August 21 2009|03.45 PM UTC

Erik Chang

Comparing Carriers: Mobile Phone Usage and Costs

Category: UncategorizedTags: ,

The mobile phone market can be a confusing one for consumers to navigate, as there are many seemingly similar services offered, often lumped into different packages, plans and pricing. How do usage trends and costs vary between the major wireless providers? We have looked at the various plans of Billshrink users to see how these companies compare in a number of different categories.

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Mobile Carriers

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

mike August 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm

I had Sprint and my calls were dropped SO much over the span of 3 years and 2 different phones. Main reason for me using many minutes with Sprint was having to keep calling people back after the calls would get dropped. To make it worse after I canceled my Sprint service and talked with a Sprint rep to terminate service they STILL sent me another bill after I had spoke with someone and canceled on time!!! Plus customer service was horrible and will never consider Sprint for cellular service again. Have had friends tell me to stay away before I switched… I should have listened!

Verizon on the other hand I could not be one bit happier with so far at least. Call quality is measurably better and customer service actually can speak English and are friendly.


mountainman August 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm

You also have to concider coverage. Up here by Yosemite, only Verizen covers all areas.


Sean Harlow August 21, 2009 at 7:50 pm

The “Average Monthly Fees” graph is misleading in my opinion. All the other graphs are based at zero and ranged to fit, where that one has a range of only $8 after starting over $100. This makes it look like AT&T and Verizon are significantly more expensive and Sprint is far cheaper, where in reality the difference is practically negligible (a range of $4). A set of four almost identically tall bars would be more clear.


Sulu Ohmy August 22, 2009 at 4:30 am

Look at usage prices from 10 to 15 years ago and also the types of phones. Do you remember 75 cent per minute prices?

No industry is more competitive. Bravo to the employees of all these companies for working your butts off to give us these great products!

In my opinion Verizon is the clear winner. What good is your cell phone service if you keep dropping calls and can’t use your phone?


Timothy August 22, 2009 at 5:13 am

It also seems like the bills are quite high doesn’t it?
Let’s see: a) average bill around $112. b) usage is somewhere around a 1000 minutes plus a couple of hundred texts and an average about 30mb of data.
But wait… that kind of usage sounds familiar. That’s right! I’m using roughly that. But I’m on Straight Talk prepaid which gives me 1000 minutes/1000 texts and 30mb data for only $30. On Verizon’s network, too.
It really is a clear choice to me – shall I pay $112 or $30 for the same service?


ests August 22, 2009 at 6:35 am

Verizon? ripoff.


mikes dumb August 22, 2009 at 8:20 am

I’ve had all the sevices and to be honest Sprint just like all the others. Everyone’s customer service sucks. Call quality is the same with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, but the Verizon marketing team doesn’t want any to know that. Or the dumb flock that run to Verizon stores cause there service is better it says so on tv. Verizon just like everyone else, and you have to pay more for them, just like AT&T. And the Sprint customer service people are ALL based in America, with American employees. Unless you call them at midnight then you do get people in India, but your calling at midnight…. what do you expect?


Back Woods August 22, 2009 at 9:54 am

It is unclear here if cellular network PC adapters are included. Without them I find it odd that the data usage would be so high on Sprint. Noting the skewed appearance of average monthly cost as well as the data graph I must question the source. I personally use over 400MB per month and not on Sprint.


Don Plotner August 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Customer service issues with Sprint are turning around, according to JD powers are almost a tie with AT&T and with the best plans and better data network it looks like the only thing that AT&T has over Sprint is the iPhone, and they are neutering it, VoIP and limiting Sling Box.

It looks as if all AT&T’s “apples” are in one basket.


RL August 22, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Mike… How could dropping a call and calling back, cause you to use more minutes? It doesn’t make sense.

You’re on the phone

You carry on a conversation

You drop the call in the middle of said conversation

You call back and continue the same conversation that you were already having

At what point does that cost you more minutes?

I can see if you spend the next half hour discussing call dropping, but that is a choice that the user makes. Has nothing to do with how many minutes you would have/are going to/will use.


Cellular User August 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm


If he drop the call at 1 minutes and 1 second it would be 2 full minutes even though he didn’t use that 59 seconds. If you do that over and over it will add up.


PT August 24, 2009 at 9:57 am

Those average monthly fees smell fishy to me, since the ARPU in the US is around $40-$50 per month. It seems like those statistics do not reflect the most typical users.


sf August 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

my experience has been that Verizon provides pretty good service… AT&T doesn’t work at my house… Sprint worked reasonably well at my house…

I believe Sprint and Verizon have roaming contracts in place so you can roam to either tower… though I believe that if you’re phone see’s a Verizon tower, it will use that even if a Sprint tower’s providing a stronger signal..

Sprint requires customer service involvement to update your PRL… which sucks.

Verizon doesn’t provide a very decent phone set… and they tend to cripple the phones they do provide… (Limiting capabilities on their PDA phones… same phone purchased at Sprint has functionality that’s been disabled at Verizon’s request).

Not sure… I’m currently with Verizon… (and have an AT&T phone for work)… might move to Sprint simply because most of my closer family members have Sprint.


susie August 24, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I wanted to way lower my cell phone bill. My 2 yr contract had finally ended with sprint. I went with my husband to the sprint store to ask if they had an incentive for me to stay with them. I didn’t want to sign another contract though & the salesperson said,if you aren’t buying something,we don’t have any reason to offer you anything. so I called customer service. their lowest plan was 200 minutes & nights & weekends after 9:00 free but on the phone the customer service person gave me no contract/month to month rates to stay the same for 2 yrs, he gave me an extra 50 minutes & lowered the free nights to begin at 7 instead of 9, with my husband’s company discount, I’ll get 250 minutes a month, free weekends & free nights to start at 7, no contract, they won’t change my deal for 2 yrs & with taxes, it’s a few cents over $22.00. I think that’s a good deal. The store sure didn’t care about my business. I only need a small amount of daytime minutes & didn’t want a big pkg deal. So, in this case, it paid off to call sprint directly. I have had good luck with them – but haven’t had any problems to deal with in 2 yrs either. I didn’t want a prepaid plan, just an inexpensive one. I’m happy.


Michael September 16, 2009 at 3:07 am

I have had AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in recent years and I found Sprint to be far and away the best option.

I know they have had a reputation for horrible customer service but have found exactly the opposite. Any disputed fees have been waived and free services/upgrades have been offered with and without my initiation.

Before signing on with Sprint I carefully compared all available carriers. My needs are a two phone family plan with at least 1000 day minutes, data, GPS and email. With Sprint I have two Blackberry Curves with 1200 minutes, nights at 7, unlimited TV, GPS, Internet, email and it even tethers to my laptop for a 1Gb high speed connection. This comes to 112 ;120 with tax,insurance and theft protection on both phones.
The closest to Sprints plan was Verizon but costing $35 more PER PHONE for data,$15 more PER PHONE for TV and I think $10 more PER PHONE for GPS.

Thats $120 for Sprint compared to $240 for Verizon and about $270 for AT&T or T-mobile.

As for dropped calls I have no complaints. The only spots I have missed service are areas in which I haven’t seen any other networks work. Sprint and Verizon do share towers and they seem leaps and bounds above AT&T and T-Mobile.


Mita September 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Can someone provide me information on average cost cell phones in USA market 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago and today…doing a research project, unfortunately can’t find any info on it.


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