FCC Article: Understanding Wireless Coverage Areas
Coverage Maps and Other Coverage Research. Before choosing a wireless service provider or a plan, it is wise to research the various providers to determine the extent of their coverage in the areas that matter most to you. You can research a wireless service providers’ coverage area in a number or ways:
- Ask neighbors, colleagues, and friends. You can also visit Internet sites (such as www.deadcellzones.com) that list specific dead spots (submitted by individuals). Information on dead spots is organized by wireless service provider and location.
- Test the wireless service providers’ plan and coverage area on a trial basis, if possible. Some wireless providers offer trial periods, during which you can test a phone before you are committed to a service contract and have to pay a significant fee to terminate that contract. Be aware, however, that if you terminate during a trial period or at any other time, most wireless service providers will not refund any activation or usage fees. During the trial period, you may want to test the phone in the areas where you plan to use it most frequently to determine if the actual coverage suits your needs.
- Check out the wireless service providers‘ coverage map on its Web site and/or in stores where its products are sold. Often these maps show very general coverage for entire regions. The maps usually carry a disclaimer saying they are provided for informational purposes only and that actual coverage may vary. There may be holes where the service provider does not have cell sites or where the topography causes dead zones. With few exceptions, the maps do not indicate signal strength or dead zones. Additionally, these coverage maps are not intended to show whether coverage is provided in obstructed areas, like buildings, tunnels, and underground garages. While wireless service providers often deploy in-building wireless solutions for these areas, any lack of coverage is usually not disclosed.