Review of Tello

Though I’m a now former RW Community Ambassador and Expert Customer, my household is not and never has been RW exclusive. Among the other service providers currently used in my household is Tello.

Plans

Tello offers a flexible build your own plan experience. As examples, 100 minutes talk, unlimited text and no cell data is $5/month. Unlimited talk & text plus 1 GB of cell data is $10/month. Unlimited talk, text and cell data is $29/month with 25 GB at 4G LTE/5G speeds depending upon phone model and/or network availability. Taxes and telecom fees are not included in the quoted pricing.

Phones

Tello sells a small selection of phones online and supports bring your own phone. There is an IMEI check tool. Generally, any unlocked phone (Android or iPhone) compatible with T-Mobile’s network works with Tello.

Acquiring a SIM

Tello SIMs are available for $2 from Tello directly or from Amazon.

Transferring a Number (Porting to Tello)

Like the old RW, Tello assigns a new number at activation. Porting one’s current number to Tello is done after activation replacing the number assigned at activation. Porting is initiated through Tello’s online portal.

Service and Support Experience

So long as T-Mobile’s network is sufficiently robust where one needs it to be, the network service experience will be solid. Tello does not offer roaming of any kind (domestic or international).

My need for support from Tello has been limited. At one point, I needed a replacement SIM. The original Tello SIM I purchased did not support certain iPhone features. The replacement corrected that. That said, there was a hiccup in that initially I chose to contact support via email, which went unanswered. A follow-up call was handled efficiently. The agent profusely apologized for my email having gone unanswered, offered a coupon to make the replacement SIM free then stayed on the line while I placed the order to be certain the coupon code was accepted.

Miscellaneous and Caveats

Tello shares ownership with KeepCalling, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. Tello does not use proprietary VoIP technology for cellular service. Tello does, however, leverage the relationship to offer international calling to 60ish countries at no additional charge above and beyond what one is paying for their Tello plan.

WiFi calling has been supported on every Android (Samsung, Google and Motorola) I’ve thrown at Tello’s SIM, however, as with any service provider, Tello cannot and does not guarantee WiFi calling works on every Android phone model. WiFi calling works on supported iPhones.

I’ve yet to see an Android phone that is supported by Tello for visual voicemail. iPhones are supported. Conditional call forwarding works, so use of third party visual voicemail services like Google Voice and YouMail are options when using an Android on Tello.

Account Portal and Mobile App

Tello offers a complete and well designed account portal for account management. Tello’s account portal is divided into the following sections:

  • Dashboard - provides an overview of one’s current plan plus running balances for talk, text and cell data.
  • My Settings - allows for designating a nickname for each line of service, toggling text messaging on or off and providing the required E911 address for WiFi calling
  • My SIM - order a replacement SIM or switch to eSIM (eSIM requires a capable device)
  • Porting - here’s where one ports their current number to Tello (all new lines are assigned a number at activation that gets replaced if one chooses to port their current number from another provider)
  • Activity - historical information for talk, text and cell data
  • Order History
  • Referral Program - here one finds the information needed to refer others to Tello in the form of a code and link
  • Payment - payment information lives here
  • My Information - where one manages general contact information and account details such as email address, account password and account PIN

Tello’s mobile app offers most of the account management features of the portal. Tello’s app is also a VoIP dialer allowing one to make outbound WiFi calls using one’s Tello number.

Conclusion

Tello does not require one to pay for a year in advance to get its best pricing. If one is in the market for a T-Mobile network based service provider, Tello is well worth a look.

Bonus Tip

Tello doesn’t advertise it but if one manually renews their plan one day before it automatically renews anything metered (that which is not unlimited) rolls over (apparently in perpetuity).

1 Like

Thank you for a very thorough review of Tello, @rolandh

We appreciate your sharing this information with our Community! For those interested in saving a little money, we’ll feature your Tello referral link for at least 1 month in our Featured Referral Links topic.

I have my second “emergency” phone on Tello, with 100 minutes talk/500 MB data/unlimited text, for $6/month! This is perfect for my “emergency” phone.
The rollover of minutes and data that rolandh mentioned above is great! I have a lot more than 100 minutes and 500 MB data accumulated now.

