View Full Version : Who Has the Best Cell Phone Range (Least Dead Spots)?

Feb. 7, 2010, 08:32 PM
I do have a cell phone, just a Tracfone for road emergencies, but I don't get a signal until several miles from home. Most people have had trouble with their cell phones out here. I live in the boonies, as in folks don't come this far to get lost. (I was told by the DirecTV installer that I'm even in a dead satellite spot, taking 2 satellite dishes to get all my channels, something he says occurs about in only 3% of the country.) On the other hand, there have been one or two people over the last 10 years who happened to be on the farm and got a call. Stunned me, because 99% of folks can't. I wish in retrospect I'd asked them who they phoned with.

I'm thinking of switching, just for safety reasons. Really wish I could have a reliable cell phone to take out solo horsing and choring with me on the farm.

So who has the fewest dead spots? Whose phone is the most likely to work in the areas where practically nobody's phone works?

And will phone companies let you take one out on trial, as in if it doesn't work on my farm, I bring it back for full refund of all charges?

Feb. 7, 2010, 09:22 PM
In general, that would be Verizon.

But talk to the peeps in your actual neck of the woods to get advice specific to your area.

Also, cellies are a "line of sight" technology, so hills screw up even the best-laid plans of a network.

IIRC, Verizon will let you cancel plans and return equipment within a time limit-- 2 weeks?

But be sure to ask in very specific terms. Verizon stores come in better and worse varieties. If you don't dig the customer service at the first store you try, definitely visit another if you can.

Best of luck with your search.

Feb. 7, 2010, 09:35 PM
I use T Mobile and have been MORE than pleased with it's coverage. While driving from Kansas to NC and back along 1-70 and 1-64 I almost always had coverage. One spot in KY and in the mountains of the WV turnpike left me bare but otherwise just fine. This was in mid-December.

A few weeks later made nearly the same run except once in WV I went north on 64 into VA, over to the pennisula, then down to central SC and winded my way back west through GA, TN & IL. Again, had excellent coverage to include the internet on my blackberry. Around home it works just fine too and we live rural.

Here is their coverage map. You can type in some info to see if works for you: http://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/pcc.aspx

Good luck!

Feb. 7, 2010, 09:42 PM
I have T-Mobile because roaming is free.

That was important to me because I work in two different areas from where I live, service & tower wise, and the times I RELY on my phone the most is when travelling with the trailer--all over the map coverage wise.

I think you probably have to do the coverage maps for each place and see if there is any.

I SEE an AT&T tower from my livingroom, I'm almost under the umbrella for it--that's who my internet is with. But their phone plans were SO not compatible with my formerly-tracfone budget, nor was their coverage great in one work area. So I got T-Mobile, and use the AT&T Tower at home.

I would google "cell phone service (andDT'slocation) and then check coverage maps... THEN compare roaming fees.


Feb. 7, 2010, 09:48 PM
Check coverage maps and talk with your neighbors. Where we live, AT and T and Verizon are best. A few miles from here, there are pockets where neither one has good service. There is even some variation depending on which phone you select.

Feb. 7, 2010, 09:52 PM
Where I live, AT&T is best, but back in Baltimore it was terrible out in the "boonies", Verizon was better. Sometimes it depends on the phone itself, not just the service. My husband gets much better reception than I on his Blackberry.

Feb. 7, 2010, 09:58 PM
Great point--how old is your Tracfone?

When I got my new phone, which is pretty low end Motorola W490 (few bells/whistles/no internet etc.) the coverage was SOOOO much better.

Come to find out my old phone (3 or 4 years?) was analog. All the towers are now digital around me. Which meant a LOT of missed calls!

The phone really does matter a lot.

Feb. 7, 2010, 10:41 PM
TOO funny, SLW - our experience is exactly the same. In the rural midwest, T-Mobile has the best coverge.

And for the OP: like Tracfone, T-Mobile lets you just pre-load a set amount of $, no monthly plans/fees. And so long as you load a little more $ before the first minutes expire, they all just kick forward into the next time period.

Feb. 8, 2010, 01:30 AM
I'm five miles from the biggest town in my county. The service for the Tracfone I have now is so-so. There are small pockets of dead zones -- I can have three or four bars in one spot, then five feet away, no service, then another five feet and three or four bars again.

I have the "no service" tone indicator on so it beeps every time it loses reception. I can sit at one end of my kitchen table and it beeps constantly. At the other end of the table, it's fine. At my computer, sometimes there's enough reception to make/recieve a call; sometimes not.

