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Charge, a phone company with features for nerds (charge.co)
184 points by stanleydrew on May 21, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments

Can I have no voicemail ?

That's a feature I really want and it's not easy to do.

If you configure a mobile phone line without voicemail, it will not just ring and ring and ring (as I hoped it would) - instead, the caller gets a message that "the number you have dialed is not accepting calls at this time" ... or some other message (depending on the carrier) that makes it sound like you don't pay your phonebill or something.

I want my phone to ring and ring and ring until the caller gives up. I think I can do this with the twilio API, but man that's a lot of work for something (seemingly) simple.

edit: this is the discussion I found that makes me think I could accomplish this with twilio: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/22410430/twilio-respond-t...

Charge CEO here. We can definitely disable voicemail for you. I actually have it disabled myself. Just send us an email to get it removed.

We should probably just add a checkbox for it in the management UI though now that I think about it.

And this is how you run a company, everyone please take note. User feedback is actually seriously considered and responded to in an acceptable manner.

It's great to see someone from a company pop up in a discussion to help out a user, but this is absolutely not the way to run a company. It leads to the Google approach to support, where you can only get a non-automated reply only if you raise enough stink by on social media, or happen to know someone who works there.

Now, each individual case where an employee unexpectedly helps out is great, but this is NOT 'how you run a company'. You should focus on getting your general customer service and support lines to be good.

I've never dealt with this company before, or even heard of them until today, so their normal lines of support might be great. This isn't meant to be a specific criticism of Charge.

However, it does seem odd to me that a phone company appears to give no contact phone numbers on their web site. That's not a good sign!

Phone support is a hard thing to do well. And we have a pretty high bar for support. So I know this sounds like a dodge, but we really are waiting until we can confidently roll out strong phone support to push it.

For now, whenever a customer has a problem that can't be solved via email, one of the founders will call.

Obviously that doesn't scale, so we need to figure out phone support, but we're aiming for what I call "Zappos-level" quality and that's easier said than done.

When you have a page advertising "features for nerds", you damn well better be active in the Hacker News conversation about it....

Company phone numbers usually only lead to an automated phone tree and maybe if you stab zero enough time (since it's likely not an option anywhere in the tree itself), some very underpaid person at the very end doing "support" who barely speaks English, can only read from a prepared script, and doesn't have the authority to help you with anything important.

I just expect this from any tech company today. It's not like you're going to get assistance from anyone at Google, for instance. I tried forever when someone was abusing our open source trademark and then doxxed me on blogspot. But all the "official" channels were completely ignored. I think my unlisted home phone number and old office address is still posted there with a call for people to harass me for DMCAing pirated commercial software they had hosted on random locker sites that used my GPLed code in violation of the license to package it.

Best advice!

That's not scalable when it tries to sell to everyone, however.

really depends on the product

It's how you run a company that has a high-margin (aka "premium", "expensive") product with a small userbase.

This is your expected outcome when you are wealthy.

"Charge CEO here. We can definitely disable voicemail for you."

Yes, but what happens when you disable voicemail ?

ATT wireless can disable vm for me, it just results in weird behavior that confuses people...

If I disable voicemail on Charge, and am out of coverage area (or have phone turned off) what does the caller experience ?

Just tried this. After a few rings you get a default message where some guy says "The person you have called is unavailable right now, please try again later."

We could actually set up some fancy forwarding to make this message configurable, similar to how Google Voice's voicemail works.

I'm thinking the reason you can't get the feature you want is because some engineers who designed the call setup for cell networks decided keeping the phone's battery from dying as a result of excessive ringing is a nice feature. I'm with you though, I hate voice mail. So does my mom. She recorded her outgoing message to politely say she never checks v/m and to text or email.

Sony Z3's have voicemail built in. Sadly they are glass both sides and break too easily. The other thing to consider is that when you are out of range or it is turned off, you may well miss an important call. All smartphones should be able to take a message first, and if that fails, then, it should fall to the carrier.

The caller can still text you or email you.

Which would be fine with me, since the scammers/spammers wouldn't do it. I don't like voice mail; but there is a difference between voice mail from a friend or family member and one telling me I've one a free carpet cleaning, an alarm service, need new windows, etc. (Not to mention the upcoming political robocalls.)

Any plans to offer GSM? I'd love to ditch AT&T but I'm not excited about being on sprint's network.

Near the bottom of the "Data Only" page:

> We’re working hard to add support for GSM devices. Enter your email and you’ll be the first to know when we're ready!

So it looks like they're trying to support GSM, which probably involves deals with large GSM carriers, I would guess, since Sprint only uses CDMA.

It would be nice to provide a custom message, or a message saying voicemail is disabled and to optionally recommend sending a text message.

