The Big Four Of Cellular Plans and Their Inner Workings | #204
Cellular carriers are not loved, but we sure wouldn’t want to live without them. As much ire as U.S. telecom companies might face, they are a necessary evil; but which companies have the best plans? Thankfully, The Wirecutter Contributor, Rob Pegoraro, reveals to us some of the inner workings of how cell phone carriers operate, the difference between prepaid and postpaid plans, and the limits of 5G. We also discover how cell carriers rank on the consumer satisfaction index, and what the strengths and weaknesses are of the ‘big four’ in wireless – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Tune in to learn how to avoid pitfalls and if your service may be in need of updating.
·[00:00:00] Cell Phone Carriers: A Necessary Evil
·[00:06:38] The Big 4 of Cell Phone Plans
·[00:12:30] Prepaid Plans, Sprint / T-Mobile Merger
·[00:19:51] Cellular Resellers, and Limits of 5G
·[00:27:26] Communication Customer Satisfaction
·[00:35:52] Which Carrier Should You Choose?
[00:00:00] Cell Phone Carriers: A Necessary Evil
The masses have no love for their telecommunications overlords, but they’re a necessary evil in our connected world. Host, Mike Etchart, cringes every time he writes the check out to AT&T, but if you want to use your pocket-computer smartphone effectively, you need a cellphone plan. As our dependence on these companies grows, prices continue to go up. Are you in or out of love with your cell phone carrier?
[00:06:38] The Big 4 of Cell Phone Plans
Did you know there are only four national cell phone carriers in the United States? The Wirecutter Contributor, Rob Pegoraro, fills us in on the big four (Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon) and the differences between CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). Tune in to learn more about CDMA, GSM, early cell phone technology, and 5G.
[00:12:30] Prepaid Plans, Sprint / T-Mobile Merger
If you’ve ever traveled with your cellphone you’ve probably gone into roaming mode at some point or another. If you look at the fine print for some prepaid services, they don’t allow roaming! Each of the big four have prepaid and postpaid services, and here to help us navigate some of the pitfalls is The Wirecutter Contributor, Rob Pegoraro. Keep an eye out when selecting a prepaid service plan, as they do not all come equal. While T-Mobile and Sprint offer free worldwide roaming (at varying levels of speed), Verizon and AT&T are a little bit more restrictive. Changing topics, we discuss the proposed Sprint/ T-Mobile merger and why it likely won’t be good for the end user. Just ask Canadians; they recently saw the same merge go through with sour results. Tune in to learn more!
[00:19:51] Cellular Resellers, and Limits of 5G
Have you ever wondered how prepaid services like Cricket Wireless, Metro PC, and Google FI get their signals to you? The Wirecutter Contributor, Rob Pegoraro, explains why the big four of cellular service would allow other companies to resell their bandwidth and whether this hinders their network. Also, we learn why Rob isn’t confident that mm wave 5G broadband is the solution to the world’s internet problems. Listen in to find out why.
[00:27:26] Communication Customer Satisfaction
Host, Mike Etchart, is fairly convinced that most people don’t like their cell service carriers. The Wirecutter Contributor, Rob Pegoraro, has some survey data that paints a different picture. Overall satisfaction for wireless carriers scores at 74%, which is higher than we anticipated, but still scores better than internet service providers (ISPs) who score a weak 62%. At least we are free to choose our wireless carrier, with the wireless number portability that the FCC pushed through. Rob also tells us about the most common way people get ripped off by their wireless providers. Listen in to find out if you’re making this common mistake.
[00:35:52] Which Carrier Should You Choose?
So now that we understand more about how wireless carriers operate, which one should we choose? The Wirecutter Contributor, Rob Pegoraro, says it’s not that easy. It depends on where you live. You must weigh their coverage map against their pricing, and features. That said, Rob explains what the strengths and weaknesses of each of the big four are. Kicking off the list, AT&T has always had a strong network, but their pricing and international roaming are not very competitive. Next, Verizon has the biggest network and competitive pricing, but they don’t necessarily have the fastest network. That honor goes to T-Mobile, and is historically a breaker of industry bad habits. They also have cool programs like the T-Mobile Tuesdays App, which gives credits for apps like Lyft as nice bonuses. To top it all off, they have one of the best international roaming policies, on par with Sprint’s roaming policy. Sprint brings aggressive pricing to the table, with a network that could use some love, but they shouldn’t be immediately discounted. Sprint still has a lot to bring to the table. Which is your preferred wireless carrier?
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CreditsHost: Mike Etchart
Producer: Cody Castleberry
Audio Engineer: Cody Castleberry
Copy Editor: Cody Castleberry
Special Guest: Rob Pegoraro