About a month ago I’d finally had enough of dropped calls in my house and dumped Verizon Wireless after six years with the company. The service seemed to be getting shoddier and the phone I had was crap. After comparing services, i decided I was sick of being locked into a two-year contract simply to get a free — yet crappy — phone. I bought Virgin’s $25 300 minute/free email, text, and web plan.

The best deal, hands down, was Virgin Mobile. The service piggybacks on Sprint’s network when theirs is unavailable, so the coverage, so far, is pretty solid. I live in new Mexico and have a tendency to take my Triumph for rides to places that Big Red and the Death Star can’t reach, either, so losing my signal up in Jemez Springs isn’t much of a surprise. Coverage is just as good, so far, as Verizon in my region. Data reception and transfer rates are as good, if not a bit fast, than Verizon’s from what I’ve seen.

Call quality: solidly good, although I do have a few spots in my house that cause a bit of signal loss. No dropped calls yet. Sound quality is good.

The phone: I went with the $79 Samsung Restore — it’s a smart(ish)phone with a slide out keyboard for texting and email. I find it indispensable — I hate pecking through the letters and numbers on a standard number pad and the screen keyboards don’t have the haptic feedback to help me type quickly. Sound quality is good and call quality for those I’ve called is reported as good to great. Text transfer is quick, as is data files (in this case endless pictures of my three month old.) Web is good, but I hate the “mobile” experience — all text, for the most part. Still it’s nice to check maps, weather, and check email from the phone while I’m out and about.

Overall, I’d say my experience with Virgin is positive — the phone’s good, the service is good, and the customer service has been stellar (if based in Brahmapore or wherever…) I had to call in early on about having the wrong phone number and they fixed it quickly. I called when I topped-up but the minutes didn’t apply right away (they simply paid me up for next month) — fixed, no questions asked, no hassle.

The only thing I’ve noted is without the mobile-to-mobile minutes of Verizon, I use alot more time than I thought…I may need to raise my minutes to 450. If you use 150-200/month n Verizon, you’ll eat up 300 in 15-20 days on a slow month. I burned up 50 minutes just today… Their unlimited plan is, for now, $45 unlimited everything.

Eat that Verizon.