US Mobile Carriers

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Switching between mobile carriers - Reasons and pain points.

Over 25 million people plan to switch mobile carriers in 2018.
People switch mobile carriers because they want to get a lower bill, to get more data, and get a better coverage. The most common pain points people encounter when switching mobile carriers include hidden fees, difficulty porting numbers, and difficulty unlocking SIM cards.

How Many People Really Want to Switch Mobile Carriers?

In 2017, 25.2 million people claimed to want to switch mobile carriers for various reasons. For example, in 2017, 23% of T Mobile customers wanted to switch carriers, while 15% of Verizon customers wanted to switch carriers.

Why Do Customers Want To Switch?

Customers throughout the country all have slightly different reasons as to why they'd like to switch their mobile carrier, but the following reasons are the most common and most easily explained. First and foremost, customers want to switch mobile carriers because they want a lower monthly bill. Every customer, understandably, wants the best deal possible. If they feel as though they aren't receiving the best deal or they learned that they could be paying less and saving money by transferring to another company, they are very likely to make the switch.

Secondly, many customers want more data, but for a better price. Nearly every mobile carrier offers packages with different amounts of data, but the pricing of each of these packages is what either brings customers in, or pushes them away. If a customer finds that they are able to get more data for less money than they would pay through their current carrier, through a different carrier, they are likely to make the switch.

Lastly, customers across the nation want the best mobile coverage, or service, wherever they go. Depending on the company and depending on the area in which the customer lives, or is currently in, the mobile coverage may not be up to par. Although this specific characteristic of having a mobile device is unpredictable for any mobile carrier, some companies have a better reputation for mobile coverage than others. If a customer is consistently struggling with having mobile coverage, they are likely to make the switch to a more reputable mobile carrier.

Pain Points For Customers Wanting to Switch Mobile Carriers

Although there seems to be an overwhelming amount of reasons for to customers to want to switch their mobile carriers, there are a few reasons, or pain points, that are holding them back from doing so.
Firstly, more often than not, when a customer switches mobile carriers, there are hidden fees that they are either unaware of or unprepared for, or both. These hidden fees tend to cause issues for many customers, as in the long run, they may end up spending the same amount of money that were paying before they switched carriers, or worse, even more than before.

Secondly, many customers find the process of porting their current phone number to be difficult. Porting a phone number simply means to transfer that phone number from one carrier to another. This process can be lengthy and can leave customers in a state of limbo, without a phone to use, while the phone number is being transferred between providers. There are also certain regulations for porting numbers including that a carrier is not obligated to port a phone number (they can simply decline the request, causing the customer to look elsewhere for a new provider), cell phone numbers, fax numbers, and landlines can be ported, while pager and 800 numbers cannot be ported. Due to these regulations, some customers are left disappointed and in search of a new carrier that will oblige their requests.

Lastly, some customers find difficulty unlocking their SIM card. SIM cards are needed to unlock the usage of a phone through a provider in which it was not intended to be used under. Often times, customers must call their provider, explain their situation, then pay a fee of around $20 to receive a code, which they then enter into their phone to unlock their SIM card. What may be a simple process to some customers, may prove to be difficult or even stressful to others.


In conclusion, there are millions of people across the country that are unhappy with their current provider and are looking to switch to a different mobile carrier for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include: to get a lower monthly bill, to get more data, and to get better coverage. As well as having may reasons to go through with switching to a new mobile carrier, customers also have a few reasons that are holding them back from doing so. Some of these reasons include: hidden fees, difficult porting numbers, and difficulty unlocking SIM cards.
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Benefits of switching cell phone carriers

In choosing a plan, there are multiple factors beyond price for minutes and text messaging to consider: the network compatibility of your phone, network coverage, speed, data usage, international needs, HD streaming, and hot spot capabilities.

General considerations

NETWORK COMPATABILITY: The first deciding factor, network compatibility, refers to the two types of networks — GSM and CDMA, and a phone's ability to operate with each. There are online useful tools that will determine which carriers are able to work with a given phone model.

