Our Prepaid Cell Phone Providers
Sparkles Wireless is an independent wireless communications store, and we're authorized to set up prepaid cell phone service with a wide variety of providers. This allows us to provide you with the service that's best for you considering your mobile phone needs, lifestyle, and budget.
Unlike company-owned stores, we're under no pressure to push you toward any particular provider's products or services, nor to sell you services that you don't need and will never use. That's just another reason why we're your best choice for cell phones and wireless data services in the College Point, New York area.
Some of the providers we work with include:
Primary wireless providers are those with their own networks and towers. Prepaid services purchased from primary providers are typically identical to the services those companies provide to their contract customers, except for the pricing and terms. Because of their extensive networks and excellent coverage, prepaid service from primary providers tends to cost a bit more; but for people who travel a lot, the better coverage is worth the few bucks a month extra.
Our primary wireless providers include:
AT&T is a primary provider of wireless services throughout the United States. They own their own wireless network, and also have a roaming agreement with T-Mobile. This means that if you have an AT&T phone and service, you should be able to use at least voice and text services anywhere there is either an AT&T or a T-Mobile signal.
AT&T offers both phone and dedicated mobile broadband plans and uses GSM phones and devices. They do not, however, provide support for BlackBerry or Android data features on prepaid accounts.
T-Mobile is a primary provider of wireless services throughout the United States and owns its own wireless network. They also have a roaming agreement with AT&T, which means that if you have a T-Mobile Prepaid phone and service, you should be able to use at least voice and text services anywhere there is either a T-Mobile or an AT&T signal.
T-Mobile offers both phone and dedicated mobile broadband plans and uses GSM phones and devices. They also provide full support for all voice, text, and data features on T-Mobile-branded BlackBerry and Android phones.
Boost Mobile is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, a primary provider of wireless services in the United States. Sprint Nextel operates two wireless networks: one using the CDMA standard, and the other using the iDen standard. Most Boost phones use the CDMA standard, but Boost phones with walkie-talkie capabilities use the iDen standard.
Boost Mobile provides voice and data services, including support for selected Android and BlackBerry phones. They do not offer dedicated mobile broadband plans.
MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) Providers
MVNO providers don't own their own networks. Instead, they lease blocks of airtime on primary providers' networks at wholesale prices, and re-sell the service to their own customers. Services and coverage provided by MVNOs typically are comparable to those offered by the primary networks they piggyback on, except that a primary provider's roaming agreements usually don't carry over to MVNOs.
Prepaid wireless service with an MVNO tends to be less expensive than service from a primary provider, but there may be more gaps in coverage because of the lack of roaming ability. Still, for people who usually stay within an area where there's good coverage, MVNOs can offer great service for a great price.
Some of our MVNO wireless providers include:
H2o Wireless is an MVNO that uses AT&T's network. They're somewhat unique in that they're the only prepaid service that supports iPhones without their needing to be unlocked first. H2o also offers dedicated mobile broadband plans.
H2o uses GSM phones and devices and supports the data features of Android phones and iPhones (but not BlackBerry phones). The company also offers dedicated wireless mobile broadband services.
Virgin Mobile is an MVNO that operates on Sprint's national network. The company offers a wide variety of prepaid cell phone plans and dedicated mobile wireless plans.
SIMPLE Mobile is an MVNO that uses T-Mobile's network. The company offers both cell phone service and dedicated mobile broadband plans, and supports the data capabilities of Android and BlackBerry smart phones.
SIMPLE Mobile doesn't sell phones. To use SIMPLE Mobile services, you purchase a supported T-Mobile phone and a SIMPLE Mobile SIM card. Most T-Mobile phones are supported by SIMPLE Mobile.
Different Kinds of Wireless Internet Plans
1. Add-On Service to a Smart Phone Account
Many smart phones are able to provide Internet connectivity to computers using either a cable or the phone's internal Wi-Fi radio. This is commonly called "tethering," back from the days when the only way to use a cell phone to provide Internet service to a computer was to "tether" the two together with a cable.
Although it's still possible to tether a computer to a cell phone using a cable, most modern smart phones have the ability to be used as wireless "hot spots." The way this works is that the phone accesses the Internet over the provider's service and shares it as a Wi-Fi hot spot, to which you wirelessly connect your computer just like you would to any other hot spot.
Some prepaid cell phone providers offer the ability to use your smart phone's hot spot service for an additional monthly fee, which usually is less than what it would cost to buy dedicated wireless Internet service, making this a good option for many users who only occasionally need this functionality. But because there's usually a cap on how much bandwidth you can use, it's not a good solution as a full-time Internet connection.
2. Dedicated Wireless Internet Service
Dedicated wireless Internet requires a special device that accesses a cell provider's network, but doesn't make or receive phone calls. Its only purpose is to provide Internet access to computers.
Some of the dedicated mobile Internet connection devices are designed to be used by a single laptop computer, and simply plug into the computer's USB port. Many users prefer these devices because they're small, easy to pack in a pocket or laptop bag, and simple to use. They can be used on multiple computers, but only one at a time, and each computer must have the connection software installed.
Another kind of dedicated connection device is commonly called a "mobile hot spot" or a "Mi-Fi device." These devices obtain an Internet connection from the wireless provider and share it as a Wi-Fi hot spot Most of these devices can serve up to five computers at a time.
Although Mi-Fi devices are a little more expensive than USB-type devices, many people like them because no software is required, as many as five computers can use the service simultaneously, and any Wi-Fi equipped computer or device can connect to them -- exactly like they would connect to any other Wi-Fi connection.
Please contact us to learn more about any of our quality products and services.