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This Year's Cell-Phone Service Survey Results Are In

2017-cell-phone-service-survey-results
The numbers are in! And by numbers, we're referring to the 2017 Cell-Phone Service Survey conducted by Consumer Reports.

In this annual survey, Consumer Reports aims to rate both big and small carriers on a number of things like service reliability, customer support, and overall customer satisfaction. With the results shown in the survey, the publication is able to determine which cell phone provider proved to be groundbreaking for the year and which ones that disappointed its users.

Just as it did last year, three out of four big names in the industry landed near the bottom: AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. This proves that just because they are bigger brands, doesn't necessarily translate to them being the top providers in the market. And again, the results from smaller companies last year mirror the new rankings as these brands have taken the top spots.

One realization from the survey is that subscribers have started to take a high regard on things like customer service and the value they get from their providers. Judging by the results of the survey from the two consecutive years, subscribers are able to find these things from the smaller names.


2017 Cell-Phone Service Survey Results


Consumer Reports collected information from a total of 119,772 subscribers who used either traditional or prepaid cellular service. The data obtained produced the same results as last year's top spot earners-- Consumer Cellular, Project Fi, and Ting. When it comes to customer support, these companies were the only ones who received the highest rating. More remarkably, Project Fi was the only one who got a good score for its data service on things like cost, speed, and reliability. But it was no match with Consumer Cellular as far as voice quality is concerned.

The results also show that Sprint and AT&T received the lowest overall ratings just like they did last year. Out of the two, Sprint received the lowest rating when it came to voice and web. As for value, the carriers that received the lowest rating were Verizon and AT&T. Judging from the results of the survey, it goes to show that consumers are now highly critical of getting their money's worth.

And although T-Mobile is nowhere near the bottom, it also didn't make it to the top of the survey. But it's important to note that the carrier did a significantly better job than the three other big carriers; particularly in its score for value.


What does the survey results tell us? 

As a whole, the companies that obtained a higher score for value included prepaid services wherein customers got to pay for voice minutes, text messages and data in advance. It's worth noting that Project Fi, Ting, and Republic Wireless are companies that manage to keep their costs low since they heavily rely on WiFi networks for sending text messages and making calls. Because of this, they are able to charge their customers for data they would end up using instead of a monthly stipend with data they might not even need at all.

Despite the huge clamor on how valuable prepaid plans are, they still lack popularity over traditional carriers. As a matter of fact, only 13 percent of Consumer Reports' survey respondents said they use a prepaid device.

So why are prepaid services so undervalued even though its consumers attest to the value they get out of their carrier? One good reason for this could be because these providers have a limited array of phones available. For most of these brands, the latest iPhone or Samsung devices don't even work.

When it comes to brand loyalty, the survey shows a pretty astounding number. 86 percent of the respondents answered that they had been with their carrier for over two years. A reason why they have decided to stay with their carrier is because of how reliable their provider's service is. Meanwhile, there are some who answered that they considered leaving but still could not find a better alternative.

As for those who switch carriers in the past two years, the main reason for their decision was because of cost. One-third of these respondents also switched because they were looking for better reception and a more reliable network that their previous carrier was unable to provide.

With these results, it goes to show that people are very careful about what they are paying their cell phone service providers nowadays. And particularly for families that have a lot of connected devices, the bill can get pretty big. It's only important that you get your money's worth for the monthly bill you are paying.


Source: Consumer Reports

80 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. I think Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Project Fi probably get high marks due to their no-nonsense advertising, plans, and promotion. You get what they advertise. This cuts down on the proportion of disappointed customers who find out they've been taken for a ride or sold a bill of goods.

    A distinct difference, from, say, Sprint, advertising heavily that it is 99% as good as Verizon (and when people get Sprint they get angry to find out that it's more like only 29% as good instead). And wouldn't you look at how low Sprint did on these surveys!

    T-Mobile also has a big problem of advertising more than it delivers when it comes to coverage, but this is made up for by other aspects in which it excels. Still, I am sure they would be higher in the rankings if their coverage/network matched their boasts perfectly.

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    1. I agree with first paragraph. The rest is typical misleading bashing based on native coverage only. Sprint and T-Mobile have excellent nationwide coverage with their roaming agreements. That is what they advertise, and why tmo opened 2500 new stores this year to serve areas where they added massive amounts of new 700 MHz coverage.

