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Truth Or Dare — What Is the Best US Cell Company? 395

Epsilon Eridani writes "I am returning to the US after an extended time overseas and upon my return I need to jump head first into the data enabled phone bandwagon. I have to admit ... I am lost as to what is the best company to choose. Before I left the US I used a Sprint HTC phone running Windows with the 'simply everything' plan to communicate and stay organized and a Sprint Wireless Card to connect my laptop to the world. Coming back several generations of technology later, what is the best set up technology-wise to link phone and laptop or two to the Internet? (Open source solutions accepted too!) Can the Slashdot community verify some of the claims on quality of service before I give my first born up when I sign a service contract?"
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Truth Or Dare — What Is the Best US Cell Company?

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  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:40PM (#30800932) Homepage Journal

    wouldn't this be best done as a slashdot poll?
    (the correct answer, by the way, is Cowboy Neal Mobile)

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      Polls are to get very general opinions, choices.

      This is about discussing the options. And since the vast majority of cell phone service providers are considered evil somewhere around that of Lord Sidius with their locked phones, deplorable customer service, and preposterous early termination fees, I expect there to be a great deal of negative comments relative to a very few positive ones.

      There is no "good" cell phone service provider - we're here to work out the "lesser of the evils" question.

      • by icebike ( 68054 )

        True, you are in a situation similar to choosing something to watch on TV late at night on Saturday. (Who, Me? a Life?). Its the old "least horseshit selection process".

        But Features and Capabilities do matter to anyone who wants to do anything other than make phone calls.

        Since TFA mentioned "data enabled phone" you now have to consider coverage area, bandwidth, multi-tasking, data-caps, and a few other things.

        The device becomes more important than the carrier. Once you pick your device, your carrier choi

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jonpublic ( 676412 )

      [ ] ATT
      [ ] Verizon
      [ ] Sprint
      [ ] Tmobile
      [ x ] cowboyneal communications

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      I don't think anybody's really interested in getting their phone service from CowboyNeal!

  • by ifwm ( 687373 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:41PM (#30800940) Journal

    It's AT&T.

    With that in mind, I fully expect nothing but a torrent of complaints about them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've been an AT&T wireless and 3G customer since the Cingular days. Don't go with them. Their 3G coverage is spotty as hell, even in major metropolitan areas. My 3G adapter went bad and it took them a month and a half to send me a new one despite complaints to customer service. They also still tried to charge me for the time that I was unable to use 3G, though they did give me a half-month's credit (wow) after much haggling.

      I moved to a more rural area where other networks have much better support. I
      • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:42PM (#30801494) Homepage

        I've settled on AT&T. I've spent a lot of time on the road and have been to nearly every state, and AT&T has been generally okay for me (certainly not good, but okay). But with that said, Verizon and T-Mobile both sucked for me, with both coverage issues and serious billing issues (the kind that get you red in the face and ruin your day, then your week, then your month, until you're telling people how ridiculous it's getting).

        So I've been with AT&T several years now and am uninterested in switching at this point (and I live in NYC, where people [usually not AT&T customers] are sure AT&T is at its worst).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Actually.. I think the best coverage might be WiFi + Skype. Not any cell provider. The speed is a heck of a lot better, and you are pretty much guaranteed to be able to find WiFi coverage in almost any coffee shop, even in fairly small cities that have very poor or non-existent 3G coverage from major providers.

      Also, the price is less.. usually a $3 cup of coffee you would buy anyways, and no per-kilobyte billing -- you may be able to get it less-expensively also. At home, you don't have to pay any mon

  • T-Mobile (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately, I need to use AT&T for the iPhone's 3G.

    • Re:T-Mobile (Score:4, Informative)

      by InlawBiker ( 1124825 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:25PM (#30801914)

      I was with AT&T for over 10 years then switched to T-Mobile because AT&T had no signal in my new house. T-Mobile and Verizon stores let me borrow a phone and bring it home, which was really cool of them I think. I went with T-Mobile because I could get 2-3 bars at home my old GSM phones would work.

      Anyway I am 100% happy with T-Mobile. Their 3g service is NOT oversubscribed and will go to 21mbps (HSPA+) in 2010, everywhere. The price is lower and their customer service is far better, hands down.

