Prepaid phones are another way to access the networks of the major providers. Cricket, Tracfone, Boost, and other prepaid services operate mobile virtual networks. They use the physical networks of the big four AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. This means that prepaid services can offer similar coverage and connections as those provided directly by the four large networks. Mobile Virtual Network Operators buy capacity from the big four carriers and sell it to consumers on a month to month basis. This dispenses the need for the standard two-year contract with the major carriers. Metro PCS offers prepaid services but does not operate a virtual network, they have a private network. Their parent company is T-Mobile. Metro PCS offered unlimited talk and throttled data plans. Ranging from $30 to $50 per month subscribers can get 500MB to $GB of data. Their $60 offering is an unlimited data plan that also expands to additional lines, and it does not throttle users’ data access.

The Price of a Phone

Contract plans discount the price of the latest phones quite deeply. This is part of the lure of the two-year contract, a choice phone at a discounted price. Many contract services offer upgrade options. Prepaid services offer lesser equipment and higher phone sale prices.

The Best Plan Meets Needs

Reliable service and coverage are important to every cell phone user. Prepaid services emphasize low price and flexibility with few extra charges. Transmission speeds and data capacity can vary as users take more system resources. It is important to find a service that meets the subscriber’s needs; the subscriber must assess his or needs. Since unlimited voice is a fairly widespread feature, most of the difficulty lies in getting the right amount of data per month and at speeds that work well. Some providers make concessions such as separating video streaming time from data time. Those that wish to use a phone for watching content on the phone would get an advantage from that approach.