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Ask Slashdot: Best Cell Phone Carrier In the US?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the bring-on-the-anecdotes dept.

Cellphones 375

martypantsROK writes "After nearly seven years of living abroad, I'm planning to return to the U.S. in early 2013. Last time I lived there, smart phones weren't out yet. Dropped calls were common, and poor reception (can you hear me now?) was an ad campaign. I'm used to South Korea's wicked speeds, both for internet and wireless networks, and I'm wondering what the Slashdot community believes to be best carrier in the U.S. Which is fastest? Which offers the best deal for lots of data? Nationwide roaming and coverage? Prices? Service?"

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Is there one? (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | about 2 years ago | (#41533521)

That's like asking what the best fast food restaurant is.

Re:Is there one? (4, Funny)

starworks5 (139327) | about 2 years ago | (#41533547)

SmokeMobile - uses smoke signals instead of cell towers.

Re:Is there one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533553)

That's like asking what the best fast food restaurant is.

Good point, although ironically none of them charge anywhere near fast food prices.

Re:Is there one? (1)

suso (153703) | about 2 years ago | (#41533709)

Good point, although ironically none of them charge anywhere near fast food prices.

Well, I will say this about US cell phone carriers I was happy to see how much the price of data plans have gone down in price last time I renewed. I think Verizon charges like $30/month for 2GB, which may seem insane, but compared with what they charged back when the whole ".002 cents fiasco [blogspot.com] " happened 6 years ago (About $209.71 per GB), $15/GB isn't as bad. Of course, its still quite far from what you might pay for overage at a web hosting company ($1/GB) or what you pay per GB with a OC-192 connection (maybe $0.008/GB).

Re:Is there one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41534035)

I was recently in Zambia, and it was approximately $30/month for 1Gb data (total download + upload) for phone data or landline internet. It was quite a shock to me when I'd used up my month's internet data within 2 days loading photos to facebook and having several web pages send some streaming data. I wasn't prepared to be spending $15/day for the 2 months for internet.

Re:Is there one? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#41534131)

I think Verizon charges like $30/month for 2GB, which may seem insane
Yes, that is correct, their 2 GB plan is $30/month, but their unlimited plan, which they no longer offer is only $20/month.

Re:Is there one? (1)

Huge_UID (1089143) | about 2 years ago | (#41533909)

In-N-Out! :-)

Re:Is there one? (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41533923)

That's like asking what the best fast food restaurant is.

It used to be Wendy's, but they've done something to the bacon, and hiked up the prices. They've gone downhill quite a bit since Dave Thomas died.

Re:Is there one? (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#41534071)

That's like asking what the best fast food restaurant is.

It used to be Wendy's, but they've done something to the bacon, and hiked up the prices. They've gone downhill quite a bit since Dave Thomas died.

Dave Thomas dies. Their bacon changes taste. Oh, God, no!

Re:Is there one? (0)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#41534075)

Actually...

That's like asking what the best fast food restaurant is the best one for steak.

Stay in South Korea or you will find out how bad are cell phone coverage is.

Verizon (1, Informative)

djwyldeone (873312) | about 2 years ago | (#41533533)

Depends on your location. Verizon has been the strongest as far as signal and speed form my experience.

True (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533581)

Typically the most expensive, too, though, from what I've noticed.

Considering the choices, I'd still have to say Verizon is the best, though.

Re:True (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#41533623)

I never understand this. Because whenever I compare plans between Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. They're usually within $10.

Right now I'm looking at $160 for Verizon, or $150 for AT&T/Sprint.

Re:True (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41533777)

Seriously, you spend $150+ a month for a cell phone or is that for your entire family?

Re:True (1)

XaXXon (202882) | about 2 years ago | (#41533953)

The killer feature for me, though.. is talk and data simultaneous on an iphone.. only at&t can do that so far.

Not sure about tmobile, but no lte makes that kinda stinky.

Re:Verizon (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533609)

From what I can tell, in terms of speed and signal reliability this guy is correct. However, in terms of reasonable pricing, I would try one of the pre-paid plans (Boost, Tmobile, StraightTalk). I'm on Tmobile's $30 / month plan that only has 100 minutes but has unlimited text and data (2 or 5 gigs at HSPA+ then down to edge. HSPA+ is short of 4g LTE speed but still quite fast). I circumvent the minutes limit by routing calls through Google Voice, and while to set that up was a hassle, I'm very much enjoying my $30/month bill for all the data capabilities I've been allotted.

Re:Verizon (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#41533659)

Verizon doesn't work at my house but AT&T does and Boost mobile did, at least until they upgraded their tower when that stopped working too. Now I'm stuck with AT&T but the service, particularly the 4G is great. Not at all what I expected.

Re:Verizon (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 years ago | (#41533783)

Depends on your location.

This.

Verizon has been the strongest as far as signal and speed form my experience.

It's the exact opposite in southern (don't know about northern) Louisiana.

Re:Verizon (4, Informative)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41533853)

It depends on where you live. Verizon has more than a few completely dead spots where I live, and virtually no signal at my workplace, so they're completely out of the running.

The wife is on Sprint, which is worse than useless here as well -- she'll be switching to a different provider in January.

