Competitors offer better domestic service but either little-to-no coverage abroad, or way too expensive to be useful. But is it worth it to suffer through bad T-Mobile service most of the year just to make my time abroad easier?
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T-Mobile Is Not Great
Let me qualify my headline by stating that I am based in Pittsburgh and often travel to rural areas for work. In my experience, T-Mobile just doesn’t have great coverage, and I am not only talking about in the “boonies” – I have had calls dropped in major US cities too.
I understand that in some cities, their coverage is every bit as good as any other carrier but for my day-to-day use (and others I know elsewhere in the country), the service falls short. It’s not just areas of a blackout, there are other areas where T-Mobile will switch to AT&T because of their lack of coverage which limits free data to just 50MB… to last the entire month.
When buying an iPhone outright from Apple there are also some hurdles to get around. While we purchased an unlocked phone direct from Apple, we had to wait for a T-Mobile iPhone to arrive at our local Apple shop before we could buy and activate it. Other carriers don’t have this challenge.
Their Prices Are Awesome
While Sprint is sometimes cheaper, AT&T and Verizon are wildly expensive when compared to the same service levels from T-Mo. We have unlimited data, phone calls, and texts for two lines for 30% cheaper than the big two.
What’s more, is that it doesn’t feel like the carrier is cheating us. They have charged a fair price for fair service (though not the premium level they suggest they do) and really that is all we can ask for. Verizon in particular has traditionally led the market for costs, and AT&T gouged me for years.
I remember paying more than $2/minute in London more than a decade ago to call home. In addition to that, there were data, text, and call charges (though I was on an international plan) that took my bill from a normal $100ish/month to more than $400.
T-Mobile introduced their Unlimited Global Roaming in late 2013 with service in 70 countries included within the rate. That has since expanded to more than twice that number and still offers service (though not included) to even more countries. One of the excluded countries I visited, Brunei, had high rates ($2.99/minute for calls) but I was pleased to have coverage availability (even if it was sky high.)
Our international return flights had been canceled accidentally we needed to call the airline regardless of expense. Vietnam was another country excluded from the program at $5.99/minute (extended international partner network) but at least I had an option if I needed it.
Mexico and Canada with voice and text features are available for a flat monthly feel with the same plan and minutes as you’d have at home including unlimited texting.
> Read More: Which Countries Are Covered by T-Mobile International Plan?
The included 2G data package is enough to get answers when we are out and about and run some basic Google Maps. If I am going to be in a city for more than a week, I will grab a local sim card, but for the most part, the 2G is good enough when I am away from wifi. Free text messages help keep me connected and reduce the need for phone calls priced at $.20/minute.
The biggest advantage for me is that my number stays the same. I used to use Google Voice which forwarded calls to me abroad, but the system was less elegant than I had hoped when it was introduced. My co-workers, family, friends, and customers can contact me without the need to call a different number. I also don’t have to worry about calls only ringing once (after all of the forwarding taking place with Google Voice) and then missing the calls.
The program features 210 countries and destinations (that can change at T-Mobile’s discretion) utilizing Wi Fi calls.
There are other solutions, but they take some amount of effort. For example, Google Fi requires an Android phone at least for activation, I have outlined Google Voice concerns, local sims make forwarding complex or difficult for callers.
T-Mo is easy, I do nothing but turn my phone on when I land. And I am inherently lazy.
T-Mobile Tuesday is an app and offer system that gives you freebies every Tuesday just for being a customer. The deals aren’t great, but it’s something for nothing and that’s always welcome with me. This week we received a free Redbox rental, in the past there have been free pizzas from Papa John’s, a small Frosty from Wendy’s, etc. I don’t really add any value to my plan as a result of these, but they are nice to have.
I also get an hour of free Gogo Inflight Wifi once daily (though not every flight on that day of travel). This is worth about $6/month to me that I would otherwise spend. Some airlines have phone-only wifi for $2-3/flight, and I would pay for it a couple of times every month so there is real value there for me.
International is Easy for T-Mo, Hard for Others
T-Mobile has an advantage that the other US carriers do not. Formerly Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile has decades of international tie-ins with their European and subsequently global partners. It makes sense that T-Mobile would be the best for roaming on other networks in other countries because they have such a substantial footprint and operate on the GSM network.
Verizon sold a significant stake to Vodafone, a British telco with a huge presence; they later bought that portion back. Sprint received a very large investment from Japan’s Softbank which has helped the company to expand their international offerings, but it’s not perfect.
Both Verizon and Sprint are CDMA networks which work in just 17 countries of which the US and Canada are included. All of the 192 countries in the world have GSM but just 17 have both. While LTE networks narrow the gap, and Verizon phones are not locked to their network (you can switch a sim card out any time you like) – that means you cannot use your normal US number.
The network issue has made it hard for Verizon and Sprint to expand without trying to find work-arounds, even though their US network (at least in the case of Verizon) is far superior to T-Mobile.
I constantly find myself apologizing after I drop calls saying,
“Sorry, I have T-Mobile.”
It’s a bad sign that seemingly everyone understands. I have trouble justifying the pain and suffering I go through on a weekly basis vs the benefit of the ease of use when I am abroad. The constant pain point is lack of coverage or dropped calls (trust me, I have the latest software, the latest carrier settings, everything is good there). It blows my mind that I get better coverage at sea in Borneo than I do leave my office in southwest Pittsburgh.
Lately, I have been asking myself why I suffer through the inferior service and if there is a better alternative. Should I switch to a better US carrier and find a workable international option, or leave it as it is?
Would you suffer through bad service 300 days every year to make the 65 other days easier? Am I crazy?
I love T-mobile and I dont have any of the issues you are referring to.
Which iphone are you using? If its more than 2 years old, you might not have the newest T-mobile frequencies available.
T-mobile also lowered its price of high speed international to $20 for 1GB, which isn’t awful.
If you don’t use a ton of data, maybe switch to Google Fi (and switch to Android). You’ll get the best of 3 domestic networks.
Jason, thanks for your comments. I have the most current, iPhone 7+, available and all carrier settings are updated. I can’t switch to Android, well, I can… I just don’t want to. However, what you have mentioned regarding high speed 1GB available for $20 is not bad. The last time I called in, they wanted more money for less data but it has obviously been awhile. I might try that again. The service, however, I cannot endorse at least in Pittsburgh.
Kyle, I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile 3 months ago. I was a Verizon customer since 1997. I was very concerned about not having coverage at least in my home area so I bought a prepaid sim and tried it first in my vzw iPhone 7. It worked great. Main reason I switched to T-Mobile was after vzw offered unlimited data last February, my home area network was horrible. Data speeds of less then 1 mb during peak times. The network was totally congested. I couldn’t justify the cost of vzw anymore when all 5 lines on vzw were basically unusable in my home area. With that said I am saving $64 a month w/Tmo compared to vzw same plan w/5 lines. I don’t fly anymore but do drive all over east coast. We have a camper and after our last trip down to South Carolina in July I am very happy w/ tmo service coverage(streamed iHeartRadio & google maps whole trip). In June we went down to NJ & NYC and had 3-5 bars everywhere. Yes there are some no coverage areas in rural SC but I don’t live there lol. I live in central NY and haven’t made it to the Pittsburgh area yet with Tmo so I can’t say if my opinion would change given your experience. I did grew up in the 70’s/80’s without cell phones or computers and while I love the convenience of a smart phone I will no longer pay a premium price for service. With my monthly savings I would rather use it towards another vacation or home improvement.
Wow! I would agree that coverage is great in the big cities, but the rural coverage failure is part of the picture for me and that’s a big sore spot. I have found myself happier with the savings than made enough to switch. It looks like we are not alone.
I live in SW Florida right up against the everglades. I’ve had sprint, AT&T, etc.. Forced roamed a sprint phone to Verizon’s network. Switched the whole family when t-mo had there one plan for $45/line . And when I go to my mother’s house who has AT&T, and is in the boons and has the S8 I actually get better service than she does. I pull download speeds that make even t-mo reps say wow. I get unlimited tethering on 3g and unlimited data using the phone only. T-mo is faster than my Comcast internet service. We’ve actually have been thinking about dropping Comcast and running all our data through t-mo. One person can put out their own Hotspot and run over that. I consider myself say half a geek when it comes to this stuff and I’m amazed that your service is what it is in Philly. Went on a week trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway after getting an LG g6 and yes I’d lose signal sometimes down in a valley, but everytime I got in the clear I was able to get a signal. I’m not one of those people, but it really does seem odd for you to have such garbage service in a big city with the device your using and not have there be something wrong, somewhere. I can see why you’d ask the question of whether the service is good or not. Curiosity asks me, to ask you, if you’ve ever run your sim card through an android phone just to see if it’s the device or not. Don’t have to change, but if it were me I’d definitely want to know the answer to that. Wouldn’t it suck if it were just your phone?
It would suck if it was just my phone, but sadly, my wife has one too with a separate phone. We have also had three different phones over the last three years and each one experienced the same challenges.
Out of curiosity, are you close to Naples? We spend time in Fort Myers/Estero and find that it’s pretty good then drops off a cliff at a certain spot. A spot that happens to be a relative’s home we often stay with. So there’s that too. To be fair though, that relative has AT&T and their coverage is horrible too – of course my work phone (Verizon) rings there just fine.
I’ve been a T Mobile user for 10 years and they are always improving. You need to tell T Mobile about your coverage issues, they will address it eventually. Also, Google your problem, you never know about settings or frequencies that you aren’t using.
Some commenters have left some suggestions for tactics I can try. I will report back any progress though “they will address it eventually” isn’t exactly inspiring hope in the service.
It seems you have left out some great benefits of TMob service when out of the country. I travel internationally for a living and it is wonderful to be walking the streets of Sydney, using Google Maps w/nav, video chatting with my family on Skype or Viber, and email/texting to my hearts desire while not incurring any additional charges. Another huge plus for me is the wifi calling feature unique, I believe, to TMob. When I am in my hotel, or any other wifi connected area, I just turn on wifi calling, go to settings and select “never use cellular network” in network options, and I can make and receive calls exactly the same as when I am home in the states. For those reasons alone, and the great price, I am a TMob convert for life…as are almost all of my international travelling colleagues (airline employee).
I know what you are saying about no coverage when others have it.
Instances : Around
Cos Cob Ct. I had mo coverage.
Cumming, Ga. downtown the bars are low when I work in the basement and I keep missing calls while others can talk.
My drive from Ga. to Huntsville on Hwy 72 – I had dropped calls and no coverage .
The list goes on – T-mobile still needs to fix their problems .
Kyle if you have WiFi and an iPhone 7 then you shouldn’t have dropped calls. Especially if you are using WiFi calling.
I agree, but I still do and it’s disappointing.
I used to work for another large cell phone company and i switched to T-Mobile. Every one seems tyo have a diffetent experience. I have a Samsung 8. I’m happy with the phone and the service. I travel to national parks. No one gets service in the middle of one of those hardly
I think the comments have demonstrated your exact point, service seems to vary by user.
I agree that t-mobile service is horible I have the family plan and EVERY ONE I know that has or had t-mobile had/has problems and t-mobile do over charge you…yes i think you should get out of it.. my mother in-law went to sprint, my girl friend went to verizon and a few friends went to booste mobile…they say metro pcs is too expensive and to find out they are connected to t-mobile…my phone does not work in walmart or any store at that matter…and it really should not matter what type of phone you purchased, they all suppose to work because they all cost 300.00 or more that we paid for. I always hear that with t-mobile customers “what phone do you have?” the one I bought for 400+ dollars.. All of verizon phones work all the time even the free bees..I always say the T stands for Trash & Terrible.. I’m leaving too Verizon here I come. And anything extra is going to cost like sending out things for better reception. Tmobile never solve your problems they never have a solution for your jacked up phone service &phone.. and if its the type of phone you have then they should tell you that before you commit that all phones don’t work as good as others so i suggest you buy …… For an additional 3 to 400.. Just keep it real with us.. the choice is ours
Exactly! Which begs the question: what’s the point of this article? You are relating your experiences from your local area (which is probably better covered by CDMA networks to begin with), and beating up on T-mobile, knowing full well that people will be influenced by what you say, and not bother finding out if T-mobile will work in THEIR area. A person could be forgiven for assuming you have written a hit piece funded by a T-mobile competitor.
