A Howard Forums member discovered that TracFone's coverage maps for basic non-smartphone devices no longer show any off-network roaming.
TracFone feature phones have always included extensive off-network voice and text roaming. The Verizon based CDMA phones roamed on Sprint, US Cellular and dozens of regional CDMA operators like Cellcom, C-Spire and Shentel. AT&T based GSM phones roamed on T-Mobile and regional GSM operators like Viaero and the excellently named Bug Tussle Wireless. T-Mobile based GSM phones roamed on AT&T and GSM regional operators. For customers who needed the widest possible coverage, I've long recommended a CDMA based TracFone feature phone. There's still more rural CDMA coverage than GSM, although GSM is catching up, hence the CDMA recommendation.
To see the GSM map changes go to TracFone's coverage page, enter zip code 89501 (Reno, NV) and pick a feature phone with a model name ending in "G", like TFALA206G. Zoom out four steps and follow I-80 toward the North-East. Notice that service stops around Lovelock, NV. TracFone AT&T based feature phones used to roam on T-Mobile on I-80 east of Lovelock. Now TracFone's maps show no coverage in this area.
|TracFone GSM (AT&T) Map Missing No Longer Shows Roaming in Lovelock, NV|
To see the CDMA map changes, enter zip code 54612 (Tamarack, WI) and choose feature phone with a model ending in "C" like TFALA394C. Zoom out four steps and pan north-east to see the white no coverage area around Oconto Falls just north of Green Bay. That's an area with Sprint and Cellcom coverage that TracFone should be able to roam on.
|TracFone CDMA Map No Longer Shows Roaming in Oconto Falls, WI|
The Howard Forums user who discovered the map changes says that his TracFone CDMA feature phone still roams on Sprint. That suggests that either roaming still works as before and only the maps changed or that existing users' roaming is grandfathered, but new customers will not be able to roam. Or, as the HoFo member suggests, maybe TracFone changed the maps to discourage prospective customers who are likely to roam from choosing a TracFone feature phone. Roaming undoubtedly costs TracFone more so they do have an incentive to discontinue roaming or discourage roaming customers.
It any readers recently activated a feature phone, please leave a comment tell us if you have roaming or not.
Source: Howard Forums