Recap: Which is better for you, AT&T or Verizon?
Verizon and AT&T are both top-shelf cell phone carriers with great plan selection, reliability, perks, and the newest devices. But there are some differences between the two brands, too.
Here’s a quick recap of what makes each carrier great.
Verizon: Best for coverage
If you want the very best coverage in the nation, Verizon is the company for you. While every carrier’s coverage map has come holes, Verizon works hard to make sure that even the most remote communities have a few bars of service.
Verizon’s data speeds are respectable, even if they’re not quite as fast as AT&T’s. The company has plenty of new devices to buy (and it runs great deals, too)
AT&T: Highest data caps, and slightly cheaper
If you want the fastest data speeds in the industry, then AT&T’s network is the way to go. It has dominated in recent speed tests, making it the best provider for gamers, streamers, and influencers of all kinds.
AT&T’s top-tier unlimited plans also come with an unprecedented 100 GB of high-speed data and a free HBO subscription! Binge your heart out, America.
Cell Signal Coverage data for the whole of the USA
Our database contains cell coverage information for AT&T, USCellular, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Results show indoor and outdoor coverage for voice calls, 3G data, 4G (LTE) data, and 5G data for every zip code in the USA for each carrier.
What is cell phone coverage and signal checking?
Before you sign up with a new carrier, you need to be sure that you can get good reception - both good coverage and a reliable signal - where you live and work. If you can't, you might not be able to make calls, send messages, or use apps when you need to.
Over 90% of the US has good cell coverage; it's generally only rural areas where you might not get a signal. However, not all carriers provide the same level of coverage across the whole country. They can vary massively from one state to the next. So, a carrier that works for someone in a Southern State might not be the right choice for someone in the Northwest.
Our Signal Checker shows the coverage and signal strength for your zip code and helps you see which carrier will give you the best service. We check all the main carriers at once, saving you the time and effort of having to visit them all individually.
Who provides cellular coverage in the US?
There are three main carriers that provide cellular coverage across the US. In order of size, they are:
A fourth company, Sprint, merged with T-Mobile in April 2020. While existing customers won't have to switch for the foreseeable future, the Sprint brand has been retired and new customers must join T-Mobile. The move brings T-Mobile level with AT&T in terms of size.
These companies build and maintain their own cellphone network infrastructure, including the phone towers that you can see all around your towns and cities. The more of these towers you have in your area, the better the signal will be from the carrier that owns them.
What other carriers are there?
As well as the main carriers, there are two other categories of carrier that you can choose from.
- Regional carriers: some carriers are only available in certain regions. USCellular is the fourth-largest carrier in the US - their own network covers around 10% of the country, and they partner with the other three carriers to flesh out their coverage elsewhere.
- MVNOs: Mobile Virtual Network Operators don't maintain their own networks, they rent and resell coverage from one of the three main carriers. There's over a hundred of them, and some are also regional. Big names include Virgin Mobile, Google Fi, Mint Mobile, and Cricket Wireless.
MVNOs will often offer prepaid deals. This means you don't have to sign a contract, but pay in advance for an allowance of data and calls instead. These often work out a little more expensive, but the convenience might be worth it, especially if you don't use your phone that much.
What types of cell coverage are there?
Carriers provide several different cellular services. Coverage for each can differ from one region to the next, and the one that you use can also be dictated by what you're doing on your phone and what type of phone you've got.
- 5G: the latest type of data connection - it's truly rapid, with speeds over 1Gbps. It's also still very new, so coverage is patchy at best. It has been rolled out in parts of large cities around the country, but you'll have to wait several years before it becomes common nationwide. The new iPhone 12 supports 5G.
- 4G (LTE): the previous generation is used for data, as well as voice calls (depending on your phone and carrier). It has over 90% coverage around the US, and all modern smartphones support it. You can get speeds over 150Mbps.
- 3G: now used for data and voice where an LTE connection is not available. You won't use it much, but if you do you could get speeds of 7.2Mbps.
- Voice: the most basic type of coverage is voice (or 2G), used for calls and text messaging over SMS (iMessage and similar apps use the 4G or 5G network).
Will my phone work with every carrier?
As a general rule, your phone will work with every carrier even if you buy it outright, separate from your contract.
There can be some technical issues, though. Different carriers' networks run on different frequencies, and your phone needs to support these. Most modern phones do support them all.
For voice calls, the situation also used to be complicated. Carriers used one of two types of cellular tech - GSM or CDMA - and you needed a phone that was compatible with whichever service your carrier used. However, this only applies to 2G and 3G connections.
LTE (for 4G) is a different technology again, so unless you're still using a very old device you don't need to worry about it.
What affects my cell phone signal?
The main thing that affects your cell signal is your carrier's coverage. If you're literally stood next to one of their cell towers you'll have a perfect signal. But if you're a long way from a tower, that signal may come and go. This can affect your data download speeds, or result in dropped calls.
There are other factors, too:
- Your environment: the signal from a cell tower can be blocked by large physical objects. Your signal can be worse indoors than outdoors, in the basement, or if you're surrounded by skyscrapers or mountains.
- The weather: bad weather, including very heavy rain, snow, or thunderstorms, can temporarily knock out your phone signal.
- Crowds: if you're in a crowded place, with lots of people trying to connect to the same cell tower at the same time, you're likely to find the speeds a lot slower - and you might not be able to connect at all.
- Your phone: every phone gets its signal through a built-in antenna. Some of these are better than others.
- Travelling: if you're on a train, or in a moving car, you might find your cellphone signal is inconsistent. This is because you're constantly moving out of the range of one cell tower, and into range of another, and your phone has to keep switching connections between them.
