We’ve all shopped around. We check pricing, devices, the different plans and yes, even that coverage map. Everything looks perfect and we order away. A few days later, the devices show up, get activated and bang, 1 bar of LTE that flutters in and out dropping to 4G or even worse, 3G on a regular basis. We scratch our heads and begin our calls to customer service, where they say that sometimes they need to do something on their end to reset this or refresh that. At any rate, by the time they are done playing around, the 14 day return period is over and you are stuck with a device that doesn’t work in that “4G LTE” are that their coverage map showed it would, or did it?
The first image in this post shows the “zoomed out” coverage in a certain area of a town. It shows a solid 4G LTE data signal. Yet, just one more click in, it shows a patch covering a large portion of the residential area changing from solid 4G LTE to “fair” 4G LTE. This means, on a 5 bar phone, a typical drop from 3-5 bars down to 1-2 bars. You will also likely see a speed drop of 10-15 Mbps over the download speeds going from the solid coverage area to the “fair” area.
Zooming in a bit closer, it’s easy to see that it’s actually a rather large chunk of the neighborhood that is without the solid coverage area. Now, in defense of the carrier, there are often other circumstances that come up when determining coverage, but when you check out the coverage map for another carrier in the exact same area and see no holes or dead zones, it becomes obvious that the carrier with those holes is probably not the carrier you want to go with. The big picture here is to do the homework on the network you are choosing to go to. If you are considering a smaller MVNO operation, take the time to carefully look at data speed caps and the prepaid coverage map for the network host if the MVNO map leaves you feeling a bit odd. There’s nothing like saving a ton on money on coverage you can’t use.