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comprehensive report of wireless and cellular networks across the US.
This is information gained from personal experience, user interviews,
press releases, advertising material, newsgroups and wireless web
sites. This list includes all US carriers that we research, listed
Open Mobile specializes in local Puerto Rico coverage with a good CDMA network. They offer phones priced with or without a contract with a modest number of Smart phone choices including the iPhone. They offer some 4G LTE coverage but we don't know how much. Plans are reasonably priced and their prepaid plans are very competitive. Open Mobile and Sprint have agreed to a joint operating agreement in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. This is not an acquisition and should ultimately utilize the best features of each company. For now, it looks like it will be an easy transition and should improve coverage, roaming abilities and phone selection for Open Mobile customers. Open Mobile does not offer an English language web site.
This is the cellular division of the OTZ Telephone Cooperative in Kotzebue in northwest Alaska. They have several plans and they include Local Unlimited minutes with various levels of Roaming. Rates are reasonable and include Unlimited roaming in coastal towns across the northern part of the state and Anaktuvuk Pass, but not areas to the south. They have a moderate choice of phones and some features, like Caller ID, are charged extra. OTZ does not offer any kind of Data service on their cellular network but they do offer some Smart phones which can be used in wi-fi hot spots, some of which are provided by OTZ. They claim better coverage due to their specific frequency spectrum used. OTZ does not require service contracts and offers bundles with their other communication services.
Pace is the wireless division of the Kaplan Telephone Company of south Louisiana serving their 9 parish Home area. They offer plans with National coverage based on the number of lines. They offer various levels of data including 3G-only plans. Offshore coverage is not included. They offer a small selection of GSM Smart Phones and air cards. We have no reports of coverage. Their customer service is average although it seems their wireless services are less important to the overall company. They do not offer bundle discounts with wireless and their other communications services.
Phoenix is the cellular service of the Oklahoma Western Telephone Company, which is located in southeast Oklahoma, despite the name. They operate a GSM wireless network with adequate Local coverage, some of it at 3G. Phoenix offers a large selection of plans that include National roaming and Lifeline plans. Communication bundles are available. They have very few phone choices and there appears to be little smart phone support. Getting information from this company is a real challenge. The wireless products they offer seems to be mostly an extension to their wireline services. Hey, the web site is back!
PINE BELT WIRELESS
Pine Belt is a CDMA carrier and a part of the Pine Belt Telephone Company. They have good coverage in the west central counties of Alabama. They now offer just 3 reasonably-priced plans starting as low as $20 (limited to persons over 50). They have a small selection of phones, very few Smart phones, and most of them are overpriced. They encourage you with discounts to bring your own phone, and, in some cases, they can activate phones with any technology. An unknown amount of their network has been upgraded to 3G, with no reports of 4G.
Pine serves the southeast quadrant of Oklahoma. This GSM carrier has generous Local and National plans. They offer a large number of phone models including Smart phones and the iPhone. Coverage is very good in most areas, some or all of it is 4G - LTE. They offer both Local and Nationwide plans, Data prices are very competitive and they offer hot spot and wireless home Internet service. They offer 18-month contracts as well as 2 years. Pine Cellular is related to the Pine Telephone Company and offers some bundle discounts.
Pioneer has good CDMA coverage, especially in northwest Oklahoma, with some service across the border into southern Kansas, and they now offer 4G LTE coverage. They have a large selection of phones, including a good number of Smart phones. They have a large number of plans, maybe too large, and, while some of them are overpriced, they include a good amount of Data. They are part of the local communications cooperative, so we expect better than average customer service. Some basic features cost extra...we don't like being nickel and dimed and it adds significantly to your final cost. LifeLine plans are available. Roaming coverage favors the Sprint network.
