Author Topic: Best Cell phone coverage across US???  (Read 7110 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline mucknort

Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« on: January 22, 2010, 08:52:54 am »
We currently use tracfones for cell phones, but will be forced to enter the world of contract cell phones to use an iphone/blackberry for upcoming tour.
Our trip will go from Boston to Seattle to LA. Which company/plan do folks feel gives the most/best coverage from coast to coast? You can watch a Verizon or an ATT commercial and they both say their coverage is best and the other company stinks. For bike touring we really don't care about the best signal in metropolitan areas, thinking more "who has best coverage in the vast rural areas?".
Thanks, Erik

Offline DNault

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2010, 08:59:18 am »
Every cell phone provider has a coverage map online, I think the best thing you can do is look at each one and decide which one covers your intended route best.

Offline mucknort

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2010, 09:26:34 am »
Every cell phone provider has a coverage map online, I think the best thing you can do is look at each one and decide which one covers your intended route best.
I have certainly looked at these "maps", and the major players each "claim" about the same nationwide coverage. I'm looking for real world use comments from riders that have rode across country.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2010, 09:55:30 am »
I have certainly looked at these "maps", and the major players each "claim" about the same nationwide coverage.

Not so.  You must not have looked at the coverage maps for the same carriers as I did.  The only two I really looked at were Verizon and Sprint/Nextel.  Those two are not even similar.

Bottom line...
Both the maps and my experience on the TA and other tours as well as other trips agree that Sprint's coverage is awful unless you stay close to the interstates and Verizon's is pretty good, but not perfect.  As far as I noticed, the only place on the TA where we didn't have a signal with Verizon and other folks did with other carriers was part of Idaho (the Riggins area).

Verizon is hard to beat in this regard.  Check out a recent thread on the crazy guy forum at:
 http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum/board/message/?o=RrzKj&message_id=151669&v=H


Offline tonythomson

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2010, 11:19:36 am »
I had AT&T for the ST (not much help to you but might help others) only time I really had probs was near the Mexican border and the local one took over Telestar or something like that.  Should know cos it's the one I get in Spain.  Memory going .... now what was the question?

Any way yes I remember was really pleased with AT&T
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline DNault

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2010, 11:30:44 am »
I have certainly looked at these "maps", and the major players each "claim" about the same nationwide coverage. I'm looking for real world use comments from riders that have rode across country.

http://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/pcc.aspx
http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocatorController
http://coverage.sprint.com/IMPACT.jsp


I see no claim of "nationwide" coverage on these maps. You must be talking about the TV commercial.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2010, 11:41:49 am »
Don't get T-Mobile.  I sometimes have service problems in the center of Philadelphia.  And their customer service is horrible.

Offline aggie

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2010, 12:34:14 pm »
I had good coverage with Verizon when I've done the Southern Tier and the Western Express in Nevada.  In Nevada I had service when others who had other companies couldn't get a signal.  However, there were some areas that I didn't have service.  Langtry, TX is an example.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2010, 12:58:36 pm »
See if cellphonereception.com does what you want.
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline bikeflu

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2010, 12:06:38 pm »
I'm wondering why you need a BlackBerry or an iPhone for your tour. Prepaid cellphone companies have contracts with the major carriers to use their networks, so you might be okay sticking with what you have. I did the Underground Rail Road route this summer with a cheap Net10 phone and had decent coverage the whole time (it didn't work in canada though). I have since upgraded to Verizon, but thats another story.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2010, 01:08:03 pm »
"I'm wondering why you need a BlackBerry or an iPhone for your tour."

I agree with the cheapo pay as you go - but also have my iphone as it means that I can be away cyclingusually around 3 -4 months and still continue my business in UK, which pays for my trips.  Best of both worlds.  Point I'm making is that we all have different reasons for carrying gear that others look askance at.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline velo

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2010, 09:42:48 am »
Based on riding on the Northern Tier from Seattle to Minneapolis in 2009. We had phones by Verizon, T-mobile and AT&T. Verizon had the best coverage, it didn't always have coverage, but it was generally solid. Most of the little towns had coverage. The t-mobile phone seemed to beat out AT&T but not by much. With both of these we got some coverage virtually every day.

I heard complaints from a few people along the way about iPhone/Blackberry speed and reliability. We had no smart phones on our tour, so I don't have first hand experience with this.

WiFi is more and more available, a phone with wifi could be useful at times. I'm planning to bring my iTouch in the future to be able to check email and such. A fair number of truck stop/service stations, cafe's and hotels have wifi.

Offline randonneur

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2010, 06:20:44 pm »

No one offers complete coverage everywhere, and so you are best to ignore the commercials.  Every region has local cell phone operators that give equal or better coverage than the national mega-telecom companies.

My highest recommendation is this:  bring the cell phone you already have, as it will work for 911 calls anywhere.  For all non-emergency calls, just ask a local.  99 times out of 100, people have been helpful and let me use their phone.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2010, 07:07:31 am »

No one offers complete coverage everywhere, and so you are best to ignore the commercials.  Every region has local cell phone operators that give equal or better coverage than the national mega-telecom companies.
It is true that no one offers complete coverage everywhere, but one carrier (Verizon) is head and shoulders above the rest for everywhere I have toured or done other rural travel in flyover land.  As far as "local cell phone operators that give equal or better coverage than the national mega-telecom companies", I have my doubt that they generally exist in much of the US.  On the Trans America when we didn't have a Verizon signal we generally didn't have a signal at all.  The one exception I noticed was the Riggins Idaho area and the carrier there was another one of "the national mega-telecom companies" (AT&T).

My highest recommendation is this:  bring the cell phone you already have, as it will work for 911 calls anywhere.  For all non-emergency calls, just ask a local.  99 times out of 100, people have been helpful and let me use their phone.
That or just use a carrier that offers decent coverage so you will seldom if ever need to ask someone to use their phone.  I can't see myself asking to use someone's phone in a non emergency situation.  I'd rather use the carrier that has the best coverage and call home only when I have a signal.

I never considered the ability to call 911 as a huge priority and if my phone didn't offer decent coverage for regular calls I'd leave it home.  Maybe that is because I grew up and lived the majority of my life before cell phones or 911 existed.  It might also be partly because a substantial portion of many of my trips were in places with no signal much of the time.  Also even in the most remote parts of the US I usually see a car go by every 20 or 30 minutes.  For an emergency call, I'd have no hesitation about flagging down a car.

Off road touring, I can see 911 being more useful, but most of the back country travel I have done there was no cellular signal most of the time any way.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Best Cell phone coverage across US???
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2010, 07:12:20 am »

No one offers complete coverage everywhere, and so you are best to ignore the commercials.  Every region has local cell phone operators that give equal or better coverage than the national mega-telecom companies.

My highest recommendation is this:  bring the cell phone you already have, as it will work for 911 calls anywhere.  For all non-emergency calls, just ask a local.  99 times out of 100, people have been helpful and let me use their phone.

All phones will make 911 calls but only if the phone gets a signal.  I have been numerous places where I got absolutely no signal when someone standing beside me got a strong signal on a different carrier and vice versus.
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John