I'm on AT&T now. I haven't found a spot that it doesn't work locally, and I haven't noticed any issues while traveling.

Of course, YMMV.

Verizon is good for me, but maybe not for you (1)

GoatCheez (1226876) | about 2 years ago | (#41533989)

I pay too much for my cellphone bill, but I've found Verizon to have the best coverage and speed. Don't expect good customer service from any of them. They all are horrible. I was lucky to get grandfathered into real unlimited data with Verizon though, and even was able to keep it through and upgrade from 3G to 4G (Droid 2 to Droid 4). Sprint is really good if you can keep your travels into their coverage area. AT&T seems to be just mediocre overall, so it's really not bad, but it's not exactly good either. If you stay within the city and don't ever go anywhere, there's lots of services like MetroPCS that are SUPER cheap, however I can't vouch for their speed or quality as I don't know anyone that has used it for a smartphone.

Re:Verizon (1)

kerashi (917149) | about 2 years ago | (#41534057)

Where I live (Northeast Arkansas) AT&T coverage is pretty spotty. Verizon is much better, though there's a big dead zone right on the AR/MO border. Once you cross into Southeast Missouri, Verizon coverage starts getting spotty. I'm with Verizon because my AT&T phone wouldn't ring when I was at home. Took the phone back within 2 days and got out of contract. AT&T still tried to bill me $640 early termination fee, though, took over an hour on the phone to sort THAT out.

Curious about Ting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533535)

TIng is a new provider running on Sprint's network. They have a really interesting a-la-carte plan, reasonable rates. No iPhone. Anyone tried it yet? Considering a switch from Verizon, which is just Far Too Expensive and Corporate for my taste.

Re:Curious about Ting (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#41533561)

Seems like Ting is only a better deal than Virgin Mobile (which also runs on Sprint) if you select a fairly limited plan. Still, that could be good for light users.

Re:Curious about Ting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533769)

Ting is awesome, if you're going to keep your cell phone usage under control.

Here's one place to look and one I was considering (5, Informative)

be99 (1598591) | about 2 years ago | (#41533543)

www.opensignalmaps.com - Great for telling you coverage of the various phone providers. If you're going for sprint, try www.ting.com (I don't work for them) - but that said, they seem to be the most sane in terms of billing.

Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (0)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41533565)

Verizon touts it has great coverage, but they dropped my calls maybe 50% of the time, no exaggeration. I couldn't cancel because they had me in a contract. I even was going on a first date with a pretty girl, but she wanted me to pick her up instead of meet at the place. She called me, I asked who it was, and then the phone dropped. I thought she hung up on me. She thought I hung up on her. Then she didn't want to talk to me again.

I eventually cancelled Verizon and went to Google Voice with a smart phone, and wifi. Turns out Google Voice isn't good though because it didn't have good enough call quality and often you couldn't understand what the person was saying. This was a land line "solution" anyway.

Last Christmas, my mom bought me a trak phone from Walmart and I haven't had a dropped call I remember. Verizon dropped hundreds of calls, but the Trak Phone dropped close to 0! Also Trak Phones are maybe 1/3 to 1/10 as expensive depending on your minutes use.

Now if you need a data plan for a smart phone so you basically have a mobile computer, I can't help you sir.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 2 years ago | (#41533587)

I have the same experience. Switched from AT&T to Verizon, and I get a lot more dropped calls with Verizon. The myth that Verizon is better is just that.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533611)

I've never had a dropped call on Verizon...must depend on your region.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#41533691)

That's the point though. Coverage varies greatly depending on location. Verizon and AT&T seem to work most anywhere but from my experience I've never been anywhere Verizon worked and AT&T didn't although I have seen places AT&T worked and Verizon didn't. Not very many though but my house is one of them.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533997)

And that's pretty much switched in places like Nevada. I worked out of an office in Reno not too long ago and part of my job involved going to a lot of towns all over the northern part of the state (and eastern california, too), and management, to be helpful, decided to get everyone cellular modem thingies...and went with AT&T. Which only really worked in Reno (and Carson City, to be fair). It was a huge head-desky moment, especially as we told them a bunch of times that AT&T did not get reception most of the places we were going. But apparently AT&T had a better deal. Except then they were paying money for something no one was using.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41533695)

Well consider yourself lucky then. I told the company 50% of my calls drop making it next to impossible to talk to anyone, and they didn't offer me ANYTHING. They just offered to upgrade my plan for more minutes greedily. You'd think the company would have let me exit the contract since their service was grossly faulty. It didn't matter where I was or how many bars I had, I'd drop calls all day long. So I had bad experience with their cell phone coverage, and bad experience with their customer support.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (2)

iamnobody2 (859379) | about 2 years ago | (#41533687)

if you're a heavy user tracfone is magnitudes more expensive then pretty much any plan with any company.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#41533725)

Coverage quality depends on location, and therefore how much you travel. You do know that Tracfone doesn't have their own network, and uses the Verizon network for some of their phones/locations, right? Tracfone seems to favor [prepaidphonenews.com] T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which have very good coverage outside of metro areas.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (4, Interesting)

loosescrews (1916996) | about 2 years ago | (#41533771)

This has more to do with GSM vs CDMA. There was an article on Slashdot recently about how CDMA has "won" the protocol war because it can handle more simultaneous connections. What wasn't mentioned is that the main difference is that GSM tries to keep all current connections regardless of signal strength, while CDMA drops the poor signal calls if the tower is near capacity and a handset with a strong signal call is attempting place a call. As a consumer, I went for GSM. In the U.S., this means AT&T or T-Mobile, or a MVNO like Trak Phone or SIMple Mobile. I also like the GSM device selection better.

