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Thread: Has T-Mobile Coverage Outside Cities Improved Recently?

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    Has T-Mobile Coverage Outside Cities Improved Recently?

    I've used all the carriers over the years and 3 years ago settled on Verizon because it had the best coverage outside of cities. Seems like Tmobile in the past really concentrated on building their network in cities and marketing to mainly urban customers. When I'd get into some of the outer suburbs and even more so, rural areas while on road trips with people, the people with Verizon almost always had a signal, closely followed by AT&T and Tmobile would frequently drop out the further you got from the city.

    I have an factory unlocked S20+ that supports CDMA and GSM and all the 5G bands. I'm disappointed that Verizon has basically bamboozled it's customers into thinking they have super fast 5G everywhere, when in reality their "Ultra Wide" millimeter band 5G is only available in like 0.5% of the country, and their "Nationwide 5G" is basically rebranded 4G LTE+, but using sub 6 4G frequencies with Dynamic Signal Sharing (DSS) resulting in speeds that are not much different than 4G LTE+.

    I've read that T-mobile has invested in mid-band 5G so they have a 5G network that has a balance between coverage and speed as opposed to Verizon's current, "all or almost nothing" coverage/speed balance.

    I'm wondering from those that in the past few months that have gone between Verizon and T-Mobile (either direction) that have traveled outside the city, has T-Mobile's coverage improved due to the Sprint Merger? I believe Sprint is CDMA so theoretically I'm thinking T-Mobile might be the best choice considering I have an unlocked phone that support TMobile's GSM towers and Sprints CDMA towers. But has Tmobile truly integrated all the towers for these dual-network capable phones? Or is the T-Mobile service still significantly behind Verizon and AT&T as far as total coverage outside the cities?

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    Quote Originally Posted by consultant1027 View Post
    I've used all the carriers over the years and 3 years ago settled on Verizon because it had the best coverage outside of cities. Seems like Tmobile in the past really concentrated on building their network in cities and marketing to mainly urban customers. When I'd get into some of the outer suburbs and even more so, rural areas while on road trips with people, the people with Verizon almost always had a signal, closely followed by AT&T and Tmobile would frequently drop out the further you got from the city.

    I have an factory unlocked S20+ that supports CDMA and GSM and all the 5G bands. I'm disappointed that Verizon has basically bamboozled it's customers into thinking they have super fast 5G everywhere, when in reality their "Ultra Wide" millimeter band 5G is only available in like 0.5% of the country, and their "Nationwide 5G" is basically rebranded 4G LTE+, but using sub 6 4G frequencies with Dynamic Signal Sharing (DSS) resulting in speeds that are not much different than 4G LTE+.

    I've read that T-mobile has invested in mid-band 5G so they have a 5G network that has a balance between coverage and speed as opposed to Verizon's current, "all or almost nothing" coverage/speed balance.

    I'm wondering from those that in the past few months that have gone between Verizon and T-Mobile (either direction) that have traveled outside the city, has T-Mobile's coverage improved due to the Sprint Merger? I believe Sprint is CDMA so theoretically I'm thinking T-Mobile might be the best choice considering I have an unlocked phone that support TMobile's GSM towers and Sprints CDMA towers. But has Tmobile truly integrated all the towers for these dual-network capable phones? Or is the T-Mobile service still significantly behind Verizon and AT&T as far as total coverage outside the cities?
    Weirdly enough, my husband would say otherwise. He's had T-Mobile since he was in the Army (about a decade ago) and swears up and down that he's never had any signal issues. (Even out in the Mojave Desert where he did his training.) As for me in WA, I had Metro (T-Mobile) and it worked all the way through the passes, only time the signal began to drop was when we went deep into the mountains to go camping. No signal where there's no "civilization" per se.

    Though if you were to look at coverage numbers these days, All 3 big players are literally within 1% of each other coverage wise. (Sprint was the outlier having 5-10% less coverage than anyone else.) So it mainly all depends on your area of usage, since not all market areas get the same coverage from all carriers, but it _should_ be comparable, if the numbers are any indication. (They all cover 98-99% of the population, with Verizon and T-Mobile at 98% and AT&T boasting that 99%. This is based on stated population reach vs them all claiming to cover 99%.)

    Hell, I've even seen both T-Mo and ATT showing coverage in the tiny town of Lodge, SC - where I used to live and where it used to be an area where only Verizon had any coverage. This is using the zoomed in model where you can see if its roaming or not, and they both claimed it was native network coverage, so not roaming. This was when I checked back in October - Just checked again, T-Mobile shows 5G coverage and ATT shows LTE.

