Switching Mobile Carriers: 10 Factors to Consider Before Making a Change

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-01-06 Print this article Print

AT&T made a surprising announcement on Jan. 3, with a special offer aimed at encouraging T-Mobile customers to switch to AT&T's service. The offer, which will only be available for a limited time, seeks to counter similar efforts to get customers of AT&T and other competing carrier to switch to T-Mobile. AT&T is offering T-Mobile customers up to $450 per line to switch to its service. The offer comes as T-Mobile gets ready to offer the customers of rival carriers as much as $350 to switch. But T-Mobile's offer is primarily focused at AT&T customers because the two networks operate on the same wireless technology, making it easier for customers to switch. The rival offers bring to the fore the intense competition in the wireless industry. While the big four firms—AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint—tend to get most of the attention, there are prepaid services, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and several other providers that have found a way to attract customers. And now more than ever, all of those carriers are trying to get customers to leave their current providers for greener pastures. This slide show looks at these moves from the consumer's point of view to show what factors they should consider before switching carriers.

  • Switching Mobile Carriers: 10 Factors to Consider Before Making a Change

    by Don Reisinger
    1 -Switching Mobile Carriers: 10 Factors to Consider Before Making a Change
  • How's the Current Handset Holding Up?

    It's easy to get to the point of wanting to switch carriers, but if the decision is based on device quality, first consider how your current handset is holding up. If the smartphone is working well and has no issues, it might be a good idea to wait a while longer and see how T-Mobile and the other carriers might respond to AT&T's recent moves. Moving quickly isn't always the best idea.
    2 - How's the Current Handset Holding Up?
  • Check for Device Availability

    If you are determined to switch to another carrier, be sure to check to see what other types of devices others are offering. Most carriers these days are selling iPhones, but what about that special Android handset, such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4? Device availability is a determining factor when selecting a mobile carrier.
    3 - Check for Device Availability
  • Is AT&T's Deal Enough?

    As mentioned, AT&T is offering up to $450 to customers who switch from T-Mobile to AT&T. Those who are with other carriers, however, won't get the same deal, though they are eligible for some incentives. Find out how much a current trade-in might be worth and see if it's enough to justify making the move. Always consider the various options available to you.
    4 - Is AT&T's Deal Enough?
  • T-Mobile Has Similar Plans

    After 2013 came to an end, T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted an image on Twitter indicating his company's plans for 2014. He said he intends to make waves at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and will go after AT&T. Don't expect him to stand idle in the face of this AT&T challenge. Expect him to make a splash at CES. Before switching carriers, wait to see what Legere has up his sleeve.
    5 - T-Mobile Has Similar Plans
  • What About Regional Carriers?

    There are several regional carriers, prepaid providers and MVNOs that shouldn't be overlooked. Companies such as US Cellular have consistently ranked quite high in service quality, and some prepaid offerings can save folks quite a bit of money. Granted, many of the prepaid companies are owned by major firms, like AT&T and T-Mobile. And some MVNOs focus only on certain market segments. But selecting a carrier besides one of the big four might benefit certain customers looking to save some cash but still get a nice handset out of the deal.
    6 - What About Regional Carriers?
  • Do the Two-Year Deals Make Sense?

    Despite the hope that two-year service contracts will go the way of the Dodo at some point in the next few years, they're still around now. And it's up to those who want to switch to other carriers to decide whether getting locked into such an agreement for reduced product pricing is really worth it. See what kind of deal you can get on unlocked handsets before taking the two-year plunge.
    7 - Do the Two-Year Deals Make Sense?
  • Check LTE Coverage

    The future of wireless connectivity—at least for the next few years—rests on 4G LTE networks. That's why it's extremely important to check out different carriers' LTE networks to determine which has the best coverage in a particular area. Verizon and AT&T have nearly the entire country blanketed with LTE coverage, which puts them ahead in this category, but depending on where one lives, any carrier might work.
    8 - Check LTE Coverage
  • Friends Are Your Friends

    One of the best ways to determine which carrier is best in a given area is to ask around. Some of your friends are working with carriers that you have no experience with. Ask them what they like and don't like about their service before you make a decision. You might be surprised by what you learn.
    9 - Friends Are Your Friends
  • Customer Service Reputations Matter

    Each year, J.D. Power releases its findings on the top providers in the wireless business. Although Verizon won handily in coverage in 2013, J.D. Power also judged that the company was best in customer care, beating out other major providers. MetroPCS, now owned by T-Mobile, was tops for non-contract carriers. Customer service is a major component in choosing a carrier; don't ignore it.
    10 - Customer Service Reputations Matter
  • Get More From the Current Carrier

    One of the best moves to make before actually switching carriers is to inform your current provider that you're looking to go elsewhere. In a number of cases, those carriers will provide incentives to keep you put. Looking for a plan upgrade? How about a free line? Before making the leap, see how badly your current carrier wants to keep you.
    11 - Get More From the Current Carrier

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date
Rocket Fuel