LTE may be changing this, though.

It is interesting to see which countries went with CDMA over GSM. As far as I know, only the U.S., China and Mexico use CDMA.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41533823)

So what you're saying is Verizon's network is designed around dropping low priority calls. Do you think because I was on a low minutes plan that they rated me less of a customer and this is why I was dropped non stop?

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533949)

Low signal quality != low priority.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

GoatCheez (1226876) | about 2 years ago | (#41534031)

I think it's because you had a phone that had bad reception. I've never had a dropped call on Verizon networks. My experiences are mostly limited to the east coast of the US.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (5, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | about 2 years ago | (#41534149)

No, he's talking out his arse. For one, his talk about CDMA use is nonsense - Korea, Japan and Vietnam all use US-style CDMA, and Australia did for a while before dropping it. The most widespread 3G system is W-CDMA (called UMTS when it's run at 2.1GHz), so all the world is using a form of CDMA.

On the technical front, he's talking crap, too. The way CDMA works is that everyone on a channel transmits on the same frequency at the same time, but everyone's signal is scrambled using a different permutation of the "convolution code". This means that to each user, every other user's signal appears as noise. The scrambling needs to be precisely synchronised for this to work properly, hence the need for high-accuracy, (typically GPS-derived) time in base stations. It also means that adding more users to a channel just degrades the signal for everyone and gradually reduces the effective coverage area of the base. This is sold as an advantage, as you don't need as many bases to get coverage of the same size area if users are sparse.

The complication comes in when you have a nearby mobile and a more remote mobile: assuming they have the same transmission power capability, if both transmit as full power, the nearby mobile's signal, appearing as noise when the base is trying to decode the remote mobile's signal, will totally swamp it. The base has to actively manage the transmit power of all mobile stations so that each one is transmitting at the lowest power at which it can receive a reliable signal. This is a complicated optimisation problem that uses lots of CPU power in the base station. It sends literally hundreds of transmit power management messages each second to each mobile. W-CDMA, with wide 5MHz channels, also gives the base station freedom to assign different size parts of the code tree to different mobiles, allowing bandwidth and reliability to be traded off on yet another level.

The reason you can get dropouts is that a bad decision by the base, or a badly behaved mobile that's closer to the base than you can cause the base to lose your signal. Also, excessive users on the channel (i.e. network operator not building enough base stations for number of users) will tend to cause the people with marginal signal to lose their connection.

By comparison, in a TDMA system (like GSM, iDEN or TETRA) each active mobile is assigned a timeslot, and they only transmit/receive in their allocated timeslot. Once you have a timeslot (making a call or establishing a CSD connection), it's yours until you give it up as long as you'e in the cell. If there are too many active users in the cell, you can't get a timeslot and therefore can't make a call. GPRS/EDGE packet data uses dynamically allocated timeslots that are assigned for brief periods - just long enough to send/receive a few packets at a time. There's also the issue of control channel capacity - control channels are used for call establishment sequences, SMS, cell broadcast packet timeslot negotiation, and authentication/keep-alive traffic. Control channels are a limited resource that can be over-utilised by having too many users, too many data connections, or too much SMS traffic.

Sounds simpler, right? Well, it isn't quite so easy. Remember the speed of radio wave propagation isn't infinite? If everyone was the same distance from the base, getting the timeslots to line up would be easy, but as they aren't the more distant a mobile is from the base, the earlier they have to transmit, so that the signal arrives at the right moment as seen by the base ("timing advance"). If this isn't managed correctly, received signals will overlap and corrupt each other, particularly if the signal from one (presumably closer) mobile is far stronger than the signal from another (presumably more distant) mobile. There's also a limit to how much timing advance a base can manage, meaning that under ideal signal propagation conditions there will be a distance lockout point where you will be cut off abruptly (IIRC it's typically configured for 15km, 35km or 50km for GSM, depending on user density and cell layout - it loses some capacity when configured for longer lockout distances).

Anyway, it's not that either system is designed to drop your call, they just have different trade-offs.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41533955)

Not only the simultaneous connections (due to orthogonal signaling) but also due to its longer range and higher capacity in general. GSM being TDMA has a strict limit of 20 per tower and bandwidth usage is far less efficient.

Re:Verizon is #1 in dropped calls (1)

GoatCheez (1226876) | about 2 years ago | (#41534015)

I've never had a dropped call with Verizon. Are you sure it wasn't your phone that had the issue?

They all suck (5, Insightful)

Flounder (42112) | about 2 years ago | (#41533567)

Just accept that and find the plan that best suits your needs.

Re:They all suck (3, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#41534125)

Just accept that and find the plan that best suits your needs.

To put it in other way: if "wicked internet/mobile speeds" are essential for your life style, consider postponing your return to US...

