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Looking for a good cell phone carrier
Old 12-30-2013, 04:20 PM   #1
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Looking for a good cell phone carrier

My 2-year Sprint contract ends in January. I am looking for a new carrier, as I am too often disappointed with the reception I get with Sprint. Additionally, I'd also be interested in reducing my monthly expenditure (currently $70/mo for my Samsung Galaxy SII smart phone with 450 anytime minutes and unlimited text and data, IIRC).

I'd say that my usage of the phone varies between fairly moderate and heavy moderate for both voice and data.

At my house (in a suburb of a large city), the signal reception is rather problematic -- so Sprint 'gave' me an AIRave (in-home signal booster) for no extra charge. Even with the booster, there are many times when I simply end up using my house phone as the Sprint reception is so poor. While visiting family in Florida, the Sprint reception is so bad inside their condo that I can only use my cell phone while out in the parking lot.

For the winter, my travel plans have me 'on the road' (in various locations in the US) for 4+ months, so a cell phone with good reception is important to me.

(FWIW, I recently traveled to Central America with a friend. She works for a Google exec who frequently travels globally. The exec has T-Mobile and swears by them (as their international plans are cheap and work well for him). She upgraded her phone plan for the one month (from $50 to $70/mo) she was traveling. She said that her T-Mobile plan gave her unlimited text and data ...and unlimited calling to the U.S. when in a WiFi zone. She was very concerned, though, about making/receiving calls when she wasn't in a WiFi zone, as I got the sense that she would be charged a "per minute" rate at those times.)

I'd be interested in hearing recommendations for carriers (and plans) from members of this forum.

omni
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:50 PM   #2
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You can see coverage maps on all the major websites (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile), but they only give you a rough idea.

The only way to really know if a carrier's coverage is good FOR YOU (in the places you want it) is to get their service and try it out. Of course, if you have friends who go the same places you do, that would be the best first step -- just ask them.

AFAIK, they all have a 30-day satisfaction policy, so if a plan doesn't work for you, just go back and cancel it, then try another.
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:58 PM   #3
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Check out Republic Wireless, we are switching to them. They use WiFi if it is available, then Sprint network if it is available and then roams to Verizon network. I've been testing it for the past week including a 4 hour road trip to New Hampshire and the service was just a as good as my Verizon phone for only $10 a month, $25 a month if you want unlimited data.

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Old 12-30-2013, 05:08 PM   #4
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T-Mobile has 'wi-fi calling' whereby your phone (Most Androids and BlackBerrys, but not iPhones) with the proper settings will make calls using wi-fi, so your call quality may be better than the cellular network and when out of the country (on 'wi-fi only'), your calls should be free. But check.
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
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You should ask your neighbors what provider they use & their experience with coverage.

I've used T-mobile's wifi calling and it works really well though it cannot transfer the call between wifi & the celllular network. I've heard that republic wireless can. Republic uses Sprint.
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:57 PM   #6
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Agree with braumeister. Try to check/ask about reception in areas most important to you. Unfortunately, some fringe reception areas are same for all carriers. I live in major suburb of large Midwestern city & have had marginal in-home reception (1-2/4 bars) with all major carriers. FWIW- I'm now using T-Mobile & DW has ATT because their plans seem to best fit our respective usage. We both now use only pre-paid 'cause we've been victims poor cust svc while on those $$$ fixed contracts.
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:57 PM   #7
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Credo is good. I use wifi when I can.
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:56 PM   #8
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Ting should help with the cost, even for a heavy user, but it uses the Sprint network.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:04 PM   #9
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I'm on t-mobile and couldn't be happier. The only concern I'd have is their coverage area. Make sure they have good coverage for your location. If we head out of town, coverage can be spotty, but that's not a deal breaker for us.
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:17 PM   #10
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I carry my cellphone only as a convenience and don't use it a lot. I have airvoice wireless $10/month plan. $10 a month and texts are 2 cents each and voice is 4 cents a minute. Any unused money rolls over but for me the $10/month extends the time. It uses the AT&T wireless network. Me, DW and DS are all on it.
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:33 PM   #11
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T-Mobile appears close to being gobbled up by Sprint, or possibly Dish.
Hard to say what the service will look like post merger, but I would think it would certainly help Sprint.
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:40 AM   #12
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If you're planning on taking your Samsung phone with you when you switch your choices will be limited to CDMA carriers only, T-Mobile and most overseas carriers use GSM.
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walkinwood View Post
You should ask your neighbors what provider they use & their experience with coverage.

