What cell phone service provider would you recommend?
December 15, 2003 9:41 AM   Subscribe

What cell phone service provider would you recommend?

Personally, I'm looking for reliable service in New York City, and don't care about any extras; I just want to be able to talk. But the more general question is, are there any cell providers that are actually good? Seems like all you hear is horror stories.
posted by mattpfeff to Technology (20 answers total)
You might find this previous discussion helpful.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:47 AM on December 15, 2003

I've been using SprintPCS for the last year as my only telephone, and I've had no problems. I have their most basic plan with no extras--it costs me less than a land line + long distance would. I don't know how they are up in NYC in terms of signal availability, but when I was up there a few months ago for a weekend, I had a signal probably 90% of the time.
posted by eilatan at 10:04 AM on December 15, 2003

My gf and I live in CT and travel to NY/NJ all the time, and we have pretty much continuous coverage with Verizon - the only exceptions seem to be in national parks / Adirondacks / Appalachian mtns. We've also found their customer service to be quite good. The company I work for (large investment bank) also uses Verizon almost exclusively for its employees. Most of my coworkers also use Verizon for their personal cells. Hope that helps.
posted by widdershins at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2003

My friend is moving to NYC next month. Any comments on AT&T service in the city? spanks in advance.
posted by emoeby at 10:36 AM on December 15, 2003

Never in NYC, but I've used both Voicestream (now T-Mobile) and currently Verizon, and have not single horror story. Service has been excellent with both companies, going back 4 years.
posted by davidmsc at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2003

T-Mobile has given me good service, but there's one big drawback: no signal in NY or DC subways.
posted by brownpau at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2003

Greenpoint, Brooklyn resident here work in BKLN HTS, and below 14th Street, I have SprintPCS and can't be happier. My friend has Verizon & works everywhere - sometimes in the tunnels. But I think that it is a phone by phone basis. I had a friend who had T-Mobile, and it never worked. Ever. Then another friend who works in Midtown and lives in Upper East had T-Mobile and it always worked. I have heard that AT&T never works, but that is hearsay. Try to see if you can get a 30 day trial period - most are giving this - to try it out.
posted by plemeljr at 11:00 AM on December 15, 2003

I have had no significant problems with Sprint. I live in Astoria and work in Midtown near Penn Station. Yes, there are dead spots, but they're tiny -- like 20 feet across sometimes. Not too big a deal. The only places I consistently have trouble are on the top two floors of my (22-story) office building.
posted by Vidiot at 11:43 AM on December 15, 2003

In Manhattan, all the major consumer carriers really have decent service. I know people that have and love AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile (no one in Manhattan uses Cingular, and Nextel's service is spotty). No cell phones work in the subways, except at the occasional stop on the 1/9 and 6 lines, and office buildings are hit-or-miss.

What really matters is how you'll use your service. T-Mobile and Sprint are value leaders with more minutes for the money and lots of weekend time, but their networks are mostly metropolitan. Verizon's national penetration is better; if you're traveling with your phone, this is the most reliable vendor. AT&T used to be like Verizon, but with its switch to GSM, service is scarily spotty outside major ranges--I know lots of places upstate where my AT&T mMode phone goes dead, even in areas where T-Mobile has clear GSM signals.

Colloquially, the most consistently satisfied customers in the city have Verizon Wireless, because its CDMA network is robust and vast. Expect to pay more for your minutes if you use VZW, though.
posted by werty at 11:49 AM on December 15, 2003

when i was looking awhile ago, i remember finding some very good geographically-specific cell phone service reviews on epinions .
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2003

You may find this useful as well.
posted by Vidiot at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2003

Drop Cingular from consideration and then just shop around on whatever's left based on convenience, feature set, and price. Cingular's network is generously described as tenuous, the prices are shocking, and they've been pretty bad about servicing equipment that I've purchased through them.

Just about all of the cellcos are equivalent, but at least the others are vaguely clued in to the fact that the business of running a network actually calls for -- to Cingular's seeming astonishment -- running a network.

Because network coverage and reliability is highly location-dependent, I'd suggest you ask around your social circle and see if anyone has, if not good things to say, at least no extended ranting ("Yeah, they suck." is about the highest praise you'll get for a cellco). Buy whatever they're having if it's not driving them batshit.
posted by majick at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2003

I get a lot of dropped calls (sometimes one a day or more) with Sprint PCS in northern VA.
posted by callmejay at 1:11 PM on December 15, 2003

matt, I use T-Mobile in NYC, it's far better than Sprint as far I can tell. In Manhattan, Verizon gives you the best coverage, T-Mobile/Cingulair is next (as they share towers) then you have AT&T, Nextel and Sprint.

I would recommend reading HowardForums.com and reading up on experiences of others in NYC (There's usually a thread about NYC coverage every week, just search for it for a given carrier). Also search for local retailer deals. People usually suggest sub-dealers in Chinatown for best deals.
posted by riffola at 2:19 PM on December 15, 2003

Also T-Mobile has unlimited GPRS for free (at least for now). How can you beat that?
posted by riffola at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2003

Also T-Mobile has unlimited GPRS for free (at least for now).

Uhr? Do tell me more... I have T-Mobile and was unaware of this.
posted by kindall at 3:11 PM on December 15, 2003

I'm in the process of switching from Sprint to Tmobile -- not so much because I had a problem with Sprint, as because Amazon is offering deals right now on phones with new service, and (with the rebates) they're basically paying me $50 to take a phone off their hands (there are actually better deals than that). And I really needed a new phone (my old TP1100 was rebooting whenever I looked at it crosseyed because of a loose battery connection).

I'm not in NYC, but when I visited there, I had good coverage with Sprint. I found I had horrible service from Sprint in San Francisco. When I was contemplating the switch, I asked a friend with some insider knowledge for his thoughts, and he said "they all suck." But he uses T-mobile. I've been writing about the switching experience on my web page, for the morbidly curious.
posted by adamrice at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2003

kindall, if you do not have t-zones, try and surf the web. It ought to work, if not check HowardForums.com (HoFo) linked above. There's a thread under TMO.HoFo that talks about the Free Wap, basically you might have to call customer service and ask them to enable the free wap. That should let you surf the web using your phone.
posted by riffola at 3:58 PM on December 15, 2003

Holy crap, I do have WAP and GPRS on this phone. Now I just need to figure out how to get the PDA to use it...
posted by kindall at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2003

Just as another data-point, I've travelled a lot around the less-populated parts of the Pacific Northwest and got a cellphone mainly to keep in the car in case of problems. Turns out that anywhere more than a few miles from civilization it was useless. After comparing notes with friends and collegues using all the usual providers, they were all equally useless.
posted by normy at 11:52 PM on December 15, 2003

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