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Researching the best cell phone coverage
June 18, 2005 03:54 PM EST | Consumer Info | Email to Friend
Some consumers purchase their cell phones for emergency use only. These consumers are relying on their cell phones as a vital means of getting help during personal and national emergencies. Remember, during widespread emergencies the calling volume in particular geographic areas can increase significantly and it is possible that a cell phone call may not go through. Although cell phone carriers' networks can handle normal cellular traffic on most days, it is important to remember that their coverage and capacity isn't unlimited. When call volume is high and capacity is limited, users of cell phones capable of text messaging may be able to send a text message even if they cannot complete a voice call because text messages require much less capacity.
- Determine how you will be using your cell phone (long distance, emergencies, daily, week-ends) to find a plan to best fit your needs.
- Investigate carriers' coverage areas to determine if they provide service where you intend to use the phone most frequently.
- Ask neighbors, work colleagues and friends who have similar calling patterns about their experiences with different service providers and plans.
- Browse the Internet for Web sites that report dead spots.
- Since coverage is also affected by the type of handset, consider whether a single-mode, dual-mode or tri-mode phone best suits your calling needs. "Single-mode" phones can connect to either a digital or an analog network but not both. "Dual-mode" handsets can be used on both analog and digital networks. "Tri-mode" handsets can be used on analog and two types of digital networks.
- Compare plans and prices of several dealers and service providers before deciding on the phone and plan that best suits your needs.
- Take advantage of the trial periods offered by most carriers. This is a short period of time when you can use the phone without having to pay a significant fee to terminate your service contract.
- Consider trying a prepaid plan; that way, you can switch providers if the service isn't to your liking. If you sign a longer term contract and aren't happy, you may have to pay a significant termination fee to get out of the contract.
- When a problem arises, call your cellular company. If the problem is with the telephone itself, go to one of the cell phone company's stores, not an independent agent. The staff at a company store is better equipped to provide a remedy.
- Remember that most coverage maps carry the disclaimer that they are provided for general informational purposes only and actual coverage may vary.
- In the event of an emergency, always keep your cell phone battery charged.
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