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T-Mobile's Latest Coverage Maps Are The Worst

T-Mobile Coverage Map


Sometime in the last few months, T-Mobile made a change to their coverage map (image above) that makes it very hard to tell where T-Mobile native coverage ends and roaming coverage begins. Zoomed out T-Mobile's maps have long shown the whole US swathed in an almost unbroken swath of magenta, but that's not what I'm talking about. Until recently, once you zoomed in to the point where individual cities, towns and roads where visible, the map changed to using different colors and patterns for LTE, 4G HSPA+, 3G, 2G and "partner" (roaming) coverage. But the latest maps only show two types of coverage, "4G LTE" in solid magenta and "Talk, Text & Non-LTE Data", which includes roaming areas, with magenta stripes. That means that roaming areas are indistinguishable from areas that have non-LTE native service.

It's bad enough that the maps no longer distinguish between 4G HSPA+, 3G and 2G native coverage, but hiding roaming makes T-Mobile's maps practically useless for customers who travel into rural areas where T-Mobile coverage tends to be a bit spotty. There a huge difference between being in a 2G or 3G native coverage area, where high speed data allowances are measured in gigabytes, and a roaming area where T-Mobile customers get anywhere from no data at all to a maximum of 200 MB per month of roaming data. There's confusing and conflicting information on the T-Mobile site about how much roaming data is included with each prepaid plan, but as far as I can determine the limits are:

  • 200 MB of domestic roaming on the $50, $65, $80 and $95 Simple Choice plans and the new $30 Tourist plan.
  • 100 MB of domestic roaming on the $50 and $60 Simply Prepaid plans.
  • 50 MB of domestic roaming on the $40 3 GB Simply Prepaid plan.
  • No roaming data on the $30 "Walmart" plan or any prepaid mobile broadband plan
With little or no roaming data included with T-Mobile, it would be nice to be able to see in advance where you are likely to roam so you can plan your data use accordingly. T-Mobile does users a real disservice by making roaming and non-roaming, non-LTE areas indistinguishable on their maps.

Actually, there is a way to see if T-Mobile roams at specific point on the map but it's pretty tedious. When you click a point on the map to "drop a pin" a pop up appears that indicates whether native or "partner" (roaming) coverage is available there. For native areas the pop up also shows if 2G, 3G or 4G data is available. But it's very time consuming to drop pins all over the map to see where native coverage ends and roaming begins. T-Mobile also provides a "Partner Coverage Map" but it's just a static image of the whole US that can't be zoomed or searched and isn't very useful.

Fortunately there's an easier way to see where T-Mobile roams, the MetroPCS coverage map (image below) still shows LTE, 4G HSPA+, 3G, 2G and roaming coverage separately. MetroPCS is part of T-Mobile and its native and roaming coverage areas are identical with those of T-Mobile Prepaid, although MetroPCS does not include data roaming on any plan.

MetroPCS Coverage Map

I use T-Mobile and I find that their coverage generally works well for me. I've also noticed significant improvements in T-Mobile's coverage over the last few years. T-Mobile has a great network that can stand on its own without T-Mobile having to resort to map trickery to make the network look bigger than it actually is. I just wish someone at T-Mobile would realize how stupid and useless their current coverage maps are and fix them so they actually show what sort of coverage users can expect.

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27 comments:

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  1. Sorry, folks: zoom should change magnification level, only, And always. It should never be used to show opposite situations depending on how far you are zoomed in or out.

    And on top of that, isn't it clear that T-Mobile ls lying to its customers or potential customers when it presents roaming areas (which have little/no/expensive available for T-Mobile customers) as having full T-Mobile coverage?

    This isn't a matter of being over generous when looking at what individual towers cover. It's a matter of deliberately taking data that says one thing and making it say another.... and wow wouldn't you look at that? It makes T-Mobile's coverage look twice as good as it would if you present the data the wrong way.

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  2. MetroPcs' Coverage Map depicter is not coming up.? Go Figure.

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  3. Also interesting is that there's at most 200MB of roaming (often even less). Something to consider for those seeking so-called "unlimited" or other high-data plans. In MOST of the area shown in the map, you can use either none of this data at all (areas with no T-Mobile or AT&T coverage), or only as much as one-fifth of 1GB maximum in the AT&T partner roaming areas. That's still only a small area where you can use the "unlimited" data. Or even a decent amount of data.

    T-Mobile's situation of only from 0mb to 200MB of data in most of the US doesn't seem it's ready for prime time.

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  4. This is MetroPCS' Personal Coverage Check link it will not come up. This page can’t be displayed

    •Make sure the web address https://maps.t-mobile.com is correct.
    •Look for the page with your search engine.
    •Refresh the page in a few minutes.

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  5. I saw that MetroPCS maps seem to be entirely disabled now. I guess I wasn't the only one to see that.

    So much for "checking to see if it works where you go". T-Mobile lies in its main zoomed-out level map, and MetroPCS has turned maps off today.

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    1. The servers for T-Mobile and MetroPCS' coverage maps are frequently overloaded. If they don't work, try again in a few minutes. At the moment I can load both maps using the links in the post

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    2. Jason in PortlandJune 1, 2016 at 1:12 PM

      MetroPCS map loads for me as well. And, no, I do not currently have any T-Mobile-based service; only had a T-Mobile-homed 2G Tracfone years ago that I used too little to have an opinion of the coverage.