Justin, of course I can only comment on my experience, but I wasn’t paid by anybody – it’s illegal to not disclose if someone had paid me and a violation of FTC regulations. There are plenty of other commenters that agree with my experience not just in Pittsburgh but in other major metros too. I am confident they weren’t paid either. Others have said they have great coverage, my point was that I stay with T-Mobile and suffer through an inferior network (even if it is specific to my locale) in exchange for a great international program. The question I raised was, “is it worth it to stick with a bad experience for the majority of the year if it makes for a great experience for a minority portion of the year?”
I also was going to ask about the iPhone model – the iPhone 6S & 7 both get T-Mobile’s “Extended LTE” ak 700MHz frequency. It came out about a year ago, depending where you are, and goes twice as far from the tower, four times as deep into buildings. But with the iPhone 7 Plus you’re getting it.
The other suggestion would be to improve reception in your home. T-Mobile Customer Care has a couple of devices they can send out for improving reception. I used to use the WiFi solution, now I’m on the “Cellspot”.
Finally I’d call and talk to T-Mobile Technical Support. There might be a setting that is off on your phones, or account. Or possibly the SIM isn’t operating correctly. Always worth checking.
I’ll give them a call. Maybe they can help.
I think it’s awesome you reply to the comments. Just saying. Kudos to you!
Thanks Rob, we do our best to keep up, though today has been especially comment-heavy. If you ever need anything, reach out, we will do our best to help if we can.
I have T-mobile and yes my calls do drop. I can live with dropped calls. We live in the U.S. and Canada. So to use our phones in both countries with out additional fees is great. In Canada it would cost us $200 -$300 just for unlimited data. We did not have to pay a down payment for out Ga lazy 8 edge last year. Here, in windsor even with great credits would still h ave to pay $150 – $300 for down payment. When we got our phones from Costco we got the promotion of gift cards to Costco.
Sorry to hear that. I’m unfamiliar with how Telcos are setup in Canada, but I can say that from Buffalo to Toronto (we drove that route in January), it wasn’t great coverage north of the border.
I also am south west of Pittsburgh… the coverage has greatly improved in the past 1-2 years. I’ve had T-Mobile for 6+ years and despite the coverage, I love it. Many of my dead zones are gone, but there are still some.
I love the ability to connect to Wi-Fi! When out of the country I can connect to the hotels Wi-Fi and make calls home with no charge at all. It’s a much better connection than whatsapp or hangouts, and the phone sends and receives calls with no charges. My data connection was at 2G, but not too slow overall. Nice to have internet for free while in another country.
One of my phones are used in a house far down in a valley, where Verizon and others do not work inside the homes… mine connects to Wi-Fi and has no problems.
When the power goes out, so does our T-Mobile cell tower. My car has Wi-Fi in it, so I again connect to the Wi-Fi to make calls (I can use in dead zones too)… On-Star Wi-Fi is on AT&T signals.
Over all despite a few dead zones, yes it is well worth the cost… I too love T-Mobile Tuesday’s! Free magazines, subway, movies… and way cheaper than other carriers – a win-win.
For all of the coverage challenges you have, and all of the work-around solutions it’s the free magazines and Redbox movies (we just watched one tonight) that keeps you coming back? Somebody get T-Mobile’s marketing department on the phone… RJB is about to make their day! I’m sure I will pass you in Canonsburg sometime, you will be the one making calls over wifi using Onstar, I will be the one cursing and tossing my phone out the window.
I used to work for Tmobile as does my sister and I can say you sound like any other iPhone user. It has been proven that the antennas in iPhones are not as strong as others. I have the S8 Plus and I have full service bars and the 7 plus has either half or 3 quarters. I came from sprint and to tell you the truth, my loss of service and black out areas are the same. My uncle is a truck driver and travels all over the country and it’s no better or worse than sprint. I wouldn’t gauge cellular service souly on an iPhone.
I mentioned in another comment that I won’t be changing from my iPhone, but I also carry an iPhone SE for work that uses Verizon. The coverage is not close. Verizon has coverage every time I don’t on T-Mobile, and if I don’t have coverage on the Verizon phone, I don’t have any coverage at all.
I can honestly say that I compare coverage on a daily basis between two like phones on two different networks and Verizon is better domestically, but useless abroad. T-Mobile is amazing abroad and just ok in the States.
I switched from Att after 20+ years of paying too high prices and horrible customer service!! I love T-Mobile and have had no issues at all dropping calls. I am going to work in the mountains of West Virginia next week so let me see…….
Ooooh, I fear for you. As you know Pittsburgh is in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and I am frequently in and through parts of West Virginia. Feel free to report back, but I don’t think you will be able to submit your comments from your location… for what now appear to be obvious reasons.
I do agree with what you are saying but on the other hand in order for a certain area/s to improve we desperately need to call into Tmobile let them know about weak signal depending on where you are at… This gives both the user & tmobile the advantages you both need in reliability in service so you & your phone can enjoy without the frustrations of dropped calls we need to help each other out this is a 2 way street after all tmobile does continue to improve daily…through our customers…& if you having trouble/s… You can request credit back to your account you deserve this after all to make a relationship grow to
I think that’s fair Gary, I’ll give them a call today about a couple of known trouble spots. Rectifying those issues then falls on their shoulders.
I’m with Jason. My note works fine. I live in the boonies lol
Not to mention that my unlimited plan is much better than my bf who has Verizon and pays twice what I do
Some have echoed your sentiments, others have agreed with mine so perhaps it matters which boonies. The price difference, however, is not something that anyone has disputed on this post so far.
I have T-Mobile and understand EXACTLY what Kyle is writing about. I live about 30 minutes outside of the same city. And although I find I have a solid 4G connection according to the status bar, I drop calls regularly. And forget when I do any traveling, service can be lost up to a hour quite frequently.
Story of my life, John.
I have verizon and most of my friends have tmo. We live in Chicago and I mean every time they call me their calls drop. They get mad at me as just admit it it’s your phone too. Nope I don’t have that issue. It’s frustrating when you are used to great service then their service suck. I feel your pain through their service. I work in IT and it’s always fun to do hotspot with their tmo phones. Let’s just call it an adventure. My coworker’s data is painfully slow on her unlimited data plan with tmo. We needed gps for directions another great adventure of lagging. She also has the latest iPhone. When I talk about her service she gets on the defense a tad bit. She says phones are only used for texts. It’s always a riot. I have a great plan for my needs and I wouldn’t trade my Verizon for the world.
To your coworker that’s defensive about her service, send her this post and tell her to read the comments. I think it’s about equally split: “I feel your pain” and “No, you’re wrong T-Mobile has never once dropped my call.”
Here’s Sprint: $45/mo for unlimited data, y’all & texting, plus free global roaming in a lot more than 20 countries (I’ve used it on five continents) with 2G data BUT this year, at least in Europe, you can purchase unlimited 4G LTE data while in the global roaming mode, at &5/day out $25/week.
Which countries on those five continents out of curiosity?
I have TMobile for personal use and Verizon for my small business. I’ve learned through the years from being on my parents TMobile plan that although TMobile is cheap there is a really noticeable difference in coverage . I travel often to everywhere in the us . For the past 6 years I’ve done military insurance adjustments which take me to every possible place I thought I’d never go . For me if I’m close to major highways frequently TMobile is fine . In rural areas i can’t count the times I’ve had not a lick of service . I stick with them because I have a really old grandfathered plan and it cost me next to nothing for service I have my sister’s kids even on my plan . This last summer vacation I went to see family that lives in between WV and VA and my st. Louis based immediate family all use TMobile . Our whole vacation I had to let them use my work phone for calls or as a hotspot . It feels uncomfortable traveling with my sister’s 4 kids and none of them had service two teens btw . It was a horrible experience and my parents also were without service in their phones either they had to use OnStar to call from their car . I do believe TMobile is growing but I’ve got just about every state and they have glaring holes in coverage unless I’m in reasonable distance of a decent sized city . I’m not ripping on them and I don’t have an old crappy phone I have a s8+ and pixel . And I’m sure my case usage doesn’t represent a person’s experience that just stays around good home coverage. There’s also times I have full LTE on TMobile in big cities and it’s very congested and speed test will show amazing speed but my data is clearly slowed in real time usage .
Your experience is almost identical to mine. Trouble with speed in big cities on T-Mo, we both carry two phones, one Verizon and one T-Mobile. There are a lot of comments about how their experience with T-Mobile has been great and their experience on Verizon was garbage (or at least the pricing was if they had comparable service). But you and I are customers that have a side-by-side comparison every day between the two networks. If only Verizon made it easier to go abroad, if they just picked up a similar deal to Project Fi, or T-Mobile then it would be worth it to pay more for great domestic coverage and ease of use abroad.
T-Mobile is very faulty, and the price they say is definitely not the price you pay I actually paid less with Verizon I regret switching over I’ve never had the problems with them like I do with T-Mobile.
T-mo is the worst carrier period.. *coverage wise*… International sucks too…really slow… i switched to tmo from sprknt bec theyre cheaper… you get what you pay for i guess..
And how has your switch been? Is Sprint better for your needs?
No trust me. T mobile is highly regarded as the worst trash that any carrier has to offer. I have a note 10+ and the service/data is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, I cant wait to buy the cheapest at&t package so I can have decent connection again
You’re spot on regarding everything you mentioned Kyle. The only other thing I would add is that the speeds internationally are slow whether you’re on the regular plan or have the One-Plus International plan. They shouldn’t be that slow considering the tie-ins they have with various companies abroad.
I’m glad we agree and also disappointed that the trouble with coverage isn’t my experience alone nor those of people I know. It seems to be mixed based on Jason’s comment, but ultimately the only experience that matters to me is mine. If I get better coverage in Kota Kinabalu than I do on my way home from work, it makes me question if I should stay with them.
I have a galaxy 8+, no issues with dropped calls. I travel internationally and enjoy the global coverage unlike my travel buddies who have Verizon AT&T or sprint.
@ Kyle — What plan do you have that is limiting your roaming data to 50 MB? I have a T-Mobile account for my business phone (signed up in March 2017), and I have never heard of such a thing. I was under the impression that domestic data was unlimited. We were planing to move our two personal phones to T-Mobile as well, so I hope I’m not in for a rude surprise later. Do you at least get a warning before being charged? In what cities have you had this happen?
Gene, there was a warning once I had crossed 40MB. I called T-mobile instantly and was told that it was correct – I only have unlimited data on T-Mobile’s network. If you are on AT&T as I was (the carrier emblem on your device screen changes to AT&T), ‘sorry Charlie.’
Business customers get unlimited roaming on tmobile one. If you have any questions ask away I run a store.
TMobile customer service is the worst and it’s not unlimited they throttle you and there Binge on is also set to on by default they don’t tell you about it and it saves them huge amounts of bandwidth
I haven’t hit the throttled amount in regular monthly usage yet, but I am sure it will happen sooner or later.
T-mobile does NOT throttle they have prioritization. throttling is when you hit a certain GB you are slowed down automatically which Verizon sprint and at&t do. prioritization is when you hit a certain GB and only during high traffic times do you experience slower speeds. Verizon and AT&T throttle at 22GB sprint does 23GB and T mobile prioritizes at 32GB which less than 3% of tmo customers go over
I’ve never used that much data in a month, but it seems high. I know one commenter mentioned that he was using 32GB/month as he was using his service as a hotspot for home data use so it seems surprising that even 3% get to 32GB.
I have a AT&T. They introduced Wifi calling about a year or 2 ago. Since then, with Skype I don’t bother worrying about data when I travel. I prefer to be unplugged. And I can usually find wifi when I need it. Google maps works offline. And worse case they now charge $10/day for 24 hours if I activate my phone. I also have Skyroam that gives me data for $8/day and can power multiple devices. My travels tend to be short trips or to multiple countries. Buying a sim in each is a pain, for me. This option works. I had considered T-Mobile but I am happy with AT&T
I have been wanting to try SkyRoam but I haven’t need it yet because the one consistent place where T-Mobile works great is outside the country.
I stay in Asia over 300 days a year and it’s a rare day I don’t get LTE with T-Mobile even if they do say it should only be 2G. As for phone calls; I just don’t answer the phone. If they can’t send a text, then it’s not worth my time talking to them.
My phone always displays LTE when I’m in Germany, but the speed is always capped at 2G/Edge. I don’t think the indicator at the top left means much.
@Kyle, I certainly agree with all your points and experience the same frustrations with T-Mobile.
@Brian – I think my wife is the same way… if it can’t be texted, it doesn’t need to be said. Sadly, in some areas she wouldn’t be receiving text messages or data either.
Fwiw, I’m a traveling consultant. I travel about 50% of the time and have experienced none of the issues you’re talking about. That does include interior of Pennsylvania. In fact, I use hotspot when traveling by train and maintain a solid enough data connection throughout my travels to support a full remote desktop connection to my clients.