      AT&T has better coverage in remote areas. Their 2g signal is pretty much everywhere, while T-Mobile is in the metro areas and along the highways only.

      I am envious of the Droid, which makes my Cliq look like a toy, but Android phones seem to be falling from the sky these days. One equal to the Droid should come around this year.

  • And now (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:44PM (#30800962)

    For a list of entirely subjective replies.

    • "Subjective" doesn't necessarily mean "worthless" or "unhelpful". Even anecdotal evidence is evidence, and the submitter may prefer making his decisions based on the experiences of like-minded individuals to making his decisions based on nothing.

      • by Jurily ( 900488 )

        This is the internet. There is no such thing as "like-minded individuals".

        • Re:And now (Score:5, Informative)

          by bertoelcon ( 1557907 ) * on Sunday January 17, 2010 @07:52PM (#30802596)
          I bring you a quote.

          The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted person you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in 'Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire' and the computer will say, 'Specify type of goat.' - Richard Jeni

  • What are the best options in the US & Canada for somebody who visits and wants just a prepaid deal? (just voice & sms or also one with data). With an option of getting only starter SIM card (some phones cover also US frequencies)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jeffstar ( 134407 )

      i have t-mobile pre-paid. if you do $100 refills the minutes don't expire for a year and you get 1000 minutes for your $100. texts are 10c I think.

      The 7-eleven speakout was the only sim card I could find in canada that didn't expire your unused minutes every 30 days or require you to add more minutes every month.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xs650 ( 741277 )
      I've been using these guys for about 4 years and had good service. Their O2 service uses the ATT network and you can use your GSM phone if it operates on the US frequencies.
  • by malakai ( 136531 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:45PM (#30800972) Journal

    From a pure technical perspective, Verizon will get you the best coverage. But the sales people are vicious.

    AT&T has iPhone obviously, but shitty coverage. I lend my phone to friends on AT&T in a couple different cities.

    T-Mobile is worse coverage then AT&T. But has more open phones.

    If you've got nothing right now, I'd go Droid on Verizon, pay 40 bucks for the unlimited data and use Google Voice for routing of your calls and LD service.

    • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:52PM (#30801052)
      Outside of cities though, AT&T has pretty good coverage. Verizon is going to get you the best cell service, but like you said, its Verizon. T-Mobile would be the company that I would reccomend, but sadly their coverage isn't too great.
    • I'd agree with Droid on Verizon (it's what I am using now after several years of AT&T - during which I had no problems; I switched because I was cancelling my work provided plan on AT&T and wanted to go with the Droid), but the submitter mentioned connecting notebooks too. From what I've seen, Verizon wants an extra data plan to tether your phone to your computer. I realize there is an app store app or two that enables tethering, but since Verizon seems to want to use tethering as another income str
    • by AnswerIs42 ( 622520 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:05PM (#30801168) Homepage

      Define coverage though... I have AT&T and a friend has Verizon.. I get a lot more coverage in areas than he does, but he gets more 3G coverage.. but since I use my phone for... *gasp* calls.. 3G is a moot point.

      It all depends on what you want to do... I still keep AT&T mainly because of the rollover minutes. I have some months where I may only use half my minutes.. then there are months I use well over my minutes.

      comparing costs... they are all pretty much the same... over priced.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:30PM (#30801388) Journal
      They're all bad. Verizon? Check out verizarape.com [verizarape.com]. ATT? It's got it's own facebook hate group. [facebook.com] Do you hate sprint? I hate Sprint was created for you. [wordpress.com] T-Mobile? They've got you covered [facebook.com]. And there are even youtube videos [google.com].

      Among the high quality comments you will find on these websites are things like this gem: "[carrier] had reeeeeally been bothering me lately! They think they're so cool, but if I could, I would DESTROY [carrier]!!" So now you know everything you know.

      Seriously though, the 'best' carrier depends on your needs and your area. In this story you will have posts from people who say "X carrier has horrible coverage" and others who say the same carrier has awesome coverage. It really depends on where you live.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion ( 181285 )
      Check the coverage maps for where you expect to be. For the places I normally hang and travel, ATT provides very good coverage, even 3G. This may or may not be true for others.

