www.MarcusBall.com

Mail Login Marcus Ball Contact Site Index
Welcome to MarcusBall.com.        This personal site features information about Marcus Ba.  You will find a variety of information ranging from customer service tips and  management strategies, to massage therapy techniques, and cooking. Feel free to browse and enjoy.                Launch Radio    

 
Introduction ] Employment History ] Massage Therapy ] Psychology ] Cooking ] Customer Care ] Telecomunications ] Rental Property Mgmt ]
Choosing a Cell Plan ...
Past Employment

Telecom Products Sales Executive
 ASP Support Client Services
 Inquiry Center CRM Specialist
 Call Center Design Engineer
Help Desk Desktop Support
Call Center Client Communications
Sales Special Orders
Retail Commercial Ast Manager

 

Additional Telecom Reading

2.4ghz v 900mhz
Analog v Digital
Cable v DSL
Cell Basics
Cell Phone Reception
Choosing a Cell Plan
Cordless Security
Driving & Cells
Firewalls for Dumies
Half v Full Duplex
Headsets in Call Centers
Intro to Polycoms
Telecom 101
VideoConferencing 101
Wiring Basics

 

Clinical Massage Therapy

Many occupational hazards of adult life will be greatly alleviated by massage


Massage Therapy

Being a Male Therapist

Ethics

Customer Management Tip


Customer Centricity

Creating Customer Loyalty

End user Training

Coaching Staff

Creating Value
 

Choosing a Wireless Plan

Though the economy has seen its challenges lately, wireless carriers are still receiving new business at healthy rates. Presently about 45 percent of households in the U.S. have cell phones, and that number is steadily increasing.1 So why would people want to get another phone and spend more money during hard times? Well the answer is, quite simply, free nationwide calling.

In the past, cellular users were put off by the occasional breakups and loss of coverage that typified mobile phone use. But as carriers built more networks and people became accustomed to occasional problems, many of us started realizing how much money we could save in long-distance fees by switching to cellular.

5000 Free minutes. Unlimited nights and weekends. No roaming charges. Time Division Mulitple Access (TDMA). Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM). It's easy to get confused when sorting through all the offers you read about every day. In this article, I'll explain some of the differences between the leading wireless plans and what you can expect from each one. At the end of the article you'll find a table that spells out the information at-a-glance. Using the table, you should be able to contrast and compare and decide which plan suits you best.

The technology
There are actually 4 major technologies supported by wireless phones in the contiguous United States today: CDMA, GSM, TDMA, and Integrated Dispatch Enhanced Network (iDEN). Each uses digital transmission to provide standard service and features (such as voice mail, 3-way calling, call forwarding, and Caller ID).

For the most part, the different technologies have comparable reliability and clarity, so the important consideration becomes: where do you want to take your phone? If you plan to travel to Europe, you'll want a GSM phone. Make sure, however, that both 900 MHz and 1900 MHz GSM networks are supported by the phone, because the United States uses the former and Europe uses the latter. CDMA is found in both Asia and Europe; and TDMA is found in South America and Asia.

Nextel is unique in that it uses a technology called iDEN that supports 2-way radio and has networks in more than 80 countries. Previously, Nextel could not access networks outside of its own footprint, but recently it signed a deal with Ericsson that will eventually expand its network so it's compatible with CDMA technology.

Roaming charges
Each carrier offers several plans, and one of the big differences between them is the way the roaming charges are applied. "Local" plans usually allow you to apply your free minutes to calls made and received within your local network. "Regional" plans require you to make and receive calls within a few states surrounding your home. And "National" plans cover calls anywhere in the country.

Whenever you are outside of your plan's calling area, your company will charge you per-minute fees for using other networks, even if you have nationwide long distance and your provider owns the network. So make sure to research your plan's coverage before you take a trip or your telephone bill will skyrocket. For instance, a trip I made to Chicago last year ended up costing me almost twice my monthly fee for 25 minutes of roaming charges.

