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Coverage Maps For All Prepaid Carriers

Curious about how different prepaid carriers coverage compares? Here are the official coverage maps for all the nationwide prepaid mobile operators in the US. Click a map to go the original on the operators site.

While comparing nation coverage is interesting and maybe even useful what really matters is if there is coverage where you live, work, party and vacation. With the exception of Simple Mobile all the carriers have detailed block level coverage maps on their sites.  For Simple Mobile you can use the 2G tab on T-Mobile's detailed prepaid coverage map as long as you ignore the striped beige "Sevice Partner" areas.


TracFone CDMA

TracFone GSM

StraightTalk (also Net10) (GSM-T = T-Mobile, GSM-A = AT&T, CDMA-S = Sprint, CDMA-V = Verizon)

Verizon (also Page Plus, H2O CDMA, Selectel) Light lavender roaming which is included on Selectel, extra-cost on others

AT&T (also H2O, Red Pocket, Airvoice, Jolt, Pure TalkUSA, Firefly, Aio, Cricket GSM) Brown = 3G phone required

T-Mobile (also Solavei, Brightspot, MetroPCS GSM) includes lots of no extra cost voice & text only roaming, see GoSmart map for data coverage.

GoSmart Mobile (also Ultra Mobile, Spot, Simple Mobile, PTel, Lycamobile, T-Mobile data)

Boost CDMA (also Virgin Mobile, EcoMobile, Liberty Wireless, PrepaYd, Simple, Kajeet, Total Call, RingPlus)

MetroPCS (legacy CDMA) - dark lavender: data, voice & text
cross hatch: voice & text only
light lavender text only, extra cost voice

Cricket (legacy CDMA) (includes no extra cost voice, text & data roaming on Sprint)

Updated 6/21/2014: Added Cricket GSM


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170 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Be careful with Cricket, they have, by far, the strictest, roaming rules of all carries. You go over 50% of your usage outside your home area,even once, and you are immediately cancelled, no warning!!on the other side of the spectrum is T-Mobile, they don't care at all, you can roam all you want. All others are somewhere in between.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Best Prepaid MVNO is dependent on what you use the phone mainly for and where you need the coverage.
    CDMA: PagePlus = Verizon prepaid coverage + calls while roaming at .29/minute.
    GSM: H2O, Airvoice, Jolt = AT&T prepaid network.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For coverage, Tmobile may be a better option for most people than AT&T MVNOs. You get free roaming on AT&T, and avoid the dropped call problem that AT&T still has in many areas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The AT&T roaming isn't all its cracked up to be. If you are roaming, you will be on 2G EDGE (except for select areas that allow throttled 3G roaming). MVNOs on AT&T may get lower network priority/speeds but you will get better coverage considering AT&T is now putting more attention on its 3G and 4G LTE networks.

      Delete
  4. I just ordered a StraightTalk Galaxy Proclaim from a Verizon-only ZIP code (it wasn't offered in my ZIP code, even though Verizon is supposed to have the best coverage here (Denver). If Verizon is so widespread, why is the coverage so sparse on the map for StraightTalk CDMV-Android map? I've been trying desperately for about 10 days to figure out how to get a smartphone on the Verizon network at a price I can afford (retiree, not very tech-smart). Did I just order something that isn't going to work, or isn't going to give me the widespread Verizon coverage indicated on their non-Android map?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should not have any trouble activating the Proclaim in Denver.

      It will work everywhere that Verizon operates their own network (see the Straight Talk CDMA-V map above or the Verizon prepaid map minus the blue prepaid roaming areas).

      Straight Talk tries to minimize the availability of Verizon based phones, presumably because Verizon charges them more than the other carriers.

      Delete
    2. You don't have to give them the zip code of where you live. Give them any zip or area code you want. I live in NE., but have a Honolulu, HI. area code. I did that just to mess with peoples caller I.D.s.

      Delete
    3. well the straight iphone 4 operates on verizon cdma v network

      Delete
    4. If they don't offer it in your zip code why would you continue to try to buy it? That should have told you there was going to be a coverage problem.. Have you tried the phone in other locations in town? Perhaps you are having problems due to the mtns..

      Delete
  5. I was on the NET10 (ATT) BYOD and found the straight talk GSM-A map is not accurate. The map above for ATT that is orange and brown was more accurate to what I was getting. I Switched to the Samsung Proclaim phone so that I was getting the verizon network and am getting great coverage I live in SE Minnesota,

    ReplyDelete
  6. Be careful assuming tmo phones roam on ATT. I had a tmo postpaid phone and had no coverage in a rural area in VA. I had a prepaid art phone which had solid signal in the same area. The tmo phone did not switch to ATT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T-Mobile prepaid phones roam on regional operators or AT&T in some areas. There has to be a roaming agreement in place for roaming to be possible. The T-Mobile maps show where roaming is available and where it's not.

      Delete
  7. there is only one straight talk smart phone that works on Verizon network.. Samsung Proclaim.. Check out straight talk website and look for the one that works on America's largest network..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The LG Optimus Zip and Samsung Showcase are also on Verizon. They aren't on the Straight talk site but can be found in some Walmarts.

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    2. The LG Optimus Zip is available in zip code 75205 and others. You order it using that zip code and activate it in your home area.

