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Old 02-07-2014, 08:30 PM   #1
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Cell Service

Hey everyone,

For those who have traveled far in their buses, or in any vehicle, across the US, what cell carrier seems to have the most coverage, even in unexpected areas? I have AT&T now, which has been good to me thus far, but I was looking at T-Mobile for all their unlimited stuff and competitive pricing. AT&T caps me at 2 gb per month on my phone which honestly isn't very much with today's data needs.

Any thoughts?
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:42 PM   #2
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Re: Cell Service

I'm on Verizon now. I had AT&T for about a hundred years. They suck in my area. That "Can you hear me now?" commercial comes to mind. I had no service through Oklahoma on I40 with Verizon.
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Old 02-08-2014, 12:18 AM   #3
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Re: Cell Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal
I'm on Verizon now. I had AT&T for about a hundred years. They suck in my area. That "Can you hear me now?" commercial comes to mind. I had no service through Oklahoma on I40 with Verizon.
Are you saying spotty service on I40 with AT&T or Verizon?
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Old 02-08-2014, 07:44 AM   #4
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Re: Cell Service

Here ;in Canada my phone is rogers, its suppose to work all over the USA, but the roaming charges would have killed me, what we used was magic jack when we had a wifi signal, we did keep a phone on just in case some needed us, and we did show service, that was in Michigan and Wisconsin, Minnesota
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:06 PM   #5
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Re: Cell Service

Hands down Verizon....sadly.
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:10 PM   #6
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Re: Cell Service

Where we live we have to have sprint...nothing else works

It sucks on the road in NC, SC and GA...at least in the Podunk areas we travel
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Old 02-08-2014, 11:13 PM   #7
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Re: Cell Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by porkchopsandwiches
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal
I'm on Verizon now. I had AT&T for about a hundred years. They suck in my area. That "Can you hear me now?" commercial comes to mind. I had no service through Oklahoma on I40 with Verizon.
Are you saying spotty service on I40 with AT&T or Verizon?
Not spotty service, NO SERVICE with Verizon in OK on I40. It was at least 75 miles. It seems to work everywhere else.

My ex has T mobile and she tells me it does not work for $&@T in NYC.

I use straight talk from WallyWorld. My phone is on the Verizon system. They also have phones on the AT&T and Sprint system. $45 per month gives you unlimited talk, text and data. Just need to make sure you are buying the right phone for the system you want to be on.
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:38 AM   #8
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Re: Cell Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by opus
Hands down Verizon....sadly.

Ditto. Fiancée has Sprint. I had both phones when we drove across the country and the sprint phone rarely had good/any coverage. Sprint hardly works in our stick & brick as well. Verizon is a total scummy rip off but they do have the best coverage.
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:51 AM   #9
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Re: Cell Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by inkblots84
Quote:
Originally Posted by opus
Hands down Verizon....sadly.

Ditto. Fiancée has Sprint. I had both phones when we drove across the country and the sprint phone rarely had good/any coverage. Sprint hardly works in our stick & brick as well. Verizon is a total scummy rip off but they do have the best coverage.
I have always had Sprint because they seemed to provide the best coverage for where I used my phone primarily, but when I would travel to the "sticks" my phone would always roam and I never had anything more than 3G. I noticed this weekend that the places I had trouble in before seem to not only have non-roaming coverage but also everywhere in the state was giving me 4G. I heard that Sprint was doing a nationwide overhaul to expand coverage to "stick-ish" areas (like the whole state of Iowa) and I guess it has worked because I didn't roam once this past weekend in the boonies. Maybe Sprint will be better than before.
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Old 02-10-2014, 11:01 AM   #10
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Re: Cell Service

Verizon.... I've been with them for 11 years now. I've never been anywhere in NC where it wouldn't work (in the sticks in the mtns, to cape lookout on the OBX). Its worked in the middle of BFE Nevada (Austin, Nevada). Worked all the way from NC to Boise, ID. My wife has verizon as well and even in China it worked well. My brother and his wife have AT&T and its horrible. They live 2 miles from me and he has to move to particular parts of his house in order for me to talk to him. Sprint and AT&T work it seems as long as you are around a metropolitan area, get to far away and nothing. Though I have to say, its kinda nice when you are wanting to be AWAY from people and enjoy a place that your phone doesn't ring and there isn't some huge tower invading the landscape. In Charlotte, NC they like to take the cell phone towers and try to diguise them as pine trees. "hey look at the 120Ft pine tree with blinking lights on it!"
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:56 PM   #11
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Re: Cell Service

How about a $500 Wilson signal booster.

