How to Compare Cell Phone Coverageby Jason Hinkley
No matter what other features your phone or service provider offers, if you don't have coverage when you need it, your phone is worthless. Checking coverage in your area before you buy can save you a lot of trouble.
Service Provider Coverage Maps
Service providers post maps of their coverage on their websites. These maps are pretty accurate; providers want to keep their customers and misrepresenting their coverage will not accomplish that. However, while providers' coverage maps are good at identifying areas where they don't physically have coverage, they're bad at identifying places with reception issues related to network traffic.
User-Generated Coverage Maps
There are a number of user-generated coverage maps that can provide a fuller picture of cellphone coverage in your area. Websites like Deadzones and Signal Map are posting more coverage data everyday.
Trying a phone will give you the best idea of how it performs in your area. Many carriers have one-month trial periods, giving you a good sense of the service. Asking friends about the reception they get with their service providers can also be helpful.
A service provider's data coverage area, especially for high-speed data plans, is usually not as extensive as its phone coverage area. If you will be using your phone to access the Internet regularly, check service providers' data and phone coverage maps.
- photo_camera Cell Phone Tower image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com