Find and compare the best cell phone plans in Bethlehem, MD at Wirefly. Which cell phone carrier has the best coverage in your area? Click the carrier logos below to launch their coverage maps. Then, use our tool below to compare the price and features of each carrier’s plans. Smaller carriers and MVNOs typically run on the networks of one of the big four carriers you see below.
For a long time, the technology in smartphones was evolving faster than the 'Big Four' wireless carriers in the United States. As phones grew into robust, pocket-sized computers, carriers enforced small data plans, limits on minutes, and expensive charges for exceeding a monthly allotment of text messages. That is no longer the case, thankfully. Over the past four years or so, the industry has gotten far more competitive and innovative. The result is that there has never been a better time to shop for a new wireless plan, or an entirely new wireless carrier, in Bethlehem, MD. If you're in the market for a better plan that can fit with your unique usage patterns, there is much to consider before heading out to shop and make a commitment.
Coverage is still king: a few things to keep in mind
Coverage has gotten dramatically better for all carriers in the last few years, especially for Sprint and T-Mobile. While the country's two smallest carriers often had their coverage compared to Swiss cheese in the early 2000s, their LTE networks today are fully modernized, dense, and ready to perform well even during times of peak demand. With that said, it's a good idea to take a look at independent test results that show the strengths of each network. These tests, performed by RootMetrics, will help clarify which carrier is best for clear calls, fast data, or consistent texting.
Best for Calls: For the third time in two years, RootMetrics testing found that all four major carriers are almost the same in Bethlehem, MD when it comes to 'call performance.' This indicates that all four carriers have crystal clear calls, and that all four carriers rarely drop a call that has been initiated. That's great news if your main area of usage each month is wireless minutes.
Best for Texting: During the second half of 2016, RootMetrics testing found that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile were tied for first place in overall texting performance. All three carriers had a near-100-percent success rate in sending and delivering texts. Sprint's texting performance was just a bit shy of making this metric a four-way tie.
Best for Data-Heavy Usage: This category is a bit more nuanced than the others. Overall, Verizon's LTE network delivered both the fastest speeds and the most reliable connections to customers in Bethlehem, MD. T-Mobile's average data speed increased dramatically in 2016, however, and AT&T showed improvement in average speeds as well.
Breadth of Coverage: All four carriers have an extremely broad network in Bethlehem, MD, with coverage almost everywhere. Sprint, which is still expanding its LTE network, has slightly less high-speed coverage. Even so, it has the high-density city and suburban areas covered very well.
Understanding the different types of cell phone plans
When searching for a cell phone plan in Bethlehem, MD, you're looking for one that gives you enough minutes, text messages and data to fit your needs. These features are broken down in plans by: minutes covered, text messages available and data limits.
Most people rely on cell phones for the majority, if not all, of their communication needs. You'll need to make sure the plan you choose has enough talk, text and data for you and anyone else you choose to carry on your plan.
Each cell phone plan has its own limitations, so deciding the most important features for you and your family is key to discovering the perfect plan. To help you out, here's a breakdown of the 3 main categories of cell phone plans:
Individual plans offer services for one line on one phone. All of the minutes, data and text available in the plan can only be used by that phone. If you don't want to add anyone else to your plan, then this could be a great choice.
Family plans spread out the data, minutes and text over several lines and phones. The number of lines and phones is up to you and some plans offer discounts for adding additional lines. If you want service for your entire family, these plans are the best deal because they are cheaper than buying individual plans for each person.
With no contract plans, you pay for service without the obligation of a contract. Often called pay-as-you-go, these plans offer the same features and benefits of individual and family plans, but often with additional fees. Most plans now allow you to use the same smart phones available for other plans, but at a higher price. Payments can be made each month and some carriers offer online or phone payments by credit card, bank account or prepaid cards that you can find in most Bethlehem, MD department stores.
The biggest advantage of the monthly plans is the absence of a contract. With family and individual plans you are bound by a contract that is typically no less than 2 years. This contract obligates you to pay for service through the end of the contract, and early termination comes with fees, penalties and extra charges.
Deciding which cell phone plan is best in Bethlehem, MD
Choosing the right plan requires consideration of the types of services a person really needs. As mentioned previously, most carriers offer three primary services: minutes, text messaging and data usage.
The cheapest plans often limit the amount of minutes and text messages used on a phone line. Some are 400 or less; others might be as high as 1,000 minutes per month. For the person who talks extensively on his or her cell phone, an unlimited plan is the better selection.
No contract plans require loading the cell phone with a certain number of paid minutes. More time is added once the prepaid amount has been used.
Most carriers in Bethlehem, MD charge a lot for huge amounts of data usage since this has become a major factor in the way customers choose their cell phone plans. With plans often priced per megabyte and gigabyte, going over data limits can become very expensive when overages start adding up. Choosing a plan that covers data usage needs will help customers avoid overly expensive cell phone bills.
Finding the best cell phone plan for your needs
Now that you know which kind of cell phone plan you want, it's now time to make another important decision: what do you need each month in terms of minutes, text messages, and data? This used to be a slightly complex decision to have to make, but that is no longer the case due to changes in the wireless industry. Current cell phone plans have almost all dropped limits on calling minutes and texts messages. Postpaid family plans and individual plans at Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, all include unlimited talk and text. Only a small number of no contract prepaid plans still enforce limits.
The good news is that you can choose to look at only the amount of data that you need on a monthly basis. Two of the major carriers make this decision pretty simple, while two of the other major carriers require a bit more decision making before choosing a plan. Here's what to keep in mind when selecting a cell phone plan in Bethlehem, MD:
Like T-Mobile, Sprint recently unveiled a flat-rate, all-unlimited mobile plan for new and existing subscribers. Customers who prefer not to get an unlimited plan can opt for a 'shared' amount of data that can be used by all lines attached to the account. By default, data speeds on limited plans slow down after all data has been used. Customers can buy a high-speed pass if they wish to have more full-speed data until the end of the month, however.
The Un-Carrier, as T-Mobile has dubbed itself, recently made a move toward unlimited data for all. The company added to its Simple Choice plan lineup with T-Mobile ONE, an unlimited, single plan for individuals or families. T-Mobile Simple Choice plans are still available for customers who prefer them, however. These plans feature data rollover and no overage charges, so there's no extra fees added to the bill based on your usage.
Verizon got rid of overages early in 2016 and started offering rollover data for its shared data plans. Verizon's plans are similar to AT&T's, however an unlimited data option is not available to new customers at all.
AT&T offers unlimited data only to customers who also have DIRECTV or AT&T Internet. Otherwise, customers have shared data plans with every line on their account. In 2016, AT&T introduced a no-overages policy that throttles data to 2G speeds when a data bucket is exhausted. The company also has its 'Stream Saver' service in 2016, which reduces the quality of all streaming video and uses data more slowly as a result.
Smaller prepaid carriers, called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), usually operate on one of the four above networks and resell services to no-commitment customers. These plans cover Bethlehem, MD and change very frequently, but they do often represent a good savings each month.
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