Back in the 1980s I was taught that callers should always count to 10 rings before giving up. It is rude to give up earlier because you may have interrupted somebody. The phone starts ringing, so they start to put away what they are doing and then go to the phone. By the time they get there, you might have hung up if you don't wait for 10 rings. When getting a call, normally you'd try to get to the phone unless you can't do it within 10 rings.

Some reasons for 10 rings:

* must wipe butt

* must get kids out of swimming pool

* must shut down the tractor (there exist loud outside ringers)

* must finish... because not Paris Hilton

* must put baby into a safe spot (crib, strapped into chair, playpen, etc.)

* must remove engine oil from hands

That was a world I liked better. Answering machines ruined it. At first they were set to at least 4 rings. This caused people to start hanging up earlier, and assuming that others would do likewise. If you assume this, you won't run for the phone, thereby discouraging people from waiting. It's a feedback loop. Later, answering machines were set to just 2 rings. I guess cell phones were the final nail in the coffin for the old 10-ring standard. Since many people would carry their phone, callers got used to immediate pick-up. Not every phone is a cell phone! Even if that were so, many of the old reasons still apply!

Great post. Makes since. Makes me remember something I read that came decades earlier. It was a write-up about how the telephones were one of the worst things that happened in the home and the office. The reason is they create a sense of urgency forcing you to answer immediately for something that may not be important. They also put the caller in control of your time a bit. So, outside fun or profitable stuff, they're actually a negative compared to the letters and such that preceded them.

Lesson learned for modern world might be to send messages asynchronously by default with a note to call them soon or at some time range if it's extra important. I mean, it's what we do with email and messaging for sure. Let's just not forget that maybe the person on the other end doesn't want to answer or even look at the phone.

Yup, I learned in retail during that time that you always deal with the customer in front of you before you answer the phone, too. Serving the person actually in your store is more important than serving the one sitting at home.

I don't really like talking on the phone and prefer face-to-face interaction. However, experience dealing with retailers (less enlightened than yourself) forced me to conclude that customers using the phone were more important. Too many times, I've had a retailer or receptionist answer the phone in the middle of an interaction.

Doesn't matter with caller ID

I can't be busy if I have caller ID?

Of course you can, but you can call them right back when you aren't busy anymore.

Right, but I don't need caller ID for that.

Unless you ever have children or ever take a shit.

Oh wow, when i think about that you are right. But i wasnt aware of it. ( why i hung up so quickly) heh.

To get rid of VM notifications, I recorded 2 minute+ of silence as my VM greeting, zero VMs after that.

Ok, that's sort of workable ... EDIT: ok, actually not so much - if you are out of coverage area and your phone rings zero times and goes right to voicemail (that's how it works with carriers in the US) then the caller calls you and goes right to silence, and presumably they retry 1-2-3x and get frustrated ... not even sure this is the right number, etc. Whereas if the phone just rang and rang and rang, at least it wouldn't be a bizarre outcome for them ...

I would also like the ability to play a message, but then have no ability to leave a message.

The lame way to do this is to let your vm inbox fill up, and then everyone gets the "the person you called is too stupid to figure out voicemail" message.

What I would like is an option to play a message ("hi you've reached so and so and here is my email address and have a nice day!") and then ... no beep ... no message ... nothing. Maybe just pause a bit and then a fast-busy.[1]

How can I do things like this ? I've been meaning for years to self-provide my own dial tone in the same way I self-provide my own email, but I just don't have the time to get it all set up.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reorder_tone

Record two minutes of ringing, so that depending on the type you record and the phone of the caller they either think it's ringing normally or two minutes, or think it changed to a different sort of ringing and assume it's some weird technical thing.

Related anecdote, I have a friend who lives in NYC who told me he recorded his voicemail to start with the beep (or beeps?) that sound like a network confirmation of a call hang up, and then his "Please leave me a message" message a couple of seconds later, so that automated dialers would be fooled into thinking the call was dead, and hang up rather than leave a message. I'm not familiar with American phone systems and am not sure if this is a story from the past (he's certainly been hacking systems for longer than I've been alive) or if it's still useful to this day (I'll pay attention if I ever call and get his voicemail, but we don't speak often).

This was the message on my voice mail before I had switched to a carrier that made it easy to turn it off (that wasn't the reason I switched, that was a nice surprise):


Hi, this is Evan.

I will never ever ever ever listen to the voice mail you’re about to leave, because voice mail is a pain in the butt.

So if you actually want to reach me, you can either send me an SMS, send me e-mail, or try my home number.

Feel free to leave a voice message if you want, but remember, I will never ever listen to it. Have a nice day!


I don't actually give them the email or home number details on the assumption that if they don't have those already, they are probably someone who's call I'm that stressed about receiving.

Generally I got positive feedback once people did get in contact with me.

I did have a similar one on message bank on the home number, which also mentioned that I keep turning message bank off, and the phone company kept turning it back on again.

