The wireless carrier network you use can be a lifeline. We use our phones daily to check email, chat with colleagues and search the web. Yet if you decide to switch networks, there can be a lot of stress involved. Will you lose contacts? Is the network going to provide fast enough service? To help, here's a seven-step guide that explains some of the "gotchas" when switching carriers and what to do if things don't go quite as you planned.
1. Get to know the coverage map.
The most important thing to know before switching carriers is the coverage map. Pore over the map. You'll want to know if your wireless service will work in your office but also on the way to work, in the places you regularly visit for business trips, and when you visit clients. Even in 2018, not every provider has perfect coverage in every city, especially rural areas.
2. Save your contacts to the cloud.
Another "gotcha" has to do with your contacts. Most modern phones provide a way to archive your contacts to the cloud. For example, on an iPhone, you just tap your profile name in settings, then use iCloud to archive your contacts. On an Android phone, Google Contacts are saved automatically in the cloud. When you switch carriers, you can restore your contacts.
3. Know the plans your carrier offers.
Even after switching, it's good to monitor the carrier's various plans, including important details, such as any data caps. Plan offerings change routinely, and you can usually save money by checking in every two months for better deals. Also, some plans include extra perks. For example, T-Mobile includes free access to Netflix.
4. Familiarize yourself with the network's perks.
Every network has perks, and some are more notable than others. For example, T-Mobile has a new 600-MHz, low-frequency band that works better in rural areas and in office buildings. Your phone has to support it, and the only common phones that do are the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ and the less-common LG V30.
5. Chat away.
Another good tip after switching to a new provider is to use the live chat tool for customer support. AT&T offers helpful online chat agents who can answer questions about your plan or provide tech support. One reason to rely on the chat is that you can check if there are better deals or if you are incurring extra costs above your plan, such as overage charges on a data plan.
6. Be wary of trade-ins.
It might be tempting to consider a phone trade-in. You might start with an iPhone with one carrier, visit a store and do a trade-in, and walk out with the same phone. Add up how much it really costs. Often the payout for an older phone is lower than what you might get if you sell it yourself online using services like eBay.
7. Get to know your bill.
Besides chatting with customer service to ask about deals and overages, explore the billing site for your new carrier thoroughly. You can configure services, adjust your phone plan, add additional employees and check for any problems. The billing and support sites for cellphone carriers can be confusing because there are so many options. Set aside some time to explore all of the features – it might help you avoid some problems down the road.