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guide_to_sim_hopping [2018/05/04 13:17] (current)
trinkasharma created
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 +So what exactly is sim hopping?
 +Rather giving you a boring definition chock-full of technical terms, I will instead give an example:
 +    Say you are currently using a generic mobile prepaid plan. Every 30 days you pay the provider $40.00 for unlimited calls, unlimited text messages, and 7 GB of data. One day, you see a deal from Lycamobile. For your first 28 days as a new Lycamobile customer, you get 6 GB Data, unlimited local & international calls for the low, low price of $4.90!
 +    This offers a much better value compared to your current plan, so you purchase the Lycamobile sim card, wait for it to arrive in your mail, and then activate/register the sim card online by following the instructions provided(account.lycamobile.com.au). During the registration process, you put in a request to port/transfer your current mobile number to Lycamobile. After activation, you wait for a few hours before removing your old sim card from your phone and swapping in the new Lycamobile sim card. You restart you phone, and for the next 28 days you get to enjoy unlimited calls and 6 GB of data, with the knowledge that you have paid less than $5.00 for nearly the exact same service as before.
 +    While enjoying your new Lycamobile service, you see another deal pop up on OzB. Kogan is currently having a deal on their extra large prepaid plan! New customers get 30 days of unlimited calls/text and 14 GB of data for only $1.00! Sweet! So you purchase a Kogan sim, and on the expiration day of your Lycamobile service, you port/transfer(accounts.koganmobile.com.au) your number to Kogan.
 +This is sim hopping in a nutshell - continuously switching between mobile service providers who offer a better deal.
 +Why sim hopping?
 +Now, you may think that sim hopping sounds like a whole lot of work for not much gain. After all, you have to scrounge the website for deals, make online purchases, wait for your purchase to arrive, keep track of your service expiration dates, go through the arduous process of online sim activation and identity verification, pry open your phone to swap sim cards, and wait and wait and wait, hoping that the activation/transfer process will go through without a hitch. Why, oh why would anyone in their right minds would ever want to do this - on a monthly basis!?
 +Well, it really depends. For me, my greatest motivation would be data. I have a very shitty internet connection and the landlord is unwilling to switch because the landline is bundled into the broadband subscription package. She wants to keep things as simple and as hassle-free as possible, so changing providers is a big no-no. On rare occasions I can go for a whole week without losing a single packet, while on others the line status is stuck in a perpetual loop between "connected" and "disconnected". On days like that, I have to rely on mobile data. Unfortunately, current mobile broadband offerings require you to choose between bad-value-for-money, or low-to-zero-flexibility. You either pay an exorbitant monthly fee for a barely acceptable amount of data with no rollover (low flexibility), or make a one-off payment for a teensy bit of data (bad value) meant to last you a whole year - with limited rollover.
 +However, in the land of frequent discounts, there exists a third option. In an attempt to lure in new customers, mobile service providers in Australia frequently offer their prepaid services at crazy discount prices, at times even operating at a loss (e.g. Kogan $1 sim deals). And for a very, very low introductory cost, newcomers can gain access to unlimited text/calls and large amounts of data for their first 28 or 30 days. To prevent their loyal, existing customers from joining in on the fun, introductory pricing is offered to new customers ONLY. Fortunately, we can circumvent that by switching providers on a monthly basis, always posing as a new customer that is porting/transferring in from another provider.
 +By continuously switching to the best available offer, we get to maximize the amount of value we get for our money. And thus, sim hopping is born. Why pay $40 over and over again each month for a measly 7 GB when I can just rip open a new $1 starter pack and get 14 GB?
 +Some people consider sim hopping a huge hassle, while others may find enjoyment from abusing the system. Is sim hopping truly worth the effort? You decide.
 +Some pitfalls and annoyances of sim hopping
 +    Failed activations.
 +    Your new sim card may fail to activate for any number of reasons, and you become stuck with an old sim card that has expired, and your new sim card is now a poorly designed Frisbee with bad balance and awful aerodynamics. Depending on how poorly the porting process went, you might even have trouble recharging and receiving calls on your old sim card. You reach out to both your old and new service providers, but all they do is point fingers at each other. Your mobile number is now stuck in limbo. The worst case scenario is to get a new sim card, tell all your friends and families about your new mobile number, update all your online accounts, perhaps reprint all your business cards, and curse whoever introduced you to sim hopping for making your life a miserable hell.
 +    Read on for best practices on how to avoid this.
 +    No service.
 +    You live beyond the coverage area of your new service provider. Doozy oopsie. Or maybe their service tower is broadcasting on a spectrum not supported by your device. Should have done some research before taking the dive, eh? Some mobile providers provide their coverage map on their website. Or you could activate a cheap prepaid sim, pop it into your phone and walk around to check for adequate connectivity. Or, you can, you know, simply ask around. Talk to people living in the area. Research, research, and more research.
 +    Provider intervention.
