The USA’s number one provider, AT&T is not only one of America’s biggest companies, it’s also in the top 20 largest companies worldwide. AT&T can, albeit indirectly, trace its history to the Bell Telephone Company founded by Alexander Graham Bell; its current incarnation was founded in 1983, although its network of subsidiaries monopolized the US telecommunications industry for most of the 20th century (known as the Bell system). The AT&T of today is a publicly traded company providing landline, long-distance, mobile phone, cable television and broadband services.
Its 4G network may not be the nation’s fastest, but it is currently the largest, covering 288 million people and expected to reach 300 million by mid-2014. AT&T’s network isn’t technically all ‘4G’ – it’s actually a dual layer of LTE and HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul. AT&T states that their enhanced network is capable of delivering 4G speeds, and that combining these two technologies will provide customers with a smoother and more consistent mobile internet experience. The dual ‘4G’ network currently covers more than 170 million people in over 140 markets, with plans to expand AT&T’s LTE coverage to 300 million people by the end of 2014.
Aside from 4G, the company is also the nation’s largest Wifi provider, with a network of 30,000 AT&T hotspots nationally and providing access to over 220,000 hotspots globally for its customers through roaming agreements.
In terms of phones, AT&T offer devices for all of the major operating systems, including Android and Blackberry, and hold the honour of being the first US carrier to distribute the iPhone, a status it held exclusively until early 2011 and the release of the iPhone 4. However, with the iPhone now available through Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as several smaller carriers, AT&T has expanded its range of basic and smartphones for every budget, and provides customers with a wide variety of devices to choose from.
Like Verizon, AT&T has introduced shared data plans, aimed at families or individuals who use multiple devices. These plans all come with unlimited talk and text, with pricing varying by how much data is required and how many devices you’ll use. AT&T also offer traditional individual voice and data plans, and Family plans with shared text and voice minutes and optional data add-ons. Many of these plans also include unlimited night and weekend talk, rollover of minutes and unlimited AT&T Mobile to Mobile calls for customers who haven’t opted for the higher-priced Unlimited plans. And many customers will appreciate that AT&T still include rollover minutes, meaning any unused minutes at the end of a monthly billing cycle will roll on to the next one.
AT&T’S plans, however, remain some of the priciest of the major carriers, generally coming in second behind Verizon, and this is likely to be a factor for many customers looking for a wireless provider.
AT&T operate over 2300 retail stores and provide customer support in more than 160 languages. The company rank high in customer service satisfaction surveys, and also provide extensive accessibility and communications support for customers with disabilities.
Overall, AT&T is a company with a strong history and brand, and with an expansive and reliable 4G network and a wide range of plans. It may not be the cheapest carrier, but customers willing to pay a little extra for quality should definitely consider AT&T when choosing a cell phone plan.
See a list of iPhones currently being offered for less that $300 outright
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