Frequently Asked Questions about our 4G / LTE Membership Benefit
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What's the story with this wireless data membership benefit ?
A: The Calyx Institute is an educational organization that develops frameworks, tools, and sets of best practices to promote privacy on the Internet and in the field of telecommunications. For the past few years, one of our goals has been to do research on to develop Internet access strategies that offer "Privacy by Design".
One of our projects that we work on that relate to this goal are our Calyx.net VPN which is based on LEAP software, and which currently encrypts the "last mile" of Internet access, and will soon offer client-encrypted cloud-hosted email.
Our idea was that if you take any "last mile" internet connection, such as this wireless data connection, and then run a VPN such as LEAP over it, and also employ other anonymity tools such as Tor, and XMPP with OTR then you have a prototype for a zero-knowedge Internet access system which helps to define a set of best practices for Public Libraries, Colleges and other community based organizations who serve communities at risk that need and want privacy and security.
Q: How long have you been offering wireless data to Calyx's members ?
A: We have been providing this membership benefit to our members since 2013. Originally it was provisioned on the Clear network, and used WiMAX technology. Clear's WiMAX network was decommissioned after Clear was purchased by Sprint. As of April 2016, new members (and membership renewals) are being provided with connections using modern 4G / LTE technology instead.
Q: What are the specifications of the 4G / LTE service that Calyx provides to its members?
A: We offer an unlimited 4G LTE data-only plan with no throttling, suspension, or overage charges. The plan does not include off-network roaming and it is subject to any standard network management that Sprint may apply to commercial broadband data-only account holders.
Q: Will Sprint know who I am when I use Calyx's 4G / LTE Membership Benefit ?
A: Yes, possibly. We are required to give the name and address of our subscribers to our hardware and service provider for auditing purposes. But we only know the name and address that you give us, often as part of your payment or shipping information, so that is the information we pass on. If you use Bitcoin or Paypal to make your donation, make a donation using cash, or have your device shipped to an address that is not directly associated with you, then we might not know your real name or address.
Q: Can I take the SIM card out of the hotspot you provide and use it in another device?
A: Our reseller agreement with our hardware provider, Mobile Citizen, prohibits the use of third-party equipment. Members who are found by Mobile Citizen to be using third-party equipment will have their service terminated.
Q: How many devices can connect to one of these wireless hotspots at once?
A: 10 devices at once is the limit imposed by the software on the hotspot.
Q: How long will it take after I sign up as a member to receive my membership premiums?
A: We try to ship every day whenever possible, so your hotspot should reach you between 1-2 weeks after you sign u. We ship via UPS ground, and we are a tiny organization, so we thank you for bearing with us as we get your membership benefits out to yu as soon as we can!
Q: What are the specifications on the Mobile Hotspots that Calyx provides to its members who elect to receive the 4G / LTE membership benefit?
A: Please see our wireless data equipment page for current equipment information.
Q: I just received a mobile hotspot as part of my Calyx membership. How do I use it?
The hotspot should automatically activate itself when you power it on within the Sprint 4G/LTE service area. If you have any issues with the activation process, please call tech support at 877-216-9603.
Q: Will I get cut off, charged more, or slowed down if I use a certain amount of data?
A: Our contract with Mobile Citizen says "no throttling, suspension, or overage charges after 30GB". As of April 2019, we were finally authorized by Mobile Citizen to describe the service as "unlimited" because there is no limit to the amount of data you can use, and there never has been. We began offering this membership benefit on the 4G/LTE network in April 2016 and so far we haven't heard of anyone being cut off for using too much data. Prior to that we were offering the same thing but on Clear's WiMax network and also there, nobody got cut off. On the first test hotspot we got in 2016, we used 100GB of data so far in just a day and a half and there was no problem.
Q: What happens if Sprint coverage isn't good where I am ?
A: That is something that we unfortunately have no control over. Realistically - Sprint's network is not the #1 rated network in the country. It is what it is. Sprint controls their network and we have no influence with them. Your results may vary depending on where you attempt to connect and how Sprint's coverage is there, and also due to network conditions. It is your responsibility to check Sprint's coverage map for your area, and if possible to test with someone else's mobile device to see if signal quality is acceptable to you before you donate. Extended LTE areas are typically areas where roaming to non-Sprint towers occurs, so our hotspots will not perform well in these areas. Also please be aware that our terms of service, which must be agreed to in order to become a member, says that we cannot be held responsible for where Sprint has coverage and where it doesn't.
Q: What happens if I need technical support?
A: Our hardware provider Mobile Citizen handles tech support. They're available by phone at 877-216-9603 during business hours Mountain Time (not including weekends), or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They generally respond to messages within 24-48 hours. Just let them know you're a Calyx member, and have your PTN or MEID ready. Your PTN/MEID can be found on the outside of the box your device comes in, or within the web UI.
Q: What are the terms of my hotspot's warranty?
A: Hotspots distributed after November 2018 are covered by a 9 month limited warranty through our partner, Mobile Citizen. The warranty period begins when the hotspot leaves Mobile Citizen's ownership. To check the date that your hotspot's warranty period expires, please call Mobile Citizen at 877-216-9603. The warranty covers defective devices, but not loss or theft.
Q: If I become a member and later decide membership is not right for me, can I get a refund?
A: One of the quirks of being a charity is that we are not legally allowed to provide refunds. During our signup process, before you contribute, you will be reminded that “Donations are non-refundable. By making a donation, you acknowledge that you are making an irrevocable gift to The Calyx Institute to support its non-profit mission.” We are committed to making sure that all of our members have the best experience possible, and will work with you to find a way to resolve any problems that arise. If you have questions about this policy, please email email@example.com
Q: How does the $100 renewal discount work?
A: If you renew as a yearly member and you do not need a new device, an $100 discount will automatically be applied to your renewal. This means your renewal dues for the coming year will be $100 less than the sign-up dues for a yearly member at that level of membership. If you need a new device with your renewal, please reach out to helpdesk@ calyxinstitute.org to speak to a staff member about the best way to make this happen.
Q: Can I make a membership contribution from my charitable giving fund?
A: If you wish to use a charitable fund to pay for the tax-deductible portion of a Calyx membership, please contact us first. Some funds have legal stipulations that may affect the way that your donation will be processed, so reach out to us at helpdesk@ calyxinstitute.org so we can walk you through any adjustments you may need to make.