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  1. #1

    Default Cell Phone Towers along the AT

    Which provider(s) offer the best cell phone coverage for the entire trail?

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    Verizon has long been know to have the best service along the entire AT. in my thru in 2013 I was able to get a signal every day at least at some point, and pretty much continuous service, including streaming music, from WV to CT.

    As these threads come up often I see that still is the recommendation. ATT has significant gaps in both on trail and in trail towns. T-mobile was useless. IDK about google fi though I had good luck with that in such various places.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen76 View Post
    Which provider(s) offer the best cell phone coverage for the entire trail?
    It varies along the trail, Iím fortunate in that I use ATT and my hiking partners use Verizon so it balances out.

    While not a perfect depiction, thereís an app called 'Coverage?' that shows cell tower coverage for all four major carriers across the US. I use it to plan pickup/drop off points.


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  4. #4

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    Verizon is the best in Maine/NH. ATT is spotty. In rural Maine, there usually is some coverage from open summits but rarely in the valleys.

    Note that the Verizon affiliated lower cost carriers do not have the same coverage as a Verizon plan. Verizon contracts with other carriers for rural coverage while the discount plans do not.

  5. #5

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    I've had good luck with TracFone. Vermont is sketchy, no matter who you use. Vermont doesn't like unsightly cell towers.
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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Verizon. Over four years of LASH's from Georgia to Maine, I could usually get a signal at some point during the day. At the most, maybe a day here or there I couldn't get a connection.
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  7. #7

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    I expect things will change when First Net is fully deployed. First Net is ATT.

    https://www.firstnet.com/coverage.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I expect things will change when First Net is fully deployed. First Net is ATT.

    https://www.firstnet.com/coverage.html
    Iíve had AT&T for years and interestingly Iíve been getting weaker signals in cities over the past several years! On average, AT&T has better coverage along the AT in VA and southern PA, followed by Verizon. T-mobile was sketchy anywhere away from I-81 or any towns.

    Having said all of this, Iím finally giving up on AT&T and switching to T-mobile. I now have a Garmin connect that keeps me in touch with my family regardless of cell coverage, so I might as well cut my bill in half and enjoy T-mobileís better service overseas (Iím a pilot who travels a lot).


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    Quote Originally Posted by globetruck View Post
    ...
    Having said all of this, Iím finally giving up on AT&T and switching to T-mobile. I now have a Garmin connect that keeps me in touch with my family regardless of cell coverage, so I might as well cut my bill in half and enjoy T-mobileís better service overseas (Iím a pilot who travels a lot).
    T-mobile worked good in Europe, but not great. Data speeds are limited which is noticeable. This past summer I went with Google Fi and had full data speeds in Europe.

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    As others have noted, Verizon (on their plan with roaming enabled) usually has the best all around coverage on the AT. Cell phones are basically two-way radios and while they are not completely "line of sight" (the radio waves do reflect off solid surfaces like rocks, buildings, etc) anytime you are in a mountain/valley topography you can wind up in a coverage shadow. Heavy foliage also weakens reception as does rain to varying degrees. Sometimes you'll get no reception on the top of a mountain but you will half way down, or on the other side of a ridge line, etc. Valleys are often the worst as you can wind up in the coverage shadow of the ridgeline/mountains unless there's a tower on a nearby high point. The worst reception areas I've encountered are in Vermont and Maine, especially in the more remote valleys.

    Some additional info on cell networks and how they're changing (but even this info is going on a year old) https://www.pcmag.com/news/cdma-vs-g...the-difference

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    Quote Originally Posted by globetruck View Post
    ........ I might as well cut my bill in half and enjoy T-mobileís better service overseas (Iím a pilot who travels a lot). ..
    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    ....................This past summer I went with Google Fi and had full data speeds in Europe.
    I have used Google Fi in Canada and New Zealand and it worked great. I have a Moto X4 that is fully compatable with FI. Not sure how Fi would be on the AT as in the US I am on AT&T.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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    We have AT&T. There are indeed places where we had no signal, including downtown Hot Springs, NC. And of course there were numerous places in the woods with no signal.

    However, unless you have special circumstances where you need the best signal available at all times, in my opinion AT&T is adequate. We've been able to get a signal from most higher elevations and many other places in between. If we need to communicate with a shuttle, we usually text/call from the high spot with an estimate of when we'll make it to the road crossing pickup point below.

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    Note that the Verizon affiliated lower cost carriers do not have the same coverage as a Verizon plan. Verizon contracts with other carriers for rural coverage while the discount plans do not.[/QUOTE]

    Last fall I discovered that there is a difference in coverage within Verizon between pre-paid and post-paid plans.

    I was working on a trail crew that was based at TriCorner Knob in the Smokies. My phone was unable to even send or receive a text message while other crew members were able to carry on full conversations on their phones. We each had Verizon but I was using the least expensive plan.

    When I returned to civilization I visited a Verizon store and the rep admitted that the cheap plan doesn't always make use all towers. Not a problem in metro areas but in outlying places it can be an issue. I changed plans and now have much better reception .

    In the Smokies there are no towers within the park but now I can get a signal on the ridge tops. Although my friend with Cingular seldom gets service.

  14. #14

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    BTW, texts use a different technique to send and receive. The bandwidth is negligible compared to voice. If you are in marginal area, texts frequently go through where voice does not.

  15. #15

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    Thank you for replying. You have all been very helpful.

  16. #16

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    Good to know. Thank you.

  17. #17

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    Good information. Thank you

  18. #18

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    These 5G towers are starting to go up.

    They are very powerful so that may change things in the near future.

    Ive even heard that these powerful towers have the potential of some not so friendly uses. Unfortunately we dont even understand the effect of these powerful, invisible waves on the human body yet. Alas, people MUST have their cell service so screw it right?

  19. #19

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    5G is not going to be an issue along much of the AT. In order to support the bandwidth, they antennas need to be on every street corner, not very practical in rural areas and in areas without streets or corners.

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    I had ATT cell coverage at least once per day this past year, until we hit Maine. Then I had virtually nothing.

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