Discovering the Right Wireless Network for You

by Jeff Wiener on November 22, 2012

Constantly bombarded by advertisements touting wireless carrier’s device catalogues, performance, reliability, coverage, and speed, it can be difficult to discern which of those features are essential for meeting the needs of our constantly connected lifestyle, and which ones that are just nice to have. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that advertisements are often confusing—sometimes to the point of being outright misleading—with carriers doing their best to market their strengths, even if those strengths aren’t what customers really need.

The fact of the matter is, far too often customers choose smartphones with little research, forethought, or consideration for how it will meet their individual needs, their judgment clouded by their passionate desire for the latest and greatest technology. What many find, however, is that performance is lacking with these cutting edge devices, simply because the network isn’t there to support it.

So you can buy the nicest smartphone on the market, but if you don’t have satisfactory network coverage where you use your phone the most, the device quickly becomes little more than a shiny paperweight.

Just over a year ago a friend of mine had his smartphone contract come due just as the day’s latest and greatest smartphone, the Motorola Atrix, was released. Not available on his previous carrier, he decided to switch to one that carried the Atrix, his love of the device trumping all other considerations. His elation was short lived, however, as he quickly realized when he got home that the network coverage of his new carrier was woefully inadequate in his neighbourhood, leaving him with little more than a sleek and sophisticated piece of plastic.

It’s a story that is all to common in today’s wireless market, with customers flocking to stores to purchase the latest iPhone or Android device, with little thought about who they’re signing a multi-year contract with and how that carrier will perform in the region the phone is used the most.

So if you’re in the market for a new phone, it would be wise to ignore those commercials about the newest devices, the fastest networks, or the friendliest service, looking instead into what carrier actually has widespread network coverage in your area. Sure it’s great if Verizon boasts the largest 4G coverage, but if that coverage doesn’t extend to you, the fact that Verizon has the fastest network in certain markets means absolutely nothing.

If device selection, speed, or performance mean little in the decision making process, what is important to consider when purchasing a new smartphone? Truth be told, there’s not much to consider at all, as the only question you have to ask yourself is, which carrier offers the more reliable widespread network coverage in the place I’ll be using my new phone the most often?

When choosing a carrier its important to realize that the carrier you signed a contract two or three years ago may no longer offer the most reliable coverage in your area, as market-wide roll-outs and network upgrades continue at a torrid pace…of course this also means that in two or three years from now the situation may once again be completely different, but when your contract is up you can always switch again.

In the end, while network speed, performance, device selection, and quality customer service are all nice things to have in a wireless carrier, none of them mean anything without reliable coverage.

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