@blisterpeanuts: Unfortunately, Google Voice isn't available in the Antipodes.

@post_break: Don't know that I would characterise it as passive aggressive. It isn't meant to be, certainly not to the caller. As I said, most people who heard it found it amusing more than annoying. One even asked if they could steal the idea.

My friend has a passive aggressive voice mail message like this. So every time I get his voice mail I leave a long message which I know he has to listen to.

Did you know you can delete voicemails without listening to them?

I honestly can't believe how much I've written in this comment about such an insignificant annoyance from a few years. Consider it self-therapy that I accidentally left on HN.

I previously had a phone on Vodafone in the UK, and infuriatingly their voicemail system would not allow you to delete a message until you had listened to it for either 3 or 5 seconds, I can't remember.

Most of my messages were either spam calls I knew would have left a voicemail from when I rejected them, or my dad who has finally learned that I'm just as likely to call him back from seeing him in my missed calls list and therefore he no longer needs to leave a "Hey, it's me calling, feel free to call back or not" every single time. (It took several years of begging him to not leave a message unless he either a.) had a piece of information he wanted to give me in that message or b.) there was a time sensitivity beyond normal conversation.)

So for each message you wanted to delete, you had to listen to the robotic voice say "Caller, oh, eight, hundred, [pause], seven, etc etc etc, called, today, at, twelve, fifty, seven, PM, [pause]" then the message would start, you wait what you think is the right amount of time before pressing 3 to delete, and if you get it a fraction of a second too early, not only does it not delete it, but it tells you (in those slow, monotic, robot, words) "I'm sorry, but you cannot delete this message until you have listened to at least three seconds." AND THEN IT WOULD START AGAIN FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO WHAT FUCKING NUMBER HAD CALLED AT WHAT TIME.

Man, that's like therapy, writing that out. My mobile number was quite publicly available, included in press releases that were googleble, etc. so I got a fair few spammy voicemails. Thankfully, eventually either I discovered or their system added, the ability (bug) that if you press 3 (the delete button) almost immediately after the end of the robotic words "message deleted", you could time it so the system knew you had already deleted the last message, but hadn't reset the clock for how long you had to listen to the next message for, so once you knew the rhythm you could delete them in about 5 seconds each without being stuck listening.

My solution was to switch to Google Voice for voicemail (on T-Mobile) which transcribes the recording into a passable text message.

You can use something like Vitelity vMobile which routes your cell phone as an extension to a PBX system/SIP server. This gives you total and complete control of what happens on incoming and outbound calls. For example, you could have your cell phone number give an IVR menu, ring forever, play hold music, you're only limited by your SIP server. This is the closest I've seen to providing your own dialtone.

I used it for a while and the only con---and it is a major con for me---is that, like most innovative or unique MVNOs, it's riding on Sprint. And Sprint is really terrible, at least where I live, which made the service great, except that getting data to work often involved walking around in large circles til I was able to catch an LTE signal.

Well, maybe your voice mail message can be lots of ringing then.

Maybe record a message from a text-to-speech program that says "Voicemail service is currently unavailable for a week of planned maintenance. Please try another time." Then, the person listening might say, "Down? And wait a week? Nevermind..."

I once stuck a telco "This number is no longer in service" recording (w/ the "special information tone" preceding) and as much silence as the voicemail system would allow as my outgoing greeting. People _still_ left messages...

Wow. That's ridiculous. The human problem is really ubdermining my solution as usual.

Perhaps you could record two minutes of ringing.

My outgoing message is a close proximity iPhone recording of my 93 dodge dakota's door buzzer. Seems to also solve the VM problem, although the diligent VMers express confusion often. But those aren't VMs I'm interested in receiving, so it kinda works out.

My voicemail message is "Please hang up and email me" -- this unfortunately has not dissuaded as many people as I hoped.

I have t-mobile and just called up support and asked them to disable voicemail. My phone does just ring and ring without any weird messages to the caller. Maybe other phone companies are different but if you have t-mobile just call them up and ask them to turn it off. Very quick and easy.

What happens if your phone is off?

I think many phone companies have an incentive to keep the voicemail systems up and running - if your call is forwarded to a voice mail service the call is connected and therefore billed. If you reach the automated messages for failed call setups (busy/terminal cannot be reached etc), they are not billable.

I have T-mobile and don't have voicemail. I just called and had it disabled.

Is it possible to just have my actual phone handle voicemail? I'm walking around with more computing power in my pocket then we used to fly a space shuttle, you would think it would be able to record a simple voice message from a phone line.

How about forwarding to a landline (that will ring and ring) after a few rings.

In the UK AAISP offers that service but it becomes complicated because it involves an outbound call for the forwarding that has to be billed to the original recipient, not the caller ( since his calling rate was fixed on dialing the first number )

Or just record a message that consists of nothing but 5 minutes of a phone ringing.

