Does Straight Talk Have the Same Coverage as Verizon?
By Carla Jean McKinney
Updated August 23, 2017
Straight Talk is a prepaid cellphone plan offering both limited and unlimited talk and text options. Sold through stores such as Walmart, Straight Talk uses the networks of major carriers like Verizon and AT&T to provide coverage. Depending on the type of phone purchased, Straight Talk users can have access to the same coverage provided by Verizon's own cellphone plans, but at a lower price.
Straight Talk and Verizon
Straight Talk offers low-cost, fixed-rate cellphone plans using the networks of Verizon and AT&T, two of the major cellular service providers in the United States. Because its primary network provider is Verizon, Straight Talk has been called a Verizon plan in essence, allowing Verizon to draw from a customer base beyond those using its contract plans. Although Straight Talk phones operating on Verizon's network have access to the same coverage area as Verizon itself, phones operating on AT&T's network offer coverage in AT&T's area, which isn't equivalent to Verizon's.
CDMA and GSM Phones
The type of coverage available through Straight Talk depends on the type of cellphone purchased. Users of Straight Talk's plans must purchase a Straight Talk phone; although phone numbers can be transferred to a new Straight Talk account, phones from other carriers can't. Cellphones conform to two major telecommunications standards: Code Division Multiple Access and Global System for Mobile. These standards differ in terms of coverage and phone data storage; CDMA is used largely in North America and Asia, while GSM is the European and international standard. CDMA phones have information programmed directly into the phone, while GSM phones use a SIM card that you can transfer from phone to phone.
Straight Talk Phones and Networks
Straight Talk phone options include both CDMA and GSM standard phones, and each of these has a different coverage area. CDMA phones purchased through Straight Talk use Verizon's networks, with coverage generally equivalent to Verizon's own. However, Straight Talk's GSM standard phones use AT&T's network. For GSM phones, Straight Talk also has a roaming agreement with T-Mobile.
Straight Talk Options
Straight Talk offers several phone options at varying prices to accompany its plans. If coverage is important, find out whether the phone you purchase is a CMDA or GSM standard phone, and check which network is available in your area.
Carla Jean McKinney has been writing professionally since 1989. She is the author of three nonfiction books and numerous published short works, as well as articles on natural sciences and the environment. Also a photographer, McKinney earned her Master of Arts at the University of Arizona and is a graduate of the Sessions School of Design.