Privacy Phone Set-Up - New Beginnings!

I want a fresh start.
I need advice.

Setting the Stage:
I currently have an old 2016 Galaxy J36V that has a number I’ve had since I was at least 14 (about 7 years ago or more) with Verizon. It’s dropping calls and out right not receiving most calls. The battery levels goes wonky, I could charge it to a 100 but place it down hard and it drops to 89, or it’s charged well above 50 but shuts down randomly. All is to say I can not keep this phone for much longer.

I also have a Pixel 4a running LineageOS that I got installed by Rob Braxman (technically his BraxOS) with no number or service attached to it. Currently used as a photo and video storage (holds no meta data by default)

I just bought/received straight from the google store (sue me I wanted a specific color) a Pixel 6 using a google account I plan on deleting soon but is currently tied to the aforementioned phone number.

I plan to run CalyxOS on it and possibly with their unlimited mobile hotspot and get a work number through

I want one number for family/friends, one number for work, and a VoIP/Pseudo number for Authentication.

Ideally not attached to my ID initially.

I understand family/friend putting my real name in their contact list will most likely ruin that with the 1st number but I plan on figuring out how to set SMS encryption as default and slowly moving my family off of Whatsapp.

I will mostly use the 2nd number as the number attached to whatever VoIP service that is recommend to gain the third number since the 2nd number will mainly be put down in contacts under a work/business name.

Considerations & Questions:
My current and only number is probably very heavily tied to my IP that the ISP has years of data on and I do NOT want that history anymore. Plus I’m sure that number is spread all over the internet from forgotten accounts and company databases. It’s registered under my parents phone plan so (I think) my info/ID isn’t directly tied to it via the phone service (I know rando companies have it linked).

Thus I never owned a number or plan linked to my ID.

I have an opportunity here but I have no real working knowledge of how ISP and Phone services work.

Can I get a new number through Calyx unlimited hotspot plan that is T-Mobile only or do I need to get both of my new numbers through Does silent link have phone plans or just numbers? Can you have a number without a plan?

(I am very new to adulting as you can tell)

Or can I do some combination of the two? Is GoogleFi a legit option since it has access to every cell service towers so I don’t have to worry if T-Mobile is strong in a certain area when I travel a lot for work? Or is that a stupid worry?

Is dual sim for both numbers on the Pixel 6 wise? Or is it better to say put my new personal number on the Pixel 4a and my work number on the Pixle 6?

Should I even get a new personal number? Is any history attached to my current number not much of a worry even if I am counting on my threat level increasing soon.

Will simply getting off my parents plan not associate my number with the previous history under theirs like it would if someone else got my number?

Maintaining the new set-up:
VPN and public Wi-Fi discipline will help with keeping a new and clean history.

I also understand Hotspots use a local area IP address that multiple customers are using at once if on hotspot as well (correct me if I’m wrong) so using a hotspot is better than using home Wi-fi when VPNs become inconvenient w/ certain sites.

Give me ALL your advice & suggestions please!

I feel like this is such a simple problem but I’m not well versed in how phone services work and I learn quicker engaging with humans than reading article after articles.

Whatever I end up doing to set this up properly will be the foundation of privately setting up content creator accounts and online businesses as a public figure.

I anticipate my threat level increasing due to the work I want to do and the content I want to put out.

I would love to get this right the first time or at least start this off strong on the right foot.

Thank you :slight_smile:
@Henry I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to your privacy series on content creators and businesses to drop. I am happily waiting patiently tho.
For now, I’m very glad you made this discussion forum to outsource theses kinds of things and be able to bookmark it for easy reference!

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Just so you know, the Calyx Institute mobile hotspot will probably be quite slow. LTE is heavily overprovisioned and slow in the US (T‑Mobile being no exception), and the Calyx hotspot will be deprioritized as an MVNO. Only after 50 GB of data usage will you have higher priority (faster speed) than a Google Fi or first-party T‑Mobile plan (prepaid or postpaid). You also get absolutely no roaming on the Calyx hotspot, which is an especially bad problem to have on T‑Mobile whose coverage is just plain worse than Verizon and AT&T.

Purely on the basis of price, Calyx hotspot does not make sense compared to Mint Mobile unless you will regularly use more than 35 GB of mobile data per month, and it does not make sense compared to T‑Mobile Prepaid Mobile Internet unless you will regularly use more than 10 GB of mobile data per month. T‑Mobile Prepaid will also be faster than Calyx up until the plan’s throttling threshold, and Mint will be exactly the same as Calyx up until the plan’s throttling threshold (as mentioned before).

