As of 2022, there are 915 wireless providers (also known as wireless telecommunications carriers) operating in the USA — 2.7% more than in 2021. The market is forecast to grow steadily over the coming years, led by demand for prepaid voice and data plans across urban and rural geographies. Although big telecom companies like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint dominate the United States mobile industry, smaller regional service providers have expanded their coverage footprints through extended roaming agreements and spectrum lease agreements with mobile virtual network operators.
There are 8 major cell phone providers in the US: Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, US Cellular, Cricket Wireless, Tracfone, and Boost Mobile.
There are many different wireless carriers in the US, but there are only eight major ones. They are Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Corporation, AT&T Mobility, US Cellular Corporation, Cricket Wireless, Tracfone Inc., and Boost Mobile LLC.
Verizon Wireless is one of the biggest cellular service providers in America. The company was founded in 2000 when Bell Atlantic Corporation acquired GTE Corporation’s wireless business unit. It currently has over 147 million customers across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Sprint Corporation is a telecommunications company that provides services for customers through its own network and through joint ventures with other carriers like Virgin Mobile or Boost Mobile (a prepaid plan).
T-Mobile USA is another large carrier that offers voice telephony services to consumers under different brands such as GoSmart Mobile Plus Plan or MetroPCS.
AT&T is the second-largest provider in the U.S., with a total of 3,000 retail stores and more than 260,000 employees nationwide. It’s also one of the few providers that offer service to both landline and mobile phone users, meaning that even if you’re not interested in getting rid of your home phone number, you can still take advantage of AT&T’s offers.
AT&T has some great deals on its 4G network that make it worth considering—especially if you live somewhere where there aren’t many other options for high-speed data coverage.
T-Mobile is a major cell phone provider in the United States, with more than 50 million subscribers. It’s also a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom and was founded as VoiceStream Wireless PCS in 1994. As one of the four major carriers in the US, T-Mobile offers coverage across all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Despite its name, T-Mobile doesn’t actually operate on GSM technology—it runs on something called CDMA technology instead. This means if you have an unlocked phone that uses GSM networks (like AT&T or Verizon) and want to use it on T-Mobile, there are some things you need to know about making sure your device works properly before switching over completely from another carrier.*
The company also offers wireless voice, messaging, and broadband internet access services to users through its various subsidiaries under the Boost Mobile (boostmobile.com), Virgin Mobile (virginmobileusa.com), and Assurance Wireless names; wholesale access to its wireless networks to mobile virtual network operators; and equipment products and services for businesses at wholesale prices.
Verizon is one of the largest cell phone providers in the US. It has a strong network and offers multiple data plans, including unlimited data plans with no throttling or extra fees. Verizon also has a good selection of phones from which to choose, from top brands like Apple, Samsung and LG.
The downside is its coverage isn’t as good in rural areas as some other networks’ coverage can be (such as T-Mobile).
Cricket Wireless is a prepaid cell phone service provider owned by AT&T that offers unlimited data plans and unlimited talk and text plans.
Cricket Wireless’s Unlimited plan costs $55 per month for one line, $30 per month for each additional line on the same account, with no contract required. The carrier also has an offer to get a free smartphone plus 50% off accessories by paying 12 monthly installments of $48 each—a total cost of $240 over 24 months rather than the usual upfront price of $500 or more.
In addition to its standard unlimited data plan, Cricket Wireless also offers a limited-time promotion with four lines sharing 10 GB of high-speed mobile hotspot speeds at no extra cost (the regular price is $20 per month).
US Cellular is a regional carrier that operates in 19 states and the District of Columbia. It was founded in 1983, and it has more than 5 million subscribers. US Cellular is owned by US Cellular Corporation, which also owns all other wireless brands operating under its umbrella: Straight Talk, NET10 Wireless, TelCel USA and TracFone Wireless. These companies offer prepaid services that include no contracts or credit checks; phone plans with unlimited talk time and text messages; long distance calls for $5 per month; and data plans for $30 per line/month.
MetroPCS is a prepaid cell phone provider that offers service in over 95% of the US, including both urban and rural areas. It’s owned by T-Mobile and uses the same network as that network’s postpaid plans, which means you’ll get excellent coverage.
MetroPCS offers phones from Apple and Samsung, including many of their latest models. You’ll find the iPhone XS Max for $1 down with $30 per month payment plan; or you can choose an iPhone XR for $0 down with 24 monthly payments of $6 each.
You can also pick up Samsung’s latest Galaxy S10e, S10+, and S10 5G phones on MetroPCS’ website—all three start at just $0 down plus 24 monthly payments of either $6 or $17 per month ($14 per month if you choose direct debit).
Boost Mobile is a prepaid cell phone service that’s owned by Sprint. It’s one of the top three prepaid carriers in the United States, with over 7 million customers. Boost Mobile offers nationwide coverage and no contract plans, which also require no credit check.
It’s hard to find out which cell phone service providers work best. There are a lot of variables, such as: coverage and connection strength, price, type of plan/service or phones available, extra features, etc.