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Rural Iowa = Poor Reception?

Discussion in 'Central US Wireless Forum' started by nkwalter, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. nkwalter

    nkwalter New Member

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    OK, it's time to renew or move again....

    Who's got good reception in Des Moines and around rural Iowa & central Missouri?

    I'm just finishing up 4 years with Sprint and can't wait to get out! Don't know how it happened, but my reception has actually gotten worse over the past year! I've done tower updates & had my phone checked to rule out mechanical problems. Where I've had 5 bars I now have 2 at most!! It seems I drop calls much more frequently these days, too.

    I printed maps from the "big 3" (VZW, ATT, Sprint) and it seems that VZW has the best coverage (at least from a map standpoint!). Are they really as good as the map shows???

    Thanks for the opinions!

    nkwalter
     
  2. cheddar

    cheddar Senior Member
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    First of all, you shouldn't trust the number of bars.

    Second, I'd talk to people who have phones in the area you're in and get some of their opinions.

    Third, see if you can try out a phone from each of the carriers you're considering and actually do some driving and some calling.

    Coverage maps can be a rough guide but do not make a decision exclusively based on them.
     
  3. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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    Have you given US Cellular any thought? In my experience USCC has exceptional coverage in rural Iowa, I don't have experience with coverage in Missouri.
     
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  4. Dogma

    Dogma Senior Member
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    Its pretty hard to beat US Cellular for overall coverage in IA.
     
  5. Studogvetmed

    Studogvetmed Member
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    I'd consider US cellular for Iowa as well. If you don't do much out of area travelling you can get some good plans, or bump up for the national roaming plans. They also have deals on the "call me" minutes for incoming calls.

    Too bad on your experience with Sprint Around Des Monies we do pretty well when we travel back to Iowa, and as far as rural is touch and go for almost any carrier with US Cellular having an edge.
     
  6. nkwalter

    nkwalter New Member

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    Thanks for the replies!!

    I know I said I'm down to one or two bars, but I don't rely on bars only to gauge reception. Just this morning I was sitting in my office and made a call. One bar showing, but the reception itself seemed clear. The call lasted 45 seconds before it dropped. This has been happening more and more frequently over the past few months.

    I have been giving some thought to US Cellular, also. I have talked to a couple of reps in the areas that I travel to and they are non-committal at best. I do know that in my hometown, I've talked to many people that say US Cellular has the best coverage in rural areas.

    I will be sure to try out any service before I commit, naturally!

    Thanks again for the info!
     
  7. JasonWells

    JasonWells Junior Member
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    I currently use Sprint, T-Mobile and VZW. I also drive through Iowa a lot. If the Sprint is on 'Roam Only', the reception is great. In the rural areas, the PCS network can be patchy. T-Mobile has worked surprisingly well, roaming for free on Long Lines and i-wireless. The VZW is ok, too, but certainly NOT worth the big $ it costs, and not the great coverage as advertised.

    However, other people that live/travel in IA seem to prefer USCellular, hands down. Being from MN, it is difficult for me to get USCellular service, but I wish I could. Just the other evening, I spoke with a lady, in a sauna, in a metal bldg, that was using her phone..in the sauna. Seeing all my phones not getting good signal, let alone in the sauna, I asked what provider. She has USCellular, and like me travels through areas of IA. She did some checking and found USCellular to be the best. I must agree. And their roaming agreements are great! Good luck!!
     
  8. JasonWells

    JasonWells Junior Member
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    If memory serves correctly, I think USCellular offers much more for the same price as VZW. I think for the same cost, USCellular gives free incoming calls AND early Nights and Weekends. And they have far better roaming capabilities than VZW, from my experience.
     
  9. cellular_freak

    cellular_freak Senior Member
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    I also believe that much of eastern and central Iowa is served by iPCS. And other parts may be another Sprint affiliate on the western side. However, the Des Moines area seems to be Sprint corporate. So, I would say, based on experiences with iPCS here in Michigan, that the network is not that well built out and if it is rural, that's even worse. Even if it were Sprint corporate covering those areas, I think it would be difficult because of the rural characteristics of that area. 1900 MHz is really only good for urban and suburban landscapes. And now that Sprint seems to be moving into rural areas, especially with the Nextel buyout, it's not working too well. You really might want to think about going to a cellular (850 MHz) company that serves you. It looks like it would be US Cellular, Verizon or Alltel. And it's good that they're all CDMA carriers because CDMA tends to do well even under the worst of coverage areas. GSM normally requires 3-4 bars out of 5 (in my experiences) to make a good call.
     
  10. Scott Watson

    Scott Watson New Member

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  11. Dogma

    Dogma Senior Member
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    If you would have posted Alltel's native network, they may have taken 2nd IMO. But I guess it depends upon where you most travel and live for that matter.
     
  12. Scott Watson

    Scott Watson New Member

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    Dogma,
    Have you ever found a map of Alltel native coverage? The only one I have is from their Western Wireless coverage which barely covered Iowa. They have disguised their own coverage among that of their roaming partners, a trick Verizon tried for awhile. Otherwise, we can only see Alltel's licensed terrritory, which is not as good in Iowa as US Cellular's. But you're right, it depends on where you go.