Pioneer Wireless Coverage
The wireless service of the Panhandle Telephone Cooperative has good coverage in the Oklahoma panhandle. They recently converted their network from CDMA to GSM 4G LTE. On the new network, plans have been greatly simplified and are quite competitive. Plans include Talk, Text and Data both on and off their network but when you build your plan, the cost may be an unpleasant surprise. They offer a moderate selection of GSM phones including Smart phones and air cards. Roaming outside their home service area favors the AT&T network. As part of the local telecommunications cooperative they have local stores, better than average customer service and bundled discounts. Don't confuse PTCI of the Panhandle Telephone Cooperative with the PTCI of the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, parent of Pioneer Wireless, that serves the adjacent area of Oklahoma.
Right Wireless is the prepaid service offered by West Central Wireless in west Texas and is available at any of their affiliated stores. Plans includes various levels of Unlimited features including Nationwide Roaming. They have unique 'pick & choose' daily pricing which is quite reasonable, especially for plans that include 3G & 4G Data. They offer a large selection of phones including several Smart phones, the iPhone, and wireless home phone service, just like West Central. See West Central Wireless for our rating on the network.
Rock Wireless is one of the names used by the cellular service of Standing Rock Telecom in North & South Dakota.
Shentel (also known as Shenandoah Telecommunications Company) is a diversified telecommunications holding company that provides both regulated and unregulated telecommunications services to customers in the southeastern United States. The Wireless segment provides digital wireless service to portions of a four-state area covering the region from Harrisburg, York and Altoona, Pennsylvania, to Harrisonburg, Virginia as a Sprint affiliate. Even though the network is owned by Shentel, you deal with Sprint for all phone issues and customer service. This segment also owns cell site towers built on leased land and leases space on these towers to both affiliates and non-affiliated service providers.
SILVER STAR WIRELESS
This is a small system associated with the local wireline company south of the Jackson Hole, WY area. This is a mountainous and sparsely-populated area and their coverage can be spotty, but they may have the best coverage in some areas where other providers have dead spots. They offer a wide range of plans that include Local, Unlimited, Data, Prepaid and National minutes. Adding Data makes their plans rather expensive. They have a reasonable selection of CDMA phones including Smart phones. They claim 3G and 4G coverage but it is not known how much of that is on their own network.. They offer Fixed wireless service including home phone and Internet access. Most of their plans, including Unlimited, are Nationwide. They have some attractive promotions. While roaming is included with the National plans, you can use some of the neighboring carriers as local. Customer service seems to be above average.
SNAKE RIVER PCS
Snake River PCS is part of the Eagle Telephone Company of Richland, OR. Their own wireless network extends into nearby towns and along surrounding highways. Other areas are served by roaming partners which are available with "Travel Minutes". They have a small selection of phones and also offer some Smart phones. Their plans are priced the same as their wireline services and start with an economical "mini-plan" with a number of a la carte add-ons including additional National Travel Minutes. All plans include basic digital features. LifeLine plans are available. We have no reports on coverage or network technology. Eagle Telephone is small enough to have live people answer the phone and are quite helpful.
SouthernLINC uses iDEN phones which is a technology that has been abandoned by all other carriers. They have reasonable plans and good coverage across Alabama, Georgia, parts of Mississippi and the Florida panhandle. They have an efficient walkie-talkie feature. They have Unlimited plans that can be tailored to your usage based on different levels of Talk, Text and Push-To-Talk. They have a limited selection of phones and no Smart phones. They offer services and plans favorable mostly to businesses. Even though their coverage is good, they can provide "high-power" phones for really difficult situations. "Nationwide" roaming is available only as a Prepaid option requiring a special 'dual-SIM' phone and plan. Without the dual SIM phone, you should consider SouthernLINC for their "regional" coverage and local walkie-talkie services only.