T-Mobile for service. (5, Informative)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 years ago | (#41533571)

The best customer service you'll get is T-Mobile. Not the best coverage if you are outside of a metro area but they have fantastic UMA (WiFi calling) support. Their plans are as good or better than others.

Just getting reasonable people on the phone for support is what has kept me happy for 7 years.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (4, Informative)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | about 2 years ago | (#41533617)

I used T-Mobile for years, and was very happy with them in major metropolitan areas. I had to switch to Verizon when I moved to a rural area, and I hate them. We now have T-Mobile coverage here, so once the next batch of Nexus phones are announced, I'm switching back.

IME you can't beat the customer service from T-Mobile. Verizon's has been less than great and their prices are through the roof.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (2, Informative)

Macrat (638047) | about 2 years ago | (#41533621)

Very true.

Want to turn over your wallet for high monthly charges? Chose AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

T-Mobile is the only real choice.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (5, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 2 years ago | (#41533787)

Well, no kIdding. If you're going to buy all three it's going to get pricey.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533635)

The best customer service you'll get is T-Mobile. Not the best coverage if you are outside of a metro area but they have fantastic UMA (WiFi calling) support. Their plans are as good or better than others.

Just getting reasonable people on the phone for support is what has kept me happy for 7 years.

Agreed

Re:T-Mobile for service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533649)

Agreed, i have 5GB/pm,100 minutes (overage at 10c/min), and unlimited text for $30/pm. it's an internet only deal, but its there. Works great in NYC, sucks in PA (no roaming ), but affordable (especially compared to Verizon/AT&T at $80-$130/pm).

Re:T-Mobile for service. (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41533713)

Agreed, i have 5GB/pm,100 minutes (overage at 10c/min), and unlimited text for $30/pm. it's an internet only deal, but its there.

I just signed up for this same plan. It's a great deal - 100 minutes of talk a month is 5x what I normally use anyway. AND the 5GB cap just means you get dropped to EDGE speeds for the rest of the month if you use more than 5GB of data.

Really, the main drawback with T-Mobile is coverage. On the west coast they do pretty well; but from what I've heard they are seriously behind the further east you go.

The other problem with T-Mobile is their 3G service is on an unusual frequency - but they're reallocating spectrum to address this (thanks, AT&T!). However if you want to keep using an existing phone, you should know that for now you're going to be at EDGE speeds much of the time. I know that's a deal-breaker for some people, but for me it usually doesn't matter much.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (1)

aetherspoon (72997) | about 2 years ago | (#41533763)

The current Galaxy Nexus and several other phones handle both AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G frequencies. You are right, however, in that a lot of phones won't.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41533937)

I just signed up for this same plan. It's a great deal - 100 minutes of talk a month is 5x what I normally use anyway. AND the 5GB cap just means you get dropped to EDGE speeds for the rest of the month if you use more than 5GB of data.

Recently T-Mobile re-added unlimited Data plans. They've finally gotten my attention, I'm tempted to switch.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533779)

T-Mobile is notorious for not returning initial deposits when your contract is up.
I called every other week a total of 4 times and each time they assured me that my refund check was either in route or would be resent. I had to complain to the BBB to finally get my refund and it took me 4 months total. I spent almost two hours on hold and being transfered trying to get my phone unlocked.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (1)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 years ago | (#41534061)

WTF are you talking about? I never paid and 'initial deposit.'

I've even had them drop a phone from my plan eight months early with no charge just because I have been a customer for so long. Every time I've need to change my plan due to life/work changes, they have been most helpful in finding the cheapest way to do it. You won't get better customer service from any other provider.

Re:T-Mobile for service. (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41534077)

I agree. Of all the evils, T-Mobile is the least. If you aren't planning on going out into deep rural areas T-Mobile should always treat you right. That said, why the hell would you want to leave South Korea for the crap communication we have State side?

Stay in Korea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533575)

Why would you want to deal with the screwed up telecom issues on top of the politics here?

It depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533591)

For most cities, Verizon is the fastest network. It also costs a bit more than average. They are discontinuing unlimited data, so you'll have to plan for that or get a family plan.

Sprint's prepaid (Virgin/Boost/Other re-sellers) is the cheapest for unlimited data and has pretty cheap voice. ~40 unlimited everything. But the network is pretty slow. Great if you buy your own android phone and plan to use it as a GPS in the car.

T-Mobile is for those who need good 3G or OK 4G speeds, but don't want to spend too much money. They go for about $50 all in (prepaid). Coverage is not as wide as the other 3 brands, but depending on the city is often the best combination of speed/price. Great if you want to watch TV episodes on your phone and you don't travel coast to coast often.

AT&T is like Verizon, but just slower. I only use it because my company gives it to me for free on my office phone.

But remember that none of this might work as you expect if you go post-paid. A $40 plan with Sprint will turn into a $90 plan with an iPhone on contract or a $60 pre-paid with AT&T will become a $110 plan on AT&T.

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533593)

Where will you primarily be using your cell phone? City? Rural? Northeast? West? etc.
Do you plan on using a lot of minutes? Texts? Data?