NETWORK COVERAGE: Network coverage is also important. While Verizon has the best national coverage of the 280 largest urban areas, with 97.7% reliability, AT & T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, are all close behind. Given that all four carriers have similar national coverage, it is more important to consider a particular location. For rural areas, it is especially important to study coverage areas because the ‘national coverage’ calculations do not consider areas of low population density.

The four big providers, AT & T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, have eliminated the two-year contract model and are moving towards phone installation plans. With this new approach, providers prefer customers to acquire a new phone when they switch carriers. Consequently, there are multiple offers specific to ‘buying out’ the remaining amount owed to a provider for a phone.


There is no information available on specific extras AT&T and Verizon are providing at this time for those who switch carriers with their own phones. Someone switching to AT&T or Verizon from other carriers will receive the same benefits as any new customer.


For a limited time, customers from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile who move their phone number (‘port in’) to Sprint are eligible for 5 lines of unlimited data for free under the Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan. This is particularly attractive to those who are interested in HD streaming, texting images/videos, and/or using a map navigator frequently.

Sprint’s Unlimited Plan ‘Free for a Year’ is available to customers who are switching from other carriers. After one year, it will be $120 per month. The plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data, HD streaming, and a mobile hotspot.

Sprint offers Global Roaming on LTE/GSM capable smartphones. Customers have the option of unlimited data (up to 2G speeds), free texts in popular international destinations, a rate of twenty cents per minute on voice calls, and free talk/text to Mexico and Canada from within the United States. Faster high-speed data can also be purchased in Mexico and Canada for $2/day or $10/week. For other regions of the world, data is available for $5/day or $25/week. For those who use international communication frequently, the Unlimited Freedom plan offer from LTE data roaming, texts, and voice calls in Canada and Mexico.


INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION: The ONE plan provides unlimited text messages and unlimited data at 2G speed in 140+ countries with no additional fees. In Mexico and Canada, customers have up to 5GB of high speed LTE data.

Netflix — T-mobile provides a standard subscription to Netflix with its standard ONE plan or above.

In-flight communication —While flying domestically on participating flights, those with the Simple Choice plan can text in-flight, use visual voicemail, and video message.

Free WiFi calling — This service enables a user to make calls using the nearest WiFi connection, even if it cellular service is unavailable.

Weekly prizes — The T-Mobile Tuesdays gift app and #GetThanked campaign give customers with weekly bonus offers every Tuesday via an app. Prizes have included free food, movie tickets, Lyft rides, vacations, and movie screenings.


Select a plan that fits how the phones and preferences for calls/texts, data, speed, and international connections. All else equal, choose a carrier that is compatible with the existing phones because that will save the additional cost of purchasing a new phone.
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Google Phone Service - Fi

Google Fi is Google's first attempt at entering the wireless phone service market. Fees for packages including calls and texts start from $20 per month, data at $10 per gigabyte (GB), and extra people added to a plan incur an additional monthly fee of $15 per person. There are a small number of compatible devices and it is possible to transfer the phone number from the previous service provider when switching to Fi.

The Basics about Google Fi

Project Fi is Google's alternative to wireless service for select devices. The project launched in 2015. Google Fi uses a blend of Wi-Fi and the networks of three carriers to keep you connected. Prices are based on what the customer actually uses, as an alternative to traditional carriers' plans.

Pricing and fees

Calling and texts start at $20 a month, and data is $10/GB per month. Additional lines are $15 each. Taxes and fees vary by state, but are normally 10-20% of your monthly bill. There are no fees to cancel your service and you may do so at any time. You can also get a data-only SIM card for your tablet for $10/GB per month. The amount you pay is capped each month so that if you use more than 6GB of data, you will not pay extra. And if you use less data than you have paid for, you will receive a credit on your bill.

International fees are very similar. Coverage is available in 135 countries. You pay the same $10/GB per month for data, texts are free and calls are $0.20/minute.

