Which Cellular Carriers are the best? And in which markets? NYC? Philly? LA?

Which cellular carrier has the best coverage?
There's a lot of marketing that says Verizon is the best.  But is it really?
And how about the super-cheap cellular services.  Which carrier are they using.  Surely the smaller brands don't have their own network backbone.

Another wierd observation!  Some people are able to surf the net on their smartphones in the NYC subways, others can't!  The transit authority WiFi ain't that good.  So, its gotta be the cellular carrier.
I appreciate links to useful studies, articles, or videos.
brothertruffle880Asked:
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yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
When it comes to coverage I think Verizon has a strangle hold on it, especially in the cities you listed.  Most carriers are solid in the cities. It's when you get to the rural areas where you need to find the carrier that meets your coverage.

I personally am on AT&T and seen weaknesses where Verizon has coverage. I can validate it because I use Verizon for my firm and I personally use AT&T.
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masnrockCommented:
The answer is hard to truly say. I've seen articles give different answers. And my experiences haven't always matched those articles. But at the end of the day, it goes down more to where you will be in cities.

Cases in point: I've seen AT&T is very spotty in some parts of outer Philly (city limits, not suburbs), and Verizon is better out there. On top of that, AT&T didn't have a plan to fix the problem (not according to customer service anyway), but they were pushing people to use wifi calling. But they are about even in the main parts of the city. I've also had Verizon suck in parts of NYC.

As for your subway question, its complicated. Some subways like those in NYC and DC originally had exclusive agreements with a single carrier. I know for sure DC's had been with Verizon, which also turned into a driver for a lot of people taking their service. However, those exclusive agreements got forced to an end after some emergencies. And even now different subways are at different points of implementation with different carriers. So you may notice on some lines a phone won't work, but works great with others.

If you were just looking for a phone that works on a national basis, I would basically look at Verizon, AT&T, and maybe T-Mobile (they have drastically improved their network in recent years and cost less than the other two).
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