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Friday, June 22, 2012

Dread the Dead Zone? Assessing wireless coverage

Before signing up with a wireless carrier, it's a good idea to learn about the carrier's coverage area, and signal strength, in the areas where you want to use the phone! Getting a new phone and plan and finding out that your office is a "dead zone" is no fun! (Dead zones are areas on the coverage map in which you cannot use your phone.) Up your odds of a good experience by checking out coverage areas in advance and by taking full advantage of your new carrier's trial period to test coverage. Most carriers today have a trial period in which you can test your “real world” experience with the phone and the plan. You are allowed to return the phone and cancel the calling plan within this time period. (Know however that some carriers do not refund your activation fee.) Most cell companies have coverage maps on their websites. However, many people are looking for actual customer experience. It always helps to ask people you know what carriers they use and how they work in your area. A website called Cell Reception has thousands of comments by cell phone users all over the country and a searchable database to find the locations of all cell phone towers registered with the FCC. Remember too that hills, buildings or even leafy trees can block the signal from your carrier’s towers and prevent your cell phone from working. And while most of us want to be able to use our phone in the car (hands free, of course!) coverage will always always be spotty in a moving vehicle.