Recommended Premium Cell Phone Services

My standard list of recommended wireless providers includes carriers that have low-priority data access when networks are congested. While congestion is generally rare, some people may encounter it regularly or find it especially frustrating. On this page, I list recommended services that I expect to have higher prioritization during periods of congestion.[1]


Verizon Postpaid

Top-tier service quality
Verizon logo


Verizon’s postpaid plans are the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to wireless service. While the plans tend to be expensive, subscribers generally have high priority access to the nation’s most extensive network along with access to service from Verizon’s domestic roaming partners.

Note: Verizon’s postpaid unlimited plans generally have a threshold level of data use each month. After the threshold is reached, data access may be deprioritized. With Verizon’s Start Unlimited plan, there is no threshold—data access always has reduced priority.

Verizon’s website | Coverage map


T-Mobile Prepaid

Low-cost, high-priority service

If my understanding of T-Mobile’s prioritization policies is accurate, T-Mobile’s prepaid subscribers typically receive the same level of priority as most of T-Mobile’s postpaid subscribers. T-Mobile’s prepaid and postpaid services generally have a higher level of priority than services from MVNOs that use T-Mobile’s network.

T-Mobile’s prepaid plans are well-priced. As of September 2019, a single line with the Simply Prepaid plan is $40 per month and includes unlimited talk, unlimited texting, and up to 10GB of data. An unlimited data plan is available for $50 per month. Both plans become cheaper when additional lines are added in a family plan. Note that hotspot/tethering use and use on the unlimited plan beyond 50GB per month may have lower priority than regular, on-device use.

T-Mobile’s prepaid website | Coverage map


Google Fi

Great prices for low data use
Google Fi Logo

Phones designed specifically for Google Fi can seamlessly switch between access to T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular’s networks. Phones that are not specifically designed for Fi may still work with the service, but access will be restricted to exclusively T-Mobile’s network. It’s my impression that Google Fi subscribers generally have high-priority access to T-Mobile’s network. I’m unsure about the priority level that Fi subscribers have while accessing Sprint or U.S. Cellular’s networks.

Google Fi is well-priced for subscribers that don’t use much data, but the pricing is less competitive for moderate and heavy data use.

Fi’s website | Coverage map


Footnotes

  1. Carriers listed on this page also tend to offer more perks like device discounts and domestic roaming capabilities.