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Given that coverage can vary from block to block or even building to building, no one can say for certain that a given network will work best for you.Carrier coverage maps can be a good starting point if you zoom in to the street level, but they say nothing about network capacity and consistency.

We also cover AT&T and Sprint, plus a variety of popular prepaid and resold options for common situations in the Our picks section.

I’ve been covering the wireless industry since the late 1990s.

This amount of detail makes Root Metrics a great source for gauging overall performance by region.

PCMag takes a similar approach but looks more specifically at network data speed and reliability.

Root Metrics also judged Verizon best at text performance in its past three surveys; AT&T had tied Verizon in the prior report and had won three times before then.

In addition, Verizon was the overall winner for data performance in PCMag’s 2017 “Fastest Mobile Networks” tests—although not by as wide of a margin as in that publication’s 2016, 2015, and 2014 tests.

If you want to go a step further, you can buy a prepaid SIM card and test-drive a network yourself in all your key locations.

That’s what I did before switching to T-Mobile in 2013; taking that step helped me confirm that T-Mobile worked not just at home and around Washington, DC, but also down into the entrance of my Metro stop.

He cited progress in eastern North Carolina but warned of “notable weak areas in Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Wyoming and Montana.” In contrast, Open Signal’s latest results show T-Mobile edging ahead of Verizon, with average LTE download speeds of 17.45 megabits per second versus Verizon’s 14.91 Mbps.

Open Signal’s report, released in August 2017, has AT&T trailing at 12.92 Mbps and Sprint farther behind at 9.76 Mbps.

Now that two-year contracts are a thing of the past, you have a lot more freedom to get the cell phone plan that works best for your needs.

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