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How to find the perfect cell phone

The newest cell phone commercial is out. In it, Sprint informs viewers of cell phone costs and overtime charges. The commercial show children being asked how many minutes they’re going to use and how much they are willing to pay for the next two years. At the commercial’s conclusion, viewers learn about the new Sprint PCS Fair and Flexible Plan.

Or how about Verizon’s commercial, which uses “Can you hear me now”?

Between the new two-way pagers and the camera phones, what cell phone company will you be caught using? And is there a way to end the frustration of breaking contracts when you realize you bought the wrong plan?

“I had Sprint, and it hardly ever worked … too expensive and there were long-term contracts. Now I have T-Mobil, and it works, except in Cooper. I like it because it is a one-year contract but I am able to change plans during that year,” USF student Devon Barrow said.

You don’t want to be stuck with a two-year contract that does not suit your needs. Do some investigation before the final decision.

Although one company might promise you a free flip phone with a color screen, Internet and downloadable ringtones, your cell phone bill could make up for the savings on your phone. Picking the wrong plan might cause you to have to go to Amscot to take out cash advances to pay that bill.

Don’t let this happen to you.

“I tried to stay out of the technology thing, but in 2002, I had to get a phone,” USF senior Aaron Holland said.

Holland is one of the millions of students who have a cell phone.

“I now have Verizon, and I use it a lot,” Holland said.

Do you recognize the saying: “Sprint overage charges … how does your cell phone company make you feel?”

So, how does the commercial make you feel?

“The Sprint commercial not only makes sense of reality, but it also hits too close to home with just about any cell phone users. I like the new Sprint plan because some months I do talk more than others, and it would save me money, now if my cell phone would do that kind of thing,” said Kristin Banga, a USF student.

Sprint: National “IN Calling.” According to, “With National IN Calling, you can call any of our 38 million customers absolutely anytime, virtually anywhere, from the National IN Calling Airtime Rate and Coverage Area.”

However, Banga said that she has actually been with one cell phone company, AT&T, for three years. “I use this company because each year when I renew my contract they give me an extra 15 percent more minutes for free,” Banga said.

Cell phone companies sometimes offer additional discounts when it comes to businesses and corporate users.

“With AT&T, I get a discount because I work with Marriott/Universal Studios,” Banga said.

Michelle Campbell, a Tampa resident, said that she finds her best plans when using just a little bit of mathematics.

“I calculate my price per minute. I take the price and then divide it by the amount of minutes they offer me, and I find shocking results,” Campbell said.

Campbell said she found the Sprint PCS Fair and Flexible plan charged 15 cents per minute compared to T-Mobil plans that can run as low as 5.

“I talk on the phone a lot, and I need to do my research in order to save money. I found myself saving over $200 last year by just doing the extra research,” Campbell said.

What about the “beep beep” phones? How do they compare to the regular phones?

“I like Nextel because it is convenient. Not having to say the hello and good-byes, and all the extra talk in between, I can get straight to the point with the direct connect,” Ricky Anderson, an HCC student said.

Nextel was also one of the service providers, which worked during the Hurricane Charley panic.

“I tried to use my cell phone to call people, but it wouldn’t go through because too many users were trying to call people. But, thank goodness, I had Nextel’s direct connect. Because of the fact that it works off of radio waves, I was able to reach all my friends and family that had Nextel as well,” Anderson said.

When picking a phone, check to see what kind of band capability is offered. Different plans have different coverage. Dual-band coverage allows users to use other companies’ networks. When traveling across states, it provides a broader coverage area, although roaming fees may still apply.

Dan Hunter, a Best Buy employee and USF student, explained the differences between the various cell phones.

“There are different frequencies that are used in the United States, which include GSM (global systems for mobile communications) and TDMA (time-division multiple access). What it is in simpler terms is that they are all different technologies that have the same outcome,” Hunter said.

Different companies offer different phones that travel on these frequencies–you just have to research the company and phone that you will be buying to find the best match.

“The GSM is standard in Europe, but it is just starting over here in the United States. But in 2 or 3 years, it will be working real good,” Hunter said.

Now that you know the lingo, what exactly should you get when you buy a phone?

Hunter recommends GAIT phones. According to, an online database of mobile phone information, GAIT is a “standared which allows seamless roaming between TDMA and GSM networks.”

“It will do both TDMA and GSM. That way if the GSM signal is not reachable, the phone will automatically search for a TDMA signal and get better coverage and have the newer technology built into the phone,” Hunter said.

He said that all providers offer some type of phone with this technology.

“Around here, I recommend Sprint or Verizon. They work better than others–except indoors–but that is because they have higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths,” Hunter said.

If this whole cell phone thing drives you nuts, try GO phones. They are prepaid.

“I think the GO phones are the best–no contracts and prepaid minutes,”University of Phoenix student Jennifer Warner.

The GO phones can be purchased at local 7-Eleven stores.

“It’s a bit more expensive to buy minutes, but at least you don’t have an obligation to a contract,” Werner said.

When you’re looking for a service provider or cell phone, take your time, because, if you don’t, you may find yourself in a contract you don’t want to be in.