 +    Mobile providers have been racking their brains trying to dissuade people from sim hopping. It has been ages since Telstra prepaid sims last went on discount (it used to happen pretty regularly), and Telstra have changed their prepaid offerings time and time again to combat abuse. Optus has changed their sim expiration dates, requiring prepaid sims to be activated within 30 days of purchase. I have also read comments about sim activations triggering credit checks or failing arbitrarily because some user has activated too many sim cards in quick succession. It has yet to occur to me, but your mileage may vary. Fortunately, there are always plenty of other mobile providers vying for your attention (e.g. Amaysim, Kogan, Boost, Lycamobile, Lebara, Woolworths mobile, Aldimobile, Dodo, etc) if you don't feel like tangoing with customer service on reviving a dead Frisbee.
 +    Buying and activating too many sim cards.
 +    Seriously, this can be potentially cause problems with new activations. I don't know if this is true, but I have been told that you get flagged as a terrorist if you have more than 5 active mobile numbers at the same time, because only a terrorist would need that many active numbers… to avoid suspicion? Or something like that. It makes zero sense to me, so make of it what you will. Who knows? I've been told plenty of weirder things that turn out to be true.
 +    You tell me.
 +Sim hopping best practices
 +    Maintain a main mobile number. You know, the number your mates dial in order to keep in touch with you? Yeah, that number. NEVER perform sim hopping with that number. Choose a cheap, nice, and safe long expiry plan, preferably one that requires you to recharge once per year, transfer your main mobile number to that plan, KEEP IT THERE until the day you die, and only use that number for receiving calls. Amaysim has a great "$10 Prepaid As You Go" plan where your credit lasts for 365 days. Vodafone has a similar 365 Plus prepaid plan as well. Or if you want the best value for your money, I recommend another readup on Telstra prepaid(whirlpool.net.au) to find out how you can get the best coverage, cheap rates, long expiry, and the ability to spend your Telstra recharge credit on Google Play purchases and various other services.
 +    Buy an unlocked, 3G/4G enabled dual sim mobile phone. Here(whirlpool.net.au) are some suggestions on what you can buy. With a 3G/4G dual sim phone you can receive calls on your main sim and use your sim hopping sim for everything else - sending text, making and receiving phone calls, and mobile data. Having a proper dual sim phone makes sim hopping a whole lot easier - otherwise you would always have to leave the house with two mobile devices in tow, which in my opinion is one device too many.
 +    Mobile number transfers can take anywhere between a few minutes to 24 hours to complete. Porting operates half-time (10:00 am to 6:00 pm) on Saturdays and it is not available during Sundays and public holidays. Always port your number during working hours on weekdays. That way, if any problem occurs you can expect customer service to be up at your beck and call.
 +    Set up a calendar reminder to recharge your main number. Year long expiries are easy to forget, and you seriously do not want to lose your main number.
 +    Do I need to discontinue my prepaid service with my current provider before switching to another?
 +    No, there is no point in doing so. Simply activate the sim card from your new provider and request to transfer/port in your existing number. Or if you do not wish to keep your existing number, simply leave it be and it will automatically be cancelled within a month after expiring, as is common with most prepaid plans that do not offer long expiration. If you request termination from your current provider, they can (and most likely will) terminate your service immediately and cause you to lose your existing number.
 +    Do I always have to transfer/port my old number to a new mobile service provider?
 +    No, unless you want to keep the number. Sim hopping is actually much easier (the activation process becomes much faster) if you ditch your old number in your old sim and activate with the new number that comes with the new sim. As mentioned before, your old number will automatically be cancelled in a month or so after expiring, so no worries about having too many active numbers at the same time. Your mates might find it a little annoying to receive phone calls and texts from an unfamiliar number each time though.
 +    Can I port my number to a new sim card with the same provider (e.g. porting from Telstra to Telstra)?
 +    Yes and no. Most of the cheap prepaid deals you find online are for NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY. Sim hopping abuses this by posing you as a new customer porting in from a different provider (e.g. porting from Vodafone to Telstra). Your current provider will most likely refuse by giving you an activation failure if you are porting in as an existing customer. However, some providers might allow for an exception if you contact their customer service and ask nicely.
 +    If you don't feel like spending time doing a salsa with customer service, an alternate option is to perform a double hop (old provider -> new provider with cheap sim -> old provider) back to your old provider within the span of a few hours and enjoy the same benefits as a new customer. Collect cheap ($1 / $2) or free sim starter packs from different providers (e.g. Free starter packs from Kogan, $1 sims from Vodafone or $2 sims from Telstra and Optus, etc) for double hopping. Some mobile providers have measures in place to prevent this sort of abuse, so again, your mileage may vary.
 +    I live in a rural area with limited coverage. Should I try changing service providers?
 +    Sim hopping is best suited for people living in the city, or a in densely populated area where you can expect decent coverage from all 3 main mobile service providers (Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus). If you live in a rural area with limited coverage, you are better off sticking with the provider with the best coverage (usually Telstra).