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Old 05-28-2019, 02:17 PM   #1
hazel
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Does a mobile contract like this exist?


About a week ago, my phone line suddenly went dead. I still had Internet but no phone. I know of two other people on the same exchange who also lost their connection that day, and two more who did not. It was a problem at the exchange obviously and it was soon fixed. But it got me seriously worried.

That phone is my lifeline. If I had had a serious accident while it was down, I could not even have called 999. And as it was, I couldn't ring and tell BT that my phone wasn't working, because... my phone wasn't working! I had to visit a friend and use her phone to do that.

So I got out an old Nokia mobile that someone had once given me, got a SIM card from one of those little Indian-run phone shops that are everywhere nowadays and bought 5 of phone time. It still doesn't work actually so I think maybe this was a minor scam. But while trying to get it to work, I used up 3 of what was on the card just like that!

Of course it could be the phone itself that is kapput. That's no great problem because you can buy a simple handset like that for about 20. The problem is that I don't need a mobile phone except for the emergency situation when my landline doesn't work. But it seems you can't keep a mobile simply for emergencies. If you don't use it every month, the SIM gets deactivated after a while. And if you do use it just to keep it active, it's wildly expensive.

It seems the companies insist on this because that's how they make their profits. But I was wondering if someone other than a commercial company, somebody like Age UK for instance, provided a service like this. Because it seems to me that an awful lot of old and disabled people could do with it.

Last edited by hazel; 05-28-2019 at 02:19 PM.
 
Old 05-28-2019, 03:16 PM   #2
petelq
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Hazel, you can get a o2 sim sent to you free (go online) and the calls are 3p per minute. That's cheaper than a landline. You don't need a contract just an occasional top-up and I think you get about 3 months before they'll nuke the phone. So 1 call every 3 months is not going to break the bank.
Just make sure the sim is compatible with your phone of course.
They do send you texts to encourage you to use the phone more but I think you can sign out of that or just ignore them. The texts aren't particularly intrusive.
I use mine instead of the landline except at weekends which I get for free.
 
Old 05-28-2019, 07:32 PM   #3
jefro
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In the US I think that any phone has to be legally able to dial emergency. I used to carry one in my car for that reason till I eventually bought a cell plan. Not sure if England has that also.

I started with a Republic wireless deal where your phone used wifi to call. Wonder if they have that there? It is still $5 a month of you have an older phone.

However if your internet worked you should be able to use any of the VIOP services from google to ooma to skype.

In the US they also tax everyone about $2 a month to supply phone service to folks who meet certain limits.

I'd think that there is a AARP sort of group in your country that would have tips for grey market.

Last edited by jefro; 05-28-2019 at 07:39 PM.
 
Old 05-29-2019, 04:01 AM   #4
TenTenths
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In the UK it's possible to pick up a SIM / Contract free phone for under 20 from Argos (there's 7 of them on the website) and add a Pay As You Go SIM from any of the networks.

Also, a handset without a SIM card is able to make 999 / 911 calls.

Last edited by TenTenths; 05-29-2019 at 04:05 AM.
 
Old 05-29-2019, 06:41 AM   #5
hazel
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You don't even need to go online to get a dumb mobile for 20. I've seen plenty in phone shops for that sort of cash. The SIM that I bought was from Lebara and it seems they eat money. Maybe I should try O2 instead, like Pete suggests. Istr there's an O2 shop in Harrow.

My neighbour suggested I just ring my landline once a month to keep the SIM active. What I need to find out right now is whether the phone itself has stopped working properly. No point buying a new one until I know that. I hope a friend with a mobile can give me some help.
 
Old 05-30-2019, 01:31 AM   #6
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
So I got out an old Nokia mobile that someone had once given me, got a SIM card from one of those little Indian-run phone shops that are everywhere nowadays and bought 5 of phone time. It still doesn't work actually so I think maybe this was a minor scam. But while trying to get it to work, I used up 3 of what was on the card just like that!
clearly something went wrong there.
fwiw, where I live every mobile company offers prepaid sim cards and one does not need to resort to shadiness to get them - the regular, properly illuminated cornershops also sell them.
and i see no reason why an old nokia should not be sufficient for the task, or how it could ever break.

Quote:
If you don't use it every month, the SIM gets deactivated after a while. And if you do use it just to keep it active, it's wildly expensive.
that's a problem.
but i'd ask if it's possible to get a contract that is more suitable to your needs; i don't see why it has to be wildly expensive.
there's also devices that basically just call emergency when you press a red button.
I bet internally they just use the mobile phone network.

...and:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jefro View Post
I think that any phone has to be legally able to dial emergency.
I never tried this, but afaik this applies to my country of residence, too. even without a sim card.
 
Old 05-30-2019, 06:32 AM   #7
hazel
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Actually those red button devices use your landline. I know because a neighbour of mine has one. There's a box on the wall like a router, which is connected to the line and the button connects wirelessly to that.

I'm going round to a friend on Monday to fix the sound on her computer (there's another post about that somewhere) and we will try some final tests to see where the problem lies. She has both a mobile and a landline.

I already know that mobile to landline and landline to mobile don't work. All you hear on the landline phone is a loud buzz, though when you speak into it, you can hear the speech clearly on the mobile. We'll try mobile to mobile, and then try the SIM in her iPhone for mobile to landline and back. If that works, it's the phone that busted and I shall need to buy a new one.
 
Old 05-30-2019, 07:46 AM   #8
wpeckham
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In the U.S. we have TING. They charge $6 USD per month for you having a phone on their service. They add on federal taxes, a charge for the numer of minutes of talk, number of SMS messages you send, and the amount of data you use. If you turn off mobile data and do not use SMS and make less than 100 minutes of calls. it adds $3. No calls, no $3. Since it is usae based, they bill you at the END of the month.

My bills for my family went from $160 / month on a major carrier to under $50 per month on Ting.

The UK really needs a plan like that!
 
Old 06-03-2019, 04:54 PM   #9
jefro
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"Actually those red button devices use your landline."

Well, some do while others use LTE and others require home internet. In a regional disaster no means will help usually. At one time the copper POTS was quite reliable but almost no one has it anymore. Some areas have it available for specially for medical device just because it is so reliable.


Is there no program in that area for elder assistance on these devices?


Not sure is US phones would call without a sim. Never tried it. I have seen it where the sim was in conflict or some such deal.

I have been trying to see if there is some social program or lifeline sort of program in the UK but nothing here shows up.

Last edited by jefro; 06-03-2019 at 05:11 PM.
 
Old 06-03-2019, 05:04 PM   #10
ChuangTzu
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hazel, this article may interest you: https://www.finder.com/uk/best-mobile-plans-for-seniors
 
Old 06-04-2019, 05:56 AM   #11
hazel
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Yes, that is helpful. Thank you. I note that on your link, O2 is described as the cheapest PAYG plan for my type of phone. Another poster recommended O2 as well. Using Lebara was probably a mistake (though it's supposed to be very good for international calls). We have a lot of Asians in Harrow and I suppose they all phone home regularly, which is why all our shops sell Lebara SIMs.

The reason I can't use the phone at the moment is that it won't transmit speech; it only receives. But I haven't tried it with text. I must try that out next.
 
  


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