So you are wondering if a cell phone network might have good service in your area. Here’s a hint: There are just a couple big companies (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) that have cell phone towers but there are many resellers. For example, the Sprint network is resold by several “mobile virtual network operators” like Credo, Virgin, Boost, etc. Here’s a list of what cell phone companies use what networks. All the secondary companies (like Virgin Mobile selling the Sprint network) are reselling a wholesale product at wholesale prices. That means they cost less and, like when you walk into a rug remnant store, sometimes parts are missing. What will work for you? I have no idea. Shopping for a new phone has been a big PITA for me. Caveat emptor!
In the US we’ve been doing the “2 year contract” thing with cell phones for a long time. There is a switch going on. Now the thing to do is:
- spend $10-$500 on a smart phone that is unlocked
- buy prepaid monthly service from your favorite provider
For example: instead of going to the AT&T store and getting a $100 Android phone and spending $100/month on a 2 year contract, you go to the Google Play Store and get a $400 Android phone and spend $50/month with Straight Talk. Note that over the course of 2 years, the second option costs $1600 instead of $2500. The downside is that most of the resellers have less friendly customer service than the “full service” providers.