      Delete
    2. "The rest is typical misleading bashing based on native coverage only."

      Nothing misleading at all. The fact remains that native coverage is king. There is little or no data outside of native coverage.

      T-Mobile has indeed expanded a lot, but the network is still only two-thirds as good as Verizon and AT&T right now. It seems you want to pretend T-Mobile is as good, but that is all it is: pretending. At least until T-Mobile completes its in-process 600 and 700 MHZ expansion.

      All 3 paragraphs of the "December 21, 2017 at 7:25 PM" comment are quite true, though they do ruffle fanboy feathers.

      The sentence"Sprint and T-Mobile have excellent nationwide coverage with their roaming agreements" is quite untrue especially for Sprint, due to the lack of data outside of the tiny area covered by the native Sprint network.

      Best consumer advice when comparing carriers is that if you use data, look at the native footprint and ignore smoke and mirrors claims concerning roaming areas.

      Delete
    3. "quite untrue especially for Sprint, due to the lack of data outside of the tiny area covered by the native Sprint network."
      This is exactly what I meant by misleading bashing. True 'smoke and mirrors.'

      Sprint postpaid offers unlimited roaming outside native coverage in partner Extended Network areas, and limited 800 min voice and 100 MB data roaming on Verizon and other regional carriers beyond that. You also get this postpaid roaming coverage with Virgin Mobile Inner Circle. Ting and Twigby offer voice and SMS roaming, and I think Republic does too. Roaming coverage is indeed excellent with Sprint and T-Mobile; don't listen to the duopoly's net army.

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    4. "Sprint postpaid offers unlimited roaming outside native coverage in partner Extended Network areas"

      Sprint customers report having no data in these "extended" areas, or data cut off after 100mb. And Sprint has published a policy that it might not provide any data at all in these areas. It's entirely optional at Sprint's discretion.

      So... with Sprint extended coverage or Verizon roaming you really end up with no more than a hundred megabytes of data to use in these areas. That's extremely little and is close to nothing when it comes to Mobile use, and it is about 5% of what the average American mobile phone user uses in data per month..

      Be honest here... It is best to say that Sprint really doesn't have data roaming outside of its native footprint.

      T-Mobile? It has an extremely small amount of data in its roaming as well.

      For people who need data, it is objectively accurate to say that roaming coverage is poor with both Sprint and T-Mobile. How can you say that a data situation that only allows for 5% of what the average American needs for data is actually "excellent"!

      Data users need to look at the native footprint. For Sprint it is very small. With T-Mobile it is growing even though it is behind the duopoly right now.

      And since most people do need data, there is no way you can honestly say that roaming coverage is "excellent" if it really provides little or no data for use.

      That's the facts, which trump fanboy squee.

      Delete
    5. Your comment doens't even make sense. Ting and Fi run on Sprint and T-Mobile.

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    6. It makes perfect sense. At least project fi honestly advertises what it can do and what it can't do, and it also provides better support.

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    7. Your comments don't make sense at all. Last time you tried this line you found 4 comments on a forum, people who said they could not use Extended Coverage, and you used those comments to negate the entire Sprint Extended Network! That's not "being honest," and you know it. Yet you repeat it over and over. That won't work here. Readers are too smart for those kind of tactics.

      Delete
    8. 4 contents out of many user reports. Sprint either fails to allow any data in "extended" areas or cuts it off after very little is used.

      I get it, you like Sprint and don't think data is important. That's fine, but let's be honest about what the carrier provides outside it's actual coverage area.

      Delete
  2. "consumers are now highly critical of getting their money's worth."

    I don't think that this conveys what you're trying to say.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hello Mr Pendatic

      You know what Christine was saying. I know what she was saying. So does everyone else. So why is their this pointless nitpicking from you?

      Delete
    2. I don't know but that was hard to read.

      Delete
    3. Hey, I clicked onto that "Hello Mr Pendatic" thing. That was really cool! How did you do that? (How did you post an image onto this comment section?)

