Free Mobile Phone Service

Is there any way to have FREE mobile phone service? YES!

Updated 11/19/2011 – Added link to VOIP on GTab.
Yes, its free

Last year, I bought a T-Mobile G2 phone. But the T-Mobile service in my area is so weak that I disconnected from them. Still, I use the phone – without a contract and at no cost. I can make and receive regular phone calls with anyone in the US & Canada – at no charge. That is technology, my friend.

Someone in the front row has their hand up… “Can I do that with my phone?” they ask, excitedly! Well yes, if your phone is capable.

First, let me explain some of the problems of mobile phones:

  1. Phones have different Operating Systems (OS). No matter what you do, the OS limits you to whatever works on that OS. Some phones have been hacked and the Android OS installed on phones that were shipped with the Windows Mobile OS, etc. but that is either difficult or impossible – depending upon the phone.
  2. Phones are on different technologies. CDMA phones (Sprint & Verizon) do not work on each other’s networks. GSM phones (AT&T & T-Mo) will not work on the CDMA networks at all. T-Mo and AT&T roam on each other’s networks but their data protocols are different. The only common denominator is the EDGE data (about 60k).
  3. Phones are SIM locked. This means that an AT&T phone will not work with a T-Mo SIM card or visa versa. However, federal law mandates that carriers MUST give you the sim unlock code. After executing the code on your phone, the phone will work with a sim card from any compatible carrier (be aware of the data problems mentioned in the last paragraph).
  4. Phones are boot-locked. Some phones can hacked to give access to the boot-level or “root” of the phone. Phones can be “jail broken” (term usually given to such work on Apple phones) or “rooted” (similar work done on Android devices). Once a phone has been boot unlocked, the ROM and other firmware can be replaced or updated. However, all the physical limitations of technology are still present. A “jail broken” ATT iPhone will work on the T-Mo network but you can only use the data at Edge speeds. However, a jail broken Verizon iPhone will NOT work on the T-Mo or ATT network.

With all that said, there may be a real value in having an old (no contract) phone to play with. Especially if it is an Android device.

Here is what I did with my G2.

  1. I signed up for a Google Voice account and connected the phone as the primary answering phone.
  2. I called T-Mo and get the sim-unlock-code and executed it.
  3. I rooted the device and put CM7 on it (this has value but is not essential for the process)
  4. I shut down my account with T-Mo and removed the T-Mo sim card entirely. That means that there is no network – except WiFi. All other functions are retained. (Actually, I later added a pay-as-you-go sim for emergencies but this is not essential)
  5. I purchased the GrooVe IP app from the Android Market and set it up on the phone with my Google Voice acct.
  6. Now, I can make/receive unlimited (free) local and LD phone calls to/from my Google Voice number – at no charge. The only restriction is that I have to be within range of WiFi. That can be from my home network, most available public networks, a friend’s network (if they allow you access), WiFi shared from another phone, or – in my case – from a Verizon MiFi device. (I only use the MiFi when I am traveling to assure that I do not lose access to the telephone system.)

This should be possible with any fairly new Android device. It may also work with another OS but I don’t know. (It would require GrooVe IP or a similar app.). BTW, this is the same process I used on my GTab to use it as a phone – except that I could just begin at # 5 in the last list. Here is the link to my article on using VOIP on the GTab:Β GTab works for REGULAR phone calls

So, can you use your old phone for more than other people do? Tell us in the comments..

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31 Responses to Free Mobile Phone Service

  1. Paul Davidenko says:

    This was a gr8 article! Iv always wanted to forget about my cell phone bill, took me a while but I actually found a legit way to do it. You do have to do some work of course. If your not happy with your phone service or you pay too much, I recommend you to check this new carrier out. So far I like it! No contract, Everything unlimited + more (reduce or remove your phone bill when you share with others) only 50 bucks πŸ™‚
    (link removed by Ray. Such links – that financially benefit you – are not allowed)

  2. David C says:

    This is great information, although you are always limited to the constraints of WiFi. One thing I found kind of funny was the use of a MiFi device. Wouldn’t that make the point of having free service pointless, since you’re just redistributing that spending to the MiFi service and still being limited to the quality of the data?

    A solution could be to get free unlimited calling in the US and up to 500 minutes of international calling (from the US), which is something my company actually offers our customers. You could still use the WiFi calling from the use of Google Voice since many of our phones are Android and are quite easy to root and/or put another Android ROM, if need be.

    If you have any questions pertaining to my method please don’t hesitate to ask.

