Finding the Right Network
Which mobile provider is right for you?
The mobile network you choose depends on the networks that offer coverage in your area. You really can't lose by asking your friends and colleagues what service they use. Ask around and compare services to find the service provider that has the most local coverage.
Coverage refers to the geography covered by the cellular network. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a message on a cell phone that says it's "searching for the network." No cellular service means no communication.
You'll need to asses where you live and your traveling habits before you choose the carrier. Will you do much rural travel or will you stay mainly in the city? Most major cities are well covered by speedy digital networks like CDMA and GSM. Rural areas are generally covered by analog networks, but many phones are capable of connecting to both networks.
If you frequently travel through or live in a rural area, you'll want a multi-network phone. Generally these phones are called Tri-band or Quad-band phones. Multi-band phones are capable of connecting to digital networks on a couple of different frequencies (usually 800, 850 or 1900 MHz), as well as analog.
The day is coming when all of the continental United States will be covered in a digital network. Today, GSM and CDMA are the main standards in mobile digital networks. So, if you need to use your phone while driving through the countryside or you live in a rural area and will travel back and forth to a city, you'll want a phone capable of both analog and domestic digital mobile network access.
The other kind of travel you'll want to consider is travel outside the country. If you travel to Europe or Asia and want to use your mobile phone in those parts of the world, you'll definitely want a multi-band phone capable of accessing international frequencies (these include 900 and 1800 MHz).
Many multi-band phones sold in North America will express the multi-band feature like this: 800 / 900 / 1900 MHz. This simply means it's capable of connecting to a foreign 900 MHz network as well as domestic 800 and 1900.
Now that you have an idea of your needs in a network service provider, you're ready to start looking at specific providers and exploring their billing options. Next we'll name names and see who has the highest rating for customer satisfaction and delve into what these billing options really mean.
Service providers will try to entice you with promotions and limited-time opportunities. Check out what Cellular Service Promotions can do for you.