Anyone run any signal mapping apps during the trip?
Recently I went on a 10-Day Road Trip
San Antonio Tx - Fort Stockton Tx - Roswell NM - Grand Canyon Az - Anaheim Ca - San Diego Ca - Sierra Vista Az - San Antonio tx
TMO devices were two iPhone 6s Plus, Samsung Galaxy J7, iPhone 6, iPhone 5, Cellular iPad Air, and Cellular iPad Mini 2. The only Band 12 A Block compatible devices were the two iPhone 6s Plus's, and the Galaxy J7
Even when I wasn't checking my phone, I had 5 others in the vehicle who would let me know when their devices dropped to Edge, No Service, dropped calls, etc.
Started out San Antonio to Fort Stockton on I10, the coverage on I10 in West Texas has been posted about before, and pretty much reflects the coverage map, most was Band 2 LTE1900, with some No Service and Edge only areas in between a few sites.
From Fort Stockton Tx we took Hwy 285 to Roswell NM, from Pecos tx to Malaga NM is No Service, no roaming, nothing. The coverage map shows this no service area, and exaggerates the TMO coverage south of Malaga.
Roswell NM had somewhat decent LTE, our hotel on the North side of Roswell we got Edge, if we went a block or two North or South we were back on LTE, I guess we were between sites, luckily the hotel had decent WiFi.
From Roswell NM we took Hwy 285 to I40, this stretch was surprisingly very well covered, with a few 4G only sites, these were the best performing 4G only sites we encountered the entire trip, my youngest kid was able to stream Netflix on these sites, I guess these were early upgraded sites before the widespread rural LTE rollout.
Somewhere before I40 we encountered our first Band 12 LTE, only the two 6s Plus's and the J7 had LTE, the rest of the devices showed No Service.
I40 from Hwy 285 to Flagstaff had some coverage gaps, some No Service, few Edge sites, once we Roamed on Commnet. From Flagstaff we went North to Tusayan. Tusayan and the Grand Canyon area has No TMO service, most of the devices were on Commnet 3G, the 6s Plus's and the J7 were on Commnet Band 12 LTE, but they showed 311040 as the service provider.
My wife hit her 100MB Roaming Limit the 2nd day despite the Commnet LTE being very slow and the 3G being slower. The Grand Canyon area was very packed the day we spent there.
West to Cali we took I40 to I15 to the LA area. This mountainous area had a few No Service areas and is somewhat represented correctly on the coverage map.
At the Ca/Az border on I40 we were greeted with No Service, Once in California we encountered two more Band 12 LTE sites on I40, only the 3 Band 12 devices had any service. Otherwise this stretch seemed well covered with Band 2/4 LTE the closer we got to Barstow.
Not going to dwell on LA coverage much as this is talked about here a lot, we stayed in Cypress which had decent coverage & speeds, and went to Disneyland on a Tuesday, the 3 Band 12 devices definitely had an advantage there, but data was still slow/congested.
I5 from LA to San Diego had a surprising amount of unusable Edge between LTE sites, we stopped at a rural beach area near San Onofre, and had full signal of Fast LTE.
From San Diego we took I8 East to I10, somewhere along the Mexico Border ALL of the phones except one 6s Plus got the Roaming text about service in Mexico and were roaming briefly on Movistar, otherwise I8 seemed well covered except for some brief patches of Edge or No Service. One of the Edge Sites on the Coverage Map of I8 has been upgraded to LTE, but this is not reflected on the map yet.
Once on I10 we proceeded East to Sierra Vista Az. Sierra Vista has 4G and Band 2 LTE, the LTE1900 was 10x10Mhz and the speeds were adequate. VoLTE did not work, all calls dropped to 4G. We took a tour of Fort Huachuca and either had a good signal of useless 4G, or weak barely usable LTE while on base.