    Though I should note, 3 years ago, T-Mobile just rolled out only 700 MHz, now they have the nationwide 600 MHz for increased range.
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    Quote Originally Posted by consultant1027 View Post
    ...I've read that T-mobile has invested in mid-band 5G so they have a 5G network that has a balance between coverage and speed as opposed to Verizon's current, "all or almost nothing" coverage/speed balance.
    T-Mo is investing in building out mid-band 5G using the 2.5 GHz spectrum they got from Sprint. The license is for nationwide, but Sprint never had the money to deploy it anywhere near nationwide so T-Mo has a lot of building to do. They don't have that network balance between coverage and speed widely deployed and operational yet. It is a three year project.

    Most of what T-Mo has deployed for 5G nationwide is their lowband, band 71 600 MHz. There is not a lot of bandwidth in band 71 so it is not very fast.

    I'm wondering from those that in the past few months that have gone between Verizon and T-Mobile (either direction) that have traveled outside the city, has T-Mobile's coverage improved due to the Sprint Merger? I believe Sprint is CDMA so theoretically I'm thinking T-Mobile might be the best choice considering I have an unlocked phone that support TMobile's GSM towers and Sprints CDMA towers. But has Tmobile truly integrated all the towers for these dual-network capable phones? Or is the T-Mobile service still significantly behind Verizon and AT&T as far as total coverage outside the cities?
    It's a big country and it varies a lot from place to place. I am near a small town on the I95 corridor in central Virginia. Until T-Mo switched on band 71 last December I got no signal in my house and in town was spotty, and mostly slow. Now with band 71 I have LTE signal in the house, but it is slow, like 3-6 Mbps. I surveyed the next county over which is pretty rural a couple of months ago. It previously had poor, spotty, and slow coverage. With band 71 it now has coverage throughout the county, but it is slow - 0.5-3 Mbps. I don't think they have much backhaul out there.

    T-Mo remains hit and miss in rural areas that Verizon covers well.

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    This entirely depends on location, in some areas, yes they have improved vastly, in others no, they haven't. As others have said, it is hit or miss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmac32here View Post
    Weirdly enough, my husband would say otherwise. He's had T-Mobile since he was in the Army (about a decade ago) and swears up and down that he's never had any signal issues. (Even out in the Mojave Desert where he did his training.) As for me in WA, I had Metro (T-Mobile) and it worked all the way through the passes, only time the signal began to drop was when we went deep into the mountains to go camping. No signal where there's no "civilization" per se.

    Though if you were to look at coverage numbers these days, All 3 big players are literally within 1% of each other coverage wise. (Sprint was the outlier having 5-10% less coverage than anyone else.) So it mainly all depends on your area of usage, since not all market areas get the same coverage from all carriers, but it _should_ be comparable, if the numbers are any indication. (They all cover 98-99% of the population, with Verizon and T-Mobile at 98% and AT&T boasting that 99%. This is based on stated population reach vs them all claiming to cover 99%.)

    Hell, I've even seen both T-Mo and ATT showing coverage in the tiny town of Lodge, SC - where I used to live and where it used to be an area where only Verizon had any coverage. This is using the zoomed in model where you can see if its roaming or not, and they both claimed it was native network coverage, so not roaming. This was when I checked back in October - Just checked again, T-Mobile shows 5G coverage and ATT shows LTE.

    Though I should note, 3 years ago, T-Mobile just rolled out only 700 MHz, now they have the nationwide 600 MHz for increased range.
    Not entirely accurate, all 3 are within 1% of each other in terms of people they claim to cover, not in actual square miles covered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    T-Mo is investing in building out mid-band 5G using the 2.5 GHz spectrum they got from Sprint. The license is for nationwide, but Sprint never had the money to deploy it anywhere near nationwide so T-Mo has a lot of building to do. They don't have that network balance between coverage and speed widely deployed and operational yet. It is a three year project.
    Looks like Verizon just bought mid-band 3.5 GHz spectrum in September. So basically the race is on with T-Mobile and AT&T for the mid-band 5G network build-out. The question now to me really is how much of a head start does T-Mobile have? With all these carriers lumping all the spectrums into one label of "5G" and not providing details on their coverage maps discerning low-band from mid-band coverage areas, seems it's anyone's guess?

    Unless after some testing I find T-Mobile's 5G in the suburbs is like 2-3X faster than Verizon, I'll prefer to keep better overall LTE coverage and just wait for Verizon to catch up on mid-band 5G.

