3G? 4G networks? Verizon? Which carrier to choose?

I've been reading ads saying that cell phone carrier "XYZ" uses the same wireless network infrastructure as the "better brand"  
1.  Is this true?  It doesn't have the ring of truth to it.  
2.  I'd also like some opinion if Verizon really is the best carrier... or have they been slouching off lately.
3. any other comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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What's the Best Wireless Carrier?

There's no use wasting time and mental energy considering a provider that doesn't serve your area well. One way to check if you can actually get a strong and reliable reception on any network is to consult user-created coverage maps for your neighborhood.

I've highlighted several of these maps before. DeadCellZones, founded in 2001, seems to have the largest database, with over 100,000 user-contributed comments pinpointing where signals are non-existant or strong for their network. If your area isn't covered on DeadCellZones or you just want more info, take a look at SignalMap, which offers handy bar (and skull) icons, and Coverage, which overlays detailed carrier maps on your iPhone ($1.99).

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brothertruffle880Author Commented:
There are some phone carriers that say "We use the same network infrastructure as Verizon"
But they are a competitor of verizon.  I have heard this sales line from several vendors.  

Are these competitors lying?  Or do they have access to Verizon's infrastructure?  Or is there a single infrastructure which numerous carriers use?
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