Jeff Kagan: Vote Which Wireless Network and Smartphone Is Best

Jeff Kagan  |

Let’s cut through the advertising claims. You have your own opinion on the best and worst wireless network and smartphones on the market today. Others want to know what you think. And the truth is, you want to know what others think. That’s how we all make good decisions. So, let’s help each other out.

Let’s vote on the best and the worst smartphone and wireless carrier. Vote by either sharing your thoughts at the end of this column or send them to me by email. As I continue to write about the best and the worst smartphones and wireless networks, your input will be helpful to everyone.

Which Smartphone Will You Buy and from Which Wireless Carrier?

It’s the holiday shopping season. This is the busiest time of the year for smartphone sales. That’s why next year’s models are introduced each fall before the holiday season.

The most often asked question this time of year is which phone and which network you should choose. Sometimes people are asking for themselves and sometimes as a gift, but everyone wants to know the best wireless carrier and smartphone. Everyone wants the best.

The truth is, experiences are different. It all depends on where you use your smartphone. Where in the city. Are you inside a building that blocks wireless signals? Is the network fast enough where you spend time. Do you have enough bars on the signal strength meter?

Which Is Best Mobile Network?

The truth is, that signal strength meter can be deceiving. Does it measure voice signal or wireless data? These are two different services offered by each carrier. We have all experienced great voice quality and lousy data speed, or the reverse.

So, as you can see, it’s very difficult to come up with a real winner and loser for the marketplace. One person may find AT&T  (T) Mobility is best for them while another person could say their best choice is Verizon  (VZ) Wireless.

That’s why asking friends and family will give you more accurate information than listening to the generic advertising messages which talk about average coverage nationwide. Even this more detailed personal information should not be assumed to be correct for all, but it’s another tool to help you choose.

5G Will Play Increasingly Important Role in Smartphone and Network Selection

This year there is one more important element mixed in. 5G will transform the wireless experience over the next few years. This next generation technology will roll out over several years. It won’t be like a switch the carriers turn on and instantly transform the entire nationwide network.

The way it will work is each carrier will start out with a list of cities where they will begin. Then they will continue to add to that list of cities and the service footprint will expand with each city.

This is the same way every previous version has rolled out whether that be 2G, 3G or 4G and it will take place over years. Some carriers will be the leaders. Others will be followers. Still others may be too slow to enter the race.

AT&T Mobility Is Clear Leader with 5G Service Available

Today, AT&T Mobility has the clear lead in mobile 5G. They have this next generation of service available in many cities right now. That footprint will continue to grow and expand to every market nationwide.

The problem is there are no 5G smartphones in the market yet. The first phones and tablets will appear next year. So, how will AT&T Mobility users be able to use their new 5G service?

AT&T Mobility solved this problem. They introduced the NightHawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router. This will let AT&T customers use 5G without a 5G smartphone.

AT&T Uses Nighthawk Lte Mobile Hotspot Router to Offer 5G Today

This works similar to the way Wi-Fi works when you are at a Starbucks  (SBUX) or McDonalds  (MCD). The NightHawk device is a 5G device and will log onto the 5G network where it is available. Then, your iPhone or Android smartphone will also log onto this NightHawk device.

At that point you will have a 5G connection on your smartphone. And the exciting part is this is ready before any other provider. AT&T recently made this announcement.

Verizon Wireless is next in line. They offer their first 5G Home connection to users. This is a 5G service, but it is important to understand this is not mobile. What I mean is this service only works in your home or office, not while you are out and about.

Verizon Offers 5G Home, but This Is Fixed, Not Mobile

That means calling this a 5G device may be technically correct, but it is not what users are expecting. This is confusing. When we think of 5G we think wireless. And when we think wireless, we think being out and about, right? We don’t think landline. But that’s what Verizon is offering. 5G Home is a landline service.

I think trying to confuse the marketplace, so they don’t look like a follower is a bad marketing decision on the part of Verizon. Apple is a follower. They are not first to 5G with their iPhones, but they don’t play these kinds of games with their customers.

It looks like Verizon is trying to play both sides and that just confuses the marketplace. Oh well, that’s their marketing decision. I suppose it was made so they can claim they are in the 5G world, even though it’s not mobile.

Even with this marketing mis-step, I think Verizon will eventually be a strong 5G player down the road. They always are. They just aren’t first. They are never first.

T-Mobile, Sprint, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, US Cellular and C Spire

Next, comes T-Mobile  (TMUS) and Sprint  (S). They also are foaming at the mouth awaiting their merger to be approved so they can move into 5G. Today, T-Mobile is a great marketer, with very little wireless data spectrum. Sprint has plenty of spectrum but has proven itself to be a weak marketer.

Together they would make a strong third place competitor, but we will have to wait until 2019 to see whether they are approved to merge or not.

There are other places customers get wireless like Comcast  (CMCSA) Xfinity Mobile, Charter  (CHTR) Spectrum Mobile and next year Altice  (ATUS) Mobile. There are also other players like US Cellular, C Spire, Tracfone and countless others. Some are smaller carriers. Others resell one of the big carrier services as an MVNO.

Which Is Your Favorite Smartphone, iPhone or Android?

Either way there are plenty of choices of service providers you can vote on.

When voting also tell me, which is your favorite smartphone and why. Smartphone makers in the market today are split into two parts, operating system and the actual smartphone itself.

Apple iOS and Google  (GOOGL) Android are the two biggest operating systems. Apple iPhone, Samsung  (SSNLF) Android Google Pixel and others compete in the handset side.

Today, none of these smartphones or operating systems connect to the 5G network. That will start next year. That’s where the AT&T NightHawk router described above, comes into play.

I expect Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel will be among the first to the party with 5G handsets. Being first is great to show off your device, but it also means there may be hiccups to deal with, but early adopters are ready for this to be first.

I expect Apple iPhone to be the last one to enter the new 5G space. They always wait and make sure their services work well rather than being first. This strategy has always worked for them.

So, vote! Either at the bottom of this column or send me a private email. Tell me which wireless networks and smartphones are your favorites and why. Which work best and worst. Which are you happiest with, which you won’t touch and why? Which operate without problems and which are a headache to deal with?

Also, let me know what you think about customer service. When you need help, do they take great care of you, or are you lost in space? I will share what I hear to help everyone, without using names. And whether you are reading this today or down the road, please continue to add your comments as we watch wireless continue to evolve toward the new world of 5G.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.

DISCLOSURE: DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
GOOGL Alphabet Inc. 1,067.77 14.59 1.39 1,298,571 Trade
S Sprint Corporation 5.95 0.02 0.25 4,101,342 Trade
TMUS T-Mobile US Inc. 65.84 0.11 0.17 1,825,410 Trade
CHTR Charter Communications Inc. 314.38 -1.26 -0.40 709,408 Trade
VZ Verizon Communications Inc. 59.06 0.79 1.36 11,570,607 Trade
MCD McDonald's Corporation 184.40 -0.25 -0.14 2,043,728 Trade
SBUX Starbucks Corporation 66.26 0.77 1.18 7,398,430 Trade
T AT&T Inc. 29.87 -0.04 -0.13 36,492,964 Trade
CMCSA Comcast Corporation Class A Common Stock 37.08 -0.28 -0.74 15,817,110 Trade
SSNLF Samsung Electronics Co Ltd 2,210.00 0.00 0.00 0

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