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Verizon Wireless, also known as “Verizon” to customers, is the largest provider of wireless telecommunications in the United States. They have over 123,000,000 subscribers, and have 2,330 store locations throughout the fifty states. Verizon Wireless has been in business since 2000. Verizon was originally a merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, and over the last ten or so years, has picked up several smaller regional carriers to build the largest wireless network in the United States. Verizon also has a wide variety of products and services available to its clients. In addition to basic phones and smartphones, customers can purchase tablets, wireless Internet for their computer, as well as other products that can help customers access Verizon’s cloud to store photos, video clips and other media. Verizon is one of the few companies making it possible for customers to “integrate” their Internet devices and cloud media.
T-Mobile is located in Bellevue, WA. It is the United States-based operating arm of T-Mobile International AG, providing wireless voice & messaging services and data services. The company operates some of the largest networks in the United States, with a market of over 45 million customers and over $20 billion in revenues every year. Its network reaches 96 percent of all Americans. Also, JD Power and Associates has ranked T-Mobile as being outstanding in customer satisfaction four years consecutively, as well as giving T-Mobile superior marks for customer care for two years in a row. T-Mobile was founded in 1991 and as of 2013 has been traded publicly on the New York stock exchange.
AT&T Wireless is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. AT&T Wireless broke off from AT&T in 2000 and offers cellular and data services to 118.7 mobile customers in the United States. This is significant number of customers making it the second largest wireless communications provider in the country after Verizon. AT&T Wireless is headquartered just outside of Atlanta. AT&T Wireless was formerly known as Cingular Wireless. In 2011, AT&T tried to acquire T-Mobile. However, AT&T withdrew from the merger offer in December 2011 in face of governmental and widespread consumer opposition.
Consumer Cellular is a small cell phone provider that offers great low-cost cell plans for every need and budget. Consumer Cellular works with AARP and offers discounts for their members. The company is based out of Tigard, Oregon, and has received top customer satisfaction rankings from Consumer Reports in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. It runs off of AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Sprint is a major provider of wireless and Internet services throughout the world. As of 2014, Sprint is the third largest U.S. network operator, with 54.3 million customers at the end of July 2014. Sprint also owns Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and the Assurance brands of non-contract providers. Recently, there was some turnover in the CEO ranks. Marcelo Claure, the founder and former CEO of Brightstar, replaced Dan Hesse. Sprint consistently pushes the revenue envelope, earning $35.49 billion in 2013 and 35.4 billion in 2012. Sprint is actually owned by the SoftBank Corporation, which holds 80 percent of Sprint’s shares. Also, as of 2014, Sprint has over 38,000 employees, ranging from service support to network engineers. Sprint is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.
TracFone wireless is a subsidiary of America Movil, Mexico’s largest telecommunications company. The company functions as a mobile virtual network operator, holding agreements with different large network operators to provide service for their customers, like Sprint and Verizon. They were established in 1996 as Topp Telecom in Miami, Florida. There are over 90,000 retail locations nationwide.
GreatCall is the leader in connected health for active aging. With health and safety solutions for older adults and their family caregivers, GreatCall’s innovative suite of easy-to-use Jitterbug cell phones and smartphones and award-winning approach to customer care helps aging consumers live more independent lives. Products and services include Jitterbug Flip and Jitterbug Smart plus health, safety and medical apps Urgent Care, GreatCall Link, MedCoach and 5Star.
Cricket Wireless is one of the largest prepaid phone service providers in the United States. They were founded in 1999 and Jennifer Van Buskirk is their current president. Recently, the FCC approved AT&T’s merger with Leap, Cricket’s parent company. This merger was valued at $1.2 billion. Cricket Wireless provides some type of 4G coverage over most of the United States. They actually claim to have upwards of 98% connectivity which was bolstered by their acquisition by AT&T. Another important aspect that drives Cricket’s corporate DNA is their “data throttling.” Every client gets the amount of data that comes with their plan. If a user exceeds their data amount, they notice significant “slowing” of their Internet and data services. As a user approaches their monthly allowance, they may also notice a slower data speed.
MetroPCS is a prepaid wireless service that was recently acquired by T-Mobile. There is nationwide talk, text, and data available through T-Mobile’s networks. It’s the sixth largest telecommunications network in the United States and uses CDMA technology. It was a good thing that MetroPCS was acquired by T-Mobile because MetroPCS decommissioned their CDMA network. They integrated their 4G LTE network with T-Mobile by second half of 2015.
Straight Talk is a wireless service provider, branded similarly to TracFone and Wal-Mart carrier services. They offer straightforward pricing and are one of the lower-end, affordable phone providers. They offer different discounted rate plans, available in 30-day no-contract obligation service packages. Straight Talk is an exclusive brand that is made possible by the arrangement between TracFone and Wal-Mart. Straight Talk uses Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T’s GSM and CDMA networks. One of the nice things about Straight Talk is that some brands of phones are compatible from other carriers by replacing the SIM card. The list of compatible phones include: the iPhone, Nokia Lumina, LG Phoenix and Thrive, HTC’s Inspire, and the Motorola Atrix 2. Unfortunately, BlackBerry products do not have this cross platform compatibility.