that included up to 1500 minutes of talk, 1500 SMS and 1500MB of 4G LTE data/month free of charge.  With that kind of value the company has likely stolen away many potential customers and customers from other Sprint MVNOs and even parent network Sprint itself.  Furthermore, the companies CEO Karl Seelig can be frequently spotted in the Ringplus discourse announcing new plans and promotions himself while also listening to his companies subscribers for new ideas.  This high level of interaction between a CEO and his companies customers is not something that's widespread in this industry or any other for that matter.

One way that I'd like to see the company further improve their excellent plans for 2016 is to have them include MMS rather than charging a small fee to send and receive them.

Best New MVNO

Google Project Fi

Google Project Fi Logo

Google's Project Fi was certainly the most anticipated MVNO of 2015 and rumors of its potential existence garnered a lot of national attention.  On April 22nd, Project Fi became official with an announcement from Google.  Google's Project Fi offers something that only one other MVNO does, and that is a refund for any unused data you may have in your account at the end of a billing cycle.  The MVNO also offers service including calling and texting over Wi-Fi which helps compensate for a lack of coverage on the cellular networks it runs on, T-Mobile and Sprint.  Although not entirely unique (see Republic Wireless), Google's MVNO offers a few features that Republic Wireless does not offer including service on two parent networks, and it can also be used for the most part at no extra charge while traveling in over 120 countries, although data speeds outside the USA are limited to 256kbps.  Currently Project Fi is only available to those who own a Nexus 5x, 6 or 6p although expansion to other devices may be possible in the future.

See also:  Senate Passes Cell Phone Unlocking Bill

Best Overall Value

Tie: Cricket Wireless/T-Mobile

This was a tough choice to make and ultimately I had to pick two.

Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless LogoCricket Wireless gets the award for best overall value based on few different variables but largely due to it's price to network coverage ratio.  For $35/month with autopay enabled, subscribers get coverage on AT&T's nationwide network with unlimited talk, text and data, although 4G LTE data speeds are limited to 8 Mbps download and 2.5GB before throttling to 128kbps.  Still, this is the most high speed data that you can get on the AT&T network for $35 or less.  Cricket also has retail stores nationwide and a good customer support system. SIM cards and devices can also be purchased from third party stores such as Target, Walmart, and even Amazon where those interested can get a Cricket SIM card for 50% off compared to Cricket's official website.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile $30 month prepaid starter kitUnless there are major industry changes this year or the plan gets discontinued, I expect T-Mobile's $30 prepaid wireless plan to earn an award from BestMVNO.com year after year.  What earns this plan the award for best value is that you simply cannot get more LTE data from anywhere else for less.  If you're a data lover and have access to T-Mobile's network, this is the plan for you.  T-Mobile's $30 prepaid plan includes 100 minutes of talk, with unlimited text including international texting, and unlimited data with the first 5GB at LTE speeds.  What has recently come to my attention, and what makes an already good value an even better value is that it appears this plan includes T-Mobile's Music Freedom and Binge On features, making it harder to burn through all of your LTE data.  For those of you that don't know, Music Freedom and Binge On allow you to stream music and video from select providers without having it count against your high speed data cap.  T-Mobile's $30 prepaid plan is exclusively available at Walmart with SIM card included at a discount price of $29.82.  Potential subscribers can also signup for the plan via T-Mobile's website.

See also:  Experian Compromised: Data Breach Impacts Approximately 15 Million T-Mobile Customers

 

So what do you think of these awards?  Do you agree or disagree with the winners?  Do you think another provider should have been on the list?  What other kinds of awards would you like to see issued?







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james perez
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james perez

I really think that the Republic Wireless Refund plans should be above both Project Fi and the famous T-Mobile $30 plan. Republic is better than Project Fi, but only if you use a gigabyte of data or less. I think that frugal users can easily get by with 300 Mb or less. Your bill on Republic can easily be maintained under $15 including tax fees (about 15%). You still get much needed features like unlimited talk and tethering. The T-Mobile plan is good if you need a hotspot device but other than that it is overkill in the data category… Read more »

Ryan11
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Ryan11

You’re missing the Lycamobile plan .. for $35 you get unlimited text, call and 2GB of 4G LTE data .. and Unlimited international calling from the USA to 11 countries. That’s a deal others dont have.

salocin411
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salocin411

Great article… T-Mobile 30 plan is amazing

Bestmvno.com
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Bestmvno.com

Thank you. Are you on that plan?

Dan's the Man
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Dan's the Man

When you say the $30 Tmobile plan includes BingeOn do you mean that it doesn’t count at all against the 5GB high speed data limit or just that the video gets reduced so it uses less data than it normally would?

Bestmvno.com
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Bestmvno.com

It does not count against your high speed data. This is according to a reader of this site (link included in the article) who posted screen shots showing they were not having high speed data deducted from their account while viewing videos from services that participate in Binge-On. Other forum members around the Web state this as well, but I have not heard an official comment from T-Mobile.

Dan's the Man
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Dan's the Man

Great. Thanks so much! Keep up the great work.
By the way know anywhere to a get cheap feature phone (non-smart phone) like a flip phone. I want to get a sprint compatible one for a senior citizen relative to have for basic use. The free RingPlus plans sound great for that purpose.

Bestmvno.com
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Bestmvno.com

I would suggest taking a look at Amazon and ebay. You can find some Smartphones for pretty cheap these days as well though, so you may want to consider that. You can find a smartphone to use with that plan for $50 or less if you desired via ebay. I’m seeing Sprint Lumia 635s going for $25 used. You may want to check with RingPlus if that would work. I’m going to do my own testing of binge on and see how it goes since I have that plan. I just don’t really watch videos on my phone though so… Read more »

Antonio
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Antonio

Adding to your comment I guess people now days have no time to watch TV, too busy with the mobile devices. Why in the Word would someone pay extra just to Watch videos on a so small screen!, We’re getting so spoiled with all the gadgets and paying lots money for it. Just think about a power grid failure!! Which is very possible. I’m not trying to bashing any one here, but just something to think about it.

thenebulousmind
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thenebulousmind

Power grid failure would disrupt TV’s too. I don’t think people choose to watch phone over TV, but A. Most TV sucks and B. Most of us are constantly on the go and working. Also worth mentioning that I can watch videos on my phone in a VR headset which essentially makes the screen the size of a theater.

Anon
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Anon

T-Mobile’s $30 prepaid plan includes 100 minutes of talk 5GB data, doesn’t not include Zero rated data, You get the compression “optimization” , but it counts towards your data usage. T-Mobile has verified this many times on their own forums. You get compressed , not zero rated data. **** Simple Choice plans regardless of the amount of 4G LTE include Simple Global, Music Freedom, Mobile Without Borders and now optimized video streaming with Binge On, allowing you to stretch your data 3x further when streaming video, at no extra charge. For customers with 6GB or more, you also get Data… Read more »

zeebop
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zeebop

I think that T-Mobile no longer includes music freedom on the $30 plan. Not sure about bingeon as I haven’t tested that yet. My plan reset at midnight last night and 800mb was used against my 5gb and iheartradio is counting against my high speed data right now. I am the reader that posted the screenshots that you mentioned. I contacted chat support about this and the rep said that my plan no longer includes music streaming since the middle of feb, so i guess i wasn’t affected until that billing cycle ended. I also noticed under plans and features… Read more »