How Much Does Good Phone Coverage Cost?

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Man whose car broke down can't get a phone signal
Syda Productions /

Coverage is the single most important factor in choosing a cellphone plan. After all, what’s the point of having a cellphone if you can’t get a signal? That’s like having a car without gasoline.

As it stands right now, Verizon wireless offers the most coverage overall, and it just so happens to be the most expensive carrier.

But you can save money by choosing a wireless carrier that has good coverage in the places you care about. You don’t want to pay for excellent coverage in New York City if you live in Arizona, for example.

Here’s an overview of each wireless network and the areas with the best coverage.

Verizon wireless coverage

Verizon covers 70% of the country with its wireless network, making it the most reliable in the country. In particular, Verizon does an excellent job covering the Midwest and Central United States.

There are a few pockets in the Mountain West (Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado) and Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Northern California) regions of the United States that Verizon doesn’t cover, along with a small pocket in West Virginia.

Besides those areas, Verizon covers basically the entire country. Check out the coverage map below:

Wireless signal coverage map from Verizon
WhistleOut / Money Talks News

The downside with Verizon is that its data plans usually cost somewhere between $5 per month and $10 per month more than comparable plans on AT&T or T-Mobile.

But if you take advantage of a deal on Verizon, you might be able to get a cheaper rate than usual. Here’s what the prices look like for Verizon unlimited plans right now:

T-Mobile wireless coverage

T-Mobile doesn’t have quite as much overall coverage as Verizon, but it makes up for it with impressive 5G coverage.

T-Mobile only covers 62% of the country with coverage overall, but 41.35% of the country is covered with ultra-fast 5G coverage.

That means that you might run into more dead zones with T-Mobile compared with Verizon, but the areas with T-Mobile coverage will likely have much faster data speeds.

Check out the T-Mobile coverage map below to get an idea of what you’re paying for:

Wireless signal coverage map from T-Mobile
WhistleOut / Money Talks News

T-Mobile’s coverage is a little more spotty throughout the country compared with Verizon. But on the plus side, T-Mobile plans are a little cheaper than Verizon and come with perks like free Netflix.

Here are the details on T-Mobile data plans:

AT&T wireless coverage

AT&T falls somewhere in the middle between Verizon and T-Mobile in terms of coverage. Overall, AT&T covers 68% of the country with wireless coverage (only 2% behind Verizon), and it offers a decent smattering of 5G coverage as well.

Of course, it all depends on where you live, so make sure to check out the AT&T coverage map below to get an idea if it’s the best network for you:

Cell phone coverage map of AT&T
WhistleOut / Money Talks News

Just as with coverage, AT&T also generally falls somewhere between T-Mobile and Verizon when it comes to price. Here are the latest deals on AT&T data plans:

How much does good coverage cost?

The answer to that question depends on where you live. The best coverage (which is Verizon) costs at least $65 per month for an unlimited plan, but you find cheaper options if you find out what network is best in your neck of the woods.

If you find that Verizon is the only network that provides coverage in your area, another alternative is to go with a prepaid carrier that uses Verizon’s network.

Here are some MVNO carriers that use Verizon’s network:

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