We also spent some time in Bisbee, 99% of the time spent in this popular tourist area was No Service on all of the devices, despite the coverage map showing some verified LTE service there. Hwy 92 between Bisbee and Sierra Vista was spent mostly on this;
Despite the coverage map showing TMO LTE in this area.
From Sierra Vista Az we took I10 back to Texas, I10 in NM we encountered two Band 12 sites, the first of these sites had good signal, but data was completely unusable, which was surprising as it was an empty rural area, maybe the backhaul was down.
The next site was Band 12 LTE as well, but had adequate speeds, all of the non-Band 12 phones/devices were on Edge in both of these areas. The Rest of the rural LTE sites on I10 to El Paso were Band 2 LTE1900, with a few gaps of No Service or Edge.
I did a lot of speedtests, and it seems unnecessary to post them all, but will post this one, this was the fastest "rural" LTE we encountered; Sierra Blanca Tx, pop 553, along I10, Band 2 LTE1900
Conclusion; you cannot stream music or videos / talk on the phone non-stop on your TMO device on a trip to/from the central U.S./Cali on I10/I40/I8. TMO still has some work to do. Rural Coverage varied by State, in some places the Coverage Map was very accurate, in others it was way off. Every 4G site we encountered had slow/useless data except for the ones in NM mentioned above. There are still a few Edge sites waiting to be upgraded to LTE.
A Band 12 device definitely had an advantage in some areas, and is worth having.
The Grand Canyon is the 2nd most visited National Park in the Nation, and the roaming there sucks. I'm not saying that TMO needs to cover every square mile of every Tourist attraction in the nation, but a site near the entrance, visitor station, etc would be nice. I run into quite a few State/National parks in Texas with limited Roaming / No Service. Does TMO not think any of their customers visit these areas?
When we traveled to the East Coast in 2015/2016 for several days, we had a VZW back-up phone, this trip I didn't take one and ran into more TMO No Service areas than the East Coast Trips, I'm glad nothing happened in one of these No Service areas, next time I'm taking a ATT/VZW back-up.
Last edited by MEDIX1011; 03-19-2017 at 05:57 PM.
Anyone run any signal mapping apps during the trip?
Very nice report! I've taken that stretch of 285 between Roswell and I-40 a couple times and the only carriers worth a damn on it are T-Mobile and Verizon. AT&T was pretty much worthless in NM, and aside from that stretch of 285, TMO was nothing great, though they had a lot of rural coverage in NM well before they ever started their rural build they're doing now.
And I honestly don't get why Grand Canyon doesn't have native coverage on all four carriers. The place is far too commercialized to not have that.
Verizon got a contract with the Navajo Nation. If you are in any of their area, their rules apply.
I finally got TMO service in Moab, UT. But you still have to call 611 if you have a problem. Verizon has that area - no stores for any other carrier.
The other rule for Arches and Canyonlands - if you can see the LaSals, you should have coverage. If you can't, then you had better carry a radio satellite device. Lots of offroaders.
We had four lines on T-Mobile for a while, after we ported over prior to a European trip. But we just could not deal with the coverage issues in the western U.S. and ported back to the AT&T network.
T-Mobile plays a vital role in the wireless industry; they are the only GSM carrier to temporarily port to when switching between AT&T providers, since AT&T does not allow direct porting between their MVNOs or resellers.
A minimum, there are at least 3 spots for cell sites along this stretch of the 5 and I'm sure T-Mobile occupies all of them.
It used to be worse than this...no service.
I use my phones to decide when I need to gas up and other information like time/distance when I drive between San Jose and Los Angeles and T-Mobile has let me down when I'm driving along this spot. Now, from the 5/152 and to Lost Hills and Santa Clarita is a better experience for me with T-Mobile.
Last edited by i0wnj00; 03-21-2017 at 11:08 PM.
“The Internet wasn’t meant to be metered in bits and bytes, so it’s insane that wireless companies are still making you buy it this way. The rate plan is dead — it’s a fossil from a time when wireless was metered by every call or text.” John Legere 1/5/2017