In this post, we’ll be taking a deep dive into Tello, a mobile network provider that runs on the T-Mobile device network. We’ll be looking at its features, cost, pros, cons, and much more. Our goal is to help you decide whether Tello is right for you by the end of the article. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
- Who is Tello?
- What Makes MVNO different?
- What’s so great about Tello?
- Tello plans and pricing
- Can you bring your own phone to Tello?
- Is Tello’s unlimited data truly unlimited?
- Does Tello require a minimum term for their plans?
- Tello pricing vs. other competitors
- Tello customer reviews
- Tello’s coverage
- Does Tello have any bonuses or promotions currently going on?
- In conclusion: Is Tello Mobile right for you?
Who is Tello?
Tello is a data network provider that operates on the T-Mobile network. More specifically, they are an MVNO, which stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, and all that means is that they don’t own their own towers; rather, they operate on other towers that are made available to them for a fee. It is much quicker and cheaper to start a mobile network company this way, and the savings are then passed on to consumers like you and me.
What Makes MVNO different?
What makes MVNOs different from traditional wireless carriers is that they do not own their own wireless network infrastructure. Instead, MVNOs lease network access from established wireless carriers, such as Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile, and then resell that access to their own customers.
This means that MVNOs have more flexibility with their plans and pricing, as they are not burdened with the high costs of building and maintaining their own network infrastructure. As a result, MVNOs can offer plans that are often more affordable than those from traditional wireless carriers.
Another difference is that MVNOs can offer more niche services and plans that cater to specific customer needs. For example, some MVNOs specialize in providing service to people with poor credit or limited financial means, while others offer international calling plans or plans with unlimited data.
However, one potential downside of using an MVNO is that they may have more limited coverage areas or network speeds compared to traditional wireless carriers, as they are dependent on the underlying network infrastructure provided by their partner carrier. Therefore, it’s important to research and compare plans and coverage before choosing an MVNO to ensure that it meets your needs.
What’s so great about Tello?
Tello has some great features that make them very attractive as a mobile provider.
If I had to describe the strengths of the company, they’d be:
- Customizable yet straightforward plans
We’ll get into more detail on why down below, but just know that these two characteristics of Tello make is so that they target a certain audience. It won’t be for everyone, but our job is to let you know if you are part of the target audience, so that you can know if Tello truly is right for you.
Let’s get into some other great things about Tello.
- They’ve got no contracts or fees
- The cheapest plan is $5, which is absurd
- Free unlimited text and tethering
- Wi-Fi calling is available
- Free international calls to over 60 countries
To me, what jumps out at this is the $5 plan. What does this include? Usually, plans this cheap are quite useless from a practical standpoint. Is this the case with Tello?
Tello plans and pricing
Part of what makes Tello so user-friendly even before you choose to go with them is the simplicity of their plans compared to other mobile network providers.
Tello’s plan structure is basically build-your-own. They have ready-made plans, but those are completely irrelevant as you don’t get any sort of discount on those. They are the exact prices that you’ll see when building your own plan.
The options consist of two things:
- Amount of data
- Minutes and text allowance
For the amount of data, you choose from the following:
- No data
For the minutes and text allowance, you choose from the following:
- No minutes
- 100 minutes with free text
- 300 minutes with free text
- 500 minutes with free text
- Unlimited minutes with free text
This gives you 35 possible combinations to choose from. However, you technically can’t choose no data with no minutes, so it’s actually 34 possible combinations.
On the extremes, if you get no data paired with 100 minutes, the plan is $5 per month. Also, if you get 500MB of data with no minutes, that comes out to $5 as well. If you get unlimited data and minutes, it’s $29 a month which is the absolute highest you can pay for their plans. That is extremely impressive. So, what’s the catch?
The ultimate choice for flexibility. Service you can trust, for the price you want to pay.
Can you bring your own phone to Tello?
