Fastest Mobile Networks 2021 - Pcmag in Varnell, Georgia

Published Jan 05, 22
4 min read

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You’ll notice we didn’t say *the* best data speeds—T-Mobile currently owns the fastest data speeds, but Verizon is a close second. Instagram stories, You, Tube videos, and online gaming apps should all pull up quickly and smoothly on Verizon’s network. Wouldn’t it be great if Verizon somehow managed to have the best coverage and cheap prices at the same time? Well, it doesn’t.

Since Verizon serves up the most reliable coverage in the country, getting on its network feels pricey. It’s kind of like eating at the fanciest restaurant in town—you have to pay an arm and a leg, but damn it if the food’s not delicious. Here’s how the pricing breaks down for Verizon data plans: Verizon plans get expensive fast, jumping up to $90 for its Get More Unlimited plan.

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If Verizon’s plans cost a little too much, you can always get on Verizon’s network through an MVNO. An MVNO basically feels kind of like getting the cheap seats at a really expensive concert—you get to see the show, but you don’t always get the best view. You can use an MVNO mobile provider that works on Verizon’s network, but you’ll occasionally run into deprioritization.

Our favorite Verizon MVNO is easily Visible Wireless, which offers an unlimited plan for $40 on Verizon’s network. But really, you can’t go wrong with any of the Verizon MVNOs on the table below.

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Cell Signal Coverage data for the whole of the USAOur database contains cell coverage information for AT&T, USCellular, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Results show indoor and outdoor coverage for voice calls, 3G data, 4G (LTE) data, and 5G data for every zip code in the USA for each carrier. Before you sign up with a new carrier, you need to be sure that you can get good reception - both good coverage and a reliable signal - where you live and work.

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Over 90% of the US has good cell coverage; it's generally only rural areas where you might not get a signal. However, not all carriers provide the same level of coverage across the whole country. They can vary massively from one state to the next. So, a carrier that works for someone in a Southern State might not be the right choice for someone in the Northwest.

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We check all the main carriers at once, saving you the time and effort of having to visit them all individually. There are three main carriers that provide cellular coverage across the US. In order of size, they are:A fourth company, Sprint, merged with T-Mobile in April 2020. While existing customers won't have to switch for the foreseeable future, the Sprint brand has been retired and new customers must join T-Mobile.

These companies build and maintain their own cellphone network infrastructure, including the phone towers that you can see all around your towns and cities. The more of these towers you have in your area, the better the signal will be from the carrier that owns them. As well as the main carriers, there are two other categories of carrier that you can choose from.

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USCellular is the fourth-largest carrier in the US - their own network covers around 10% of the country, and they partner with the other three carriers to flesh out their coverage elsewhere. MVNOs: Mobile Virtual Network Operators don't maintain their own networks, they rent and resell coverage from one of the three main carriers.

Big names include Virgin Mobile, Google Fi, Mint Mobile, and Cricket Wireless. MVNOs will often offer prepaid deals. This means you don't have to sign a contract, but pay in advance for an allowance of data and calls instead. These often work out a little more expensive, but the convenience might be worth it, especially if you don't use your phone that much.

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Coverage for each can differ from one region to the next, and the one that you use can also be dictated by what you're doing on your phone and what type of phone you've got. 5G: the latest type of data connection - it's truly rapid, with speeds over 1Gbps.

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It has been rolled out in parts of large cities around the country, but you'll have to wait several years before it becomes common nationwide. The new i, Phone 12 supports 5G.4G (LTE): the previous generation is used for data, as well as voice calls (depending on your phone and carrier).