Cellular Phone Company Recommendations, please

Looking into getting a phone that will be doing some serious travelling, though more or less only to metropolitan areas. But it will only be used for travelling.

Of course, I see Verizon, Sprint, and Cingular all over the gorsh-dern place, but anyone have any experiences they’d like to have me become jaded on before I make my choice?

I likes my Sprint PCS service. To date, the only place I’ve been that I really needed it that I couldn’t use it was in the mountains, and given where I was in the mountains, I don’t think any service would have reached me.

I use Voice Stream, and have had no complaints at all. The only company I flat out don’t recommend is AT&T. I’ve always found that they have a poor calling minutes to price plan ration, and have heard that they have problems with customer service.

Mrs. Yondan and I recently signed on with NEXTEL, because they have a nifty feature called Direct Connect, a digital (and therefore private) two-way radio that allows us to call one another with one touch of a button, with unlimited calling time.

Right now, this only works within our homecalling region (VA, D.C., and part of MD) but by the end of the year, this is supposed to be nationwide.

As it is a digital-only network, there are some areas where we don’t get service, but, we have no roaming charges either. You either are connected or not. If I am in Chicago, it’s just like I am home, and their coverage is quite complete in most urban areas.

Can you hear me now?


If you’re going to be predominantly in cities, I recommend Sprint. I have used them for a year and they have great customer service. I can check my minutes online or with my phone (it won’t use my airtime), I can pay my bill online, etc. I have never had to wait to talk to a real person. The phones from them are great. The packages are fantastic.

Much of it depends on your coverage. I’d go to each prospective carrier’s website and check out their coverage areas. Then look at price plans. Then go from there.

I like Sprint also because I travel - but only to cities. I haven’t hit a city where I haven’t been covered. Best of luck to you.

Also…if I recall correctly, Sprint will be the first carrier with the 3G lines up - (is that what it’s called?) I dunno - something impressive like that that made me happy that I’d gone with them.


I think Cnet.com recently did a test regarding service and sound quality of the major cell phone companies. Best sounding was Voicestream; they ranked overall second next to Nextel (I think).

We have been real pleased with Voicestream during the 15 months I have subscribed; I make cross-country calls every weekend and the sound is fine. But, I live relatively close to the Voicestream HQ…so it better work well here.

Possibly something to consider is what kind of network your provider will be using. GSM is pretty much what everyone in the rest of the world uses but the US and friends have been using the CDMA standards and others I don’t remember.

As of yet, I think only VoiceStream is solely a GSM provider. AT&T will be rolling out their GSM service sometime later.

I think its important to see who has the most service in the areas you will be in. In California, we had GTI and were pleased.

They didn’t have it in our part of Texas, so we had to get a new carrier. We tried Sprint at first but we grew tird of the dropped calls. It turns out that Sprint doesnt have very many towers in our area. So now we are with Cingular and they seem ok.

My brother has Verizon and half way between Austin and El Paso,
his phone doesn’t work at all…not even on Rome. It just ‘dies’. Not a good thing if you travel a lot.

I would ask around your friends and neighbors.

I have no friends.

However, the issue is that I travel all over the US and into Canada. Moslty New England, NY/Jersey, and SoCal, though. All the major pharmaceutical sites! I will look into the coverage area, but what are these GTI & GSM thingies?

Oh, and heaven forbid I include San Fransisco in the “SoCal” description :stuck_out_tongue: But I go there, too.

TDMA, CDMA, and GSM are the three main digital technologies for mobile phones these days. This is not to be confused with the crappy old analog cellular technology, which is still around. TDMA seems to be disappearing. CDMA is used by Sprint, among others. GSM is used by VoiceStream and perhaps a few smaller companies.

Which technology your company uses really doesn’t matter unless you plan to travel outside North America. GSM is most common in the rest of the world, except perhaps South America, where CDMA may be most common (?). CDMA, although currently the underdog, is nonetheless becoming more available in China and elsewhere in the world. That’s my two bits. You can find more thorough and accurate info with a Google search.

GSM is used by Voicestream and Cingular. AT&T is converting to GSM as well. Rumors in Seattle are that these three companies will merge quite soon, as the cell phone market consolidates in typical capitalistic process.

Three advantages I see for GSM: 1. Best if you travel to Europe; 2. It is more secure than CDMA–you cannot easily pickup conversation on a monitor, 3. GSM phones come with tiny smart cards that contain all your relevant account data. To use someone else’s phone you just substitute the little card and your calls will be billed to your account.

The main disadvantage is that the two main GSM companies have smaller networks right now than the CDMA networks and you as a consumer have a smaller choice of plans.

I have Cingular, and have had almost no problems connecting on the east coast from New York to almost Georgia. the problems I did have were only in small rural areas of the interstate.

No roaming and no long distance charges for me either.

We tried Verizon (Bell Atlantic) for five or so years and found the coverage and charges unattractive. I recently cashed them out in favor of Cingular and my home area extends from Maine/Canada border to Virginia. Not only is the cost more reasonable, but the reliability of signal and clarity is far better that ATT’s Bell Atlantic.

Yeah, and going digital phones means the batt life is about ten times that of the Motorola analog we replaced.

In the aircraft, we use a sat phone that is pricy yet unmatched for range, etc.