Current mobile phone plan: Verizon Wireless
I’ve been with Verizon Wireless for almost two years now. America’s Choice plan: $39.99.. 400 minutes per mo., free nights/weekends, 1000 mobile-to-mobile (other verizon cell phones) minutes, free nationwide wandering and calling.
I’ve had a few minor scuffs with them, but they’ve been pretty reasonable and usually offer me a reasonable solution. Their coverage has not been perfect, but better than any other U.S. cell phone I’ve been exposed to. Their website does not always work, but it usually does, and it keeps pretty thorough track of all ones’ information and allows for easy online payment/adjustment of features. And I can easily check my minutes from my phone, etc.
Choosing our wireless carrier in the beginning
When we (my family and I) were in the market for a cell phone plan, we found that most cell phones were unable to catch a signal at our house (we seem to be in a pocket of sorts.. wireless signal is strong around it, but not in our house). The only cellular services that worked at our house were AT&T and Verizon.
AT&T or Verizon?
So that made it reasonably easy.. We looked into AT&T and Verizon, and their plans were comparable and their coverage was similar.. but Verizon had a good family share plan going, and a trusted friend explained that Verizon currently had the strongest signal network in the country. So Verizon it was, and it has been well.
Stay with Verizon, or go?
Now it’s time to either renew with Verizon and get new phones and upgrade our plans and sign another one/two-year contract, or switch over to AT&T. We weren’t looking at any of the others, since we know only those two will work for us.
AT&T will give it up to Cingular
Except that AT&T does not fully merge into Cingular for several more months. (I’m thinking the end of this year at earliest.) At which time, I am told, AT&T wireless customers will all be receiving phone calls suggesting that they turn over their AT&T cell phones to acquire new ones from Cingular to fully integrate them.
The Cingular-AT&T merge has begun
Btw, Cingular is apparently already using AT&T towers in the Washington D.C./Maryland/Virgina area, wherever the one’s signal strength is stronger than the other. This will be exercised on a national scale in the next few months. But this being the case, Cingular’s service should, then, work at my house now. Those currently on AT&T though, and expecting mobile-to-mobile calls to be free, see this.
The GSM difference
Another note.. the main difference betwen Verizon and AT&T right now, by my understanding, is that Verizon does not operate with GSM, while AT&T/Cingular does. (Verizon uses CDMA.) This basically means (to me) that AT&T/Cingular GSM phones use SIM cards/chips.. If you’ve spent some time outside of the United States, you probably know that most of the rest of the world seems to have been using these SIM cards forever. They’re tiny (cardboard?) cards that fit somewhere near your battery, that are easily removable and changeable. They are the identity cards for your phone. If you put a different card in it, you’ll be operating with a different phone number and can be on a different plan. So you can travel the world with one of these phones, buy a local temporary card or borrow your friend’s card, and use your cell phone locally. Apparently the AT&T GSM phones are locked so that the phones will not work with other SIM cards, but if you pay a one time fee ($50?) you can have the phone unlocked; Cingular, it seems, automatically unlocks its phones once you’ve been with them for a period of four months.
A note about T-Mobile
I actually have no experience with T-Mobile. Catherine Zeta-Jones is hot and she does their comercials. That’s about the extent of my knowledge about them. Read this for an interesting brief, though.
So… Cingular is looking pretty good right now.. what with their rollover minutes, too.. And you can apparently pay an additional fee (boo!) each month to have your night minutes start at 7pm (yay!) rather than 9pm. And I guess their phone I’m looking at is the Motorola V400 GSM phone, with built-in speakerphone (I’ve become quite accustomed to that feature on my current Kyocera QCP 3035), color-screen, and built-in camera.
And of course, there’s currently unlimited ‘in-network’ calling for all Verizon, AT&T and Cingular customers.. Simply meaning if you’re on a Verizon plan, you have unlimited calling to and from all other Verizon network customers, and AT&T customers have unlimited with AT&T, and Cingular with Cingular. And that’s all really good… but that deal’s not going to last forever, for obvious reasons.
So at the moment I’m thinking Cingular’s mobile phone service is probably the way to go. —Though I’ll be sorry to leave Verizon behind. They do have the highest growth rate right now of all the wireless carriers in this nation.. that whole “bring your phone number” thing has really made the market interesting. If anyone else has suggestions/ recommendations/ corrections on any of this, I would be glad to hear them. I’ll be making a final decision probably next time next week.