Saving with 6abc: Rating cell phone carriers - 6at4

December 6, 2011 3:24:14 PM PST
Cell phones keep getting "smarter" but customers keep getting more and more frustrated with the high cost of staying in touch. So, Consumer Reports just conducted its annual cell phone survey in 22 metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia. Based on the results, here is the group's money-saving advice:

1. In Consumer Reports' annual survey of its readers - the big nationwide cell-phone carriers come up short when it comes to value for the money.

"Sprint is the last of the big carriers to offer unlimited data plans," according to Rosalind Tordesillas of Consumer Reports, "which can make a big difference if you surf the Web or if you download lots of apps and videos."

2. If you're someone who only calls and texts, Consumer Cellular, a small national carrier, beat out the big carriers for value.

"Consumer Cellular is definitely worth considering," according to Tordesillas. "When we compared plans, this company had the best rates most often, especially for the basics."

3. A prepaid service is another money-saving option for people who call or text occasionally.

"There's no contract with prepaid phones. You just pay for minutes or texts as you go," Tordesilla says.

TracFone was rated among the best prepaid carriers in Consumer Reports' satisfaction survey.

4. Another way to cut your costs is to shop for a phone in stores like Walmart, Costco, or Radio Shack. The selection may not be as wide, but you can save money.

5. How did the other carriers do in Consumer Reports' survey?
For overall satisfaction: Verizon tied Sprint

For voice, texting, data, and customer support: US Cellular was a standout.

AT&T rated last in the survey - a dubious distinction the carrier has held for years. The company tells Action News: "AT&T is committed to providing the best possible wireless experience and we're not going to stop until our customers are delighted. While we haven't seen any Philadelphia-specific results from this survey, we have made significant advancements... in the Philadelphia metro area in recent years. We're also keeping Philadelphians updated in real time on our progress through our Focus: Philadelphia microsite.
This year in the Philly metro area we've:
* Added 576 carriers - extra layers of radio frequency -- to existing cell sites, helping reduce dropped calls and improve service quality at busy times.
* Enhanced 478 cell sites with new fiber connections, helping to reduce dropped calls and enable HSPA+ 4G data speeds for compatible devices.
* Activated ten new cell sites and upgraded 14 cell sites for mobile broadband speeds to improve network coverage in metro Philly.


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