    I'm most interested though in the development of 5G mid-band and its effect on cable providers. I would entertain the possibility of using any of the carriers for Home Internet if I could get at least 50mbit so I could dump Comcast and just get my content/channels a-la-carte without having to pay for expensive Internet+TV packages where I could care less about 95% of the channels. I run a business from home and if I just used them for Internet I'd easily exceed their 1.2TB data limit and have to just pay more to them to lift the limit which makes dumping them for content make no sense from an economic standpoint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by consultant1027 View Post
    Looks like Verizon just bought mid-band 3.5 GHz spectrum in September. So basically the race is on with T-Mobile and AT&T for the mid-band 5G network build-out. The question now to me really is how much of a head start does T-Mobile have? With all these carriers lumping all the spectrums into one label of "5G" and not providing details on their coverage maps discerning low-band from mid-band coverage areas, seems it's anyone's guess?
    The mid-band Verizon bought in the last auction is no where near nationwide. There is another mid-band auction coming up soon. Speculation is that Verizon will go big on that one, but it won't be deployable for a couple of years. T-Mo has a big head start with that big chunk of Sprint's band 41. They started deploying it in April when the Sprint deal cleared. Apparently one of the constraints on getting it deployed is availability of tower crews to climb and work on towers.

    Unless after some testing I find T-Mobile's 5G in the suburbs is like 2-3X faster than Verizon, I'll prefer to keep better overall LTE coverage and just wait for Verizon to catch up on mid-band 5G.

    I'm most interested though in the development of 5G mid-band and its effect on cable providers. I would entertain the possibility of using any of the carriers for Home Internet if I could get at least 50mbit so I could dump Comcast and just get my content/channels a-la-carte without having to pay for expensive Internet+TV packages where I could care less about 95% of the channels. I run a business from home and if I just used them for Internet I'd easily exceed their 1.2TB data limit and have to just pay more to them to lift the limit which makes dumping them for content make no sense from an economic standpoint.
    One of the things T-Mo is going to do with all that band 41 is offer a lot more home wireless Internet. Expect to see a lot more mid next year. Where they offer it now it is $50 a month for unlimited data at about 50 Mbps. It is supposed to be geofenced so you can't take it mobile. I have not heard about them enforcing that. It is supposed to be unlimited, but there is likely a level that they consider excessive. We're probably not going to get away with multi terabytes a month.

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    T-Mobile's "mid-band" (2.5 GHz) 5G spectrum is really fairly short-range (abt 1 km). Their low-band (600 MHz) is good for rural coverage but has not been expanded onto many new towers. IMHO, new, greenfield, rural coverage expansion is fairly low priority for T-Mobile, who has their plate full deploying 5G and integrating Sprint's network and customers.
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    I mean I travel all over the country for work, and T-Mobile has greatly improved the last few years, and around the midwest (IL, IN, OH) I really no longer need a 2nd phone/SIM when going rural. It's definitely good enough for when i'm traveling, and I've even had places recently where it worked better than Verizon (likely due to the number of customers)

    Overall i've been happy, and I suggest just grabbing a "T-Mobile Connect" SIM/eSIM to try the service where you need it.
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    I would say a few things to the OP.
    1. Location, location, location. Not all areas are covered the same by all carriers. In general, rural coverage, IMHO, on T-Mobile is still behind that of AT&T and Verizon... But not in all rural locations.

    2. T-mobile currently doesn't have great 5g that isn't much better than 4G LTE, and in some cases, performance is actually worse due to low band and having about 1 in 8 sites.

    3. What matters most? Coverage or performance? If a carrier is awful where you are maybe look to another. I'd recommend asking locals first about coverage/performance though.

    Eg. Locally and on most highways) interstates, T-Mobile works fine for me (and costs less). In some rural areas, they have sites where Att/VZW is weak (San Simeon, CA), although performance is awful. The opposite is true a few miles away, where TMobile has "No Service", but Att/VZW have multiple cell sites

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theghostlad82 View Post
    Not entirely accurate, all 3 are within 1% of each other in terms of people they claim to cover, not in actual square miles covered.
    Since the only metric that ever seemed to matter for coverage numbers was population reach, it is still a correct statement - considering when I make these statements, I ONLY refer to population coverage since milage will always vary and there are always any number of factors that effect coverage range milage wise. Including the weather itself.

    Like a really good rain storm can actually make the signal cover less milage than it would on a sunny day.
    Coverage numbers, per FCC standards is about how many people the network reaches under the best of conditions*, not the milage in between.
    (Though sometimes the latter is nice to know too.)

