Cellular Network Reports
General Arizona Observations:
Verizon Wireless dominates most of the state with the exception of the Native American areas. Sprint gets second place in the state with good urban coverage and some rural roaming possibilities. AT&T has improved greatly in the metro Phoenix area, but suffers from coverage limitations in rural parts of the state with the exception of tribal lands. TracFone and Straight Talk are available in most areas of the state. T-Mobile has very good urban coverage but has somewhat of a roaming disadvantage as GSM coverage is not as extensive in the state. The Native American territories are a special case and, while Cellular One has the most widespread general coverage, Choice Wireless provides a greater amount of high speed broadband coverage. Get a more detailed report on Arizona carriers on our Local Reports Page
As one of the Top 4 networks in the US, most of us know much about AT&T. They are generally considered second nationally in coverage and numbers of subscribers. In some areas AT&T has the best coverage, and in others they can be in third place. With GSM technology, AT&T roams more readily internationally, but there are areas in the US with no GSM coverage. AT&T's takeover of other cellular networks has improved their service in some areas already, including Alaska. AT&T offers a large selection of GSM phones. AT&T gets credit for competing with products and price. Most network improvements are being made in their new markets and are increasing data capacity instead of adding cell sites in older areas. They have added 4G and LTE coverage in almost all markets. AT&T in some markets is among those with the top data download speeds, but not all. AT&T has acquired wireless networks in Mexico and offer seamless, nationwide wireless service on both sides of the US/Mexico border with big benefits for traveling AT&T customers and users with family in both countries. AT&T offers Prepaid and also operates Cricket Wireless.
AT&T Pros & Cons
Get AT&T Phones @ Less Than Retail!
AT&T Prepaid Review
CELLULAR ONE OF NORTHEAST ARIZONA
Cellular One has very good coverage in and around the Native American lands along the northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico border with additional coverage in the extreme southeastern corner of Utah. Parts of their network have been upgraded to 4G - LTE and the rest operates at 3G. They have a number of special, low-cost wireless programs. They also support fixed wireless service for homes away from wirelines. They offer a number of reasonable plans with various levels of Data add-ons. They have a good selection of phone models including Smart phones and older iPhones. Their prepaid plans are only available with a few phone models but there are multiple Data and Messaging add-ons. They have a few creative programs including "Free Phone for Life" and they support Lifeline plans.
Choice serves rural and small-town customers in 9 western US states. They offer mostly National "Unlimited" plans at a fixed price, starting at $20 a month, $30 with some data included. They use CDMA phones, they have excellent coverage, and their plans have a simplified structure that includes a certain amount of US roaming minutes. They have a moderate number of phone models including smartphones and they allow you to bring your own phone from another CDMA carrier. All plans are prepaid so there are no contracts, and they offer monthly, pay-as-you-go and pay-per-day plans, and an Unlimited Data plan. Most areas support 3G broadband and 4G-LTE in the Navajo Nation. They offer wireless Internet devices which could give you the fastest broadband service available in a rural area. Choice supports Free or low-cost LifeLineservice. Choice Wireless operates their own network so when you are in your "home" area, you are not using another company's network. There is no relationship between this Choice Wireless and the Choice Wireless in northern Texas.
Cleartalk, a CDMA carrier in small communities in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, has been acquired by Boost Mobile as of February 28th, 2018, which means if you have a Cleartalk phone, it will act like a Sprint phone and will use the nationwide Sprint network. It is not clear whether Cleartalk will turn off their own cell sites. Cleartalk stores become Boost Mobile stores.
Naked Mobile is a discount prepaid service provided by Cellular One. Naked Mobile may be available through other carriers. Plans are fairly inexpensive because you don't get the same kind of complete customer service offered by their associated carriers. Outside of the 4 Corners area, Naked Mobile uses T-Mobile as a roaming partner. They offer a large selection of phones including the newest smartphones. Naked Mobile is available from only a few carriers including Cellular One of Northeast Arizona, online and in their retail stores. It's hard to estimate how good of service you'll receive so we have rated them right in the middle of similar carriers. We may need to move Naked Mobile to our Prepaid listings if we can get more details about them from users.
As one of the Top 4 networks in the US, we know much about Sprint. They are generally considered tied for third place in the US in coverage and numbers of subscribers. In some areas Sprint has the best coverage, and in others they can be 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. In some markets they use a separate network for 4G coverage. Therefore, having good local Sprint Voice/Text or 3G data coverage is no guarantee of adequate 4G coverage. 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. However, there may be clouds on Sprint's horizon. They have started an "upgrade" of their network that is based on moving their cell sites from their current towers and site locations to "cheaper" government land. This may change coverage for a large number of users and we believe there is little hope for anything other than coverage degradation. We downgraded Sprint's "MW Rating" as they move into this unknown cost-saving program. They're also planning to move to a microwave backhaul instead of phone company fiber which is not unusual and may save them some money.
Sprint Pros & Cons
Sprint Prepaid Review
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.
Verizon Wireless Pros & Cons
Verizon Prepaid Review