Very few smartphone users ever experience the feeling of being contract free. Most users upgrade to the newest and greatest devices as soon as their carrier allows that discounted price. Unfortunately for most users, the thought of trying a new carrier never enters their mind as they approach that contract end date. Carriers used to keep their subscribers hooked with 12 month contract extensions, special pricing for long term subs and even promotional upgrades for business users.
Fast forwarding to 2012, the major carriers are beginning to cut back on these perks. The standard upgrade period is now 20 months. The average device price is higher for those already with the carrier than it is for new users. Frankly, it is a terrible time not to consider the options when that 24 month contract is finally completed.
When the the time comes for one to consider a carrier change, the most important question one can ask is, “Am I 100% happy with my carrier’s coverage and their customer service, or not?” If a user is not completely enthralled with their service, it is time to look elsewhere.
Beginning the search for a new carrier is never easy, but numbers can be ported, test drives can be done, and devices are always cheaper on the other side of the fence. The best place to start is a quick check of the neighborhood and finding out what the rest of the community is using and how happy they are with their service.
After the neighborhood fact finding mission is complete, take to the internet to find out how the best ranking phone company does in other often travelled areas. Check major roads, alternate addresses, even the workplace on the coverage map. If any of these look weak, it is a red flag, but not necessarily a deal breaker.
This is the point where things get interesting. Let’s assume that AT&T won the coverage competition within the needed areas. AT&T service isn’t just available through Ma Bell herself, but also through MVNO operators like Red Pocket Mobile. These “prepaid” carriers offer the same service as the big guys, just without the long term contracts and taxes. Make sure to look at all the options before jumping in.
While the move to a new carrier can be very frustrating, the money that is saved and the increased quality of service can certainly make it worth while. A careful look at those coverage maps, especially in highly used areas will make life much better for everyone.