Almost nobody is using voicemails, where I know (Czech Rep., Slovakia, Spain, Hungary) - it used to be the default (voicemail is on) to get charged for the calls into it, but I think it is not even so anymore (because it was too annoying for the users that the companies had to change it).

It rings for some time and then you get some "the user is not available at the moment".

Sometimes I really wonder how the US tech is stuck in the past (while generally is not, of course).

Sounds like you're disabling the voicemail service, not conditional call forwarding.

Try dialling ##004# - it's the GSM standard code to disable all conditional call forwarding rules. More codes at https://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-4041

In UK I just called a special number to disable voicemail. There's also a code you can "call" to set the time between "no-answer" and "divert to this other number that's your voicemail"

I almost never call/sms anyone from my phone, so it costs almost $0/year to run

There are free ways to disable voicemail, e.g. on Android see No More VoiceMail app or http://m.wikihow.com/Disable-Voicemail-on-Android

In some European countries voicemail just never caught up. Personally, I don't know anyone who used it more than just a few times to try it out.

I always wondered why mobile carriers don't text you "voicemail from ..." and attach an mp3 file of the message.

PhoneTag[0] can do that via email, though the transcriptions are generally good enough that you don't need to listen to them. I've been using it for years and don't remember the last time I actually had to listen to a transcript.

0. https://www.phonetag.com/

I think you can do this with Ting, but I am unable to verify at the moment.

I can confirm that it is very simple to disable voicemail with Ting.

Im curious as to why you want that instead of voicemail?

Ha, love it that someone went out and registered http://your-carrier-is-hijacking-dns.com/

That's great- earlier it led nowhere, now it leads to rickroll. So now there's an actual cellular company rickrolling people.

no, the site on the charge website has the tld .io

Aaaand they are a Sprint MVNO. Sprint has a pretty bad network in most of the US.

Maybe they'll pull a Google-Fi and make themselves available on more networks.

I switched from a Sprint MVNO to a GSM operator a couple years ago and then back to another Sprint MVNO several months ago. Before I left, I often had problems with connectivity. After returning, I found that connectivity problems were rare. I suspect that Sprint today is about as good as Verizon was 5 years ago, which is good enough if the price is right.

In my case, I signed up with RingPlus, which charged me once when I activated my phone and has not charged me since. I consider myself to get cellular service for free, which is a fantastic price. Support leaves much to be desired, but that is to be expected at that price point.

Hello! I love my Ringplus! Feel free to say Hi : https://social.ringplus.net/profile/33/subhobroto

Just wondering.. Can an app pull off the carrier switching function of Fi or is it an OS level functionality?

Worse, it is cell phone modem hardware functionality.

It requires a very specific part of LTE-A implemented, connecting to multiple networks simultaneously (not merely multiple towers actively simultaneously, which I'm pretty sure LTE added, not LTE-A).

Only Nexus phones after the 5 support it, which leaves me out because I have a 5. 5x, 6, 6p all support it.

Also, obviously, the radio needs to support all the bands that all the carriers you want to access support, and support them under the base protocols you want to use. Case in point, Sprint is CDMA, T-Mobile are GSM.

Modern LTE chips are supposed to support a wide range of channels (ie, all present and future channels used by the major four networks should work today on a brand new phone; should).

Eventually, all future phones will support it else get locked out of next generation MVNOs. Google-Fi is the first, won't be the last.

Google Fi also makes extensive use of wi-fi for texting and calls, which definitely requires OS-level hooks.

As far as I can tell, a lot of that magic isn't in the OS that way, as in, they are using "Wifi calling", which AT&T and Verizon also support on limited handsets (ie, Apple only, even though all modern Android phones support it fine.

A lot of their multiple device calling magic seems to be done entirely in the backend.

I'm not saying there ISN'T magic in the OS specifically for Google-Fi, but they seem to be trying to use as much standard magic as possible before using their own.

Although, it'd be nice if a Google engineer actually confirmed if my suspicions are right.

Nerds use data, and this pricing structure basically punishes them for it. I have unlimited data and 7gb tethering with T-Mobile and unless they do something stupid or close their doors I will just keep throwing money at them. I managed to snag it at $50 a month too.

I'm lucky to have a unlimited plan for €12 a month. The only downside is that it is just 3G, but in comparison to other plans totally fine. The counter where I can see how much data I used is completly broken on the site since they stopped selling it in 2011.

Is that plan available still? I am on their $30/month plan for 5GB but would switch to your plan in a second. Got links?

I have unlimited data/calling/text and 5GB of tethering per month for $50/mo with T-Mobile, but it's a grandfathered in plan that they put me on when they stopped offering plans with limited voice minutes (I had the lowest allowance possible) about two years ago.

In select markets it's probably available. I know tmobile doesn't run it everywhere and it's a limited time thing.

