H2O Wireless Reviewed

By Joe Paonessa Feb 13, 2017

Overview

H2O Wireless is what's otherwise known as Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or MVNO for short, and it operates on the AT&T network.

MVNO’s are typically small companies that don’t have their own wireless network, but rather they buy minutes, texts and data at wholesale prices from major networks that they can then resell to you the consumer.

(Disclosure:  I was not paid or asked to do this review, however, when applicable, affiliate links are used within the post).

H2O Wireless is part of a family of providers that also includes EasyGo Wireless.

It also ran the now defunct Envie Mobile.

Like H2O, EasyGO also runs on the AT&T network, and so what's said in this review for all intents and purposes can largely be applied to EasyGO Wireless.

H2O Wireless has been around a long time as far as MVNO's go, having been launched in 2005.  Its parent company, Locus Telecommunications has been around since 1989.  The company is headquartered in Fort Lee, NJ.

Locus Telecommunications serve consumers through more than 70,000 locations nationwide and it is home to more than 300,000 wireless customers.  The company boasts of activating over 1,000 lines of service daily.

In 2010 Locus Telecommunications was purchased by the KDDI Corporation, which is a Telecommunications company based out of Tokyo Japan.  KDDI was founded in 1984, and it generates billions of dollars in revenue annually.

H2O Wireless Phone Plans

Single Line Monthly Unlimited

Wireless ProviderPrice
H2O Wireless Logo

H2O Wireless Monthly Unlimited 27

Talk: Unlimited
Text: Unlimited
Data: 2 GB
Mobile Hotspot: No
Special Features:

Price with auto pay billing enabled, $30 without auto pay. Unlimited talk and text to 50+ countries.  Download speeds limited to 8 Mbps


$27
H2O Wireless Logo

H2O Wireless Monthly Unlimited 31

Talk: Unlimited
Text: Unlimited
Data: 3 GB
Mobile Hotspot: No
Special Features:

Price with auto pay billing enabled, $30 without auto pay. Unlimited talk and text to 50+ countries.  Download speeds limited to 8 Mbps


$31.5
H2O Wireless Logo

H2O Wireless Monthly Unlimited 36

Talk: Unlimited
Text: Unlimited
Data: 6 GB
Mobile Hotspot: No
Special Features:

Price with auto pay billing enabled, $40 without auto pay.  Unlimited talk and text to 50+ countries. Download speeds limited to 8 Mbps


$36
H2O Wireless Logo

H2O Wireless Monthly Unlimited 45

Talk: Unlimited
Text: Unlimited
Data: 8 GB
Mobile Hotspot: No
Special Features:

Price with autopay billing enabled, $50 without auto pay.  Unlimited talk and text to 50+ countries. Download speeds limited to 8 Mbps


$45
H2O Wireless Logo

H2O Wireless Monthly Unlimited 54

Talk: Unlimited
Text: Unlimited
Data: 10 GB
Mobile Hotspot: No
Special Features:

Price with autopay billing enabled, $60 without auto pay.  Unlimited talk and text to 50+ countries.  Download speeds limited to 8 Mbps


$54

Family Plan Discounts

H2O Wireless does offer family plan discounts for a total of up to 4 lines.  There is a caveat though, in order to qualify for the friends and family plan, each line being activated must be a new customer.  If you qualify for the discount, each line beyond line 1 gets $10 off the regular monthly plan rates listed in the table above.  So for instance, if all 4 lines have the $30 plan above, line 1 will be charged $30 while lines 2-4 would pay $20 each for a total cost of $90.

Pay As You Go

H2O Wireless offers one 90 day pay as you go plan with rates of 5¢ per minute and text message sent or received, and 10¢ per MB of data used or MMS picture message sent or received.  A yearly plan is also offered with the same rates.  Customers can choose to refill with $10, $20, or $30 top ups for the 90 day offering, or $100 for the yearly offering.

A $25 30 day plan is also offered with the same rates as the 90 day plan except calls and text messages are billed at a rate of 2.5¢ per message sent or received and per minute.

International calling is included with all Pay As You Go plans billed at the same rates as calls placed domestically.  Those who enable auto pay can recharge for 10% off the regular top up rate.