WiFi calling has been supported on every Android (Samsung, Google and Motorola) I’ve thrown at Tello’s SIM, however, as with any service provider, Tello cannot and does not guarantee WiFi calling works on every Android phone model.

Sadly, I need to amend this review with regard to WiFi calling. A few days ago I reported the household Moto G Pure had received an update to Android 12.

It seems said update broke WiFi calling with Tello’s SIM. WiFi calling with Tello’s SIM works on a household 2022 Moto G Power still on Android 11.

Such is the nature of relying on carrier WiFi calling. When relying on WiFi calling infrastructure provided by the cellular carrier partner, the phenomenon of WiFi calling suddenly no longer working is not limited to the combination of legacy RW My Choice SIMs and Motorola phones. It can and does happen with others as well. RW’s proprietary technology had its caveats but also had the virtue of not relying on the cellular carrier partner’s infrastructure.

Tello’s mobile app (which incorporates a VoIP dialer) partially mitigates the issue as one may use that to make outbound calls on WiFi. Tello’s mobile app, however, does not receive calls.

A follow-up on the Android 12 update on my Moto G Pure having broken Tello’s WiFi calling. Sadly, it remains broken.

Tello’s WiFi calling and visual voicemail using Google’s Phone app both work on a Pixel 6a running Android 13.

Tello’s WiFi calling works on both a Samsung Galaxy A32 5G and Galaxy Note20 both running Android 12. Visual voicemail using Google’s Phone app does not work on either Samsung phone.

Tello’s WiFi calling still works on a 2022 Moto G Power (acquired from RW by DISH then carrier unlocked) running Android 11. Visual voicemail does not work using Google’s Phone app.

Finally; the phone that sent me down this rabbit hole, Tello’s WiFi calling no longer works on a factory unlocked Moto G Pure. Visual voicemail also does not work using Google’s Phone app.

The above fragmented experience on Android is, most unfortunately, not unusual and it’s not limited to RW by DISH (5.0 or legacy My Choice). If one wants the greatest chance of their phone’s features being supported on a given network, the best bet is (I know) iPhone. There are advantages to the walled garden.

The old RW, in effect, created something of a walled garden with its proprietary technology. It was that technology that allowed for a more or less seamless experience on vetted phones and for things like Extend Home and Republic Anywhere. There were certainly cracks in the RW walled garden (most notably visual voicemail issues using Google’s Phone app) but, on balance, I will miss the proprietary technology.

Hi @rolandh,

I have been wondering if your experience with WiFi calling on the G Pure is not unique to Tello.

I recently moved my “work phone” to Mobi. For those who aren’t familiar with Mobi, it’s a small cellular service provider based in Hawaii. They use Verizon’s network. It’s quite affordable, and I have been happy with my service there since @rolandh introduced me to them.

I recently moved the Moto G Pure that I bought from Mobi back to my Mobi service line, because they’ve been sending me e-mail warning me that at the end of this year, phones that rely on 3G, or even very early 4G phones will stop working on their network. While the phone I was using on their network was not a 3G or early 4G phone, it is not an phone that is officially supported by Mobi, and so I was concerned that if their system saw my phone as “not supported” they might at some point cancel my service. :grimace:. I’ve put my G Pure back on their network until this little tempest subsides.

(I’ll add though, that they made an offer to customers who are using deprecated phones, and I thought it was very generous, considering how inexpensive their service is.)

So, ANYWAY… my point here is that I pulled the G Pure out of the spare-phone drawer and put the Mobi SIM card back in it, and it went to work catching up on some Android updates. I got Android 12, and as I was contemplating that, another update began, and I don’t have the phone set to automatically update.

Take a look:
image

So in addition to Android 12, I had to have another Moto Update specifically to fix Verizon WiFi calling. And with that, WiFi calling works on the Moto G Pure on Mobi.

I have been wondering if your experience with WiFi calling on the G Pure is not unique to Tello.

Some further testing on my part confirms your experience. This is not unique to Tello.

Using an RW 4.0 (My Choice) SIM (T-Mobile network), there is no WiFi calling. This isn’t new, Absent RW’s proprietary technology, I’ve yet to find a Moto (including those previously supported by RW’s proprietary technology) that supported WiFi calling when using an RW 4.0 SIM. I’ll have more to say on T-Mobile network SIMs shortly.