Price is not competitive with T-Mobile 5GB @ $30/mo plan. I guess the only interesting use case is for low-bandwidth use on data-only plan just to get a device connected.

That $30 T-Mobile plan is the plan I used to have before I started the company. I actually found that I was using way less data than I thought.

Just looking at my Charge dashboard, for the last week (which wasn't atypical), I used ~120MB.

Doesn't matter how many GBs are in your plan, if you don't use them, the price per GB is still high.

I'm on the $30 plan and hit the cap every single month because I'm using it as my home internet. I absolutely refuse to do business with AT&T -- the only cable provider to my apartment complex. I can't imagine I'm the only person in this situation, and wish I had a better option, such as a fixed rate (i.e. X bits/second transfer cap) to the local cell tower at this one location that I actually use data regularly rather than a fixed number of GB per month over wherever they have coverage.

Pretty sure 120 MB/week is atypical for tech nerds. I have the T-Mobile $30/mo plan and reach the cap every other month, and have to renew early to get LTE speeds. And I'm on WiFi at home and work.

Perhaps it is atypical, though I spend a lot of time on my phone and don't go through more than 1 GB/month because almost all of my browsing involves text and images, with videos usually only while I am indoors (generally over WiFi).

For group use it's really not competitive with AT&T's own-brand Cricket MVNO either, you can get five active LTE lines/SIMs with 2.5GB data each (not a shared pool) for $100/mo including tax. Data drops to 128kbps full duplex after the 2.5GB.

$20/mo per active phone.


That's a recurring monthly fee rather than pay-as-you-go never-expire data. Apples and oranges. It's quite competitive if you look at the comparable T-Mobile plan: $10/GB that lasts for 1 week, or $5/500MB for 1 day.


For people who use at least 2 GB/month it's far better.

Even less if you consider free international roaming and the fact that most streaming media sites (Netflix, YouTube, etc) don't count against data. Not sure if that's the $30/mo on T-Mobile though, could be contract but for similar price.

The $30 plan doesn't come with free international roaming.

I was initially quite intrigued, They have some great nice to have features but are missing some useful must haves when compared to Google Fi such as

1. WiFi calling, Extremely useful, Many places that I go to have terrible reception and calling and texting via WiFi has saved me many times.

2. Simple international calling / travel plans. I use this a lot and again WiFi calling + international roaming on Google Fi has saved me boat loads of money.

3. Hangouts integration exceptionally useful again because you can use hangouts to make / receive calls & texts even if your phone dies or breaks.

Yes it costs $3 more and that isn't a big issue if they can improve on Google Fi.

Google Fi is out ahead of us in terms of carrier relationships, which is how they enable #2.

The fact that Google has worked on Hangouts for so long makes #1 and #3 possible. Unless you're talking about native carrier WiFi calling in #1, in which case see my previous point.

We have the engineering background to build all those things, but we're limited by our carrier partners (currently just Sprint) for some. They haven't enabled WiFi calling on any wholesale accounts for instance, and have said that won't happen until 2017 at the earliest.

At this point our best feature is that you get the simple pricing of Google's Fi, on an iPhone or any other Sprint-compatible device.

Is it just possible to do WiFi calling using Hangouts? I'd rather do that, personally.

yes, i use google voice for this. i just hope they don't kill it!

The question is: in which countries are you operating? US only?

Is there any SIM as a service in a Linux host or behind some REST interface? (for the creation of bots) Could I have multiple telephone numbers/identities in a single SIM?

If not, does anyone now where to find those kind of services?

If you are looking for a web to cellular API check out twilio[1], seen it recommended by a lot of people and am planning to use it for a few projects I have in mind.

disclaimer: Not affiliated.


If you're in the UK, Andrews & Arnold have been providing "nerd SIMs" with proper networking and configurable voice services for years. Not that they're easy to configure or cheap :) but -> http://aaisp.net/telecoms-sip2sim.html

The $3/month for an active SIM with billed-as-you-go data in $ per GB rate is a great deal like the "Ting" MVNO:


For something like emergency OOB access via HSPA+/LTE modem into critical infrastructure it's hard to beat $3-4 per month per active SIM card, when the actual amount of data moved in a month might be less than 50MB.

> When you mistype a URL we don't sell your mistake to a bottom-feeding DNS ad network. If you see a search results page with ads when you click your-carrier-is-hijacking-dns.com, you'll know you have a problem. A problem you wouldn't have with Charge.

I heard about this about a decade back. Is this still happening anywhere in the world?

Yes. Many ISPs still do this, both mobile and wired. The latest one I saw was Frontier (in the US).

Free (or, no premium) international roaming and wi-fi calling on T-Mobile are now essential features for me.