My Experience With And Review Of H2O Wireless

I activated a line of service by purchasing a SIM card kit for the $30 plan at Target.  The kit is also available at Walmart as well as via Amazon where it can often be found at a discount. An unlocked 64 GB Motorola G4 Plus was the phone that I used to test the service.

Although the kit I purchased was supposed to include 1 GB of data, at the time of this review H2O Wireless was offering a promotion where all subscribers could get extra data at no charge.  Thanks to this promotion, I ended up with 3 GB of data for $30.  This was more data than you could get from any other provider that used AT&T's network at that price point.  
The plan also included unlimited talk and text, including unlimited calling and texting to over 50 countries.  Data was also unlimited, but speeds are reduced once the plans high speed data allotment is used up.

Account Registration, Porting My Number In, And Line Activation

For some reason, H2O Wireless is another provider that does not allow passwords to be created that contain apostrophes and quotation marks.  I found this out when I had Dashlane try and create a password for me with the default settings that I would normally use to generate a password.  The password was not accepted by the system due to quotation marks and apostrophes being present.  Furthermore, password length is limited to just 10 characters.  While these are minor details, I personally don't like my password strength and account security to be limited by factors such as these.

As I continued through the registration process, I choose an option to port in my number which had been previously used for my review of Total Wireless.  It was during this step that I learned that the H2O Wireless activation and port in process is not something that is kept up to date at all, and in fact was quite antiquated.  You see, when you elect to port in, you are asked to choose who your previous provider was.  Some options that you are given to choose from included, Revol Wireless, Tuyo Mobile, and Xtreme Mobile, MVNO's and providers that I never even heard of, some of which went out of business 5 years ago! Ouch!  H2O Wireless, get this updated ASAP!

porting into H2O Wireless
H2O Wireless Uses An Antiquated System To Port Customers In!

Given that they appear to not update their system frequently, I was not surprised to see that Total Wireless was not listed as an option that I could choose to port in from.  I had to choose "others" as my port in choice and then to input my information and hope for the best.

Continuing along, I next had to input my SIM card, IMEI and airtime pins into the system, and here is where the real problems started for me.  For some reason the system refused to accept my PIN number.  It insisted that the PIN number needed to be 15 digits long, yet the one I had was only 10.  The system told me "Unable to recharge with specified amount.  MDN and incomm PIN product do not match or out of inventory please check and try again later."

This was a head scratcher for me and resulted in numerous and painful calls to customer support, as well as online chats which I'll dig more into later in this review.

In short, after hours worth of customer support calls mainly to H2O Wireless and one to Total Wireless, I was finally able to get service going.  I cannot say entirely what caused my activation issues, but I did have to call Total Wireless and ask them to release my phone number which was a call that took less than 30 minutes and went without issue.  During signup I did accidentally choose that I wanted the $35 plan instead of the $30 plan, so this could have also been a problem with the system's refusal to accept my pin number.  If this was in fact part user error, the system should be smart enough to recognize that the PIN number should fill my account for the $30 plan instead of the $35 plan.  But as mentioned earlier, their activation system is antiquated and badly in need of an update.

H2O Wireless problem wont accept pin number that came with sim kit to add minutes
I Had A Problem Getting H2O Wireless To Accept My Pin Number

I did have a similar problem when activating someone else's account with EasyGO.  The SIM card came with free 100 minutes of pay as you go service which I simply wanted to upgrade to a monthly plan.  The online system would not allow me to upgrade their plan and involved several long phone calls to the company before I could get it up and running, but alas, let's continue on with this review of H2O Wireless.

Customer Support

So, how could I describe customer support with one word?  I'll try "Ahhhhhh!"  Yes, customer support was infuriating, and not necessarily due to the customer support representatives themselves, but how the support system is setup as a whole.  Let me explain.

Phone Call Wait Times

As previously mentioned the port in and activation process unfortunately required me to call the company and try to chat with them online.  My first dealing with H2O Wireless customer support was on a Wednesday evening, at 7 PM EST.  I called and was placed on hold for 48 minutes after which time a representative answered and listened to my concerns before telling me they needed to transfer me to someone else.  Oh boy!  This time I waited an additional 10 minutes on hold, just for someone to come back and tell me that I needed to call Total Wireless to ask them to release my phone number for porting.  So, I waited a total of 58 minutes on hold, just to be told I needed to call my previous provider to release my phone number.  That was certainly frustrating.

