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Thread: Best Carrier for Western USA

  1. #1
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    Best Carrier for Western USA

    I have friend that purchased a new RV to go traveling is the western US. He will be traveling in California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, and Colorado frequently visiting national parks. He currently has T-Mobile and believes the coverage is inadequate in the more rural outlying areas. He wants to switch to Verizon or AT&T.

    Is Verizon still the coverage king of the western US or is AT&T equivalent to Verizon since they have been deploying FirstNet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CellGeek View Post
    I have friend that purchased a new RV to go traveling is the western US. He will be traveling in California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, and Colorado frequently visiting national parks. He currently has T-Mobile and believes the coverage is inadequate in the more rural outlying areas. He wants to switch to Verizon or AT&T.

    Is Verizon still the coverage king of the western US or is AT&T equivalent to Verizon since they have been deploying FirstNet?
    From what I have read over the past couple of years it is a hodge podge of Verizon being the only thing that works in one place and AT&T in another, with some overlapping areas.

    Don't expect much cell service from any of them in remote national parks. The NPS does not allow parks to be cluttered up with cell towers.

    In the hinterlands of the West there are a number of pockets where Verizon and AT&T have service, but it is actually provided by legacy regional carriers. You probably won't get service in those areas with a MVNO or maybe even a carrier branded prepaid.

    T-Mobile is still very poor in a lot of rural/remote areas.

    Traveling major highways between remote areas should be ok for either Verizon or AT&T.

    Hopefully someone with recent experience can share some insight about what works where. The West is big. It is unlikely that either is best in all places. If I could afford it I would go with one of each or a phone on one carrier and a hotspot on the other.

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    Ideally I would say have two different carriers to give better chance of having at least some kind of coverage

    With using one on prepaid it could make it more cost effective

    Att is supposed to have some really rural areas covered that no carrier currently covers with their firstnet so time will tell with how good that will get. Sounds like they are done with a lot of the build but aren't sure what percentage they are at

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    TM is not the one you want. It still might be cheaper to get an unlimited TM plan along w. a limited Vz MVNO.
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    As someone that has both T-MOBILE and AT&T, I'd NOT recommend T-MOBILE for these rural areas. Their coverage maps are exaggerated in many areas. "Fair" coverage means you "might" be service outdoors.. but probably not usable. "Limited " coverage, will typically mean you need to have your device attached to a drone above the tree canopy/ hillside for service... and then it might be considered "fair" service.
    Colorado has huge gaps in places like Montrose to Telluride that At&t cover.

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    Yeah fair coverage on the TMobile map often meant not usable from my experience. It was either no coverage or bars but nothing would work
    Quote Originally Posted by formercanuck View Post
    As someone that has both T-MOBILE and AT&T, I'd NOT recommend T-MOBILE for these rural areas. Their coverage maps are exaggerated in many areas. "Fair" coverage means you "might" be service outdoors.. but probably not usable. "Limited " coverage, will typically mean you need to have your device attached to a drone above the tree canopy/ hillside for service... and then it might be considered "fair" service.
    Colorado has huge gaps in places like Montrose to Telluride that At&t cover.

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    I have both AT&T and Verizon on the same device. My travels last summer and earlier this year took me east on the 120 through Yosemite and then Benton on through the 6. We continued east on the 6 through Tonopah, NV and then took the extraterrestrial highway south to the 93 near Alamo, NV. From there we went north on 93 to Ely and then back east on the 50 to Great Basin NP and then Utah. On our way back from Utah we took the 50 west to the 6 west and back to the 120 west over Yosemite and Tioga Pass.

    This trip seemed as boonies and remote as could be in the west and there was a lot of areas where neither had coverage and some areas for dozens of miles where AT&T had coverage and Verizon didn’t. There was also areas where it was the opposite but the former was a lot of common: AT&T seemed to have a bit more coverage than Verizon in eastern California, central Nevada, and western Utah. I also had a T-Mobile data line and occasionally it would roam on AT&T. For some reason a lot of areas T-Mobile wouldn’t roam so it might be an area where AT&T didn’t have native coverage.

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    I agree with earlier comments. I'd say have at least the AT&T & VZW backbones. But I really think have all three including TM. If Talk & Text are of primary concerns this can be done cheaply using MVNOs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daisydoo View Post
    Yeah fair coverage on the TMobile map often meant not usable from my experience. It was either no coverage or bars but nothing would work

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    The sad part was the addition of 'limited' coverage, as a level weaker than 'fair'.

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    Yeah limited probably means no signal whatsoever

    Quote Originally Posted by formercanuck View Post
    The sad part was the addition of 'limited' coverage, as a level weaker than 'fair'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CellGeek View Post
    I have friend that purchased a new RV to go traveling is the western US. He will be traveling in California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, and Colorado frequently visiting national parks. He currently has T-Mobile and believes the coverage is inadequate in the more rural outlying areas. He wants to switch to Verizon or AT&T.

    Is Verizon still the coverage king of the western US or is AT&T equivalent to Verizon since they have been deploying FirstNet?
    I travel some of those states frequently, and I agree that it's hit or miss. Verizon will be the only one that works in some areas, and AT&T will be the only one that works in others. I would still give Verizon the lead overall, but again, there are large areas where AT&T is the only one with coverage. Parts of California, Colorado and Oregon come to mind. I would not recommend T-Mobile in those specific areas. You'll get roaming or no coverage outside of major highways.

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