I've used T-mobile's wifi calling and it works really well though it cannot transfer the call between wifi & the celllular network. I've heard that republic wireless can. Republic uses Sprint.
Asking others here about reception may not be useful input. Reception is very much a local phenomena, it can vary dramatically in the same city much less more far flung comparisons. Only way to know for sure is to ask others with the same location needs as yourself. And it changes too. Verizon was awful where we are for years so we had AT&T, but Verizon has good reception at our house nowadays.

Ask your neighbors!

And wifi really helps keep data usage well under the "unlimited" threshold, 2.5GB for us. DW and I have two smartphones with unlimited voice/text/data for $85/mo on Net10. Same deal with StraightTalk and others. We're on AT&T network, but Net10 uses all 4 major networks, depends on which phone and region so you have to check the exact phone where you are (before buying).

You probably know there are 4 dominant networks, and many other "carriers" use the big 4 buying time wholesale. Probably changes periodically/regionally, but for example at least at one point in time:
  1. AT&T: Owns and operates its own network
  2. Boost Mobile: Uses the Sprint network
  3. Consumer Cellular: Uses the AT&T network
  4. Cricket: Uses the Leap Wireless network
  5. Jitterbug: Uses the Verizon Wireless network
  6. Kajeet: Uses the Sprint network
  7. MetroPCS: Owns and operates its own network
  8. Page Plus Cellular: Uses the Verizon Wireless network
  9. PlatinumTel: Uses the Sprint network
  10. Sprint: Owns and operates its own network
  11. Straight Talk: Uses the Verizon Wireless network
  12. T-Mobile: Owns and operates its own network
  13. TracFone Wireless: Uses AT&T on most Motorola phones, T-Mobile on most LG phones and Verizon Wireless or U.S. Cellular on most phones without SIM cards
  14. U.S. Cellular: Owns and operates its own network
  15. Verizon Wireless: Owns and operates its own network
  16. Virgin Mobile: Uses Sprint in the U.S. and T-Mobile in the United Kingdom
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:41 AM   #14
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Good advice form others on coverage issues. Also consider - how many minutes/month do you typically use when you are away from wifi?

Be careful about the 'wifi' calling option with some plans - they may still charge a wifi call against minutes. But you can make wifi calls through other systems (we can do it through our VOIP home phone line with an app on a smartphone or computer), or Skype (check rates).

So maybe you can get away with a low voice minute plan. We have our daughter on the T-Mobile $30 no contract plan, 100 minutes, unlimited text & data per month.

-ERD50
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:51 AM   #15
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I've been with Sprint / Virgin Mobile for years. Sprint's coverage in my home area is fine with one exception - no 4G service at all. For that reason, and because I need a new phone, I plan to try out T-Mobile's $50 a month plan. All I am waiting for is a good sale on the Moto-X. However, if I lived where Sprint / Virgin had put 4G LTE in place, then I would stay with them because I do think that, for a single person, their plans are a good deal.

I realize the OP wants to try a different carrier than Sprint, but I wanted to add some info on Virgin in case other people read this thread. FWIW here in the midwest, Verizon seems to be the best choice if you want coverage off the beaten path, so to speak.
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Old 12-31-2013, 09:01 AM   #16
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PagePlus has been great for me for voice. It runs on the Verizon network. 80 gets you 2000 minutes or one year of service, whichever comes first. They also have data available, but I haven't used them for data

-gauss
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:38 AM   #17
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Ting should help with the cost, even for a heavy user, but it uses the Sprint network.
Ting does (free) roaming for voice and text, no roaming for data.

I'm a satisfied Ting customer and my monthly bill is usually $10.72 - that's the cost when I use some data, no voice and no text, which is pretty typical of my smartphone usage.
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Old 12-31-2013, 11:34 AM   #18
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PagePlus has been great for me for voice. It runs on the Verizon network. 80 gets you 2000 minutes or one year of service, whichever comes first. They also have data available, but I haven't used them for data

-gauss
+1. Great network too, much better than my old Tmobile service.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:12 AM   #19
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Mrs. GubMints is pretty happy with her new Republic Wireless Moto X.

I've posted our long-term (30-day review) on my website.

Summary: There's a learning curve when you leave iOS, but the savings and features of the Republic Moto X are worth it.
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