Just about anyone you’d ask is familiar with the top-tier wireless service providers in Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. What about lesser known, or newer brands?

Some companies, like Boost, Metro, and Cricket, do a great job of advertising on TV and media but there are others like Net10 who have a small presence in the space through retailers.

Let’s take a look at a relatively upstart carrier, Tello. This guide will serve to help you understand what the MVNO offers and how it competes in the mobile arena.

About

Tello is a newer player in the mobile field and finds itself in the increasingly crowded segment of low-cost, no-frills alternatives. Its service uses Sprint’s network for coverage but it operates with its own plans and features.


PODCAST: What is an MVNO?


Rate Plans

Tello rate plans are no-contract, meaning you can go month-to-month with no long-term agreement, cancellation, or activation fees. Moreover, they do not charge for going over your allotted data. Hit your threshold and you’ll find your speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing cycle.

Customers can mix and match rate plans based on personal needs. A lot of users have access to Wi-Fi connections, or don’t make many calls in a month. To that end, it’s possible to dial things up and down to suit tastes. What’s more, one can change their plan as often as needed.

There are four ready-made plans that do a great job of meeting the demands of most users. They cost as low as $ 10 per month and include unlimited text and calling.

  • $ 10/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with 1GB of high-speed data
  • $ 14/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with 2GB of high-speed data
  • $ 19/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with 4GB of high-speed data
  • $ 39/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with 12GB of high-speed data

Other Tello Features

Tello offers a handful of other options to its customers, including mobile hotspot and international calls. You can use any amount of your data plan to tether other devices. Calls to Mexico, Canada, and China are the same as if you called in the United States.

International Calls & Texts

In addition to the aforementioned countries, Tello subscribers can make calls to other India, Cuba, and a host of other countries. Each has its own rate and can be used in a mix-and-match fashion. All one need do is purchase a Pay As You Go credit ahead of time. The credit can also be used for SMS or data, depending on which plan you’re signed up with at the time.

Tello Dollars

Tello has a referral program which rewards you for signing up friends and family members. Share your referral link, and once your friend places their first successful order, you get $ 10 Tello Dollars. Your friend also gets $ 10 Tello Dollars.

You can refer as many friends as you like and the money can be used for things like rate plans, phones, and PAYG credits.

Handset Selection

Taking a look at the current lineup of phones offered through Tello we find familiar names from brands like LG, Samsung, and Motorola as well as Kyocera and Alcatel. All told, there are more than two dozen phones to choose from.



As is often the case with prepaid providers and MVNO brands, selection is a mixed bag and skews more toward affordability versus power.

About half of the current roster is comprised of refurbished phones. We do recognize there are some popular devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7, and Motorola E4 and E4 Plus with sizable discounts.

It’s worth noting that the phones you order from Tello will come in plain generic packaging and may only include the charger and battery. There will be no manual, earbuds, or other accessories.

Bring Your Own Device

You can use any Sprint-compatible phone just so long as there’s no unpaid balance on another network. What’s more, you’ll need to ensure it’s unlocked for use outside of Sprint if it was previously used with another carrier.

Head to Tello’s website to check whether your specific model is supported.

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