Trying to figure out which cell phone company to sign up with is a pretty complicated process. Not only are you looking for the best cell phone plan, but you also have to figure out if the reception will be any good in the places you will be using the phone the most.
I know many people who have cell phones that do not get adequate reception in their homes or office. We've all seen people pacing around their driveways or front yards talking on the cell phone because the reception isn't any good inside their house.
Most cell phone companies now offer reception maps on their web sites. (T-mobile, Verizon, AT&T coverage maps) Supposedly, these maps show where the reception is good.
I even know of a site that is trying to get more specific by having individuals log in their personal experience. DeadCellZones.com I think this is a great idea, but unless they are specifically in your house, the information is still variable.
I get great reception with my carrier at my house, but as I go three houses down the street, I always lose the reception.
I have come up with a reliable and fun way to figure out which carrier to choose for your cell phone.
Have a Cell Phone Reception Party!
Invite your friends to come over to your house and see how their various cell phones and companies receive at your house. Make a game out of it with little forms. People fill out a form that says what their phone manufacturer is (THAT is also a factor by the way) and what their phone service is. They then rate their service on a scale of 0-10 in various places in your house: front lawn, garage, kitchen, etc.
Have a theme party.
Do a showing of "Bells are Ringing"
Play a game of "telephone" (where you tell a message to the person next to you and they tell it to the person next to them and then you see what comes out the other end after going through a dozen people).
Make origami cell phones for decorations.
Believe me, I tried to figure out which carrier to use with supposed reception maps and it doesn't work. Per my carrier's map I should not get any reception at my house at all.
Save yourself time and aggravation AND make new friends. Have a Cell Phone Reception Party!
Be sure to let me know if you do this.