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Old 11-25-2014, 07:32 PM   #1
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Help with phone plan selection for full-timing

We will begin our new full-timing life in a couple of weeks, and we are trying to unravel the cell phone choices maze. GSM (At&T)/GDMA (Verizon): which choice is best? We will be traveling throughout the USA and Canada, and would like to eventually go to Europe, too.

I have read that Verizon has the best coverage. We are shopping the iphone 6 plus, which we have been told is GSM and CDMA compatible. I wish there were a clear cut favorite among our members, and maybe there is, this is why I am asking for help. Thank you.
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Old 11-25-2014, 08:19 PM   #2
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Hands down VERIZON or a carrier that uses verizon network. Have now done away with internet at home and went to Verizon jet pack. Slightly more but I have 15 gigs of data plus internet almost anywhere I am. I travel all over the country and have coverage in 98% of the places I go. Even through the middle of North Dakota, and Montana oilfields. We haul campers all over the lower 48 and the worst coverage I have had is Hwy. 1 down the coast from Portland to San Fran. Spotty coverage in a lot of places down the coast but I also lost sat. radio there too.
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Old 11-25-2014, 09:01 PM   #3
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I agree, Verizon Wireless has the best nationwide coverage. We have Verizon for our old, dumb phones and a Novatel MiFi 4510L (that was recently switched from Millenicom to Verizon); and we've been pleasantly surprised to have cellphone and mobile broadband service in some very remote boondocking locations, when neighbors had no connection using other carriers. However, we sometimes use an external antenna and signal booster, as necessary, to improve fringe area reception.

Even so, there are a still some locations where there is absolutely no service; and there isn't much one can do in these cases (e.g., Death Valley, the northwest coastal areas mentioned in the previous post, and some extremely remote areas in the West).
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Old 11-25-2014, 09:26 PM   #4
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Verizon has the best US coverage. T-Mobile has a lot of pluses for travel in Europe. In Seattle, T-Mobile 4G LTE speeds can hit 20 Mbps. AT&T speeds have not been that impressive for me here.

I have heard that Verizon prioritizes bandwidth such that a Verizon customer will get more bandwidth than a customer of another carrier using their network, but this is anecdotal based on friends at a festival where the massive number of people were probably overloading the nearby towers capacity.

My plan, even though it is more expensive, is to use T-Mobile for my wife's phone, and Verizon for mine. That way we have two coverage/speed options.

T-Mobile has some serious advantages when it comes to extra charges; no overage fees, tethering/mobile hotspot is free, and phenomenal support, both in their stores and phone support. If T-Mobile had coverage close to AT&T or Verizon, they'd be my hands down winner. They seem to be cheaper, at least for our current family plan. I use T-Mobile for my family, but my company gives me a free phone of choice and a paid plan with AT&T. I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I've had some seriously slow page loads with AT&T.

To collaborate what streamdreamn says, the west coast of Washington also has practically no coverage, and when you get it, it is 2G and no data. Considering that the Olympic Peninsula is mostly all a national park, that is to be expected. I still thoroughly enjoy tricking my kids into camping in places with no signal. They, gasp, have to talk to each other, and play cards for entertainment. It's amazing how entertaining a campfire can be when your mePhone doesn't work.
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Old 11-25-2014, 09:48 PM   #5
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From what I understand Canada has better coverage with GMS service and Europe uses GMS for the most part. But Verizon (GDMA) has by far the best coverage in the US. ATT (GMS) is trying very hard though to catch up in coverage.

I use Verizon though finding coverage almost anywhere I travel (but not at my home, where there is no cell service at all, from anyone).
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Old 11-25-2014, 10:30 PM   #6
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In the more remote parts of the western states (like around national parks) Verizon seems to be the only one with coverage. Our Canadian cell phone company seems to pick up anything but Verizon in the US, and it has been frustrating to see everyone but us have the use of their phones . In western Canada, similarly, Telus seems to be the only company with coverage in more remote rural areas (like around national parks.)

The one thing that didn't work, even with a Galaxy Samsung Nexus, which supposedly isn't locked, was trying to get a Verizon SIM card in the US with a Canadian Fido (Rogers) service provider. Verizon just wouldn't do it, apparently due to some incompatibilities. Maybe some people have had better luck.
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Old 11-26-2014, 01:30 AM   #7
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When camping on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, we had Verizon cellphone and mobile broadband service at all of the campgrounds where we stayed (Pacific Beach, Kalaloch, Hoh Rain Forest & Heart o' the Hills). See equipment details in entry below that was cut, pasted and updated from from another thread.

==========

On a recent 78 day roadtrip (Spring 2014) through AZ, CA, OR, WA, ID, UT and CO, we covered 5,100 miles, stayed in 29 different (mostly National & State Park) campgrounds, and had mobile broadband service at 24 of these sites (83%). Nearly all locations did not have free campground WiFi; and some locations were so remote that we did not have (Verizon) cell phone service, either.

We used a Millenicom "Hot Spot" (Novatel 4510L MiFi) cellular modem/router (on the Verizon network), with a Cyfre "Extreme Rockies" mobile broadband amplifier and magnetic-mount cellular antenna on a 20-foot pole.

We also have a PepWave Surf-on-the-Go (WiFi as WAN) router that serves the same purpose as the WiFiRanger. However, we did not use it at all during this trip; and it remained in the storage box.