But it's an improvement over the more primitiveTracfone I had previously -- it's dead zones were bigger and more numerous. However, I think that might have been an atenna problem rather than a reception problem. After the little twist-in antenna came untwisted and got lost somewhere, I used some Yankee Ingenuity and cut a short piece of electrical cord, stripped 1/2" of the end, and twisted that into the antenna hole, my reception was much better than it had been with the orginal antenna.

Feb. 8, 2010, 01:55 AM
Verizon....and you can also ad an antenna booster (they are cheap - $15-20) - that helps considerably when you only have 1-2 bars :-)

You didn't say where you were located...

Feb. 8, 2010, 02:55 AM
Nobody here could possibly answer that question for you. Coverage is completely dependent on where you are in the country, the lay of your property, etc. I know people with AT&T on the east coast that love it and never get a dropped call, but here on the west coast, the service is absolutely terrible. What works on your rural farm may not get a single bar on someone else's.

You need to look at coverage maps (you can input your actual address into them) for the various cell phone providers to see how coverage will be in your area.

Sing Mia Song
Feb. 8, 2010, 08:30 AM
I echo everyone who says it depends on your particular area.

When we first moved here, it was a cell phone dead zone. I talked to all my neighbors, and it helped me rule out which carrier NOT to use. Then I talked to my postmaster (love small towns, the postmaster knows everything!) and he told me Verizon was putting in a tower. Bingo--went with Verizon and the coverage has gotten so good that I actually gave up my landline.

Feb. 8, 2010, 08:59 AM
Thanks. Asking the Postmaster is a great idea; I'll do that.

My street is not listed on T-mobile, not even on the tightest street level coverage. (You know you live in the boonies when . . .) Ballparking it from nearest identified streets, I think I'm in a dead zone, although there is one oasis of "fair" in the middle of a large dead spot.

Verizon from their map swears that they give digital coverage. Might go talk to them, but I want a working demonstration from my farm before I believe. Verizon at least knew where I was.

Feb. 8, 2010, 09:33 AM
We used to have great service on internet, dish and cell phone until our lovely county board put us next to a large wind farm. Now? Not so much! The coverage is terrible!

Feb. 8, 2010, 10:35 AM
I had T mobile for 3 years and was mostly happy with the service.... until I actually had a problem. I upgraded to a new phone, wich was supposed to be wi-fi capable (working off my internet router) and found out the hard way that all phones don't work this way for calls, just for texting and internet use. The reps were very rude and acted like I should know this (my old phone worked great with the wi-fi). I don't work in a cell phone store! So I switched to Boost (like Nextel but pre paid) and so far I love it. I have the $50/month unlimited plan. It gets service in lots more places than my T-mobile phone and I don't have to watch my minutes. You should talk to people in your area and do your research online. There are some really great sites for checking out different phones and services. Good Luck!!!

risky business
Feb. 8, 2010, 10:40 AM
Verizon. On vacation this summer on Victoria Island/Vancouver and WA state, always had bars, even on Mt.Rainer. Was told Verizon was the only service that worked on the mountain. Very happy with their service.

Feb. 8, 2010, 11:55 AM
I had Verizon and HATED it - couldn't wait for the 2 year contract to be up so I could change service providers without a HUGE penalty. Either dropped calls or no service. Absolutely did not work at my house. Just about everyone else I know has Verizon and loves it. I now have AT&T and have very few areas where there is no service - and they're usually in the mountains with no line of sight. As soon as I have line of sight again I'm back in business.

I tried Sprint and found that it only works in major cities and major airports. It didn't work anywhere near where I live. I should have been suspicious when I got the Verizon phone and had to use the land line to do the start-up process. They refunded the price of the phone, but KEPT the start-up charge - even though the phone was basically useless.

Feb. 8, 2010, 12:05 PM
I had Verizon for 9 years and loved it! Always had great customer service and the cell service was always good. Until we bought our farm and the only service that consistently works here is AT&T so we switched.

I will say that when I called Verizon about how bad my service was they sent a technician out to verify the level of service and then after minimal hassle allowed me to break my contract with no fee.

So it does completely depend on your area :)

Feb. 8, 2010, 12:11 PM

Maybe they would go to your house and see if they had service there?

Feb. 8, 2010, 12:34 PM
I loved AT&T and had it when I lived in TX, but when I moved to MI, it didn't work well at all (in 03). It's better now, but still nothing compared to Verizon when it comes to coverage.

I travel back and forth from MI to IA to WY (all along I80) and it works there. As well as up in Northern MI and out in the boonies.

But it really just depends.

Cool thing about Verizon (at least for us at work) was that they let us try their phones for service. We have several employees that seriously live out in the sticks and needed good cell coverage for work. Verizon worked. ATT did not.

