In today's extremely competitive mobile phone industry, choosing the right provider for yourself can be very difficult as every company seems to offer great deals on the best new phones. Most of us are aware that a newer phone is in the making, before the one it's replacing is even on the shelves. Following is a quick-guide to help you get around all the hype and choose the best mobile company for your needs.

Step #1
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Using Google and doing some online research is a great way to enlighten yourself initially. Get a thorough idea of the particular company in question by first typing in the name, i.e. Sprint, Nextel, Verizon or AT&T. Then add search terms like "complaints", "lawsuits", "feedback", "rip off" and "service delivery". You will soon get an overall impression which will aid in the informed decision making process later on.

Step #2
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Eliminate the companies with bad reviews and excessive customer service complaints. Analyzing the mobile providers which remain, look at criteria such as different packages offered, data rates, the coverage map, average charges, possible hidden costs and roll-over minutes. If you have family living abroad you might even want to include international calling.

Step #3
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Another consideration of yours should be night and weekend minutes. Some companies offer free night minutes, usually starting at 7pm and free weekends starting Friday nights or Saturday mornings. The hours can vary so ask each company to confirm this for you. You might also want to ask if they offer free minutes during the holidays.

Step #4
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If the company offers roll-over minutes, ask how long these extra minutes are valid. Some companies will give you up to a year in which to utilize them.

Step #5
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Enquire about the amount of data included in the plan and how much they'll charge once you exceed the limit. It's better to be informed now than to be surprised when your bill arrives later on.

Step #6
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Determine how long this contract is binding, read it through completely, including the small and fine print at the bottom before signing. If anything is unclear be sure to ask.
Although the government is trying to pass a law making it illegal for cell phone companies to charge a fee for breaking the contract early, this is still the current state of affairs. So be 100% sure that you can commit to the contract before signing it.

Step #7
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If you decide that a contract isn't for you, there are always prepaid plans. The carriers offer quality phones and often use top companies' towers, ensuring that reception is not a problem. With prepay you can find plans as low as $9.00 per month, depending on the data plan and other specifics and no sign-up fee applies initially.