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Old 07-18-2021, 08:54 AM   #1
rjniles
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Best cellular carrier for camping?

I am looking to save some money on my cell phone bill and at the same time get a larger data allowance. I am on a post paid AT&T plan with UTT (unlimited talk and text) and 6GB of data shared between my wife's and my phones. My coverage in the areas we camp is very good with AT&T. We mainly camp is SC, NC, GA and FL Have been to PA and TN a few times.

I am looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon (Visible) T-Mobile pre-paid and AT&T pre-paid. While I know the coverage is good with AT&T, my concern is will Verizon or T-Mobile be the same. T-Mobile has the most attractive plan (UTT and unlimited data for 2 phones, $55 including taxes and fees). But i have seen other reports that T-Mobile's coverage is less that optimum in rural areas.

What is your experience with these carriers while camping in the SE US?
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Old 07-18-2021, 09:36 AM   #2
sourdough
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From memory I believe Verizon has the best coverage nationally of any carrier. I've used them all over the years but I've been with Verizon probably a decade. I just haven't had any issues with coverage to speak of compared to other carriers I've used. I also use a Visible plan for my hotspot and unlimited data. Just got it last summer and so far so good.
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Old 07-18-2021, 10:49 AM   #3
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I refuse to "carry a cell phone" (spent two careers "on call 24/7) and now that I'm retired, I see no need to be "electronically connected while trying to distance myself from work, worries and the BS of today's geo-political environment"...

So, I have a "pay as you go" phone on the AT&T network that sits in the truck 24/7 and is primarily used to "dial 911 if the airbags deploy" or in an emergency if someone else in the truck doesn't have a phone. DW has her "expensive with all the bells and whistles phone" on the Verizon network.

She also has the jet-pak on her Verizon plan.

We've seldom been in a location where she can not get Verizon service but we've had way too many times that my phone, connected to the 911 system in the truck, will report "no signal" or only 1-2 bars. When that happens, her Verizon phone typically has 4 or more bars.

I'd say that AT&T has less "nationwide service" than Verizon based on personal experience.

My SIL has T-Mobile, lives in the Detroit area and can not use her phone at our house. If we go into Gaylord, she can get service. T-Mobile appears, at least in Michigan, to be postured in the heavily populated areas and they apparently don't even have "roaming service" in this area.

So, if you get "good service now" and go with a "more populated carrier" your service should equal what you get or be better. If you go with a "smaller, localized carrier" don't expect to get anything once you cross the Mississippi River, except in "big cities".....

Javi finally got his carrier to provide what seems like a logical service, he posted the details on the forum. Look up those posts and/or he may chime in with what he did and how it's working.
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Old 07-18-2021, 12:29 PM   #4
cliff
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Phone

We use Tracfone. It costs about $100 per year. Go to their website and request triple minutes. That way you get triple minutes, texts, and data. We have not had any problems with coverage as they piggyback on Verizon and att.
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Old 07-18-2021, 12:36 PM   #5
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We use Tracfone. It costs about $100 per year. Go to their website and request triple minutes. That way you get triple minutes, texts, and data. We have not had any problems with coverage as they piggyback on Verizon and att.
Tracfone is not a carrier, they buy access from 1 of the 3 nation wide carriers: AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Which does your phone work on?
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Old 07-18-2021, 12:37 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
I am looking to save some money on my cell phone bill and at the same time get a larger data allowance. I am on a post paid AT&T plan with UTT (unlimited talk and text) and 6GB of data shared between my wife's and my phones. My coverage in the areas we camp is very good with AT&T. We mainly camp is SC, NC, GA and FL Have been to PA and TN a few times.

I am looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon (Visible) T-Mobile pre-paid and AT&T pre-paid. While I know the coverage is good with AT&T, my concern is will Verizon or T-Mobile be the same. T-Mobile has the most attractive plan (UTT and unlimited data for 2 phones, $55 including taxes and fees). But i have seen other reports that T-Mobile's coverage is less that optimum in rural areas.

What is your experience with these carriers while camping in the SE US?
See my pm...
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Old 07-18-2021, 12:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JRTJH View Post
I refuse to "carry a cell phone" (spent two careers "on call 24/7) and now that I'm retired, I see no need to be "electronically connected while trying to distance myself from work, worries and the BS of today's geo-political environment"...

