Part of selecting the right carrier(s) for you is knowing where they have the coverage you desire. And once you have them selected and part of your mobile internet arsenal, it’s helpful to know where along your routes you’ll get signal.
Here are some handy resources for tracking this sort of information down:
Checking the carriers online maps:
While we can go to each carrier’s maps online to scout out ahead if our next campground will have coverage for our carriers, we decided to make it even easier. We wrote an app for that! Coverage? (available currently for iOS, and soon for Android - http://www.twostepsbeyond.com/apps/coverage) overlays our versions of the carriers maps, so you can create a personalized coverage map for the carriers you travel with. The maps are stored on device, so you don’t even need to have coverage right now to find out which direction to head so you can participate in that 2pm conference call you have scheduled.
Crowdsourced Coverage Maps:
Of course, just because a carrier claims they have coverage, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find it. There are some wonderful resources out there that aggregate crowdsourced actual signal and speed reports and create a coverage map based on what is really possible in certain locations.
Here are some of our favorites that we utilize:
- 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’.
- Sensorly - http://www.sensorly.com and they also have an iOS and Android app of the same name.
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. Which is why we created Coverage? so that we at least have a best guess at where coverage might be.
Since so many RVers 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 – Launched in 2015, the campendium.com 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 – freecampsites.net is a database of remote camping and boondocking options, and reviews might mention cellular coverage.
- RVParkReviews – This is one of the longest running review sites, and fellow RVers tend to leave coverage reports on rvparkreviews.com.
- RVParking – Not nearly as active, but you might find coverage reports within the reviews at RVParking.com.
- RVParky – Another popular review site is RVParky.com where you might find coverage mentions.
And of course, all of the RVing community benefits if you leave reviews too, including reports on your cellular signal.