Chat Wait Times

While I was waiting on the phone for my call to be answered, I simultaneously was trying to reach customer support by chat.  My chat experience was simply inexplicable.  First of all, after logging into chat, I was told that there were 34 people waiting in front of me for their concerns to be answered.  Users seemed to drop off pretty quick though, for reasons befuddling to me that I will soon explain.  After waiting 15 minutes in the chat window for someone to respond to my question, H2O just kicked me out of the chat!

So, I tried again.

This time I was told I was 37th in line.  I waited once again for my question to be answered, and to my surprise, I was kicked out of the chat again after exactly 15 minutes!

So what was I supposed to do here?  Well, I tried a third time of course!

The third time I was told that I was 47th in line.  This time I waited, and actually the line shrunk down to only 2 people being in front of me, but alas, I was kicked out of the chat before my question was answered after just 15 minutes!

The way that H2O Wireless chooses to handle customer chat is completely ridiculous and leads to a confusing and frustrating experience for the end user.

H2O Wireless chat wait time
Expect Long Wait Times With H2O Wireless Chat

Combined Wait Times For Simultaneous Call And Chat

The next day, Thursday, at 4:40 PM EST, I again simultaneously tried to reach H2O customer support via both chat and a phone call.  It was another mind boggling experience, particularly with their online chat system.  This time, after logging into chat I was told I was number 81 in line!  Oh great!  Now for some reason, the chat system allowed me to stay logged in for 30 minutes before kicking me out, and yes, I got kicked out before my question was answered and had to open a new chat all over again.  So, I again, logged back in and attempted to reach a customer support representative.

As mentioned, the whole time I was trying to reach customer support by chat, I also waited on the phone for someone to take my call.  After 37 minutes and 20 seconds someone finally answered, at which time I logged myself out of the chat as I did not have the patience to keep wasting time just to see how long it would take for my question to be answered.

With my call answered, I was able to give H2O Wireless my correct account information from my previous provider, Total Wireless, and to tell them that that provider released my number.  They were able to quickly get me activated at that point, however they still had a little bit of a problem with applying the pin number to my account to give me service.  I did have to explain to them that I wanted the $30 plan, not the $35 plan I initially tried to sign up with and that the pin number I had was in fact for the $30 plan.  So, after nearly 24 hours of trying, I finally had service with a new provider.

Voice Calls And Text Messaging With H2O Wireless

I mentioned in my last review with Total Wireless, that I do not talk a lot regularly on the phone, so logging call time can be a bit of a challenge for me.

During this review, I managed 62 minutes of phone calls, spread out over a combination of just 6 calls.  Although sample size was small, none of my calls dropped, and I found reception to be adequate, with a good signal in the handful of locations that I called from.

During the test period I sent and received a total of 372 messages with dozens of them being MMS picture messages.  All text messages were sent and received successfully, however, just like when I had Total Wireless, several MMS picture messages sent to a Cricket Wireless number got lost in space and never delivered. I now strongly believe that this is 100% a Cricket Wireless issue, as H2O Wireless and Cricket Wireless both have AT&T as their parent network, and one would expect MMS messaging performance to be identical with each MVNO, but it was not.  The Cricket Wireless number has now shown that it has missed MMS messages from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile based numbers.

Data Speeds And Consumption

(Updated 6/28/2017 - Since this review, H2O Wireless now has a speed cap in place and download speeds are limited to 8 Mbps)

Theoretically outside of Cricket Wireless, AT&T MVNO's should have the exact same download and upload speeds as you would get if you signed up with AT&T directly.  For the most part this seemed to be true, although on a few occasions I tested the network to be a little slower than what may be expected.  I cannot say for sure if the occasional slower speeds were due to the different towers I may have connected to or because of data prioritization occurring during times of heavy network traffic.  Whatever the case may be, let's review the results.

H2O Wireless speedtest
H2O Wireless Download Speedtest

During my test period I ran 18 different internet speed tests at different times of the day and during different days of the week.  Speeds varied greatly with download speeds averaging 12.7 Mbps with a high of 21.9 Mbps and low of 3.8 Mbps.  Upload speeds averaged 11.5 Mbps with a high of 25.4 Mbps and low of 0.8 Mbps.  Ping time averaged 67.8 ms with a high of 107 ms and lows of 37 ms which were reached multiple times.

