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Wireless phone coverage areas: Coverage maps
June 18, 2005 03:43 PM EST | Consumer Info | Email to Friend
Before choosing a carrier or plan, it is wise to research carriers to determine the extent of their coverage areas. You can research a carrier's coverage area in a number or ways:
- Carriers provide coverage maps on their Web sites and in stores where their products are sold. Often these maps show very general coverage for entire regions. These maps usually carry the disclaimer that they are provided for informational purposes only and that actual coverage may vary. There may be holes where the carrier has not located antennas or where the topography causes dead spots. There is no guarantee that your phone will work in an area just because it is included on a carrier's coverage map. Regions where towers are few and far between may technically be included in your home area, but the quality of your calls may be so poor that you can't use your phone. Although carriers attempt to design their networks to eliminate dropped calls, busy signals, and dead spots, no network is perfect, so coverage breaks within the general coverage areas are still possible. Specific and/or updated information may not be available in maps provided by carriers, since coverage is frequently changing.
- One way to find out about a certain carrier's coverage is to ask neighbors and friends. You can also look at Web sites (such as www.deadzones.com), which list specific dead spots submitted by individuals, by carrier and location for specific cities.
- Test the carrier's plan and coverage on a trial basis. Many carriers offer trial periods during which you can test a phone before you are locked into a service contract and have to pay a significant fee for terminating that service contract. During this trial period, you may want to test the phone in the areas where you plan to use it most frequently to determine if the coverage suits your needs.
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