My coworker, who travels with me on occasion (also on TMobile), does have those issues. The difference between us? He has an iPhone. I’ve heard other stories from iPhone users about reception issues as well. So while I feel you and your frustration with connections. I would have hoped more effort would go into root cause analysis. Apple has a history with reception.
I might switch with a co-worker that has an Android this week and see if my results are the same.
Agree their network sucks on a relative basis. Having a modern phone that does all the TMO bands helps. As does having rock-solid wifi at home and office with wifi calling enabled.
I’m able to suffer through it because I rarely even make or receive calls 🙂
Ben, some of my business is on the phone so this is a real bummer for me. But I will say that it hasn’t gotten bad enough to cancel yet or try harder with the Google Fi suggestions others have made.
Kyle -i find that T-Mobile covers most of WI very well now whereas Verizon doesn’t. Two years ago that was not the case. As a side note I don’t believe that the iPhone’s have nearly as good as signal reception as most premium Android devices have.
You summarize perfectly the conundrum faced by TMO customers everywhere, myself included. I have no service issues to speak of in the DFW area. I road trip a lot, though, and the experience is – not great. It’s fine along major interstates for the most part, but unusable once you get on the back roads. In the end, I put up with it for a few reasons:
1) I place a ton of value on being able to “plug and play” when overseas. I’m not tech savvy at all and don’t want to fool with switching out SIM cards, altering settings, “hacking” GoogleFi to use on an iPhone, etc.
2) Wi-Fi calling typically takes care of service issues when I’m stopped for the night or at lunch domestically on a road trip.
3) As someone who travels exclusively for pleasure, the one hour of free GoGo and free laptop tethering save me a ton of money, especially if I’m in a hotel that still charges for WiFi (admittedly a rarer and rarer occurrence here in the US at least).
In the end, the value proposition of TMO still outweighs the negatives, for me at least. My opinion might be different if I lived in an area where the service was borderline unusable, though, like you seem to encounter.
We are in the same boat and you put it perfectly – there’s a ton of value in plug and play. I am with you, it still outweighs the alternative, messing with all of the cumbersome alternatives.
I have used Tmobile around the world for more than 12 years. It remains the best price and service offering for international traveling. And with phone access to wifi, a T mobile feature, you can basically get service anywhere the internet exists.
I agree wholeheartedly that T-Mobile is the best and easiest carrier once you leave the US. It’s the pesky part of day-to-day life in the US where my coverage isn’t as ideal that I am trying to justify.
Hi! My family has been with mobile for 13 years! We are though ready f
to make that “switch” over to …. Yup Cricket wireless! We have trouble with connectivity.. in malls, huge stores like Sam’s Club. We even issues at our house! We actually need to connect to our home Wi-Fi in order to get good service. We live in San Antonio Texas, we like to go camping to a nice secluded little place called Park Chalk Bluff every time we go it’s no service.. this year we noticed that the ones who did have service with no issues was Cricket! I recently looked into their plans and they have 5 lines with 4g for $100.00! We currently are at almost 300.00 a month with 2g and sucky service. I hate change but this is one that we need to move on to.
I agree with you i left Sprint a year ago I have there cheapest plan you could get I was on there sero plan then the sero p plan but they started changing it and the value was getting lost as I needed 4 lines so I switched to tmo added more like es for the same price I was paying Sprint. The switch was horrible they provisioned the main number account t wrong took a week and numerous calls and chats to fix. Their customer service is a joke they understand nothing. Then I decided I needed one more line and decided to switch to the unlimited all in plan big mistake again the account was provisioned wrong. I lost my unlimited 4g tethering it dropped to 2g tethering which is abysmal to say the least more frequent dropped calls or bad quality even though I live in a major city. But just like Sprint I will suffer through because of the price
Ugh, that sounds terrible.
I kind of don’t understand why anyone doesn’t have Google Fi at this point. You’re technically limited to a smaller selection of phones which does not include the iPhone, but there are even ways to activate an iPhone on Fi from what I understand. $20 per month for unlimited talk and text, $10 per GB, including 3G everywhere internationally that TMobile is 2G. Domestically a mix of TMo and Sprint network, whichever is a stronger signal. Tethering and wifi calls no issue. My bill is never more than $55. Once you get past the need for a seamless iPhone-specific experience there’s really no argument I can see for another plan.
Why? Family plans, poor marketing, bad name, most people don’t read geeky tech blogs, etc…
I will take this on board. Many have suggested that moving towards the Google Fi Andoid-iPhone work around is the way forward – my readers are smart and I’d be foolish not to take their advice. I think I will.
I was going to say much the same thing as D Vargas. Your use case is similar to mine, and I’ve been very happy with Project Fi. Yeah, it’s a bit of a nuisance to have the complete feature set limited to 5 (and soon 7) Nexus/Pixel phones. But the tradeoff is worth it for someone who places a priority on international roaming and needs better-than-Tmo coverage at home. The ability to switch between Tmo, Sprint, US Cellular and Wi-Fi calling/SMS/MMS does away with most dead spots domestically. And 3G coverage nearly everywhere else means your data usage for things like GPS isn’t handicapped by poor speeds. One thing to keep in mind, as alluded to above, is that an iPhone (or even most Android phones) won’t be capable of network switching domestically. So the benefits of coverage expansion and data use reduction (Fi pushes everything it can through Wi-Fi when available, thus reducing mobile usage) won’t be present.
It sounds like the general consensus is that the hassle of setup is worth the performance increases – maybe I will take your advice and get it setup.
As a former Fi user, the data cost is deal breaker. I used 32Gb last month on T-Mobile. That data plus unlimited everything else cost me under $40 on T-Mobile versus well over $340 had I been a Fine user. Since Fi runs mostly over T-Mo in my area, it makes sense to just be a direct customer and save money.
Why 32Gbs? Because this is my internet. The service is good enough that I dropped my Comcast and saved another chunk of cash. Fi would want me to have wifi to save data. But I don’t have wifi now. Nor do I have to pay for it as a hidden cost of supporting my phone.
WOW! That’s a lot of data, but as you point out, if this is your home internet option too then I would venture to guess that my use would be even higher.
One thing I’d line to add is that with the international package, you also get unlimited 4g lte tethering stateside. This may sound trivial, but the truth is, i run my homes internet of my tethering, which alone, saves me $50 a month.
And rest assured, I exploit that benefit greatly whilst streaming hi def movies from Netflix agonist nightly. After doing this for very nearly a year now, I have yet to have the data speed slowed.
I love T-Mobile for this alone!
I agree with you on this point David. As I stated, I don’t get poor coverage everywhere, just in enough spots to be annoying. However, the tethering is ideal and whenever I encounter free wifi (like at coffee shops) that is annoying to use or requires registration, I just tether to my device too.
Vodafone is an English company, not Spanish.
Sorry, you are correct. I will make the correction when able. Thanks for your observation, I appreciate it.
Just to be crystal clear (and pedantic) Vodafone is a British company, not an English company. At least until Brexit kicks in. Then it may well become a Spanish company …
Indeed. Who knows what will happen with Brexit. I was thinking of Telefonica and their British brand, O2. I will try and correct in the post today.
I used to live in Pittsburgh (now Akron) and definitely agree with some of the things you say about service dropping in the city. I have the same issues in Cleveland, especially inside buildings, but I have noticed a lot of improvement year over year. Outside both cities, however, my service is great, often in places where my Verizon and AT&T friends have none.
International roaming and the price are what keep me at T-Mobile. Even though the data speeds are so slow, it’s nice knowing I don’t have to hunt down a sim card upon arrival and try to keep track of regular one as well. Plus, with the amount of new subscribers they’re adding every year, I think they’re actually able to finance efforts to improve their network.
Verizon, Sprint and AT&T subscriber info suggest that they are all losing massive quantities of customers somewhere. I keep hoping that with the influx of new subscribers on T-Mo’s network that coverage in the gaps will get stronger, but that might be a blind hope. Perhaps it’s a better idea to look to AT&T to match the offering.
I travel the US for business, especially the southeast and the west coast. Often I have signal where my co-workers with Verizon and ATT don’t (especially ATT). Even in rural Florida and rural Washington, I get great signal. I’m sure there are lots of areas where this is not true, but which carrier is best really depends on where you live and travel.
Agreed, results vary. The question I am asking myself is because of own bad experience locally but great experience abroad, should I stick with bad service most of the year for great service at critical times the rest of the year. I’m unconvinced one way or another.
+1 for Google Fi. Do it when the new Pixel 2 comes out later this year. You’ll never want to go back.
Tom, I want to… I do… but I can’t. I am just way too Apple (like saving up my money for a clamshell iBook and taking it to class in high school) to leave. They can pretty much curse my name, charge me double and stupidly, against all logic and reason, I will hand them my money and say thank you. Sometimes it’s good to know who you are, and in this regard, I know who I am.
But the work around looks like an option.
+1 for Pixel and Google Fi. I had a droid 7 years ago and loved it but started using a work iPhone for free. I have a MacBook but I am more tied to Gmail, Google Calendar and Photos rather than the ICloud. I was hesitant and worried about switching back to a Droid (Pixel) and Day 1 had regret. From Day 2 on I am SOOO happy I did and would probably never go back to iPhone.
Kyle, there are ways to run your iPhone on Google Fi. Might be worth a look.
Sounds like I am going to have to, it’s the overwhelming consensus.
If you use an iPhone you will get TMobile only not Sprint. So I don’t think that will help you. There are also many roaming issues.
I had fi on two separate occasions and the price is sky high compared to TMobile if you use data. I only pay $100 for three OnePlus lines.
I have used tmo in dozens of countries and fi. For is faster in many European and some Asian because OnePlus limits to 256mbps except for Canada and Mexico.
Also fi charges lots of taxes TMobile none.
I think a lot of those proposing fi are optimistic but not realistic.
Another issue with Fi is that you lose Google voice features and you have to merge your main number to Google voice. That is a real.problem if you have a known cell number and gv number like me. I had to Port my gv number to my business gapp and you can’t forward gv to gv on fi.
Also with tmo now you can use digits which
Oh yeah, Project Fi might not work for me at all. I still maintain a Google Voice number which is not my cell phone number with T-Mobile.
As someone who’s been in the DFW area for the last 11 years I’ve been with Verizon, Sprint, Virgin Mobile (sprint) and T-Mobile and every year T-Mobile gets better and better with voice calls, wifi calling and download speeds(70-90mbs). I strongly suggest everyone to use Sensorly app or website and determine which carrier is suited for the area you live/travel around. This lead me to T-Mobile and this is where I’ll stay.
I will try that out. Commenter, Meanmeosh also suggested that T-Mobile’s DFW coverage was fantastic.
I agree with you and wanted to add that I have a $5 International calling Account add on that allows me to call a lot of country’s landlines for free and mobile numbers for 0.20 from the USA on any of my family plan mobile phones for one absurdly low price. This alone makes it almost impossible for me to leave T-Mobile. I also have grandfathered unlimited data.
I have somewhat better service than you but there is a few spots during my daily commute where I know 100% the call will drop and it infuriates me like crazy.
I use T-Mobile digits to receive and make call using my number on my AT&T work phone which never drops the call once along the same drive.
So there you have it, service isn’t up to par but they have yet another amazing feature to get around it using a better carrier.
Kinda crazy but that’s T-Mo for ya.
I don’t think I’d ever leave
Sounds like a mirror image of my experience (though sub Verizon for AT&T).
I’m with you. I am trying to hold on to T-Mobile and will continue to based on their purchase and implementation of the 600mhz frequency they now own. That frequency will help expand current signal to strengthen it, as well as catapult 5G, or whatever the next fastest speed is. Things should get better within the next 18 months.
Overall, T-Mobile is the best bang for your buck.
As long as they deliver on the promise we are all hoping they will…
Sptint has better International offering than any other carrier in the USA. They offer free 2G speeds and free text in more than 165 countries. And if you need fast data speeds you can get those at $5/day or $25/week.
For me 2G data works while traveling as I can make VoIP calls. Plus Sprint has better network than TMO. All smartphones on Sprint support GSM roaming.
Are you sure about the 165 country number? Sprint says more than 50 countries, and of course, 165 is more than 50 but with T-Mobile advertising 140+ countries, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t tout that they had more coverage.
Sprint Link: http://sprint.co/2vvYZH7
T-Mobile bought a tremendous amount of low. And frequency in the last auction. Low band is what penetrates buildings better etc. they plan to have a huge amount of it rolled out by the end of the year. You will need a new phone but once those two things are in place I think your suffering will be over.
