For those who rely on mobile internet, it can be very important to have this information before you head out to a new location.
It pays to do some research in advance!
In this Guide:
A Quick Video Going over our top tips:
Here are some handy resources for tracking this sort of information down:
Checking the carriers online maps:
Although we can go to each carrier’s maps online separately, we decided to make it easier by bringing the four major carriers’ maps to your smartphone or tablet. Yep, we wrote an app for that!
Coverage? (available for iOS and Android) allows you to overlay regional resolution versions of the carriers’ maps so you can create a personalized coverage map for the carriers you travel with and the minimum coverage type (LTE, 4G, 3G, 2G, roaming) you seek.
The maps are stored on device after downloading the app, so you don’t need to have coverage to find out which direction to head when you can’t find a signal. It’s also useful for planning your next stop.
Crowdsourced Coverage Maps:
Of course, just because a carrier claims they have coverage, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find it. There are some wonderful resources out there that aggregate crowdsourced signal and speed reports and create a coverage map based on what other customers are actually seeing in certain locations.
Give these free websites and apps a try:
- Sensorly - http://www.sensorly.com and they also have an iOS and Android app of the same name.
- OpenSignal - http://www.opensignal.com and an iOS & Android app of the same name.
- RootMetrics - http://www.rootmetrics.com/us/ and they also have an iOS and Android app called ‘CoverageMap’.
- Cellmapper - https://www.cellmapper.net/ is a website (no app) that displays crowdsourced speed reports, but it also contains location information for cell towers which can be handy for aiming antennas. The site can be confusing to use, but they do have a beta test for a simpler interface at https://www.cellmapper.net/testmap/.
Of course, with crowdsourcing, the maps are only as useful as the data they collect from users of their apps. These resources tend to have good data for urban areas where they have a strong user base. But, when you get to smaller cities, the maps can show no coverage at all.
This discrepancy is why we created Coverage? - which will have a better guess at where coverage might be based on carrier maps.
Campground / Marina Reviews
Since so many RVers and boaters depend on a solid internet connection, you’ll frequently find reports of cellular coverage (and Wi-Fi performance) hidden within campground reviews. Here are some of our favorites:
- Campendium – This review site includes specific fields for reporting coverage on each of the major carriers. This site tends to be frequented by bandwidth hungry RVers, and lists commercial, public and free camp spots.
- Freecampsites – A database of remote camping and RV boondocking options, and asks reviewers to report their cellular signal for each carrier.
- RVParkReviews – This is one of the longest running review sites, and fellow RVers tend to leave coverage reports on rvparkreviews.com.
- RVParky – Another popular review site is RVParky.com where you might find coverage mentions.
- All Stays - Their app and website also has reviews where past campers might have noted the cellular coverage.
- ActiveCaptain - Boaters share their experiences on an app and website, and mentions of internet availability are often included within reviews.
And of course, don't just read reviews - leave your reviews to help other travelers plan!
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