How do users find the best wireless carrier and plan? It depends on what you are looking for. Let’s take a closer look at the choices users have today. At the difference in cost and what you get for your dollar by doing business directly with a wireless network or by using one of the wireless resellers. Making the right choice can be a significant payoff for the user.
As I travel the country to give speeches or attend meetings, one question I am always asked is which is the best wireless company to do business with and service to choose? Let’s explore this question here and now.
Increasingly the weak economy is taking its toll on Americans. Their spending power is down. That means increasingly users are looking for ways to stretch their dollar and cut their monthly costs.
Fortunately, there are real opportunities to save money in wireless. And the difference between the high priced and low-priced plans can be significant.
Wireless networks like AT&T, T-Mobile US, Verizon, US Cellular, C Spire
The choice is not only between the big three wireless networks, but also the countless smaller networks, wireless resellers and the multitude of plans to choose from.
First, understand there are three major wireless networks in the United States. They are AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US and Verizon Wireless. There are also smaller or regional networks like US Cellular or C Spire Wireless.
Even national networks act as a reseller in the parts of their network that are thin.
Wireless resellers like Xfinity Mobile, Cricket, PureTalk and more
Plus, there are also a growing number of wireless resellers. You may recognize brands like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Optimum, Cricket, Visible, Metro, Mint Mobile, PureTalk, Straight Talk, Boost Mobile, TracFone, Consumer Cellular, Reach Mobile, Google and many others, large and small.
Some of these resellers are owned by one of the big three. Example, Cricket is owned by AT&T, Visible is owned by Verizon and both Metro and Mint Mobile are owned by T-Mobile.
When comparing the cost of these different alternatives, resellers typically cost the customer much less than a similar plan directly from a wireless network. However, they also have sometimes significant limits on what the customer gets.
Some users need these extra features. So, it is important to understand your purchase.
Many direct wireless customers with AT&T, T-Mobile US and Verizon complain they pay too much. There are many different plans, but customers can pay in the range of around $60 to $150 per month depending on the plan they choose.
The difference in price can be with features and the carrier.
When unlimited wireless is not really unlimited
Every plan offers the user the ability to get wireless talk, text and data. Talk is typically included in most every plan. Text can bring choices. Customers can choose none, some or unlimited texting. Wireless data brings even more choices. Customers can choose no data, some data or unlimited data.
The meaning of these different terms is important to understand, but hardly ever explained.
If a user chooses a low volume data plan to save month, they can run out of data during the month. When that happens, they sometimes have a choice. They can either upgrade their plan and pay more, or they can suffer through agonizingly slow wireless data speeds until that month is over.
Most places we spend time offer Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to use your wireless data services. The problem with this is this public Wi-Fi is not secure. That means your messages and anything you do online can be tracked and watched by others.
In a perfect world, it is important to make sure you have contracted for more data than you typically use, just so you don’t run out and grind down to a slow experience. However, even that does not solve all your problems.
Even if you are consistent with your usage from month to month, every now and then you use more or less. Your wireless data usage can radically increase when you take a trip or are not in your home Wi-Fi zone.
That’s why customers typically buy more wireless data than they will ever need. Just to be sure. Carriers love this. However, while this makes sense, it is wrong of the wireless carriers to force customers to overpay like this.
Unlimited wireless plans are not what you think they are
Even if you purchase an Unlimited Data Plan, don’t think you are really getting unlimited usage of high speed 5G wireless data. You aren’t. Each competitor puts a limit on the amount of fast unlimited data any customer can get.
Even an unlimited plan is only unlimited high speed for say 15 – 20 gigabits or so. Each carrier can be different. Too many users can easily use at least this amount. After hitting your limit, your usage slows way down making your wireless experience agonizing, even unusable.
An easy solution is wireless carriers should charge customers for the wireless data they use. Period.
Customers should choose the data speed they want. That way they pay less for months when they don’t use it and more for months when they do.
That’s fair for the user. However, that’s not the way the industry operates.
Instead, the industry tries to charge as much as they can to increase their earnings even though their customers are being overcharged by the process.
While this may have been seen as necessary years ago, it’s a different marketplace today.
What I am simply saying is a new trend should start where carriers just charge customers for what they actually use. That would be simple and fair for everyone.
Wireless resellers charge much less than wireless networks
Wireless resellers charge much less for a similar package. The average customer can pay between $15 – $50 per month depending on the company and the service. This can be significant savings for the customer.
However, to get these savings there are several things the customer will have to deal with. Here is a list of a few of them.
The amount of 5G high speed wireless data is limited. Wireless data limits are at a lower level for the reseller customer than doing business directly with a wireless carrier. Each wireless reseller has different levels, so it’s important to check.
Wireless data access can be limited. If you are using a wireless tower that is engineered for 100 users, as soon as the limit is reached, the next user is blocked and cannot get access.
And 100 users are not just a static number. Rather, there is a hierarchy.
Some users get preference as others get kicked off. Customers doing business directly with a wireless carrier like AT&T, T-Mobile US or Verizon get preference. Customers of resellers generally get worse access. So, a session can be interrupted.
To make matters even more confusing, different resellers seem to have a pre-negotiated position.
What I mean is a customer of Xfinity Mobile or Spectrum Mobile may have preference over some of the smaller resellers when it comes to access. This option can cost the reseller money, so they must make the choice. Either give their customers a higher priority and a better experience or lower their costs.
Most wireless resellers do not allow their users to make calls internationally. That means when you are travelling abroad, you may not be able to use your reseller to make calls. Some do. Most don’t.
Differences between wireless carriers and wireless resellers
So, as you can see, there are many differences between doing business directly with a wireless network and one of the many wireless resellers.
That means there is quite a bit of homework involved in choosing the best company for you to do business with.
It is worth the effort. The good news is the wireless industry has lots of options. The bad news is they do not make choosing the best carrier or plan for you an easy process.