All cell signals, wifi, ect are boosted from 1% to 100%.

Everyone around you will have better coverage, as it boosts every signal.

We install them in houses when we use metal roofing.

I have friends that use them in the north where they used to have to use a satellite phone.

Nat
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:02 PM   #12
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Re: Cell Service

I don't have nationwide experience, but do have a bit in this corner of the world. And knowing some of the technology, I can read between the lines on the ads . . .

As of now, all voice calls (not Skype or Face Time data) are 2G, only data is 3G and 4G. And LTE is only one 4G technology. When the Verizon ad shows the 4 maps comparing 4G coverage using LTE only , they don't fill in coverage of other carriers where alternate 4G technologies are used . . . .

Every area has pockets where one carrier works better than others. Consumer Reports recently rated several cities for who has the best coverage in the city, and different carriers come up on top in different places. If staying in one place, getting local knowledge may be more important than nationwide knowledge.

It is my impression that Verizon works in more places than other carriers. I know that is true in the Northeast. When we had statewide employees for 100+ lines, we tried AT&T for one year. 3 employees living under AT&T towers had better service during the trial, the rest wanted their Verizon phones back as soon as they could. There are still places in the mountains where there is no service at all from anybody for miles. People still use beepers there.

T-Mobile is mostly built up in metropolitan areas. If you get out into the countryside, you are likely to be out of range. But they advertise the fastest 4G where available. It may be the alternate technology is faster. It could also be less users are clogging the bandwidth. I have heard horror stories of when the iPhone first came out and was only compatible with AT&T. The AT&T data network slowed to a crawl in tech-friendly cities with all the iPhone users there trying to get online.

Sprint is up and coming. Originally, they were in a high frequency/shorter range band (1900 MHz), while AT&T and Verizon started in lower bands originally designed for mobile telephones (870 MHz). Nextel created a third band by buying up a checkerboard of business licenses near the mobile band. When they started interfering with police on nearby frequencies, the FCC created a 4 billion dollar+ "rebanding" project creating a third mobile band for Nextel, and moving the Public Safety a little bit lower. After the Sprint/Nextel merger, Nextel towers were turned off and are being furiously converted to 3G towers. I would expect Sprint's coverage to approach Verizon's in many places within 5 years.

The 700 MHz band was auctioned off after the digital TV shift shut down another block of TV channels. (Anybody remember in the days before cellular when there were 83 channels? Now there are about 52.) All the players have bought allocations in those blocks, as well as in the former police microwave bands below 2150 MHz. So now all the carriers are all over the spectrum.

Bottom line is, if I personally wanted to be sure of coverage, I would pay up and get Verizon, even though they are usually the most expensive, and customer service has been historically less than perfect. If I only wanted to have a voice phone for emergencies, I would get a TracFone. You can't beat $100/year refills. If you choose a CDMA TracFone, you will likely be on Sprint or Verizon towers. If you choose a GSM TracFone, you would likely be on AT&T. Read the fine print if this matters to you. In between these are packages from Sprint, and from other companies who are resellers of air time.

Oh, and about the boosters - most handsets are not in the optimal position to have the antennas send and receive signals to and from the towers. Even a magnetic rooftop antenna will outperform a handset inside a car when you get out to the sticks.

BUT - having worked on problems with some cell company technicians, there is a setting known as "cell size." It's default setting is probably something like 10 miles. We had them boost one Verizon sector out to 14 miles for a special application. When you try to place any call, the cell tower 'pings' your distance, and if you are beyond the cell size, they won't place your call. You may not be able to make a call from a hilltop when you have 5 bars from a tower you can visually see 25 miles away. Having a big booster burn a hole through the air may not cause the tower to accept your call request.

I don't know if the cell size setting is to prevent dropped calls, or for more accurate 911 service. Cell companies have to report dropped call statistics to the FCC. But if they don't let a marginal call go through in the first place, it can't be dropped. And every time a 911 call hits a tower in the next county or the next state, and there is a lot of transferring required to get to the correct agency, it makes the horror story section of the newspapers.

Just my 2¢. Take it for what it is worth . . . . .
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Old 02-14-2014, 12:13 PM   #13
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Re: Cell Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear
I don't have nationwide experience, but do have a bit in this corner of the world. And knowing some of the technology, I can read between the lines on the ads . . .