      We also have a sprint phone because it provides some options that are useful. I have a cricket data device because they have a very reasonable no contract plan for data. Speeds are very good but coverage is not. I can use it in 90% of the time.

      The other issue is that Verizon is not GSM, which makes it incompatible with most of

  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by socsoc ( 1116769 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:46PM (#30800976)
    This is like asking what is your preferred way of being tortured. They all have negatives and are would not exist if they had the competition that Europe does. AT&T doesn't care to increase their network, T-Mobile doesn't have real 3G, Sprint and Verizon are still CDMA so you'll have to get a really expensive world phone if you want to go back overseas... Better off sending telegrams.
  • T-Mobile (Score:5, Informative)

    by mactard ( 1223412 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:47PM (#30800984)
    If you're in a major metro area, T-Mobile is by far the best and cheapest. They also let you tether with all their smartphones without an additional tethering charge. If you're in the boonies, it seems Verizon is the only way to go.
    • Agreed (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:17PM (#30801290)

      I've been w/T-Mobile since they started in the US. Here's why I like them:

      * Avid supporter of Android. First one to introduce the G1, and now the first partner w/the Nexus One.
      * Support advanced android features like visual voice mail for free and auto-notification when you near your minutes limit
      * Reasonably priced, as cell phone companies go.
      * Customer service has been shockingly fast/friendly whenever I've needed them (which admittedly, hasn't been often)
      * Great coverage in US. Every city I've been to has had solid coverage. I've only been to fairly large cities though.
      * After 3 months of service, they give you unlock codes for your phone.
      * GSM network so most phones can be used overseas-- successfully used my US G1 in US, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, etc. T-Mobile's parent company is Deutsche Telekom.
      * They are not AT&T.
      * As far as I know, they did not spy on Americans when Bush asked them to.

      And no, I don't work for them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 )
        I switched to T-Mobile from AT&T and got a G1 last June. I have been quite happy with not only the phone but also with the coverage. I can not get 3G where I live, though it was not available with AT&T, either. 3G has been available whenever I've been in or near a larger city, just not out in my suburban/nearly-rural town. The pricing is okay - not what I would call cheap, but less than AT&T. I have needed customer service twice since switching, and both times, the representative was surprisingl
    • For Cell service I am also too happy with T-Mobile. They have great coverage here in the Southeast US which is probably why I like it so much. Plus talking with customer service isn't like a 1000 papercuts as with AT$T.

      My experience is that AT$T has pretty good coverage & service, but I was forever getting different extra unexplained charges that would never stop month after month. These were significant charges in the $100 range. And then there was the time that they tried to charge me $899 for long
    • Sprint (Score:5, Informative)

      by MobyTurbo ( 537363 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:06PM (#30801728)
      Sprint is about the same price as Tmobile (and until recently, were cheaper), has better 3g coverage by far than Tmobile, and roams on Verizon's network in case you *are* heading for the boonies. Sprint has a bad reputation they can't seem to get rid of, but have made vast improvements in customer service under their new CEO Hesse. That having been said, all of the carriers suck....
  • "Which cell phone company is best" really depends on your location, and on your definition of "best". In some places, Sprint will be best, in others it will be Verizon or T-Mobile, and it's even possible that AT&T is best somewhere. I personally have been happy with Sprint for both voice and data. If you live in an area where they have implemented high speed data, they might be the best choice. I have not experienced the constant data drops or poor customer service I saw at Verizon (people seem surp
    • By price and customer service:
      -T-Mobile (followed by Sprint)

      By 3G Coverage:
      NOTE: though Verizon has the best 3G coverage, do NOT rely on their "lying" maps for it. They are wrong, and show 3G coverage in areas that dont even have voice (where they never plan on having coverage no less... such as Ticonderoga, NY). So regardless of them having more 3G coverage in more areas, their maps cannot be believed... thus, dont expect you will get 3G coverage in areas where they claim you will.

