the ZTE Merit is a GSM phone, which means it will work on ATT and/or Tmobile towers. There is another Android that uses Verizon towers for Straight Talk. As far as your coverage goes, you can go on att.com or verizonwireless.com and view the coverage maps for your zip code, to see if Verizon would be a better option. Also there are other prepaid carriers out there you can try. Some options are Page Plus, AirVioce, Red Pocket, Jolt Wireless, Simple Mobile, H2O Wireless to name a few.
To address your question about Androids, they can be used on most every carrier. I plan on getting an Android on my Airvoice card in the next few months because i miss playing Angry Birds.
Glad to help. There is so much info concerning pre-paids, it's hard to read the information and digest the information. No question is a stupid question. That is what these forums are here for Sometimes you might be pointed to a thread concerning your issue, or suggested to search the forum, but there is a wealth of information here if you choose to use it.I know, I probably sound like a technologically challenged doofus, but I honestly do not know much about smartphone technology and I don't want to get burned.
Thanks for any help.