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Thread: Coverage of Tracfone using Verizon network

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    Coverage of Tracfone using Verizon network

    If I get a tracfone that uses Verizon network, is the coverage area and signal strength the same as Verizon contract service? Or is it a lower tier of Verizon service or restricted service?

    I saw on the tracfone coverage map at the tracfone website that one set of phones had better coverage than the second set of phones. What does this mean?

    Thanks

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    The signal strength should be the same for all customers, Verizon or TracFone.

    As to the coverage, you will have access to all of the Verizon networks (SID's) around the U.S. along with some roaming coverage off-network.

    Regarding Mobile Web, should you purchase a phone model that includes it, I was told in another thread that it will work on all Verizon networks, but not on the roaming carriers.
    America Movil/Straight Talk/TracFone customer since 2004.
    verizon customer since 2012.
    T-Mobile customer from 2005-2014.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardP View Post
    along with some roaming coverage off-network..
    So in other words, roaming will be available, but it will be less roaming coverage than Verizon contract phones. Is this correct?

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    I believe this is the case: A Tracfone that is activated on Verizon will have the same or better coverage than a Verizon contract phone. Tracfone has roaming contracts with almost all CDMA carriers, which may be better than what Verizon itself has. Since Tracfone wants to be able to operate almost everywhere, it has contracts almost everywhere. It doesn't have to be loyal to itself, as Verizon would. Tracfone's emphasis is on the best coverage so a lot of people can be customers. The contract companies want you to stay within the family as much as possible because they don't want to send roaming money to the competition. Tracfone is the way to go if you travel a lot because you don't have to wonder if you will be allowed to connect. A lot of people carry both a CDMA and a GSM phone and don't have to spend a fortune for great travel coverage. This all refers to voice calls. Data coverage is a different world.

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    The PRL (preferred roaming list) that is downloaded to the phone (via a call to *22891 and does not use minutes), is provided by Verizon and it is different than the PRL that Verizon provides to its own contract customers.

    The PRL provided to TracFones activated on Verizon, I'm sure will allow the phone to roam on other CDMA networks in the U.S.

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    Both of my TracFones received new PRL's today.

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    My understanding is that CDMA Tracfones can (and seamlessly do) use the towers of ALL CDMA carriers in America, with the exception of one tiny carrier in Alaska. If you're not going to that little area of Alaska, in other words, your Tracfone will work with ANY and ALL CDMA towers, REGARDLESS of who owns them. The phone has a PRL that is indeed different from what Verizon contract/postpay customers get, and it is in fact BETTER. Tracfone CDMA coverage is a superset of Verizon contract/postpay coverage. Ditto with paygo Net10 CDMA phones (although it's probably NOT true for their monthly 750 and Unlimted plans).

    Of course, like any PRL-having CDMA phone, a CDMA Tracfone will preferentially use one CDMA carrier over another in areas with coverage from multiple CDMA carriers, but you as an end-user don't care about that. What's important is that, if you're standing in an area served by only one CDMA carrier, your CDMA Tracfone WILL use it, no matter who owns and runs it, and that's what matters: you have the best possible CDMA coverage available in America, period. There is no coverage that can be better than "ALL towers".

    This is a secret that Verizon likely hopes won't get too well-known, because if it were well-known, Verizon would lose great numbers of their low-usage customers to CDMA Tracfone, and great numbers of their medium-usage customers to Net10 CDMA paygo.

    I'm a light user. I used to pay $60/month (after all the B.S. taxes, fees and surcharges) as a Verizon postpay/contract customer with lots of unused minutes that disappeared at the end of every monthly billing period. Now I pay $6/month for BETTER coverage, with no contract, and my minutes keep accumulating forever.

    DISCLAIMER: This is what my research has indicated, but it could be wrong, so don't count on it.
    .

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    Based on the coverage maps, TracFone/Net10/Straight Talk CDMA would appear to have better coverage than GSM.

    Obviously, we don't know exactly what SID's are in the PRL. But going back to 2006, I had an older CDMA TracFone (Nokia 2285) activated on Verizon. I was in a local supermarket and lost the Verizon signal while inside. The phone then displayed "Roaming" and when I checked the current SID, it was 4106 (Sprint - Boston, MA). I was able to make a call with it while it was on Sprint.

    Upon the next release of the Verizon PRL's for the ones interpreted and posted online back then, SID 4106 was removed from that next PRL and when I was in the same supermarket after that and the phone lost the signal, there was no service - it would not roam on Sprint locally.

