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Wireless Carriers (Mobile Operators): United States (U.S.A.)

The following list of wireless service providers (carriers, operators and resellers) operate in national or regional markets.

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a company that does not own or operate a wireless (mobile phone) network, but resells wireless services under their own brand name, using the network of a wireless network operator.

National size rankings are by number of mobile subscribers. National coverage might mean that 80% of the population area has service. Check with each service provider about specific areas of coverage and calling plans before you sign up.

Some carriers operate an analog network (AMPS, TACS) in addition to any digital networks mentioned, unless noted. Although many carriers are retiring their analog networks and service.

Coverage maps show primary service areas, secondary service areas and/or roaming areas.

For more information about wireless carriers and calling plans, including guides, reviews and promotions, see our Wireless Carriers and Calling Plans main page.

Caveat About Coverage Maps

Coverage maps help you find areas where you can and can not get service. But most maps do not show dead zones (local places where your phone doesn't work) that affect your ability to use a cell phone service. The actual service you get may be different from the areas shown on the map.

Before buying a new service, and possibly being locked into a plan with poor coverage, ask for a trial period and check for dead zones along your regular routes.

Be sure to use the phone handset model you plan to buy, because the RF performance (radio frequency signal sensitivity) of a handset affects its dead zones and on-road (in motion) performance.

Wireless Service Providers: United States (USA)

