Tags: phone

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Working around my phone plan’s lack of roaming

| philippines, travel


  • I need to deal with SMS one-time passwords, especially for online banking in the Philippines.
  • I like my plan with Freedom Mobile, but they don’t offer roaming in the Philippines.
  • My Philippine prepaid SIM will expire if I don’t regularly load it.

I could leave my SIM plugged into a phone and set up some kind of forwarding or logging. However, this means I can bring only one phone to the Philippines. Having two Android devices was handy for setting up WiFi Baby Monitor and for writing even if my battery was running low. On the other hand, we could use W-‘s phone as the receiver, I can keep a power bank or charger handy, and there might even be a spare phone at home that I can set up.

Alternatively, I can try to set up my Fongo number for incoming texts. I’m planning to pay for Internet access anyway. Some services like Namecheap won’t let me use the Fongo number for two-factor authentication, but others do.

I can check with W- if he has roaming. If so, maybe I can use his phone number as a backup.

I can use my Philippine prepaid SIM as the contact number (likely to be more successful with Philippine banks anyway), enable roaming before I leave, and periodically reload online to keep it active. If I can find the Smart Pinoy SIM, that can receive text messages with zero balance and it expires a year after the last load. I might also be able to change the contact number online once we’re back in Canada.

Hmm… Plenty of things to try. I think I like the convenience of bringing both phones, since they’re already all set up for writing. I’ll try Fongo first, then I’ll try the Philippine SIM if that doesn’t work. If I have to keep my SIM active by buying a roaming SIM and/or spending a few dollars a month, it’s probably worth it, and it won’t be for a super-long time anyway. It’s a good opportunity to experiment with paying for convenience.

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Quantified Awesome: Analyzing my cellphone data

| quantified

I’m curious about how much I use my cellphone, and for what purposes. Does it make sense to switch plans? What do the patterns tell me about how I communicate?

The Fido network website allows me to download a CSV of my usage, and I pulled in all the data available. In addition to the call data, I’ve been copying the summary data (daytime minutes, etc.) into another worksheet so that I can estimate how much I would pay with different cellphone plans. From there, I can come up with questions and neat graphs. I have summary data going back to Jan 2011, and I have detailed call data going back to March 2011. There’s a little fuzziness about dates because my billing cycle ends on the 11th of a month, but it should be fine for data analysis. In general, the month is the month of the bill.

How have my call patterns changed since I started my own business?


I took a vacation in May and October, which accounts for most of the dips in calls. I spend more time on incoming calls than on ongoing calls, as I prefer to send text or e-mail messages instead.

Am I on the phone a lot more now that I’m in business compared to when I was an employee?


This box and whisker plot shows that on average, I spend more time on the phone now that I’m in business. I’ve only been in business for five months and I’m comparing it with eight months of employee data, so it’s hard to tell if this pattern will continue. Still, it’s interesting to see the average shift. If you’re curious, I followed this tutorial on creating box and whisker plots in Microsoft Excel 2010.

What about text messages?


I send a lot of international text messages, mostly to my mom. =) I also send quite a few Canadian messages, mostly to Twitter. In May, we were in the Netherlands to attend Kathy’s wedding, so we coordinated plans through texting.

I haven’t been sending anything nearly like the 579 text messages that I sent in July 2006, though. Partly it’s because Canada is growing on me – some cellphone plans charge for incoming messages here (I know! Boggle), so I don’t want to inconvenience my friends. Partly it’s because I’ve been in introvertish mode. Partly it’s because I’m married and like spending most of my discretionary time with my husband, so I’m organizing fewer get-togethers and the like. (I’m also texting said husband less, because we can just talk to each other.)

When am I on the phone?


Travelling across timezones messes up my data, so I filtered this report to remove any calls while roaming networks. Most of my calls are during business hours. Some are after for a part-time project that I’ve been supporting, and there were a few late conference calls that I joined as well. Some late-night calls were about production issues – side-effect of taking on the system administration role in many of my projects!