      Delete
  3. Consumer cellular is sold in target and sears and consumer reports is subscribed to by target and sears customers. In thecorporate scheme verizon provides huge discounts so the corporate crowd favor verizon because that is what they use. In the low income areas with alot of foreigners Lyca is tops. Consumer reports does not survey Lyca mobile customers

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    Replies
    1. The US Government offers T-Mobile service to federal agencies now that the coverage is so much better.

      Delete
    2. I agree. I always like to check out the customer base they used for a given survey. Usually, the results tend to flow where the demographic is for that survey.

      Delete
    3. " Consumer reports does not survey Lyca mobile customers"

      I'm not surprised. The amount that use Lyca is extremely tiny. If not for Prepaid Phone news reports, I'd not know they even exited.

      Delete
    4. "Consumer reports does not survey Lyca mobile customers"
      This is true. CR surveys all subscribers, and Lyca customers are welcome to report their satisfaction.

      Delete
  4. Lots of meaningless double-talk going on. Long story short, Verizon is still tops, AT&T is a close second, T-Mobile is catching up, and Sprint is still hot trash.

    Let me know when you are looking for additional corespondents...

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    1. "Lots of meaningless double-talk going on. Long story short, Verizon is still tops, AT&T is a close second, T-Mobile is catching up, and Sprint is still hot trash."

      Interesting conclusion, CorpJP. And it pretty much matches what each carrier's coverage is relative to the others.

      Coverage is king: the networks that "just work" for Americans are the ones that get the customers. The ones that lack coverage or have too much bad coverage (lousy "roaming agreements") don't do as well.

      Delete
  5. Another meaningless survey.

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    1. "Another meaningless survey."

      Consumer Reports has rather sound data-gathering methodologies and an unparalleled lack of bias. Typically those who object, in just about any industry being discussed, are those that have a vested interest in a product or service that Consumer Reports has accurately reported as being rather inferior.

      Delete
  6. Prepaid cell phone service brings value on many fronts. It gives the user additional leverage if they don't like their current service. Also, prepaid service doesn't have fees and taxes if the user knows which company absorbs or knows what states to buy top up cards.

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    1. I don't think that last part is true. I have seen plenty of prepaid services that have taxes and fees added on top of the monthly bill. And I have also seen postpaid carriers have absolutely no taxes and fees added on top of the monthly bill.

      As for where to buy Top-Up cards. More power to you, but I am not going to be one of those driving from California to New Hampshire every time I want to get a Top-Up card with lower taxes on it.

      Delete
  7. These survey's are highly biased because smaller MVNOs have far fewer customers who shop around. Ting is probably the worst priced MVNO on the market because they charge more for customer service. Project Fi has one of the highest churn rates because of their data pricing with many people leaving for Mint or T-Mobile months after signing up. Consumer Cellular specifically targets AARP customers who are unlikely to shop around for carriers.

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    1. None of that speculation and irrelevant mention of supposedly "not shopping around" changes the fact that the carriers that were ranked so high were ranked so high for objective and valid reasons.

      Delete
    2. These surveys are highly biased because CR readers don't like my prepaid carrier as much as I do. Blah, blah, blah....

      Delete
    3. Plus, Consumer Reports requires readers to buy their reports. They have a financial incentive to hide their methodology since national news outlets will just report the headline (as seen right here). Its the same misleading bunk from RootMetrics too. There is no objective measure for "customer service"

      Delete
    4. "Plus, Consumer Reports requires readers to buy their reports.."

      Do you have anything valid to say to challenge CR's methodology? Because it sure looks like you are fumbling at straws because CR accurately reported on how bad your fav carrier is...

      Delete
    5. "Plus, Consumer Reports requires readers to buy their reports. They have a financial incentive to hide their methodology since national news outlets will just report the headline (as seen right here). Its the same misleading bunk from RootMetrics too. There is no objective measure for "customer service"

      1) It costs to produce a magazine. You didn't know that? Also, CR's relatively high cost is because it refuses advertisers. That's actually a detail of how they avoid bias. A GOOD thing.

      2) You describe the reason to "hide" the articles. However, the reason you provide looks perfectly valid and in fact a good reason. It is a great leap to come to some sort of sneering conclusion after this.

      3) It is possible to conduct a statistically-valid consumer survey. CR does it all the time, as do many other organizations and polling companies. It's not rocket science.

