Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Roaming

As with many other millions of Americans, we're on the road for the holidays. While I can write and post my comments from the front seat of the car while roaming across the US, its not something I really want to do. I enjoy the passing landscape no matter how barren. Nice views make me glad I'm traveling, ugly views help me appreciate the beauty of our home state.

The only news is that we haven't found any roaming changes across our travels in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. We know we're gonna miss roaming on Alltel, although under Verizon (or a new carrier) it could get better. The areas of concern are those with Alltel GSM coverage that Verizon will not be upgrading or expanding. We probably won't notice until next year when we make the trip 'over the river and through the woods'. For now, the status quo feels good, except for that one dead zone behind the Capulin volcano. Who knew a volcano would still affect coverage centuries after its last eruption?

If you're roaming, please use your phone only where it's safe, not where the GPS lady starts arguing with you.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I use to travel I40 between Amarillo and OKC I had to force my phone to Dobson because when my phone roamed on Alltels GSM Network I had a lot of trouble holding calls. I have heard that since AT&T took over Dobson that access is now denied to the former network and the only choice is now Alltel. I was wondering if this is true and whether or not Alltel in the last year has done anything to improve their network.

Bill Radio said...

What is your home carrier? If it is T-mobile you could very well be denied, although they serve I-40 very well. Sadly, Alltel's GSM network did leave much to be desired, and now that it is being taken over by Verizon, it will never be expanded. However, I expect GSM roaming to improve in that area. I noticed T-mobile's coverage has expanded around Amarillo last week. Amerilink may be looking there as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm with T-Mobile but my contract expires March 30th. The last time I took the I40 trip was in March of last year and unless they have come to a new agreement the only network I was allowed onto was Alltel. Go figure on my last trip through that area my truck blew a tire and of coarse it was in one of their dip spots and I had to walk a half a mile to call for assistance. To add insult the tow company driver that was sent to help pointed out the fact that the tower in the field off to the side of where I broke down was an Alltel CDMA tower and that his phone had 4 bars while my phone floated between 1 bar and searching. I will be driving that stretch again starting around mid April and was looking at either Verizon, Sprint, or US Cellular. T-Mobile where they provide their own coverage has always been excellent but its the stretch from 30 miles east of Amarillo to about 30 miles west of OKC where the only option is Alltel GSM is the problem.

Bill Radio said...

Things may have changed for the better in the past year. I-40 is covered by T-mobile all the way from Amarillo to OK City. Last week I headed south about 20 miles east of Amarillo and can report that T-Mobile's own coverage is much better than that shown on their map.

Also, while roaming in TX west of Amarillo may still be on Alltel, in New Mexico it is now on Plateau Wireless, which is much better than Alltel.

I suggest you make that trip right when you sign up with a new carrier. If you find T-Mobile has improved enough in that area, you might want to stay with them and take the new phone back.

Anonymous said...

Very true thank you for the heads up. I know Platough Wireless covers NM and I will give them credit that at least on the interstate their coverage was just as good as T-Mobiles. Now that I have the updated information I think I will hold on to my T-Mobile for now and grab a prepay from either Virgin (Sprint) or Verizon to try and compare though if T-Mobile ends up being as good on this stretch as they are everywhere else I will end up staying. Out of curiosity my brother was wondering about between San Antonio and El Paso on I10. Thanks again and keep up the good work

Bill Radio said...

I haven't been there. I haven't heard of any new native coverage and I'm not sure who the roaming partner is. If that was a regular route, I would consider another carrier.

Benjamin A said...

I travel greyhound between CA and FL at least twice a year and just got back a few weeks ago. My work phone is through T-Mobile and it uses Alltel from about 45 miles east of El Passo to just past Sonora where their coverage ends. From there to Kerville T-Mobile roams on West Central. Alltel GSM here has gotten better and the only issues I have with them are between Ft Stockton and Sonora where they have some hit or miss areas. The coverage I get from west central is excellent. My main phone is through Verizon and the reception is just as good with the only difference being them is that Verizon between Sonora and Kerville is that Verizon is using Five Star Wireless which also has excellent coverage. Hope this helps.

Ian said...

Note: West Central has bought Five Star, and their plans are quite close to each other at this point. Five Star is still CDMA, but has better coverage due to buildout onto West Central's towers. The exact same thing applies to West Central, which is the GSM brand. In short, any carrier (other than Nextel) can roam on FSW/WCW and voice/text service will be awesome. Data, not so much, last I checked.

Benjamin A said...

West Central is providing Edge and Five Star has 1X. Since most T-Mobile customers only have access to Edge there is no noticeable difference for them. One other thing I forgot to mention on the Verizon side was data. As of PRL 50143 both Five Star and Alltel only offer 1X data, but texting does not work at all while in the Alltel stretch. When I am going west for example I do not receive any text messages from the time I leave Five Stars coverage area till I reenter the Verizon Network just outside of El Paso. I also have the same problem on I20 until I hit Verizon once again about 30 miles east of Abilene. I guess come some time after Friday that will change.

Benjamin A said...

correction to my last post the PRL was 51143

Anonymous said...

Would there be any chance of Mountain Wireless adding a section or a forum area on the site to share our different travel reception and service ups and downs across the country.

Thanks Bill in advance for consideration.

Bill Radio said...

We actually tried to start such a road trip page last year and got absolutely no comment, no interest and no contributions. Also, I can't find the old road trip files. Unless we get a bunch emailed to us to get started, I'd say we already have our answer.

Anonymous said...

If you want I can provide data for interstates 8, 10, 12, 20, 40, 65, 70, and 85. I can also provide portions of interstates 5, 15, 35, 45, 75, and 95 as well as rural coverage details in FL, GA, AL, MS, WI, CA, and OR. Lastly I can also provide data for the Amtrak South West Chief, Sunset Limited, and the Coast Starlight between LA and Sacramento.