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  6. Compared to what? Look at ATT and Verion maps where they just cover their maps in a single shade and call it a day. I can point out places where both show LTE where no service exists. By all considerations, T-Mobile is over aggressive with 700mhz coverage, but is generally pretty accurate for coverage (using regular rules of common sense about indoor and fringe). They are still the only carrier that shows "verified coverage" and do not place the difficult to discern game of colors (looking at you Yellow).

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    1. Didn't you read the parent post? T-Mobile is coloring partner areas (roaming with little or no data) the same as native coverage.

      That far far worse than anything else you described.

      The others you describe do not do this with roaming areas.

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    2. Verizon an At&t maps are not accurate. They shiw coverage where there is none. That is the worst situation. You can find the roaming coverage on Tmobile maps as Dennis explains above. Their maps are more accurate, showing confirmed coverage.

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  7. I wish the FCC would require all providers' maps to be accurate and penalize them when they lie.

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    1. Amen! Found couldn't trust TMOBILE metro maps in multiple locations just a few months ago
      So much for improved coverage... wish someone had website where honest reportING was pinpointing the real coverage for all the carriers and the 2G crawl coverage vs these advertising claims!

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    2. Just learn how to use and read the customer-verified coverage feature on the T-Mobile map.

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  8. T-mobile's coverage map doesn't specify LTE bands, either, so there's no way to tell if your BYOD phone will actually get the "excellent" (and totally radical?) coverage you're supposed to have.

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    1. Actually T-Mobile's maps let you specify what phone you are using and shows or hides band 12 coverage based on whether you phone supports it or not.

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  9. T-Mobile is desperate to demonstrate coverage parity with ATT and Verizon even if they must resort to deception to accomplish it.

    The truth is T-Mobile has less than half the coverage area of ATT or Verizon.

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    1. The truth is that it costs a lot less to have a web designer present false information than it does to double your towers.

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    2. "The truth is T-Mobile has less than half the coverage area of ATT or Verizon."
      This is not true for the USA. T-Mobile has 9% less coverage than AT&T, and its LTE network covers about 2/3 of the 48 state land area now, more than 2 Million square miles.

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    3. 2/3 only if you use the dubious "Band 12" trick.

      The 9% difference is also false: it is based on comparison to US territory instead of comparing the relative sizes of the carriers.

      Seems like the last thing T-Mobile and its shills want is for anyone to see the actual coverage.

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    4. You seem to be grasping at straws. T-Mobile's Band 12 coverage is no trick. AT&T also uses band 12. Is that a trick too?

      For months you've been arguing that a comparison of the square miles covered is the only valid way to compare coverage. Now you want to compare the "relative size of the carriers", what does that mean?

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    5. Actual coverage matters most. Because if you have 0 bars, you can't "Binge On". But it is most accurate to compare the companies' coverage directly to each other. When you do that, the difference is larger than 9%.

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  10. I don't get it, the maps show you exactly where roaming exists when you zoom in to the map. Why would they show it further away when it would be impossible to see the exactly location roaming exists? The other carriers work exactly the same way.

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  11. "You can find the roaming coverage on Tmobile maps as Dennis explains above."

    Again, you did not read the parent post. The map deceptively shows (AT&T native) roaming areas as the same as areas with native T-Mobile coverage (and data). You have to use obscure tricks to get it to work, and apparently on an individualized point-by-point basis. This isn't a matter of minor quibbles on accuracy in a few areas here and there as happens with the other: the difference is profound due to the small footprint of actual T-Mobile native coverage and the huge area of native AT&T.

    The maps for the others "just work".

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    1. "You have to use obscure tricks to get it to work,"
      Clicking on a map is not an obscure trick. Have you ever even used the T-Mobile map?

      "minor quibbles on accuracy in a few areas here and there" and "The maps for the others "just work."
      AT&T and Verizon don't bother to show coverage holes or weak signal areas within large areas where they claim coverage. The maps are often unreliable, unlike the T-Mobile map that shows accurate, confirmed coverage.

      "difference is profound due to the small footprint of actual T-Mobile native coverage and the huge area of native AT&T."
      T-Mobile native LTE coverage spans more than 2M square miles now, about 2/3 of the lower 48 state land area. It's only a small footprint in your imagination.

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    2. It's only a small footprint in reality.

      As for the two major national carriers and accuracy of maps, I know from experience that the few ATT holes i can find are mapped properly.

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  12. "I don't get it, the maps show you exactly where roaming exists when you zoom in to the map. Why would they show it further away when it would be impossible to see the exactly location roaming exists? The other carriers work exactly the same way."

    No, you don't get it. The other carriers do not do this. To answer "why"? Zoom is to change the scale of the information, not to show entirely different maps depending on zoom level.

    It's like if there was a picture of a tiger, and you zoom in and it turns into a picture of an starfish. It's a bizarre and deceptive way to do this. The answer is obvious: show native vs roaming whether zoomed out or in... show starfish or tiger whether zoomed out or in.

    Why do they do this? Worst assumption is that they are out to deceive by hiding the poor extent of T-Mobile native coverage. Yet this is what happens... most people will look at this map without zooming in at all, and think T-Mobile is twice as good as it is.

    Best assumption is that they have some horrid web designers. Which is it? Either way it's not a proper way to do business.

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