Service Coverage

The service has access to the networks of three major carriers and seamlessly switches between them. When available, your phone will switch to one of a million Wi-Fi hotspots. You can expect the same level of coverage in 135 countries as well. Project Fi has partnered with T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular to guarantee a wide range of coverage. Project Fi will move you between these carrier networks based on analytic data of which network is the fastest in your current area to ensure you always have the best available connection.

Switching, compatible devices, and trading-in your old device

Switching to Google Fi is simple. Once you have your new phone, you begin the transfer of your number. According to Google, 84% of transfers of phone numbers to a Fi device take less than 15 minutes. If it takes longer than this, you can use your old phone for calls and texts before your number transfers while using your Google Fi phone for data. You should not cancel your current phone service until the transfer is finished.

Google Fi has a limited number of compatible devices. You can use the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. You may also use the Motorola Moto X4, Android One Moto X4 and the Nexus 6P or 5X.

It's possible to trade in your device whenever you purchase a new device. If you finance the new device, and your trade-in value exceeds the purchase amount, you will receive the remaining balance as Google Fi service credit. Google Fi provides a tool to estimate the amount of trade-in credit you will get for your device and facilitate the process for you.


Google Fi is Google's own wireless service. It offers affordable rates and wide coverage, including internationally. You only pay for the amount of data that you use and will receive a credit on your bill for any unused data. However, there are currently a very limited amount of devices that you can use on the service.
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Cell Phone Carrier Users - Marketing Trends

U.S. cell phone carriers use a variety of marketing channels to increase consumer awareness. In 2017, there were an estimated 25M people in the market for new carriers, a significant market opportunity for mobile companies.

In the last two years, mobile carriers appear to be primarily utilizing digital marketing channels, with a strong focus on social media and customer service. Specifically, big data and AI/machine learning are allowing carriers to more effectively target new and existing customers through direct marketing channels. Very few cell phone carriers utilize telesales or analog marketing methods.

To identify the major marketing trends, we searched for major marketing trends in digital, direct, telesales and analog channels and presented the results below. Across channels, mobile carriers are seeking to cross-promote their brand to reach more customers.

Direct Marketing, analog and Telesales

Direct marketing efforts used by carriers to reach individual customers primarily took the form of SMS messages or phone calls from carriers to consumers for topics like confirmations, customer service or coupons. Though a majority of marketing efforts are no longer direct to consumers, with companies choosing to focus on a more cost-effective digital strategy, 1 in 10 SMS exchanges continue to be between consumers and companies.

Similarly, marketing in brick and mortar stores has decreased as customers increasingly move toward the digital sphere. In 2016, only 1/3 customers had visited a physical mobile carrier store in the previous two months.

Digital marketing & Social Media

Major mobile carriers, like T-Mobile, have grown their customer base by investing in digital marketing. The company's shift toward emphasizing digital marketing mechanisms resulted from a desire to improve customer experience.

Indeed, the company—like many others in the industry—are utilizing social media to promote their brand and directly reach their customers. On Twitter, T-Mobile CEO effectively promotes the company, highlighting its benefits over competitors while maintaining close contact with over a 5.3M potential customer base. As a result of these digital marketing efforts, T-Mobile has grown from 33M in 2012 to 72M customers in 2017. Competitors such as Verizon have also employed social media marketing through Facebook to drive consumer awareness and interaction.

Mobile carriers are using digital platforms like YouTube to host advertisements and consumer-oriented advertisements further attracting customers. Cricket Wireless has used YouTube to promote its products and plans, drawing over 1.3M views to its content.

Digital marketing efforts are often complemented by direct marketing campaigns to simplify brands in order better differentiate themselves from their competitors. By simplifying logos and emphasizing specific aspects of their company, carriers are further able to differentiate themselves.


Mobile carriers are increasingly growing their digital marketing channels, emphasizing social media. Not only are these channels less costly than telesales or direct marketing techniques, but they have also proven to drive larger amounts of customer response. In 2018, mobile carriers are expected to continue to promote digital marketing strategies based on predictive analytics and evidence from artificial intelligence models to better target consumers.