On the privacy front, you can sign up for T‑Mobile Prepaid with entirely fake information and a virtual credit card if you are so inclined; someone in Techlore successfully obtained a T‑Mobile eSIM this way even though they are not a US resident and have no US address. This is likely true of Mint Mobile as well. Fair warning: this might be against ToS — I haven’t checked.

If it seems that I am ragging on T‑Mobile a lot, I’m just being realistic. I personally use T‑Mobile Prepaid because it offers acceptable service for me at a reasonable price. But Verizon postpaid (and probably AT&T postpaid too) offers significantly better coverage and speed if you’re willing to pay the exorbitant rates.

SMS encryption is hopeless; don’t even bother. There is a reason Signal dropped support for encrypted SMS, and Silence, the fork which continued Signal’s SMS encryption, is abandoned.

It’s best to just use an internet-based E2EE-by-design messaging app instead of trying to secure SMS.

In theory yes, in practice no (except for Google Voice I guess). It costs money to offer you that phone number, so major service providers will only hold the number for so long without payment. Of course you can get the cheapest possible plan and never actually use it beyond initial activation though. And you can keep a phone number through a VoIP provider for cheaper than a cellular provider if you barely or never actually use the phone service.

Google Fi is extremely overpriced except maybe if you do a lot of international calling or traveling (even then there are cheaper options, but less convenient).

Also Google Fi just uses T‑Mobile and U.S. Cellular towers. Which means it’s no better than T‑Mobile Prepaid except in the select few pockets of the US where U.S. Cellular has their own towers.

It’s not a stupid worry at all. Start by checking T‑Mobile’s coverage map and Opensignal (app required unfortunately) for more granular, crowdsourced coverage data. If those look okay for your areas of interest, then sign up for the cheapest Mint Mobile or T‑Mobile Prepaid plan to give it a test run with the device of your choice. In the worst case, you’re only out $20 or less if T‑Mobile’s coverage isn’t good enough.

From a technical standpoint, the only real concern would be that any apps with READ_PHONE_STATE permission can see both phone numbers.

Beyond that, using independent phones would only help for mental separation and/or convenience. Using multiple profiles is also an option that is almost as good as entirely separate phones.

Only you can answer this question for yourself.

No, not in any meaningful way. You would have to port the number which will establish a direct link between the old and new service. And of course any people or companies with the number will not know anything changed.

I do believe all cell service (in the US at least) uses CGNAT, so you would share a public IP address with multiple other customers.

From your ISP, yes. But please do not believe any false promises of privacy magically afforded by a VPN. I encourage you to read “Are VPN’s really useful?” by @mazer and the discussion on Privacy Guides. Tor will go a lot farther than a VPN for protecting your privacy if that is your primary goal.

I will get a new number for personal and I need a separate number for work.

I think I will build a burner phone later. I will take your advice with using independent phones for personal and work.

So you helped me solve one problem: New history/numbers and 2 phones

Noted :white_check_mark:

I travel a lot and my work is device dependent. I often find myself using my hotspot to connect my pc to it. It seems Calyx unlimited mobile internet isn’t ideal.

I guess it comes down to the price, plan, and coverage. I didn’t think Mint Mobile was a legit option (idk why I had that notion) but the price & privacy tip makes me lean towards using that service.

Might replace the old phone & number with the new personal number on the Pixel 4a under the current Verizon family plan so at least one phone has significant coverage.

Unlimited data on CalyxOs is really all I’m looking for. I couldn’t find unlimited data plans with Silent Link so getting a number completely anon for my work and personal phone isn’t possible rn (but I’ll revisit that when I build a burner).

Thank you so much for clearing that up.

Any recommended VoIP providers?

The plan for the Authentication number is for it to be a Google Voice number linked to the work number but I’d rather not give Google things if I can help it.

This is extremely helpful for keeping my new history clean! I will definitely dive into this. :+1:

Privacy is like a setting I can turn on, off, or adjust.

I will update this thread when I complete my set up. Especially for anyone new to privacy who wants to mimic what I end up doing :slight_smile:

I can’t vouch for any myself (as I don’t use any, at least for the time being), but I’ve seen a lot of people on Reddit recommending as a good starting provider. I also plan to use for a future project unless I find a compelling reason not to between now and then.

