How to Determine 3G Coverage for a Certain Area

by Aeyne Schriber on May 31, 2011 in 3G

If you are thinking about buying a 3G cell phone or you already have a 3G phone and you travel a lot, it helps to know the 3G coverage for the area where you reside or travel.  Most of the primary companies that provide 3G connectivity such as T-Mobile or Sprint use a 3G network that provides services nationwide.  However, this does not necessarily mean that a 3G connection is a sure thing in the area where you live or the geographical location where you are traveling.

The good news is that there are ways to determine 3G coverage before you invest in a 3G phone or use your 3G phone when you travel.  You can check 3G coverage in the location where you reside and there are ways to determine if you are traveling to a 3G area.

Visit Your Nearest Cell Phone Retail Store

Pay a visit to your local cell phone provider and request to see a map that outlines 3G coverage for the area in which you live.  Most 3G providers have a map readily available that will tell you the range of the coverage and more specifically if there is coverage in the area where you need it.

Also, it is important to ensure that you have access to 3G before you commit to buying a 3G phone and a long term contract.  Although the 3G cell phone provider offers 3G service in your local area you may be located beyond the boundaries of the 3G network.  This will cause the connection to drop when you try to use the 3G services or it may be non-existent altogether.

Search for Cell Phone Connections Online

There are a number of reliable websites that will help you to determine whether or not there is 3G coverage in you area.  Some of the websites will also tell you how many towers are in your local area when you enter your zip code.  One problem with this method that you may encounter is that one cell phone provider may only register a few towers where another one may register all of their towers.  The Federal Communications Commission does not require carriers to register towers. Regardless, you may find the information on these sites to be helpful.

Visit the Provider’s Website

If you are traveling and want to know if there is 3G coverage in the area where you are going, the primary cell phone providers typically have helpful information on their website that is designed for travelers.  The global maps and other information will tell you the status of 3G coverage for the location where you are going.

Use Cell Reception Site

You can also visit websites such as cellreception.com that provide maps for the major cell phone carriers as well as the types of connectivity that exists in a specific geographical area.  There is also a host of information on dead spots and a discussion area where you can read comments that are left by others.  This will help you to learn more about the quality of 3G in your area.  The cell phone carriers do not always tell you what the reception is like and then it is a hassle if it is necessary to get out of your contract.

Try to Access Services

If you are in an unfamiliar area and you did not check the 3G coverage prior to your arrival simply turn on your 3G phone and then try to access the Internet.  If you cannot load a web page or the connection is extremely slow, you are either located just outside the 3G range or there is no 3G connectivity altogether.

Check the Interface on Your Phone

When you first turn on your phone there is a host of status icons that provide you with information on different functions for your cell phone.  Look for the status indicator that tells you the exact strength of the 3G signal.  If it is very low or non-existent you are probably outside the range or there is no 3G coverage in the area.

Consider Using a Signal Booster

If you are getting a 3G signal but it appears to be weak you may want to consider purchasing an antenna to boost the 3G signal and extend the coverage.  You can buy clip antennas or antennas that can be mounted outdoors which tend to provide a stronger signal.

If you are traveling and you discover that you are just outside the boundaries of a 3G network, a portable antenna may help you to find the signal.  You can also carry the antenna with you to use whenever you need a stronger signal for 3G connectivity.

Finally, talk to other people that are using the service in your local area to get their feedback.  Their comments will give you an authentic response to help you evaluate the quality of the 3G connection.  If you are traveling, see if you can find a group online that discusses 3G coverage in the vicinity where you will be going.

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