US Cellular vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. AT&T

By Brian Vaughan

Cell phone users have plenty of options when it comes to selecting a provider.
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AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and U.S. Cellular represent four of the biggest wireless service providers active in 2011. All four companies provide a wide range of services and mobile phones. AT&T is a GSM provider, so their phones all require SIM cards. Verizon, Sprint and U.S. Cellular all use CDMA technology, so their phones don't take SIM cards. Each company has its own advantages to consider when choosing a provider.

U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular has nationwide coverage but is not available everywhere in the United States like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T. The Single Line Security Plan includes 200 minutes and costs $29.99 per month as of July 2011, while the most expensive individual plan is $109.99 monthly for unlimited calling and messaging and five gigabytes of data. The lowest level family plan costs $69.99 per month for 900 shared minutes, while the unlimited calling and messaging plan comes with five gigabytes of data per line and runs $179.99 per month. U.S. Cellular plans come with unlimited incoming phone calls and messages.


Verizon individual plans can all include unlimited messaging for $20 more each month, while family plans include messaging for all lines for $30 more each month. As of July 2011, individual plans start at $39.99 per month for 450 minutes and end at $69.99 monthly for unlimited calling. The lowest priced family plan runs $69.99 per month for 700 minutes, while the unlimited plan is priced at $119.99 per month. In 2011, Verizon gained rights to the Apple iPhone 4. As of 2010, Verizon had more subscribers than any other United States wireless carrier.


The entry level Sprint individual calling plan is $29.99 per month for 200 minutes as of July 2011, while the highest level plan is $99.99 per month for unlimited calling, messaging and data usage. Sprint's basic family plan costs $69.99 per month for 700 minutes. The unlimited calling, messaging and data family plan is $189.99 per month. CNET considers the company's Motorola Atrix 4G, which has a dual core processor and uses the Android operating system, one of the best five available mobile phones as of June 2011.


As of 2011, AT&T's individual plans offer 450 minutes for $39.99 per month, 900 minutes for $59.99 per month or unlimited minutes for $69.99 per month. The Senior Plan is for customers age 65 and up and costs $29.99 for 200 minutes per month. Unlimited family plans cost $119.99 per month, while the entry level family plan is $69.99 per month for 700 minutes. AT&T was the first carrier to sell the Apple iPhone, a multimedia phone that plays music and video and allows for the downloading of applications to customize the device. AT&T expanded its customer base by purchasing T-Mobile in early 2011.