You can definitely bring your own phone to Tello. Most smartphones would be able to be used on the Tello network as long as it is unlocked. You can easily unlock your phone that is carrier tied, most new phones are already unlocked for you. The phone would have to be GSM-compatible and made for the US. Phones from overseas will not work.
Check to see if your phone is compatible.
Is Tello’s unlimited data truly unlimited?
The catch is that Tello’s unlimited data is not truly unlimited. If you read their fine print, it states that the unlimited data plan offers 25GB of 5G/4G LTE, and anything after that 25GB is used up gets defaulted to 2G speed.
Granted, most of us don’t really need 25GB of data per month, so this likely only affects a few potential users.
Does Tello require a minimum term for their plans?
There is no minimum term commitment for any of Tello’s plans. The price you see is what you pay monthly, and you can cancel at any time. Your plan is actually renewed on a month-to-month basis, if you would like to change your plan, you would have to renew your contract early.
Tello pricing vs. other competitors
For this section, we compare Tello’s cost for 5GB of data to other competitors, and if there isn’t a 5GB data plan, we’ll compare it to the next closest amount of data. From least expensive to most extensive, here are the results:
- Tello Mobile: $19 per month for 5GB and unlimited talk/text
- Mint Mobile: $25 per month for 4GB + unlimited talk/text (note the $15 pricing is introductory and only applies to the first three months)
- Visible Wireless: $40 per month for unlimited data/talk/text (Visible only offers an unlimited data plan)
- Google Fi: $50 per month for unlimited data/talk/text (the plan for unlimited data is cheaper than the per GB data plan at 5GB, which would cost $70)
As you can see above, Tello beats out the competition in terms of pricing by quite a bit, depending on your needs. If for some odd reason you are looking to get something for 3 months max and move on, then technically Mint Mobile has the cheapest pricing as a new customer, but it gets bumped up to $25 after the 3 months ends and you are no longer considered a new customer.
Tello customer reviews
Tello overall has a great rating online. They tend to receive over 4 stars out of 5 on average. Some positive remarks regarding Tello include:
- Fantastic prices
- Simple, straightforward website
- Real humans answering customer service calls
- Great connectivity on calls
- Number porting is easy
- Great customer service
- Easy to change plans at any time
- Signup is fast and easy
Some negative remarks regarding Tello include:
- Not so great connectivity on calls (varies by location)
- After 25GB of data used, the speed slows down to virtually unusable speeds
- Customer service unable to solve certain issues such as dropped calls and slow connectivity
As far as a couple of the negative remarks, it’s very possible that the connectivity issues had to do with the particular location the user was at.
Coverage is a very important consideration, and it varies based on location. Generally, because Tello uses T-Mobile towers, the coverage is virtually the same. If you were with T-Mobile and thinking of switching to Tello, you’re not likely to run into any new problems if you didn’t have them before.
To make sure that you don’t, however, you can simply go to Tello’s Check Coverage page to get an idea of whether your location will land you any possible connectivity issues. T-Mobile and thus Tello cover the majority of locations in the U.S., but there are some patches where coverage isn’t so great, so it’s always best to check that out before committing to Tello.
Does Tello have any bonuses or promotions currently going on?
Tello has a promo page, and at the moment, they have some phone deals going on where they are taking anywhere from $10 to $50 off certain phone models.
However, there are no promotions for data plans at the moment.
In conclusion: Is Tello Mobile right for you?
Tello Mobile is an extremely competitive mobile data provider, and their strength mainly lies in their great prices and data options. It uses the same towers and has the same coverage as Mint Mobile, but with a better price if you exclude the introductory 3-month price that Mint Mobile offers.
However, because it uses T-Mobile, Tello’s quality of coverage isn’t nearly as great as Visible Wireless’ coverage which uses Verizon towers. Additionally, Verizon’s unlimited data is truly unlimited and isn’t capped after a certain threshold like Tello.
If the quality of coverage and truly unlimited data aren’t the highest priority for you, and you’re mainly looking for the best value overall, you should strongly consider Tello as a top contender. They’re that good and we highly recommend them as a mobile network provider.