Thursday, September 26, 2013

Finally, A Cell Carrier That Delivers

Two years is a long time. 

In 24 months, you could have two more children. You could be almost halfway to owning a new car. Or, two years could solidly place you in your "mids" (30s, 40s, 50s).

Yet, if you want preferred pricing on a new cell phone, that's what the major carriers demand -- two years. My previous two-year contract seemed like an eternity. I won't mention the carrier's name. Let's just say their network speed is pretty well the antithesis of their namesake.

In March, we jumped to Verizon. They advertise the largest 4G LTE network (or something like that). It's no joke.
We both went with the iPhone 5 when we switched to Verizon. If you have an iPhone, you should check out Magpul's awesome line of cases. I got this one for around $10 on Amazon. They have a selection of colors.

When we were debating carriers, I did a lot of research. AT&T and Verizon were the front runners. I travel quite a bit for my job. Nothing frustrates me more than being at a press event and not being able to Tweet a photo.

In St. Louis, we're spoiled. It's a fairly major market, so any major carrier should have pretty good data coverage. Once you leave this glowing metropolis by the river, you start to notice how good a network actually is.

When driving along interstates, LTE coverage is pretty well 99% with Big Red. That's great for streaming Pandora or Spotify. It will be even better when we road trip out to New York City next year and Linus is able to watch Netflix the entire way on a tethered iPad. By the way, tablet tethering is free on Verizon.

"But wait! Don't you have a data cap on Verizon? I've got unlimited data with Carrier XYZ."

Yes, I do -- 4GB. I had unlimited data with my last carrier. Unfortunately the 3G speed was so slow, it would have taken dogged determination to push past 2 GB in a month's time. Also, Verizon has a handy account manager app. You can add a couple gigs quite easily for the same price as the next-tier plan. So, no price gouging on extra data unless you run over accidentally.
Verizon's app makes it easy to manage your account and check data usage.

So, how fast is Verizon's LTE? If you've got an LTE signal, you should get a minimum of 5 MB/sec download speeds (though I've seen as fast as 31MB/s). That's in St. Louis, or anywhere else with LTE coverage. And like I said, unless you're in a fairly rural area, LTE is there. I even have a strong LTE signal in my hometown of Rolla, Mo.

Proof that I've seen LTE speeds of more than 31 MB/s. The WIFI indicator is in the upper left because I took the screen capture at home, while connected to the WIFI network.

Anyhow, the next time you're looking to lock yourself into a two-year contract, remember, that sweet new device will only perform as good as the network allows. Samsung, HTC, Apple or Blackberry (Seriously though, ditch the Blackberry. It's 2013, not 2005.) -- they all work well when your data is clicking along at WIFIesque speed.

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