Verizon vs. AT&T: Which is the better choice for parents?

Boxing glovesAbout a month ago, iPhone became finally available on the Verizon network, after AT&T had monopolized iPhone service since the device’s initial launch. As a longtime AT&T customer from a small town, with minimal cell phone service to begin with, I didn’t really understand all the hype. However, reports are beginning to come out from comparison reports to indicate that, perhaps, the Verizon iPhone does have a few advantages.


The Phone:
The iPhone available on the Verizon network is largely similar to the iPhone 4 available to AT&T customers. However, as a parent, there’s one key difference that may make the Verizon version more appealing:  “hotspotting.” With an additional $20/month service charge, the Verizon iPhone can be activated as a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices. This kind of option is ideal for parents who may have children equipped with iPod Touches or laptops on long drives. Conversely, AT&T offers a “tethering” option for an additional $20/month that allows the phone to act as a modem for computing devices such as laptops.  On the flip side, the AT&T iPhone is capable of allowing users to talk and surf the web or use apps simultaneously, while the Verizon iPhone requires you to choose between talking or surfing.

Service Availability:
As with any service, this will vary on the cell phone coverage in your area. If you live in the sticks and can’t make a call from your living room anyways, service won’t be a huge concern. However, testers in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco have reported slightly better service from the Verizon iPhone.

Downloads:
3G, 4G, A-B-C-D…What parents really care about is how fast their kids can access websites and what-not on-the-go. Again, the speeds will depend on service, however the Verizon network seems to consistently provide faster upload and download times. Whether you’re looking to post a pic on Facebook or check the latest weather forecast, Verizon may be a slightly quicker option. For more information on download tests, check out this article from CNet.com.

Price:
Depending on your current carrier, the initial cost of an iPhone can vary greatly. Heck, AT&T customers can get the iPhone 3G for as little as $49 right now. However, new Verizon customers will pay between $200 and $300 for the phone, while Verizon customers looking to upgrade may face upgrade fees of up to $600. Ouch. Monthly service, however, seems to be comparable in price for both carriers.

The verdict? The service provider that you choose to go with is a personal choice. For current AT&T iPhone users, the cost of purchasing a new iPhone simply to change networks doesn’t seem cost effective unless you’ve experienced real problems on the AT&T Network. New users, however, are finally open to options. And the great part is that all of the wonders of the iTunes store and swiping your fingers through pages of fun are available no matter which provider you choose!