A Rookie’s Guide to Wireless Carrier Slang
The playing field of wireless carriers is full of tough guys and they don’t play nice every time.
In order to get ahead and find what is best for you in terms of service and your ideal phone plan, you have to know your way around and get the lingo.
The big players love to dazzle you with a lot of technical terms as if we are always talking about UFOs and not MVNOs.
You end up saying yes to everything they say, not knowing what to choose and feeling discouraged, just because you don’t actually speak the same language. Take back the control of your money and choices and know your wireless slang, word!
So, let’s get started with the very beginning, what is a….
MVNO = A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), or virtual network operator (VNO), or mobile other licensed operator (MOLO), is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which the MVNO provides services to its customers. Tello, for example, is a Sprint MVNO, as you know by now.
BYOD = Bring your own device
This is the process of enrolling your previous owned device to another carrier, as long as they are compatible, not being obliged to buy a new one. This is actually one of the most important things that you should consider when switching carriers and it’s a sign your provider is flexible.
BYOP = build your own plan
The ability to build your own phone plan and hand pick the number of minutes, texts & data is one of the essentials when choosing your wireless carrier. If you’re not into predefined plans, this is the way to go: pure freedom and paying for what you actually need.
PAYG = Pay as you go Credit
This is an alternative product that works in a very traditional way: you buy the amount of prepaid credit you need in advance of service. You have a balance which can be queried at any time and which can be topped up periodically.
CDMA = Code-Division Multiple Access is a digital cellular technology that uses spread-spectrum techniques. Unlike competing systems, such as GSM, that use TDMA, CDMA does not assign a specific frequency to each user. Instead, every channel uses the full available spectrum. CDMA provides better capacity for voice & data communications than other mobile technologies, allowing more subscribers to connect at any given time.
Interesting fact: CDMA is more secure since it is a military technology first used during World War II by English allies to foil German attempts at jamming transmissions.
How is this info important to you? It matters when it comes to changing your phone. It’s easier to swap phones on GSM networks because GSM carriers put customer information on a removable SIM card. That’s not the case with CDMA. In the U.S., CDMA carriers use network-based white lists to verify their subscribers. That means you can only switch phones with your carrier’s permission.
GSM = Global System for Mobile Communications is the primary type of technology used for cell phones in the rest of the world, whereas within the United States, a small number of network service providers are on the GSM standard, like T–Mobile and AT&T. That means the amount of coverage an individual may receive when using a GSM-compliant phone may be much more restricted.
On the other hand, it’s much easier to swap phones on GSM networks, because GSM carriers put customer information on a removable SIM card. Take the card out, put it in a different phone, and the new phone now has your number. The interchangeability of GSM cell phones, as well as the ability to switch between networks, makes them a much more appealing option for international travelers.
4G LTE = The “G” stands for generation and basically, it says that 4G is the most current generation of cell phone network coverage and speeds. Before 3G, speeds of 1G and 2G were too slow to allow you do all the things like streaming videos, surfing the web and downloading music.
The fourth-generation long term evolution, sometimes referred to as “the gold standard of wireless technology,” thanks to its ability to deliver both speed and power in more places in the world. Specifically, 4G stands for the fourth generation of data technology for cellular networks.