General FYI – I’ve dug through the mess of wireless providers (as I try to do on a biannual-ish basis) and this rounds winner is.. tello.com (currently +coupon 15OFFAFF -> 15% off)
Cheapest possible “has a working number”: $4.98/month ($5 (plan) + $0.73 (BS surchrages/tax) – $0.75 (15% off)
(give 100 minutes, unlimited texting)
“Internet of Things”-slave device: $5.98/month ($7 (plan) – $1.05 (15%) + $0.73 (BS))
(give 200 mb 4G/LTE (~5Mbit) then indefinite 64kbit 2G/1X, unlimited texting, no calling at all)
Resonable minimalist use: $13.48/month ($17, -15%+BS)
(unlimited text/voice, 200 Mb 4G)
All functional sprint phones work, most get in even with unsettled accounts/sprint blacklist (no official word on what’s what, had a few denied, a few accepted). Boost phones with more than 6 months cumilative on-network use work, some decrepidly old never activated work.
Tethering explicitly allowed, including while on 64kbit. USB, bluetooth, on-phone hotspot – no problem, any data welcome.
Switch phones whenever, no human involvement. Just fork in IMEI online and wait two-three minutes, dial ##72786# (reset provider), bam, done.
Porting in number from Sprint continually went super smooth and without human interaction – acc # + pin + phone# + exact name and address, five minutes, reset provider, done.
Autorenew required – needs disposable/virtual CC or cancel for one-off lines.
Asks for a phone number that can’t be the one you’re just now buying for billing (doesn’t appear to verify how real it is, but still corners you with “No, we need your phone number!” vs “I don’t have one, hence my intended purchase!”)
Pro or con depending:
Charges $10 for new SIM cards. Some Sprint SIMs transfer, some do not – those that do not costs $10 takes a 2-day mail round, plus exposes your real address (or locks you down to 3G or less data == no 4G/LTE burners). On the plus side, they do in fact 2-day you a functioning SIM no questions asked, no human interaction – Sprint usually requires you to speak to two-three levels of highly confused tech support before actually sending out a new SIM.
Not affiliated with nor get commission from these people, just what I ended up with this round.