If you’re unhappy with your cell phone service you might be considering making a switch. Choosing a cellular service provider can be tough since much of the information we have to work with is from ads and commercials. Mobile networks are actually complicated and because it’s not actively regulated like land-line service is it can change quickly. So where do you go for good information? How do make the right decision so you end up with good service and of course a good price?
I worked for a little while at a major carrier and it was eye opening how things actually ran in the industry. It changed the way I looked at mobile networks and gave me some insight to industry secrets they don’t want you to know. I’ll share some of my knowledge and hopefully help you make a wise decision about who to pick when choosing a service provider.
The Mobile Network
You’ll notice that both AT&T and Verizon brag about how great their network is. Both of them claim to have the best which seems like it should be impossible. One has to be better. Right? Yes and no. Choosing a mobile network with the best coverage can be tricky.
What the companies don’t tell you is that they can’t just put up towers wherever they feel like. Each mobile network covers a unique area of the country on networks that were pieced together over the years from a combination of acquiring smaller companies and building towers where they could get permission. As the companies grew they had to avoid monopoly problems by trading areas with their competitors to keep things fair. Then there’s the issue that there are now four types of coverage currently used and each company is still trying to get all the towers up to the newest technology. Confused yet?
What it all means for you choosing a new provider is that no company has one-hundred percent perfect coverage. One company might have the best 4G LTE coverage while another has simply the largest network. These claims really mean nothing because it all comes down to where you use your phone and the strength of their network in your specific town.
I could go on forever about the complexity of cellular network but when you’re choosing a new provider it’s best to simply do a simple test. You probably have family and friends that are on different networks. Invite them over and see what kind of signal they get in your house. Then try it when you’re at your favorite places and ask coworkers when you’re at work. You’ll see quickly which network is truly the best for you.
Deals and Gimmicks from Mobile Networks
Right away when you’re choosing a mobile network you’ll see all the amazing deals they throw at you. The most common are massive discounts on phones or data packages. These all sound fantastic but they’re all designed to get you into long-term contracts. Each company spends a mind boggling amount of money just to get a new cell phone account up and running. Advertising, salespeople, technicians and equipment are a huge expenses that need to be covered for new accounts. Long-term contracts are required so the companies can guarantee each customer is profitable. When I was in the industry it took six months with a new account before it was profitable. No joke.
Don’t be fooled. All the deals and free phones they offer aren’t because they’re being generous. They’re there to get you in for the long haul so they make tons of money off you during the last year of your contract. It sound terrible but it’s the way the industry is. Don’t choose a mobile network just for a deal. Each company is constantly running these gimmicks and getting better service far outweighs a discount you’ll pay for eventually.
Customer Service from Mobile Networks
If you mention to people you’re looking to choose a mobile network someone is going to tell you horror stories about bad customer service. I was overcharged! They shut off my phone! Their employees are so rude! These are common complaints for all companies. The grass is actually no greener on the other side when it comes down to it. I was told by a boss that for every customer who jumped ship there was a customer switching from the competitor to replace them. Even wash.
The problem comes from the fact cellular phone service isn’t regulated like a land line. The companies have complete freedom to charge what they want, shut off service when they want and change the rules when they feel like it. This catches many people off guard if they don’t pay attention and causes hurt feelings. It’s just another thing we have to put up with and nothing to pay much attention to when choosing a new cell service provider.
Prepaid Mobile Network
You might consider getting pre-paid phone when choosing a new mobile network. There are some advantages and disadvantages to doing this. The biggest plus is that you’re not locked into a contract. They can do this by making you pay full price for your phone and doing minimal advertising. You might be shocked to find out that this is how the rest of the world operates. That’s right. If you want the new iPhone outside of the United States you’ll be paying around $1,000. Think about that.
Choosing prepaid cell phone service actually gets you great service too. The companies don’t own any towers and lease tower time from the big guys. This means you’re getting the same service as someone paying far more for their monthly service. Plus, if push comes to shove, you can order top up cards at Amazon.
The last benefit is you’re probably going to pay less per month as well. Most of your money with a major provider goes to growing and upgrading their network. Choosing a prepaid mobile network means you’re only paying for the service and letting your friends with contracts keep the service upgraded for you.
The downside of choosing prepaid service is that you might run into some service interruptions if you don’t pay attention to your usage. The big guys will just charge any overages on your next bill while overages on prepaid can leave you cut off. This depends on the company of course. Also you’re going to be paying up front for your phone which can be spendy. It does save you money in the long run but the initial investment can be difficult if you want a popular new release.
So which is the best Mobile Network?
Honestly? It really comes down to want you need. Need constant, reliable coverage? Choose a provider with the best coverage in your area. Just need a phone? Go prepaid and reap the savings. When you cut through all the buzzwords and flashy offers you find they’re all similar. Choose a service provider that gets you the best service at the best price.