As one of the Top 4 networks in the US, we know much about Sprint. In some areas Sprint has the best coverage, and in others they are non-existent. Sprint has a national, feature-rich digital network. Their coverage is a little "fragile" in some areas, but where it's good, it's very good. Sprint has a good selection of phones. Most of their plans limit you to their own network, especially for data. In addition to acquiring a few networks, they have expanded their coverage and Data capabilities by creating operating agreements with several, smaller, regional networks. They offer a large selection of wireless phones and devices and they rarely allow devices from other sources on their network. Sprint has added competitive International Value Roaming plans that provide up to 2G data speeds for free in parts of Asia, Europe and Latin America. Sprint also has a Wi-Fi Calling app that allows calling through a Wi-Fi connection from almost anywhere in the world and those calls can be completed in the US and US territories with no charge. Sprint offers prepaid under the Sprint Prepaid, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands. Sprint has added some micro-cells to their network to beef up their signal in already-served areas but have added very few cell sites to expand into more rural areas.
Pros: Sprint gives you good value for your money, but is not necessarily the cheapest. Sprint covers every urban area in the US including coverage in a good number of small communities. They have local stores, their digital and data features work very well, and they have a good selection of phones. We get the fewest complaints about data capacity issues on the Sprint network. "Unlimited" data usage is available. International Roaming capabilities have been improved. While most Sprint plans do not allow roaming off the Sprint network, most plans do include a few roaming minutes to keep from being totally out of touch.
Cons: You might find a weak area right where you want coverage, some of their plans are not very competitive, customer service is a notch below average, Unlimited plans do not include unlimited usage while roaming except for some specific plans. There are large rural areas, even entire states, with no Sprint coverage.
Get Sprint Phones @ Less Than Retail
Sprocket is a small CDMA carrier serving the east central part of Oklahoma just south of Tulsa. They offer simplified plans which are fairly generous including several flavors of Unlimited plans (which may be limited to their local area). They have a very small number of phone models including air cards. Coverage is adequate. More than half their network has been upgraded to 4G-LTE data coverage, and they offer "Lifeline" plans. They offer different prices based on choosing 3G or 4G coverage, including wireless Home Internet access. Sprocket is operated by the Cross Telephone Company who also offers cellular service in adjacent areas as Cross Wireless.
SRT Wireless is part of the local phone co-op, SRT Communications, formerly the Souris River Telephone Mutual Aid Corporation. SRT operates a CDMA network at PCS frequencies throughout their wireline service area in Minot, ND and across north central Montana. They offer Regional, National and Unlimited plans which are overpriced, but they do offer a basic, Regional plan at $25. Their "Regional" plans only include their own network and extended coverage onto the Nemont Wireless network west into Williston and northeast Montana. They charge extra for some of their wireless features such as 3-way Calling, Call Waiting Caller ID and Call Forwarding. As part of the local telephone cooperative, customer service is better than average. They offer a good number of Smart phones and bundle discounts with their other communications services.
STANDING ROCK TELECOM
Standing Rock Telecom, also called Rock Wireless, provides CDMA cellular and fixed wireless voice, fax, data transmission and high-speed Internet services throughout the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the border of North and South Dakota. Standing Rock is tribally-owned and offers the best, and sometimes only, wireless services in the area. They have competitively-priced plans that include US roaming and Unlimited minutes. They offer discount bundles with their other telecommunications services. They offer a small number of phones including a few Smart phones. Customer service is good but they're really small. Standing Rock claims the other carriers in the area admit to having poor coverage on the reservation and will help you switch to Standing Rock without an Early Termination Fee. They now offer Lifeline plans which should be available to anyone who actually lives on the reservation.
The wireless division of Strata Networks covers northeastern Utah around Vernal and surrounding areas of Wyoming and Colorado. They offer included Local coverage in surrounding "Extended" areas. Their own CDMA cellular network has good coverage including 4G LTE Data. They have reduced the number of plans to just "Unlimited" plus the amount of Data you need. Their Prepaid plan is charged by the Day and works with a limited number of phones. They offer a large selection of phones including Smart phones, the iPhone and air cards. They are part of the local communications cooperative which usually means better customer service and bundle discounts.
Strata Network's Own Wireless Coverage Map
Strata Network's Extended Local Wireless Coverage Map.
Alphabetical Network List, T-Z