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    3. there iphone 4 also works on verizon i bought one from walmarts straighttalk section it is a cdma phone and works on verizons network

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    4. My iPhone 4 that's on straighttalk is CDMA-v works great in south ga

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    5. Samsung Centura works on Verizon. Some phone offer both CDMA versions and GSM versions, depending on where its sold.

      Delete
  8. Are the above Tracfone/Net10 GSM maps still current? I notice this article is kind of old and the link doesn't go to their website anymore. They only have the CDMA map on their website, yet they sell GSM phones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracfone's coverage maps have always been pretty worthless because it's not possible to zoom in to see any level of detail. But I haven't heard of any changes to Tracfone coverage and the GSM map here is the same as the one on the Tracfone site.

      For CDMA Tracfone and Net10 PAYGO you can use the Verizon map as Tracfone appears to roam everywhere Verizon does. Net10 Unlimited Android coverage is the same as Straight Talk and is considerably less than Tracfone especially with CDMA.

      Delete
  9. i have a tmobile contract expiring soon and have been looking at pre-paid options available . my service area is houston,tx. i like my tmobile galaxy s phone and have unlock codes for it. i am looking for a monthly unlimited plan, i dont use much data( checking e mails, looking at a website during lunch, and sometimes gps navigation when walks, biking, driving ). i was looking at net10/ simple mobile/ but thier customer service reveiws seem poor any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Depending on how many minutes and texts you need look at T-Mobile's $30 1500 minutes or texts, 30 MB plan, GoSmart's $35 unlimited, Ptel's $5/month and up pay as you go or Ptel's $40 unlimited plan. All of these use the T-Mobile network. See T-Mobile and T-Mobile MVNOs Compared for details of thes plans.

      As your phone is unlocked you could also use an AT&T based plan but it would be more expensive at most usage levels and you wouldn't get high speed data as your T-Mobile Galaxy S 4G doesn't support AT&T's 3G bands.

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    2. i would say straighttalk or net10

      Delete
  10. I live in Southern California and have used Page Plus Cellular for years. They operate off of the Verizon Network. I have traveled to many places in the U.S. and have never had a problem using my phone (Casio GZOne Commando C771). They also have a lot of different rate plans that pretty much covers any budget situation. Plus if you already have a Verizon Wireless phone, your all set......just activate it, pick a plan, pay for it and go!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Will cdma-s use sprint network or Verizon in area code 38571 area code

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A phone labeled CDMA-S will use the Sprint network only, never Verizon.

      Delete
    2. sprint. If it was labeled CDMA-V, it would be verizon. -S is sprint, -V is Verizon, -GSM-A is At&T

      Delete
  12. Is the LG 840 tracfone. Any good ? What so they mean by 1400 minutes triple for life ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It means everytime you buy minutes, they will make it triple what you buy. In other words, you but 1000 minutes, it will actually be 3000 minutes added. Read fine print. May be restrictions as to the minimum minutes to buy, ect.

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  13. The LG 840 is sold by Tracfone, NET10 and Straight Talk. It's a touchscreen only phone. The screen is pretty good quality. It's responsive, bright and reasonably sharp. Most users like the phone but some complain that the phone's reception in weak signal areas isn't very good.

    The Tracfone LG 840 is a triple minutes for life phone. That means that when you add refills the minutes are tripled. So a $20 - 60 minute refill gives you 180 minutes.

    Normally when you buy a Tracfone it doesn't come with any minutes. But HSN and some online dealers sell the phone with 1400 minutes good for a year included.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our experience with the Tracfone LG 840G is that the reception is pretty poor in marginal areas where our old Motorola flip phone worked fine. Phone is homed on AT&T. We also have problems with handling the touch screen often rejecting calls we would like to accept. We just ordered a LG 250C using a Verizon only ZIP Code giving up the triple minutes and easy texting feature for a simpler phone with hopefully better coverage.

      Delete
  14. I don't know how I managed to stumble onto this website, but it's an amazing resource. Thank you for managing this service! I am considering a LG505C tracfone from amazon with triple minutes. I live in NH but will be traveling to SD/Wyo soon. I googled and found out that this phone is a CDMA. There is no place in the check-out process to enter a Verizon zipcode. How do I ensure the phone is set to Verizon coverage in this situation?

    ReplyDelete
  15. You've helped me enormously and it's a relief. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kajeet has a 3G and LTE map for Sprint that I have not seen before:
    http://www.kajeet.com/4u/LTE.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It looks similar to the Boost map. Maybe a little more LTE on Kajeet's so maybe it's more recently updated

      Delete
  17. So thankful to find a helpful website full of great information. I'm looking to purchase an iphone with a pre-paid contract. I'm currently with Virgin Mobile but have terrible data service with it but I am using an android phone. Would purchasing the iphone help my service with Virgin Mobile or would you recommend switching to a different carrier?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If data speed or reliability is a problem with an Android phone it will likely be a problem with an iPhone as well. Data issues are usually network issues.

      I recommend trying a service that doesn't use the Sprint network. Ask friends and family what works for them and choose a provider that uses a network that others find works well in your location.

      Delete
    2. would straight talk or virgin mobile be the best plan with an iphone 4 or 5 in Colorado springs, co.? I need more info on virgin mobile I am considering one of the two plans.

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    3. Only you can decide which is best. If you need less than 1200 minutes a month and Sprint coverage works for you Virgin Mobile would be less expensive.