The best provider, coverage wise across the US is probably Verizon. Verizon also has the largest LTE network currently, but they also happen to be one of the most expensive.
If you live in a city, don't use a lot of minutes, and rarely travel to very rural areas, I'd probably suggest T-Mobile's $30/mo prepaid plan (100mins, Unlimited texts & data 3g/"4g"). Of course, you have to buy your phone. And if you buy an unlocked phone with radios that work with AT&T as well, you leave yourself the option of easily switching carriers.

There isn't one. (2)

IVI4573R (614125) | about 2 years ago | (#41533597)

They are all terrible in one way or another. In the end it's going to be who sucks the least.

Re:There isn't one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533903)

They are all terrible in one way or another. In the end it's going to be who sucks the least.

From cell plans to politicians, seems to be the mantra these days.

SimpleMobile!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533625)

Why hasn't anyone mentioned these guys?

Phonescoop (1)

Gresyth (1103851) | about 2 years ago | (#41533643)

http://www.phonescoop.com/ [phonescoop.com] Great site for comparing phones and carriers. We used it a lot when I worked customer service for various carriers.

To Quote Princess Bride: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533645)

"Get used to disappointment."

Re:To Quote Princess Bride: (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41533743)

No more rhymes! I MEAN it!

Re:To Quote Princess Bride: (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 2 years ago | (#41533907)

Anybody want a peanut?

What do you mean by "best"? (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 2 years ago | (#41533669)

If you do not specify your requirements, you cannot expect to get answers with appropriate solutions.

Least Worst Cell Phone Carrier In the US? (1, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 2 years ago | (#41533675)

After nearly seven years of living anal free, I'm planning to be anally raped in early 2013. Last time I was anally raped, giant spiked dildoes weren't out yet. Small penises were common, and good lube was an ad campaign. I'm used to South Korea's very small penises, both with lube and without, and I'm wondering what the Slashdot community believes to be the least worst anal raper in the U.S. Which is quickest? Which offers the least pain and lots of lube? Nationwide reaming and coverage (condom)? Sizes? Service?

They all suck.... (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 2 years ago | (#41533677)

...the harder part is finding out which one sucks just a little less at any particular point.

NOT AT&T (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41533689)

I'm that one guy who manages to get pretty good reception through AT&T where I live. I regularly make 2+ hour phone calls that do not get dropped. I don't have missed calls or SMS's that never arrive. On that note, I'm actually fairly happy with them. But in terms of service... UGH.

Twice this year I've had issues that required that I have a chat with them. Both were issues that could easily have been resolved via e-mail, and both ended up with a lengthy email exchange AND time on the phone. I don't meant that these were complex issues that required escalation or anything like that, I mean I had to send emails to the tune of: "Could you please READ WHAT I WROTE?" They have dumbasses answering questions and, frankly, their policies aren't designed to avoid issues. Really, they want you to go into overages. I suspect their service is so bad so that the next time you call to challenge an overage, you sit there and have a conversation with yourself about whether or not it's even worth the time. Of course, I really cannot prove that.

I've had a terrible time with AT&T this year, I just wanted to give you a heads up on that. (... and I just wanted to rant because I'm still pissed off at them.)

impossible question. No ideal carrier exists here. (5, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41533719)

Verizon has ubiquitous buildouts of outdated wireless infrastructure. They can service a text message or a voice call almost anywhere in the US. They also charge 70+ a month for basic service, and have technological limitations on surfing while talking. I hear their customer service is legendary in the "eldritch horror" category.

ATT has the best GSM tech buildout in the US, but is SERIOUSLY oversold. They engage in abusive market tactics, pathologically insist the problem isn't from overselling, and have customer service horrible enough that even verizon could appear desirable. Theoretically can surf and talk simultaneously, but charge extra for the priviledge of tethering, drop calls horribly, and have spotty data coverage.

Sprint-Nextel has a fairly stable network of comparatively subpar network technologies servicing cheaper prepaid type devices and feature phones. Cheap and ubiquitous, but data is a farce, IIRC.

T-Mo has very limited buildout, is not loved by the parent company (deutch telecom), and struggles in the telecom marketplace. Despite this, has fairly nice customer service, offers incentives for patronage of their users, and are trying to improve coverage maps and network tech. Currently involved in a fairly ambitious LTE 4G buildout. Reasonably inexpensive; no contract unlimited talk, text, and 2gb 4G data for 60/mo. (Not the fastest though. 5300kbps down, 1200kbps up last I measured in my area.) Spotty coverage. Claim to fame is wifi calling and free teathering.

To me, the ideal carrier could only be born from strongly enforced neutrality laws allowing cheap sublicense of spectrum and infrastructure, with a dual technology, quad-band handset, able to leverage verizon's CDMA network as a fallback, and full GSM operation on both ATT and T-Mo spectrum. Such a company could never exist in the USA under prevailing conditions, which do not foster true innovative service offerings, but rather collusion based pricing hegemonies.

That's about the schtick of it as far as I know.

I actually like T-Mo, despite the weak coverage areas. I recently got a nice promotional offer from them recently for being a long term customer. (They offered the next tier service at my current tier price for 12 months, which greatly increased my dl cap at 4G speed.)

As far as I know, ATT and verizon bend over backwards to make you lose old plans they think aren't profitable, and force you to spend money. (I can revert to my previous level of service very painlessly with T-Mo after the promotion ends.)