    David

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the info David. You are correct that I had to make a 2yr with Verizon and I am spending the $50/mo. However, it is pure data and I can use it on any wifi device I want. I have my laptop, phone and gtab all working with the same data source when I am on the road. When I am at home, I don’t have to use it at all – use my cable ISP for data to my home wifi.
      I did look at the pre-paids and I understand that any decent Android phone can tether to do a similar thing but none of the pre-paid (that I found) offered a decent plan on a network that serves my rural area. Basically, I can only use either the Verizon or ATT networks.

  3. David C says:

    This is great information, although you are always limited to the constraints of WiFi. One thing I found kind of funny was the use of a MiFi device. Wouldn’t that make the point of having free service pointless, since you’re just redistributing that spending to the MiFi service and still being limited to the quality of the data?

    A solution could be to get free unlimited calling in the US and up to 500 minutes of international calling (from the US), which is something my company actually offers our customers. You could still use the WiFi calling from the use of Google Voice since many of our phones are Android and are quite easy to root and/or put another Android ROM, if need be.

    If you have any questions pertaining to my method please don’t hesitate to ask.

    David

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the info David. You are correct that I had to make a 2yr with Verizon and I am spending the $50/mo. However, it is pure data and I can use it on any wifi device I want. I have my laptop, phone and gtab all working with the same data source when I am on the road. When I am at home, I don’t have to use it at all – use my cable ISP for data to my home wifi.
      I did look at the pre-paids and I understand that any decent Android phone can tether to do a similar thing but none of the pre-paid (that I found) offered a decent plan on a network that serves my rural area. Basically, I can only use either the Verizon or ATT networks.

  4. Wayne says:

    Hi Ray & Philip,

    I can attest what Ray said is correct. With Google Voice &
    free WiFi at St. John, Canada, I could place free calls to the
    USA without any problem. I strongly believe it was your GV configuration.

    Furthermore, when I was in Spain about 11/2 years ago, I was able to make free calls back to the US, free of charge on the gratis hotel WiFi network. Likewise, friends and relatives back in the States were able to call me, while I was in Spain, via my Google Voice number. They paid absolutely nothing, because those were US-to-US calls.

    Hope this helps.

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the note Wayne!
      Isn’t it cool to show friends how you can make calls without a sim card?
      And to make and receive free calls from Spain must have caused a few gasps!
      .
      The question is…. Will Google extend the service beyond 2011? They have assured us that it will remain free for the rest of this year but they have not said anything about next year.

  5. Wayne says:

    Hi Ray & Philip,

    I can attest what Ray said is correct. With Google Voice &
    free WiFi at St. John, Canada, I could place free calls to the
    USA without any problem. I strongly believe it was your GV configuration.

    Furthermore, when I was in Spain about 11/2 years ago, I was able to make free calls back to the US, free of charge on the gratis hotel WiFi network. Likewise, friends and relatives back in the States were able to call me, while I was in Spain, via my Google Voice number. They paid absolutely nothing, because those were US-to-US calls.

    Hope this helps.

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the note Wayne!
      Isn’t it cool to show friends how you can make calls without a sim card?
      And to make and receive free calls from Spain must have caused a few gasps!
      .
      The question is…. Will Google extend the service beyond 2011? They have assured us that it will remain free for the rest of this year but they have not said anything about next year.

  6. philip says:

    hi ray, would be great if u can figure out this problem. im in canada i have google voice and can make calls from my pc. i have grooveip on my gtab but when i try to place a call with groove it says im not currently registered with google voice..i have gcomb tks

    • Ray Waldo says:

      If you can use the service on your computer then it is unlikely that Google Voice is the problem. I suspect that you did not configure GrooVe IP correctly. When you check the settings, make sure that the account info is correct.

  7. philip says:

    hi ray, would be great if u can figure out this problem. im in canada i have google voice and can make calls from my pc. i have grooveip on my gtab but when i try to place a call with groove it says im not currently registered with google voice..i have gcomb tks

    • Ray Waldo says:

      If you can use the service on your computer then it is unlikely that Google Voice is the problem. I suspect that you did not configure GrooVe IP correctly. When you check the settings, make sure that the account info is correct.

