A really basic question about smart phones

March 11, 2020 at 14:07:50
Specs: several
Is the Internet provider for a smart phone the same as
the phone company for that phone?

Is every phone company that provides cellular phone
service now also an IP?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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March 11, 2020 at 15:02:41
yes. and yes. (the below is an explanation, because i somehow missread your questions haha)
i'm not sure about "carriers" in the USA tho.

here you buy a phone seperatly with a sim card from a provider, the provider , well provides an internet (E, 2G, 3G, 4G, 4g+ or in the future 5G network often multiple to cover more ground) and cellular network.

if you buy a smartphone with a subscription, you're often bound by a contract to a certain provider (like Vodafone for example). But this is normally for a few years. to pay back the phone you got for free or at a lower price.

in the end if you can afford to buy a smartphone and a subscription/sim only seperatly you'll be cheaper off in the long run. it's essentially a loan, and you now how those work :)

specs: https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserR...

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March 11, 2020 at 15:28:44
I have heard of the possibility of buying the SIM card separately
from the phone, but I have never heard about a specific instance
of anyone actually doing that. I surmise that the vast majority of
phone purchases are with the SIM included and the user never
buys a new or different SIM for it. Is that correct?

What is the relationship between the provider of the phone service
(The Phone Company or carrier), the provider of the SIM card, and
the Internet provider? Are they usually one and the same, but
sometimes two different entities, or sometimes even three?

Is every SIM card associated with a specific phone company, a
specific Internet provider, or both, or neither, or do I misunderstand

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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March 11, 2020 at 15:31:14
It's the same in the US (IP = Cell provider). But a majority of the area in the US is just 4G (maybe 3G in some areas); 5G won't be a panacea for those areas anytime soon.

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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March 11, 2020 at 15:49:34
I paid 34,50 for 24 months for a iphone 5S +100 upfront, back in 2015.
I got a subscription that was worth about 15 a month.
The phone was worth about 500 new back then.


So i ended up paying 68 more, because i didnt have the 500 there and then.

It's a cleverly disguised loan!

specs: https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserR...

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March 11, 2020 at 16:04:19
In the UK the situation is seriously different to that in the USA/Canada..

In the UK if you have phone + service contract, the charge includes a month by month payment for phone - for a defined period of time as regards paying for the phone (which is invariably a shorter period than that of the overall contract).

Once that period overing the payment for the phone has ended, the contract payments reduces (or are supposed to) for the balance of the contract left to run. In effect having paid off the phone you are simply paying for the service, and you own the phone.

Phones phyxed or tied/locked to the provider have to be unlocked if you request it. BUT... you are still obliged to finish the contract, or pay it off before you change service providers. There is (supposed to be) no charge for the unlocking.

It wasn’t always that easy, and companies charged a fee to unlock a phone; or you went to a local shop who would do it for a lesser fee. The latter usually made money that way because some service providers either wouldn’t provide the unlock codes, or really charged for it. Those codes and how to use them were also found online..., but not everyone was happy to unlock their own phone.

Once you have paid for the phone it’s yours,and once unlocked by whatever method... it and can be used on any compatible network (subject to the contract conditions being fulfilled as above).

The cost of the phone (via the service provider) is usually about the same as if bought elsewhere; and of course if you buy it elsewhere it’s already unlocked and often a little cheaper. Thus if you can, and are happy to, buy the phone wherever and choose your service provider and contract/deal separately...

The situation in N. America is much different, as there are two phone protocols used. One used by one group of service providers, and the other by those not in the first group.

You can't (usually) take a phone from one group and use it in the other. In the USA/Canada The system, service options and the like are heavily loaded in favour of the companies; whereas in the UK (and I think in the EEC in general) they’re more balanced and favourable to the customer too.

It is one area where a service is better than in the USA/Canada. But it did take serious efforts to get it that way. Sadly the phone companies in USA/Canada have powerful friends in Washington, amongst the Republican party especially...

If one gets into the whole cable tv and satellite scene in USA/Canada it’s even worse; especially with regards to broadband/DSL... Again that situation in the UK is much more balanced and fairer to the customer. That too has taken a while to achieve/improve, although there is still room for improvement. Some parts of the UK still have either no internet... or “very” slow... Present government is allegedly addressing funds and efforts to resolve that; but that has been said before by previous administrations...

message edited by trvlr

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March 11, 2020 at 20:54:27
In The Philippines it is a bit more liberal...
You can opt for a subscription based plan including or excluding the phone. Depending on the included phone price, a down payment may be charged. Most services (phone calls, sms, internet DATA) are linked the SIM and charged by the mobile company on a monthly bill!
Plan based subscriptions may included streaming services free for a few months, then you have the option to subscribe to the streaming service separately. (I subscribed to Spotify)
Unlocked phones are available everywhere; in shops and online and work with any SIM from the mobile companies.

Another option is to get a prepaid SIM. This is one of the most used option here in the PH (some don't have an address or live in shanty towns) . People who don't want to receive a monthly bill. Get a (cheap) phone and insert the SIM and off you go. Of course you need to "load" the SIM number; from mobile phone companies to convenience stores to online banking etc..
If the phone is locked then the prepaid SIM of the mobile company, that locked the phone, will work.

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March 11, 2020 at 23:39:46
It is quite common in th UK to buy phone and SIM desperately. I buy pay-as-you-go SIMs; they cost me £10 and that gives me £10 credit. I then just top that up when I need to (normally once or twice a year!). Much cheaper, for my usage, than any contract.

All manufacturers sell unlocked phones here.

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March 12, 2020 at 14:07:01
Can those replies be translated into answers to my questions?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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March 12, 2020 at 14:26:58
As I see it - yes to both questions...

re’ #1

If the phone service is provided by whomever who provides the internet connection, then that whomever is a phone company; regardless of the model smart phone involved


If that “whomever” is enabling/allowing internet connections as well as their standard phone and text/sms service. So yes that whomever is an IP as well as phone company.

There is little or no mileage in providing just a phone service.

Just about “every” company provides both - one way or another.

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March 12, 2020 at 14:30:00
The company that supplies the SIM card provides both phone and Internet services. Thus it is both phone company and ISP. If you want to know more just do a Google search.

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March 12, 2020 at 17:16:46
re: "Is every phone company that provides cellular phone service now also an IP?"

IP = Internet Protocol

ISP = Internet Service Provider

Sometimes the company starts as an ISP and later builds/buys a mobile phone company.


"For the most part, Xfinity Mobile works just like any other wireless carrier. The two most notable differences are you must maintain a Comcast subscription and your connection will automatically transfer over to a Comcast Wi-Fi hotspot when one is in range."

message edited by DerbyDad03

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March 12, 2020 at 20:19:56
Dadgummit! How long have I been saying "IP" instead of "ISP"?
Years, probably. "Internet provider" seemed to fit, but I conflated
the two terms.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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March 13, 2020 at 04:56:54
I think we all gnu what you meant by IP in this case..

But top marks and a gold star to DD for clarifying etc.; as it might prove useful should anyone come across this thread whenever and not be as savvy as wot we iz here...

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March 16, 2020 at 14:43:58
My last two phones were bought as unlocked. That means I could connect those phones to any provider that the phone was/is compatible with. I have been with T-mobile for about 20 years. I am currently a pre-paid customer and pay only $60 US per month tax included, for 2 phones with unlimited everything. This model works for me. I look at the total cost of ownership over the life of the phone. My current phone is a Pixel 3 XL, which pairs with my VA supplied hearing aids.

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