Speedtest was used to measure speed and I was sure to manually select the same server for every test.  A couple of times when speeds seemed a little lower than what I thought they could be, I tried a different server to confirm the results.

With real world use, I did not perceive any difference in website page load times compared to my main wireless plan on the T-Mobile network, where I use a LeEco Le Pro 3 as my main device.  I found that I was able to stream YouTube videos at 1080p without any stuttering or issues.  I did not get to test Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for this review, although I would anticipate no problems using those services given the download and upload speeds that I achieved.

I once again listened to several hours of streaming audio divided up between Amazon Prime Music (518 MB used), and TuneIn radio (536 MB data used).  I had no issues whatsoever streaming music.

Total data consumption during the review period was 1.91 GB.

Tethering

Tethering Not Allowed With H2O Wireless
H2O Wireless Does Not Allow Tethering AKA Mobile Hotspot

H2O Wireless did not allow for tethering.  When I attempted to tether using the Motorola G4 Plus's built in tethering setting I was greeted with a message that said the account was not set up for tethering.  It is possible that you could still get away with tethering by downloading a tethering app from your phones app store.

Porting Out

Porting out of H2O Wireless presented with some more oddities.  Porting out requires you to get in touch with H2O Wireless, and from my review of their customer support it's not always a fun process to contact them.

I contacted them via online chat on a Friday evening at about 630 PM EST.  To my surprise there were only 5 people ahead of me in the waiting list once I logged into chat.  After a 12 minute wait, my chat was actually answered.

Customer support told me that in order for them to release my number I would first need to provide them with three phone numbers that I frequently call or text message to verify my account.  I found this requirement to be a bit cumbersome and a bit of an invasion of privacy (Updated: 8/9/2017 - this practice may not be so bad after all given what can happen to you if someone gains control over your phone number).  I wondered if by providing these numbers H2O Wireless would ever try to contact those persons to push a product.

After providing the numbers, H2O Wireless then sent me a text message containing my account number which was an 8 digit number and not my ICIDD number which I had read elsewhere that I would need to port out.  H2O then asked me to verify the account number they sent me before sending me a text message containing my PIN number.  The PIN number ended up being the last 4 digits of my SIM number.  This whole conversation including the time waiting for chat to connect took a whopping 25 minutes.  That's a lot of time in my book to get just a small amount of information.

Ratings

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Recommendation

My experience with H2O Wireless can be considered a mixed bag. The network performed largely as expected, and for most customers this will likely be all that they care about. The provider after all does offer one of the best bang for your buck deals around on the AT&T network, and in particular in terms of the amount of high speed data that you get per dollar.

Where the service fell short for me was with my customer support experience as well as with their activation process. Customer experience left a lot to be desired given the large wait times I had to endure until I actually got to speak to a live person. Fortunately, I would expect that most people would only have to contact support during the port in and port out process and outside of that they should enjoy good service on the network.

A recap of their activation process showed that their system is a bit antiquated, given that they asked me if I wanted to port in from one of several providers that had been out of service for several years.

Overall though, as long as you are prepared to deal with some of these potential shortcomings, the service should be suitable for most who want to be on AT&T's network for less money that what you'd have to pay AT&T directly.

 

See also:

|  H2O Wireless news and deals

|  Configure your phone to work on the H2O Wireless network with the correct H2O Wireless APN settings.

| Shop H2O Wireless at Walmart

 

Sources:




Joe is the founder of BestMVNO.com. He started BestMVNO in 2013, because like many of you, he was unhappy with the high price he was paying his wireless provider for cell phone service. After researching how to cut costs on his phone bill, he came across the terms 'MVNO' and 'prepaid wireless', and learned there was a way he could keep using his favorite network without having to pay a premium price for it. Since then, through BestMVNO.com, Joe has been sharing his research about MVNOs and prepaid wireless so that others can learn how to save money on their own phone bills. Contact JP

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27 Comments on "H2O Wireless Review, My Personal Experience"

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Nate
Guest
Thorough review. I enjoy following these; keep it up! I’ve also tested Republic Wireless, interested in TW, and have been using H2O Wireless since last fall. I’d say my experience is quite similar. I always never made it through chat if there were 50 people in front of me in queue. I learned, as you seemed to experience, to find the low volume times to contact support…which isn’t always possible of course. I enjoyed the ability to jump from GSM-capable phone to phone, relatively high speeds compared to cricket, and solid at&t coverage. I disliked customer support the most, but… Read more »
John
Guest

Why is there more data included in the Unlimited 27 plan than in the Unlimited 31.5? Is that correct? (Not that I plan to sign up with them.)

