Author Topic: What is the best telephone & telephone service for cross country touring.."  (Read 3421 times)

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Offline Some Guy Ridin

I've read in some of the blogs that different telephone service providers are better for cross-country riding than others - that some have good coverage across the country and others have terrible coverage. I currently have Sprint. I believe I've read or heard that Verizon provides the best coverage but I've heard absolutely nothing about Sprint. Does anyone have any experience or knowledge with the different service providers that might help me choose the correct one?

Offline DaveB

I can't document this but all that I've heard says that Verizon has the most complete national coverage.  I'm sure they have a few dead spots but apparently fewer than the others.  Of the major carrier ( Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) Verizon is supposed to have the best coverage and T-Mobile the weakest. 

Offline staehpj1

I can't document this but all that I've heard says that Verizon has the most complete national coverage.  I'm sure they have a few dead spots but apparently fewer than the others.  Of the major carrier ( Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) Verizon is supposed to have the best coverage and T-Mobile the weakest.

That agrees with my experiences.  I recall only one time where my Verizon phone didn't get a signal where others did and quite a few where it was the other way around.

Most of my tours were with Verizon and I found the coverage to be quite good.  I used AT&T on the ST and it was OK, but not as good as Verizon in the same area.

BTW, I often could successfully text where the signal was too bad for a voice call.  So for touching base with the wife back at home I sometimes texted when a voice call wasn't an option.

Offline John Nelson

I have Verizon 3G. On the TransAm, I had cell service but no data service in eastern Kentucky. I had no service at all in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, in Guffey Colorado, from Rawlins to Lander and in Dubois in Wyoming, in much of Idaho, and in parts of eastern Oregon and the coast of Oregon. On the Northern Tier, I had no service in parts of eastern Washington, western Montana, parts of North Dakota, the Adirondacks and central New Hampshire. Service is generally unavailable in most National Parks. Service was available, but I was unwilling to pay extra for it, in Alberta and Ontario (the only service that is included in your plan in Canada is text). Other than that, service was good. I could usually post my journal entry directly from my tent at night. Even in most of the dead zones I mentioned, I could still get a period of coverage sometime in the middle of that day or the next. From a data standpoint, eastern Kentucky and Ontario were the only place I went days in a row without coverage. You can sometimes find Wi-Fi to substitute when cell service is unavailable, although the available Wi-Fi can be so slow as to make it unusable for many purposes.

I also believe that Verizon is the best in small town America. If you're using your phone almost exclusively in a big city, other carriers may be better, but this doesn't usually apply to touring.

Offline Pat Lamb

I found Verizon cell service in almost every small town, except Guffey, CO, and Jackson, MO (both of which are right on the hairy edge of "town"), but then I didn't have a data plan. 

Cell service is often limited in rural areas to within 5 miles of a town, or along major highways.  On the smaller roads AC's routes take, you may be out of range for miles between towns.  Also, in mountainous areas, whether in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, or Colorado or Montana, you can lose cell service two hollers away from town, even though you're still within the 5 mile radius.

OTOH, I was fairly shocked to find out we had cell service almost all the way across Kansas.  Wheat farmers want to be able to get a call from home when dinner's ready!

Offline Some Guy Ridin

I looked at the coverage maps for Verizon and Sprint. Sprint claims to provide better coverage, per the maps. Does anyone have any experience with Sprint ?

Offline staehpj1

I looked at the coverage maps for Verizon and Sprint. Sprint claims to provide better coverage, per the maps. Does anyone have any experience with Sprint ?
Yeah, my experience is that their coverage was pathetic when I had a work supplied phone on the Sprint network.   That wasn't too long ago so I doubt it has changed much.

Offline John Nelson

We used to have Sprint. We were without service in many areas that the coverage map claimed to serve. We got fed up with it.

Offline aRoudy1

The best coverage I've found in the rural areas of MT, ND, SD, WY and UT has been US Cellular; also along the WA and OR coasts.

Offline Westinghouse

I used a cheapo cell phone from Wal Mart on the southern tier from FL to CAL. There were two places I could not get a connection, Ocala National Forest in Florida, and Jacumba east of Pine Valley, California.

Offline DaveB

Re: What is the best telephone & telephone service for cross country touring.."
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2012, 08:21:36 am »
I used a cheapo cell phone from Wal Mart on the southern tier from FL to CAL. There were two places I could not get a connection, Ocala National Forest in Florida, and Jacumba east of Pine Valley, California.
The limitation is not the phone itself but the service provider.  The Wal Mart nearest me offers "pay as you go" phones using either AT&T or TracFone so your coverage is dependent on which you choose. 

Offline bogiesan

Re: What is the best telephone & telephone service for cross country touring.."
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2012, 10:04:29 am »
There are several cross country routes. Each one will have long stretches where there is no econoimical reason for a phone company to provide total coverage. There are stretches where you will be in canyons where line-of-sight simply cannot be maintained. You will be in tiny towns where coverage is supplied by a roaming provider that may add signficant charges to your service and you will decide not to use the phone even though your service map says you're covered. And coverage is constantly changing as systems are upgraded and new service areas become revenue generators.

Learn to cherish those times when your phone simply does not connect.

I've been with Sprint for more than ten years. I have no complaints about their coverage or their customer service. But I have NOT ridden my bike across the country.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline cmtbiz

Re: What is the best telephone & telephone service for cross country touring.."
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2012, 10:41:07 am »
I have tried almost all of the major cell provider and I would say Verizon has the best coverage/signal.  T-Mobile is the weakest as compared to Verizon and AT&T. 

Forget about Sprint... it's the worst of the pack.  They advertised unlimited text/call/data.. but many times they are spotty. I guess that's the reason why they are so bold to offer unlimited for everything... because their data service just doesn't work and that's why it doesn't cost them any bandwidths.