One thing I've always wished for was for my phone to have a routable IP address and not be behind NAT. A&A offers this in the UK: http://aaisp.net/telecoms-mobile-data.html

I've enjoyed that for awhile now as well with T-Mobile. Except being in Japan more frequently as of late, the 2g speeds for free are great for essentials (messaging, maps, email) but damn I'd love a better package for LTE speeds that isn't like $50 for 200mb or whatever it is.

Maybe I just need to do more research.

I was looking up the T-Mobile international roaming high-speed upgrade pricing for my own use so I might as well post it here:

Single-day pass: $15 for 100MB

7 day-pass: $25 for 200MB

14-day pass: $50 for 500MB

I blow through that 500MB in 2 - 3 days is the problem.

A better, but not very cheap solution is to just rent a wifi hotspot for around $8 - $10 / day if you're on a short trip. Get 1 gig / day as well.

I'm just going to get a japanese plan once I live here.

So my family consumes a lot of data. I mean on the order of 15-25 GB/month. That would get prohibitively expensive for me. Moreover it would be more expensive than my AT&T bill. Do you have any plans to provide better bulk pricing?

For regular phone use, this seems like a worse version of Google Fi; granted, it supports more devices. Data is $3 more expensive per GB, and Sprint is your only option, vs Sprint or TMobile with Fi.

Someone fill me in if I'm missing something.

Google fi turns me off because it seems to somehow be related to google voice.

I turned on a google voice number like 7 years ago, and used it essentially as a spamcatch. I still want google voice for something things (and would happily pay a few bucks a month for it if I needed to).

But I want google voice nowhere near my actual cell phone. I could decline to attach my cellphone to my GV number, but that means getting rid of my GV number, which still isn't something I want to do.

Get a new Gmail address?

its more closely related to gchat/hangouts than gvoice

This seems pretty expensive actually. $13/GB + $20 per month versus my Verizon plan that's ~$120/mo for 12GB of data. This plan would turn into $170. I usually go to about 60-80% of my data plan (tethering and such), which at the lower bound still doesn't make sense.

We get that a lot. The point of our plan is true flexibility. In a month where you only use 1GB of data our plan is clearly better. In a month where you use all 8GBs it's worse.

You can't perfectly predict how much you'll use beforehand. And some people prefer to know they'll always pay for what they use, rather than signing up to be part of a system where they're occasionally subsidizing heavier data users.

You can certainly predict it more reliably than 1 vs 8

Are all data plans in the US so expensive? I live in Poland and I pay around $12/month for unlimited LTE (32Mbps down, 20 Mbps up in my area). $13 per month seems absurd.

More or less. At least 4g. There's tens of millions of people willing to pay the current prices so they don't go down.

Seems like poland have the best carrier plans O.o

Though they seem very data-centric, their other pricing is pretty cheap. $20/mo for unlimited voice+text is pretty competitive.

If I signup for the data only plan ($3/mo) and purchase 1GB ($13) of data; does that data expire?

For example, if I want to use only 100MB/mo could I pay $3/mo for 10 months with a single 1GB data purchase at the beginning to cover all 10 months?


About midway down the page it says: "Your data never expires, so stock up!"

I don't understand how the http://your-carrier-is-hijacking-dns.com/ url works. Am I supposed to see Rick Ashley?

Seems someone hacked that website, this is one of the headers:

  Location: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ#sup_Charge,_got_a_bug_bounty?_cuz_I_just_found_an_earworm_in_your_site

I think Charge meant to use it to show you what happens when you visit an unregistered domain.

This being the Internet, someone registered it and pointed it at Rick Astley.

Maybe the ".invalid" [0] top domain would have been appropriate here.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.invalid

I'm paying no monthly fees on Ringplus for a decent plan (3500 min/sms/mb). It's not so simple to get, they have "flash promos" with good plans, but if you sign up for promo emails at https://promos.ringplus.net/ you should be able to catch them (one's going on today and tomorrow).

The only catches are a weirdly structured sign up fee (minimum top up for most plans, and now they have member+ only plans, which costs $120 for lifetime, but was different in the past), and their radio program, which replaces the outgoing ring tone with ads/music/news/etc (you can configure it a bit).

I've been using it for months and there's no other catches, which is great.

The future of phone service is free.

Hello! I love my Ringplus! Feel free to say Hi : https://social.ringplus.net/profile/33/subhobroto

> The future of phone service is free.

For Ringplus, yes. For other providers, perhaps inexpensive enough to be considered "free".

How is this even possible? Their site seems so sketchy.

They do charge random startup fees, and they have ads on every call you place, but only before it's picked up.

The topup fees go straight to your account balance minus the taxes.

You are able to use that balance for any overages.

They did start charging upgrade fees for a few promotions but that is often 0 too.

Ok, yes. I clicked on the OP's "your-carrier-is-hijacking-dns.com" link. I was wonder how it would react to my using OpenDNS. Good joke. Not the results I was expecting.