If you are spoiled by south korean telecom, you be mortified by the horrible state of american telecom.

Re:impossible question. No ideal carrier exists he (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | about 2 years ago | (#41533929)

As far as I know, ATT and verizon bend over backwards to make you lose old plans they think aren't profitable, and force you to spend money.

As far as I know about Verizon trying to make you spend money is only recent - I've been with them for ~10 years. If you are an old fart with Verizon like me, you have to give up your unlimited data UNLESS you buy your new phone outright at full price. Now I normally don't use a ton of data, but if they want to play games I can start tethering and guzzling bandwidth when I get my new phone.....

Depends on where you live (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41534005)

Verizon has the best service (in terms of quality) in cities. But in the west at least, AT&T seems like they have better coverage outside cities than Verizon... I just switched to Verizon, and I have better luck making calls at my house but venturing up into the mountains of Colorado I lose signal in places where AT&T was somewhat there (mountains are pretty rough on cell phone signal though).

Out east I think Verizon is supposed to be better everywhere.

One thing that Verizon actually does seem to do though that is important, is to upgrade equipment more often than AT&T did.

Re:impossible question. No ideal carrier exists he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41534063)

Verizon is the one that DOESN'T have a problem with using voice and data at the same time. You're thinking of AT&T.

Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533727)

Verizon is the best service money can but. That said, it's also the most expensive

No Love (1)

deerpig (62295) | about 2 years ago | (#41533729)

The mobile phone system is terrible in the States. It's expensive, you get charged for receiving and sending calls, 3G is bad, and 4G is spotty at best.
I get better mobile service out here were I live in Vientiene, Laos and Phnom Penh Cambodia! My parents in boston complain about how expensive it is to call me, but it's as cheap for me to call the States as it is to make a local call.

That said, when I do have to go to the States I use a T-mobile prepaid and maintain a Google-Voice number in between.

I suggest you rethink moving back to the States.

Mobile phones will be the least of your disappointments.

Ting for low end w/ data usage (1)

FFOMelchior (979131) | about 2 years ago | (#41533733)

Can't vouch for quality since I haven't tried many providers... but it is super affordable. Their usage is tiered, but they'll automatically move you without any penalty to whatever tier you use for that month, even if you use a lower tier. Yes, that means if you're on a 500 MB plan and you use less than than 100 MB, they'll charge you for the 100 MB for that month. How crazy is that?

My cell phone bill went down $15 switching from a voice + text w/ AT&T to voice + text + data with Ting. Only downside is that the phones aren't subsided, so I paid $200 for mine. But obviously the prices are still going to work in my favor in the long run, especially since I'm not a phone hopper and can easily see myself keeping this one for 3-4 years.

https://ting.com/ [ting.com]

Re:Ting for low end w/ data usage (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 years ago | (#41533785)

Happy ting user, they have announced byod so most print phones will be able to be moved over soon. They also charge about cost for the phones and have some good deals like a 70 buck decent smartphone. It's sprints network and there is no data roaming for the downside.

competition (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about 2 years ago | (#41533735)

Competition is very tight between the main companies (sprint, t-mobile, AT&T) which means prices are comparable. It comes down to which has the features you want, with the most reliability and lowest price.

If you don't know, the United States does cell phone service differently than many other places. Here, you generally have your phone subsidized by buying a contract and that phone is then locked to the carrier, whereas (if I understand it correctly) in Europe you go buy a phone at full price then choose whatever carrier you want and pay monthly.

Check the maps (3, Informative)

Zibodiz (2160038) | about 2 years ago | (#41533739)

Check the coverage maps, then get an MVNO that operates off the towers of whoever has the best coverage. Straight Talk offers phones on all 4 major networks, for significantly lower monthly costs and no contracts. Boost and Cricket have pretty good prices too. In my area, the only national carrier with decent coverage is Verizon, but I'm sure that changes for the Eastern Seaboard.

Re:Check the maps (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#41533877)

Sounds like good advice. How do I do that? I've never owned a cellphone before. SimplyMobile seems cheap, but how do I know if I get coverage?

TMobile is only good in a city (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41533741)

I live 10 miles outside a city of 150,000 people and I drop calls on TMobile on a regular basis. Their map claims I should get two bars at home, some times I get none at all. In fact, their map of this area is one huge lie as I can tell you exactly where there are huge dead zones that they claim to be 1-2 bar zones, and I have confirmed this with several different phones on their network.

The situation has been this way for 7+ years now. Now as an added bonus sometimes when I am at home, if the call isn't dropped I get a delayed echo of my own voice in my ear. Not easy to deal with, when I am expecting to hear the other person and I'm hearing myself as well. I've also had several times where I can hear the other person, but suddenly and without warning they can no longer hear me.

Numerous times I have reported this to TMobile and never have they fixed it.

My Favorite So Far Is T-Mobile (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41533755)

Where I live, having AT&T is actually worse than having no service at all. It sets an unreasonable expectation that someone might actually be able to talk to you in a phone call. I'm sure that this is specific to where I live (Which is like... some sort of telecommunications black hole) and that they probably suck less elsewhere.

Sprint actually has an OK signal here, but I could never get their fucking self-service web page to let me log in. There are a couple of places in town where you get no signal with Sprint. This includes pretty much everywhere I work. Also no 4g coverage in my town from Sprint.