Good, something to look forward to.
A new phone, meaning one that comes out after they roll this out? Or will my s8 get better too?
T-Mobile seems a lot better by far out west and then does back east-their Wi-Fi calling offers other opportunities for dialers to make calls such as Skype or Google Voice -there’s a lot of press out about their new band width in theory it should help
difference just have to see what happensexcetera
Good to know. Matthew is based out in LA though and he suggested his experience was similar to mine.
Once T-Mobile starts using the new 600MHz spectrum they just paid $8 billion for, they’ll have the best coverage of any cell company. It’ll cover 100% of the United States, as this new spectrum travels further and penetrates buildings much better than current transmission frequencies. New phones with the chips needed to access the New frequencies will be coming very soon. T-Mobile is already testing this in a few spots. I’m excited, as this should really improve service drastically. Hang in there! I also use an LG V20 which uses a newer frequency to T-Mobile that many phones from last year don’t (including your iPhone).
I live in Philadelphia, and after 20 years on Verizon, I have much better service with T-Mobile. Faster internet, and coverage in many places I struggled with Verizon. When I travel, I have very few problems with service.
Any ideas on when that bandwidth will be ready for use? Maybe I could hold out before giving in to what seems like the only other option – Google Fi.
They have plans to roll out by the end of the year, unless I am mistaken.
Next year’s, or perhaps even this year’s late phones will be ready.
The sooner the better for me!
Kyle, your iPhone already has band 12 Lte(700mhz & Tmo’s strongest available frequency until the 600mhz gets implemented ) so there are 2 things to consider. First, iPhone antennas are worse then most android phones and second ever since I upgraded to iOS 10.3.3 my Tmo reception has reduced considerably along with battery life. I also have a Vzw phone(android) to use for work and travel around to many rural areas in upstate NY. Yes Vzw does have better reception then Tmo has in a lot of areas since I do compare them side by side while commenting but by no means is Tmo unusable. In fact there were some areas Tmo beat Vzw in coverage. I do not work for or have any connection w/Tmo just relaying personal experience. Tmo’s 600 MHz band they recently purchased will be a major improvement and most likely solve all these dead zones. Currently there aren’t any iPhone or android phones on the market to support 600mhz but are in production and will be available very soon.(Samsung & LG to start). Honestly if I my home Vzw tower(suburban village w/population under 10k) wasn’t so congested to the speeds of 1-5 mbs I would still be with vzw. I did call them a few times In which they put trouble tickets into their tier 2 support and never received a call back or follow up. Very sad after being a customer for 20 years. Bottom line is either wait for a 600mhz iPhone and Tmo to fully implement the same frequency or get a new Vzw iPhone 7+ (which has every gsm & cdma Lte band available except 600mhz). Then use Vzw service for the 10 months your in the states and purchase a prepaid SIM card for international use(tmo tourist $30 prepaid sim). You can switch back and forth as long as you first intitialize the new Vzw iPhone on their network which unlocks the phone. My iPhone 7 is a Vzw model. I first used it with vzw, then tried at&t which was unusable in my home area and finally Tmo all in the last 9 months. I have found out in my over 20 years of using cellular devices that there is no perfect phone or cell company.
Kyle, I could really relate to a lot you said about “suffering with T-Mobile”. I was a staunchly loyal TM customer for years. But oh, the service and connectivity was dreadful when we retired and traveled the country in our 5th wheel. Solution: I switched to the Verizon Unlimited plan and WOW, what a GREAT decision! Our cellphone suffering has ended. I am just sorry I waited so long.
Lizzie, I use a Verizon phone for work (that I can’t take out of the country) and it’s usually twice as good as T-Mobile. It’s so frustrating that you can’t have both great domestic coverage and excellent licensing for other countries outside the US.
Very unprofessional children working here. I literally asked how long I have to keep the extra line on the account that I have to get in order to take advantage of the Galaxy S 8 BOGO offer and the child working there said well just because I asked that question he was not going to sell me the phones. I told him he was ridiculous and he started acting like a tough guy yelling I was trying to scam Tmobile. Really? Well I don’t need an extra line but I do need two phones so what is the policy? I still don’t know? Two to three months and it’s a good deal. Two years and it’s not. Most people would just do their job and answer the question but not this guy. He wanted to escalate the situation to an unacceptable level. Told him I was going to cancel 8 lines because of his attitude and he gave me the thumbs up and said good! Clearly this guy is unhappy working there. I’m contacting investor relations in the morning as I’m unsure if this is a company I want to be involved with any longer especially with the merge talk with Sprint. Instead of generating revenue tonight this disgruntled employee cost the company a customer of 13 years paying $447 a month. Truly unbelievable. This is exactly the problem with California raising their minimum wages. All the uneducated garbage that can’t get a minimum wage job in California is pouring into Phoenix and ruining the City.
What he did next is absolutely harassment and I’ll be filing an injunction against the company and this employee. He sent an email to the entire Southwest Region saying lookout for fraud from me and my company. The only reason I found out about this email is because I have a buddy that works at a different store that received the email and called me and forwarded it to me. He said it was very strange and he had not seen anything like it in the three years he’d been with the company. He and his manager agreed there was no fraud especially from a company that has paid Tmobile over $60k. They explained to me that the disgruntled employee doesn’t get his commission unless we keep the line for four months. If the guy would have just told me that I would have kept it at least that long for him. Sounds like if there is fraud here it’s Tmobile defrauding their employees out of commission and charging their customers alot more than the agreement. Our bill was to be a total of $333 per month. They auto charged $447. I’m disputing the charge with my credit card company, blocking them and reporting fraud against them.
For this employee to do this to a company in business since 1970 with excellent credit was the absolute wrong move. Went back in to talk to the manager and that employee was there staring at me and getting loud like he wanted to take it to the parking lot. He got caught red handed being a little punk. The manager was asking my buddies name and store. Haha like I’m going to throw him under the bus. If they don’t send a retraction email explaining the employee made a big mistake we will take our corporate lawyers advice and file the injunction and possibly a claim for damages relating to all of this.
The last time I went there they didn’t give me my ID back after making a copy and threw it away before I got there the next day to pick it up. We will not be giving them a third chance. Stay clear of the Paradise Valley Mall location.
Something positive I can say is there are really good employees and people that work for this company. In this case it appears to be one bad apple and maybe a policy that needs clarification. Now that we were forced to change carriers you cannot beat the Sprint 5 lines for $90.
Maybe Sprint has a product worth considering?
I’ve been a T-mobile customer for years (currently a Galaxy s7 android) – my company travel is around 70% OCONUS, and I have to say I haven’t had any of the issues you describe. I’ve had a couple of overseas places where the phone sometimes takes about 30 minutes to finally activate on the foreign network, but after that, works as advertised.
Oddly, the one place in the US that I have 1 bar coverage is my office – I’m on the lower floor and it’s below ground level. I found that once I enabled “WiFi calling”, I never had issues in the office again.
Another commenter mentioned that T-Mo just bought low band frequency that will make them the best in the business inside of buildings so you might have found your perfect candidate. Unfortunately for my own experience (and some but not all of the commenters), coverage inside of buildings will only solve half of the problem.
I have been with since they were voice stream going on 15 years. Well I have had issues with dropped calls or no service in bad areas even in good areas I will never leave them their customer-service is better than any other service out there .So for the little bit of inconvenience I can live with-it
My customer service has been either amazing or terrible with nothing in between, though I guess I would prefer that to consistently flat and inept. I didn’t even know that T-Mo and Voice Stream were ever connected.
I had a similar experience to you a little over a year ago, then they rolled out there 700mhz spectrum and expanded their Network and it’s made a world of difference. Before driving about 50 miles out of the metro DC area would mean no signal or “edge” Network. However those same trips this year have LTE the entire drive. That said I will say where TMobile works, it works better than other carriers, but where it doesn’t work, other carriers still give service. Point being Verizon/attached offer a more consistent experience whereas TMO is either better or worse with little gray area. However with their new 600mhz band in the works, this will hopefully fill in the gaps.
One note though, the TMO branded iPhone 7 apparently used an inferior Intel model whereas the unlock/unbranded iphone7 uses a better Qualcomm chip. From my reading, the unbranded works much better with TMobile and I’ve sort of seen this. By that I mean my wife has a TMO branded iphone7, I have an unlocked Android axon 7. There are times where she has little to no service and I have 4 bars LTE.
Regarding dropped calls, I had this issue too, but I changed two settings which has alleviated the issue. In my apn settings I changed it from ipv6 only to ipv6/v4, and I disabled voice over LTE. This forces calls over the older, but better established GSM 3g bands.
Your comment brought up two thoughts, and maybe you can help me out with one of them. I purchased my phone directly through Apple and their annual upgrade program. My understanding was that I could either outright purchase and pull in full for an unlocked phone that I could take to T-Mo or whichever carrier any time I wanted, or I could go through their program, pay monthly but had to have a phone that at least was originally assigned to T-Mo for 30 days, then becomes unlocked. (My phone is 100% unlocked now I can confirm). Would I be better to start service when my upgrade comes with another service company to stay on interest free payments (why pay up front in full when I can pay on payments over time?) and then switch to either Google Fi or back to T-Mo? That would avoid the inferior banded phone, but keep the rest of what I like about the program.
My second thought was that I have driven many times from Pittsburgh to DC and all through PA along 76 and into MD, NOVA – service has been hit and miss for me, but as you pointed out this could be an inferior version of my iPhone. Have you driven the route to Pittsburgh? Was your experience the same?
You can validate modem versions by your phone model and read more about the issue here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/aarontilley/2016/10/21/how-to-buy-iphone-7-intel-qualcomm-modem/#1ad6c78b6c79
You could do a carrier switch to get the better version, or wait for the iPhone8 which, if Apple has any sense, will go back to the unified modem model like the iPhone6. Hopefully the 8 will be ready for the new 600mhz T-Mo band as well (although the band is at risk at the moment http://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/t-mobile-sinclair-tribune-merger-could-sabotage-600-mhz-transition). I believe TMO’s new “JUMP” program will let you upgrade immediately when the 8 is available.
If I were in your shoes, I’d try to use craigslist or swappa to swap your unlocked tmo for an unlocked verizon or other model with the premium chipset. (My understanding is ALL verizon handset is GSM unlocked due to their agreement with the FCC when they purchased some of the old analog TV broadcast spectrum.)
If your phone is fully unlocked, I believe you can edit APN settings, make sure it’s set to ipv4/v6 and not v6 only. There is also an “About” menu on the iPhone that will force a check for new APN settings then ask you if you want to apply. The IPv4/v6 setting allowed me to roam onto ATT whereas without this setting change I couldn’t, although I haven’t needed to “roam” over the last year or so.
Don’t forget to try turning off Voice over LTE if call reliability is an issue. It makes a big difference in improving call reliability for me. On my drive to/from work, there is one spot that will always drop when this feature is on, but works fine with this feature off. Just keep in mind two things, if you use Data while on calls, either via the phone or tethering, you will be dropped to 3g/HSPDA+ speeds, however, I do this and can still stream netflix/browse while on the lower network. The second item is TMo has setup new areas as LTE/IPv6/Voice over LTE only, no GSM/3G, and those areas require Voice over LTE to be on to get DATA or VOICE service on your phone. The reason, if I remember correctly, is because they didn’t want customers to see full signal but then not be able to call 911 if needed. This is also why phones with the 700mhz data band, but not the ability to handle Voice over LTE, cannot connect to the 700mhz band network on Tmobile. Anyway, it’s worth trying to see if it helps, just remember to turn it back on when traveling.
With regards to Pittsburgh, I have not been there recently, but did drive from Northern VA to Hershey PA last week. I had 4g LTE the entire drive. It was reliable enough that the kids could stream Netflix the entire drive. I also took a more rural route, a scenic one late road that goes through mostly farm-like scenery. I had similar experiences with recent drives to Ocean City MD and North Carolina, where I had full service this summer, but little to no service last summer.
To test, I would see if you know someone with an iphone or android that supports all the new bands (all iphone 6s/6splus’ do for example, or a verizon iphone7 since they are all unlocked) that would let you borrow for a day, or craigslist an android for a a week and sell back, should be fairly easy to break even. If you haven’t already, it also never hurts to execute the “Reset all network settings” option on the iphone to ensure it re-obtains all the latest carrier settings. Hope this helps!
Thank you for that extensive information. I have high hopes for the iPhone 8+ or whatever they will call it and anything they can do to improve reception and antennas will be welcome in my book. I will be trying an Android long enough to get Project Fi up and running and then will try side-by-side.