Company Overview
Amp'd Mobile Former #5 MVNO uses Verizon Wireless EVDO network. Voice and data services offer music, video, sports and games aimed at youth aged 18 to 34 years. Coverage map and search by ZIP code. Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2007. Suspended operations July 2007.
Alltel Wireless #5 national carrier. Large regional CDMA carrier operates in 36 states (southeast and midwest). Walkie-talkie service. Coverage map. Jan. 2009 proceeding with merger with Verizon Wireless. Acquired Western Wireless.
AT&T Wireless #1 national carrier. Joint venture between wireless divisions of SBC and BellSouth. Rebranded Cingular Wireless as AT&T Wireless in 2007. Regional brands: Ameritech, Cellular One, Houston Cellular, Nevada Bell, Pacific Bell, SBC Wireless, SNET, Southwestern Bell. GSM, TDMA network. Coverage maps for GSM voice, data, GoPhone, Smart Limits and Mobile TV. Check detailed coverage by ZIP code.
BeyondMobile MVNO. Nationwide mobile voice and data service designed for small business. Owned by Cbeyond Communications. Coverage map of voice and data services.
Boost Mobile #3 MVNO uses Nextel iDEN network. Provides prepaid calling plans and calling cards (Re-Boost) for the youth market. Appeals to Hispanic market with coverage in Baja, Mexico. Walkie-talkie service. Exclusively Motorola phones. Owned by Sprint. Coverage map select by state.
Cellular One (Dobson Cellular Systems) Multi-regional carrier operates in 16 states. TDMA and GSM networks. Owned by Dobson Communications. Cellular One name licensed from Western Wireless. Coverage map search by ZIP code, but no map is available.
Cellular One (Western Wireless) Small regional carrier operates in 19 western states under Cellular One and Western Wireless brands. Operates TDMA and CDMA networks. Licenses the Cellular One brand name to Dobson Cellular Systems and Cingular Wireless for use in 16 other states. Formed in 1994 by merger of Pacific Northwest Cellular and General Cellular. Agreed to be acquired by Alltel. Coverage list of cities by state.
Cellular South Small regional CDMA carrier owns network in southeast states. Offers unlimited flat rate calling and unlimited text message plans. Owned by Telepak. Coverage map. Tower News lists new cellular tower installations.
Cricket Communications Mid-size multi-regional CDMA carrier operates in 20 west coast and central states. Offers flat-rate local calling and messaging plans, but no roaming. Subsidiary of Leap Wireless. Coverage map select by state.
Disney Mobile MVNO uses Sprint network. Services focused on children and families, such as easy-to-use features and family usage controls. Owned by The Walt Disney Co. Coverage map and search by ZIP code. Plans to cease operations on Dec. 31, 2007.
EarthLink Wireless Wireless e-mail and voice services for BlackBerrys and laptops. Treo handset coverage map. Samsung handset coverage map.
ESPN Mobile Sports information available through Verizon Wireless. Former Disney-owned MVNO terminated service in Sep. 2006.
Helio MVNO. Offers video, music and games to teens and young adults. Joint-venture between EarthLink and Korea-based SK Telecom. Coverage map and search by ZIP code.
Liberty Wireless #4 MVNO uses nationwide Sprint Network. Only no-contract calling plans. Owned by InPhonic (filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Nov. 2007). Coverage map.
MetroPCS Local operator in San Francisco, Sacramento, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Sarasota and Atlanta. No-contract flat-rate calling plans. Coverage area search by ZIP code.
Movida Cellular MVNO uses Sprint network in 20 states. Services for Hispanic consumers and Spanish-language content. Owned by Movida Communications, Inc. and backed by The Cisneros Group. Coverage map (English). Coverage map (Spanish). Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2008.
Nextel #3 national carrier. Uses iDEN network. Exclusively Motorola phones. Pioneered national two-way radio dispatch (walkie-talkie) service for business. Merged with Sprint Wireless in 2005. Digital cellular voice and walkie-talkie coverage map. Search by ZIP code.
9278 Mobile MVNO. Prepaid calling plans. No contracts. Low international calling rates. Coverage map.
Primus Wireless MVNO. Owned by Primus Telecommunications, Inc. Coverage map.
Qwest Wireless Merged with CenturyLink in April 2011. Provides wireless services through partnership with Verizon Wireless.
Red Pocket Mobile MVNO serves Chinese-speaking customers with Chinese-language Motorola handsets and low calling rates to Asia. Uses AT&T's GSM network.
Republic Wireless MVNO uses Sprint mobile network. Promotes VoIP calls using WiFi, and has access to 3G voice and data services. Division of Bandwidth.com. Launched Nov 2011.
7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless Services MVNO uses Cingular Wireless network. Prepaid plans. Owned by 7-Eleven, Inc.
Southern LINC Regional carrier serving southeast states. Uses iDEN network. Exclusively Motorola phones. Walkie-talkie service. Owned by Southern Company. Coverage maps for national, regional and local calling plans.
Sprint #3 national carrier. All-CDMA network, no analog network. A Sprint Corporation unit. Merged with Nextel in 2005. Voice and data coverage map. Search by state or ZIP code.
SunCom Wireless Regional reseller provides services in six southeast states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Coverage area lists market areas served. Acquired by T-Mobile USA in Feb. 2008. Founded as Triton PCS
Ting MVNO uses Sprint mobile network. Voice plans adjust rate tier (up or down) based on usage. Coverage map. Owned by Tucows. Launched Feb 2012.
T-Mobile USA #4 national carrier. First national GSM network. No analog network. Formerly VoiceStream (merger of Aerial, OmniPoint, and Powertel). Bought by Germany-based Deutsche Telekom in 2001, which uses T-Mobile as its global wireless brand. Coverage map shows signal strength. Search by address or road intersection.
TracFone #2 MVNO operates largest nation-wide prepaid wireless service. On CDMA and TDMA networks. Owned by America Movil, which owns TelCel, the largest mobile carrier in Mexico and Latin America. Coverage map search by ZIP code.
US Cellular Large multi-regional carrier operates AMPS, TDMA and CDMA networks in 26 states. Majority-owned by Telephone and Data Systems. Coverage map. Search coverage by ZIP code or city/state.
Verizon Wireless #2 national carrier. CDMA network. Joint venture of Verizon Communications and UK-based Vodafone after merger of Bell Atlantic Mobile, Vodafone/Airtouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo. Operated by Cellco Partnership. Rate and coverage map. Search by city, ZIP code or rate plan. Also Prepaid Pay As You Go coverage map. Jan. 2009 merger with Alltel will make Verizon the largest US wireless carrier.
Virgin Mobile USA #1 MVNO uses Sprint CDMA network. Targets young consumers. Offers only prepaid services. Coverage map search by ZIP code or city/state. 83% owned by U.K.-based Virgin Mobile. Planned acquisition by Sprint to close by early 2010.
Voce Wireless MVNO uses Cingular, Sprint or T-Mobile network. Targets luxury market with exclusive handsets, automatic data back-up and regular free handset upgrades. Planned launch in New York and Los Angeles in early 2006. Expansion to top 10 cities by end 2006. Majority-owned by Japan-based content provider Faith, Inc.

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