Never tried Verizon, I've heard too many things about them from their customers and ex-customers.

T-Mobile does have some gaps in coverage, but they actually do have 4G here. And I can actually use their web site for paying bills, managing auto-pay and stuff like that. AND, I can get coverage with them with their Android smart phone anywhere that I can log into wifi, and that includes pretty much everywhere there's a gap in their coverage in town. It seems like it automagically switches over to VOIP whenever it gets an internet connection, and that's pretty hot, if you ask me. Their customer service is also the least likely to make me want to spork my own eyeballs out rather than talk to them. I seem to recall that last time was almost a... pleasant... experience. If you can believe that.

This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533765)

really just bait for the paid commenters right?

Customer Service (1)

inkrypted (1579407) | about 2 years ago | (#41533789)

One other thing to consider is customer service. I switched to Sprint from Verizon and love it. No dropped calls for me and customer service is top notch. Got their home phone service for $20 bucks a month to keep from going over minites cause alot of my family still have landlines. Mobile to mobile is free night and weekends. (7PM) are free. I truely have unlimited data even if I am roaming. So I highly recommend Sprint.

Are you an idiot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533793)

You're moving from South Korea to the United States? Voluntarily?

If that's the case, you're too stupid to use a cell phone.

verizon vs t-mobile (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533803)

They are exact opposites among 4 major carriers, each is best on its own accord:

Verizon - best coverage, fastest internet, but uses CDMA so cannot use phone abroad, they charge arm and leg for everything, including $30/mo for SMS (tmobile offers it for free), they will happily cripple your phone for no reason, and generally many people try to stay away from it.

T-Mobile - best prices on contract, GSM network, allows to bring your own phone and gives a monthly discount if you do. Was the first carrier to offer Android. Good coverage in populated areas, adequate coverage elsewhere. They do allow to unlock phone you bought with the plan but if you travel, then buy unlocked phone elsewhere then get their discounted contract.

Where you live is what you get. (1)

glebovitz (202712) | about 2 years ago | (#41533817)

I can't speak for the entire U.S. It seems that carriers focus on different regions of the country. I traveled quite a bit over the past 7 years and here is my experience.

I have the best coverage with Verizon. Speeds were consistent and good. In the New England area, I get 4 or 5 bars where ever I go.

In New England, AT&T just sucks. It sucks on speed and coverage. Drive two miles of the freeway in New Hampshire or Vermont, and signals are spotty. In the metro Boston area, I can't drive 5 miles on the freeway without dropping calls a few times. There was an AT&T billboard in Brighton (part of Boston) that said "More bar in more areas" I think they were describing the taverns and not their coverage.

Sprint was really good in New England. I had a plan that would allow me to roam on the Verizon network outside of Boston. I don't know if they still do that, but I always have coverage. In the 7 years of using a Sprint phone, I never experience a dropped call on my commute from the North West suburbs (Burlington) into Brookline (4 miles from Downtown).

I was getting free phones from Nokia and Microsoft and none of them got more than 2G data speeds on T-Mobile. I understand they offer 3G in the 800Mhz band. None of my phones could use the 3G. If you buy one of their special phones, it works. From what I understand they are rolling out HSPA on more frequencies and are also building out their 4G LTE network.

T-mobile (5, Informative)

mrsam (12205) | about 2 years ago | (#41533831)

Buy an unlocked GSM phone, and activate it on T-mobile. Or, keep the one you have, if it can handle US frequencies.

Of the four national US carries (small regional carriers typically piggy-back on the big nationals), only AT&T and T-mobile are GSM. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA.

Over ten years ago I dropped AT&T after their network became too saturated, and became pretty much unusable. From what I hear, things haven't changed.

Verizon and AT&T have the largest network and best, fastest coverages; but if you're moving to a large, populated, city, T-mobile's coverage will probably be as best as the bigger guys. Out in less-populated areas, far away from the civilization, Verizon's going to be only game in town; sometimes it's AT&T.

Sprint falls somewhere in the middle between Verizon/AT&T, and T-mobile, who is the smallest, but I think they're the most friendly to people who prefer to use their own, unlocked phone, and have very low tolerance for US cell carrier B.S. They even used to have discounted plans for people who bring their own unlocked phones, but I don't think they do that anymore. They do have "pre-paid" plans, which seem to be a bit cheaper.

There's no such thing as an unlocked CDMA phone, so with Verizon or Sprint you have to buy one from them, when you buy service. Verizon is notorious for feature-castrating their phones. It's been my experience that "Bluetooth" on Verizon's castrated phones only means a wireless headphone. That's it. No bluetooth file transfer/browsing, no other Bluetooth profiles. If you want to load your own MP3 ringtone, you can only get them on the phone by buying them from Verizon. Sometimes, I heard a rumor that some Verizon phones let you configure an MP3 ringtone that you've transferred over USB, but, it's been my experience that the UI on Verizon's phones do not let you select an uploaded/copied ringtone.