As of now, all voice calls (not Skype or Face Time data) are 2G, only data is 3G and 4G. And LTE is only one 4G technology. When the Verizon ad shows the 4 maps comparing 4G coverage using LTE only , they don't fill in coverage of other carriers where alternate 4G technologies are used . . . .

Every area has pockets where one carrier works better than others. Consumer Reports recently rated several cities for who has the best coverage in the city, and different carriers come up on top in different places. If staying in one place, getting local knowledge may be more important than nationwide knowledge.

It is my impression that Verizon works in more places than other carriers. I know that is true in the Northeast. When we had statewide employees for 100+ lines, we tried AT&T for one year. 3 employees living under AT&T towers had better service during the trial, the rest wanted their Verizon phones back as soon as they could. There are still places in the mountains where there is no service at all from anybody for miles. People still use beepers there.

T-Mobile is mostly built up in metropolitan areas. If you get out into the countryside, you are likely to be out of range. But they advertise the fastest 4G where available. It may be the alternate technology is faster. It could also be less users are clogging the bandwidth. I have heard horror stories of when the iPhone first came out and was only compatible with AT&T. The AT&T data network slowed to a crawl in tech-friendly cities with all the iPhone users there trying to get online.

Sprint is up and coming. Originally, they were in a high frequency/shorter range band (1900 MHz), while AT&T and Verizon started in lower bands originally designed for mobile telephones (870 MHz). Nextel created a third band by buying up a checkerboard of business licenses near the mobile band. When they started interfering with police on nearby frequencies, the FCC created a 4 billion dollar+ "rebanding" project creating a third mobile band for Nextel, and moving the Public Safety a little bit lower. After the Sprint/Nextel merger, Nextel towers were turned off and are being furiously converted to 3G towers. I would expect Sprint's coverage to approach Verizon's in many places within 5 years.

The 700 MHz band was auctioned off after the digital TV shift shut down another block of TV channels. (Anybody remember in the days before cellular when there were 83 channels? Now there are about 52.) All the players have bought allocations in those blocks, as well as in the former police microwave bands below 2150 MHz. So now all the carriers are all over the spectrum.

Bottom line is, if I personally wanted to be sure of coverage, I would pay up and get Verizon, even though they are usually the most expensive, and customer service has been historically less than perfect. If I only wanted to have a voice phone for emergencies, I would get a TracFone. You can't beat $100/year refills. If you choose a CDMA TracFone, you will likely be on Sprint or Verizon towers. If you choose a GSM TracFone, you would likely be on AT&T. Read the fine print if this matters to you. In between these are packages from Sprint, and from other companies who are resellers of air time.

Oh, and about the boosters - most handsets are not in the optimal position to have the antennas send and receive signals to and from the towers. Even a magnetic rooftop antenna will outperform a handset inside a car when you get out to the sticks.

BUT - having worked on problems with some cell company technicians, there is a setting known as "cell size." It's default setting is probably something like 10 miles. We had them boost one Verizon sector out to 14 miles for a special application. When you try to place any call, the cell tower 'pings' your distance, and if you are beyond the cell size, they won't place your call. You may not be able to make a call from a hilltop when you have 5 bars from a tower you can visually see 25 miles away. Having a big booster burn a hole through the air may not cause the tower to accept your call request.

I don't know if the cell size setting is to prevent dropped calls, or for more accurate 911 service. Cell companies have to report dropped call statistics to the FCC. But if they don't let a marginal call go through in the first place, it can't be dropped. And every time a 911 call hits a tower in the next county or the next state, and there is a lot of transferring required to get to the correct agency, it makes the horror story section of the newspapers.

Just my 2¢. Take it for what it is worth . . . . .

Very nice write up.
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Old 02-14-2014, 12:21 PM   #14
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Re: Cell Service

An example of overloading.

http://www.infoworld.com/t/wireless-...tdown-wwdc-450
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:25 PM   #15
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Re: Cell Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear
I don't have nationwide experience, but do have a bit in this corner of the world. And knowing some of the technology, I can read between the lines on the ads . . .

As of now, all voice calls (not Skype or Face Time data) are 2G, only data is 3G and 4G. And LTE is only one 4G technology. When the Verizon ad shows the 4 maps comparing 4G coverage using LTE only , they don't fill in coverage of other carriers where alternate 4G technologies are used . . . .

Every area has pockets where one carrier works better than others. Consumer Reports recently rated several cities for who has the best coverage in the city, and different carriers come up on top in different places. If staying in one place, getting local knowledge may be more important than nationwide knowledge.