I think something is up with the site, see URL of the Rickroll:


Someone just registered the domain today as, I suspect, a practical joke:

   Registrar: GOOGLE INC.
   Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 895
   Whois Server: whois.rrpproxy.net
   Referral URL: http://domains.google.com
   Status: ok https://icann.org/epp#ok
   Updated Date: 22-may-2016
   Creation Date: 22-may-2016
   Expiration Date: 22-may-2017

My bad for not scanning the entire url. That message was lost on my tiny address bar. But it does look like a legit message to charge.

>* Voice and SMS are unlimited up to a reasonable amount. We reserve the right to terminate service in cases of fraud or abuse at our sole discretion.

From the "unlimited" notes for voice and text

Ugh.. Then it's not "unlimited". Unlimited means "without limits", not "with a limit we won't tell you".

I can't wait for people doing this to get sued for false advertising.

I'm down. Not clear on the $20/month with the $13/GB plan. Is that $20 for the acct and then an extra $13 per gig per month and does it rollover (the gigs)? Anyways, apparently your co. only accepts iphones and nexus devices, or something. I won't be able to unlock mine 'til Nov. and based on my imei it at present is not compatible. Bookmarked.

> Charge, a phone company with features for nerds

Looking at this Venn diagram [1], it appears the company tagline is saying something negative about their customers. Perhaps better to change that into "for geeks".

[1] https://c8.staticflickr.com/5/4117/4889135495_e91b886fcd_b.j...

Google (youtube/chrome) says "stats for nerds" and nobody cares, I don't think anybody really cares about being called a nerd.

My friends and I often refer to each other as nerds and I hear it's quite hip with the youths these days.

Using a Venn diagram to justify a loosely defined grammatical choice is quite possibly the nerdiest of approaches.

pushes up glasses

I'm having trouble finding a hotspot for this. Would this work? http://www.bestbuy.com/site/boost-mobile-franklin-wireless-4...

Why does this one say boost mobile?

Sprint? No, thanks.

I'd like to see cell plans targeted at remote "Internet of Things" usage. Say you have some sensor that you want to transmit X bytes back to the server every hour. Instead of paying for a bulk set of gigabytes you pay for the bandwidth and frequency you use the network.

Most major providers around the world have M2M/IoT offerings but you normally need high volumes to get their interest. I work for a company that have 20,000+ devices deployed across Africa using less than 1MB per month with a very reasonable tariff.

For lower volumes and DIY projects there are many re-sellers such as Aeris, Particle, Wireless Logic and more


Might be interesting for you. $2.99/month for 1MB, $0.99 for each additional MB. There is no information about billing unit though.

I hope this happens too. The MVMO Ting is closest I have seen to this. $6/mo each device and data/voice/SMS usage is pooled.

Is $50 per month considered little for the USA?

> The average Charge customer spends less than $50 per month with us.

Yes. For two lines with a reasonable data plan on the cheapest network, I spend about $120 a month. On the larger carriers (last I checked) it'd be closer to $150-170.

How much data do you use? I have 2 lines with 6GB LTE each for a total of $80/month (plus taxes, etc) on T-mobile.

Not really. But it isn't high either.

People pay, so data is expensive. Unlimited voice+text is ~$30 anymore.

This sounds like a great deal for a hotspot or for a simple internet-connected device.

Bug report - the email registration doesn't like nonstandard fqdns like .io. :)

Could you shoot me an email (chris at charge dot co) with some more details on this? Was unable to reproduce this behavior.

I'm a big fan of them, after having checked out Charge a couple months ago. The fact they're CDMA made it impossible for me to use their network though. Can't wait for a GSM option to come along.

Looks like a nice enough interface but all my m2m devices use GSM & SIM cards. Besides being slightly cheaper this doesn't seem better than ting which supports both GSM and CDMA devices.




Anybody know of a way to get a lot of devices with no per-month charge, just per-byte? I have a project in my notebooks that would use cell data as a backup, and $3/month is still prohibitive.

Reading the HTML source made me smile:

    <!-- Viewer Discretion is Advised -->
    <div class="full-screen-graphic">

Would you guys consider offering an emergency phone plan? Maybe voice only say 60 minutes a year for something inexpensive like $10 or $20 per year?

It could actually be an untapped market. Inexpensive backup phone.

$3/gb more expensive than Google Fi, and I'm not sure what's compelling about it for that additional ten percent.

Haha, I wish all telco companies would list their tech stack as part of their feature list on their homepage!

Funny to see them market themselves as a "phone company" as opposed to wireless service.

The may be Gophers but do they do not support gopher://

Oh cool, so you're like Google Fi but 30% more expensive!

Google Fi only works with Nexus 5x, 6, and 6P. Charge works with any Sprint-compatible phone including iPhone.

