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T-Mobile Coverage In U.S. & Abroad

We're considering changing to T-Mobile but have read that coverage in the U.S. may not be as good as Verizon in rural areas. Can anyone offer the benefit of your experience with T-Mobile coverage in the U. S.

Also, how is their coverage in Europe and the Caribbean?

Many thanks.

Posted by
4872 posts

Whether you get good T-Mobile coverage depends on where you use the phone. I had T-Mobile for a long time and was often surprised where I had good coverage, in some pretty remote areas. But there were some very isolated areas where only Verizon had coverage. Then again, I didn't care, because I rarely needed to use my phone there. Some people might use their phone in rural areas all the time. And of course, one "rural area" may not be the same as another.

You can look at coverage maps. Or just try it. If you are willing to experiment for a few days, you could get a prepaid SIM from a T-Mobile MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator - a company that uses T-Mobile's network) and put that in your phone for a few days and try it where you would normally use it. Example: Mint Mobile. They have "trial" SIM card that they will send you for free ($5 shipping). I tried one recently to test a phone; you don't even need to enter a credit card number. Just insert the SIM in your phone (Verizon phones should be unlocked) and download their app to activate it. They use the T-Mobile network:

https://freetrial.mintmobile.com/

Like Verizon, T-Mobile doesn't have coverage in Europe or the Caribbean. They have roaming partners. T-Mobile US is technically owned by a German company called Deutsche Telekom that operates T-Mobile subsidiaries in several countries, but they are not exactly the same company; you'll probably roam on the local T-Mobile if there is one in some country you visit but not always.

Posted by
3588 posts

Andrew, Thanks. Bad choice of words on my part. I didn't really mean "coverage" in Europe and the Caribbean. I should have asked about any difficulties using T-Mobile in those areas. Thanks for sharing all your technical expertise.

Posted by
1179 posts

I have great coverage in the city. It is superior to ATT.
That said, the coverage is non existent at my cousins houses - all of them live on farms in the Midwest. And I mean “no service” level coverage. They all have to rely on satellite for TV and internet.
It’s one of the great inequities of rural Vs urban.

To be fair, there was no ATT coverage either. Verizon was slightly better but spotty.

I went to the T Mobile coverage map and it’s misleading. It appears to have good coverage until you zoom in. Then you will see that it is a combination of light pink and dark pink. The true coverage is dark pink only. So zoom in on the map!

Posted by
4872 posts

I just started a 3 month trial of Mint Mobile today (dumped Sprint), so I will find out again what T-Mobile coverage is like for me. T-Mobile has added LTE coverage on band 12, which newer phones can use; my old T-Mobile phone could not. My new phone picks up LTE 12 inside my house, which was surprising. LTE 12 was added to improve T-Mobile's coverage in rural areas. Not sure I will get to any rural areas soon, but it will be interesting to see if coverage is better than before.

Posted by
6513 posts

T-Mobile is a German company so they likely do Europe pretty well.

Posted by
1078 posts

Switched to T-Mobile about 3 years' ago because Verizon continually messed up billing when I used it in the EU.
Service in rural U.S. is spotty, however super in the EU and Turkey-only place is was expensive was Morocco.

Posted by
4872 posts

If you switch to Google Fi, not only do you get coverage from T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint networks in the US, you also get high speed internet around the world for the same price as the US, free texting etc. I wrote up a little post about this a few months ago.

but only if your phone supports switching between networks. Some phones that Google now supports for Google Fi cannot do this. If your phone can connect only to T-Mobile networks, you won't be able to use US Cellular or Sprint networks with Google Fi.

Posted by
11280 posts

For the US, it's very important to check out the coverage in the EXACT places you will need it. For instance, in Philadelphia, my mother gets an excellent T-Mobile signal, while my friend just 15 blocks away got a poor one until recently (it was much better on my recent visit than it had been in the past, as T-Mobile is beefing up their 4G LTE network).

Also, if you're buying the phone from T-Mobile, their phones have some extra frequencies that are used in rural areas in the US (specifically, 4G LTE bands 66 and 71). These bands are not present on most other phones, so if you're planning to buy an unlocked phone, it may not work as well in rural areas as a T-Mobile phone (in urban areas, T-Mobile mostly uses the frequencies with lower numbers, like 2, 4, 5 and 12; as long as your unlocked phone has these frequencies, it should work fine, as mine does).

T-Mobile works with Wi-Fi calling, so as long as you are using a phone that supports this (my new one doesn't, but all those bought from T-Mobile do), cellular coverage isn't such an issue in your home.

Summary: talk to people who have T-Mobile, who use their phone where you specifically want to use it, before switching.

Posted by
3588 posts

Many thanks to all who replied as we now have much food for thought and research.

Posted by
2526 posts

T-Mobile is marketing in my region for the first time so there is hope. Service in rural areas in my state are considered non-existent to poor based on a relative’s report.

Posted by
16435 posts

Just got back from Austria and Hungary and T-Mobile worked quite well. Had some problems with data in Budapest, but voice and text worked great every where. Wife was always able to track me down.

Posted by
4872 posts

Just got back from Austria and Hungary and T-Mobile worked quite well. Had some problems with data in Budapest, but voice and text worked great every where. Wife was always able to track me down.

FYI, T-Mobile (like the other US mobile companies) has more than one mobile roaming partner in some countries. When you turn on your phone in say Hungary, your phone will register on one of the networks it picks up. It may be a partner with T-Mobile but may not be your best choice. You can go into your phone's settings and choose a different network and see if that works better.

I did this with my phone when I used T-Mobile in Lithuania a few years ago. In Vilnius, I was on one network, but when I moved to another city, I found that network worked poorly. So I scanned for local mobile networks and used another one, which worked a lot better.