      By phone:

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:50PM (#30801028)
    Where are you headed? The USA is a big place, and not all areas are served equally by the cell phone companies. If you're in an area where there's good coverage for all carriers, then the question is which network are your friends and family using? Mobile-to-mobile call rates will drop your usage of "anytime" minutes.
  • by mosel-saar-ruwer ( 732341 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:50PM (#30801032)
    Once you have used T-Mobile and UMA at $0.10 per minute, you will NEVER go back to standard plans.

    UMA is basically "GSM over IP over 802.11g", and it allows you to make GSM cellphone calls [billed at a standard $0.10 per minute] from any publically accessible WiFi hotspot.

    I'd buy an older UMA phone [umatoday.com] off of eBay, and purchase a $50 [$0.125] or $100 [$0.10] prepaid plan [t-mobile.com] from T-Mobile, and say goodbye to monthly fees forever.
    • by jeffstar ( 134407 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:21PM (#30801306) Journal

      I have a blackberry flip that does UMA. I've found the call quality to be bad over my time warner cable connection, which is generally good.

      why use UMA over 802.11 for .10 a minute when you can use GSM for .10 a minute?

      The UMA calls should be free or really cheap since you are not using their network or are likely in a place where they don't even have coverage!

      It is funny that they charge you 10 cents a minute when you are effectively providing your own network. You could just as easily be using skype at that point.

      • why use UMA over 802.11 for .10 a minute when you can use GSM for .10 a minute?

        When you live out in the boonies and you have spotty cell tower coverage but excellent broadband coverage.

        When you are travelling on the interstate, and there are no cell towers for miles, but the Rest Stop has WiFi.

        When you are visiting a state park/national forest/national park with no cell tower coverage, but which has a WiFi hotspot in the Visitor's Center or the Ranger's Station.

        When you are deep in the bowels of a l
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cerlyn ( 202990 )

      A slightly clarification here:

      UMA service with T-mobile is basically a way to use 802.11 access points as an alternative "cell phone tower" with T-mobile. Nothing stops you from using a UMA-capable phone with standard GSM cell phone towers (unless you tell the phone not to).

      In general, T-mobile bills UMA calls *the same* as calls started on the cell phone network. So if you have a post-paid plan, UMA usage typically comes out of your normal minute bucket(s); if you are using a $0.10/minute pre-paid pl

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      I used UMA calling in south america to "phone home" to Dallas and use my regular bucket of minutes. Great deal. Most hotels/hostels have wifi availble, which is where you're going to make a long personal call anyways.

  • by GaryOlson ( 737642 ) <slashdot@@@garyolson...org> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:52PM (#30801056) Journal

    ... before I give my first born up when I sign a service contract?

    You are not ready for the US American cell phone companies. Packets are transported by the souls of the damned who sign service contracts. Your firstborn is not payment enough; you must provide the souls of all your friends and family.

  • It depends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrOctogon ( 865301 )
    Coverage varies waaay too much to flat out say one is better than all the others. In any given location, any carrier could give the best coverage depending on your needs.
    One thing none of the big boys want you to know is that almost all of them have a 30 day escape clause in their contracts. If you are not satisfied, you can cancel (you'd have to give back the shiny phone or whatever they subsidize) and you won't even have to give up your firstborn to do it.
    Just read the contract and ask the salesman to get
  • Get a cell phone without a plan that has VOIP capabilities. Someone said they run around 200$, some sort of Nokia. This will let you make home calls assuming you have broadband and a wireless internet.

    Then buy trakphone minutes to use your phone when you're not home.

    This will easily save you hundreds of dollars a year... Unless you make a large number of calls on the road.
  • I've been a Sprint customer for quite a few years. My family has three phones on a family plan w. "unlimited" texts and data. I'd rate Sprint as follows:


    1) Price - best pricing for the family plan of the major wireless carriers.
    2) Network coverage - good. Good coverage everywhere I need it (home, work, daughter at university). Gotten coverage in some surprising places - like camping and hiking many miles from a major highway.


    1) Customer service - horrible, truly horrible. Any time I have a prob

  • There’s your answer. ^^

  • Sorry, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:00PM (#30801118)
    ...if you're coming back from overseas, you'll find there is no 'best'.

    I've been back and forth for the last decade, and it is always a disappointment coming back into the US and trying to get decent cellphone service. The US is a backwater of customer abuse and services gone wanting.