On what days of the week am I on the phone?


I use my phone primarily for work, which is why you see so much more activity from Monday to Friday. I do get the occasional Saturday or Sunday call, sometimes about production issues that I need to look into. Thursday seems to have a lot of following-up-on-plans-for-the-weekend calls.

What do I want to do about this data?

I wanted to know if my cellphone plan is the right balance for me. After crunching the numbers, I’ve concluded that:

  • among Fido plans, my plan is pretty decent
  • Mobilicity is tempting, but reviews are mixed
  • WIND Mobile is probably a good experiment; must decide whether I’d want unlimited data. Probably. I want unlimited battery life first! Ah, well…

Do I want to wait for a port-in credit promo (typically $100), take advantage of the current international texting promo, or wait for other kinds of promos? My expected annual value for international texting is $28.50 per year. I’ll probably get a lot of value from giving myself more permission to play with data. I think I’ll wait for the Samsung Galaxy S3, though, because the display looks promising and I want a phone that runs Ice Cream Sandwich.

I don’t mind waiting to see how things shake out. It’s nice to know I’m not missing out on any clearly superior choices, and to know what my triggers are for reevaluating my decision.

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Switched my Fido plan

I switched my Fido plan to the $35 “Unlimited Joy” plan they were advertising. For $3.70 less than I was paying for my current plan (not considering taxes), I could make the following changes:

Old plan New plan
No included outgoing text messages Unlimited texts to Canada and international numbers
1000 evening/weekend minutes Unlimited evenings and weekends
100 anytime minutes 150 anytime minutes

Last month, I used 6.5 minutes on evenings/weekends and 5 minutes during the day. I do like the security of knowing incoming calls aren’t going to cost me a lot, though, especially as I sometimes use IBM’s VOIP systems to call people and have that connect to my cellphone. I sent seven text messages, which cost me $1.05 (compared to text messages in the Philippines! =( ). I made one long-distance call of less than a minute.

It would have cost me eight dollars in prorated charges to switch to the plan immediately, but I’m fine with waiting until the next billing cycle.

What do I plan to do with the changes? The change I care about the most involves unlimited texting, which will probably lead to lots of Twitter updates while I’m out and about, and more frequent contact with family and friends in the Philippines. =)

I can probably get a cheaper or more featureful plan with WIND Mobile, but since I can easily switch my Fido plan without locking myself into another contract, I don’t mind changing to a better Fido deal while considering the decision to switch. Over the holidays, WIND advertised a pretty sweet unlimited voice/text/data plan for $40, but I’ll wait until the reviews settle down a bit. They seem to have coverage and customer service challenges. I’ll keep an eye out for future promos, though. My Google Nexus One is compatible with the WIND network (thanks to W-‘s wonderful research), so that should be okay.

Tip: Check your cellphone plan – your choices might have improved!

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Phone statistics for Oct 11 – Nov 10

444:43 local minutes
209 messages sent locally
13 messages sent internationally
109 messages received
2 roaming messages received

Sept 11 to Oct 10

563:32 local minutes
46:00 US and roaming minutes
257 messages sent locally
42 messages sent while roaming
7 messages sent internationally

Aug 11 to Sept 10

762:57 local minutes
1:00 US and roaming minute
495 messages sent locally
3 messages sent while roaming
6 messages sent internationally

On Technorati:

Random Emacs symbol: gnus-group-uncollapsed-levels – Variable: Number of group name elements to leave alone when making a short group name.

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Posted: - Modified: | canada

Okay, I have officially settled in now. ;)

I used 437:08 local minutes and sent 579 text messages from July 12 to
August 11. See, that’s why I *had* to find an unlimited incoming and
way-too-many-text-messages plan… 579 text messages! That’s because I
organize get-togethers with broadcast text messages. I find it so much
nicer than push-to-talk, also. I wish text messaging service was more
reliable, though; sometimes messages get delayed for hours or even

It’s all about the mobile swarm.

On Technorati: ,

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