      Delete
  18. Data works well on iPhone 4s in my area.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is a great resource! We've been considering moving from US Cellular to a Straight Talk smart phone primarily due to local coverage issues. However, we typically spend 6 months in NC and 6 months in FL - Will this create administrative or roaming issues with Straight Talk?
    Also, we would appreciate suggestions for an affordable smart phone from Straight Talk. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Straight Talk provides nationwide service. There shouldn't be any issue with using the phone 6 months in NC and 6 moths in FL.

      Straight talk offers service on 4 different networks. Depending on which network you prefer, good inexpensive smartphones include:
      Verizon: Samsung Galaxy Centura $100, Samsung Galaxy Proclaim $150
      AT&T: Samsung Galaxy Discover $100, LG Optimus Extreme $150
      Sprint: LG Optimus Q $50, LG Optimus Quest $150
      T-Mobile: Straight Talk sells T-Mobile SIMs, not smartphones. Use the SIM with any T-Mobile phone. The Nokia Lumia 521 $150 and LG L9 $200 are good choices.

      Delete
    2. Straight talk has NO roaming charges anywhere in the U.S. One bad thing about S.T. is that even if you buy the international card, it will only make calls ORIGINATING in U.S. or Purto Rico. Then it will call most international destinations as long as you have a access calling code. In other words, when we went on a Disney Cruise, Straight Talk would not work while out to sea.Even thought the ship has signal for most major carriers via satelite, the actual tower that the sat. signal comes from will be closes country to which a tower is availible. To put it simple, if the call does not originate on a U.S. or Purto Rico based tower, straight talk will not be able to call out. It will not have a signal.

      Delete
  20. Hey.. Great site! If anyone has an answer I would greatly appreciate it... I live in upstate NY (12771) and want to get rid of Verizon. Is Straight Talk my best choice? Verizon does have the best coverage in my area and I would prefer to use their towers. Thanx again!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Straight Talk phone that uses the Verizon network would get the same coverage in 12771 as a Verizon phone. See How to Tell Which Network (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon) a TracFone, NET10 or Straight Talk Phone Uses.

      Straight Talk is a good choice if their plans fit your usage. If not there are other Verizon based prepaid operators. See: Verizon and Verizon MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared

      Delete
    2. check if AT&T have a good coverage and choose straight talk using the ATT sim card because the box comes with 2 sims, one fot ATT and one for T mobile.If Tmobile the best coverage,choose the Tmobile sim card. Thank you and good luck.

      Delete
  21. I am a over the road truck driver and have verizon galaxy s3,looking to go prepaid to save $60 PER month,i use it in NV. UT. WY.CO.SD.ND.MT.and live in st maries ID. looking for advice, looking for best coverage..GSM or CDMA? i run both interstate and rural highways for mining and oil fields. Which carrier would be best and can i get new sim card or do i need to purchase new phone. i would appreciate any and all advice! email shearmanken@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might want to delete your comment and repost it without including your email address. This is a public web page that every spam bot in the world can see and scrape. Click the "subscribe by email" link to securely sign up to receive replies.

      Generally speaking AT&T and Verizon have the best overall coverage. Use the links to coverage maps on this page to research which will work the best for you.

      Your Verizon S III won't work on an AT&T based service and would need to be flashed to work on a Verizon based one.

      Delete
    2. My experience living in the Western States is that Verizon coverage is unbeatable, Never let me down.

      Delete
  22. I live 40 miles East/S East of Lewiston, Idaho and have a simple non-android, non-smartphone on a prepaid acct from Verizon... the only thing I can do on it here is txt... I need a phone/plan that can receive/make calls, txt, etc from home (and like the prepaid option best) but have no idea which would be best... can you help? I live far enough out in the boonies that the only internet service I can get that works ok is Hughesnet Satellite...I have tried to study your maps, but not much luck... any help would be appreciated...Thanx for the GREAT info! D :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you click on the maps, it will take you to the operator's site where you can enter your address for a detailed map.

      I'm guessing that 40 mi ESE of Lewiston would be near Winchester, Idaho. Looking at the AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Boost (for Sprint) maps it appears like AT&T is the only one that might possibly cover your area. AT&T coverage ends just NW of Winchester however.

      If you have any neighbors, what do they use? Local expertise trumps computer generated maps every time.

      There's a local cellular operator, Inland Cellular that covers the area around Winchester. They don't seem to offer prepaid however. I believe that Verizon roams on Inland which is why you can text, You should also be able to call for 29¢/minute on Verizon while roaming.

      Delete
    2. I live in Pullman and hunt/fish throughout your area. ATT, Verizon and Inland Cellular are the only providers that work in your area. Verizon uses Inland Cellular as a partner in that area , so they may not work either. They do have competitive prepaid plans though. Try ATT first and Inland Cellular next. You likely won't get much better coverage though since they tend to share a lot of the same towers.

      Delete
  23. The new, purple and pink Tmobile postpaid map is not accurate in some places.
    https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage.html
    The old maps shown on this post and the latest, green Tmobile prepaid map are still accurate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the post-paid T-Mobile map. When you zoom in you can see that it's divided into pink (native T-Mobile) and purple (service partner, aka roaming) areas. Prepaid has less roaming than postpaid.

