List of national cell phone providers

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Verizon leapt to the top of our rankings as of April , thanks to its strong online tools and friendly reps, narrowly beating out T-Mobile. We're about to update our rankings for , though, so stay tuned.

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Phone Selection 10 points : A top carrier needs to offer a wide selection of phones, balancing both quality and quantity. We also took exclusives into account. Extras 5 points : The final portion of each carrier's grade reflects what kind of extras they offer subscribers.

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Extras can include everything from rates for international calls, text and data, to special services offered to subscribers. You may not pick your wireless carrier based on these perks, but they are factors that can separate a good carrier from the rest of the pack. Big Red improves from second place to No. It also helps that Verizon offers multiple unlimited plans even though its latest iteration of four plans can be pretty hard to decipher.

Verizon plans View Deal. After a year in the top spot, T-Mobile is now the runner-up to Verizon, but it was a close battle. T-Mobile can point to having the best unlimited plan and the most alluring set of customer perks, including a great program for international travelers.

Finishing behind Verizon in network- performance and customer-service tests puts the Uncarrier in second place overall. Verizon: Which Is Best for You? T-Mobile plans View Deal.

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While the carrier now features unlimited data plans, those don't measure up to its rivals. A subsidiary of T-Mobile, MetroPCS rode its parent company's network to a top-three finish in our performance testing.

The Best Cell Phone Plans

Throw in a great mix of prepaid plans that either let you save money or max out data, and MetroPCS establishes itself as our pick for top discount carrier — and that's still true after the carrier changed its name to Metro by T-Mobile , introducing some new monthly plans. Just try to use its phone support as infrequently as possible. Sprint's network has improved based on our LTE test results, but it still trails its Big Four rivals, and a low customer-support score caused it to slip behind MetroPCS. At least the carrier's unlimited data plan is aggressively priced. Sprint plans View Deal.

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Boost relies on Sprint's network, which means it can't match fellow prepaid carrier Metro on performance. Its prepaid unlimited plan is attractively priced, though albeit with limitations on video, music and game streaming , and a decent performance in our customer-service test puts it ahead of fellow Sprint subsidiary Virgin. Boost plans View Deal. Like Metro, Cricket offers a good mix of plans. Unlike Metro, Cricket's network performance is severely hampered by its parent carrier.

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And that overshadows some of Cricket's positives, such as friendly customer service. Cricket plans View Deal. Virgin tried switching its focus to the iPhone, only offering Apple's phone to new customers for a time. But Android phones are now back on offer, and Virgin reshuffled its wireless plans, adding tiered data to its unlimited plan. Virgin's multiple reboots during the past year and a half don't exactly inspire confidence.

Virgin plans View Deal. Straight Talk has been a disaster in our ratings, with poor marks in our speed testing and customer-serving ratings. Things are looking up on the performance front at least, where Straight Talk improved in this year's testing. Our ratings still reflect the old test results, but we'll be updating them soon. Still, Straight Talk's plans and special features haven't been enough to get it out of the cellar, though the carrier has at least bolstered the data allotments on current plans, which gives customers more options.

Verizon Wireless is the second largest cell phone provider in the United States, totaling more than 67 million active subscribers. Verizon Wireless was formed in and has consistently reported growth in popularity since.

How to Choose Your Cell Phone Provider - Which Wireless Provider Is Best?

Verizon claims that it has the largest range of coverage in the United States, assuring consumers that they will have phone service virtually anywhere in the nation. The third largest wireless cell phone provider in the United States is Sprint Nextel. Sprint acquired Nextel in and used the Sprint Nextel name in reference to their wireless services. The company continued to use the Sprint name without Nextel to exclusively describe their landline service.

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A distinguishing feature is their availability of walkie-talkie phones also known as "push-to-talk" phones. This article was written by the It Still Works team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Works, contact us.

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