rate each carrier based on our view of
what is important and how each carrier performs
in those areas. The higher the score, the better the
Rating. The ratings are displayed on our State
We Rate a Carrier:
compare Coverage, Plans,
Prices, Roaming Abilities, Customer Service,
Device Selection and availability of Data and Features. We visit each
carrier's web site, call their customer service, roam on their network,
collect user data,
and/or interview company representatives.
we give a numeric score based on performance compared to other
carriers, with overall ratings adjusted so there is at least one #1 and
one #10 rated carrier, 10 being the Best. These Ratings are shown on
our State Review Pages.
time we hear from these carriers to dispute their rating and
we give them an opportunity to make their case. In very few
cases they have been able to convince us that they deserve an
one step in their rating, however, the next time we
review their performance compared to similar carriers, they
could return to
their former position.
indeed opinionated, but do not reflect any payment or
compensation (we wish!), and we address our relationships
with these carriers on our Disclaimer
top 4 national carriers never make it to the top of our ratings. We
find much better treatment of customers among the small,
regional carriers. What they lack in purchasing
power for devices, they make up in customer service and technical
awareness. Our top-rated carriers, Viaero Wireless
and C Spire Wireless
are not perfect, but are more pleasant to deal with than the
Top 4. Among the largest cellular carriers, US Cellular
normally rates the highest.
- The bottom
of the list is usually held by companies that either don't care about
their wireless operation or who can't afford to maintain their network
and have given up, probably hoping for a takeover from a larger
company. One such operation is Big
Sky Mobile in Montana. They offer no data, very few phones, and have
not been able to answer our questions.
The better a carrier saturates their service area, the better the score.
- Broadband Speeds:
Some small carriers still offer no data, others have 3G
service, and the best offer 4G-LTE. For many users, a robust
3G network is enough, but a carrier that upgrades to 4G gets credit for
providing what customers want, which often means they do well in other
areas as well.
- Phone Selection:
Many of us still depend on our carrier to provide the latest phones.
Some companies offer a large selection of phones and the
better ones also offer promotions and discounts, and creative ways to
pay for your phone. Those that can't afford to sell
many models get credit for allowing you to bring your own
- Customer Service:
Employees respond well when they're treated well and the better
carriers create an environment that's fun to work in, resulting in a
service that's fun to do business with.
Carriers that offer competitive plans get better ratings but also do
better if those plans are simpler and involve fewer extra fees and
- Local Awareness:
Some small carriers will really work for your business because you're a
neighbor, others may be associated with the local telecom co-op which
often owned by the customers, and others will bend over backwards to
make their customers happy in their retail stores.
- Retail Stores:
A real store can make a big difference when a customer has problems or
concerns. Putting a face on your service goes a long way to
make you feel better about being a customer.
- Roaming Contracts:
Some small carriers sign a roaming agreement with only one carrier.
While it's less of a problem today, a company that gives you
the opportunity to roam on more networks is more worthy of our
Ratings are indeed
subjective, especially when assigning a number. To determine a Rating,
we decided there should be a #1 and #10. Even if a carrier isn't
perfect, a Rating at the top or bottom of this scale indicates that you
just can't get any better (or worse). Then we look at relative
positions: Is AT&T really better than Sprint? In some markets
yes, in others, no. We compare coverage, features,
prices, customer service and more. We need to eventually assign a
number, and in a few instances, we need to 'punt'. We are ready to
defend our decisions and invite you to challenge us on our Wireless Noise
Discussion Page. Often we discover features offered by a
were unknown to us, sometimes allowing for an improved Rating, but we
won't do it just because someone complains. Since we base our opinion
on our own experience, those of other wireless customers, or by
checking each carrier's web site, there's a good chance we won't find
the whole story. Our opinion is not influenced by any compensation or
advertising relationship with any carrier.