It is my impression that Verizon works in more places than other carriers. I know that is true in the Northeast. When we had statewide employees for 100+ lines, we tried AT&T for one year. 3 employees living under AT&T towers had better service during the trial, the rest wanted their Verizon phones back as soon as they could. There are still places in the mountains where there is no service at all from anybody for miles. People still use beepers there.

T-Mobile is mostly built up in metropolitan areas. If you get out into the countryside, you are likely to be out of range. But they advertise the fastest 4G where available. It may be the alternate technology is faster. It could also be less users are clogging the bandwidth. I have heard horror stories of when the iPhone first came out and was only compatible with AT&T. The AT&T data network slowed to a crawl in tech-friendly cities with all the iPhone users there trying to get online.

Sprint is up and coming. Originally, they were in a high frequency/shorter range band (1900 MHz), while AT&T and Verizon started in lower bands originally designed for mobile telephones (870 MHz). Nextel created a third band by buying up a checkerboard of business licenses near the mobile band. When they started interfering with police on nearby frequencies, the FCC created a 4 billion dollar+ "rebanding" project creating a third mobile band for Nextel, and moving the Public Safety a little bit lower. After the Sprint/Nextel merger, Nextel towers were turned off and are being furiously converted to 3G towers. I would expect Sprint's coverage to approach Verizon's in many places within 5 years.

The 700 MHz band was auctioned off after the digital TV shift shut down another block of TV channels. (Anybody remember in the days before cellular when there were 83 channels? Now there are about 52.) All the players have bought allocations in those blocks, as well as in the former police microwave bands below 2150 MHz. So now all the carriers are all over the spectrum.

Bottom line is, if I personally wanted to be sure of coverage, I would pay up and get Verizon, even though they are usually the most expensive, and customer service has been historically less than perfect. If I only wanted to have a voice phone for emergencies, I would get a TracFone. You can't beat $100/year refills. If you choose a CDMA TracFone, you will likely be on Sprint or Verizon towers. If you choose a GSM TracFone, you would likely be on AT&T. Read the fine print if this matters to you. In between these are packages from Sprint, and from other companies who are resellers of air time.

Oh, and about the boosters - most handsets are not in the optimal position to have the antennas send and receive signals to and from the towers. Even a magnetic rooftop antenna will outperform a handset inside a car when you get out to the sticks.

BUT - having worked on problems with some cell company technicians, there is a setting known as "cell size." It's default setting is probably something like 10 miles. We had them boost one Verizon sector out to 14 miles for a special application. When you try to place any call, the cell tower 'pings' your distance, and if you are beyond the cell size, they won't place your call. You may not be able to make a call from a hilltop when you have 5 bars from a tower you can visually see 25 miles away. Having a big booster burn a hole through the air may not cause the tower to accept your call request.

I don't know if the cell size setting is to prevent dropped calls, or for more accurate 911 service. Cell companies have to report dropped call statistics to the FCC. But if they don't let a marginal call go through in the first place, it can't be dropped. And every time a 911 call hits a tower in the next county or the next state, and there is a lot of transferring required to get to the correct agency, it makes the horror story section of the newspapers.

Just my 2¢. Take it for what it is worth . . . . .
Awesome thank you for this. And thank you to everyone else for your input.

I'm not all that concerned about having service as much as possible, it just would be nice to be able to make a call if I'm broken down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere without going too far. I like the idea of the tracfone, I'll probably get one of those. Us kids these days with our technology...

I have an iPhone I use a lot in place of a computer. To look up places to go, etc. the service is AT&T and I have had decent luck with them this far. I live a few miles outside DC so needless to say coverage is great here. I used to go to school in Charlotte NC and I noticed the pine tree cell towers, haha. At least they tried. Coverage on the interstates from DC to Charlotte was near flawless, I could stream pandora the whole way. Coverage on I-40 from Charlotte to Asheville (up in the mountains) was near flawless too. The only issues I ran into were going from DC to Asheville one time, you cut through TN for a bit and I lost service there.

I'll get a tracfone as sort of a backup for emergencies. Worst case I break down on the side of the road, have no service and have to hitchhike to civilization to make a phone call like it's the 1950s.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:42 AM   #16
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Re: Cell Service

Hey Prokchop,

Technomadia http://www.technomadia.com/

They have a nice app that gives you the cell coverage for the major carriers called Coverage?

Check it out here:
http://www.twostepsbeyond.com/apps/coverage/

Right now it is only for iPhone & iPad since they are Apple developers. But they are looking to covert it over to Android also.
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