Say Hello to Tello - Shrink Your Mobile Phone Bill

Category: Mobile

Competition is a good thing, because it spurs innovation. Competition among mobile phone service providers benefits consumers, as it drives prices lower and erodes the anachronistic tyranny of long-term contracts that effectively enslave us to entrenched carriers. On the flipside, one example of free enterprise at its finest is mobile service provider Tello. Let's take a look at how it works, and find out if it will help you save on your monthly phone bill...

Hello, Tello! (Will it save you money?)

Tello is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that lets you build your own phone plan starting from just $5 per month. You might not be familiar with the acronym, but surely you've heard of other MVNOs, such as Tracfone, Consumer Cellular, Ting, and Republic Wireless. Simply put, MVNOs buy telecom services from the large nationwide carriers at "wholesale" prices and resell it under their own brand. Want to learn how Tello works, and how to make it work for you? Keep reading...

A MVNO like Tello does not own any carrier equipment; no cell towers, no data centers, no cables, etc. Instead, Tello buys network capacity from "America's largest, fastest, and most reliable network" and resells minutes, messages, and data to consumers. The MVNO business model enables entrepreneurial companies like Tello to try their innovative ideas in a marketplace dominated by giant, old, hidebound corporations like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Tello offers coast-to-coast wireless coverage in the USA and runs on the T-Mobile network. The 4G LTE network allows high quality calls (national and international), video streaming, and fast data connections. Faster 5G service is available, depending on your location and your phone.

Tello Mobile Phone plans

No contract is required with Tello; all plans are prepaid. There are no contracts, and no activation or early termination fees. Just roll your own plan, get a price, and change or quit whenever you like. Tethering (wifi hotspot) is permitted to share data with your other devices. Tello also has a referral program. Use your link to refer friends and if they place an order, you both get 10 Tello Dollars.

A plan includes calls to anywhere in the US, Canada, Mexico, India, and China (an interesting addition). Other countries can be called or texted on a pay-as-you-go basis. You can use Paypal, Visa, Amex, Discover or Mastercard to pay your monthly and ad hoc charges.

Tello isn't entirely virtual, they are US-based, with offices in Atlanta, South America and Europe. But to avoid the cost and headaches of call centers, Tello does all of its customer service online. That’s a red flag to some people, but having dealt with agents whose English left much to be desired, I am rather fond of online customer service. Tello claims that its Customer Service team will “answer in less than five seconds”.

Less Restrictions, More Value

Tello has eliminated several onerous restrictions often imposed by the big carriers. No longer are the most desirable phones tied to the most expensive plans. You can change phones whenever you wish without sticking to a carrier’s upgrade schedule or paying a penalty for “early” upgrades. Tello has a "bring your own phone" option and sells a variety of both low-end and popular phones with free shipping.

There are no restrictions on tethering - that is, using your phone as a mini-hotspot to let several devices connect to the Internet through it. The devices can be yours or anyone else’s.

“Ring-time charges” are out with Tello. Billable time begins when a conversation begins on a call; you don’t pay for 30 seconds or more of ringing before your friend answers or the call goes to voicemail.

Tello plans start as low as $5/month for 100 minutes of talk and free texting. You can also get a plan with 500 MB of data, with no calling minutes or text messages. I don’t know of another carrier who sells data-only plans like this one. You can put together a plan that exactly fits your mix of voice, text, and data usage, and change it any time you want. For example, a combination of 5 GB of data and unlimited text/talk is just $19/month. Play around with Tello’s plan calculator to see the many possibilities. Family plans are also available.

When Tello launched in 2016, I wasn't sure if their business model would prove profitable in the long run, but it looks like things are going well, and Tello is saving consumers money as well. Try their plan calculator and see if there is a Tello individual or family plan that costs less than what you're paying with Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Say Hello to Tello - Shrink Your Mobile Phone Bill"

Posted by:

Ken Alper
04 Aug 2022

I have been a Tello customer for about six months. Perfect for my needs. Free, unlimited USA calls and texts and one GB of data for $10.00 + tax/month. 4G lite and 5G (where available). Suits me just fine!

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

Does GSM or CDMA matter to Tello users? Is there a preference?

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

Ring-time charges is not billed by the incumbents because they have Answer Suoervision. It unusual that a small company such as this provides it. Do they bill in six second increments or do they roll up to the full minute on calls?

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

Please tell us if what you trll us about is available in Canada. Thanks

Posted by:

04 Aug 2022

My wife, daughter, and son joined Tello. So far so good.

Posted by:

Art F
04 Aug 2022

I've been a Tello customer for several years, and am completely delighted. Costs me $6 a month. Customer service has been great on the rare occasions I've needed it. They do have some customer service via phone as well as online.

Posted by:

Shawn Rosvold
04 Aug 2022

Tello is not available in Canada. There are no true MVNOs in Canada as the federal regulator, the CRTC, is owned by the large media companies. A Canadian MVNO, dotmobile, has been trying to change things without much luck. Here's a great piece on Canada's cellular woes.

Posted by:

05 Aug 2022

Been with Tello since 2018. $7/month for 100 minutes, 1G data and unlimited texts. Pay thru Paypal. Completely happy.

Posted by:

05 Aug 2022

@Shawn Rosvold I read somewhere recently that Ryan Reynolds is trying to get Mint Mobile into Canada. It also uses the T-Mobile network. Here in the US, if you don't mind paying for a year in advance, you get unlimited talk & text plus 4 GB of data each month. For $5 more per month, you get 10 GB of data. If you buy fewer months in advance, the price goes up a little.

Posted by:

05 Aug 2022

T-Mobile has a great plan for seniors $15 a moth with unlimited text and Talk and 2.5 GB data increases by 500 MB each year up to GB. Nothing like dealing with a real mobile carrier where you can walk in and get help if needed.

Posted by:

Michael Carroll
05 Aug 2022

Bob did not do his research by contacting actual TELLO users. Had he done so, he would have found that since the Sprint-TMobile merger, internet data speed during normal working hours is throttled to the point of making the service unusable and the only way to use the data service is outside of normal working hours. This can be verified by any of the available internet speed test programs.

Posted by:

Jim Walsh
05 Aug 2022

An alternative is Google Voice. I'm currently in Ireland and long distance is one cent per minute! A small, inexpensive hardware device at home provides VOIP calls and SMS text via Google Voice services to my handset, and I can pick up calls to my Google Voice number on my cell phone here. Most services are free and Anvio can provide 911 service for a small fee. Call quality is fine in my opinion.
I've used both Google Voice and Anvio for several years and am happy. My only concern is whether Google will some day eliminate or begin charging for the service.

Posted by:

Lee Neas
05 Aug 2022

Is the following comment posted on 05Aug2022 true?
Bob did not do his research by contacting actual TELLO users. Had he done so, he would have found that since the Sprint-TMobile merger, internet data speed during normal working hours is throttled to the point of making the service unusable and the only way to use the data service is outside of normal working hours. This can be verified by any of the available internet speed test programs.
Thank you for your answer.

Posted by:

Norman Rosen
05 Aug 2022

Just left Verizon for Ting. I am not a heavy data user and the only thing I lost was a monthly bill twice as much. No loss in coverage.

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