Feb. 8, 2010, 04:09 PM
Anyone who has AT&T have the iPhone? What do you think of it? I know the web stuff is supposed to be very, very good, but what about call quality? I've heard it's not the best.

Feb. 8, 2010, 04:12 PM
I have several friends and associates who have the iphone and they love it. I think the call quality is great. It's just that their coverage isn't so hot. And during peak hours, there are a lot of dropped calls.

Feb. 8, 2010, 04:53 PM
I've been using AT&T for almost 4 years and have seldom ever had a coverage problem; however, I do think a lot of it can depend on the phone. I use an almost 4-yr old Razor, while my daughter uses a year-old Propel. She's ALWAYS having problems with coverage, and I get to hear about it...on a daily basis.

CDE Driver
Feb. 8, 2010, 05:43 PM
I have US Cellular. I have never been anywhere that I don't have coverage.

Feb. 8, 2010, 06:27 PM
Anyone who has AT&T have the iPhone? What do you think of it? I know the web stuff is supposed to be very, very good, but what about call quality? I've heard it's not the best.

I have T-Mobile 3G Android (very similiar) and it is awesome!!

Feb. 8, 2010, 06:27 PM
We live in the twigs (ya know, out past the sticks) in rural Alabama. ATT won't even think about ringing where we live, but I've got 4 bars of 3G Verizon signal.

After switching from a Windows mobile phone to the Moto Droid, my reception got even better.

ATT may have a "faster" 3G network, but it doesn't matter if it's only in small areas.

Feb. 8, 2010, 06:51 PM
I have both an ATT and Verizon phone. Hands down, Verizon has better coverage. I spend lots of time in the mid-atlantic states, midwest (IN) and Florida. Verizon was much more consistent, fewer drop calls, etc. etc. I have NEVER run across a situation where my ATT phone had coverage and my Verizon didnt.

Feb. 8, 2010, 07:16 PM
Interesting. I haven't had Verizon for a few years, but it didn't work on most of 340, going up to Frederick, it didn't work at my house and it didn't work in my office in Rockville. It also didn't work in the Walter Reed area of DC. Also, not in Berkeley Springs. All of these are places where service is very important to my. Lots of other places as well. My AT&T works in all these places. I used to have another AT&T phone about 6 years ago and everyone who had a Verizon phone was always borrowing it. Worked in the Panhandle of Maryland (theirs didn't) worked in Puerto Rico (theirs didn't). I had 3 different Verizon phones and one of them was worked on by Verizon 2 or 3 times. None of them ever worked. Have they really gotten that much better? or did I have really, really bad luck with them? I do like the idea of the new Droid phones.

Feb. 8, 2010, 07:45 PM
I have a Verizon Blackberry and was one of the only people at a competition at River Glen in (backwoods!) TN that had service. I was on roam, but I was at least able to call out and receive calls. My trainer has an AT&T iphone and spent the whole weekend using my phone to check in with her mom (who was taking care of the farm). I cannot say that there has been anywhere that I have gone in the last few years where I did not have signal. (My travels are limited to KY, TN, various parts of the midwest, and Nevada.)

Feb. 9, 2010, 05:45 AM
Much as everyone else has said, it depends, but with whoever you end up with, ask the sales person/technician which phone gets the best reception. We are with Verizon and get spotty coverage at the house (but GREAT signal at the barn farther back on the property) and a couple of years ago when I upgraded the phone I asked for the best phone for signal and the Motorola I got made a huge difference. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but I don't care about them.

Feb. 9, 2010, 09:30 AM
I have Verizon now and I find it covers all the dead spots I used to have with Virgin, ATT and T-mobile. Especially that VERY long dead spot on route 38 as we head for Cornell.

Go Fish
Feb. 9, 2010, 01:47 PM
Verizon...you wouldn't believe some of the places I've had to use that phone and it's never failed me, not once.

Feb. 10, 2010, 12:24 AM
I've had better luck with Verizon. AT&T would not even work at my HOUSE, located in a large metro area that is flat for several miles around. It would kind-of work if I stood in the middle of the street. Would not work at my school which, according to rumor had an AT&T tower on the roof of our building. Would not work at the barn, which is why pretty much everyone there as Verizon, the only carrier that seems to work. Verizon generally "wins" or does well in the Consumer's Union reports.

But, there are areas where it doesn't work well so you really need to talk to people who are in your area. My parents live in a hilly area that is notorious for bad cell service--carrier A will work in one place, but not in another whereas the reverse can be true for carrier B. You often need to pick where you need it to work the most and go with that. My old vet worked down in Rancho Santa Fe, which I guess is similar, and carried two phones from two different carriers so she had a chance of having service wherever she went.