    When living/working in Japan, South Korea and China, I learned not to discuss one countries offerings versus the US unless I was looking for laughs...

    I worked for Samsung in SK and for a major domestic telecom in China, so I had ample opportunity to see things from both the corporate and consumer sides.
    These days in the US I carry a cellphone only for emergencies. I don't text, don't use mobile banking, internet, etc. I make maybe one call every month or two, and those are usually from my car where the phone is coupled via Bluetooth to the head unit and everything is hands free. I can't bring myself to accept a locked in contract and the high fees are best spent elsewhere... For me, the whole cell phone experience in the US is a bust.

    Cell phones I brought back from Asia are going on 2 years old now and still have features that were ubiquitous there that aren't yet common here.
  • From listening to everyone complain, the grass is always greener elsewhere.

    Simple truth is, all of them seem to do some things better and some things worse than others. It's more about figuring out which things you actually care about and which ones you don't. Then find the provider that does what you care about and fails at the things you don't care about anyway.

    • by Korin43 ( 881732 )
      This isn't really a case of "the grass is always greener..". That would be everyone assuming that other companies are better than theirs. This is a case of everyone realizing they all suck.
  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:02PM (#30801142)

    "It's complicated."

    Signal quality and coverage depend on multiple things - the carrier's infrastructure vs your (common) locations, and your phone. Verizon's coverage, say, in one city, can be completely different than in another city. There is also the difference between voice quality and data, and then there's data SPEEDS to consider. You also want to look at future upgrades. Verizon will be the first one going to LTE (the next big jump in data connection speeds), though Sprint has already rolled out WiMax in some cities (a competing 4th gen spec), noone is likely to be coming out with any WiMax smartphones until the second half of the year, by which time, Verizon will be on the verge of their LTE rollout. You can get WiMax cards for your laptop now, though, if you just can't wait.

    There's also the issues of phone selection and plan pricing to consider, and whether you're going contract-free or not. We're in a period of transition this year on more than one front - the impending switch to LTE in the second half of the year, and the decimation of Windows Mobile-based phones by Android-based phones, oh, and the now 'superphone' type phones - ones with 1ghz-class processors and WVGA screens (like the Nexus one and HTC Bravo).

    So, I guess I would start by thinking about finances. Can you afford to outright buy a phone? If you can, I'd suggest that so you can go contract-free and increase your choices for switching in a year if you need to based on how the industry shakes out this year. The beginning of 2011 is going to look VERY different from what it looks like now. Android will be matured, LTE will be available in most major cities by Verizon at the very least, Sprint's WiMax infrastructure will possibly be starting to switch over to LTE if it is, indeed, as simple as upgrading network tower software, and we'll see how mature Android is, how much Microsoft bribes the cellphone companies to put out WinMo 7-based phones, and whether the iPhone finally upgrades to 'superphone' status and becomes available on networks other than AT&T.

    If you can't afford to outright buy your phone, then go with Verizon or Sprint for the 3G coverage (for now), assuming 3G is a big concern. Verizon vs Sprint is a matter of network quality/phone selection vs price. Verizon (currently) has the better phone selection and network quality over Sprint, but Sprint has those Simply Everything plans (I'm on the Simply Everything 450). Verizon is officially going to be carrying the Google Nexus One phone later this year. Sprint was completely silent during CES on what phones it's going to be carrying. If they get the HTC Bravo (the hardware that is essentially the Nexus One), I may stay with Sprint, especially if it has the Sense UI on it, which the Nexus One does not. Verizon seems to have made the biggest official commitment to the Android platform of any of the major US carriers. I just wish they'd match prices with Sprint. If I could get an HTC Bravo on Verizon at Sprint's prices, I wouldn't hesitate to sign a two-year contract.

    I wouldn't consider AT&T or T-Mobile because of their 3G coverage and network reliability issues at this time, but those AREN'T issues for many people in many locations. You'll want to find out from people where you live what those networks are like there.

