The group of four major cell phone providers in the U.S. is known as the Big Four, and it includes Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. Without question, Verizon’s 4G LTE network has the best coverage, with 70% nationwide coverage, followed by AT&T with 68%, T-Mobile with 62%, and Sprint with 30%.
Because of Verizon’s robust network coverage, Let’s Talk ranks Verizon as the winner, with the most coast-to-coast coverage. T-Mobile and AT&T are tied for second place; both carriers have excellent coverage. This guide will walk you through coverage details for each carrier, as well as how to find which carrier offers the best coverage in your area.
In this guide:
- Sprint Coverage Map
- AT&T Coverage Map
- T-Mobile Coverage Map
- Verizon Coverage Map
- Which Carrier Has the Best 5G Coverage?
- Best Cell Phone Coverage in Your Area
- Let’s Talk Tip: Which Carrier Should You Choose?
Sprint Coverage Map
Sprint covers the least amount of territory with its 4G network— 30% of the country. Its 3G service isn’t any better, as it only covers 25% of the nation. That said, Sprint and T-Mobile have merged under the T-Mobile brand, which has changed up the cell phone game. Existing Sprint customers will remain on their Sprint phone plans, using Sprint’s 4G LTE network. Conversely, new customers must sign up for a T-Mobile phone plan and will gain access to T-Mobile’s more robust coverage.
Sprint may not have the best overall nationwide coverage, but the carrier is great in a few regions. For instance, Michigan and the surrounding states have comprehensive service, as do many states along the east coast.
AT&T Coverage Map
AT&T’s network comes in at number two, covering 68% of the U.S. AT&T’s network includes a few dead zones in western states like Nebraska, Wyoming, Nevada, Montana, and Arizona. But compared to Sprint, these dead zones are minimal.
One thing that gives AT&T a boost over the other carriers is its stellar 3G network. AT&T’s 3G service covers 70% of the country and picks up where 4G drops.
T-Mobile Coverage Map
Starting in 2015, T-Mobile stepped up its game and tripled its network size, allowing the carrier to rise to the third-best network in the country. T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network covers nearly 63% of the nation.
It’s important to note that T-Mobile’s 4G coverage comes with a catch. Not every phone can connect to it. Part of its 4G network runs on the 600 MHz spectrum, and only newer phones can access it.
Verizon Coverage Map
Coming in at number one in the coverage department is Verizon, whose network covers 71% of the United States. No matter how you slice it, Verizon is number one in most categories. Not only is its 4G service excellent, so is its 3G (which covers 62% of the country).
The only thing that may be a drawback for Verizon users is the cost of Verizon plans—the great network comes at a price. If you’re looking for a less expensive one, it may be a better idea to check out plans offered by Verizon mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). MVNOs are smaller carriers that piggyback off the networks of the majors. Generally, MVNOs are less expensive and offer the same coverage.
Which Carrier Has the Best 5G Coverage?
Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have all launched their 5G networks, but who has the best 5G coverage and how can you get 5G access? You can only get 5G service if you have a 5G plan and 5G phone and live where your carrier’s 5G network has coverage.
The three major carriers are continuing to build new cell phone towers and expand their 5G networks, but as of now, T-Mobile has the broadest 5G network, with over 30% nationwide coverage and some type of coverage in all 50 states. Conversely, AT&T’s 5G network covers just over 6% of the U.S., and Verizon’s covers a measly .0014%. That said, T-Mobile’s 5G speeds fall far behind the likes of Verizon, with Verizon’s 5G speeds performing over 10 times faster than T-Mobile’s.
Best Cell Phone Coverage in Your Area
Before you decide on a carrier, you’ll need to see if it has coverage in your area. Use our Let’s Talk comparison engine to get detailed coverage information. As you’re searching for a better phone plan, be sure to input your address in the “Coverage Check” box. On the following page, there will be two buttons in the upper right-hand corner. Click on the button that says “Map,” and it will show if you’re covered. It will also show if the coverage is 3G or 4G.
Let’s Talk Tip: Which Carrier Should You Choose?
If you’re willing to pay top dollar, Verizon is your best option. With their network covering 71% of the country, you won’t be without service often. If you live or travel to remote areas, Verizon is your friend.
AT&T is another excellent option if you want a reliable network. With solid 4G coverage and stellar 3G service, you can’t go wrong with AT&T. Plus, most phone models connect with AT&T no problem.
If you have a new phone and don’t want to pay top dollar, T-Mobile is for you. With its recent expansion of 4G across the country, T-Mobile’s network is better than it’s ever been.
Due to the merger, Sprint is no longer an option for new customers. Only current Sprint customers can continue getting service on Sprint’s network. However, there are many affordable plans with Sprint MVNOs, such as Boost Mobile, Twigby, Tello, and Ting.