Google Fi requires unlimited voice/SMS at $20/month, which many people likely do not care about. To maintain data only, Charge only charges $3 a month.

A more direct competitor in the "low monthly fee for light usage" MVNO space is RingPlus, which seems to be cheaper than Charge.

There seems to be a different MVNO optimized for virtually every usage pattern.

Great. When are you coming to Australia?

Presuming US only, no Canucks?

I like http://www.speakout7eleven.ca/ in Canada.

> Our affordable data add-on rate is 100MB for $10


Yah... I'm not seeing many ways in which this is comparable.

Any plans for EU?


It's currently in the user profile.

I also think it's totally fine for people to post their own stuff without any sort of disclaimer.

Obviously they shouldn't post it repeatedly and obnoxiously and so on, but those are the problems, not being involved with the thing being posted.

There's nothing wrong with submitting stories about your own company on HN. Extra-special disclosure of that is not a norm here.

Yeah, not even sure how I would do that. Would be strange to jam it into the title.

I suppose I could have left the first comment after posting as an explanation.

Right now we're not well-known enough for anyone else to post our stuff, so it falls to me.

How hard is it to get a sprint wholesale account?

Pretty hard. Buy me a beer and I'll tell you about it sometime.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but if a company calls me a nerd or a geek, then it sounds like an insult. So it makes me feel slightly bad, and is not a great first impression. I think advertisers should stop doing that.

Also, why would a voice/messaging company write most of their software in Go, instead of Erlang (or Elixir)? That would make more sense to me.

Also, those are not even features! Congratulations on your basic SSL best practices.

... takes offence at being called a geek

... calls out the company for using Go instead of Erlang

Just sayin'. :)

Yeah I'm a nerd or a geek, if that means I'm interested in programming and IT. But if you ask Google for some definitions, it still tells you:

    nerd: a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious.

    geek: an unfashionable or socially inept person.

And it's also kind of patronizing. I don't know, something about it just doesn't sit right with me.

This is a you thing. Nerds are cool now, the battle you're trying to fight is over.

I assume when you come on Hacker News you feel offended for being called a hack and a criminal :P.

Colloquial usage of these terms has shifted massively, to the point where the most common definitions I hear from people are:

    nerd: someone with an obsessive interest in certain intellectual areas, especially academic/technological things (math/computers/the sciences/etc.)

    geek: someone with an obsessive interest in certain subsets of popular culture, especially ones relating to fiction (games/comics/novels/etc.)
Now 'dork', that still has the old ring to it.

Didn't mean to offend. We consider ourselves nerds, and mean it affectionately.

And I will accept your sarcastic congratulations on "basic" SSL best practices with pride. I think you'll find that HPKP implementations are currently still very rare, and I do not consider it "basic".

That's cool, I'll get over it! I still don't really like the word "nerd", but to be fair, I did struggle to come up with a better title.

And sorry for the sarcasm, it does look like you're doing everything right.

When you say almost all your software is written in Go, is that including the telecom stack? I just didn't think Go was ready to compete with the Erlang VM in that arena.

It doesn't bother me but will bother some as we see. Maybe techie or something that's fairly neutral? Geek doesn't have nerd's negative connotations as much and is becoming mainstream. Probably something to use other than nerds in the label to show you're technical people helping technical people without offending anyone who hate that one label.

Re: nerd, time to trot out the old venn diagram.


Maybe "geek" is what you're looking for, but nerd is fine too.

HPKP is indeed quite rare. But I am very worried to see that you are pinning end-entity keys and have only a single backup pin. If you want to pin end-entity keys, I recommend pinning at least three backup keys, using both RSA and ECDSA of varying key sizes. You have to be very concerned with bricking your site from either losing your backup keys, or CAs/browsers rejecting your backup keys because cryptographic standards have changed. Pinning end-entity keys is not for the faint-hearted.

Cool product, by the way.

I think your reaction is relatively rare these days. More and more I see lots of people in tech and gaming communities embracing the words 'nerd' and 'geek' as a way of describing their social subgroup. For example, 'geeky' has come to be desirable in lots of fashion (just google 'geeky guy' and it's all about how desirable they are! okay, maybe those search results are tailored to me?), and it's a thing people would describe themselves as to attract on others on, say, dating website profiles.

Yeah I've noticed that. I guess I'm more comfortable with "geek" instead of "nerd". "geek" just feels a bit nicer for some reason.

Haha you can also kind of see a difference if you compare Google Images results for "geeky guy" vs. "nerdy guy". At least in my results, "nerdy" fares quite a lot worse.

Bottom line, I don't appreciate it when "business guys" call us the "nerds" they get to build their startups. And I also don't like it when family members refer to me as a nerd or a geek because I "work in IT". Because it's always followed by a laugh.

See the nerd/geek/dweeb/dork Venn diagram (Google, or elsewhere on this thread) to understand why geek feels nicer.

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