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    Straightalk (uses 30 day plans) CDMA/Verizon does not roam. You would guess the same might hold true for Net10`s 30 day plans because of the large amount of airtime being used. Aquiring large amounts of airtime may be too costly from the smaller providers.

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    Keep in mind though, that no matter how seemingly "open" the roaming for CDMA might be, if there isn't adequate CDMA coverage hitting you where you're at, you'll be wishing you had something with you from the GSM side. Point being, you've got to do your homework.

    In a time of learning about my area, I was trying to advise a friend about which Net10 service to get. All the phones sold in his area (stores) were CDMA, and indeed the coverage maps for VZW vs. AT&T (both prepaid) showed slightly better coverage for VZW. He got an LG 220c, and where he actually lived (a little further out in the boonies), he had nothing but trouble trying to get a signal.

    I accidentally discovered, by forcing my T-Mobile phone to roam onto AT&T at his house, that AT&T was giving a 3/5 bar signal there, and over the whole area it was overall better. So he went through the motions to get a phone from the GSM side -- an LG 900g (had to go to a neighboring town), and he's been doing pretty good since.

    For rural areas especially, if only you could easily get real-life man-on-the-street reports about coverage, you could make much more informed decisions. Or there's trial and error!
    Last edited by whacker; 04-30-2011 at 08:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whacker View Post
    Keep in mind though, that no matter how seemingly "open" the roaming for CDMA might be, if there isn't adequate CDMA coverage hitting you where you're at, you'll be wishing you had something with you from the GSM side. Point being, you've got to do your homework.

    In a time of learning about my area, I was trying to advise a friend about which Net10 service to get. All the phones sold in his area (stores) were CDMA, and indeed the coverage maps for VZW vs. AT&T (both prepaid) showed slightly better coverage for VZW. He got an LG 220c, and where he actually lived (a little further out in the boonies), he had nothing but trouble trying to get a signal.

    I accidentally discovered, by forcing my T-Mobile phone to roam onto AT&T at his house, that AT&T was giving a 3/5 bar signal there, and over the whole area it was overall better. So he went through the motions to get a phone from the GSM side -- an LG 900g (had to go to a neighboring town), and he's been doing pretty good since.

    For rural areas especially, if only you could easily get real-life man-on-the-street reports about coverage, you could make much more informed decisions. Or there's trial and error!
    I concur with whacker's thoughts. Here's how one blog put it: "Verizon and AT&T can each make all the claims they want about the superiority of their networks. What’s ultimately going to matter to you is which of the two gets better reception in your neck of the woods. Are most of your mobile calls made from home? On your way to work? These are the places that should really matter to you when it comes to signal strength, not some statistical amalgamation of a carrier’s overall nationwide network, which includes places you’ve never visited and never will."

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigwheelpilot View Post
    If I get a tracfone that uses Verizon network, is the coverage area and signal strength the same as Verizon contract service? Or is it a lower tier of Verizon service or restricted service?

    I saw on the tracfone coverage map at the tracfone website that one set of phones had better coverage than the second set of phones. What does this mean?


    Thanks

    Your coverage will be better due to the ability to roam of other CDMA networks, BUT, the speeds at which you can operate, as well as the capabilities of picking up quality signal, depends entirely on the phone you have. Bout a year ago tracfone had the samsung finesse available for their straight talk brand. That phone was the only CDMA phone that could make use of Verizon's CDMA/EVO channel, which was at the time their 'fast' option. This phone's lifetime with tracfone was however very short lived - theories abound
    Hope that answers your question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerry View Post
    Your coverage will be better due to the ability to roam of other CDMA networks, BUT, the speeds at which you can operate, as well as the capabilities of picking up quality signal, depends entirely on the phone you have. Bout a year ago tracfone had the samsung finesse available for their straight talk brand. That phone was the only CDMA phone that could make use of Verizon's CDMA/EVO channel, which was at the time their 'fast' option. This phone's lifetime with tracfone was however very short lived - theories abound
    Hope that answers your question.
    My own experience with the LG 231C TracFone (activated on Verizon) is that signal strength does play a role in how fast Mobile Web works. At home, I get full bars (6) with the phone and Mobile Web is very fast. At work (inside the building), the phone will display anywhere between zero and two bars, with the 1X icon (data) displayed all the time. With a weaker signal being received there, it will take a little longer for the phone to load web pages.

    After a PRL update, the phone resets and the Network setting defaults to Automatic B. There is also an Automatic A setting as well as Home Only, but I have not noticed any difference between Automatic A and Automatic B.

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