      The green map on this page is the prepaid one from prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-coverage

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Dennis. I confused the purple (partner roaming) with dark pink (strong Tmobile) because the spots I checked have weak Tmobile prepaid map coverage, but partner coverage indicated on the postpaid map, something I did not expect to see. I thought Tmobile only used partner towers where they had no Tmobile towers, but that is apparently not true for postpaid accounts if the postpaid map is correct. These areas got a weak signal or no service on Ptel last week, but are shown as partner coverage (purple) on the postpaid map.
      I don't have a postpaid phone to verify the partner coverage in these spots.

      Delete
  24. MetroPCS new coverage map is very interesting. It shows GSM coverage in lots of places where Tmobile and Metro have no network. Does this mean that they include roaming on AT&T?
    http://www.metropcs.com/metro/maps/coverage-map.jsp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the old CDMA coverage map which includes free roaming on Cricket and Sprint and extra-cost roaming on Verizon.

      I don't see any differences between the MetroPCS GSM map at maps.eng.t-mobile.com/maps/index.html?map=metro and the T-Mobile prepaid map at prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-coverage. Both include some off-network voice and SMS-only roaming

      Delete
  25. Aio's coverage map shows LTE in yellow so you can see where they and GoPhone provide the fastest speeds. Please consider including this map. The current GoPhone/MVNO map only shows "best coverage." Is that supposed to by LTE, or just HSPA+/strong signal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can click on Data/LTE to see LTE on the GoPhone map, but their shades of orange make it much harder for me to see the boundaries than the yellow on the Aio map.

      Delete
  26. Your MetroPCS coverage map link does not work for me any more. It brings up a blank map on the Metro site, and I have to click on the Coverage Map tab on the Metro home page to see their coverage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The link works for me.

      My link and the Coverage Map link on the Metro homepage both point at http://www.metropcs.com/metro/maps/coverage-map.jsp

      The map does take a while to load.

      Delete
    2. When I click on the map itself, error page says We're Sorry, that request cannot be completed. URL at top of the error page is:
      http://www.metropcs.com/metro/maps/coverage-map.jsp/ (it's the slash at the end)
      When I click on the MetroPCS name/URL, I get:
      http://www.metropcs.com/metro/maps/coverage-map.jsp and the map does load if I wait a while. It was not loading earlier for me.

      Delete
    3. My link doesn't have a slash at the end.

      What browser are you using?

      Delete
    4. Firefox 23.0.1 and Safari Version 5.1.9 (6534.59.8), both Mac, show slash and get the error message.
      I only get the slash when I click on the map itself.

      Delete
    5. It should be fixed now. "I only get the slash when I click on the map itself." was the hint I needed :)

      Delete
    6. Thanks, Dennis! The map click works now.
      TMI at 8:09... learned my lesson ;-)

      Delete
    7. Thanks for reporting the broken link and for all your help in tracking down the cause.

      Delete
  27. All the coverage maps have big holes with no signal, especially out West. I saw an article in the current Aug 19 Autoweek magazine on cycling overland. They recommended a sat comm device when you are venturing out into remote places - could save your life. For $170, the Spot Connect turns your smartphone into a sat comm device. $120 Spot's Sat GPS messenger provides essential comm functions and custom messaging. $100 buys you the Spot Personal Tracker that handles the basics. If you can afford the adventure, you can afford one of these.

    ReplyDelete
  28. A lot of those blank areas are also devoid of roads, houses, or even trails. We have the same issues up in the Adirondacks in northern New York State. This summer I lost signal for a half hour driving on a major route through there. AT&T or Verizon are the only services worth bothering with. A few years ago you could drive an hour or more with no signal, but they are gradually filling in the holes along major roads. But, if you hike off into the woods you can easily lose all service, unless you climb a mountain. From the mountain tops you sometimes connect through towers in Vermont or Canada, which makes for confusing 911 calls at times.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Can you confirm if Straight Talk phones will get LTE service when using Verizon's network? I'm considering an iPhone 5 (CDMA-V) for friends in an area that has LTE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LTE is crippled on that phone.

      Delete
    2. LTE is not available with Straight Talk It's not available with any other Verizon MVMO or even Verizon prepaid.

      Delete
  30. Found your site by googling "tracfone". Great info! Thank you! I have a Motorola W370, Tracfone, that needs re-activated. I want to use it to call my daughter in Coimbatore, India (CDMA network?). I know it works here and I think tracfone works there. My concern is: does tracfone, or this Motorola phone, have compatibility with "viber", which is a system already used by people in the household where she is staying. Any advice? I currently use Verizon, but am not happy ever since they assured me that her phone would work - does not. My intuition is to re-activate the Motorola, then change devices if I need to, in order to use "viber". Make sense? or, I select a replacement phone that works with "viber" and skip the tracfone...however tracfone will cost much less to use.
    Confused.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can't call from the US to India using Tracfone and Tracfone devices do not work outside the US.

      The free calling and messaging app Viber will not work on a basic phone like the Motorola W370. It requires a smartphone, either Android, iPhone, Windows Phone BlackBerry or Symbian.

      Delete
  31. I was jus wondering which prepaid service will work in the 26588 area....thank you

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    Replies
    1. I've never been there. Ask locals which operators work for them or use the links to the post to each operator's coverage map.

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    2. which prepaid plan works well in 80920 on a iphone 4 or5?

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    3. No idea. Ask your neighbors what works for them and/or use the map links in the post to check coverage.

