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The Cellular Back Door
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How to Switch Cellular Carriers
It's time to upgrade your wireless phone and you're considering your options. Or, maybe you don't like how you've been treated by your old cellular carrier. Here are the steps to make the switch to another network, including how to 'wake up' your old wireless carrier. You can make your changes without leaving home even while keeping your old wireless (or wireline) number.
You might also consider Switch to Prepaid.  Follow these steps and make the switch without blood, sweat, or tears.

1. Determine Who Offers Service in Your Area:
Start at the Mountain Wireless Cellular reports for your state. Make sure you don't overlook any local carriers. If you visit an online cellular retailer, most of them will ask you to enter a Zip Code to let you know if you have coverage in your neighborhood. Choose at least 3 carriers, and that can include your current one. Don't forget to look at Prepaid Carriers, most of which offer nationwide service.

2. Make Sure the Coverage Is Adequate Where You Need It:
That means at home, where you work and where you travel. Most carriers offer detailed maps at their web site. Check with neighbors and co-workers to at least eliminate carriers that don't work in those locations. If that narrows your list to less than 3, you might want to look at additional carriers. Look for guidance at Mountain Wireless Network Reviews.

3. Find the Best Deals:
Compare your list to the Reviews for cellular carriers for your state. Follow the links to your chosen carriers and their online deals. Determine which plans fit your current usage and the phone from each company that suits your needs. Make a note of plans and features you'd like. Feel free to call carriers with questions about their offers. Then, consider your phone options. Shop individual carriers, the manufacturers and cellular bargain sites. Now, you're ready to switch, but if you don't hate your current provider, don't assume switching is the best option. Don't forget to get an update from our Employee Discount Page to see if your employer has a deal with any cellular company.

4. Before Switching, Call Your Current Carrier:
Ask what they can do for you...you might be surprised. Tell them what you'd like in a phone and plan, and ask for their best deal before you continue with them. If they can't satisfy you, or if you still want to shop around, it's time to check your list. If you like your carrier's coverage but can't stand dealing with them, consider switching to a different company that uses the same network. Also consider a switch to Prepaid, possibly staying with the same carrier. Previously you needed to actually begin the cancellation process to get a carrier's last, best 'retention' offer. Now, they realize the cancellation process will be initiated by your newly chosen carrier during the number porting process. Therefore, you can tell your old carrier you will be leaving and that you will begin the porting process with another carrier. This may produce the desired 'retention' offer. Sometimes you need to be transferred to the "cancellation department" where they may make such offers.

5. Start with the Top Choice on Your List:
You'll need to choose a new phone...but it might be free. If you want to keep your wireless number, you'll be "porting" your number. All the carriers and re-sellers know how to do it, but you should have your old bill in front of you. Contact the new carrier by phone or online. Make sure you tell them, or enter, your old information the same, especially if it has miss-spellings. Let the new carrier cancel your old service. Also, make sure you're not under contract with the old carrier. If you are, consult How to Get Out of Your Cellular Contract for several ways to get out of your old contract with little or no penalty. Even then, don't cancel your account, let the new carrier do that. If anything smells fishy, be prepared to go to the next choice on your list.

6. Take It For a Spin:
OK, you've got the deal you like, a carrier that works where you want it, and a phone that you love, or at least can live with for a couple years. As soon as you get it, use it in as many of the places you'll need it as possible, especially in your house. "Can you hear me now?" calls to friends are not unexpected. You should have another 14 to 30 days to make sure this is "the one." If the company questions your desire for yet another tryout period, show your sincerity this time by porting your number.

7. Buyer's Remorse?
Be nice to your old carrier. You may find your new choice sucks and you'll wanna 'go home.' Most likely, the old carrier will welcome you back with open arms, and even "un-port" your phone number (although 'stuff happens' as you increase the complexity of your situation). Don't let your pride get in the way of having the best cellular phone experience possible.