      4) I suspect if this CR report had said Sprint was the best and Ting was the worst, you'd be on the opposite site. Because it's looking pretty clear that your issue isn't with what the magazine does and how it does it, but rather that you resent that "your guys" came out on the wrong end of a rigorous consumer survey.

      Delete
  8. The drama happened to Cable companies appears to be repeating in Mobile companies, euphemistically known as cord-cutting. Cable companies deny it, but they are doing mergers and diversifying into content/mobile investments. May be millennials are in the forefront of this consumer movement. I wish the millenials/Gen Zs a big thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Many MVNOs will allow you to bring your own late model device. Check with them to make sure your phone is compatible with their network. I have personally used a late model iPhone and Samsung Galaxy on H2O and Red Pocket.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "So why are prepaid services so undervalued even though its consumers attest to the value they get out of their carrier? One good reason for this could be because these providers have a limited array of phones available. For most of these brands, the latest iPhone or Samsung devices don't even work."

    This is blatantly false, especially for AT&T and T-Mobile based prepaid services (and to a lesser extent Verizon). It's only true in the case of Boost Mobile; others allow you to bring any phone as long as it is compatible with the network, and this includes the latest iPhone or Samsung devices

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    1. It sounds like Boost is a situation where you have to jump through a lot of hoops to actually get the service, and once you actually get the service you realize you really have something that wasn't worth fighting for it all.

      Delete
  11. We have used both Consumer and Ting, and were very satisfied, so the satisfaction survey results don't surprise me at all. Pricing with both offered good value for us, with the ability to share allocations of minutes, sms and data and excellent roaming coverage (postpaid on CC). I read in PC Mag two plus years ago that CC is best bargain plan for couples, so I checked out CC. Now our daughter and her husband use CC too. CC finances phones with no interest charge and both they and Ting offer a wide range of phone options.

    Customer service with both companies was excellent, a far cry from the scripted offshore youngsters who haven't been properly trained to solve all your problems. Many of the offshore folks keep you on hold while they talk to a trained person; give you lots of irrelevant instructions from the scripts (cause they weren't properly trained); and often waste your time. Sometimes they transfer you and you wait in line again. Other times they give you incorrect information. No thanks!

    We only left CC because we're getting two 'free' unlimited lines on Sprint postpaid for a year. After that, we will go back to CC or Ting unless our needs change. We might save a couple of dollars a month with PureTalk USA AMAC plans, but would lose the CC roaming coverage or the wider voice and text coverage on Ting (either network).

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I used to have Ting myself. I was unimpressed with the prices, and the coverage was too poor, but the company was honest about everything and I had excellent customer service. If I had been surveyed I would have reflected the high prices of the low coverage service and the very excellent customer service in any answers.

      Delete
  12. As a long time user of MetroPCS, I have been very happy with the service. I've used my phone in both urban and rural places; usually without any difficulty. I've had only three times when I needed to contact customer service and the problems have been fixed right away. I would've thought Metro would be up there somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. MetroPCS still doesn't work at all in a large part of the US (both urban and rural areas), and lacks the postpaid roaming T-Mobile has.

      Until T-Mobile finishes expanding its network, Metro and the actual T-Mobile MVNOs occupy a place between the truly national prepaids (which now are only on AT&T and Verizon) and the diminutive footprint of the Sprint ones.

      Delete
  13. My service is better, NO my service is better, blah blah blah. If it works use it. My god some people act like children.

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    1. Gosh exactly.

      Delete
    2. Sprint fanboy: "Bad service is better!!"

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  14. No one needs more than 100mb a month. Sprint meets the needs of most people.

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  15. The people who read consumer reports aren't savvy enough to even know about mvnos.

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    1. I only read "Consumer Reports" for the articles. I never look at the centerfold. No sirree!

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    2. Most millennials can't read.

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    3. What did you say?

      Delete
  16. "iPhones and Sprint roaming = no data."

    https://forums.imore.com/sprint/343735-iphones-sprint-roaming-no-data.html

    "I found out today that not all phone antennas are equal. I knew I was going to be in a roaming area and saw the "extended 1x" signal which confirmed that. Well the two of us with iPhones couldn't get any data at all..."

    Who is to blame? Well, we might start looking at it from the angle of this is the most popular phone model on the least popular, most reviled carrier.

