If you're thinking of leaving AT&T's prices behind but still like its coverage, then check out these alternative carriers.

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is an "alternative carrier" that leases network coverage from one of the "Big Four" carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile). This leased coverage is resold to you for less, so you still get Big Four-level coverage for cheaper.

AT&T has quite a few MVNOs using its network, since it offers pretty wide coverage for 4G LTE data as well as calling. You have many choices, but the good news is that if you're bring your own unlocked phone over, it should work in most cases. If you're interested in an AT&T MVNO, check your phone's compatibility first.

You need to make sure that your phone has the following bands to work with an AT&T-powered alternative carrier:

  • 3G: 850Mhz (Band 5), 1900Mhz (Band 2)
  • LTE: 700Mhz (Band 12), 1700/2100Mhz (Band 4), 1900Mhz (Band 2)

Here are the MVNOs powered by AT&T.

AirVoice Wireless

AirVoice is a prepaid wireless service that only uses AT&T's network for coverage. Sign up is simple in that you purchase an AirVoice SIM, activate it, and choose from one of three types of plans: pay as you go, unlimited, or 30-day.

$30 gets you 30 days of unlimited calling, texting, multimedia messaging, international texting, and 1GB of 4G LTE data.

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Black Wireless

Black Wireless is an MVNO that simply aims to save you money. It offers unlimited monthly data plans, which give you an allotment of 4G LTE data, and then you get unlimited data at 2G speeds with some plans.

$15/month gets you 200 minutes or texts (or a combination of both), 200 international minutes with calling to landlines in 72 countries, and 500MB of 4G LTE data, with unlimited 2G data at 128Kbps.

$40/month gets you 2GB of 4G LTE with unlimited 2G data, unlimited talk and text, and unlimited international calling to 72 countries (you can actually only dial up to 10 unique international phone numbers during a 30-day period).

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Boom Mobile

Boom Mobile only operates on AT&T's network for business customers. For personal plans, it operates on the other three biggies.

Business plans start at $29.99/month, which gets you unlimited talk and text and 1GB of 4G LTE. Each additional line on these plans shares that 1GB of data, so you can up it to 3GB, 7GB, or 10GB, which can be shared among lines.

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campusSIMs

campusSIMs is an interesting MVNO in that it uses Puretalk USA's network, which uses AT&T's. It's designed purely for international students and has plans specifically tailored to their needs.

Every plan comes with free international inbound calling so that students can stay in touch, and campusSIMs even provides customer support in English, Spanish, and Mandarin.

The base plan is $25/month and gets you 1000 minutes (U.S. only), unlimited texting, and 500MB of 4G LTE. $30/month gets you 1GB of 4G LTE. You can ship your SIM card to your home country or university campus.

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Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular is relatively run-of-the-mill when it comes to MVNOs: its aim is to save you money on your monthly phone bill. But it's been recognized twice by J.D. Power and Associates for its excellent customer service.

Plans are broken up into "Talk" plans and "Connect" plans. Talk plans start at $10/month and you're billed based on the minutes you use. $15/month gets you 250 minutes. To add texting and data, you need a connect plan, which start at $2.50/month for 300 texts and 30MB of 4G LTE. $10/month gets you 500MB of 4G LTE and unlimited texting, which is pretty competitive.

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Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless is pretty much the biggest player in terms of MVNOs that use AT&T's network. It has excellent plans, and that's due in no small part to the fact that it's owned by AT&T.

Cricket offers big discounts for multi-line plans — you can save up to $100/month. Plans starts at $30/month for 1GB of 4G LTE and unlimited calling and texting. $40/month gets you 3GB of 4G LTE and you're then eligible for the group save discount. You'll save $10 off the second line, $20 off the third, $30 off the fourth, and $40 off the fifth for a total savings of $100/month (you basically get that fifth line for free).

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EasyGO Wireless

EasyGO is actually powered by H2O Wireless, another AT&T MVNO. EasyGO, however, focuses on international calling and texting.

For $30/month, you get unlimited domestic talk, text, and multimedia messaging, 200MB of 4G LTE, unlimited international text, unlimited international calling to over 70 countries, and 200 any time minutes to mobile numbers in the Dominican Republic and mobile numbers and landlines in Guatemala.

