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Top 7 Tips To Choose The Most Reliable Cell Phone Carrier

By Rene Tse

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Choosing a cellular service provider is similar to finding a dentist. You know it's a necessity, but hope it won't hurt too much to get the service you want. Just like selecting a dentist there are pros and cons with whomever you choose as your cell phone carrier. The key is to select a carrier with the least amount of pain and one that meets your needs.

Like most people these days my cell phone is something I count on for business and day to day life. When service is less than satisfactory it undermines the safety and security of the very phone, which is supposed to give me peace of mind. Not satisfied with the service AT&T provided I began shopping for a new carrier.

When I looked on the Internet for information about cell phone service I found lots of merchants selling cell phones and little details about who offered the best customer satisfaction. This article's goal is to get you to understand how the different carriers on the market are performing, so you can make an educated decision when you decide to select a carrier. It helped me switch from AT&T to Verizon, which better suited my needs.

Unfortunately, the perfect carrier does not exist. A recent survey by Consumer Reports spanning 39,000 subscribers determined all national wireless carriers have problems with service billing and complaint handling. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who's ever used a cell phone. But it's important to note that this industry provides lower customer satisfaction levels than other service related industries including: hotels, retail outlets and insurance.

Who is happy with cell phone service?

Not too many folks if you consider the results of this recent Consumer Report Survey.

45 percent expressed satisfaction with their cell phone service. 70 percent received one dropped call in the week prior to the survey. 60 percent mentioned having a bad connection. 11 percent found the company's response to a service inquiry helpful. 40 percent found the answers to billing inquiries helpful. 35 percent are considering switching carriers. Of those who switched carriers many mentioned they are still looking for better service. Now for some good news...

Verizon topped the ratings out of all cell phone service carriers in each city. This is the same distinction they achieved for the last two surveys. It's why I switched to their service. However, Verizon is not problem free. What it does offer is a track record of fewer problems than the other carriers. While Verizon may be at the top of the ratings list in terms of service they are not the only top seated contender. Out of 17 cities surveyed T- Mobile came in second for service.

Is the industry being pressured to perform better?

You betcha! Various states are encouraging better carrier performance. California's Public Utilities Commission adopted a Telecommunications Consumer Bill of Rights, mandating a 30 day trial period and online disclosure for rates and terms. Verizon Wireless, Cingular, and Sprint settled with attorney generals in 32 states investigating deceptive practices in the wireless industry.

While this poor service might sound like something the Federal Communications Commission should investigate they are focused more on competition in the industry versus service quality.

How to choose the phone service for you?

For starters take a look at these specific service focused carrier comparisions.

Verizon Wireless

Highest level customer satisfaction

Fewer problems with service Unique: National In Calling - call any Verizon caller anytime without using up minutes.

CDMA offers better coverage in rural areas Roaming - broad

T-Mobile

High and inconsistent customer service Unique: Monthly $39.99 buys 1000 nationwide minutes anytime. Networks: GSM (Global System for Mobile) Some GSM phones can be used in Europe. Roaming - moderate

Sprint

Networks: CDMA or analog offers better service in rural areas Mid level customer satisfaction Mid to low customer satisfaction Unique: Fair & Flexible plan offers a varied minute plan Roaming - broad

Cingular/AT&T Wireless

Unique: Rollover minutes, Carry forward unused minutes Networks: CDMA or analog offers better service in rural areas CDMA offers better coverage in rural areas Roaming - GSM Phones on GSM networks.

TDMA phones phone on TDMA or analog for better rural coverage

Nextel Low level customer service Lack of service in many cities surveyed Unique: Push-to-talk-walkie-talkie-style service Roaming/network: Very limited. No major carrier uses Nextel's IDEN network

Is shopping around for a cell phone service satisfactory?

It's probably no surprise to learn that the experience of hunting for a carrier is about as satisfactory in the minds of consumers feel as their cell phone service itself.

83 percent found it hard shopping for cell phone carriers 52 percent disliked signing long contracts as a means to get the best price on a phone. 48 percent expressed difficulty in comparing carrier plans against the competition 43 percent struggled with figuring out the true cost of the service

Here are some tips for getting past these difficulties and into a plan that works for you.

  1. Sign up for the trial period offered by the cell phone carriers. Consider signing up for one of these before signing a long term contract. This gives you a test run of the level of service the carrier provides before you commit for the long haul. Many carriers offer trial periods for two weeks to a month.

  2. Go with a short contract. Consider a one year contract even if it means paying more for the phone. This gives you a faster way out if the service goes down hill. Be aware of the early terminations in the short term contracts. These range from $150 to $200. A two year contract might be something to consider if you like the service the offers after you've given them a trial run.

  3. Read the fine print. Ask if something is confusing or ambiguous. If there is a clause you don't like in the contract remember they're not the only carrier on the block. Find a carrier with terms and conditions that meet your needs.

  4. Review the coverage maps. By understanding the coverage areas you can avoid expensive roaming charges. If you are going to use your cell phone outside a metropolitan area consider buying a plan that doesn't charge extra for roaming. Most carriers have coverage for voice calls. But data-related services such as Internet may not be available in all areas.

  5. Figure out which network CDMA, GSM, or TDMA makes sense for the areas you call. Choose the carrier with a network in your preferred call zone.

  6. If you are not sure where you are going to be in the next 2 years, it is better to opt for a prepaid cell phone without signing a 2 year service contract. Verizon Wireless has a pay as you go plan, where you pay upfront for a LG cell phone and pay for the minutes you plan to talk as you go.

  7. If 24 x 7 email connectivity is very important for you and you don't want to spend a lot on software, utilities and plug ins, you should seriously consider signing up for a wireless data plan with T-Mobile or Verizon wireless and get a blackberry RIM cell phone.

Copyright © Rene Tse, the founder and president of the website: Free cellular Phone Deals. Rene has been writing about cell phone editquette since buying her first cell phone back in the Jurassic age. Since then, Rene has written hundreds of articles on which :
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Learn more about what other mobile phone subscribers are saying about their cell phone service experience with the various wireless providers.

I grant permission to publish this article, electronically or in print, as long as the bylines are included, with a live link, and the article is not changed in any way.

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Rene_Tse

Article Submitted On: November 09, 2005