  • It depends on where you are based, how much you will travel, are you a business or personal user and whether you like sim cards or closed platorms.
  • It really depends on your city. I would tend to choose sprint for speed and coverage, but it really depends on your area. In many cities people will glare at me when I say sprint, but in others (like this one), everyone just nods.
  • If you are willing to put a bit of time into talking to their sales people, you can bargain your contract terms and prices a bit more than they would have you believe. I have personally done this a lot with sprint. For instance I have never signed a 2 year contract, and refuse to. I can usually talk down the price a bit and get a 1 year contract rather than 2. It just takes a little persistence. (not the annoying bitch at them til you get your way kind either). People are more willing to work with you when

  • Can't address your data card question as I have no experience, but I can address your phone.

    Go online, and buy a Sprint SERO plan transferred from one of the fools selling theirs online. Nothing beats it.

    Use your old HTC phone, or get a new HTC WinMo phone (unfortunately Palms and Android phones are blocked from SERO since it's too good a deal).

    Enjoy your unlimited data, texts, nights and weekends from 7, and 500 voice minutes for 30 a month. All on what is widely perceived to be the fastest 3G network, a

  • Really. I am not joking. It really depends on where you live, work and play and what your budget and credit is like.

    Sprint service is non-existent where my family lives, but several other providers have good service there. I use T-mobile because I don't have a contract, so any phone I buy I can get unlocked and I am not paying extra money for not having a contract. And, they have decent service where my family is.

  • I'd like to take this opportunity to steer the conversation towards discussing some phones in general, regardless of the provider (So some of us non-us folk can have a bit of a discussion).
    Mainly because it's somewhat related and because I, personally, lost interest in the mobile device market some years ago (Around 2003 or 2004) and am quite out of touch. There's been many big changes, devices like the iPhone have changed the game and now Google has Android I feel I'm even more misinformed.

    I was thinking o

  • I'm up in Alaska and no national carrier works outside the three major cities. Up here AT&T is the only national carrier that works at all. The question asker needs to look at where they are going to be and research locally what is right for them.

    I had T-Mobile in Portland and it worked great, in Seattle/Everett it had meh coverage and sucked down by Tacoma/SeaTac.

  • They all suck.

  • Don't buy your phone or plan straight from the carrier unless you absolutely have to. I've had great luck saving as much as $150 off buying a new phone/plan combo from Amazon or Fry's. Try Fry's first if you have one in your area. If you can't save $100 from the carrier's price, you're not trying. Also, Sears Wireless seems to be the place to buy Verizon Droid and Droid Eris phones. Much less money, with no MIR needed. FYI.

  • If you've been living overseas, then you may need your fancy new phone when you visit friends or coworkers overseas. If so, Sprint and Verizon are NOT options. T-mobile and AT&T offer GSM coverage, but you'd need a tri-band phone.

    p.s. AT&T are more evil than T-mobile. Sprint is probably less evil than Verizon too.

  • Sprint or Verizon (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ouchie ( 1386333 )
    First off, I will admit I receive mighty fine discounts from Sprint.

    Well if you Slashdot daily you will have heard GSM encryption has been hacked and the code is in the wild. The fact that the major GSM providers continue to downplay this is a good reason to steer clear. That leaves you with Sprint, Verizon or a local carrier.

    Both Sprint and Verizon have good deals on plans and they have decent phones. I am an unrepentant crackberry addict and will tell you why. It lasts more than 5 hours on push an

  • T-mobile is the only option for urban areas. If you're not in an urban area, Verizon has the best coverage, but it's CDMA format, so if you plan to go back overseas or travel frequently, you'll need to keep your old phone for swapping SIM cards.

    Also, if you switch to a CDMA carrier, you'll need to buy a new phone. I would recommend T-mobile for the reason you can just swap out the SIM card, but if you're not in an urban area, ATT is the only other GSM carrier, and they are only slightly better than two ca

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:55PM (#30801600) Homepage Journal

    What's the best kind of attack to have, heart attack, or stroke?

  • Sprint, for sure:
    Almost the coverage of Verizon, but cheaper plans. World phones available, and great smartphones with WebOS or Android (I've become a huge Pre fan after having tried out a Droid and Droid Eris on Verizon).

    Let's look at the competition:
    Best network, by far. But screws you up the ass, sorry, nickles and dimes you whenever they can.

