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This is the Mountain Wireless 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 alphabetically, T - Z.
TelAlaska serves several small Alaska communities with wireless and other communications products, with locations spread widely across the state from Nome, Fort Yukon and Seward, to the Aleutian Islands. Their GSM wireless network serves those communities with plans that are very affordable and include Local, Unlimited, Nationwide, Prepaid and LifeLine plans. They have a small selection of GSM phones including some very basic Smart phones. We do not know the quality of broadband technology offered. TelAlaska is the only wireless provider in many of their communities.
Thumb has very good coverage in the "thumb" area of eastern Michigan with plans that range from reasonable to overpriced. They offer mostly Unlimited Voice, Text and Data plans with fairly reasonable limitations on usage. There are few opportunities to get a really low-priced plan, even with prepaid. 4G LTE broadband is available. They have a small selection of CDMA Smart phones, most of which are iPhones. They also operate their own local stores.
T-Mobile is one of the Top 4 carriers in the US and is considered tied for the number 3 position in coverage and subscribers. Where they have coverage, T-Mobile works very well, especially in their new "Extended" coverage areas. T-Mobile has been very competitive by offering industry-leading plans and features, and now offer prices with no taxes or fees added fro some plans. They offer a number of Family plans that better than most and were pioneers at allowing you to choose between subsidized handsets and non-contract pricing. Their plans include generous amounts of Voice, Text messaging and Data. T-Mobile charges extraordinarily low roaming rates outside of the US including Data. They have FREE Calling, Text and Data both TO & FROM Mexico and Canada, and they offer a Wi-Fi Calling app that enables you to make Voice calls through Wi-Fi in any country at the same rate as local calls in the US. T-Mobile has a growing number of corporate-owned retail stores, which is a good thing, but the plans offered at retail stores and those offered online can be quite different. Review your options online before going to a T-Mobile store. T-Mobile offers Prepaid under the T-Mobile Prepaid and MetroPCS.
Pros: Generous plans, good urban coverage, good roaming capabilities including internationally. They offer 4G coverage and competitive data pricing. Their new "Extended" coverage has very robust coverage. They have good customer service and a very good selection of phones. You can Bring Your Own Device and you can replace your phone as much as 3 times a year. Roaming in Mexico and Canada is available for the same rates as at home for Voice, Text & Data. They have an excellent Prepaid plan. They have expanded their spectrum allowing greater download capacity, especially in major markets.
Cons: Some weak coverage, some of which is extensive, higher speed services sometimes require the use of higher frequencies in some areas which may restrict coverage, but they are expanding data service across more of their spectrum allocations. Some new coverage areas require a 4G LTE compatible phone. T-Mobile plans that are offered at stores can be different than those offered online. There many rural areas, and even entire states, with no T-Mobile coverage.
Get T-Mobile Phones @ Less Than Retail
Triangle serves the northeast quarter of Montana. They have very good coverage and a good selection of phones. Their CDMA network is reported to be all 4G-LTE. Triangle is a telephone co-op which usually yields better than average customer service. While they offer bundle discounts with their various communications services, they may not offer a bundle discount with wireless.
Serving Wyoming and adjacent areas of northwest Colorado and northeast Utah, Union has very good coverage in most areas, most of it is 3G with some areas being upgraded to 4G LTE. In some locations they are the only game in town including parts of Yellowstone National Park. They use GSM technology and also offer 'fixed' wireless service for home or business use, but that service is limited to Colorado areas for now. They offer reasonable plans and their Unlimited Talk/Text/Data plan is priced above average but allows Unlimited downloads in areas both within and to the west and south of their home area. They offer business enterprise plans that include multiple communications services. Union Wireless is part of the local telephone co-op so their customer service is better than average, however, there are no bundle discounts available with wireless. They have more roaming agreements covering a bigger US footprint than some larger wireless carriers, with international roaming and calling to many foreign countries. They offer a very large selection of phone models including Smart phones and the iPhone. They operate the local wireline network within parts of their wireless footprint and offer special low-cost home-based wireless plans within those areas.
Pros: Union is a small company with very good coverage and better than average customer service including several local stores, they are the only carrier available in some areas of Wyoming, they offer most digital features on a mostly 3G network.
Cons: While their western Wyoming and northwestern Colorado coverage is very good, coverage in the eastern half of Wyoming is not as robust. There is little 4G coverage.
This CDMA carrier is the wireless part of the United Telephone Company in southwest Kansas. United offers a moderate number of phone models including Smart phones, the iPhone and wireless Internet routers. Their plans are priced slightly less than average including plans with Data. United coverage is very good and they offer mostly 4G LTE broadband. They support Lifeline plans and wireless Internet for home access. While they offer nationwide roaming without extra charges, roaming outside of Kansas is mostly limited to major cities and highways, especially in states west of Kansas. As part of the local telephone co-op we expect customer service to be better than average.
US Cellular is the 5th largest wireless carrier in the US and operates their own CDMA network in 21 states, mostly in rural areas and smaller cities. They provide very good coverage, most of their network uses the superior 700 and 800 MHz frequency bands with 4G LTE is available in most areas, including locations that have been ignored by larger carriers. They offer good plans with lots of features, and a large selection of CDMA phones including numerous Smart phones. They have very good domestic roaming capabilities. While their plans aren't overpriced, they aren't terribly generous with Data. They offer promotions both on phones and plans. Their prepaid plans aren't competitive with alternative carriers. Over the years they have been the most customer-friendly of the large carriers. Overall, they sit near the top of the Mountain Wireless Network Ratings. US Cellular has sold some of their spectrum and customers in the Midwest but has added more spectrum within and adjacent to their remaining operating areas. This has resulted in better service in US Cellular's other markets.
