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Comparison of Mobile Phone Providers

written by: Mihir Shah•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 10/16/2010

There are a ton of mobile phone providers on the market. Learn how to compare mobile phone contracts and which features are important to have, such as an affordable early termination clause.

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    Introduction to Mobile Phone Providers

    Mobile phone providers, dating back to the beginning history of cell phones, have been in intense competition to gain cell phone subscribers. On what basis or features is one service provider classified as better than another? In terms of durability and reliability of service, AT&T, formerly known as Cingular, and Verizon are the leading cell phone providers. A distant third, Sprint, is swiftly closing the gap with affordable plans providing more than the either of the former cell phone providers. Comparable with Sprint is T-Mobile, whose Fave-5 plans spawned a new way of offering minutes and free mobile to mobile minutes. Metro PCS is the new kid in town, essentially giving away unlimited data plans for a mere $40/month. In other words, every provider is trying to patent their own signature design or feature that can consistently wrest away subscribers. This article will compare mobile phone contracts from the different service providers and determine which provider ranks as the most ideal.

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    AT&T

    The proud owner of the Apple iPhone, AT&T has already found its signature feature offer. Combining great service, strong coverage, and featuring the iPhone, AT&T has propelled itself into the upper echelon of cell phone service providers. In fact, AT&T can arguably be the most sought after service provider as of 2010. As per the standard, a two-year contract has to be signed to have AT&T service. Unlike other services, however, AT&T also offers the Go Phone, which allows users to avoid the two-year bind. Moreover, users can have the same features and pay on the go, on a month to month basis. In terms of early termination fees, there is a $325 fee minus the number of completed months. For example, if an individual cancels his plan twelve months into a two-year contract, there will be a $325 - (12 completed months X 10) = $325-$120=$215.00.

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    Verizon Wireless

    Verizon, also one of the most reputed cell phone service providers of the generation, features unlimited talk for $69.99/month. Although Verizon does not carry the iPhone, its cell phone variety is excellent and service is considered superior to other providers. In terms of returns, Verizon does accept returns within 30 days as long as the original receipt is provided. However, there is a $35 restocking fee that accompanies any return. As Early Termination fees go, Verizon charges a $350 fee for advanced devices (e.g., BlackBerry) and $175 for all other devices. The early termination period goes into effect after the initial 30 days of service have passed.

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    Sprint

    Sprint features the Everything Data plan that charges $69.99 for unlimited data for the individual plan and $129.99 for the family plan. Lines 3,4,and 5 are $19.99/month on top of $129.99. Unlike the other service providers, Sprint separates termination fees into intervals, and is much less than AT&T or Verizon. Early termination fees start at $200.00, but go down as the months of the contract pass. For example, if the contract is canceled in month 19 of a 24-month or two-year contract, the early termination fee is only $50/device.

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    T-Mobile

    T-Mobile, who patented the famous Fave-5 deals, offers multiple unique contracts, culminating in a $139.99/month unlimited data family plan. With respect to family plans, this is the best cost effective family plan of any service provider, including Sprint. Like Sprint, T-Mobile has a $200 early termination fee per device.

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    Metro PCS

    Metro PCS offers $40/month unlimited data plans per individual line. At the forefront, MetroPCS allows customers to bring phones from other service providers and reprograms them onto their own network (e.g., Sprint). Phones on networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile will not work on MetroPCS.

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    Conclusion

    Ultimately, there is a need to compare mobile phone contracts because each provider offers something unique. However, Sprint would be the idea provider, offering the most affordable data plans, excellent service, reasonable early termination fees, as well as early upgrade options for premier customers.