    So, so far we have 3 documented reasons why Sprint has little/no data in "Extended Roaming" areas.

    1) Sprint stated policy says that data in "Extended Roaming" isn't guaranteed: the company will provide it only if it wants.

    2) There is sometimes data, but then it cuts off at 100 mb.

    3) You are using an iPhone.

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    1. The only things that may be true here is that a few people with iPhones on Sprint had trouble with roaming data. And the robo-post guy found one post where someone said a Sprint rep said extended coverage is not guaranteed (duh - no carrier guarantees coverage everywhere).
      We use iPhone 7 and 6s on Sprint postpaid and use some extended coverage every month. It shows up in the Sprint app and online. We’ve never had a problem with data in extended coverage areas.

      Delete
    2. Sprint Extended Roaming service is offered as a convenience so you can gain access to networks when you are temporarily outside the nationwide Sprint network. Extended Non-LTE and Extended 4G LTE are coverage on wireless carrier networks, but usage is included in your Sprint plan. While accessing service on Extended networks, usage will not accumulate towards the monthly roaming limits that may apply based on your plan, and will simply be pulled from your plan use. Your device will indicate that you are not on the Sprint network, but while in Extended your usage will not be limited to the roaming limits in your plan.

      Delete
  17. The iPhone point is the weakest one. The rest including Sprint considering extended data to be optional is pretty damning.

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    1. The Sprint “stated policy” in the tos is that data in extended coverage areas is part of your plan and does for count against limited roaming coverage. One reported quote of one rep in a blog doesn’t change that. Stating otherwise is “pretty damning.”

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    2. correction @6:26 AM: should have said: "data in extended coverage areas is part of your plan and does NOT count against limited roaming coverage."

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    3. The Sprint “stated policy” in the tos is that data not in extended coverage areas is part of your plan and doesn't count against unlimited roaming coverage.

      Delete
    4. No, @10.30am is not true. Here are the Virgin Mobile Inner Circle terms. They are almost identical to the @8:04am post above:

      "We offer roaming service to give you convenient access to networks when you're temporarily outside Virgin Mobile's coverage area. Roaming provides coverage on partner networks. Extended voice and data provide coverage on partner networks, but usage is included as if accessed from Virgin Mobile coverage area. While accessing service in Extended coverage, usage will not accumulate towards roaming limits that may apply based on your plan, and will simply be included with your Virgin Mobile coverage use.
      Your device will indicate that you’re not on the Virgin network, but while in Extended coverage, your usage will not be limited to the roaming limits in your plan."

      Delete
  18. Only 13% of Consumer Reports' subscribing respondents are on a prepaid phone plan?
    The majority of this 13% is likely on Consumer Cellular AND The Original Slim-Shady, Carlos Slime's TracFone brands.
    Isn't the # of prepaid accounts in North America closer to 25-30% of the population?
    How can a survey allow opinions of only 2% of respondents (Fi, Ting, & Republic Wireless combined) dominate who is the top carrier? (Yes, I'm guessing on the 2%, but I bet I'm not too far off).

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Its an OPINION survey. A sample size of 2,400 in an opinion survey is statistically significant here, IMO.
      Buy the Consumer Reports issue and they will give you more information if you're not satisfied.
      BTW, I doubt your assumption that "The majority of this 13% is likely on Consumer Cellular AND The ... TracFone brands."
      Consumer Cellular, sure. Their 2.5M customers are very satisfied. But CR customers are careful shoppers with money for a CR subscription, and probably don't buy Tracfone brands in the same percentage as the general population; they do their research. They have also been reading how satisfied the Ting, Fi and Republic customers have been for 2-3 years now. Those brands are probably over-represented in the CR survey population compared to the brands' percentage in the general US population.

      Delete
    2. 80ish million prepaid phone subscribers. 24ish million on Tracfone brands. Yet Anon @ 10:07 AM thinks only people who OVERPAY OUT THE WAZOOO for Consumer cellular are the only intelligent ones while'z us Tracfone peeps is too stupid to subscribe ta Consumer Reports.
      Tracfone peeps, pay by the minute purists, know who they are & manage their money wisely as they only pay for what they use and are disciplined enough to use wifi only when using data most of the time. These are the same type of people who read Consumer Reports & the like.
      Republic Wireless has LESS subscribers now than 2 years ago, though I respect their business concept.
      Project Fi, total respect for their business concept. Just not enough phone variety available for byop.
      Consumer Cellular. Way overpriced, but very good customer service.
      Tracfone. Pay for what you use. Not much is wasted. Have a primary line on Verizon, & a secondary line on Tea-Mobile.
      Cheap enough to be like Captain Two Phones, Michael Fisher, best phone reviewer on YouTube.

