AT&T and Verizon Wireless both lowered their monthly rate for unlimited voice and wireless data service this week, but their smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint still offer unlimited services for less.
The price differences may seem small, but they add up over the life of the two-year contracts that are common these days.
The Big Two
There are four large wireless carriers in the U.S., but AT&T and Verizon have significantly more customers than Sprint and T-Mobile. Added the subscribers of the two smaller carriers together would just about total the number of AT&T customers, and Verizon is even larger.
These two tend to match each other’s prices for services. For instance, Verizon recently dropped its rates, and AT&T immediately changed its rates
Starting yesterday, AT&T customers, including iPhone users, can buy unlimited voice and data for $100 a month, $30 less than before. Adding unlimited text messages to this will cost an additional $20.
Verizon customers can sign up for a service plan that offers unlimited calls to anyone in the United States for $70 a month, a $30 decrease. Adding unlimited data brings this to $100 a month, and unlimited text, picture and video messages adds $20,
Their Smaller Rivals
In hopes of drawing in customers, T-Mobile and Sprint offer unlimited service at lower monthly charges.
Sprint has its “Any Mobile, Anytime” plan, which offers unlimited voice, data, text, and MMS for just $70 a month. There’s a caveat in this though: unlimited voice is only for calls to other mobile phones. This plan comes with 450 minutes of calls to landlines during office hours, but is unlimited on nights and weekends.
T-Mobile customers can get unlimited voice, text, and data for $100. In addition, if customers are willing to give up subsidies on the devices they buy, the monthly charge for unlimited access to all three services is just $80.
Price is important, but just comparing the monthly rates for voice and data is a bit an apple-to-oranges comparison, though, because it doesn’t take into account all factors.
The coverage areas for these carriers varies widely. AT&T and T-Mobile concentrate their data networks mostly on cities and suburbs, while Verizon’s 3G network covers these and many rural areas, too.