      Delete
  32. I have a Boost Mobile Samsung Galaxy SII and want to change prepaid carriers. Been with them for a few years and now that Boost upgraded their towers half the time I can't get signal even with my signal booster. All they can say is that I am not in coverage area. My question is which carrier will let me bring my phone I already have? I live near Smithfield, OH

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably no other carrier will activate the phone. Sprint controls this.

      Delete
    2. Sprint doesn't allow its MVNOs to activate Boost phones. It should be possible to flash a Boost S II to a Verizon MVNO like Page Plus or Selectel.

      Delete
  33. Would be nice to see T-Mobile coverage map minus the 1700 band.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you mean a map showing T-Mobile 1900 MHz 3G coverage, that would be nice. There's no official map but has airportal.de a crowdsoucred map.

      T-Mobile occasionally publishes a list of makets where 1900 Mhz is "fully deployed". The latest list is from April 2013 and includes:
      As of mid-2013, 1900 Mhz is fully deployed in Anaheim. CA; Ann Arbor, MI; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Fort Worth, TX; Fresno, CA; Houston, TX; Kansas City, KS/MO; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Modesto, CA; Napa, CA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Providence, RI; Reno, NV; Richmond, VA; Sacramento, CA; Salinas, CA; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Ana, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Santa Rosa, CA; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; St. Cloud, MN; Stockton, CA; Tampa, FL; Tucson, AZ; Vallejo, CA; Virginia Beach, VA; Warren, MI; Washington, DC

      Delete
  34. I am a straight talk customer and would like to buy off ebay a unlocked verizon samsung galaxy 3. I currently have the samsung centura. My centura uses the verizon net work. Would an unlocked phone work on the straight talk plan using the same verizon towers I have now just by using walmarts sim card fir straight talk?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That won't work. Straight Talk will not activate Verizon LTE phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III.

      Delete
  35. So any samsung galaxy s 3 cell phone that is unlocked and for sale on ebay will not work on straight talk plan? Regaurdless if its a verizon phone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An AT&T S III will work with a Straight Talk AT&T SIM, a T-Mobile S III will work with Straight Talk T-Mobile SI. An unlocked GSM S III will work with either Straight Talk SIM.

      Straight Talk will not activate a Verizon S III on the Verizon network. There's a hack (see: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1809314 ) to enable GSM on the Verzion S III but it's not simple and you will only get 2G with a Straight Talk SIM.

      Delete
  36. What phone will activate on straight talk?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Straight Talk phones
      2. AT&T, T-Mobile or unlocked GSM phones
      3 mon-LTE Verizon phones except iPhones and BlackBerrys

      Delete
  37. Can a sprint phone be flashed to work straight talk? Like a galaxy s3.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Interesting. Ebay seller has samsung galaxy s3's that are sprint phones and says he can flash them to use verizon straight talk. Says create an account on straight talk then give him your account # and password so he can activate it . Basicly your phonne # and your pass word he activates it then ships gou your new phone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's probably getting the phone's MEID serial number from the account and cloning it on to the S III. Straight Talk thinks the S III is a supported phone. Problems with this:
      Straight Talk can reportedly detect that the MEID is cloned and will kick the phone off the network if they do.
      Cloning MEIDs is probably illegal.

      Delete
  39. I would not give anyone my account number and password.

    That is just asking for trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm buying a Samsung Galaxy S111 with Virgin Mobile service. If I don't like the service I get with them, can I switch to another carrier with the same phone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not easily. CDMA phones aren't portable between operators. I've heard of people flashing Virgin phones to PagePlus but it's not for the faint of heart.

      Delete
  41. I have a Motorola Defy Mini XT321 that I bought in Malaysia. It will work with WCDMA 850/2100 and GSM 850/900/1800/1900. Can I set this phone up on Straight Talk's AT&T network?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's unlocked it would work but data speeds would be 2G in areas where AT&T uses 1900 Mhz only.

      Delete
  42. Dennis, I was wondering if you can help me out... I currently have an LG Venice for Boost. I'm currently looking to try another service. I was thinking about straight talk. However, the kind of plan I'm looking for is an unlimited prepaid plan with more than 1G per month. Which prepaid service has the best coverage? I like to travel and would rather have that. I was also wondering if i got a GSM phone and use it for straight talk would it be good? Have you ever heard of H20? If so any concerns or comments on that provider? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your LG Venice will not work on any operator except Boost

      Straight Talk's $45 Unlimited plan now includes 2.5 GB

      No one operator has the best coverage. You need to do your own research using the map links in this post to find the ones with coverage in the places where you expect to use your phone.

      I don't recommend H2O as they throttle data speeds after 500 MB, have sub-par customer support and are no cheaper than Airvoice or Red Pocket.

      Delete
    2. I didn't want to use my LG Venice.. It's too slow for me I was going to get an upgrade either the Iphone 5 or Galaxy S3 not the S4 because there aren't too many prepaid carriers that provide that phone. I was just wondering which carrier would cover the most areas. I just travel to FL and CA most of the time I live in Boston.

      Delete
    3. Overall, Verizon and AT&T have the most coverage. However there are areas that neither covers but Sprint or T-Mobile does.

      Delete
    4. I see.... Which carrier uses AT&T and or Verizon? Can I also use my own phone?