So, I have a "pay as you go" phone on the AT&T network that sits in the truck 24/7 and is primarily used to "dial 911 if the airbags deploy" or in an emergency if someone else in the truck doesn't have a phone. DW has her "expensive with all the bells and whistles phone" on the Verizon network.

She also has the jet-pak on her Verizon plan.

We've seldom been in a location where she can not get Verizon service but we've had way too many times that my phone, connected to the 911 system in the truck, will report "no signal" or only 1-2 bars. When that happens, her Verizon phone typically has 4 or more bars.

I'd say that AT&T has less "nationwide service" than Verizon based on personal experience.

My SIL has T-Mobile, lives in the Detroit area and can not use her phone at our house. If we go into Gaylord, she can get service. T-Mobile appears, at least in Michigan, to be postured in the heavily populated areas and they apparently don't even have "roaming service" in this area.

So, if you get "good service now" and go with a "more populated carrier" your service should equal what you get or be better. If you go with a "smaller, localized carrier" don't expect to get anything once you cross the Mississippi River, except in "big cities".....

Javi finally got his carrier to provide what seems like a logical service, he posted the details on the forum. Look up those posts and/or he may chime in with what he did and how it's working.
My FIL used to have a cellphone in his truck that was turned off…. I was driving with him one day and said .. “why is your phone off? How is anybody going to get a hold of you if they need to?”

He said.. “ I didn’t buy the phone so everybody could get a hold of me…I bought it so I could make a call if I WANTED to ..lol
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Old 07-18-2021, 01:36 PM   #8
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I happen to live in a neighborhood where AT&T service is nonexistent, so I've had experience with both Verizon and T-Mobile. Verizon had the better coverage, but by far the worst customer service and plan pricing stability, so I made the switch to T-Mobile. I can say I've camped and driven through areas that completely lack T-Mobile service, southwest Texas in particular, US 90 (Uvalde to Van Horn) being the most extensive example. (Is Verizon or AT&T any better there? I can't answer that.)

But for our everyday traveling, which typically follows (if not uses) long interstate corridors, T-Mobile hardly ever lets me down. In particular, since you ask about the SE US, I do a lot of miles on I-10 and I-20, and have done I-95 a bit, and have not run into any lacunae there.

I realize they lack the detailed coverage of some others, but the price of the plan can't be beat.
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Old 07-18-2021, 03:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jasin1 View Post
My FIL used to have a cellphone in his truck that was turned off…. I was driving with him one day and said .. “why is your phone off? How is anybody going to get a hold of you if they need to?”

He said.. “ I didn’t buy the phone so everybody could get a hold of me…I bought it so I could make a call if I WANTED to ..lol
That reminds me of when I was at the US Cellular store many years ago when cell phones were just starting to get popular, probably early 90's. When I walked in another gentleman was speaking to a representative, asking rather loudly why his monthly bill was so high. After some back and forth questions and answers it was apparent that (1) the man used his phone rather extensively and (2) didn't have an unlimited plan. Finally realizing that whatever he said would bring no satisfaction to the customer, the rep said, "You know, just because it rings doesn't mean you have to answer it!"

That said, we travel the country from shore to shore and border to border using AT&T and there are very few areas that we find lacking. I hear that Verizon is better but if AT&T is number two, I'm happy with it. We also travel with a hotspot and it does very well also. But you know, there's always THAT ONE PLACE! Where it won't work when you need it to. Murphy's Law.
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Old 07-18-2021, 05:17 PM   #10
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We had T-Mobile for years (in MA, FL and NC) and had no complaints. Here in NC there were a few places where we didn't get a signal. Then we bought a new house and found out we had zero reception (no data or cell signal) inside or out at the new house.

We then switched to Spectrum Mobile (it's on the Verizon network) and we quickly realized how much better Verizon's network is than T-Mobile's. All those places that used to be "dead zones" on T-Mobile (camping at the state park, our mechanic's office, our new house, etc.) we now have excellent data and cell coverage through Verizon's network.

Eventually we'll be shopping for hotspot coverage for use on camping trips and will likely go with AT&T or Verizon.

