Choosing a cell phone carrier isn't easy. Should your choice come down to network coverage, or should you decide based on the selection of phones? Or perhaps the level of customer service is most important?
In a perfect world, network coverage and carrier price would be the most important factors in your decision, especially since popular handsets like the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S3 span multiple providers.
Understanding cell phone carriersAt CNET, we spend plenty of time rating cell phones and carrier services, but rating the quality of nationwide coverage remains a challenge. We can gauge coverage in our San Francisco and New York testing locations, but we can't test all across the United States. It's a big country, and to accurately rate the best netwrok, we'd have to make calls in thousands of locations across America.
The good news is that we've partnered with Root Wireless to create a tool to help you determine which carrier has the best coverage for your neighborhood, commute, or workplace. Be sure to check out the tool and remember that word of mouth one of your most important assets. Your friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues can tell you best if they get service in their homes and offices.
In this guide we tell you everything you need to know about each major U.S. carrier, and some regional ones, too. Also, we'd like to continue to ask for your help in rating the carriers and sending your feedback.
We've also provided links to each carrier's coverage map (versus Root Metrics' maps), though we would take such information with a grain of salt. For more guidance on buying a cell phone, check out CNET's Cell Phone Buying Guide.