I don’t know if anyone has this problem with T-Mobile I’ve been with T-Mobile for more than six years I have about 8 lines on my plan and what I noticed is every time one of the warranty on my phone expires that phone begins to act up and every two years as soon as I I’m very close to payoff for the phone the phone start acting up T-Mobile cannot give me a good reason why it’s doing that I drive a truck and I can tell you their signal sucks in lot of places evening New York I wouldn’t recommend T-Mobile
I couldn’t comment on phone performance close to two years because I switched to the iPhone upgrade program (before that I used T-Mobile’s trade-up program). I used to try and use my electronics until they were useless, but I realized that having the latest and greatest makes me happier so I switched (even though it’s more expensive) and I have to say I am generally happier.
Just not with the service…
When I bought my iPhone 7 Plus, I made sure to purchase the unlocked version (model A1661) with the better Qualcomm modem as opposed to the carrier branded model that use the Intel model. The AT&T carrier branded also use the Intel modem. The CDMA handsets for Verizon and Sprint, as well as the unlocked, use the Qualcomm. This was exactly the main reason I purchased from the Apple Store rather than the T-Mobile store. My coverage has been every bit as good as my husband’s newer Galaxy S8. I also live in an area that has good TMO coverage in general, so I can’t say how much of a difference it would have made for me “real world.” But, I would think that the better hardware could surely be helpful.
I went direct to the Apple store as well but they wouldn’t allow me to do a payment plan (zero interest with upgrade option) unless it was assigned to a carrier. Is this a misinformed Apple rep or correct info?
This is correct. It’s the carrier that subsidizes and/or finances the phone for you, not apple. Apple is one of the unique carriers that requires carriers to allow them to sell on the carriers behalf in this manner, which does in turn make it convenient for the customer and a less confusing experience. When the iPhone 8 comes out keep an eye on tmobiles home page. They almost always do a week long free iPhone promo. If it’s anything like the last it will be a free iPhone 8 if you trade in an iPhone 7. The catch is it’s a monthly credit for the monthly cost of the iPhone 8 payment plan for 24 months, if you leave before the 24 months is up, you pay the balance. I.e. if the 8 is $720, tmo values your 7 at $240, leaving your balance at $480 ÷ 24 = $20/mo. You get a $20 charge but also a $20 credit on each bill. If after a year you leave, you owe TMO $240, or $20 x 12 remaining months. This, imo is there way around service contracts.
I may just purchase the next phone outright and avoid all of this nonsense giving me a completely unlocked phone with all of the antennas. Do you think that will solve some of these issues and provide better coverage? I still want T-Mobile for the international side without switching my number around but if a carrier-free phone will get me more antennas then perhaps that is the way to go. Thoughts?
For some reason your comment below doesn’t give me a reply option which is why I’m replying to my own post. 🙂 Generally speaking unlocked models have more band compatibility but not always. Some TMO Android phones have TMO specific bands that their unlocked counterparts do not. In the case of the iPhone 7, the VZW, Sprint and unlocked model are all identical with regards to hardware and the premium modem, and VZW models are always sim unlocked, so if you can score one cheaper than the other, I say go for it. The premium version can work with all carriers, where as the Intel chipset version can only work with att and TMO. So the other nice thing about having the full unlocked model is you can switch to any carrier, cdma or GSM, as you please.
Regarding FreedomPop, it’s one of the reasons I opted for an unlocked dual SIM phone, in the event I travel domestically or internationally to an area that lacks adequate service, I can easily pop in or throw $20 on the second sim. With tmo’s digits program, you can still use your main # using the data/service from the second sim as well.
As you can probably tell I utilize a lot of data and ensure to have service everywhere possible while being as cost effective as possible. However, I understand that for many, having a reliable call experience without drops is worth more than saving a few bucks.
One thing to note though if you consider switching to VZW or VZW resellers like boost. Not sure if this is still the case but when vzw first rolled out LTE, they required phone manufacturers to include two modems, one cdma and one for their LTE sim, to allow simultaneous voice and data which they didn’t offer prior to LTE. Apple made them remove this requirement with their first LTE phone, the iPhone 5, to save space. This meant the iPhone 5 could not do voice and data at the same time (to include tethering) in regions that didn’t support voice over LTE. I’m not sure if this is still the case with newer iPhones but if it’s a feature you use you may want to double check.
Also, if history is any indicator, apple has never released an iPhone that supported a new phone Network technology that was released in the same year. I.e. 3g was available when iPhone was released but it didn’t support it. Same with the iPhone 4 and hspa+, the 4s and LTE, etc. I note this because unless apple changes this trend, the iPhone 8 will most likely not support the new 600mhz TMO band unlike the upcoming Galaxy. There’s also rumors the launch model will not have touch id http://bgr.com/2017/08/15/iphone-8-release-date-delay-shortage-launch/
This is the most accurate description of Tmo vs the other carriers I have ever read. I had Sprint for years then Tmo last 3 years. I know Verizon is the best rural and maybe a bit better than Tmo in cities. Tmo works rural, it’s just roaming on Verizon with 2g data. But the price difference is huge and Tmo really gets international convenience, unlimited data, and how to avoid really stupid cell phone contracts. Sprint is the worst: charging usurious rates for data above a cap without telling you until bill time when risking internationally. Ugh!
Tmo has gotten a ton better in rural areas in the past year and they are adding more rapidly. I hardly ever roam anymore unless I’m really out far from any city and major highway.
As for dropped calls, Tmo has been about the same as Sprint for me and fairly rare overall.
More than anything I’m grateful for competition and variety
Mike – You nailed it on the competition note. If you’re trapped in a long term contract you can get out of it by switching to Sprint or T-Mobile, and that is unique tot eh last few years. The competitiveness of feisty T-Mobile and Sprint have caused the behemoths to take note and make their offers better, they just aren’t quite cheap enough for me yet to jump back on board with them.
And the international ease is worth something to me, maybe it’s time I define what that amount is.
I switched from Verizon to T-MOBILE and looking for the most opportune time to switch back. The price for unlimited is great but coverage isn’t. I don’t travel abroad so I don’t need the added convenience that TMobile offers for overseas calling. As is I’m having to carry a prepaid Verizon Sim chip to use at work since I don’t have coverage inside my building for TMobile.
If you’re not traveling abroad with it, I would do exactly what you have, switch back at once!
I think the date on this article is wrong. It should be 2007, not 2017. I am sorry for the author, but I think there is something wrong with his set up. I was a tmobile customer when I moved from California to Tennessee in 2007. I had to switch immediately to Verizon. I gave tmobile a chance one year and a half ago, and I have no regrets. Even in this rural state I cannot complain about the service. Not as good in very rural places as vzw, but so what, it is good everywhere else. I too travel a lot domestically and internationally and things are always good to excellent. I am not even using a tmobile phone, just an unlocked Lepro 3.
By the way, the free 2G overseas? It has always been unlimited 4G LTE. Tmo will guarantee 2G, but they don’t care if the foreign provider allows 4G and up. Really, check your setup, sir.
Lorenzo, I think some of the other commenters have supported my argument that not everyone’s use case is as strong as yours and that service trouble remains for many users.
Matthew also pointed out that while it will display whatever the carrier in that country offers (LTE, 4G, EDGE) the speed is throttled.
I believe this issue is really two separate issues. There are areas which simply do not have adequate coverage. But the larger issue, imo, is the larger, well established providers like att and VZW have had static frequency bands for years. Even when they rolled out LTE, it was again over a fairly consistent set of new bands. TMO had a rapid expansion meaning it needed more accessible bands, but some weren’t available to buy coast to coast. So they literally has some areas on one band, others on a different one, etc. Then they finally got their hands on a universal, low frequency band. Generally the lower the frequency, the farther it reaches and penetrates walls. They went from frequencies in the 2000’s to 700.
This brought a whole new challenge. They couldn’t just disconnect their subs with older phones. In fact not too long ago they had some model phones that only worked on LTE in specific markets. So they have been running parallel frequencies in the some areas to try and avoid this.
Over the last year they finally have consolidated frequencies and simplified phone compatibility requirements. They are also the first to roll out a 100% ipv6 data and voice LTE Network. I cannot tell you how frustratingly hard it was last year to find an unlocked Android phone that supported all of Tmo’s bands, voice over LTE, and wifi calling, but I did and, for me at least, the research paid off.
I don’t have any affiliation with TMobile but I’m obviously a fan of technology and impressed with what they’ve been able to do in the last two years. If they get the 600mhz band I believe they can surpass VZW in coverage. Even those who are not a fan of TMO, remember competition is good. I believe art and VZW brought back unlimited plans and lower pricing as a response Tmo’s expansion and pricing.
But imo there costs can’t be beat. I presently have the entire family including wife, kids and parents on TMO. 8 lines, unlimited data/voice/SMS/tethering (10gb LTE tethering then 3g per line), unlimited 2g data/SMS international for $160, $10 less for any line that uses less than 2gb in any given month. That was on top of a free iPhone and $1600 in gift cards for porting #s in. Their promos are insane and if you stack them just right you can get a hell of a deal.
But, service is service. So I did throw in a FreedomPop sim that roams on att in the 2nd sim slot. It’s 500min/400mb for free/month. I haven’t needed it in the last year or so but prior to that I used it a few times and use Google voice to eliminate multi phone # hassles.
Maybe it’s whining but I guess I am just annoyed that I have to come up with work arounds for their poor domestic service to utilize their great international program. I appreciate the amazing amount of information you have left here. I suspect that many of the commenters for this very active post will find it as useful as I have. I used to have FreedomPop, maybe it’s time to go back.
I don’t see it as whining at all and appreciate your comments. It’s not lost on me that I am not the average consumers not that the consumer should or wants to learn about frequency bands to get good service. 🙂
I appreciate that.
It’s strange you have so many issues in and around Pittsburgh. I live in Johnstown PA and travel between Greensburg and Altoona and State College a lot and my coverage is good where I go. Once in awhile I may have an issue but no more that I had with Verizon or AT&T.
I also travel north of Pittsburgh to Wexford and behind and coverage has been good.
My phone is the Google Pixel.
Ralph, continue on from State College towards Williamsport and it’s all AT&T. In fact, from Erie to Williamsport on I-80 is all AT&T and counts towards your roaming data limits. You’re right, Pittsburgh to Wexford is fine, but there are some black holes in the coverage around town, especially in the South Hills and Canonsburg.
(Sorry for everyone else to get so local on that comment)
You are correct. That area I drive and it does have spotty coverage especially in the mountain areas. I complained to TMobile and they said the are rolling out band 12 in that area by the end of this year. I had two small coverage issues in my area and went onto chat and they said b12 would be upgraded three weeks ago and look and behold it’s solid now.
B12 is the low band coverage spectrum. In 2017 it has really gotten better. By next year it’s rural coverage will be on par with Verizon and at&t
Also if you roaming on at&t they won’t cut you off they will just let you know. Pretty sure they expanded it for OnePlus.
I don’t have OnePlus, and rural coverage is better but still tough.
Kyle, the domestic roaming limit is 200 MB now, not 50 MB. Still low but definitely higher than it once was.
As a new T-Mobile customer, I agree with many of your points. I’m really excited to see that they are working so hard on network improvements and I think that the coverage gap will begin to close with the new spectrum they acquired. The benefits and data speeds are already excellent, we just need coverage and reliability improvements.
I will call them up and see if that’s only for new accounts or if it’s for all accounts (a welcome change for me). I agree that speed when you have coverage is great, but reliability needs some help.
Yes, it’s 200mb domestic roaming for anyone on the T-Mobile One plan. Do you still have Simple Choice?
I do. Perhaps that should be updated…
Interesting.. I’ve been a TMobile customer since they switched from voicestream. . Like 2003 i think? Anyways… I’ve rarely had any issues with calls in Texas, California, Washington State, Alabama, or Ohio… The music places i travel domestically…. Unless I’m in a basement, then nada. Haha
I have been going international about once every other month for the past year and a half and haven’t had many issues abroad either… Last year was amazing because they were including 4g everywhere… The difference this year is noticable but i still get Google maps and Yelp without toov much pain.
Trisha, it sounds like the throttled speed is why you have no problem with Yelp and Maps, but everything else is slow. Indoors apparently will get better according to other commenters.
