JD Power, OpenSignal and Ookla show wireless getting faster and better

The good news is wireless in the U.S. is the best and strongest it has ever been according to JD Power, OpenSignal and Ookla research. The bad news is it can still take effort to determine the best carrier for you.

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The U.S. wireless market quality, reliability, speed and customer satisfaction are better and stronger than ever according to three studies by J.D. Power, OpenSignal and Ookla. These factors used to be very important for customers in their choice of carrier. Today, carriers generally offer excellent quality from coast to coast. No one carrier is best in every area however. Let’s look the best way for you to choose the right carrier for you.

Twenty-years ago there were dozens of smaller wireless carriers. Today, there are fewer, larger national carriers. They have all improved, year after year. Back then, quality was not consistent, but the choice was simpler. Smartphones were not yet the rage, so the choice was for voice only. Each carrier would have cities with great quality and other cities with lousy quality.

In fact, as the years passed, carriers would have certain areas within every city that were much better and stronger than other areas. So, choosing the best carrier for you would be a real chore.

The secret of choosing the best carrier for you was never in these studies. And that’s still true today. These studies were for more general purposes. They keep the pressure on every carrier to continually improve and that benefits us all.

How to choose the best wireless carrier for you

What you need to do is choose the best carrier for you. Where you spend time. How you use voice and wireless data services. That means in your home, your office, where you shop, go to school and generally spend time every day. You want to choose the best carrier that offers the strongest connection and fastest speed where you are.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to figure this out for more than three hundred million Americans. Only you can put each carrier through the paces to find the best one for you. You may find only one or two or three is the best choice. That’s what you want to learn.

So, you must check each carrier’s signal strength and wireless data speed in all the places you spend time.

Test drive and compare all wireless services to find best one for you

The best way is to choose the carrier you like the best and test drive the service. If you have a friend or relative with this service, ask them if you can use their phone to make sure you have signal in the places you spend time. That’s the quickest and easiest way to get an answer.

If not, you may have to sign up for a wireless phone and test it out. Make sure they understand you are testing and will only keep the phone and service if you get good service where you spend time. Ask them for their policy on returning phones and cancelling service.

Generally speaking, every carrier gives you a couple weeks to return the phone and cancel the service. During that time, test the phone everywhere you will use it. If it works, great. Keep it. If not, return it and try another carrier to find the best one for you.

It’s an arduous process, but you will find it well worthwhile.

AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint are top wireless carriers

AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint are the top four wireless carriers in the USA. They offer an assortment of services including post-paid and pre-paid. U.S. Cellular, C-Spire Wireless and many other smaller firms fill in the rest of the space but may not be national providers.

Pre-paid services are becoming more popular. Consumer Cellular is the top pre-paid service in the US marketplace. They resell AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile as an MVNO. There are other MVNO service providers as well.

Consumer Cellular, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile are top resellers

Comcast Xfinity Mobile and Charter Spectrum Mobile resell Verizon Wireless. Altice Mobile will start next year and will resell Sprint.

So, as you see there are many different choices each one of us must sort through to find the best services for our own needs. Remember, there are only four, large, national wireless networks. The others resell bits and pieces of each. So, you really only have four to test for the quality of the network. Once you determine that, you can choose the best company for you.

In wireless, post-paid services are what we generally think of. You sign up for the service and pay the bill at the end of each month. Pre-paid is when you pay in advance. Both are popular. Pre-paid versions often charge less, but many times have less features.

You can get both post-paid and pre-paid from nearly every major competitor. The next level services are generally resellers or MVNO players.

So much has changed and improved over the last few decades, but so much is still the same as well. Today, there are fewer, but larger national providers.

The wireless marketplace is maturing and changing

Over time, all first-time users have already made their choice. Now the carriers are competing with each other for long-term customers and growth. What that means is yesterday, all carriers could grow their subscriber numbers. However, today carrier must compete with each other. As one grows their subscriber numbers, others decline.

That’s why wireless carriers are focused on growing their wireless data services. Think about all the wireless data you use with all the apps you use and sending text messages, email, web surfing and more.

Ten years ago, we only had a few hundred apps and we used them on our Blackberry, Nokia or Palm device.

Today, we have more than two million apps in the marketplace. Today, top devices are Apple iPhone or iPad, Google Android or tablet and Samsung Galaxy or tablet. The industry changes quickly.

What will wireless industry look like years from now?

If that’s the case, what will the wireless world look like five or ten years from now? Interesting question. We will be using wireless to connect everything in our lives to the cloud. Wireless will become the center of our universe. In fact, it already is. It will just become more important going forward.

In that world, wireless carriers and smartphones need to provide the best service to every customer. With that said, don’t expect it will ever get easier to choose the best service for you. It will always depend which service gives you the best signal where you spend time.

However, once you find the best service for you, you can generally stick with it until your daily usage changes. If you move or change jobs or spend time in different places, then you will have to go through the same process of determining the best wireless service for your needs and where you spend time.

So, if you want to choose carrier A, but the service is not strong enough, you will have to choose carrier B. In this case, check carrier A signal strength from time to time. Carriers often build out and improve their network. Suddenly, you may find the carrier you prefer may have strong signal strength and you could move back.

Remember, the best wireless service for you can be a moving target. So, keep up to speed.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

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