I've been happy on T-mobile for the last ~10 years. They don't care what phone I use, I just pop in a SIM, and off I go. I finally decided to get a data plan as a back-up for my wired broadband, since I telecommute. Set it up, then twiddled a bit with my phone, and had it set up tethering without any issues. From what I heard, if you want to tether with the bigger carriers, you're likely end up getting charged extra, on top of paying for the data. Utter bullshit. From what I've heard, they've been getting bitch-slapped recently, on that account, because, supposedly they're not allowed to do that anymore, as a condition for buying some recently-auctioned wireless spectrum. Whatever, I don't care.

As far as prices go, the differences between the carriers are pretty much negligible. The only other thing is: T-mobile, themselves, does not sell Iphones; but if you get an unlocked GSM one, shouldn't be too difficult to activate it. Verizon and AT&T are the primary carriers of Iphone in the US. I think Sprint might be selling them too, though.

Verizon... AT&T... T-Mobile -- it depends! (2)

Kurt Granroth (9052) | about 2 years ago | (#41533897)

Each of the three major carriers are good is some ways and terrible in others. It all depends on what your priorities are.

Verizon has the best overall coverage US-wide. I've been to many areas that didn't have AT&T or T-Mobile coverage but have never found a place that didn't have Verizon coverage. That's about it.

AT&T has the fastest data speeds in most of the areas that it does cover (3G or LTE). Also, you can use data and voice at the same time on all of their smartphones right now. They are also less expensive than Verizon in most cases. Coverage is worse, though.

T-Mobile has ultra-low prices and the best customer service. Worst coverage and slow data speeds, though.

Oh, and there's Sprint. No idea if they will even be around this time next year.

I've been with all four. I'm with AT&T right now since I don't need Verizon's roaming coverage and would rather pay less and have faster speeds now.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533939)

ObBetteridge'sLawofHeadlines

Verizon, Hands Down (4, Informative)

matthaak (707485) | about 2 years ago | (#41533943)

There's much discussion of coverage and speed. Where I live, near Chicago, Verizon can't be beat. But the bigger thing for me is that their Customer Service is very good. I could not believe when I got my iPhone 5 a couple of days ago and had trouble activating it, I called Verizon and was speaking with a good english speaker in less than a minute. This was with millions of people getting the iPhone 5 (probably a good portion of them on Verizon.) My wife just had to call their tech support because her 4S wasn't getting on 3G. Again, she was speaking to someone within less than a minute who was knowledgable. Ironically, as I write this, it turns out the 3G network is down. But Verizon outages like this are very rare and in this day in age of complete crap support and idiot agents, I'd almost rather have a day of outage every year supported by decent people than only an hour supported by morons.

Re:Verizon, Hands Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41534153)

Verizon user here in Houston, TX. So far (and I mean that until popularity wipes it out) is that my iPhone5 gets smokin fast cell speeds. I ran the Speedtest.net app from my phone and got 12Mbps down, 9Mbps up with a latency of 53ms.

Virgin Mobile (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41533951)

If you're on a budget, you can get good reception (so long as you stay in a city), unlimited 4G data, text and 300 minutes for $35 a month with no contract, about half what other carriers charge. Customer service is moronic, and you do have to buy a phone which will set you back a few bucks but you'll get it back within a few months.

thats a hard choice (1)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | about 2 years ago | (#41533983)

price =/= service or quality of service...

sprint and at&t have the most coverage but the shittiest service

Verizon has the best service and ok coverage

T-mobile is middling

as is all the secondary carriers see: cricket, boost, tracphone, virgin mobile etc.

Personally I use Virgin mobile. I modified my settings so I have sprint level priority since it runs off sprint servers.

Verizon is the most expensive but has the fastest data.

I Gave Up (1)

tobiah (308208) | about 2 years ago | (#41534017)

I've gone to a smartphone run as a wifi-only SIP VOIP phone, it works where there is wifi (many places) and costs nothing. Cellular service in the U.S. is hopeless.

You really should go back (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41534049)

If you call it "living abroad" and are all into smart phones, then you really belong over there.

JD Power (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41534051)

Check out JD Power. They rank the carriers region by region. Here in the northeast they give the nod to Verizon.

Flamebait (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#41534085)

Why can't I mod this article/story flamebait?

Ask what the best beer in Germany or Belgium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41534145)

Its kinda of a loaded question there are a bunch of factors. I use to be w/ Tmobile (from Voicestream) then switched to Verizon. Yes verizon has the best signal for me. I use to travel for a living so it worked out extremely well. ZERO issues in any city except this one unusual building which zapped ALL my signal. Aside from that yes verizon is more expensive but if u can find a work discount out there you can get a nice discount which brings the prices down to earth (I have 21%). I have friends w/ TMo and they have an occasional issue w/ losing high speed HSPA+ but hey its life. WIth my new Galaxy S3 I do drop from LTE to 3G once in awhile. Way less dropped calls. When I had issues w/ my old Treo 700p i must of went through 5 replacements, no questions asked via verizon, then went to a blackberry 8830 which i had for 2 years then to a Droid 1 for 2yrs 9 months and now a Galaxy S3. I'd say check out the area where you are moving to, whats your budget, family plan, kind of phone you want.

Like my oroginal subject: Whats the best beer in germany or belgium... the answer is: LOTS!!!! So it all depends on what kind of beer you want, high alcohol content, light vs dark, hoppy vs non-hoppy,etc..

Good Luck!

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