I’ve had T-Mobile since the Voicestream days. Perhaps my needs/expectations are not as high as some, but I’ve had no major complaints or issues in over 15 years with them. Granted, back in May, I was camping in Yellowstone and basically needed to climb a tree to barely get a signal. Then again, I was camping, so I didn’t care who was trying to contact me, as long as the GPS was able to tell me which way to go. In the Dominican Republic during my June vacation, no problem with service. Headed to Afghanistan for a few weeks next month, then Europe for a week right after that, for the first time. Guess I’ll see how it goes. Also, with the T mobile one plus plan, I can text, FB message, and surf the net during most of the time in the air, on domestic flights (thst use GoGo) at no additional cost. No other carrier can say that. Good luck, and safe travels to all.
JD – Your coverage in Europe should be good since that is where the brand has its roots, Afghanistan however… I would love to hear about ANY carrier’s success rate there. It could be great (a ton of contractors with expensive phone plans) or it could be (understandably) terrible. Come back and comment once you have fired up your phone. Stay safe.
I totally agree with you. We live in a small town in Texas and I have to have a booster for my T mobile to work. And the other small towns around here I have no service at all or it’s very limited unless I stand on top of football bleachers. But everyone else is expensive.
I think the cost vs coverage is probably fair (as you point out). I would switch if I stayed domestic, they just make international so easy!
Omg. You just told my story. I am having same issues in LA but Still with tmobile because of international roaming. I also use ‘sorry I dropped bc I have tmobile.’ a lot.
So sad that dropping a call and saying that you have T-Mobile is understood by other callers. What interests me the most is how some markets are so great (commenters above say T-Mo is basically perfect in DC, NJ, and NY, yet in LA you have trouble – there’s kind of no excuse in LA.
Don’t know what you’re talking about…T-Mobile is the best US carrier by every metric. https://opensignal.com/reports/2017/08/usa/state-of-the-mobile-network
See other commenters who anecdotally disagree with the study you posted.
T-Mobile is great for me, and out west it used to awful in rural states like Montana, but now if you have a phone less than 2 years old you are covered there with LTE band 12. I think all voice services use the same towers and I have not had a dropped call in years. I have had them for 13 years now. At first they were great then got bad when the merger with AT&T fell through, but now they are as good as anything. In Chicago, I got better service than VZ customers. In the major cities I have lived in (LA/OC), Chicago and Seattle they are great. I do a ton of camping. Most places are good but there are areas where on Sprint, only AT&T, only VZ or only Tmo works. In Washington Tmo is a better one. The wifi calling, Int’l roaming, gogo in flight are all major reasons why I stay, but the customer service is as good as any customer service in any industry.
Agreed that the wifi calling and international roaming are why we both stay with them, but it’s so strange to me that you had a great experience with them in LA when a previous commenter in LA (Ozz) is dropping calls.
Ok all this is great info.. But dont want to sound like an idiot but what is google Fi, i have verizon on a lg v20, looking at switching to tmo but want to know all before i move.
“Project Fi” is a cellular reseller service from Google that offers affordable plans for data abroad and cheap calling and text at home. They also have a feature where you never waste data you pay for unlike other carriers where you “use it or lose it”. Cingular used to have a rollover plan for your minutes that AT&T kept for awhile when they merged.
Here is a link to the plans: http://bit.ly/2w24vmn
The drawback for me is that this is an Android-only product. There is a work around for iPhones by activating on other devices, but I haven’t ventured that yet.
Same experience here. Most of my travel is to large metro areas, so it is generally good. Get into rural areas and it worries me that I couldn’t get Google Maps or call 911 when I hear banjo music. :-). In flight WiFi is a big plus. My employer will only pay or coach, so WiFi helps ease the pain from collapsing my shoulders together in narrow seats. Since I have a work number and personal number with T-Mo, get 2 hours per flight.
You mentioned not all flights in same day were included. Ran into same problem. If you try to connect and go into GoGos chat room, they will reset it so you can use it on connecting flight.
Great tip about connecting flights and contacting Gogo! I am going to try that this week on a flight.
As a truck driver I travel all over the US. I’ve had T-Mobile for more than two years and haven’t experienced service issues at all. Sure, there are always very rural areas with little to no signal but as they have been agressively expanding even those are becoming more rare.
And I hope they continue to expand into the rural areas. I don’t need them to be any better than Verizon in the rural zones, just as good as (even fewer bars would be okay, it’s the no bar areas that trouble me). I carry both (one for work and one for me and the Verizon phone is rarely out of range at all, and if it is, T-Mo doesn’t have any either.
Thanks for sharing. Interesting post.
One minor “correction” about Verizon and Sprint and international roaming. It’s been several years since phones have been cdma only. As technology advances cdma AND gsm -and now LTE – are included in many phones. Also the plethora of frequencies required are included (or at least large subsets). It’s just cheaper for apple, Samsung, et Al to (try to) build one phone that works everywhere rather than 10 or 12 region and brand specific varients. And Verizon probably demands it of anything they sell in their stores. Years ago Verizon called those “world phones”. Now a day’s many high end phones just come this way. iPhones (at least originally sold on vzw), google pixels, Samsung high end, etc all have gsm also. So Sprint and Verizon can roam internationally on gsm anyplace they have made a deal. TMO probably leads with relationships be there’s a Lot more than 17 countries you can roam in now.
That’s fair enough, those phones do have more bands now. However, Verizon still hasn’t cut a deal like T-Mobile, nor even the Sprint offer another commenter linked to earlier in the comments. Maybe that’s lack of effort and not technology, either way it doesn’t really work for me and my travel patterns.
Our whole family has T-Mo. My wife and kids were in India for 3 weeks recentl, while I was in the US. We called each other on Whats App all the time (including video calls). Thanks to free data roaming, we spent $0.00 and kept in touch like they were across the street! Thanks T-Mo!
…that’s the reason we have kept T-Mobile to this point.
Had T-Mobile almost a year in the begining all was well. Coverage was never an issueno dropped calls no interuptions all the sudden 3 months straight my bill was just shy of $400.00 for 2 unlimited lines. Each time I called to get it rectified and each time was told they couldn’t make any corrections on it until I paid a portion of the bill. I have since moved my 2 lines to another carrier that’s just as good for less money.
I’m sorry to hear that, can I ask where which carrier you switched to?
Kyle, the IPHONE 7 is a universal unlocked model. If you are buying one from the apple store it works with any carrier period. You do not need a “T-Mobile” model.
Tell that to the Apple Store people. They were quite clear as well that this was a T-Mobile requirement unique to them.
Switching to T Mobile was a big mistake. I switched from Sprint due to their extremely high charges; however, I should have done my research.
I have more dropped calls with T Mobile than I did with Sprint.
The sales person lied to me when I purchased the Samsung 8 S, saying that T Mobile services were better than Sprint and I would have less dropped calls. I have dropped call within the city limits and I use my phone as a business phone, sbould.i say more.
I went to the T Mobile store where I purchased the phone to discuss problems I am having with the drop calls and problems with my phone and now the sales persons doesn’t have time to listen to me, so I’m not pleased . When I was spending money to purchased this phone the sales person was very nice which evidently to get me in as a customer.
I feel violated by tmobile and I want out but this seem easier said than done. I’m seeking legal advise.
It seems you might have gotten a bad sales person, every carrier has some of those. That being said, I am sure you can get out of it if the service doesn’t match what you have been sold.
Very well written
I agree with your analysis but TM has been a big win for us on overseas travel. We’ve used it extensively abroad and have found it to be seamless. Yes the data is slow but it works for us. Even better this week they offered a new program for 55+ two lines for $60 incl tax which saves us almost $30 a month. Pleased my husband qualified At this price we won’t be switching
And that’s why I have stuck with them for so long. I’m just starting to wonder if that thinking is foolish.
Great article! I dont use international, I wouldnt know where to begin on that but Id explore other networks anyway if I was international. Sounds like a pain tho but that $$ adds quick abroad depending where you travel to. But since Im US based, (Fresno/Clovis CA -central CA) Id choose Tmobile for the price. I do have issues in the outskirts of town, boonies, open land, and rural areas though. Popular areas like a local park (Woodward park) that borders the small towns of Madera-the service sucks. Walk further in the park on Fresno side, service pops back up. Fresno/Clovis a city of about 1mil. Okay service, but Verizon, ATT, and even Sprint (although spotty still here) are better reaching areas bc of CDMA technology. If you were lost in the mountains cdma tech could get you a phone call home over Tmobile. Abeit slow 2g, but it could save your life lol. I think because our city is starting to become larger, each service has its pitfalls because we are teetering on the edge. Not quite a large city like LA and SF, but still small to be “rural”. Just a lot of $ for one line for me! Large cities like LA, SF and NY I have not had huge issues since TMo service seems to be widespread their more, but Tmobile has increased their company and service in the last few years. I left them at one pt for ATT because 2g was way 2 slow! But they came back quick! Definitely on the rise, I hope they keep going Im rooting for them. But sounds to me spending a little more for Verizon or ATT for an international user (with other calling options u mentioned -Google, local sim) would be better still over Tmobile I think. Regardless of the unlimited free data on your favorite Netflix show or music streaming.
It certainly sounds that way, and I agree that CDMA seems to work over mountains far better.
Sprint has caught up with T-Mobile in international roaming. New Sprint phones all support GSM.
In addition, those on Sprint plans with unlimited plans get premium roaming in Mexico and Canada for free:
I am a Sprint user and have the same issues domestically as reported in this blog entry. I put up with bad service because it is cheap and the international roaming rocks.
Yes, but… 50 countries would not be enough. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not because I travel to more than 50 unique countries per year, but as I mentioned in the post, despite having access to 140 countries I still traveled to two that were outside of the list. Brunei shouldn’t be expected to be on a list of 140 countries, that’s totally fair, but Vietnam? That’s a pretty popular tourist and business destination, so I can only imagine that with a list 1/3rd the size I will find the holes in the plan to be more troublesome than I have now.
I think the old Sprint International offering was 50 countries, but now it’s 140 or so. One thing that sucks about it however is that the Open World plan included the first 1G free at 3G speeds in much of Latin and South America and free calling/text. I had very good free 3G coverage in Panama and Costa Rica when this pricing was available.
My husband and I have suffered through T-Mobile for over 10 years. We are in Columbia, SC and his job requires a lot of travel around the state. The calls trip all the time. It has gotten to the point that I told him to just call whenever he makes it to his destination. There have also been times that a call would drop as soon as we pulled in our driveway.
Ugh, sad state of affairs. Seems like another Telco that makes the international aspect but also has decent coverage already will have a market waiting for them.
Hi Kyle and all of you who have bad service in your homes or offices, TMo has a device called Personal CellSpot. They used to give them out for free when I got 1 for my house, but I don’t know if it’s still free. I used to have poor coverage at home and that device has been the solution. You can call customer service and inquire about getting one.
I will do this. I remember that AT&T used to charge $100 for one of these, then T-Mo came out with one years later for about $25 but it always seemed to me that they should be paying me to install it. Simply put, it protects me from leaving for another carrier and likely provides service for others (mini tower) on the back of my electricity bill (though the impact is probably minuscule).
#1 download Google maps for travel in questionable service areas.
#2 TMo service is expanding by leaps and bounds constantly. I live in the Midwest and constantly was forced to 2G or *gasp* 1G when traveling between metros. Now, only the truly “rural” areas are a concern.
#3 As previously stated, the 600 mhz spectrum will soon take their coverage to VZW levels.
#4 WiFi calling for the win!
#5 Who makes phone calls these days? 😉
1) We do this and make maps available offline when possible.
2) Yes but… Omaha, NE will be the ultimate test. We couldn’t get service in Omaha in a T-Mobile store! Seriously.
3) This can’t come fast enough.
4) Agreed that this is better, but not perfect.
5) My customers and colleagues. At work, our inboxes are jam-packed so when we need immediate answers, phone calls are the best way to get through complex topics quickly. Also, I can’t use my work phone abroad so I have to use my personal plan.
What plan do you have that limits roaming data to 50MB? I used 3-4GB on AT&T’s network once in northern Minnesota without an issue. The only drawback is that it was limited to 2-3Mbps. Also, in the Minneapolis, MN area I get better coverage than any other carrier when in buildings. Hopefully T-Mobile can bring that to where you go, in the future!
Another commenter suggested that their limit was 200MB roaming on AT&T with a T-Mobile plan so perhaps it’s different for everyone depending on when you signed up for service. When did you sign up?
If you travel internationally, one thing to keep in mind that inbound calls and outbound to the U. S. are always free when you are using wifi calling. Wifi seems to be fairly ubiquitous, even internationally, so this has been huge for me. I can keep in touch and don’t have to worry about using a different phone number. The service is great too over wifi. Even better than cell coverage with regard to delay and clarity.