Equipment cost:

• Novatel MiFi model 4510L = $165 (device purchase & setup thru Millenicom.com, which has since gone out of business); monthly service with Verizon Wireless (20GB) = $100 (plus fees & taxes)

• Cyfre amplifier and antenna (MaximumSignal.net) = $220

• Portable flagpole mount (Amazon.com: Flagpole To Go Tire Mount For Large Diameter Portable Flagpole: Sports & Outdoors) = $35

• Antenna pole & miscellaneous mounting hardware (actually a telescoping pool skimmer pole with TV antenna mounting hardware, all from WalMart) = $35

Note: I have no association with any of the vendors for this equipment, other than being a satisfied customer.
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Old 11-26-2014, 08:11 AM   #8
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Verizon is not active here in Canada. Roaming fees will get you big time. An alternative in Canada is 7-11 pay as you go. It is GSM and you have to buy a sim card. There is a 1 year time limit on the call time you buy, and $10.00 / month for data.
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Old 11-26-2014, 08:27 AM   #9
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While I was working and had sales people and truck drivers all over the place we tried them all - Verizon hands down, best coverage, fewer dropped calls. When we travel to Canada we purchased a slot of time for a month from a carrier there, forget which one, and used it daily, worked fine.
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Old 11-26-2014, 09:05 AM   #10
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Longtime, loyal, Verizon customer here.


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Old 11-26-2014, 09:23 AM   #11
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I've been with Verizon for 15 years or more. Best coverage. For Europe we chose to not use cell phone, but took the Ipad and used Facetime or Skype. No worries about charges that way.
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Old 11-26-2014, 09:41 AM   #12
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You may also be interested in looking on the website, Technomadia, Chris and Cherie are full timers ( in a bus ) and have a section dedicated technology solutions.
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Old 11-26-2014, 09:46 AM   #13
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We all use ATT in Texas for oilfield as it is the only one with decent service. This may not matter for most, but for those doing seasonal work such as gate guards it is pretty much mandatory. Luckily it is also deductible as a result.
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Old 11-26-2014, 09:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
I've been with Verizon for 15 years or more. Best coverage. For Europe we chose to not use cell phone, but took the Ipad and used Facetime or Skype. No worries about charges that way.
We did the same thing when in France. Didn't skype but emailed our kids, and they us. Worked out great.

Skype, I believe, allows phone calls frim overseas for free.....no visual, just the phone connection. My son used this when traveling for work.


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Old 11-26-2014, 10:13 AM   #15
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I have had an AT&T phone for 13 years, and I say go with Verizon. My choice to stay with AT&T is because Verizon is not represented very strongly in this part of the country. From what I understand, though, Verizon is number one everywhere else. Verizon not being as big in the Mississippi market may be in part to a local, regional phone company with awesome rates, but not much coverage after you leave the south (C-Spire).
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Old 11-26-2014, 10:29 AM   #16
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I switched to AT&T about 2 years ago and will be going back to Verizon as soon as contract expires.
AT&T has faster internet speeds in northern Michigan but Verizon does not drop my calls or take 24 hours to receive a text.
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:04 AM   #17
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I have AT&T right now and it's only because we get a discount on service plans from my current place of employment.

When this contract is finally up, I'll be switching to Verizon.
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Old 11-26-2014, 12:22 PM   #18
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I get a discount at work, too- another reason I've stayed with AT&T.
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Old 11-26-2014, 12:48 PM   #19
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This is a loaded question as there are many considerations. Locality issues are one. In my area for years ATT has had the best coverage. Verizon was second fiddle BUT Verizon towers were powered the longest in the aftermath of a hurricane in 2004 when ATT towers went down. Point? Locally you will get varied responses from region to region. CDMA systems travel greater distance but also have singular use- voice or Internet but not at the same time, locked equipment and no Europe. This includes just about every carrier but ATT and TMobile.

You have to research your options for sure and most likely have a backup plan of communication is critical. Sprint has the most options available and I would recommend them as a backup for you using one of those pay as you use options like Tang. That way you also get tethering, etc. for really cheap OR Internet on the GO at Walmart where you pay WHEN you use it and loose no minutes, etc. The catch is the carrier signal strength. I would also purchase a cell phone signal booster with max antenna.

My first camping trip I had no WiFi or phone signal. After installing a booster and WiFi signal system (WiFi Ranger) I no longer have many issues using Sprint or ATT. One usually works at least.

Europe is GSM (ATT or TMobile) but then again, not all is happy. You have to purchase a phone that is compatible with various bands, etc. More research.

Sometimes the least route of resistance on something like this is to have multiple products. TO keep my costs down, I dropped ATT with my ATT iPhone when out of contract, joined StraightTalk with my GSM phone and now have unlimited talk, text and data for $47 versus $98 for 450 min talk, 1500 text and 2gb data. Get this, as soon as my phone activated I was right back on the ATT network! They use Verizon, TMobile or Verizon as their network partners. The support is not that good if you have to call but I do not call that often. I highly recommend them. You can bring your Verizon or ATT phone over to them. If you need to buy a phone it will be expensive (unlocked) but you will save in the long run. My new iPhone was $599 I believe rather than $299 for the subsidized price under contract. In a year's time though I save $612 for the service.
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Old 11-26-2014, 03:10 PM   #20
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I am seeing the ads for a free phone if you sign a contract. Believe me they will have the cost of the phone back before a year is out if you sign. The real rip off is that it costs less than $250 to build that $600 iPhone. It is better to own a cheaper phone that does the job and pay as you go. A sim card for each area / country and off you go.
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