How to Compare Cell Phone Coverage

by 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.

Personal Experience

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.

Data Coverage

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.

About the Author

Jason Hinkley has been writing since 2004. His work has been published in "The Adirondack Review" and on Jason writes about technology, personal finance and outdoor recreation. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Cell Phone Tower image by Jim Mills from