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Best Mobile Carrier for Full Timers


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Our family currently gets cellular service from AT&T which works very well for us where we live. However, as we plan to go more-or-less full time in 2017, we'd like to get your feedback and experiences regarding which carrier gives the best voice/data services the road. Is it AT&T, Verizon, Sprint? Have you tried more than one, and if so how does your new carrier compare to your old?

 

I'm asking now so that we have time to fulfill any contracts before retirement so we can feel free to make the best decision when the time comes.

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Verizon for the last 8+ years. There are places in intermittent aggravation with their service in western Pa where its hilly. The only other 2 places we had issues was outside of Marble Falls, TX and the entire northern LA ( mostly just our then air cad wouldn't work but the phone did)

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I have both Verizon and AT&T. Verizon works for me about 90% of the time, and AT&T works about 80% of the time. They do a pretty good job of covering each others gaps.

 

We spend much of our time in Texas and the Western USA, but have also spent time in Maine and the Florida Keys, so we've covered much of the USA.

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I did a lot of reading and research on this and choose Verizon. I started fulltiming 6 months ago.

Just remember no one carrier will give you 100% coverage. Plus there coverage maps keep changing. A lot of people have gotten a pay as you go phone that carries over as a secondary phone. As the minutes and I think data carry over. And it cost about $10 a month. I have not yet found the need to pick one up yet.

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I had AT&T for a long time and it worked well in many places. I have been with Verizon for quite some time now and find it pretty good also. I am some what frustrated that in some place that are in flat lands that seem like the service shoud be good it is not. I don't dig into the whys and werefores that much but that is just the way it is.

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We have now had AT&T for the past 16 years and had it all of our full-time life as well as today as we continue to travel. We presently live in one of those areas that Verizon is poor to nonexistent. Our last 3 years on the road we had AT&T phones and Verizon for data and we found that there were as many dead areas for Verizon as for AT&T and we have been in places where neither one exist. I would only change which you use if there is some reason beyond going on the road to do so, or if you expect to spend extensive time in a location where the one you have is lacking. Cellular coverage's have been improving steadily for a long time now and the differences between the two majors is not very significant. They are very competitive and that is good for we consumers! :D

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For best coverage, you might consider having one phone that's AT&T and one that is Verizon...both capable of being a hot spot, of course. That way, you should have pretty much all the country covered.

 

We've been with Verizon for many years now and about the only place we don't have any cell phone service (we travel in the Western states) is at the Mesquite Springs Campground in Death Valley National Park.

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We have AT&T for our cell phone, and rather than using a phone for internet, we have a Verizon jetpack for mobile internet. We have not yet run into an area where the internet didn't work, but we have been in areas where neither carrier had cell signal for calls.

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When we went full-time in 2008 I had a T-mobile flip phone, Dave had an AT&T iPhone, and we had Sprint through Millenicom for our data. None of them worked everywhere but one or the other worked most places. When Sprint cut us off, we changed our data to Verizon. When I finally bought a smart phone, I bought Verizon. When Dave wanted to upgrade his phone which would mean losing his grandfathered unlimited plan, He chose to add his new phone to my Verizon. So now it either works or it doesn't--no backup systems. Cheaper for us but maybe not better.

 

My understanding is, as to contracts, once you reach your two year limit for most plans it automatically goes month to month. That means you can change anytime after your contract expires so you don't need to be in a hurry to change. If you like what you have go out there with it to see if you still like it. You can always buy something else later.

 

Linda Sand

 

Note: all the systems have built many towers since 2008 so it's not as hard to find coverage now as it was then.

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Greetings.. I see some have already mentioned our resources (thank you!)

 

Each of the carriers has some unique benefits that might be worthwhile. It really depends so much on your travel style, where you plan to go and how important it is to you to keep connected. Today, we generally recommend anyone who needs connectivity to have Verizon on board, and usually at least one back up.

 

What will be the best options when you're ready to hit the road in 2 years could entirely change. T-Mobile, for example, is aggressively expanding their LTE coverage right now - and has some pretty snazzy options for RVers that make them an interesting options as a secondary carrier (including unlimited video streaming and coverage free coverage in Mexico & Canada).

 

By the way, I believe only Sprint pushes contracts anymore these days. T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T all have easy no-contract options, even with financing options to get your devices with less upfront cost. So don't worry too much about that at this point. Avoid contracts if you can, and you leave lots of options wide open.

 

Anyway, here is our article & video overview of the four carriers, and how they stack up this month anyway:

http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/four-carriers

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We have AT&T phones with hotspots and Verizon jetpacks. While traveling coverage varies but there has been only 2 locations we stayed where our phones didn't get data. These were along the Oregon and northern California coast (no voice at the CA site either) and in interior Arizona but the jetpack worked fine at both. This year though the Arizona site has AT & T with 5 bars of 4G with folks in the area telling us that Verizon's coverage is now less than good. So I guess coverage changes from time to time. As mentioned it is likely best to have both major carriers if you want to stay up.

Later,

J

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! am always surprised that when this subject is discussed nobody mentions NET10 / Tracphone.

 

When I did the research it turned out that they had better coverage than any of the big 4 because they the cell towers of all the big 4. Now I looked at this a while ago but unless things have changed that cheap prepay outperforms the big guys at least as far as coverage.

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! am always surprised that when this subject is discussed nobody mentions NET10 / Tracphone.

 

When I did the research it turned out that they had better coverage than any of the big 4 because they the cell towers of all the big 4. Now I looked at this a while ago but unless things have changed that cheap prepay outperforms the big guys at least as far as coverage.

 

The Tracfone Wireless brands do have MVNO contracts with multiple carriers, but each model phone is activated with only one carrier. Phones that are activated on Verizon for instance, do not roam on AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint towers.

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The Tracfone Wireless brands do have MVNO contracts with multiple carriers, but each model phone is activated with only one carrier. Phones that are activated on Verizon for instance, do not roam on AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint towers.

 

Well I am out of touch as I now live on a sailboat in the Eastern carib but when I had my NET10 phone it DEFINITELY used different carriers towers and had significantly better coverage than Verizon prepaid.

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Well I am out of touch as I now live on a sailboat in the Eastern carib but when I had my NET10 phone it DEFINITELY used different carriers towers and had significantly better coverage than Verizon prepaid.

 

Most of the carriers do have some roaming agreements with smaller "mom & pop" carriers that may be included in their MVNO contracts to fill in some coverage holes, but roaming on the other major carriers towers is not typically allowed. Millenicom had one of the rare full access Verizon MVNO contracts, but that was for data only. Then there's also the issue of CDMA devices that can't roam on GSM towers and vice versa, regardless of any contracts, for technical incompatibility reasons. Verizon currently has the largest "in-house" owned/leased tower network of any of the big four. Roaming on even Verizon direct devices in pretty uncommon.

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