The phones
Plans often offer free or discounted phones to entice consumers. Some phones let you dial by speaking a name; some feature clamshell (aka flip-phone) designs; some double as personal assistants; and some give you web access. But don't be swayed solely by phone "deals" or you'll quickly find out how important the next category is.

The coverage
Most plans will provide maps indicating where their service is offered. For instance, Verizon's Regional SingleRate West subscriber map shows that their regional networks are located in states anywhere west of (and including) MT, WY, CO, and NM.

Though coverage maps imply full reception in the indicated areas, often this is not the case. I live in San Francisco, for example, and for a while, I had Cingular wireless service. Despite living in the middle of this tech-friendly city, I could not receive telephone calls in my house or outside my coffee shop!

Probably the best advice I can give you in regard to coverage is to ask your neighbors—in your specific area—how they like their plans.

The plans
To avoid comparing apples with oranges and to avoid having an overloaded and useless grid of information, I made a few restrictions on which plans I compared in the table below. Here are the assumptions:

  • All plans offer 1-year contracts
  • All offer nationwide long distance
  • All exclude roaming charges within their network
  • All feature monthly rates between $25 and $100
  • All offer at least 150 anytime minutes

Important note! Rates, plans, special offers, features, and extras change frequently. Make that very, very frequently. Please use the table below as an example only.

Also note: wireless web access has not been considered in this table.

Carrier
Price
Peak (Min.)
Off-Peak (Min.)
Charge/
Min. Over
Tech. Features/Extras
Verizon
$35.00
300
3000
0.4
CDMA
 
$55.00
550
3000
0.35
CDMA
 
$75.00
900
3000
0.35
CDMA
 
$100.00
1200
3000
0.25
CDMA
 
Cingular
$35.00
150
3500
0.40
GSM
 
$50.00
350
3500
0.40
GSM
 
$100.00
900
3500
0.40
GSM
 
AT&T
$59.00
450
none
0.35
TDMA
 
$79.00
650
none
0.35
TDMA
 
$99.00
900
none
0.25
TDMA
 
Sprint PCS
$29.00
200
2800
0.4
CDMA
 
$39.00
350
3650
0.4
CDMA
 
$74.00
1000
6500
0.4
CDMA
 
Nextel
$49.00
200
0
0.35
iDEN Free 2-way radio
 
$59.00
500
0
0.35
iDEN Free 2-way radio
 
$99.00
1000
0
0.35
iDEN Free 2-way radio


In my opinion
Just from looking at the table, Sprint seems to offer the best plans. I've used Sprint on both coasts and found reception to be excellent, definitely better than the minimal coverage Cingular supplies in San Francisco. In Cingular's defense, though, after buying out Cellular One's networks their coverage reigns supreme in Chicago and is much better than that offered by Sprint.

Verizon's distinct advantage is that its nighttime minutes begin at 8 p.m., as opposed to the others, which begin at 9 p.m. Unfortunately this means that Verizon's day begins an hour earlier, at 6 a.m., as opposed to 7 a.m.

If you're looking for phones for your employees, the best option is Nextel. Provide them with 2-way radios, and they can keep in contact with each other for no cost at all. Nextel doesn't offer night and weekend minutes, but if the phones are strictly for work, employees shouldn't need after-hours minutes anyway. Another advantage of Nextel is that their activation fee, at $252, is $10 less than the others. Additionally, Nextel charges a maximum of only $50 for activation fees per account. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, you can only use Nextel within its own network. Presently you cannot roam outside of their coverage area.

Final comments
Overall, carriers have created their own niches in the market. In the end, you'll have to figure out which features are most important to you, and then make up your own mind which carrier and plan to choose. But don't forget to ask your neighbors what plans they like. Because if your plan doesn't have good coverage in your area, your fancy phone will be as good as a wallet with no money inside.

1 http://investor.cnet.com/investor/news/newsitem/0-9900-1028-8824203-0.html

2 Most carriers will waive the activation fee for a 2-year contract

Marcus Ball ] Contact ] Site Index ]