The nation's top four wireless companies aggressively market themselves, sometimes leaving a slew of confusing claims in their wake. All would like to contend they have the best network, the most competitive pricing, the best benefits and the happiest customers. So let's look at a few facts that show the truth behind the claims.

Here's where you can find the cheapest plan
Pricing out a wireless carrier plan is a bit of a chore these days; though T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) has the most upfront pricing plans compared to the competition. If you're looking for an individual plan with the absolute lowest smartphone price (for non-prepaid phones) then T-Mobile is the way to go.

Carrier

Data

Talk & Text

Cost

T-Mobile

500 MB (capped)

Unlimited

$40

Sprint

Unlimited
(iPhone 6/
6 Plus only)

Unlimited

$50

Data source: T-Mobile and Sprint .

But as you can see from the table for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Sprint (NYSE:S) has a special plan that gives unlimited talk, text, and data for just $10 more per month. Not a bad deal either way.

These guys have the best network, for real
You're probably used to hearing that this carrier has the "newest" network another has the "fastest" or this one has "most reliable" network -- all of which seem aimed at confusing potential customers as to who's network is actually better.

But according to data from RootMetrics, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) can truly claim it's the nation's overall best performing network.

Verizon Network Rating
Source: RootMetrics.

This is the second time in a row Verizon's earned the top spot, beating rival AT&T (NYSE:T). Verizon tops the competition in reliability, speed, data performance, and call performance, but fell behind AT&T for text performance. While Verizon holds top honors now, RootMetrics noted AT&T's building out its network and could outpace Verizon soon. And as for the worst performing network? That unfortunate title belongs to Sprint.

This carrier has the best free perks
It's not everyday a wireless carrier tacks on free perks to its service, but with its focus on being the "uncarrier" that's exactly what T-Mobile's done. The company was the first to offer customers free international data and texting while traveling, is the only carrier offering free in-flight texting, and gives tablet customers 200MB of free data for life.

On top of that, T-Mobile customers can stream an unlimited amount of music (from most music apps) on their mobile devices without eating into their data plans. That means customers can open up the Pandora app, stream music all day long, without one megabyte being taken away from a user's monthly data allotment.

Here is where the happiest customers are
If we take a look at churn rates -- the rate at which wireless customers leave a company for another carrier -- we can get a glimpse of where the happiest customers are. According to their latest quarterly earnings data, Verizon has a churn rate of 1% and AT&T's came in at 0.99% -- the lowest in the industry. While churn rates aren't an exact science for how happy customers are, it's one of the best gauges.

While AT&T had a slightly better rate this past quarter, Verizon is close behind and has the best performing network right now. The combination of those two make Verizon one of the strongest wireless companies at this time. Morningstar analyst Michael Hodel said in a recent research note that, "We believe Verizon Wireless' continued strong customer loyalty indicates that a large percentage of customers choose the firm for attributes it controls directly, including its network reputation."

Foolish thoughts
While each of the four major wireless networks have their own strengths, Verizon stands out in two of the most important categories -- network performance and customer loyalty. Between those two things, its clear the company's doing something right. On top of that, it's built a strong cash flow and kept its average revenue per account (ARPA) going up, leaving AT&T as it's only current serious competitor.

Whether you're a Verizon customer or an investor (or both), the company's in the best shape of all the wireless carriers right now, and that shouldn't change any time soon.

 

Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned.The Motley Fool recommends Pandora Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Pandora Media. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.