Important factors to consider when comparing cell phone carriers include network coverage, data speed and the cost of calling and data plans, states Consumer Reports. The best deal on phone service depends on a shopper's personal phone usage habits.
The network coverage area for each carrier is perhaps the most important consideration when comparing mobile phone services. Carriers often provide maps of network coverage that consumers can compare online when shopping for a plan. It is important to remember that service dead zones may occur even in areas with generally good coverage. Some carriers offer trial periods in which unsatisfied consumers can cancel new phone service without incurring early termination fees. Shoppers should compare network data speeds among carriers that offer service in the areas that it is needed.
Consumers should compare prices on calling and data plans among providers that offer suitable service. Many providers offer special pricing on family accounts or upgraded mobile devices. Shoppers should take note of any limits on call time, texts or data usage in a service plan and whether those limits apply to each user or to the account as a whole. Bundled services sometimes make it difficult to compare pricing between carriers, and in many cases promotional pricing may require shoppers to commit to contract periods of two years or more.