While choosing the best wireless carrier, what factors would you take into consideration? It is not just the amount of your mobile phone bill per month, or whether it is giving huge discounts on the best phones. Although cost is an important factor, you should also check a carrier’s coverage, performance, customer support, and extra facilities so that you feel appreciated.
This article lists the best and worst cellphone wireless carriers, with Verizon being the top pick because it does so many things correctly. When it comes to network performance, Verizon has the widest reach, as well as excellent customer support, based on which it outperforms the other carriers. Although some of the rival carriers have lower monthly bills, the plans of Verizon remain appealing, particularly after the addition of unlimited data options.
How Close is the Competition
All the factors mentioned above are enough to take Verizon past T-Mobile, although the margin of lead is quite thin. T-Mobile’s performance in areas like network speed and customer support is excellent, but it trailed behind Verizon in many cases like special features and plans.
With most of the users looking for discounts, they want to choose a carrier that will help them save money on their monthly bills. For those people, Metro by T-Mobile is a great choice since its network (powered by T-Mobile) is really strong, and it offers an attractive collection of plans, which overshadows its dull performance in the area of customer service.
A carrier that we cannot endorse is Straight Talk, s it has not fared well in categories like customer service and speed. Its prepaid plans are also more expensive than what others offer.
What are the Categories in which Wireless Phone Carriers are Tested?
Besides Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, we have broadened the search to include the discount carriers like Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, Virgin, and Metro by T-Mobile. To rank each of the wireless carriers, we considered 5 important factors out of which greater weight is given to those that are the most essential.
1. Performance (40 Points):
Although several factors are considered while deciding which wireless carrier is the best, network performance remains the main factor. It is the reason why the speed of performance makes up almost half of the points of our test.
The rankings are based on LTE tests, which consider the performance of each carrier in different cities across the United States. Both the download and upload speeds were measured at different locations, while the time taken to download an app on each cellphone provider’s network was calculated.
2. Plans (25 Points):
Each of the plans offered by the carriers was constantly reviewed, and the cheapest of them offering the most data was found. Plans for prepaid options, families, and individuals were all evaluated to find the carrier that offers the right mix of variety and value.
T-Mobile’s unlimited plan is our favorite, whether it is for individuals or families. If you do not wish to go for unlimited data, then opting for Verizon will give you plenty of tiered data plan options for individuals.
3. Customer Support (20 Points):
If you have questions about a wireless carrier’s plan or device, you need quick answers. You do not want to search fruitlessly on the company’s website or navigate through the complex phone tree.
Aside from phone calls, online troubleshooting resources like online chat features and FAQs were evaluated. Verizon currently holds the top position thanks to its friendly replies and strong online tools, which helped it to beat T-Mobile narrowly.
4. Phone Selection (10 Points):
The best wireless phone carrier should offer a wide range of cellphones, balancing both quantity and quality. For evaluating the quality, some of the devices were tested, and the number of sub-$300 handsets offered by each carrier was assessed.
5. Extras (5 Points):
This factor separates a good wireless carrier from a common carrier. Extras offered to subscribers include text and data, lesser rates for international calls, and other specialized services.
Top 9 Wireless Phone Carriers in the US
1st Position: Verizon
Verizon occupies the first spot because of its superior customer-support and network-performance. It also edges past other wireless carriers due to its multiple unlimited plans.
2nd Position: T-Mobile
Although it is a close encounter, T-Mobile is the runner-up in our list of best wireless carriers. T-Mobile boasts of having the most attractive unlimited plan and set of customer perks, which involve one of the finest programs for international travelers.
3rd Position: AT&T
The network and customer support of AT&T are both good, but they are not as good as T-Mobile and Verizon. Although AT&T now gives its customers unlimited data plans, they are no match for its rivals. Nonetheless, AT&T does so many things well that it lands in the third place.
4th Position: Metro by T-Mobile
Metro by T-Mobile (previously called MetroPCS), a subsidiary company owned by T-Mobile, utilizes its parent company’s network and gives you a collection of prepaid plans that help you by either maximizing data or saving money. We rate Metro as the best discount carrier but try to use its customer support as infrequently as you can.
5th Position: Sprint
Although the network of Sprint has become better, it still trails behind its first four rivals. Add to it a low customer-support value, which causes it to fall behind Metro by T-Mobile. Sprint’s unlimited data plan is also aggressively priced.
6th Position: Boost
Boost uses the network of Sprint, meaning it cannot match the performance of the prepaid carrier Metro. Although it offers an attractively priced unlimited plan, it puts limitations on music, game, and video streaming. It performs decently in the customer-service category, which makes it ahead of Sprint-subsidiary Virgin.
7th Position: Cricket
Cricket, like Metro by T-Mobile, provides some right mix of data plans. However, the network performance of Cricket is seriously hindered by its parent wireless carrier. Despite being owned by AT&T, the maximum download speed of Cricket is 8 Mbps on almost all its plans.
8th Position: Virgin
It tried switching the focus of its customers to the iPhone, offering the phone to those who are new. However, Android handsets are now offered, and Virgin has reshuffled its wireless data plans by including tiered data in its existing unlimited plan. Sprint has recently split-off with Virgin Mobiles, and its current customers have been moved over to Boost.
9th Position: Straight Talk
Straight Talk does not fare well in customer-service ratings and speed tests. Although it has improved in terms of network performance, its unique features and plans have not seen enough enhancements to do any good to its rankings.
However, the carrier has now reinforced data allotments on its current plans, giving customers some more options.
The different wireless phone carriers mentioned above can be categorized into two types – GSM Carriers, which provide a SIM card in their customer’s phones and CDMA Carriers, which assign a single handset to a customer. T-Mobile and AT&T are GSM carriers, while Verizon and Sprint belong to the category of CDMA carriers.
The GSM carriers are commonly called the “Worldwide Gold Standard” since they allow their users to easily swap out their SIM cards with any card from around the globe, letting them take advantage of local calling rates.
Remember that you do not always have to choose Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon Wireless to get the best possible service. Yes, it is true that the Big Four have increased their offerings, and lowered their prices, as well, the real deals come from the smaller carriers, which are often termed as MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators. Some of these MVNOs are owned by these Big Four, while others rebrand and repackage their services. Whatever be the arrangement, you always have a better chance of scoring reasonable pricing by choosing any of these carriers.
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