      Delete
    3. "thinks...us Tracfone peeps is too stupid to subscribe ta Consumer Reports."

      Haha. I agree with 90% of what you typed. But your mindreader needs a tuneup. I think that people who have the money to buy CR don't just want the cheapest option (like your Tracfone pay go?). They pay for CR so they're more likely to want best overall value and to be very satisfied.

      Tracfone brands are cheap to purchase and can be cheap to use, as you and my brother would agree. But overall satisfaction? Well, that wasn't the case with CR readers. They weighted price lower than you do. After all, it's a satisfaction survey, not just a price competition.

      If it makes you feel better about Tracfone, some of their brands like Straight Talk scored well last year in the previous prepaid category. But you'll have to cough up some money for the CR issue or visit the library to see whether that's still true. At least we know they beat AT&T and Sprint.

      Delete
  19. Does anyone know the actual percentage of US mobile customers who are on prepaid? Dennis??

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    1. I estimate that about 21% of mobile lines of service are prepaid. That's based on the sum of the number of prepaid subscribers reported by the big four carriers plus TracFone (73.89 million) plus about 10 million customers of smaller MVNOs for a total about 84 million prepaid subscribers. The CTIA says there are a total of 396 million mobile connections 80/396 = 21.2 million.

      Delete
  20. If a phone carrier's service and coverage works for you, use it. If it doesn't work for you, use something else. A carrier working or not working for you doesn't equal it working or not working for someone else.

    Why is this such a difficult concept to understand? Why do people get offended at the suggestion that a carrier that didn't work for you might actually be perfect for someone else? And vice versa.

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    1. Let's create a PP PN "safe zone" where people with delicate sensibilities are shielded from others who debate differing opinions. Or the folks who don't like debate can just use the mobile view without the comments.

      Delete
    2. What annoys me is the same people posting the same "carrier X is the best, carrier Y is junk" refrains over and over again on almost every post. It's a waste of everyone's time that adds no value for anyone.

      For some reason these commenters have to constantly remind us that different carriers have different coverage footprints. I'm pretty sure that most people, especially regular readers of this blog, already know which carriers work for them and which don't.

      Delete
    3. Amen, Dennis and Here or There!

      My biggest takeaway from this article was "86 percent of the respondents answered that they had been with their carrier for over two years". This mentality helps explain why it is so hard to get people to change and try something new. Also explains why companies pay so much to advertise their product, because once they get a new customer they tend to remain loyal customers.

      Having had all 4 majors service providers and at least 6 different MVNO providers in the last 10 years I can say there are things I liked and disliked about each of them. Features I value may not be important to someone else.

      That's why I appreciate this website so much, because you give me information about all providers and let me decide based on what is most valuable me. Thanks, Dennis

      Delete
    4. Sanctimonious MilkmanDecember 23, 2017 at 3:17 PM

      This fits my real world experience, where I rarely encounter anyone who is rapidly changing carriers, let alone phones.

      Delete
  21. "A carrier working or not working for you doesn't equal it working or not working for someone else."

    That's a generalization that is more untrue than true, SApe. The big two "duopoly" carriers are so successful because they just work for the vast majority of mobile users.

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    1. Thanks for proving my point....

      Delete
    2. Prove or prove not?

      Pointless, this discussion is.

      Well underway, this clown war is.

      Delete
  22. "the latest iPhone or Samsung devices don't even work"

    The real reason is that prepaid requires you to pay for those expensive flagships in full.

    Postpaid offers payment plans that hide the increased cost by lowering the barrier to entry.

    Sticker shock trick people into thinking they're saving money, when in fact they're paying hundreds more over the next two years.

    And because flagships are a status symbol, using an affordable phone just isn't an option.

    Once you get into that vicious cycle, there's no getting out...at least not until you realize your obsession with arbitrary branding has been running your life whether you like it or not.