  8. Mike says:

    How can I get setup with free phone service being on low-income and not understanding the lingo ??? Thank you Mike

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Well Mike:
      There is no requirement that anyone be on low- or hi- or med- income for this to work. The only requirement is that you have an Android device running android 2.2 or greater.
      The “Free” in this article is the SERVICE – not the phone. YOU MUST already have an Android phone. If you do not (or if you don’t know what it is) then I can’t help you get free service. You need to read the article and maybe find some additional reading from Google.com.
      Did you read our article (above)? I tried to explain all of this. If you have specific questions, I will try to answer.
      The purpose of this site is to ATTEMPT to “translate” the tecno jargon/lingo into common, everyday language. For the vast majority of our readers, it appears that we have done a pretty good job of that. However, if you do not – or cannot – understand the above article, I am afraid that I cannot help you.

  9. Mike says:

    How can I get setup with free phone service being on low-income and not understanding the lingo ??? Thank you Mike

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Well Mike:
      There is no requirement that anyone be on low- or hi- or med- income for this to work. The only requirement is that you have an Android device running android 2.2 or greater.
      The “Free” in this article is the SERVICE – not the phone. YOU MUST already have an Android phone. If you do not (or if you don’t know what it is) then I can’t help you get free service. You need to read the article and maybe find some additional reading from Google.com.
      Did you read our article (above)? I tried to explain all of this. If you have specific questions, I will try to answer.
      The purpose of this site is to ATTEMPT to “translate” the tecno jargon/lingo into common, everyday language. For the vast majority of our readers, it appears that we have done a pretty good job of that. However, if you do not – or cannot – understand the above article, I am afraid that I cannot help you.

  10. Hoo Kang says:

    Ray,

    Thanks for the amazing information you provide on your website.

    Quick question: How do you manage Google Voice and all of your android devices?

    E.g. I have the Gtab, Moto Droid, what is your setup like and how do you have Groove IP setup?

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      First, when you purchase an application from the market, you can use it on any compatible device you have registered with the same Google account. That is a technical issue. Legally, you should abide by the license for the application. So, unless the license forbids it, you can use the GrooVe IP app on all devices.
      Second, GrooVe IP does not have to be linked to the same Google account that the device and market are linked to. So, if you have more than one google account (legal?) and the associated Google Voice accounts, then each device could have it’s own phone number and be independent of all the others.
      Alternately, you could have all devices ring on the same gv account and you just answer which ever device is handy.
      Regardless of incoming setup, outgoing calls are configured in Google Voice settings.

  11. Hoo Kang says:

    Ray,

    Thanks for the amazing information you provide on your website.

    Quick question: How do you manage Google Voice and all of your android devices?

    E.g. I have the Gtab, Moto Droid, what is your setup like and how do you have Groove IP setup?

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      First, when you purchase an application from the market, you can use it on any compatible device you have registered with the same Google account. That is a technical issue. Legally, you should abide by the license for the application. So, unless the license forbids it, you can use the GrooVe IP app on all devices.
      Second, GrooVe IP does not have to be linked to the same Google account that the device and market are linked to. So, if you have more than one google account (legal?) and the associated Google Voice accounts, then each device could have it’s own phone number and be independent of all the others.
      Alternately, you could have all devices ring on the same gv account and you just answer which ever device is handy.
      Regardless of incoming setup, outgoing calls are configured in Google Voice settings.

  12. Juan C. Zayas says:

    Well, I just did a gTablet reboot, and Presto! It is working. Looks like the old fashion tech support answer: ‘just reboot it’ is valid for gTablets too! πŸ™‚

    I can make and receive calls now!

    Moving forward, I have plugged an USB headphone/mic to the gTable, but not able to use it.

    Also, enabled the Bluetooth, but test resulted in gTablet crash, needed to reboot it again.

    Does anybody has experienced this?

  13. Juan C. Zayas says:

    Well, I just did a gTablet reboot, and Presto! It is working. Looks like the old fashion tech support answer: ‘just reboot it’ is valid for gTablets too! πŸ™‚

    I can make and receive calls now!

    Moving forward, I have plugged an USB headphone/mic to the gTable, but not able to use it.

    Also, enabled the Bluetooth, but test resulted in gTablet crash, needed to reboot it again.

    Does anybody has experienced this?

  14. Juan C. Zayas says:

    Hum…interesting…I can make calls from my gTablet, but not able to receive calls.

    I have already checked this:
    1) go to voice.google.com (desktop version) and change your phone settings to forward your calls to Google chat

    2)make sure you are signed out of Google talk in your gTablet.

    Any other suggestions? Thanks!

  15. Juan C. Zayas says:

    Hum…interesting…I can make calls from my gTablet, but not able to receive calls.

    I have already checked this:
    1) go to voice.google.com (desktop version) and change your phone settings to forward your calls to Google chat

    2)make sure you are signed out of Google talk in your gTablet.

    Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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