The wireless phone industry is a highly competitive market with a variety of wireless providers for consumers to choose from. Providers entice subscribers by bombarding them with the latest handsets, numerous calling plans and by extolling their coverage capabilities. But consumers must be diligent when determining which wireless company is best for their individual needs. Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless are major wireless carriers in the U.S. Each company offers an assortment of voice and data services to wireless subscribers across the country; however, there are distinguishing characteristics that set them apart.
There are four major wireless providers in the U.S.: AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless is the largest of the four major wireless providers, with an extensive nationwide network that covers all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Verizon Wireless subscribers are able to choose from a variety of voice and data plans that include full internet web browsing, SMS text and MMS messaging; music and video from the V-Cast download service and Push-to-Talk walkie-talkie technology. All of Verizon's voice and data services are broadcast over their 3G network, but many of the data services are only available in cities.
Verizon Wireless ranks highly on annual consumer reports in terms of overall customer satisfaction and phone coverage. Verizon's consistent high ranking is based on individual use and customer response to surveys.
Sprint Nextel is the third largest wireless provider in the U.S., with 50.5 million customers in 2009. Sprint offers a variety of voice and data services on a CDMA network that supports 2G and 3G services. Sprint's CDMA network is available in 49 states and Puerto Rico. However, analog roaming service is only offered in Alaska. Sprint's data services include music downloading from Sprint Music Store, streaming video from Sprint Power Vision, Push-to-talk, SMS and MMS text messaging services; GPS and web browsing.
Despite its nationwide coverage, Sprint's wireless service is mainly limited to urban areas.
Unlike most CDMA carriers, Verizon Wireless has a sizable global footprint. Global coverage depends on the type of wireless handset that is being used. Verizon's CDMA only handsets provide coverage in 40 countries. Its dual mode CDMA/GSM phones provide wireless coverage in 220 countries.
Like Verizon, Sprint's international coverage depends on handset capabilities. Sprint's CDMA only phones provide international roaming in 26 countries. Sprint World Phones, with CDMA/GSM technology, extend international coverage to 100 countries.
Both companies offer roaming on cruise ships.
Sprint and Verizon offer a variety of comparable calling plans that include unlimited calling, family talk plans and unlimited mobile-to-mobile service. Verizon Wireless offers the Friends & Family unlimited calling plan to select numbers outside of the Verizon network. Sprint does not offer a Friend & Family-type plan.
Sprint and Verizon offer a wide array of mobile and smartphones. Verizon offers a variety of mobile devices including BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile and LG. Sprint also offers many of the top brands including Samsung, HTC, Palm, Sanyo, Motorola and Blackberry.
Sprint's Samsung Instinct touchscreen phone has rapidly become one of the biggest selling smartphones in the wireless industry. The Samsung Instinct has become Sprint's biggest selling phone and continues to draw new subscribers to the network.
Coverage and call quality depend on location and handset.
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