It should be noted that there is no real standard for SMS offered by VoIP providers like there is SIP for phone calls. So make sure you consider how different providers will deliver your SMS, if they offer SMS at all. in particular offers SMS access via their website or a custom API, and there is an unofficial SMS app on F-Droid to take advantage of that API.

I would say, overall, relying on T‑Mobile for this is not the best idea if the mobile internet is mission-critical. T‑Mobile first-party plans (not Mint or Calyx) have pretty strong roaming coverage in my (admittedly limited) experience — at the very least I can confirm that you can roam on AT&T. But the speeds you get on T‑Mobile will probably be significantly worse than Verizon or AT&T postpaid except maybe within dense metropolitan areas.

Since you already have a Verizon postpaid plan, it might be best to rely on that for your work internet access.

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I should also link Verizon’s QCI levels in case you (now or in the future) wish to min‑max* your Verizon service.

I don’t have a link to AT&T QCIs available offhand, but you can probably find that info if you search for it.

*Minimum cost for maximum service quality

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This video explains what was happening to the service on my current phone. Also gives a thorough lesson on Carriers.

We’re Being Screwed by Mobile Carriers…because of 5G! - YouTube

My Solution as of July 2022:

Pixel 4a - Family/Personal #, BraxOS (LineageOS), Verizon Family Plan

Pixel 6 - Work # (Physical SIM) , 2FA # (eSIM), CalyxOS, MintMobile (T-Mobile) 3-Month plan for both numbers (Work is Unlimited/2FA is 4GB)

I was able to get numbers from different states using Mint Mobile

I don’t like the eSIM set up for the 2FA number and plan on switching over to what @anon7610589 recommended:

Self-host VoIP suite getting numbers from Twilio by following Michael Bazzell’s guide.

I also found I have two work situations: Employee/Peers & Entrepreneurial/Privacy-Respecting Peers

So I ended up giving out my personal number if my work email wasn’t suitable enough. I don’t hate it but I do feel like I will switch my family over to Signal or another instant messenger (Session or Element) and keep Companies/Peers that I work with or contact on my “personal” phone number.

I was still highly selective about who got my personal number and I don’t typically save contacts on my end.

I still don’t feel like this is the BEST approach for me and this entire set-up will probably change drastically over time but one must take the next steps in the privacy journey somehow.

Best of luck to all!


I found this conversation searching for E-SIM as I am struggling with getting Verizon E-SIM on a Pixel 4XL running CalyxOS.

My comment is to ask for a follow up, how has your progress been setting things up, as you planned and what have you changed?

I went through Mint Mobile and their E-SIM set-up is well documented. I also searched Google’s pixel documentation on E-SIM.

What has changed is that I am now looking to use a sustainable VoIP PWA solution so that I only have one number on a phone and the other that lives solely on my laptop as 2FA.

I don’t much like using my phone.

Probably not the best idea to store photos/videos on an old outdated and insecure device. Buy an SSD to do the job or buy a new Pixel/IOS to do the job.

What is your OS? do have to have an eSIM?

Helping you accomplish what your asking is the reason for the response. Have you looked into KDE Connect or a similar app to connect your phones messages to your laptop. Until you get this set up what options do you have for 2FA?

Are you wanting to migrate as much as you can from your phone to your laptop?

I only use my primary phone number for 2FA at my local bank. The eSIM is used for trusted accounts which have my financial information (credit card on file). I use IronVest previously Blur from Abine for burner numbers.

My old laptop has a sierra wireless card installed, never been used. I found an interesting set of articles related to eSIM

already moved everything over to an external hdd @britguy

CalyxOS and I did but recently canceled the plan

I don’t keep much of anything on my phone. I barley use it for anything. I usually migrate my storage to an external hdd.

I don’t believe you have much use for the old phone then. Better to sell it off for a few bucks since it will never be private or secure as compared to something newer like Pixel.

I was referring to the OS on your laptop that you were considering an eSIM. A regular SIM card seems easier to mess with IMO. Have you resolved your cellular connection on the laptop.

I have a cellular wireless card and plan to test it with Mint Mobile after I activate my next SIM.

For getting a number on my laptop I’m going to use:

I’m not exactly sure how Twilio works but building the suite is easy and it should operate like google voice.

I will have to check that out. I self host a NextCloud on Cloudamo, my problem is my home network is offline when I leave the house. My phone is my only internet connection.