We're done with T-Mobile.
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Old 07-18-2021, 05:21 PM   #11
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That said, we travel the country from shore to shore and border to border using AT&T and there are very few areas that we find lacking. I hear that Verizon is better but if AT&T is number two, I'm happy with it. We also travel with a hotspot and it does very well also. But you know, there's always THAT ONE PLACE! Where it won't work when you need it to. Murphy's Law.
We've done the same with Verizon! In 10+ years fulltiming there were only 2 places we didn't/couldn't get service.
One of those was a little one horse town in east Texas near my MIL that no cell service available from any company. Our Verizon wouldn't work, other family members had Sprint & AT&T that no service either. Drive about 10 miles out of town & all had full service.
Our son & daughter both called bragging what a great deal T Mobile was & tried to convince us to switch, but very shortly they both switched back to Verizon due to the fact neither one of them could receive/make calls from inside their houses, had to step outside to us their phones.
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Old 07-18-2021, 06:23 PM   #12
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Tracfone is not a carrier, they buy access from 1 of the 3 nation wide carriers: AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Which does your phone work on?
All of them. It floats depending upon area. Yes we know they are not a carrier, but who cares with the price. BTW Verizon bought tracfone.
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Old 07-18-2021, 07:43 PM   #13
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I am looking to save some money on my cell phone bill and at the same time get a larger data allowance. I am on a post paid AT&T plan with UTT (unlimited talk and text) and 6GB of data shared between my wife's and my phones. My coverage in the areas we camp is very good with AT&T. We mainly camp is SC, NC, GA and FL Have been to PA and TN a few times.

I am looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon (Visible) T-Mobile pre-paid and AT&T pre-paid. While I know the coverage is good with AT&T, my concern is will Verizon or T-Mobile be the same. T-Mobile has the most attractive plan (UTT and unlimited data for 2 phones, $55 including taxes and fees). But i have seen other reports that T-Mobile's coverage is less that optimum in rural areas.

What is your experience with these carriers while camping in the SE US?

If you use AT&T and are happy with coverage, Consumer Cellular is a fraction of the cost and uses the AT&T towers (as well as Sprint with a different phone) and costs far less and has better customer service.
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Old 07-19-2021, 04:03 AM   #14
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We have had continual service with AT&T for about 20 years and thought we didn't like it. We tried Verizon with a third phone for a year and then swapped that line to Sprint. We found that Sprint was positively terrible and that Verizon was virtually the same as AT&T. We just keep our five lines (Us, mother, and two grandgirls in college) with AT&T. Just depends where you are located most of the time.
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Old 07-19-2021, 05:21 AM   #15
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Interesting reads on cell providers. I'm guessing a lot of these are the same "unbiased" opinions that folks give to other things like choice of truck mfg., tire maker, beer, etc. So I'll chime in with my experiences. First "mobile phone" for me was a "bag phone" back in the early 1980's. It was Verizon and coverage was terrible but of course the industry was in its infancy.

Fast forward to the late 1990's. Employer provided cell phone thru Verizon. I added lines for DW and daughters. Horrific customer service, very high priced even with "employee discount" Changed jobs in 2001 and was in Denver for orientation. My MIL was diagnosed with stage 5 cancer and my cell phone took a dump. Went to Verizon store and they refused to do anything about it. Walked 2 storefronts down to a Sprint store and explained the situation.. In less that 1/2 hr I had a new phone (same number) and someone from a Sprint store at home would deliver the other 3 replacement phones (with their same numbers) to our house within 3 hrs which they did. The cost was substantially less than Verizon. That was then.

I traveled all over the country and never had a signal issue but of course that was traveling to cities or metropolis suburbs not the boonies. We were avid boaters back until the early 2000's and never had an issue on the Chesapeake Bay altho I did have a large fiberglass cell antenna on the boat (same size as the VHF radio antenna.) We transitioned from boating to camping and have never been without service but again, not out in the hinterlands either.

Over the years I've upgraded phones many times and each time I looked at other carriers and plans and none of them could beat Sprint with regard to cost or allocated min. Maybe it's the 20 years of being a customer, maybe it's my negotiating skills I don't know. More than once I've refused to stay when they wanted to "improve my plan" and substantially increase my monthly rate. Several times I said I would go with whomever and was quickly transferred to retention where I typically ended up with new phones no charge and the same plan. It does take time and perseverance.

As for CS my experience has been pretty good over the years. HOWEVER, since the Sprint T-Mobile merge the jury is still out. So far so good. T Mobile just recently sent out new sim cards to "get the full improvements" of the T-Mobile network. The transfer of the new card went smooth and seamless so they get points for that. As for anything beyond that the jury is still out.
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