Pros: Their price plans are a good value, they have very good roaming, including Data roaming. US Cellular has upgraded to 4G LTE on most of their network, including areas ignored by other carriers. They have good customer service and resolve customer problems better than most. They maintain some 'customer-friendly' features.
Cons: Plans aren't cheap but you may be able to configure your plan to economize based on your usage. While they still have a customer-friendly attitude they don't offer as many benefits as in previous years. While they have had notable problems with their new billing system, they have been willing to work with any customer adjustments needed. Roaming outside of the US is substantially limited and, where available, is relatively expensive. Their Prepaid plans aren't very generous.
As one of the Top 4 US carriers, Verizon has the largest wireless network, geographically, in the US. They are dominant in rural America. Their claim to fame is superior coverage on their CDMA network, especially in the west, and with excellent broadband capacity in the largest cities. In the few places where they don't have their own coverage, they have roaming agreements with carriers that have superior coverage. Therefore, their included coverage is about as close to "coast-to-coast" as you can get. Verizon's data costs are quite high but provide a very good online experience with extensive 4G LTE coverage in most areas. They have tried to simplify plans which are still overpriced compared to other options, and they are slow to match offers from the competition. Customer service is excellent but does not offer much flexibility in rates. Their phone selection is huge including Smart phones, wireless devices and wireless home phones. Verizon offers bundled discounts with other communications operators including their own wireline & video divisions as well as various local telephone companies. They offer their own Prepaid plans.
Pros: Verizon has superior coverage especially in very rural and very urban areas, excellent customer service and some 'customer-friendly' policies. With such a large coverage area of their own, little roaming is necessary, and their roaming partners normally have superior coverage. They offer a large variety of phones and devices. They have excellent data service including the largest coverage of faster high-speed connections.
Cons: Some Verizon plans are a more expensive, with odd combinations of charges for data-capable phones. Some of their data services are not available while roaming. CDMA phones roam in a limited number of foreign countries but Verizon now has phones that will roam in foreign countries. Verizon has been slow to match the competition.
Get Verizon Wireless Phones @ Less Than Retail
Viaero is a GSM carrier that uses a mix of 800 and 1900 MHz channels in rural Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and border areas of eastern Wyoming. Coverage in most areas is excellent with only a few holes in some very remote areas. Since Viaero specializes in rural areas, they are usually the top carrier in those areas, where other carriers serve only minimally. This company is run by people with a technical background so coverage and operations are top-notch, often better than the local land lines. They are rapidly widening their coverage footprint, sometimes into surprising locations like the San Luis Valley and eastern Wyoming. If you live in their service area you can even request to have them build a cell site near you if you can come up with enough neighbors' signatures. They offer very reasonable on-network "Unlimited" plans, including several for fixed location (home or business) use for both voice and Internet access. They're a good substitute for a wireline in most areas. They have a large number of reasonable plans with National coverage. While their Data plans can be pricey, they are truly "Unlimited". They offer to pay the Early Termination Fee if you leave another carrier. Their phones will roam in Mexico and Canada and they offer discount International Long Distance add-ons. Viaero does not lock their GSM phones, making it possible to use your Viaero phone with a local SIM in foreign countries. They have discounts for people on various support programs. Viaero's network is almost all 4G with the goal of 100% as soon as technically possible.
Pros: They offer flexible, reasonably-priced plans with convenient price points, including Local, National and Unlimited plans. Very good to excellent coverage, good customer service, local stores, good nationwide roaming, good data service, 4G broadband available. They are an excellent substitute for wireline service. Theirs is the most responsive network in the country to network technical issues.
Cons: The network can be weak in extreme rural areas, but still beats the competition in most places, and you can ask them to add a tower! Most Unlimited and some promotional features are limited to their own network. Their customer service is usually good but there have been isolated problems, especially with how products are marketed, but not with the performance of the network.
Virgin Mobile is Reviewed on Mountain Prepaid.
VTel Wireless is operated by the Vermont Telephone Company. VTel was created from funds provided by Sprint to help expand their broadband coverage into Vermont plus government funds to support broadband wireless service in small towns and rural areas of Vermont. As such, VTel's primary focus is on broadband in a fixed location, but service includes the ability to use your GSM Smart phone or tablet, including as a 'hot spot'. Coverage is very good and uses a mixture of frequency bands and the company intends to cover all inhabited areas of the state. VTel plans to offer voice services via Voice over LTE as well as nationwide roaming sometime in the future. Since Sprint contributed to the construction of VTel we will assume Sprint customers have access to broadband on the Vtel network.
WEST CENTRAL WIRELESS
Based in San Angelo and the Hill Country of Texas, West Central Wireless has good coverage and offers a large selection of plans, with reasonably-priced Local, National, Senior and LifeLine plans. Their data prices are reasonable. They have a good selection of phones including several advanced Smart phones and air cards. West Central also a Local, Unlimited prepaid wireless service under the name of Right Wireless which covers the 26-county West Central area with plans starting at around $25, or $1 a day and are also available at any of the West Central stores. West Central's own network is limited to 3G coverage and Data usage outside their 26-county home area requires an additional Data plan.
WUE Inc. owns the "B" channel license for cellular service in central Nevada and is affiliated with the Lincoln County Telephone System. All service there is operated by Verizon Wireless. You can get all the features and plans from Verizon, but if you want a local Lincoln County phone number, you may need to drive over to the Pioche, NV WUE office and sign up. They don't have a web site and since Verizon handles all technical and customer service work, the WUE office cannot handle customer inquiries. Wireless services are more reliable than landlines in that area.
WUE Inc. Coverage Map
Alphabetical Network List, A-B