      Delete
    5. See:
      AT&T and AT&T MVNOs Compared
      Verizon and Verizon MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared

      You can use any AT&T or unlocked GSM phone with AT&T and AT&T MVNOs
      With Verizon and Verizon MVNOs using your own phone is more limited. see The Best Smartphones For Page Plus, Selectel and Other Verizon MVNOs and Where to Find Them for a list and discussion.

      Delete
    6. Okay I'm starting to understand this a little more... What does MVNO mean??

      Delete
    7. Mobile Virtual Network Operator - a mobile operator that doesn't operate its own network and resells service from one of the big four. Straight Talk, NET10, PagePlus, PTel, Red Pocket and Airvoice are a few of the larger MVNOs.

      Delete
  43. I see like Boost is an MVNO because it uses Sprint right? I'm on the ATT wireless site now and I checked the $60 monthly unlimited w/data (Go phone prepaid) it doesn't have a large selection of phones.... Can I use my own phone??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boost is not an MVNO because it's a brand of Sprint which is a network operator.
      You can use any AT&T phone with GoPhone or any unlocked GSM phone that supports the 800 and 1900 Mhz bands.

      Delete
    2. Oh ok lol. What carrier do you use?

      Delete
    3. PTEL and Boost. Other family members use PagePlus and Virgin

      Delete
    4. What does PTEL run off of? I'm on the site and the deals look good.

      Delete
    5. Alright I did some research and my top prepaid plans I'm into are: PTEL $50/month unlimited talk,text w/2g data. ATT $60/month unlimited talk,text, 2G data. Target Brightspot with Tmobile unlimited talk,text, 4G data at 4G speed. Straighttalk $45/month unlimited talk,text, 2.5G data. Any suggestions??? I'm still unsure on which to get....

      Delete
    6. AT&T: most coverage, best support, most expensive
      PTel: less coverage, good support
      Straight Talk: same coverage as AT&T, best price, poor support, picture messaging isn't very reliable.

      Delete
    7. What about Bright Spot from Target with TMobile? And hows Net 10?

      Delete
    8. Brightspot coverage and speeds are identical to T-Mobile. LTE and off-network voice and text roaming is available unlike other T-Mobile MVNOs. I haven't heard anything about customer support quality yet.

      NET10 and Straight Talk are the same company including the same not very goo customer support and MMS issues.

      Delete
    9. Okay so hmm my choices now are BrightSpot,ATT and Verizon prepaid.... Which would you choose lol does Verizon use unlocked GSM too?

      Delete
    10. Verizon is CDMA not GSM and you can only use Verizon non-LTE phones

      If T-Mobile coverage works for you go with Brightspot or MetroPCS GSM which has the same T-Mobile coverage and support for LTE but gives you 2.5GB unthrottled for $50 instead of Brightspots's 1GB.

      If you T-Mobile doesn't cover the areas you plan to use the phone and AT&T does, go with AT&T.

      Delete
  44. OH YEAH! I just found out that Metro and Tmobile are joined together now is that true? I also was thinking about the 4G data with brightspot... Ok Verizon is off my list.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I don't understand why TracFone ask the Zip code to find a phone. What does that mean, is that we cannot use the phone our side of the zip code or do we have to pay the roaming fee out side of the zip code. If that is the case, how much they charge as roaming fee for the usage out of zip code or out of state.

    Can someone please answer these questions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TracFone asks for your zip code so it can limit your phone selection to models that use a network operator (AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile) that has service in your area and is most cost effective for TracFone.

      You can use the phones anywhere in the country that the operator associated with the phone has coverage at no extra charge. TracFone's non-Android phones also have no extra cost roaming on other partner networks.

      Delete
  46. Will the straight talk towers (that use Verizon) give as good of signal as a direct Verizon Phone Plan?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hello! I am moving to zip code 59801 and I am currently with Net 10. I want to do a BYOD and need to purchase a new phone. Could you please point me in the direction of carrier I should lean towards (AT&T Verizon etc) and is there a differance between Net 10, Strait Talk or TracFone? Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never been in zip 59801 so I have no personal experience with any operator's coverage there. Follow the links on this page to each operator's detailed maps and check which ones cover that zip. Better yet ask people who live or work there which operators works for them.

      Delete
  48. Thanks for your valuable article and great responses. Would you offer advice for the zip code 47906 which is home area for Purdue Univ. I just have general usage for voice, text and data, not a lot of each of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have any personal experience with coverage in zip code 47906. As always the best source of coverage information is asking locals which operators work for them combined with checking each operator's coverage map using the links in the post above.

      Delete
  49. I have a Boost S2. I went to the net10 site and it says that my phone is compatible. It also says..... Good news, your phone is compatible to use on NET10.
    (Even though your phone is compatible, a few phone models cannot be used with the BYOP program and will be identified at activation.)

    If I purchase a activation kit it doesn't guarantee activation...right? What are your thoughts on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sprint doesn't allow it's MVNOs to activate Boost phones. I'd be very surprised if you are able to activate a Roost S2 on NET 10.

      Delete
  50. Hello. I want to buy a Galaxy s3. I have been looking on Craigslist and have found a few but do not know what prepaid service has the best coverage for my area. I live in Columbus,OH. We do have unlocking services here but I do not know the difference between GSM and CDMA and all the sub types. I do not want to buy a phone from someone I cannot use. Thank you for your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no personal experience with coverage in Columbus OH. Use the links to all the carrier's coverage maps on this page to see which ones will work for you. Even better, ask friends, neighbors and family members about the carriers they use or have used in your area.

