Wireless carriers in the US Southwest (New Mexico) in 2017
January 4, 2017 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Is there a suitable replacement for Verizon as a wireless carrier in New Mexico? I'd like to cut our bills while getting coverage throughout the state, and nationally (occasionally).

Our current plan is a sparse 2 GB per month for 2 lines, for which we pay just under $100 (we don't go online outside of home, which cuts our bandwidth use to next-to-nothing). Looking at last month, we used less than 1,000 minutes and almost 500 text messages total, though both are unlimited with our Verizon plan. This expense has been stable, and includes an 18% discount for New Mexico state employees.

Coverage-wise, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are close to total area of coverage, each with their own unique gaps. Sprint's map has a bit better coverage, but that includes a LOT of "off-network roaming," and even AT&T covers some gaps with "3rd Party" service, including where my wife works.

I travel more in-state for work, but I have a Verizon cell phone through work, too. We don't go out of state too often, but we'll be driving out to coastal California next summer, where I expect most carriers have pretty well saturated the area.

My wife's phone, a Samsung Galaxy S 5, is under contract until March, and my iPhone 5C is beyond its contract. Our phones are decent, though her battery life isn't great, and I keep looking at new phones, but bristling a little at the idea that everything through Verizon comes with a monthly charge, or an up-front purchase price. But replacement phones are another question for another time.
posted by filthy light thief to Technology (9 answers total)
 
I'd definitely look at the MVNOs (list by carrier here) rather than the traditional carriers. As far as I can tell, there's basically no reason to go with the traditional carriers any more if 1) you're OK with buying your phone outright and 2) you don't care about all of the cutting edge latest and greatest features (and speeds).

If Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Wireless combined give you good coverage, consider Project Fi. I have a friend who has it and he has nothing but good things to say about it.

I have Cricket and have had nothing but good experiences with them; they're on the AT&T network, though, so your opinion may not be as good based on AT&T's coverage.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:02 AM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Coverage Map for Project Fi in your largest city looks pretty good, but it's not as great away from the major cities and interstates. The nice thing about it, however, is that if there's ever wireless that you have access to, you're set for both phone and data.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:08 AM on January 4, 2017


Ask your friends if they have Fi (if you're willing to give Google more information about you than it already has) and if so how their coverage is. I've had pretty good signal with it in the Southwest, but I've not been to New Mexico. It has definitely been better than just T-Mobile alone, especially in rural areas. Your bill with them for two lines and about 2GB of data would be around $55/month.
posted by Candleman at 8:13 AM on January 4, 2017


I have T-Mobile in New Mexico, which is fine in the Rio Grande corridor, but pretty spotty outside of it. But I have a Verizon work phone like you do, and Verizon has a fantastic network outside of the corridor, so I carry both when I go outside of Los Cruces/Albuqueque/Santa Fe.
posted by answergrape at 8:43 AM on January 4, 2017


I use ATT, and travel to New Mexico fairly often, and get good coverage. However, I don't go much beyond Albuquerque or Santa Fe. When I lived in New Mexico a few years back, I had a prepaid phone through Tracfone, and it had really good coverage when I had to drive down to Roswell to visit family.
posted by heurtebise at 10:17 AM on January 4, 2017


I live in ABQ, near the Rio Grande. Verizon (what my wife has) is the best especially in locations outside ABQ. I used to have AT&T which was good, but have switched to T-Mobile now. T-Mobile isn't great outside ABQ (or, to be honest, in some parts of ABQ) but their Wi-Fi calling implementation is the best (utilize wi-fi calling over cell towers if available - AT&T does the opposite, you basically have to turn off cellular to use Wi-Fi calling).
posted by jeffch at 10:38 AM on January 4, 2017


I had Sprint 10 years ago in Albuquerque and traveled around the state and nationally without issue.
posted by fieldtrip at 6:04 PM on January 4, 2017


Look into a MVNO such as Page Plus, Boom Mobile, or others on the Verizon network. No contract and the prices are much better. On Page Plus I'm paying $30 a month for 1500 minutes, apparently unlimited text, and a gig of data ($10 more gets me 3gb plus throttled data if I run out, plus unlimited minutes.) Total Wireless may be an option as well.
posted by azpenguin at 6:49 AM on January 5, 2017


Betelgeuse: If Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Wireless combined give you good coverage, consider Project Fi. I have a friend who has it and he has nothing but good things to say about it.

A note for others and a reminder for myself: Project Fi currently supports 3 phones: the Pixel, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. You can bring one of those phones into their program, or buy one in monthly installments or purchase it outright from Project Fi.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:50 PM on February 13, 2017


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