Jitterbug

/ Updated: March 14, 2009 5:14 AM PDT

Editors' note: Because evaluating wireless coverage requires experience with the network in a wide variety of physical locations, CNET does not rate wireless carriers. We can, however, tell you everything you need to know about the major carriers. We invite your feedback and ratings in our user opinions section; the more input we get from around the U.S., the better our users can evaluate coverage at a national level.

Jitterbug is the first mobile virtual-network operator that we know of that is primarily geared toward senior citizens. It currently offers only one phone: The Jitterbug J. It is in the style of a flip phone and is meant to mimic a real landline phone. The buttons are big, the keypad is roomy, and the display is easy to read. There's even a real dial tone when you turn it on, to make it feel like an ordinary phone. The menu has a Yes/No question-based interface. Jitterbug offers a 24-hour operator service. The carrier operates on Verizon's network and is therefore a CDMA carrier. It is usually offered where there's Verizon network coverage.

Things you should know:
• As a CDMA carrier, international coverage is limited.
• There is a one-time activation fee of $35. Setup fee is waived for each additional user.
• It offers two payment options: Pay-as-you-go and monthly plans with no contract required.
• Subscribers can reach an operator 24 hours a day. Operators give directory assistance, connect calls, and make changes to contact lists. Calls to an operator are deducted from the monthly minutes.
• Plans start at $14.99 a month for 50 minutes and go all the way to the Simplicity Plus plan, which is $79.99 a month for 1000 anytime minutes and 500 nights and weekend minutes. The Simplicity Plus plan also includes free operator services, free voice mail, and free texting.
• Without the PLUS plan, these services have fees. Voice mail, for example, is $3 a month.
• Services like MyJitterbug (online account access), MyPhonebook (access your phonebook just by dialing the operator), Daily Health Tips, and MyCalendar (an appointment reminder service), are free for all Jitterbug plans.
• For $4 a month, you can get the Jitterbug MyWorld service, which provides personalized local weather forecast, daily trivia, sports news, stock market information, and more.
• You can buy additional minutes if you find you need more - they range from $19.99 for 100 extra minutes to $119.99 for 1000 extra minutes.

Fast facts:
• Subscribers: More than 5 million
• Coverage: Jitterbug has CDMA coverage in every state, similar to Verizon. Individual coverage will vary by location. For international coverage CDMA roaming is available in 26 countries.
• Technology: CDMA
• 3G network: No
• Streaming video service: No
• Music download service: No
• Push-to-talk: No
• Prepaid plans: Yes
• Family plans: No

  AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Nextel Verizon Wireless
Coverage map AT&T coverage map T-Mobile coverage map Sprint Nextel coverage map Verizon Wireless coverage map
Technology GSM; GPRS; EDGE GSM; GPRS: EDGE CDMA; 1xRTT; iDEN CDMA; 1xRTT
3G network Yes, UMTS, EV-DO No (coming in 2007) Yes, EV-DO Yes, EV-DO
Data plans Yes Yes Yes Yes
Streaming video network Yes, AT&T Video No Yes, Sprint Power Vision Yes, Verizon V Cast
Music download service Yes, AT&T Music No Yes, Sprint Music Store Yes, V Cast Wireless Music
Push-to-Talk Available, depending on phone model No Available, depending on phone model Available, depending on phone model
Analog roaming No No Yes Yes
Prepay plans Yes Yes No Yes
Family plans Yes Yes Yes Yes

  U.S. Cellular Alltel MetroPCS
Coverage map U.S. Cellular coverage map Alltel coverage map MetroPCS coverage map
Technology CDMA; 1xRTT CDMA; 1xRTT CDMA; 1xRTT
3G network No Yes, EV-DO No
Data plans Yes Yes No
Streaming-video network No Yes No
Music download service No No No
Push-to-Talk Available, depending on phone model Available, depending on phone model No
Analog roaming Yes Yes Yes
Prepay plans Yes Yes No
Family plans Yes Yes No

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