    Alltel has been the worst of revealing their own coverage, which is unfortunate.
     
  13. Stonewall

    Stonewall Member
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    My experience in Iowa (lived there 10 years selling insurance to farmers all over the state). I think I have more miles on gravel roads then pavement. By far I was more pleased with USCC over Verizon. If your talkin "rural", USCC will get you what you need in what sounds like the southeast corner below I80.
     
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  14. Cailiff04

    Cailiff04 Senior Member
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    SPRINT...THAT WAS YOUR FIRST MISTAKE!!!!
     
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  15. Still observing

    Still observing Junior Member
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    I'm a GSM fan but I gotta say, Go With USCC. In certain areas VZW in Iowa calls are handled by USCC and VZW calls received lower priority. Meaning, you can't get through if it's school-out time or just after work.
     
  16. Dogma

    Dogma Senior Member
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    I don't believe that. In the first place, VZW would not allow that to be part of a roaming agreement. That sounds like something a sales person told you.

    USCC has hands down the best network in Iowa overall. What it comes down to though, is what carrier works best where you live, work and play most of the time. I used Alltel when living in North Central Iowa and had no complaints with them.
     
  17. Still observing

    Still observing Junior Member
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    All I can say is that this was the explanation given to me by a tech 5+ years ago when I discovered my VZW phones were roaming in my driveway!

    100% in agreement about USCC. I wonder how the problem was resolved with the thread's originator. ;)
     
  18. Dogma

    Dogma Senior Member
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    Wheverever Verizon owns spectrum in Iowa, customers will most always stay on their network due to their PRL. When outside of say Waterloo/Blackhawk County and traveling west on Hwy 20 to Fort Dogde, Verizon customers will then roam onto USCC or Alltel (not sure who is #1 on their PRL). This is due to Verizon owning the Waterloo/Cedar Falls MSA, but not owning or operating spectrum west of Blackhawk county until you get near I-35 I believe.

    It is possible that you could lose several home cells at once in a Verizon market, then you may be pushed onto a USCC tower. However, I don't think your roaming call would be qued while USCC customers enjoy call processing.
     
  19. Eric47

    Eric47 Bronze Senior Member
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    yea if you look at the maps, USCC has by far the best IOWA coverage, VZW and Alltel arent even close, actually from the scottwatson links ATT would be a 2nd best choice depending on which side of IOWA you need coverage.
     
  20. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
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    Should be fine with USCC or Alltel.

    Here is the hodge-podged together DATA only map of iowa. You will get voice whereever it is blue or any shade. Because that is where they data network is. If data is there, voice will be too. And these maps have always sold short the network. So many of those white areas will more then likely have voice service. For instance the Upper peninsula of Michigan has white in a lot of areas....when there is actual service there. Light blue is ev, other purple-ish blue 1x.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  21. nkwalter

    nkwalter New Member

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    Wow! I'm shocked by the amount of info this thread has generated..... Thanks so much, everyone!

    I have NOT resolved this issue yet. I have many problems regarding our cell phone plan - here's the list...

    1. I travel between 2 places - Des Moines and Osage Beach/Lake of the Ozarks, MO. I'm seeking a plan that will work in BOTH cities, and have a fair amount of coverage along the drive. USCC seems to be strongest in Iowa, and locals in MO say that AT & T is strongest, hands down. Actually, I polled some realtors in Osage Beach and they say that AT & T is the ONLY company that has consistent service in their area.

    2. My husband and I both do alot of traveling to other states. I've heard that several companies will drop you if you consistently roam. Some friends got charged outrageous amounts for roaming on Sprint (even though roaming is supposedly included), and some coworkers simply got dropped by AT & T due to "excessive roaming". USCC states that they reserve the right to cancel contracts if you roam more than 50% - the problem I see with this is that if you leave the midwest, you're roaming. I believe that my husband will come close to the 50%. Basically, every time he goes to work he leaves the midwest.

    So... it seems I'm down to 2 choices - either keep the plan I've got (Sprint), or switch to AT & T. Not sure at this point what I'll do. Sprint seems to believe that the dropped calls & poorer than usual reception are due to the age of my phone (1.5 yr old Katana). That seems fishy to me. I have not spoken to AT & T yet. I've still got a month or so before I can switch.

    OK - there's a better view of my scenario. Thanks again for the info - it really has been interesting!
     
  22. Eric47

    Eric47 Bronze Senior Member
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    it sounds like ATT should work fine for you. the only time that ATT cancels for excessive roaming is if you live in or are in a spot where your roaming excessively, but the areas in which you live/travel seem to be fine with ATT, i dont think you would run into that problem necessarily...and even if you did, they give you notice in advance and do not charge you any extra fees.

    keep in mind, people that get dropped for excessive off network account for less than 1% of ATT customers...so very very few.
     
  23. our3rotts

    our3rotts An Iowa Gurl...
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    I use AT&T in Iowa (eastern, but travel to Des Moines and Kansas, sometimes through MO)

    I've been with them for over 2 years now & have very few times I'm unhappy with them.
     
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  24. Eric47

    Eric47 Bronze Senior Member
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    i wonder what the OP decided? att? USCC?
     

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