      CDMA and GSM are two incompatible network technologies. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA.

      It's safest and easiest to buy new phones that are sold for use with the prepaid carrier of you choice. Used phones and phones intended for a different carrier tend to be problematic. Things to watch out for:

      Phones that were reported lost or stolen or where the previous owner has a past due bill will be blacklisted and can't be activated on any carrier.

      Unlocked AT&T and T-Mobile phones will work on either carrier but may not get 3G data.

      CDMA phones are difficult to move between carriers. They need to be "Flashed" which is expensive, easily broken and not possible with some phone models. In addition CDMA carriers can block arbitrary devices for commercial reasons. Sprint doesn't allow phones released in the last 12 months to be activated on its MVNOs. LTE phones are blocked on Verizon prepaid and require flashing to work on Verizon MVNOs.

      I deleted your first comment which included your email address. Posting your email in an online forum like this will result in you getting tons of SPAM. To get replies emailed to you, create a new comment on this post and check the "Notify me" box below the comment form.

      Delete
    2. How does the new Nexus 5 figure into the Straight Talk plan. I need coverage in two different locations - Phoenix and zip code 85933. The only coverage in 85933 is from Verizon (which is OK). My main use is in 85224. Is there any way I can get a Nexus 5 and set it up for Verizon coverage in both locations?

      Delete
    3. A Nexus 5 will not work on Straight Talk as CDMA (Verizon) phone. It will only work with a Straight Talk SIM (AT&T or T-Mobile). I suspect that someone will soon figure out how to flash the N5 to Verizon Page Plus or Selectel which are Verizon MVNOs.

      Delete
  51. From what I've read Verizon Prepaid is a no roam footprint for Verizon. Does anybody know how that compares to buying directly from T-Mobile. I'm not sure if the T-Mobile MVNO have the extensive roaming that T-Mobile direct has. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Verizon prepaid has free text roaming and extra cost voice roaming
      T-Mobile prepaid, MetroPCS, Solavei and Walmart Family Mobile have free voice and text roaming. GoSmart and other T-Mobile MVNOs do not have roaming

      Delete
    2. I think BrightSpot from Target also has free voice and text roaming on Tmobile.

      Delete
  52. Since Ting, a Sprint MVNO, provides roaming on Verizon without charges, does it mean Ting's voice coverage is the combination of Sprint and Verizon? In another words, Ting's coverage is larger than Spring or Verizon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ting's roaming is determined by Sprint's roaming agreements which include roaming on various operators in specific locations. Sprint does not have a blanket agreement to roam on Verizon's entire network. In some locations where Verizon has service Sprint may roam on a different operator or not at all.

      Ting's voice coverage is the same as Sprint postpaid. I doubt that it's larger than Verizon postpaid.

      Delete
  53. Is Verizon prepaid coverage (3G) same as Verizon postpaid (4G) or smaller? It is hard to tell accurately from the maps. Thanks Dennis for yesterday's reply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The coverage is the same except that you pay 20¢/minute for roaming on prepaid and roaming is free on postpaid.

      Delete
  54. I live in Portland Oregon and am thinking of buying the Google Nexus 5 unlocked. I want voice text and data with best coverage optoin. Suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I am trying to figure out what would be the best pre-paid service plans. I live in Superior Wisconsin. I was thinking going t-mobile pre-paid or straight talk. Which would be your best option for coverage wise. I also can only afford so much as well, I would like a unlimited everything plan as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never been to Superior so I can't make a personal coverage recomendation. Use the maps and ask neighbors what networks work and don't work. One you decide on a prefered network use the network specific comparisons on this site to pick one that has what you need at a price you can afford:
      AT&T and AT&T MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared
      T-Mobile and T-Mobile MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared
      Verizon and Verizon MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared
      Sprint and Sprint MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared

      Delete
  56. Greetings,
    I have a HTC Incredible and a Galaxy Nexus that were both on Verizon's network and both contracts are up. What are my choices for these phones as far as prepaid networks? can I get them to work on Straight Talk?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Incredible will work on StraighTalk, the Nexus won't because it's an LTE phone. It could be flashed to work on Selectel, BYO or PagePlus.

      Delete
  57. I want to purchase a cellphone with a Verizon sim card, independent of my existing Verizon account. I read from another individual that they lived in the Midwest but used a number in Hawaii. What do you recommend? Zip code 95401

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can buy Verizon prepaid phones without Verizon service on Amazon and at Radio Shack, Best Buy and Target. Among the current Verizon prepaid phones, I recommend the Motorola Moto G.

      You won't find one with a SIM card however. Except for LTE phones and global phones Verizon phones don't use SIM cards. Verizon doesn't allow LTE phones on prepaid and has never sold a prepaid global phone.

      If you know you want a phone on the Verizon network what difference does your zip code make?

      Delete
  58. Dennis, great forum. I have a Droid Razr, XT912, I would like to use in Verizon network with either Net10 or StraightTalk. I read your posted links to stuff and I am still unsettled on what to do. I was hoping to use the Samsung Galaxy SIII, but that phone looks like it won't work now. What other similar phones would work with Verizon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Straight Talk and NET10 both sell a version of the S III that runs on the Verizon network. See Straight Talk and NET10 Verizon Galaxy S III Now Available Minus LTE. No other phone they sell is at all similar to a SIII.

