Prompted by Adam’s search, I took the time to look at the big four wireless carriers in the US. The pricing differences between them is startling. Here is the monthly cost of 900+ anytime minutes, 300+ text messages, wireless data, BlackBerry support and the ability to use the phone as a modem with unlimited data:
- Cingular – $136.97/month. 900 minutes, 400 text messages, unlimited EDGE data.
- Sprint – $104.98/month. 900 minutes, 300 text messages, unlimited EVDO data.
- T-Mobile – $59.99/month. 1000 minutes, unlimited text messages, unlimited EDGE data.
- Verizon – $134.99/month 1350 minutes, 500 text messages, unlimited EVDO data.
All plans include BlackBerry and tethering.
Now the EVDO data is a lot faster than EDGE data, so Sprint and Verizon offer a better value there. I just don’t see why folks pony up so much for Cingular – though from what I hear, their coverage is better in other areas of the country. In the Bay Area and areas around Denver it is rather poor. I suppose a lot of this is dependent on where you spend your time and which carriers happen to work best there.
I currently use T-Mobile, which does not have good coverage at my house. It is OK a block in either direction – I must be right in between 2 towers. T-Mobile’s coverage spectrums do not penetrate buildings as well as the spectrums used by Cingular. I used to be on Sprint (which had better coverage), but switched when I ditched the Treo for the BlackBerry and didn’t want to pay the extra $40/month. Steve’s Cingular phone got slightly better coverage at my house than I get with T-Mobile.
Cingular and T-Mobile can be easily used overseas (and Sprint and Verizon cannot), which can certainly be handy as well. T-Mobile’s $20/month international BlackBerry data roaming package is a real steal and I really loved having it while in Italy earlier this year.
T-Mobile is the clear winner on price and features, however the coverage issues and slower data speeds have me considering returning to Sprint (when Sprint gets the QWERTY BlackBerry 870x series). Frankly, I just don’t see how Verizon and Cingular compete.