Thomas, in your experience if your phone temporarily jumps off wifi will it bill the rest of the call at $.20/minute or just the few seconds in which it transitions to cell then back to wifi?
The call would drop. You know ahead if time if it’s connected to wifi (if your paying attention). It also beeps of you start to walk out if Wi-Fi reception when you are talking.
You can make it do calls ONLY on Wi-Fi, wifi preferred or signal preferred and Wi-Fi as a back-up only.
I will have to give that a try. If you have a link, please feel free to leave it here.
I have Sprint and have unlimited for 50 dollars and when I cross Canada or even Mexico, I get great data and cell coverage but in some places I get voice coverage only. Not to shabby. And when I cross those borders, I stream like I did when I was home and Sprint has never contacted me that I’ve been over my limit when I was in an another country.
Pablo, Sprint’s North America-wide service is probably really convenient for most Americans. My family is unique in that our travel is heavily outside of those two markets (though we really want to spend more time in both) but I know a ton of people for which such a plan would handle 100% of their travel needs! Thanks for mentioning it!
Great article. I feel your pain and have been a customer for 7 years with T mobile and ask myself why all the time. I can’t get service at my job, my parents house and I can’t figure out why it doesn’t get better.
Some commenters have added that it will be getting better soon due to a large frequency acquisition, but the proof will be in the pudding.
I live in Pittsburgh, South of the city. I switched from AT&T to t-mobile about six months ago. Five line family plan went from $250 per month (30gb data max (for all five lines)) to $150 per month for the same five lines, unlimited data. It starts at $180, but we get $10 back for each line that uses less than 2gb of data. Three of us are adults on wifi, it’s easy for us to get the discount.
My signal strength is far better than it was on AT&T. Previous drop out spots are now reliable. I regularly travel into Baltimore for business, the drive down 76 and 70 is reliable. My only drop out spot is in the Allegheny mountains. And even then it’s only for five minutes.
All in all, saving $100 per month to get unlimited data was a no brainer.
Android nexus 6p, Samsung galaxy s7, LG g6, iPhone s7, galaxy note edge.
Those are interesting data points. I am going to have to disagree on the Pittsburgh to Baltimore I-76 route in my experience, but maybe the strangest thing about this is that people from the same cities are having completely different experiences (see LA comments above).
I love these treads but I have to say I have tmobile and was lucky to get 3 lines unlimited everything for 100 bucks a month at the beginning of the year. I’m a somewhat regular joe. I have been to Europe 2 or 3 times. I have be gouged by at&t as well for roaming data charges(mine were 500 for that month on top of the 200 a month I was paying for two lines at the time).
BUT at the end of the day I go on vacation once a year. I spend 340 days at my house or at work and I have a tmobile tower that covers both. I DON’T CARE ABOUT FREAKING MAPS. There I said it. Who cares if I get service in Minot North Dakota if I don’t live there. I just don’t travel enough to care about coverage.
Also would like to point out I was able to cancel my Internet because I have 30gb of hotspot and I download just as fast if not faster than my Internet provider at 50 to 70 a second.
Kenneth – I totally understand your perspective and find myself in a pickle because of it. Your logic makes total sense and even at my 60-65 days out of the country per year, should that really outweigh the other 80% of the year? It shouldn’t right? I think it underscores just how expensive international seems to be and what a hassle it is to do it affordably. If you live in New York perhaps you really would have it all, great coverage locally and great coverage abroad with a seamless transition. Unfortunately, I just don’t.
Worst service ever , live 20 miles from a major city and cant make or receive calls or text. Never been so disappointed in my cell phone life. Terrible would never promote anyone switching to T-Mobile.
That seems to be consistent with some of the rest of the commenters, though others would counter that they have great coverage.
Kyle I know exactly what you’re going through. I had Sprint for 22yrs and when I lived in Miami it was great. Well I moved to Tampa recently and Sprint was blotchy in my rural neighborhood so I was fnally fed up and switched to TMO. Big mistake! Calls don’t go through when I’m home, people call me and goes into voicemail. I don’t get reception in the building where I work 5 min away from the Tampa airport. I have to go in the middle of the parking lot to get a text message. My boyfriend had Metro PCS and thought it was much better than TMO. I hate it! Ive called 4 times to complain about reception at my job they said a tower was down and it was supposed to be fixed by July 19. Well I’m still having problems so it’s not the tower. Then I just thought it was my new S8 so I brought it to the store and it wasn’t that either. I’m so tired fighting This! I don’t know if I could wait for TMO to get there act together. At some point I’m going to have to go to switch to Verizon since its the only network that seems consistent.
What is particularly strange about your situation is that T-Mobile and Sprint are on two different networks, you would think that one of the two would be marginally better or worse (and T-Mo should share with AT&T while Sprint should share with Verizon). Sorry to hear about your trouble, let me know how Verizon goes.
Att and t mobile phones are the same now from the factory( cheaper for apple) I thought. And did I miss the part about the new spectrum t mobile bought for 8 billion or so to improve their coverage which is rolling out this year? What about the fact you get 10 dollars back a line if you have lines that use less than 2gb a month. T mobile Tuesdays gave me over 100 in Lyft credits alone.
Nick, you scored big on the Lyft credit, well done!
Overall I really like T-Mobile, but the rural coverage is really bad. They paint their map magenta saying they have coverage which is very misleading since it is accomplished via roaming (usually on att). Then of course the free data roaming runs out quickly and you are back to the stone ages. This is really my only gripe with them. Otherwise their rates and benefits are quite impressive.
I agree on all accounts with those statements. If they fix the domestic US portion they would be unstoppable.
Sorry but I have tmobile and the service is amazing I’ve had verizon and att and tmobile is better sorry to say but I think you getting payd by other carriers to say this..or maybe just in your particular location but I’m a very wide traveler and my service is perfect..
This article does NOT apply to everyone really it pisses me off that just because you had bad service were your from you generalise..BULSHITT
Abraham, other commenters echo my user experience. It seems to vary even within the same city.
“Sprint received a very large investment from Japan’s Softbank which has helped the company to expand their international offerings, but it’s not perfect.”
Softbank owns 80% of Sprint, so yes, it’s a “very large investment”. But the best kept secret of this investment is that they have a $5/month unlimited 3G, international talk and text plan for use in Japan. Two years ago, I Periscoped and used nearly 800MB of data in one week. All included!
That’s awesome! If I traveled more to Japan (I wish I did), it would certainly make sense to switch.
When will prople start to realize, its rarely the carrier, it’s usually the phone.
I’m going to have to disagree with that. I also carry a Verizon iPhone (even older model than my T-Mo 7+) and almost never lose coverage with them. I have a side-by-side, like-for-like comparison and T-Mobile never has coverage that Verizon doesn’t, but Verizon often has coverage where T-Mobile doesn’t.
I have metro pcs and a Verizon prepaid phone I drive a truck and some places metro pcs has better service other places Verizon and going up I 77 through Virginia and West Virginia neither of them work just depends where you are going to be although service on metro pcs has been getting better
That’s good to hear. I haven’t considered PCS.
I have been a big fan of T-Mobile for a long time. Everything from their prices, service, customer service, progress, etc. They recently purchased a large portion of the 600MHz frequency spectrum in the spectrum auction and will be rolling it out by the end of 2017. This means more coverage for us! I admit the service isn’t perfect, no service is, but in my opinion taking everything into consideration they offer the best service for the best price. Every year they improve their offering and force the other guys to follow suit.
They have certainly been progressive and they push the needle forward and raise the bar for the competition. I do appreciate that about the brand.
Pedantry incoming… Vodafone isn’t a Spanish Telco, it’s originally from the UK (the name coming from VOice DAta FONE), though it has a significant international presence with its local Vodafone and other brands.
In the UK we have a similar issue to you. There’s for physical networks, two of which are good for urban coverage and speed (EE and Vodafone), one of which has signal everywhere but often just 2G (O2) and the last which only offers 3G and 4G, no 2G whatsoever, but with extremely poor coverage in urban areas (Three). I would say these are the equivalent to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint respectively.
Three has good value deals and is the only network offering any kind of unlimited, but it’s not true unlimited as it has deprioritisation after 22Gb. It also offers completely free overseas roaming in countries such as USA, Australia etc. – which would otherwise be extremely expensive. That said, overseas roaming often uses the worst local networks and data speeds on non-social media sites are throttled to 2G levels, and the UK coverage is poor.
Meanwhile O2 is good for nothing except if you live in the middle of nowhere, being expensive but with a slow, mostly 2G network and few real benefits.
EE and Vodafone are also expensive but justify this by their much better coverage and speeds (Vodafone being slightly better on coverage and EE on speeds), along with various benefits, such as free roaming in 50 countries for Vodafone (including notoriously expensive places like Switzerland) and 4G in something like 120, and discounted DSL/additional free data with EE (who also give you powerbanks for free and replace a discharged one for a charged one at any shop).
All UK networks offer free EU/EEA roaming, as recently mandated by EU legislation, but again some limit data speeds or amounts and try to make you pay for better speeds/volumes.
Overall I think we’re in somewhat of a similar situation to you so I very much sympathise and understand. We pay a lot less in literal terms for our mobile plans (eg “unlimited” Three is £26/$30 a month and 20GB 4G on EE or Vodafone is ~£20/$25 a month), but we also get coverage in a much smaller country, so that kind of balances it out!
Forgot to spell check… there are FOUR networks not FOR networks, and Three has poor RURAL, nor poor URBAN coverage.
I was actually thinking of O2 (Telefonica and will update the Vodafone line shortly in the text). I agree with your assessment having lived in the UK for three years in Manchester. The 22GB limit you mention before throttling is the same for AT&T users in the US.
I live in a rural area of Michigan and my T-Mo service is great. I bought an unlocked Pixel and was able to get service for it without buying a T-MOBILE phone. My friend uses a Nexus 5 still though and sometimes he doesn’t have service where I do. It’s all about what bands your phone supports. We used to have Verizon and it was too expensive for what they offered. I do recognize there’s some areas that T-Mo won’t cover but carriers are always buying more bands or towers, so the service should always be improving.
It sounds like more bandwidth is coming online soon (one commenter said end of 2017, another end of 2018) and I look forward to improved service if I tay with them. If they fix the domestic side, everything else is perfect.
I have been a T-Mobile evangelist for years, the free international data (slow as it is) and reasonable calling charges are great. To be precise though, T-Mobile was not exactly “formerly Deutsche Telekom,” as you say – it is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, the German telecom giant which still exists (and has businesses in many sectors outside of mobile internet/telephony).
I guess I should have perhaps clarified that they are known as T-Mobile in foreign markets (at least at is in the US and I thought in the UK).
Like you, I switched to T-Mobile for better rates but also because I traveled back home to Canada often. I swear when I signed up three years ago it was for “high speed” roaming data and had at least 3G, but usually 4G while I was visiting Vancouver. Over the past 18 months or so the speeds are 2G which is often not even good enough for google.maps to update often enough or for me to use the web to look up some quick info.
At home there was no service in our area. We live just outside Seattle and T-mobile’s techs say that our service should be great. We live a block from a high school and all students on T-Mobile have zero coverage in the building (other carriers are fine) and very spotty service all throughout the area. After escalating my tech support call many times, trying a signal booster, and finally a WiFi booster (both T-Mobile devices) they finally agreed to have an engineer go look at the tower. Two weeks later I call back and find out that it’s “due for maintenance” and will be fixed in 6 months. Our family had to switch to using WhatsApp to text each other otherwise we would have zero contact with our phones.
You can download specific Google Maps for offline use. We do this often to keep the data use down and make it available for other applications.
Anything you buy for less but is not useable 365 days a year is technically very expensive and you are not really saving anything so I do not know why you are still with T Mobile and publish your problems in the internet. All the good things you say abut TMobile cannot happen in your area so why stay with them. I am with TMobile for more than 10 years and I love their service. Multiply that with the number of family members using this provider. Your really are in bad shape.
I stay with them because the international plan is so easy, I keep the same number, no weird forwarding options – I don’t stay with them for the local service and that’s kind of the conundrum.
I also live around PGH! I’ll admit, some backwater areas don’t have usable T-Mobile coverage. That said, with one exception, Sprint doesn’t cover those areas either.
The bigger problem I have with T-Mobile is building penetration; GSM is apparently not great at it… At least not in this country. I’m getting a FreePop sim to use when I’m in the buildings of old buildings and wifi is unavailable. With Digits, it’s actually not the worst idea!