How can I improve my phone signal?
Sometimes you can't get a phone signal right when you need it most. Don't worry, there are some things you can try.
- Move upstairs: many of the kinds of things that can block a phone signal are nearer the ground, so just going upstairs, or finding higher ground outdoors can help.
- Go to a window: signal strength is often better outdoors than indoors, so stand near a window - and open the window if you can.
- Go outside: if standing near a window doesn't help, going outside should do.
- Turn your phone off and on: when a phone disconnects from the network it can sometimes struggle to reconnect again. Switch your phone into airplane mode quickly, or turn it off and turn it on again, to force the device to connect to the network once more.
- Try Wi-Fi calling: if you're having problems with voice calls, consider switching to a Wi-Fi calling app. There are loads available for both iPhone and Android - Skype lets you call standard phone numbers, while you can use WhatsApp to call your regular contacts.
- Use a signal booster: are you able to get a signal outside your home, but not inside? You could consider getting a signal booster, which uses an external antenna and amplifies the signal throughout your home. Some carriers even sell their own signal boosters.
- Switch to a better carrier: if you're having constant problems with poor reception, use our signal checker to see if there's a carrier with better coverage in your area.
How do I check my cellphone coverage?
So what's the best way to discover which carrier has the best cellphone coverage where you live? Simply scroll back up to the top of the page, enter your zip code into the box, and we'll do the rest.
We'll show you whether you can get voice, 3G, 4G, and 5G coverage from America's four biggest carriers.
Map displays approximate outdoor
coverage and actual coverage may
vary. Coverage is not guaranteed and
is subject to change without notice.
Important Information About This Coverage Map
These maps provide a predicted high-level approximation of wireless coverage. There are gaps in coverage that are not shown by this high-level approximation. Actual coverage may differ from map graphics and may be affected by terrain, weather, network changes, foliage, buildings, construction, signal strength, high-usage periods, customer equipment, and other factors. AT&T does not guarantee coverage. Our coverage maps are not intended to show actual customer performance on the network or future network needs or build requirements inside or outside of existing AT&T coverage areas. Coverage maps may include areas served by unaffiliated carriers. Arrangements with these carriers may change from time to time, and coverage is subject to change without notice. Charges will be based on the location of the site receiving and transmitting the call, not the subscriber's location. Your phone's display does not indicate the rate you will be charged.
These maps are subject to the Microsoft® Service Agreement and for informational purposes only. No guarantee is made regarding their completeness or accuracy. Construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause actual conditions to differ from these results. Map and traffic data 2013 NAVTEQ®
FirstNet wireless coverage reaches more than 99 percent of Americans. When the network is fully built out, it will extend coverage to 2.74 million square miles, covering 76.2 percent of the continental United States and the District of Columbia. FirstNet provides the same services, support, and capabilities that are provided on the mainland to public safety responders in Hawaii and Alaska. FirstNet service will also be provided on all five of the U.S. island territories.
Coverage and capacity continue to expand where first responders need it most. The FirstNet build is being carried out with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. Sites are constructed using the FirstNet Band 14 spectrum, as well as other spectrum bands in the AT&T commercial spectrum portfolio.
The FirstNet network is based on a unique hybrid of shared AT&T and dedicated FirstNet assets, supported by billions of dollars invested in people, processes, systems, and equipment designed to provide customers with the first nationwide, public safety grade LTE network.
Coverage att cell
What the Map Shows
This map shows the 4G LTE mobile coverage areas of the nation’s four largest mobile wireless carriers: AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, UScellular, and Verizon. Specifically, it shows where customers can expect to receive 4G LTE broadband service at a minimum user download speed of five megabits per second (5 Mbps) and a user upload speed of one megabit per second (1 Mbps) based on propagation modeling.
The map includes separate layers for each carrier’s broadband and voice coverage. Voice coverage areas represent where customers should expect to make and receive mobile voice calls and send and receive texts over the 4G LTE network, without regard to throughput speed. 4G LTE data service meeting a 5/1 Mbps minimum speed may not be available in areas where only voice coverage is shown on the map.
How to Use the Map
Consumers can enter in specific addresses or zoom in to locations to see where 4G LTE mobile data and voice service is available. Users can choose to view providers’ mobile data and/or voice service by clicking on a provider’s data or voice service layer.
How the Map was Prepared
The coverage map was created using data submitted voluntarily by the four mobile carriers using certain standardized propagation model assumptions or parameters that were established by the FCC as part of the Broadband Data Collection. These standard parameters are intended to create a more uniform and consistent comparison of coverage among service providers than has previously been available through the FCC’s Form 477 process. Because of this, this map is the first ever standardized look at 4G LTE mobile data and voice service availability.
Please note: The map depicts the coverage a customer can expect to receive when outdoors and stationary. It is not meant to reflect where service is available when a user is indoors or in a moving vehicle.
Because the coverage map is based on propagation modeling, a user’s actual, on-the-ground experience may vary due to factors such as the end-user device used to connect to the network, cell site capacity, and terrain.
The coverage maps on these service providers’ websites may be based on different parameters and assumptions, such as roaming, and may therefore differ from the information shown here.
Why the Map was Prepared
This map provides a sample of the type of granular, standardized information that will become available as part of the Commission’s Broadband Data Collection project and serve as a preview of that work. It is, however, only a subset of the full set of mobile broadband availability data that will be collected as part of the Broadband Data Collection, when mobile wireless service providers will also submit standardized coverage data for their 3G and 5G mobile broadband technologies and other details about their propagation models and technical assumptions underlying their coverage maps. For more information, see the Broadband Data Collection homepage.
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