Author Topic: network provider for cell phone  (Read 1422 times)

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Offline Martina

network provider for cell phone
« on: January 08, 2013, 03:04:18 am »
Hello!

for our bike vacations in the U.S. and Canada we are looking for a network provider for our smarthone / cellphone which offers good tariffs for calls and internet and, very important for us, which provides good reception even in the woods and wilderness.

Do you have any recommendations for us?

Thanks a lot!

Kind regards from Germany
Martina

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2013, 09:27:04 am »
This question pops up fairly regularly, so you might want to search previous iterations.

Verizon is generally acknowledged to have the best nationwide coverage for cyclists, including small towns.  You will want to note that Verizon doesn't use GSM, so your German / European phone won't work on Verizon.  You can, however, buy a pre-paid phone fairly inexpensively once you arrive (check with the large chain discount stores).

AT&T seems to be second best, and they do use GSM.  I don't know the details of how to get "turned on" coming from outside the country, though.

Don't expect any cell provider to provide seamless coverage.  Out in the woods, or out on the plains, you can find plenty of spots that are more than 5 miles from the nearest cell tower = no coverage.  As I noted above, Verizon does have towers in most small towns, and strangely enough almost all the way across Kansas.  But if you leave the beaten track, and especially if you take small state or county roads, or even Forest Service roads, through the mountains, your phone will drop coverage.

Offline DaveB

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2013, 10:38:55 am »
As noted, Verizon has the best nationwide coverage but that doesn't mean perfect.  Keep in mind the US and Canada are huge and have great areas of open land and very low population density so no cell phone company can or will  serve everywhere.  It is not like the wall-to-wall coverage you expect in Europe. 

As further mentioned, Verizon does not use GSM so you will need a local phone or go with AT&T or T-Mobile which use GSM but provide less reliable coverage.

If you must have phone coverage at all times and in all places you will need a satellite phone which is heavy and expensive.

Offline John Nelson

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2013, 11:48:59 am »
Verizon does serve both the U.S. and Canada, but on separate plans. If you get U.S. service, you'll have to pay a surcharge to also be able to call from Canada.

If you happen to be camping close to a city, you can usually get service from your tent. But if you're somewhere more remote, probably not.

Offline NKemp

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2013, 04:44:59 pm »
If you want to use the Verizon network but don't want to pay the Verizon prices look into Page Plus Cellular.  http://www.pagepluscellular.com/default.aspx

Offline PeteJack

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2013, 07:28:53 pm »
Do not use T-Mobile. On the Sierra Cascade route I had no reception for over 500 miles from southern OR to the middle of CA! Plus the south side of Mt Rainier in WA was dead to T-M. In those spans other suppliers worked when T-mobile didn't (I borrowed phones to call home etc.) Mind you, T-M is cheap   :-[

Offline John Nelson

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2013, 09:51:49 pm »
If you want to use the Verizon network but don't want to pay the Verizon prices look into Page Plus Cellular.  http://www.pagepluscellular.com/default.aspx
Take Dubois, WY as an example. Page Plus is going to hit you up for a roaming charge there, but Verizon won't.

Offline cmtbiz

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2013, 11:06:12 am »
I would use a Verizon phone and carry an extra spare unlock phone for pay-per-use sim card plans. I do that with my other travels.  When I get to a place that my phone will starts to roam, I will use the spare phone.  T-Mobile makes me scream with madness because of no signal.

Offline briwasson

Re: network provider for cell phone
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 11:17:43 am »
If you want to buy an iPhone here for smartphone capabilities, Verizon did offer the iPhone 4S in a "global" variety that also has a slot for a GSM SIM chip for while traveling. I work for a German company and have one so that I can use my Verizon phone when traveling in Europe. Maybe you could find one used either in Europe or when arriving in the US, so at least it wouldn't be a total waste when you get back to Germany.

Verizon is not terribly good price-wise here in the US, though.