Using an RW 5.0 SIM (AT&T network), there is also no WiFi calling. This is new with the Android 12 update. Though my Moto G Pure is a factory unlocked variant not sourced from RW by DISH, WiFi calling worked on Android 11. I’d be most curious what the WiFi calling situation is with a Moto G Pure that was sourced from RW by DISH.

Using Mobi’s SIM (Verizon network), WiFi calling remains supported after the Android 12 update.

Likewise, I received two updates (Android 12 first then something else) though unlike your experience they were a day apart. Perhaps, the something else was a Verizon network specific fix.

With regard to T-Mobile network SIMs, there are two variants in circulation of which I’m aware. RW’s 4.0 (My Choice) SIM is an older variant. The SIM’s ICCID begins with 8901260. Tello’s SIM is a newer variant. It’s ICCID begins with 8901240. Generally, Tello’s 240 SIM supported WiFi calling on Motorola phones where (absent RW’s proprietary technology) RW’s My Choice 260 SIM did not. The Moto G Pure since updating to Android 12 is the first Motorola phone I’ve found lacking WiFi calling using Tello’s 240 SIM. My experience with Samsung phones and Google Pixels is WiFi calling remains supported using either RW’s My Choice 260 SIM (absent the proprietary technology) or Tello’s 240 SIM.

The older 260 T-Mobile network SIMs support 4G LTE and 5G NSA. They do not support other 5G flavors. So, for the most part , providers actively issuing T-Mobile network SIMs are using 240 rather than 260 SIMs.

The dilemma with all this, of course, is the typical user is unlike me not a phone geek. Most folks just want their phone to support the features important to them without a lot of fuss.

I feel like anymore we have to become techies to get our smartphones to work, especially when updates or changes happen. In that sense, I miss the old landlines which just worked reliably!!

Good review @rolandh about Tello. I moved my teenage daughter from Republic to Tello and my old Moto G Plus phone. It was honestly a breeze. I got the number transferred over quickly, and honestly she never missed a beat. I don’t give her a ton of minutes (she almost never calls, like most teens) but texts and a small amount of data.

For her, it’s been a great move and I’m very grateful for their service.

I also wound up moving almost 10 lines that my employer used to have on Republic to Tello. Again, almost no problem moving them.

Tello has worked well for me as has Mobi. Perhaps, one day I’ll bore you all with how our friend @southpaw is indirectly responsible for my discovery of both Mobi and Tello?

Hi southpaw and rolandh, good to see you both again! I thought you were lost to the ages after the forum got assimilated by the Borg (just a great big nothing where it use to be).

Tello looks really good. I’m planning on switching the family in February and save some money whilst getting more data. I don’t have a heavy need for international communications, but we do have a friend in Canada we’d like to be fully able to interact with. Apparently seniors don’t need that in Dish logic?

I’m not found of AT&T. They’ve pulled a lot of crap way before they delved into wireless and it seems the result is less for more. My wife and I have both had times when we just couldn’t get any data to come through. Bad tower or something going on with it.

Also have found coverage to be somewhat inferior to TMobile. There is a local community up in the hills. It’s a bad area for cell coverage, but at least when RW was on TMobile you could get some kind of connection (so you at least could call if you needed to) and I get practically nothing for AT&T (there’s one small area you may or may not get a connection and may or may not hold). TMobile use to be the little guy and I think there’s still that sentiment, but it seems to be its a star in the Big Leagues these days.

Hope you both had a good Holiday.

Hi @Yavanius and welcome!

T-Mobile is no longer the little guy. Since acquiring Sprint, T-Mobile is the #2 national carrier behind Verizon but now ahead of AT&T. Coverage on any of the national networks is like real estate. It’s all about location.

For those with good T-Mobile coverage, I like (and use ) Tello. I also still have service with RW by DISH but my household has never been RW exclusive.

I tried giving the AT&T service a chance, but experience has been inferior. Actually, Sprint when the network was still active seemed to do best in those odd / remote locations. I actually did some research before coming upon Tello. I tried checking the big MVNO like cricket, boost, and mint as well as few smaller ones. I didn’t find a compelling reason to switch over to them and possibly have worse support. I did ask them a question about their service and they responding pretty promptly.