If you need more data, it's an extra $10/500MB. Any data you don't use in the month will roll over and won't expire as long as your number remains active.

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good2GO Mobile

goog2GO Mobile uses AT&T's GSM network and Sprint's CDMA network to give you full coverage in the U.S. You can bring just about any device, but you'll want to be sure of your Sprint phone's eligibility first.

Plans starts at $30/month for 500MB of 4G LTE and unlimited talk and text ($25/month with Auto Pay discount).

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H2O Wireless

H2O offers a very competitive starting plan, which is $30/month for 3GB of 4G LTE data (unlimited 2G data thereafter), unlimited nationwide talk and text, unlimited international calling to landlines in over 50 countries (select countries include calling to cell phones), unlimited international texting, and a free $10 international talk credit (for the countries that aren't covered).

You'll even save $3/month if you sign up for Auto Recharge. That's $27/month for more than you get from most carriers.

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Jolt Mobile

Jolt Mobile has been in business since 1995 and uses AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. Its plans are far from competitive, offering a $25 base data plan, which includes unlimited domestic calling, unlimited global texting, but only 100MB or 3G or 4G LTE data. You have to jump up to $40 to get 1GB, and even then, it's unclear as to whether or not you're getting 3G or 4G speeds.

Unless coverage is amazing in your area, you can probably steer clear of this one.

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Net10 Wireless

Net10, owned by TracFone, uses all of the Big Four's towers to help with coverage, which means you get solid coverage for a little less than you'd spend going with one of the biggies. The nice thing is that, because Net10 uses everyone, you get to bring pretty much any phone you have.

All smartphone plans come with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. $35/month gets you 500MB of 4G LTE, but an extra $5/month gets you 3GB, and you can save $4/month if you sign up for Auto-Refill.

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Pix Wireless

Pix Wireless is an MVNO that focuses on transparency, offering plans with no contracts, not activation fees, and no hidden costs. Up until now, Pix only used Sprint's CDMA network, but according to its website, it's presently upgrading and will start using AT&T's GSM network soon.

There are no plan details available for the AT&T side of things, but monthly CDMA plans start at $15 for 100MB of 4G LTE, 500 minutes, and unlimited texting. $30/month gets you unlimited talk and text and 1.5GB — a pretty standard MVNO plan.

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Puretalk USA

Puretalk is an MVNO focused on making your mobile plan easy. There are senior plans starting at $10/month and you can even save up to 20% with "Friends & Family" discounts.

For $29/month, you can get 1.5GB of 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, and unlimited MMS. Family plans let you add up to three extra lines (four in total), and you'll save 10% off your total bill for the second line, 15% off your total bill for three lines, and 20% off your total bill for four lines.

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Red Pocket Mobile

Red Pocket uses all of the big carriers and has two basic plans to choose from. The first plan is $10/month and gets you 500 minutes, 500 texts, and 100MB of 4G LTE. You can then buy extra texts, minutes, and LTE. The second plan is $19/month and gets you unlimited talk and text, with 100MB of 4G LTE. You can upgrade to unlimited 2G data with 500MB, 1GB, 3GB, or 5GB of 4G LTE for $6 to $41/month.

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Straight Talk

Straight Talk is owned by TracFone and is that cell phone section you see at Walmart. It features the latest phones and lets you bring your own device, since it uses all four of the big networks for coverage.

Plans start at $30/month for 1500 minutes, unlimited texts, and 100MB of data. $45/month gets you 5GB of 4G LTE and unlimited talk and text, as well as unlimited 2G data.

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TracFone

TracFone has been around since 1996 and owns multiple MVNOs, which it operates on various networks.

Its cheapest data plan with a gig or more is $17.50/month for 1GB of 4G LTE, 750 minutes, and 1000 text, BUT you have to sign up for a 60-day term, so that 1GB has to last you 2 months. An extra gig of data is $10, which expires at the end of your term.

TracFone is perfect for folks who constantly travel to the U.S. and don't want to buy a local SIM or pay outrageous roaming fees.

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