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Mobile network operators in the USA

It does not matter if you are a tourist or a newcomer for permanent residence, you cannot do without a cellular connection in America. To help you understand the system and choose the most profitable option, we will tell you about all the details of mobile networking in the United States. And also we will make the detailed instruction how to choose the provider and the tariff.

To begin with, it is worth deciding on your status and needs: for how long you arrived and what exactly is more useful for you (calls , messages or the Internet). It depends on this which operator, tariff and which way to design services, with or without a contract, you choose.

What other contract?

All mobile services in the United States are conditionally divided into services provided by contract or without. This is due to the fact that in America two standards are used at once: CDMA (phones without SIM cards, everything is built-in) and GSM (phones with SIM cards, but often also “locked up” for working with one specific company).

How much is mobile network and Internet in the USA - photos of mobile phones and SIM cards with an American passport - American ButlerThat is, for long-term use a person buys a phone along with a package of communication services, making out a special contract. In exchange for a guarantee of using the services of any operator for a fixed period, the subscriber receives bonuses. This may be a reduced cost of services, unlimited options (it is almost impossible to get them without a contract) or discounts and installment plans for the purchase of the phone itself.

From here also grow the legs of the story about "cheap iPhones in America." Many mobile operators offer to buy quite expensive models of the same iPhone or other smartphones for a quarter of the price, provided two or three years of using their services. Actually, this is an installment program. For each monthly payment will be added at $25-35 in repayment of the cost of the smartphone. As a result, in 2 years you will not just “buy back” the phone at its market price, but also overpay a little. In addition, the phone may be blocked for work only for this brand provider, and even if you want to change it after the expiration of the contract, you will have to unlock the phone for a fee.

Even if you didn’t buy a phone from an operator, you will have to pay rather tangible money for an early contract break - approximately $100-200. The contract has positive aspects, we will talk about them a little lower.

Communication without a contract is the purchase of a SIM card and its use in conditions of limited resources. As far as limited, we will understand in more detail.

You are a tourist

So, if you come for a while, you have no particular choice. To draw up a contract for mobile communications, you must have a credit history, which you do not have. Your home carrier roaming charges may be too high. For example, for Russian It is about $2-9 per minute. Accordingly, you only need to use the non-contractual option.

Cellular and Internet in America - photos of young people taking selfies on their mobile phones - American ButlerYou need to buy an American SIM card. There are four giant providers in the USA:

  • AT&T;
  • T-Mobile;
  • Verizon;
  • Sprint.

Of course, these are not all similar companies, there are also those where services are cheaper. But here it is better not to risk it, since the signal coverage in America is not even. Even the towers of major provider companies have gaps: for example, in Hawaii, in the central part and on the Pacific coast, the signal can go with large interruptions. If it is important for you not to disappear from radar in a foreign country, it is better to choose these brands.

With the GSM format, that is, with the sale of SIM cards without a phone, of these operators only T-Mobile and AT&T work. Especially for tourists, SIM cards with phones are also provided - these are unpretentious cheap models for calls and messages. You can buy one and the other at the airport, supermarkets, communication shops or electronics stores.

And now the main thing - the price. Virtually all non-contractual services are provided through the prepaid system, prepayment. This means that you deposit a certain amount (usually about $10-15, depending on the set of options), for which you receive a strictly limited package of services for a certain time - the number of minutes, messages and Internet traffic. Any exit for a limit is paid separately, and it is expensive. Incoming call minutes and messages are also considered to be your package expense.

Usually for such tariffs there are “happy hours”. This is the time when calls or internet are provided for free. As a rule, it is night time or a few hours at the weekend. This is worth asking when buying a SIM card. Also, if you have spent the limit, it will be more profitable to use telephones - they are still quite a lot on the territory of large cities. A minute of conversation costs about $0.25-0.5 - in any case, it is cheaper than on top of the quota on the mobile.

Photos of mom and child using American mobile communications - American Butler

You are a resident

If you come for permanent residence and have an SSN (Social Security Number), then both options are available. And contract terms may be more beneficial for you if you actively use calls or mobile Internet.

Cellular and Internet Operators in the USA - American ButlerTo enter into a contract with an operator, you must have a bank account and a positive credit history. Her score should not be lower than 600, but each provider sets its own threshold.

At contractual tariffs, more flexible options settings, but lately all of them are switching to unlimited calls and messages. Mobile Internet works at high speed within the limit, after which it also works, but data transfer is much slower. The average amount for such tariffs per month is $45-65. If you are often in the US "outback", it is better to use Verizon - the price will be higher by $10-15, but the signal and quality of communication practically does not change from the location.

Another opportunity to save is group tariffs, they are also called family. When several subscribers are connected under the contract at once, the price may drop to $35-40 per month for each. For example, T-Mobile has a tariff with unlimited calls, messages and high-speed Internet for 32 gigabytes for $35, if 5 people are connected to one contract.

If you have any questions about how the American system of mobile communications is arranged, American Butler specialists will answer you. Write to us in the chat window or contact any other way you want. We live in the USA and we know everything about this country. Our experience helps us to organize unforgettable tours and help with the move to anyone who wants and plans.

Do not lose touch with us, and you definitely will not lose touch in America!
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  • 1.Receiving discounts and bonuses
  • 2.Comments and ratings
  • 3.Secure payments
  • 4.Payment history
  • 5.Subscribe to news and updates
Login | Registration
Registration via social network
Registration advantages:
  • 1.Receiving discounts and bonuses
  • 2.Comments and ratings
  • 3.Secure payments
  • 4.Payment history
  • 5.Subscribe to news and updates
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