What I actually find shocking is that AT&T still has customers. Seriously.
AT&T Wireless plans to lift some of its restrictions on the use of mobile video chat apps by the end of this year, according to a statement the carrier released on Monday. AT&T started limiting its customers' access to bandwidth-heavy chat apps in 2012, when Apple first enabled the use of its FaceTime video chat over mobile …
Where else would they be? Verizon? Sprint ? I switched to AT&T about 1.5 yrs ago to be able to use HP/Palm Pre3. I was on Sprint for the prior decade or so. I've been fairly happy so far, my needs are pretty meager though. My bill is lower (Sprint I had Mifi+unlimited phone plan, AT&T I have unlimited phone plan + phone hot spot data plan), coverage is better, performance is better.
I didn't have a whole lot of choice, I wanted to use the Pre3, and I had to use GSM to do it. T-mobile wasn't a reasonable option since the frequencies of the phone would of prevented optimal performance on their network. I still hear T-mobile's coverage is terrible. I have a friends who work at T-mobile and they pretty much say the same thing. If your in the right areas it works fine..
I can't speak for other carriers as I have not used them but Sprint had gone down hill significantly in recent years, they got rid of their loyalty program, they are abandoning their WiMax investments (what a waste), they bet the farm on iPhone, then they screwed me over twice in a few months by incorrectly switching me to e-billing(which resulted in me not paying the bill because I wasn't getting a paper bill anymore). I really had no reason to stay..
I had a 3G/4G mifi with them for 2 years and the 4G coverage was unusable everywhere I went(much slower than 3G I could really never get more than 25-35% signal strength on 4G, vs ~80%+ max on 3G), and the 3G performance was a fraction of what I get on my 3G ATT phone(which I also use as a hotspot, I have the plan add-on to use hotspot for ATT), it was really rather depressing. Maybe with Sprint 3G I could get 1Mbit, not much more.
I traveled to europe for a week last year(first international travel in 20 years), and I just made sure to completely disable data services on my phone to prevent crazy overage charges. Made maybe 3 minutes worth of phone calls on my cell the time I was there.
Sprint didn't even try anything to save me as a customer when I called to cancel. I was kind of surprised, I had been with them for over a decade paying about $150-175+/mo. With ATT I think it's around $140 after all taxes/fees. I don't notice any difference in call quality between the two.
On average I use less than 300MB/mo of data unless I'm traveling and using the hotspot function, and probably 200-500 minutes/month on average (I have unlimited - I'd rather not have any surprises or have to worry about going over).
ATT's per GB overage fees are very reasonable - $10/GB, which is basically no premium over their plans. Long gone seem to be the ~$0.25+/MB charges... I don't believe I've ever come close to my data plan cap either.
A pretty typical US customer scenario - you expect to pay around $140 to $180 per month if you want reliable service throughout the US - you'll be with either AT&T or Verizon. You can get service for a lot less (~$50-60) in some areas if you're lucky enough to have coverage with T-Mobile or Sprint but they are both more or less limited to urban areas.
While this sounds competitive, in practice you have to switch phones if you want to transfer from one carrier to another, AT&T use Betamax while Verizon use VHS.
Nate, I've been with t-mobile basically forever. There are a few places indeed where my phone does not work. Here's a few examples: Death Valley (although it's fine around the rock climbing areas). Mount Washington in NH. A few miles away from my house in an about 1 mile radius. And I think that's all I've got. I live in the woods of the very North-East. I pay t-mo about $70 a month, everything is unlimited (I think 1 GB high speed net, then throttled so there's no overage) - I'm like you, only using a few hundred megs a month anyway. If I listened to friends, I'd be with verizon, I'd believe t-mo only works in cities and close to highways, I'd believe "share everything" is actually a good thing and I'd believe paying $140-150 to a cell company a month is normal.
Instead, I checked out t-mobile way back, and I haven't looked back.
Now let's talk about Comcast.
I left Verizon because when I needed a new phone they were going to force a new plan on me with it. This new plan would have had me paying more for 1gb of data than I had previously paid for unlimited. Frankly, I got pissed and walked out of their office after a short conversation wherein I told the sales person that it wasn't right to me more for less and received a barely civil response. In my area the choices are Verizon, AT&T, Westlink, and United Wireless (you can be forgiven not having heard of those last two, which speaks volumes for their coverage -- I was with Westlink at one point. Never again. Roaming charges out the ying yang even in my home town). The one remaining option, which I'll be switching to the next time I need a new phone, is Straight Talk. $45/month prepaid for unlimited everything and they use AT&T's network.