    OK network if you happen to live in a Top 50 metropolis with Senators that can make your life miserable (I'm looking at you, awesome AT&T cover

  • Sprint (Score:3, Informative)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:06PM (#30801732) Homepage

    Sprint. Seriously.

    If you were happy with Sprint before you still will be. Your hardest decision will be choosing between Web OS (Palm) and Android (Google/HTC) phones.

    For the record, I chose the Pre and am very, very happy. Especially after having all but stolen my brothers Verizon Motorola Droid and Mom's Verizon HTC Droid Eris.

  • Sprint (Score:3, Informative)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) * on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:09PM (#30801754) Journal

    I switched from AT&T to Sprint in 2004 because of coverage, and recently switched to Tmobile to get GSM and the Cliq. Now I'm trying to figure out the cheapest way to get a Sprint backup phone so I can at least have phone service at home (the cellular repeater I got isn't working out too well, though a directional antennae may help).

    I like Tmobile as a company, and Sprint was fine too, but I've heard too many horror stories with Verizon and AT&T to even consider either.

  • by Targon ( 17348 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:15AM (#30807022)

    When it comes to which company is the BEST, there are several things you need to look at:

    For the area you live in or spend the most time in, how is the coverage map? I am not talking about 2G vs. 3G or anything like that, but more, do you have dead spots on the various networks?

    How much traveling do you do? The more you travel, the more important the overall service coverage area is. Also, 3G, while it speeds things up quite a bit, it may not really matter to you as long as you have data service that works.

    Do you want to TRUST your cell phone service provider? Verizon is probably the company I would trust the least when it comes to a bill(land line or cell phone). Will there be a random $10 that they will take off if you complain, meaning you MUST check your bill in detail each month for "strange" fees? This is what I hate about Verizon, they have a long track record of just throwing random fees at customers, knowing that a very low percentage will be checking their bill and catch it. How about the sudden bump in early termination fees that Verizon just put out there that doesn't specify which phone you have? So, a cheap $50 phone could hold the same early termination fee as a $400 Blackberry(unless the new fees specify based on phone what the termination fee will be).

    Now, with those questions in mind, AT&T for overall areas of service may be just a little smaller than Verizon. In general, for overall quality of service, Verizon is probably the best. Keep in mind that the AT&T commercials are correct, the data service will generally not work while talking on the phone. With a speaker phone, this IS a key weakness for Verizon. At the same time, Verizon service does tend to be a bit better in many or possibly most areas. Considering they are also the local phone company for many on the east coast of the USA, this makes some sense since they have local crews everywhere for servicing the normal land lines. Third is Sprint, and their coverage area as a whole is a lot worse. They are good in many places, but in rural areas, it is hit or miss how good or bad the service will be. T-mobile is also short on coverage area, with many areas not able to get T-mobile service, and I am not just talking about little towns in the mountains, but in areas with over 10,000 people living in it.

    If you travel overseas, GSM is pretty dominant, so AT&T and T-mobile phones can easily just have a sim chip put into them to let you use a local carrier while you are there. If you have a locked phone(which most are), regulations in the USA require that the provider provide an unlock code so you can use it while traveling.

    When it comes to 3G coverage, Verizon clearly has the better network, but as I mentioned, for most people, 3G is nice but isn't necessary for most things. I use my phone to get traffic updates for my GPS, and others use their phone as a cellular modem(bluetooth connection on their laptop). Just keep in mind that not all phones will let you use them as a way to get data for other devices, and it can also cost more per month from your cell provider(they give you unlimited bandwidth on the phone, but if you use tethering to use that phone as a modem, you have to pay for bandwidth usage).

    Blackberry services...they are different from your average smartphone service when it comes to data. As a result, you get some benefits from a Blackberry, but you may run into other headaches with that Blackberry service.

    So, consider, but just keep in mind you will probably be stuck in a 2 year contract or subject to an early termination fee.

    On a related note, the iPhone for all its functionality and apps and such is very much locked into AT&T(with a Verizon version due in the next few weeks from what I have read). With all the hype, I have not heard enough about comparisons of how it is as a phone compared to other phones on AT&T. The dropped call issues on the iPhone COULD be service related, but it could also jus

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.