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    1. Treat yourself to the flagship experience. You'll become happy and will never go back.

      Delete
    2. "Sticker shock trick people into thinking they're saving money, when in fact they're paying hundreds more over the next two years."

      The opposite is true: there are deals from big carriers for major flagships where you end up spending LESS for the phone over 24 months than you would outright with an up-front payment.

      Paying hundreds less.

      Delete
    3. Yes. My fav right now is a free iPhone 8, BOGO at T-Mobile when you buy one, and finance them both on EIP with no interest. Seniors can pair that with the 55+ plan, two lines of Tmobile 1 for $60/month including taxes and fees.

      Can anyone come close to this with prepaid service, buying two new iPhone 8 up front?

      Delete
    4. Don't you need to get a new line with the BOGO?

      If so that can cost hundreds, taking a big bite out of the bargain.

      Delete
    5. You do need a friend, relative or sig other to join your account to get BOGO, just like you do for the $60 55+ deal. Small bite if you're a senior; it's 2 lines for $60/month, not one/each. Second line person does not have to be 55+. And you need fairly good credit. Enjoy the best deal for 2 anywhere. BTW, your $700 iPhone savings comes back to you early on a prepaid MasterCard, in 6-8 weeks. And you will save big $ every month on the plan.

      If not on the 55+ plan, both of you will enjoy free Netflix as a reward for any hassle. But you will have to pay $120/month including taxes and fees for Tmo1 service. So this deal #2 is where prepaid x 2 unlimited plan can claw back some phone savings over time. B/E is about $90/month for two prepaid lines, plus your Netflix costs.

      Delete
    6. It's a big bite if you already have two T-Mobile lines, and just want to upgrade the phones on those lines.

      Delete
    7. BOGO is still cheaper for people who have two Tmobile 1 lines now. Costs you $20/month or $480 more over 2 years for the third line, but you save $700 on free iPhone 8.
      No contract, but you have to check fine print to see what happens if you cancel line 2 or 3 after you get the $700 MasterCard but before the EIP is done. Make sure they don't bill you for all or part of the $700 if you do this.

      Delete
    8. If people don't qualify for Tmo 55+, the Sprint BOGO deal on iPhone 8 costs less over two years but you don't own the phones. $100/month plus tax (yes, price went up from $90 after merger died), and $29.17/month for Flex lease one iPhone 8 for 18 months. You get two. Upgrade to new iPhone after 12 lease payments. Requires one new line and one upgrade line, or two new lines.

      Delete
    9. You can save money with the Sprint BOGO deal. Don't upgrade to a new model iPhone after 12 months payments; make all 18 Flex payments and buy the iPhones from Sprint for greatly reduced option prices. Switch to the $45 plan (2 lines for $80/month) or Sprint will unlock the iPhones, and you can take them to any of the other big US carriers.

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    10. I can't beat the Tmo BOGO iPhone 8 and 55+ plan combo for unlimited service, but I can come close over 24 months, and no one needs to be age 55:

      1. Buy two unlocked iPhone 8 for $1400 at Apple Store.
      2. Sign up for Sprint Unlimited BYOP plan, and pay only taxes/month for a year (it costs us $6.54/month for two lines).
      3. After a year, take your iPhones to the Tmobile 55+ plan if you qualify and it's still around as the best unlimited deal. Expect the price to go up as Tmo, like Sprint, focuses on deployment costs vs. more subscribers.
      4. If the 55+ plan is not available, pick the best prepaid or postpaid unlimited deal for 2 lines. I estimate this will cost at least $90/mo. (or more) this time next year.
      Total cost $1400 plus $80 Sprint tax year 1 plus $840 unlimited service year 2, or $2,320. ($2,020 with new iPhone 7 vs 8). You would pay the same $2,320 if you bought 2 flagship Androids or 2 midrange Androids every year and Sprint said you could use them on the free unlimited plan.

      Compares to the target deal of $1,440 service plus $1,400 lease payments, minus $700 rebate, or $2,140 over 2 years.

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  23. "And because flagships are a status symbol, using an affordable phone just isn't an option."

    As premium flagships sell more than all low-priced models combined, it looks pretty clear that buyers consider the high end ones to be within the "affordable" range.

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