    * - Considering things like terrain and changing conditions, like weather, can change these metrics at a moments notice.
    Last edited by jmac32here; 12-03-2020 at 03:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formercanuck View Post
    I would say a few things to the OP.
    1. Location, location, location. Not all areas are covered the same by all carriers. In general, rural coverage, IMHO, on T-Mobile is still behind that of AT&T and Verizon... But not in all rural locations.

    2. T-mobile currently doesn't have great 5g that isn't much better than 4G LTE, and in some cases, performance is actually worse due to low band and having about 1 in 8 sites.

    3. What matters most? Coverage or performance? If a carrier is awful where you are maybe look to another. I'd recommend asking locals first about coverage/performance though.

    Eg. Locally and on most highways) interstates, T-Mobile works fine for me (and costs less). In some rural areas, they have sites where Att/VZW is weak (San Simeon, CA), although performance is awful. The opposite is true a few miles away, where TMobile has "No Service", but Att/VZW have multiple cell sites

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    I can never stress this statement enough, each area is covered a little bit differently by all the carriers.

    Find a carrier that works where you will use it the most at a price you can see yourself able to bear.
    Also find out how you plan on using the device and make sure the network can offer decent coverage and performance for that usage.

    There will never be the "perfect" coverage in wireless, since so much can change wireless signal reception.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmac32here View Post
    Since the only metric that ever seemed to matter for coverage numbers was population reach, it is still a correct statement - considering when I make these statements, I ONLY refer to population coverage since milage will always vary and there are always any number of factors that effect coverage range milage wise. Including the weather itself.

    Like a really good rain storm can actually make the signal cover less milage than it would on a sunny day.
    Coverage numbers, per FCC standards is about how many people the network reaches under the best of conditions*, not the milage in between.
    (Though sometimes the latter is nice to know too.)

    * - Considering things like terrain and changing conditions, like weather, can change these metrics at a moments notice.
    Why would population reach be the only metric that matters? I don't think anyone shops for a carrier based on how many people they cover, they pick a carrier based on if that carrier covers the areas that they live, work and play. To be honest population reach is a meaningless metric in a mobile world. People aren't stationary objects. Of course sq. Milage can vary, so can population metrics based on the same things you mentioned. Coverage numbers aren't absolute, they are estimates, and the estimates are made by the carriers themselves. Using POP's as a reference point for a rural coverage question is pointless, a carrier can cover just 10 cities and claim 80% of americans covered, and claiming "all 3 carriers claim to be within 1% of each other in coverage, is a little misleading. They don't actually claim that, they claim to be within 1% of each other in population covered. This is why advertising teams get paid the big bucks.

    As for carriers not mentioning their sq. Miles claims, this isn't overly true either, verizon and at&t do, T-Mobile generally does not though. Verizon claims 2.68 million sq miles covered with LTE (this is an LTE coverage claim, and does not include legacy 3g and cdma coverage) and at&t claims 2.61 million of 4g coverage ( I would strongly believe this includes LTE and their hspa network).


    As far as the FCC using POP's as their coverage metric, I believe this dates back to wired telephone lines and broadcast TV. Stationary objects. As with most polices and things in Washington, this is an outdated practice that didn't keep up with technoogical changes.
    Last edited by Theghostlad82; 12-03-2020 at 07:32 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theghostlad82 View Post
    Why would population reach be the only metric that matters?......
    It all depends. There are some people who never go where public transit can't take them. I'd say most people have some concern for communications in places where they don't want to have their car break down. Since I like to take the less-traveled roads, by all rights, I should use Verizon, but I'm cheap, so I have T-Mobile with a PagePlus PAYG as backup.

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    Has T-Mobile Coverage Outside Cities Improved Recently?

    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    It all depends. There are some people who never go where public transit can't take them. I'd say most people have some concern for communications in places where they don't want to have their car break down. Since I like to take the less-traveled roads, by all rights, I should use Verizon, but I'm cheap, so I have T-Mobile with a PagePlus PAYG as backup.
    This is true, there are some people who never do leave their local urban areas, but, this more or less proves my point in contesting the comment that population covered is the only metric that matters. It’s a metric yes, and it matters to some yes, but should never be the only metric that matters, or is considered. Especially in a question about rural coverage. In the context of the OP’s question, the metric is almost useless.

    I’m the same way though, Champaign county /Urbana area Ohio is not prime T-Mobile coverage area, we don’t even have a T-Mobile or metro store in the county (I guess technically we do, it is a converted sprint location, as sprint covers the area decently, but never had T-Mobile open a store here) but I still prefer my T-Mobile line over Verizon and at&t. Do carry a cheap Verizon line on straight talk and a cheap cricket line, but my T-Mobile line is my main device, and there are times I pay heavily for that choice lol

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