How To Video: Choose a wireless carrier
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How To Video: Choose a wireless carrier

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Not all cell phone carriers are created equal. Donald Bell shares some advice for sifting through your options if you're shopping for a new cell phone service provider.

-Hey, I??m Donald Bell and in this video we??re gonna talk about cellphone carriers and how to choose one that??s right for you. Maybe you already have a carrier that you like or maybe you??re shopping around. Either way, I??m here to give you a quick education on what you need to know. The major carriers in the U.S. include AT&T, Verizon, T Mobile and Sprint. Each of them owns their own physical network, the tower, satellites and cables that are use to transmit your call around the country. There are also smaller carriers out there like Virgin Mobile or Boost Mobile, but they actually leased their network from the big guys. So if you hate the idea of a big telco getting your money, you??ll just have to try messenger, pigeons or postcards. So you have the 4 major networks. Two of them, Verizon use a cellular standard called CDMA, the other two AT&T and T Mobile use a standard called GSM. You can think of this like diesel versus gasoline. Both of them get the job done but you can??t run a diesel car on regular gas. The thing goes for phones, you can??t take a CDMA phone that you bought on the Sprint and go use it on AT&T GSM network or vice-versa. There are few phones like the iPhone or some of the more popular Android smartphones that every carrier has a version of. But if you want to avoid some heartbreak, it can be helpful to choose a carrier before you shop around for that perfect phone. But the most important thing you should consider when choosing a carrier is what kind of reception you??re gonna get in your area. Like I said, each carrier has their own unique network so the coverage varies between each one. Check out the carrier??s coverage map to make sure you??re gonna have reception where you??re likely to use your phone. For more cellphone buying advice including how to pick the right phone and how to understand your cellphone plan, check out the other videos in the CNET buying guide. For cnet.com, I??m Donald Bell.
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