If you are like many people the cell phone coverage you have is spotty. At home you might have 5 bars but three miles down the road at the supermarket you only get one.
Many problems with reception can be spotty like that but when you are choosing a provider you want to plan for the best case scenario. This means you should find a provider that gives you good coverage at home and at work and also in other primary locations like your kid’s school or down at the pond where you fish every weekend.
Its really not reasonable to go without service especially when you might be on the road. For that reason its probably a good thing to check what provider has the best signal coverage along your daily route in case you need to be contacted or need to call for road service.
Asking Friends and Neighbors about Cell Phone Quality
One of the first things we all do is ask people around us what their phone signal is like and who their provider is. This can help to an extent but unless you can really monitor their use and have the exact same type of phone it might not matter that much.
You can try this and you can also ask the sales people when you look at phones in a store which provider has the best signal but it can really vary depending on a lot of factors.
Checking your coverage map with your Phone Company
Now this can be misleading a lot of carriers will say they have coverage in your area but most of them won’t say what the signal quality is really like.
Most providers even if you are not roaming will use a third party tower. This is a nonspecific provider tower that a company has put up to offer local signal to major carriers. Think of it like all of the companies on the internet that have backbone fiber from city to city and your local isp or cable provider hooks into it. You never know who owns those backbones and you don’t know who owns these private networks of cell towers.
However there are ways to find these towers and who owns them. If you find there are towers owned by a specific phone provider in your area and no one else has them anywhere near it is probably a better bet to go with that provider.
To find towers in your area use this website
To find signal quality but not specific towers this site may help.
Nothing really compares with actually buying a phone and using it on a specific network. If you can find a cheap android phone on a pay as you go network then it might be worth trying that before you invest in the newest iPhone that is locked to a specific carrier.
Also remember that some of the discount companies like TracFone use specific networks but you never can completely tell when you are on any network.
It is probably best to get a $20 burner phone and pay the minimum monthly pay as you go price for the first month and if you purchase at a dealer or store that allows returns then even better.
So, try those websites, ask your friends, when you get close to a decision try a cheap phone on the carriers network and then go for a more expensive phone once you know what the real deal is.