I thought Straight Talk was a pretty good deal when I first got one Then I had problems linking it to google voice, which reaches all my phones by ringing a single number. I had to confirm the google voice forwarding service with my straight talk by toning 2 single digit numbers into the phone when an operator called. Google voice HAS NO tones once the phone is answered, however. So I clicked the two digits in with the digital dial of another phone. A couple of weeks ago, I undid the Google voice connection to my straight talk after having it forward calls from my google voice number for over two years.
When I tried to re-confirm my straight talk on google voice, I couldn't. GV put these words in parenthesis beside my google voice #: (Verizon). Speaks volumes, doesn't it. See, Wal-Mart, in cooperation with Verizon and Trac phone created the straight talk phone to mop up some low end cell phone revenue to benefit Wal-Mart and Verizon, who weren't participating particularly in the prepaid market. Verizon for one, was determined to raise cell phone monthly tariffs for most of its expensive phones. For Verizon, Straight Talk is a way to mop up some of that low pre-paid cell phone revenue without putting their name on the service itself. In Western Wisconsin, Verizon was at the very same time re-launching Al-Tel and adding the new Verizon service for the first time. When the Verizon's cheap straight talk marketing started to eat the Al Tel-Verizon Launch alive, Verizon persuaded Wal-Mart to stop marketing the straight talk here, and in all markets where Al Tell and Verizon were being launched.
Verizon prevented my using Straight Talk With Google Voice. As monopolists Verizon wants to control behavior of ALL their customers' devices, apps and practices. If you want to have a perk like google voice, Verizon reasons, well, you're simply not going to get it unless you pay a lot more for your minutes from Verizon. That's the monoplist in Verizon talking. Verizon must have figured out that some of their straight talk users were getting around the company's no verizon pre-pays with google voice, stricture. So they asked Google Voice if they minded if they just gave GV a database of all the Straight Talk numbers so the operator calling for the confirmation could just ignore any phone that is a straight talk by comparing the number to those on the list. That's what they did.
There's more to this. Google, itself a player in the smartphone software world, though not a cellphone carrier, wants to keep its skirts clean with Verizon so Verizon will sell Google's Droid phones to Verizon carrier users. I assume Trac Phone has been let in on the deal because they're the original low end American pre-pay and might have started a competitive low priced pre-pay to compete against Straight Talk if they hadn't been cut in on the deal.
The Cell Phone is one of the insidious ways State and Federal regulators have had their 120 year history of telephone regulation undercut by the new robber barons. I'm making a small complaint about a minor service I'm being denied by one of the BIGs. But at bottom that is because the BIGS not only want to control monthly service costs to consumers, they want to control what perks and what services consumers might use on those phones. They want total control.
You can use a type approved series of generic phones to use any part of the traditional plain old telephone service that is quietly being destroyed by the cellphone, but Robber Barons like Verizon- the company today dropped its $2 bank fee designed to nudge customers to pay their bills from bank auto-accounts- wants to control every aspect of the service and sale of their phone.
It is an outrage that they are allowed to do this. They should be stopped! Consumers should be allowed to choose any service they like from every vantage point. The Big Carriers will always say there are technical reasons they need control of phone features, but that's often not so. Most of the time the Bigs are using their prerogatives to steer customers to more expensive service and to prevent use of apps or outside services that provide no revenue streams for them. There's going to be a revolution in this country over the practice of the Robber Baron Cell Phone companies and their allies. I just thought you ought to know a little bit about it in advance.