      Delete
  59. Great blog Dennis. Can you recommend a phone similar to Samsung Galaxy SIII for use on Verizon network through either Net10 or StraightTalk?

    ReplyDelete
  60. hi, I have purchased MOTO G verzion mobile on last month through amazon, after receive this device only i came to know this is CDMA network. Now am unable to activate this phone.

    Can you someone can help me which carrier will able to activate VERZION mobile in inida.
    Pls advice ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think it's possible to use the Verizon Moto G in India as it only supports the US frequency bands 850 and 1900 Mhz, not the 900 and 1800 Mhz bands use in India.

      Delete
  61. Hi Dennis, Some one have intimate that MOTO G will work with reliance CDMA network, let me know if this possible or fake msg.

    How will know my MOTO G is locked or unlocked, kindly advice me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using a Verizon Moto G on any Indian mobile network is not possible in my opinion

      SIM locking only apples to GSM phones.

      Delete
  62. Well noted with many thanks, will return this mobile phone to USA.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  63. Tmo has made a lot of progress refarming its 2G EDGE coverage to 4G. Here are some of the places where this has happened.
    http://www.tmonews.com/2014/06/t-mobile-2g-upgrade-to-4g-network-seemingly-well-underway/

    ReplyDelete
  64. Interesting overlays of the T-Mobile and Sprint native networks, from a Fierce Wireless article. The first one shows where they have overlap and unique coverage:
    http://assets.fiercemarkets.net/public/mdano/amis/sprinttmo-ov-big.jpg
    The second one shows the spectrum they would have if they combined their holdings. Some spectrum in the purple areas would probably have to be sold to satisfy regulators before any sale or merger would be approved:
    http://assets.fiercemarkets.net/public/mdano/amis/sprinttmo-ag-big.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw those maps. They show how little the merger will do to improve T-Mobile or Sprint's coverage.

      I believe that instead of merging, both carriers should be buying up regional and rural operators with the same (GSM for T-Mobile or CDMA for Sprint) technology like U.S. Cellular, Cellcom and nTelos for Sprint and Alaska Wireless, Plateau Wireless, IMMIX and Viaero for T-Mobile. That would expand their coverage in addition to gaining customers.

      Delete
  65. Any knowlegde about comparison between gov't sponsored lifelink programs, phone choices and coverage quality offered in CT (free phone 250 free wireless minutes/mo. etc) as provided by Assurance and Safelink programs in terms of coverage quality (zip code will be 06751). I think it indicates Assurance offer uses virgin mobile network and Safelink offer gives a safelink wireless phone but uses tracfone service/network. Is either one better for a limited incoe- handicapped individual with limited phone needs other than having cell phone for emergencies?? Any ideas or info?? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Safelink looks like the better choice in your location.

      According to the Boost Mobile map Sprint coverage is spotty around zipcode 06751 so I would avoid Assurance.

      Safelink will use either Verizon ("C" suffix models) or AT&T ("G" suffix phone models). Both appear to have good coverage in and around 06751.

      Delete
  66. Is there a prepaid carrier that is best to use for only occasional data? I'd like to access mobile Internet outside the home but would not be needing tons of data or super fast connections. I am considering Page Plus or Republic Wireless but don't want to pay for what I don't need. Also, does either plan have an overall better data coverage?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That depends on how much data you will use and how much voice and text usage you have and what networks will work where you will be using the phone. For under 300 total minutes + text + MB of data per month a pay as you go plan will be least expensive. Any more than that and an unlimited talk and text plan with 500MB or more of includes data will be more cost effective.

      You need to run the numbers based on your needs and usage. See The Best US Prepaid Plans For Voice and Data Users for my recomendations of the best choice on each network for various usage levels.

      Delete
  67. Who has the Best Prepaid Coverage?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Verizon and any Verizon MVNO like PagePlus or Tracfone, Net10 and Straight Talk phones that have the code CDMA-V on the box. Phones with any other code don't run on Verizon. AT&T and their MVNOs like Cricket also have great coverage.

      Delete
  68. Hello from 95318, here on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Our area has been controlled by Golden State Cellular, a CDMA network that allows Verizon to roam. Verizon prepaid roams here, but they get you for an extra 20 cents per minute penalty (or at least Verizon charges that). What about Straight Talk or Tracfone CDMA-V customers, are they allowed to roam? And if so, how are they charged ? If you know....thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TracFone and Straight Talk consider 95318 to be an AT&T market and won't sell you a CDMA (Verizon) based phone if you use that zipcode. You also won't be able to activate a CDMA in an area without Verizon native coverage. You could buy and active a CDMA phone in an area with Verizon coverage but I don't recommend it. Here's how roaming works with Straight Talk and Tracfone:
      Tracfone CDMA and GSM feature phones do roam. Tracfone smartphones don't.
      All Straight Talk CDMA phones don't roam. All Straight Talk GSM phones do roam.
      If you roam very much (more than about 25-50% of the tine) TracFone/Straight talk will permanently disable roaming on you account without warning.

      Delete
    2. Update: Verizon bought Golden Gate Cellular in April. I expect that they will soon make its towers part of the Verizon network abd you won't need to worry about roaming anymore.

      Delete
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