Stephen Blakeney
Guest

I don’t think there really is an Unlimited 31.5 plan. The only place I ever see that one mentioned is on sites like this one. I doesn’t appear anywhere on the H2O website.

Karen
Guest

Good review. I used their pay as you go for about two years. The call quality and signal strength were good for me, but customer service is really bad. When I decided to leave for tello, I gave up my old number because I didn’t want to waste time with their customer service.

JACK
Guest
Probably THE worst experience of ANY phone service I’ve EVER had. It began when I took a phone to a local retail dealer, asking if that phone would be compatible – BEFORE I purchased it. They told me it would, so I bought the phono the. Nope. It wasn’t compatible and wouldn’t work with the SIM… which only became known AFTER buying a 30 Day Plan (+$10 SIM charge). So then they tried to sell me a $60 phone. I told them I was NOT interested in buying any more phones. It was only later that I went online to… Read more »
ALEX DEM
Guest

TERRIBLE PROVIDER! STAY AWAY! IGNORANT REPS THAT CAN’T DO ANYTHING BESIDES GET PAYMENT, SUPERVISORS ARE USELESS AND RUDE. STAY AWAY STAY AWAY

C. Jones
Guest

The only problem I have with H2O is the annoying messages to refill before placing a call when nearing your expiration date. I was lucky and didn’t have to wait long for their chat and the rep told me that the message service will be removed. Never happened.

Overall I have had great reception and no dropped calls.

Erik
Guest
I’ll echo comments about the annoying audio messages played before my phone calls are placed…annoying. For those of us on auto-pay, it’s a waste of time and it feels invasive. I keep coming back to H2O because it’s the best value…$27/month for unlimited talk/text and 3GB of data is unbeatable. Really port-in forms just need a few things; your personal information, account number and account pin. The drop-down list is almost irrelevant to the process. I ported back in a few days ago after trying FreedomPop (nightmare) and the port took a few hours. For me H2O ports are effortless… Read more »
Mari
Guest

they are full of [email protected] they say one thing an do another an charged my card more then wat it was supposed to be. An wen I called back for my refund they tell me they can’t do it !!! won’t be dealing with them no more .. they are some straight [email protected].

Jagadeesh
Guest

Customer care service is very pathetic. Very Very long waiting. in my case i have waited for an hour… And also they are not able to address the same issue though chat. it was waste of time. Not recommendable to any one.

wil
Guest

AND, if it has not changed , h2o will not support mms on iphones due to inability to enter settings manually .

Dan
Guest

They claim 3GB data but it’s not even 1GB in reality. I had 5GB plan with T-Mobile and I used only about 3GB per month with them. With H20, the 3 gigs were somehow used up in 3-4 days. Total scam. You get what you pay for.

Dan
Guest

Also forgot to mention: You can’t text pictures (unless iphone to iphone through wifi).

game writer guy
Guest

Nice. I’m using them right now and I am pretty content.
If anyone is considering joining, PM me or respond to this comment, and I’ll paypal you $12 if you join using my referral code.
Service quality is rock solid (even in my tin-roof house) but I have noticed that there are more 4G dead spots than I thought possible with AT&T’s network. Oh well. Doesn’t happen often.

wil
Guest

No mention of not be able to use mms with iphones because of apn settings auto load.

Mabi
Guest

This H2O sucks. They never help you out if you are experiencing an issue with them. Extremely disappointing!!!

Ike D.
Guest

Review’s pretty point on. H20 is notorious for lousy CS. That’s never changed in the nine years I’ve known about them. They also treat their dealers roughly. Kind of like Tracfone. Bad CS, treats dealers bad. FYI, you might want to update article to reflect the death of H20 sister Verizon mvno Envie. They went out of business with one day notice in March of this year.

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