A lot of other commenters have suggested the “DIGITS” program, I am excited to try it out. FreedomPop was ok (I used it as a wifi hotspot) but I discontinued their service. Maybe as a sim it would be different.
Look into T-Mobile DIGITS service – you can then have your number ring on any phone on any carrier, or have multiple numbers ring on the same phone… Some combination of this could let you have your cake and eat it too, somewhat!
Out in the San Francisco Bay area T-Mobile service is excellent. You may also call them and see if they’ll spring for a personal Cellspot. I got one at home. After 25 years of AT&T, I love T-Mobile.
I will try both of those ideas.
I work and live in Pittsburgh and have had no problems with TMobile paired with a Google Pixel XL. My family lives in the more rural Apollo area, and frequently travel to Saxonburg, Kitanning, and further out. The only place I’ve not had service was on a camping trip to Forest County in the Tidioute area in the middle of nowhere. So far my switch from Verizon has been perfect, and I would not go back.
I understand how you feel. My travels to Williamsport make much of the drive on I-80 AT&T roaming zones. That’s not helpful with the limitations they have in place.
I live in Florida and I’m using an Android phone. I don’t know if it’s the latest thing or not but I usually updated every year or two. I’ve never had any issues with connectivity. my issue is that sometimes I can’t pay my bill and I lose service for a day or two while they try to sort it out. It looks like the payment goes through and then I get an email from my credit card company saying that T-Mobile refunded my payment. even a real live customer service agent can’t make it work. I’ve tried different cards and nothing seems to help. they have no idea why this is happening.
How frustrating is that? They won’t even take your money! I recently had an issue with CapitalOne in a different situation where I paid my bill in full and closed a card and they posted a late payment because they accepted a charge after the card was closed. I didn’t think I had any more to pay since the card was closed and yet they posted a 30 day late payment which dropped my credit score 57 points overnight. How do we live in this modern era and yet, companies still can’t get billing customers done properly? Here is a link to the story I mentioned:http://bit.ly/2uCt6he
I have the galaxy S8+ and at the time of purchase through Samsung to get the phone as an unlocked phone there was a choice to go with T-Mobile, At&t, Sprint,Verizon and I went with T-Mobile since I had just left Verizon and the service was great but the pricing not so much. The bills each month with Verizon changed monthly and kept going up and up and up and the unlocked phone I purchased with them was never truly unlocked but anyway back to T-Mobile the service was HORIBBLE and I also love in the Pittsburgh area. I then switched to Straight Talk who told me they were using At&T’s towers yet the phone service was just as bad as T-Mobile. I am now with Sprint after all that mess with my unlocked s8+ and I get great service in the exact same area I got terrible service with the others so I agree with the author I don’t think it was anything he did or his phone was not the latest model I think it’s just the service and No I couldn’t put up with the horrible t Mobile service for anything even if I needed the international minutes that drove me nuts telling people I’m sorry the call dropped because the people I was talking to just couldn’t understand it was the phone service and that was even more frustrating to me. Good luck and if I were you I would try another company lol
I’m considering a switch, there are lots of good options left in the comments.
Why formerly Deutsche Telekom? T-Mobile is still owned by them. “T-Mobile” is just Deutsche Telekom’s mobile Brand name.
It depends on the country, I will change it to a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom, though I believe in the UK there was a mobile presence for Deutsche Telecom before a re-branding.
Possibly. In Germany, their mobile network was originally called “D1”. Then “T-Mobil” (without the ‘e’). After Deutsche Telekom bought VoiceStream in the US, all their mobile networks globally were renamed “T-Mobile”. At least that’s how I remember it. I grew up in Germany and now live in the US.
You would know better than I would. I will do a little more research about the evolution of the brand and update.
Tools I use when traveling abroad:
Dual SIM phone (currently the OnePlus 3)
YouMail free visual voicemail
The free Vonage calling app
Third party messaging service such as WhatsApp, Signal Private Messenger or FB messenger
I use Cricket Wireless which runs on the very reliable AT&T network. The plan is very affordable and offers free roaming in Mexico and Canada.
When traveling outside of North America I grab a local SIM card and pop it in SIM slot 2. Any calls to my Cricket number go to YouMail and I can immediately listen to the message using my local SIM data or wifi. If I need to call them back I make a VoIP call with Vonage (free) which spoofs my normal U.S. number for the recipient’s caller ID. For them it looks like any other call they would receive from me.
For messaging all of my friends and family use Signal Private Messenger. Outside of that FB Messenger is prolific.
I pay $20 / month for my Cricket plan and it works amazingly well even in rural Oklahoma. The slight inconvenience of getting a local SIM is well worth the savings and great service at home.
Youmail is a solution I haven’t heard of. That would help with keeping my calls coming through directly when I am on another (local) sim card right?
For the record, any iPhone bought directly from apple at full price is unlocked. Just plug it into iTunes and it will unlock. So there was no reason to wait… On the contrary, not all model’s of the iPhone 7 work on sprint and Verizon, however all model’s work on T-Mobile. Even AT&T has certain bands not in the T-Mobile iPhone. So in regard to buying iPhones, T-Mobile is the best carrier and most flexible.
Just to clarify, I bought my iPhone not outright from Apple but through their payment program (0% loan and they auto-upgrade you when the new one comes out every year). At the Apple store I frequent, it was clear to them that T-Mobile had some specific reason why the phone had to be a T-Mobile iPhone but it’s possible that my Apple store reps were misinformed. I can’t trust anyone working for the carriers directly because they aren’t going to advise you how to not go on their network and I am sure T-Mobile would also state that only T-Mobile activated phones will work. I will try and dig some more.
I have been w t-mobile for over 4 years and truly hate them, BUT I can’t find a better plan. My only internet is via tethering w/tmobile. I refuse to pay $89 a month (in my area) for Internet (I don’t have cable), so I pay $150 a month for 2 phones & 30g of tethering. YES. T-mobiles Customer service sucks, YES, the service is spotty and Yes, they don’t give a ctud!
Also, Tmobile informed me that EVEN THOUGH I pay extra for more gigs, I Am Constantly “DEPRIORITIZED” by those who PAY LESS, becuz “they use less”. Wtf ?
I pay more, but get worse service? Yup.
They also informed me that, since I live in a HIGH tourist area. I AGAIN, will be DEPRIORITIZED by all those tmobile users visiting my city, due to “Conjestion”.
So, yes I hate tmobile, but, it’s the best I can find for my budget. Oh well
It sounds like the same conundrum I have but for a different reason. Terrible coverage for me domestically but really easy to use anywhere else in the world. For you it seems to be a customers service issue but the rate is right.
So Kyle, have you considered running in dual-mode? Verizon works great in my area on my iPhone 7+. However, when I travel abroad I use Project Fi, which uses primarily T-mobile’s network, and provides coverage in 130 (and counting) countries (data is only $10/gb). Google gives you credit for unused data, so you only pay for what you use. Plus, you can pause your service at any time up to 90 days, so I only use it when I need it. Only downside is I had to purchase a Nexus 5x (but got it for 1/2 off on Dailysteals.com), although there are ways to run it on your iPhone with the Project Fi SIM.
I am working with a friend to see if I can activate it on their phone and then swap the sim into my phone saying goodbye to T-Mobile altogether. I am not sure if it will work.
I’ve had T-Mobile for 15 years. I’ve always had great services! No one else can compare to their offers !
That’s great, others in Dallas have said the same. T-Mobile can’t be touched for international ease-of-use.
You’re review is written with obvious bias, and irrelevant to most discerning individuals. I switched for Verizon, ATT and settled into T-Mobile. I happy with the service, and they are always improving. I find the same in some of the most rural areas of upstate NY.
Will, I am most certainly biased based on my experience and my experience alone. As I mentioned elsewhere I carry a Verizon iPhone as well for work and while T-Mobile has limited service coverage my Verizon phone has not. I do not have a Sprint phone, nor do I have an AT&T phone so I can’t compare those brands side-by-side but in my experience (and those of several though not all commenters) T-Mobile fails where Verizon doesn’t. I stick with them anyway because they make international so easy.
Kyle, just remember that even though Verizon iPhone 6s & 7 have all the cdma and gsm Lte bands as well as Qualcomm chips, they must be activated on Verizon network first to download an unlocked profile. Then once activated for the first time on vzw you can switch to any carrier of your choosing at anytime without a problem. I have down it with my original VZw purchased iPhone 7 on 3 different carriers and a prepaid card without an issue. That I think will solve your problem and allow you to stay with vzw while in the US and a prepaid Tmo tourist sim for international. Maybe that’s why I am pretty happy with using Tmo is the Qualcomm chipset in my vz iphone vs intel in your Tmo iPhone. I still believe iOS 10.3.3 made reception & battery life worse though, thanks Apple.
I have been hesitant (though ultimately compliant) to upgrade to further iOS versions ahead of iOS 11. I had a bad experience on 10.3.2 though improved (for me personally) on 10.3.3. I hope they sort out a bunch of these issues in iOS11 due out this fall, though it will be 11.0.3 or even 11.1 before it works well I am sure.
I have been with T-Mobile since it started in the US. There were reception issues in the beginning, however there have been significant implements. I spend at least 6 weeks in Germany each year and after considerable problems with Deutsche telecom and their service , spoke with my local T-Mobile rep about the problem. They recommended the ZTE 4G
LTE which allows the connection of 5 instruments. Last year it worked perfectly. This year the download speeds are significantly slower. T-Mobile offers instant free phone assistance. I am using a Samsung galaxy note 5.
Thank you for the data points and I am sorry that you have had poor service as of late.
I was in PA in June, in a rental car (Chevy Impala), and found T-Mobile to be neck-and-neck in terms of coverage with AT&T. Actually, this was an unfair comparison as my Note 4 was sitting in the center console and the car’s integrated OnStar unit was using an external antenna, so technically, T-Mobile probably had better coverage in this area. I drove roughly in the area of Berwick / Harvey’s Lake / Hazleton / Wilkes-Barre / Dunmore and was surprised at how good coverage was. The only real dead spot I had was on the way up to Mountain Top, but the car’s AT&T modem was showing No Signal in the same area as well.
Dumb question: Which car(s) are you driving? I say this, as some high-end cars have infrared-blocking glass installed. I don’t know the specifics of how this glass is made, BUT I’ve found that it severely attenuates the higher frequencies of RF as well. For example, in my 2011 Mercedes S-Class, my cellular reception is terrible in areas where carriers are using higher-frequency towers. When I drive one of the dealer’s C-Class or E-Class loaner cars in the exact same areas, I get great reception. It also does a number on things like EZPass/SunPass and WiFi.
In general, all of the carriers are affected by infrared glass, currently Verizon the least, Sprint the worst, as I’ll explain. T-Mobile’s LTE networks started on 1700MHz & 1900MHz, then 700MHz and they’re starting to deploy 600MHz this month, which should give them a major edge over Verizon. Sprint is using 1900MHz & 2500MHz, and some 850MHz. Verizon wisely started their LTE service on 700MHz, and only in more recent years started using 1700MHZ & 1900MHZ. AT&T is somewhat in-between, initially starting their LTE service on 700MHz & 1700MHz, but has now grown it to 850MHz, 1900MHz, and 2300MHz. You’ll also see a similar pattern of signal degredation with solidly-built buildings as well, or office buildings which have infrared-blocking glazing.
I am usually in a Ford F-150 though not always. I doubt they have the glass feature for which you are referring, and in fairness, my Verizon phone in the vehicle with me does not seem susceptible to any such inhibitors.
Hi Everyone, I have T-Mobile I’m tech savvy and live in the United States my service is so-so but when I leave to countries that are supposedly covered my service becomes almost useless I think they use it as a gimmick to get people to buy their service. If you Google something you’d be very lucky to get a few minutes. Horrible service but in the states ok for the price
What I meant was if you Google something it takes a very long time to get any results making it almost impossible to get any information.
My experience has been mixed as of late. Some countries are great, others, I have had full bars and dropped a call without reason.
We have 5 lines on T-mobile in NH, and in 2019, t-mobile sucks compared to any of the other carriers, I have family on at&t, verizon, sprnt and uscc, they all have service throughout the state, t-mobile says they have service, but too many places that have zero service at all, even though they state they cover it. We all have newer phones because they insisted it was our phones, and guess what? Nope was not the phones. Yes, we pay less, right now with phones it’s $270 a month, without the phones it is $185, at&t and verizon are only $30 more a month, plus device payments. The only reason we have kept t-mobile, is 1 of our lines has a sister in Canada and it was free to call and use phone while visiting, but she is moving back to the US, so may be time to switch after many years of putting up with the horrible service.