Visible Mobile

I recently considered Visible Mobile as my phone carrier, to potentially replace AT&T prepaid.

Visible Mobile

There are many factors to consider with carriers:

Price: Visible is cheap. If you figure out how to join a Visible “party pay” , you can get a single line for $25. See Reddit to join a random person’s party, still with no need to share personal information. You can add an Apple Watch for only $5/month compared to most everyone else who charge $10/month. Currently, if you let their free trial expire, Visible will offer you a $100 gift card to join.

Data Caps: The price is amazing considering it’s for unlimited data and unlimited hotspot. My AT&T plan has an 8 Gb cap. Perhaps coincidentally, after I started the Visible trial, AT&T said they’d give an an additional 5 Gb per month.

Coverage: Visible uses Verizon, so it’s arguably got the best coverage available in the US. Having traveled through Wyoming and Yellowstone, I’ve found that Verizon had better coverage. Your mileage may vary. In major cities, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile should all have good coverage.

Speed: Here’s the rub. Speed isn’t great, typically at around 2-8 Mbps. This compares to around 100 Mbps from AT&T. Still, this would probably work okay if not for the ping times of 100-200ms compared to 30-40ms for AT&T’s prepaid plans. In the real world, that makes a webpage load in 6 seconds instead of 2. Carriers prioritize their traffic and give prepaid and cheap plans the lowest priority. So at busy areas and times, speed and ping times might get worse. Some Visible users claim 80 Mbps speeds but didn’t see any decent speeds or ping times in Virginia, D.C., or Wyoming.

While I didn’t make the switch to Visible, I loved their free 15 day trial using an esim. This can be added to an iPhone while not losing your existing carrier. During the trial, you’ve got two carriers. So if you’re traveling somewhere and want extra coverage or unlimited bandwidth, give Visible a try.

AT&T and Sprint Mobile Signals Coming to DC Metro

According to The Washington Business Journal, AT&T  (meaning iPhones) and Sprint are now starting cell phone service in some DC Metro stations and will expand that coverage over the coming months.

Expanded Metro cell phone service starts Oct. 19

More cell phones will be working at some of the region’s busiest Metro stations starting Oct. 16, under an expanded wireless program first announced in May.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile began installing hardware at 20 select Metro stations over the weekend and will spend the next two months completing the initial installation.

Until now, Verizon Wireless has been the only carrier that worked in Metro stations under an agreement with Verizon Wireless’ predecessor, Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, in 1993.

Sprint phones that roam to the Verizon network will also currently work.

The first stations to get the new multicarrier wireless network are: Ballston, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Center SW, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Friendship Heights, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, L’Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Smithsonian and Union Station.

The carriers will install service in Metro’s remaining 27 stations by the end of 2010, although wireless phones won’t work in Metro tunnels until 2012.

The four carriers will operate and maintain the network, and are also building a second, separate wireless network for Metro’s use, including future plans for The Metro Channel, which will provide information, news and advertising on monitors in Metro stations and on trains.

Metro says the wireless contract will generate $25 million during its initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during five, two-year renewals.

Hands-Free Headsets

When people ask me for hands-free headset advice, my first question is if they prefer wireless (using bluetooth) or wired (plugging a headset into the phone). Each have their pros and cons.


  • cheaper ($10-$25)
  • no loss in audio quality
  • simple
  • no battery to charge
  • needs to have correct adapter for particular phone


  • More expensive ($80 for my favorites)
  • No wire to get in the way or take up room
  • Allows you to walk about 20 feet from the phone (helpful if your phone only gets reception in one spot)
  • Works with any bluetooth device, including computers (so you can use it for Skype calls)

Favorite Models

The exact model of headphone is a matter of preference because ears are different shapes and sizes. My current favorites are from Plantronics.

  • The Plantronics MX-505 (pictured) is an excellent wired headset. Make sure to get the correct version for your phone. Plantronics now also sells the MX-500i which includes both a 2.5mm adapter for most mobile phone and a small USB adapter for computers.
  • The Plantronics Discovery 925 (pictured) is a great Bluetooth headset. It has a case that has a built-in battery to charge the phone. As bluetooth headsets go, it sounds good and is simple to operate.

Your Preference

Much of the wired/bluetooth decision is preference. I think that both look dorky and I prefer the lack of any audio degradation by a wired headset. But seeing people on phones around D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, I think that I’m in the minority at this point.

Because of Washington D.C.’s hands-free headset law (July 1, 2004) and just to be safer, you should have a headset that you feel comfortable using.