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Behind the Fine Print of Cell Phone Service Providers

Aug 18, 2007
There's nothing worse than being locked into a cell phone service that you don't like or finding out later that another carrier has options that better suit your lifestyle. Because cell phones are becoming more important in our everyday lives, it's essential to carefully compare cell phone service providers to find the best one for your needs. We've all seen the commercials and glossy fliers for the most popular cell phone companies, but in this article, we digs below the marketing hype and compares the two largest carriers: Verizon and AT&T/Cingular.

Service Coverage

The greatest cell phone provider in the world is of no use if you are unable to get a signal. Before making a decision, it's extremely important to find out which carriers have the strongest networks in your area.

Cell phone carriers use two different types of network technology, CMDA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). Verizon uses a CMDA network, which offers more expansive coverage throughout the US, especially in rural areas, but provides limited access in outside of the US.

AT&T/Cingular uses the GSM network which provides extensive global coverage. While this may be great for world travelers, it's not always the best choice for those in small towns. Since GSM inside the US mainly covers only metropolitan areas, the AT&T/Cingular network is available in fewer areas than Verizon.

It is difficult to truly assess a cell phone service providers' effectiveness in your particular area since networks vary widely over even a few blocks. Try asking friends, coworkers, and particularly neighbors about their experience with different cell phones before making a final decision.

Phone Technology

Though Verizon covers more areas, many have criticized the lack of technology and visual appeal of their phones. Historically, they have lagged behind the other carriers in implementing new technologies like Bluetooth and their phones tend to have an outdated look. However, this doesn't seem to be the case today. Over the past several years, Verizon has been quick to implement the latest technologies.

On the other hand, AT&T/Cingular has consistently remained on the cutting edge of phone technology. AT&T/Cingular was among the first mobile phone carriers to offer Motorola's Razr and is currently the only service to offer the Apple iPhone.

Unique Features

Verizon's marketing campaigns tout the fact that the company offers the most reliable network, and this appears to be accurate based on consumer studies. Verizon was the first to launch a high-speed 3G data network for fast internet connection and also launched the first mobile TV network.

One thing that consumers seem to like best about AT&T/Cingular is the plan's rollover minutes. With rollover minutes, users can bank unused monthly minutes for up to a year. Analog roaming is another feature inherent to AT&T/Cingular plans that is unavailable with Verizon.

Choosing the Right Cell Phone Provider for Your Need

Since Verizon offers the widest network, it is probably the best choice for most US residents, particularly those in rural areas. If you live in the city or travel out of the country often, AT&T/Cingular (now partnered with AT&T) is probably a better option.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on best
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and consumer reviews, please visit http://www.BestBuys.com
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