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Montana Cellular Network Report

General Montana Observations: Verizon Wireless dominates the state with good coverage and plans. AT&T through acquisitions now provides good coverage across most of the state. T-Mobile offers service in western Montana and recently acquired spectrum that will allow them to eventually provide coverage to the entire state.  Triangle Mobile provides very good coverage across the northeast quarter of Montana.  Sprint is not available in Montana. TracFone and Straight Talk are also available in most areas of the state.  There are places in the state that are served by just one carrier, so check locally for coverage in rural areas.

AT&T Review

AT&T
As one of the Top 4 networks in the US, most of us know much about AT&T. They are generally considered second nationally in coverage and numbers of subscribers.  In some areas AT&T has the best coverage, and in others they can be in third place. With GSM technology, AT&T roams more readily internationally, but there are areas in the US with no GSM coverage. AT&T's takeover of other cellular networks has improved their service in some areas already, including Alaska. AT&T offers a large selection of GSM phones.  AT&T gets credit for competing with products and price. Most network improvements are being made in their new markets and are increasing data capacity instead of adding cell sites in older areas. They have added 4G and LTE coverage in almost all markets. AT&T in some markets is among those with the top data download speeds, but not all. AT&T has acquired wireless networks in Mexico and offer seamless, nationwide wireless service on both sides of the US/Mexico border with big benefits for traveling AT&T customers and users with family in both countries.  AT&T offers Prepaid and also operates Cricket Wireless.

AT&T Pros & Cons
Get AT&T Phones @ Less Than Retail!

BIG SKY MOBILE
Big Sky Mobile has agreed to be acquired by T-Mobile.  This deal includes licenses but we don't know what will happen to their network or customers, or if they have any.  Nobody in Bozeman, MT has even heard of them.

MID RIVERS WIRELESS
Mid Rivers Wireless covers the east central part of Montana and has extended coverage into the northwest corner of North Dakota. They now provide 4G LTE coverage in most areas and 4G roaming. They offer a few CDMA phones including some 4G Smart phones, most of which are a little pricey. They offer Regional and National plans, all Home area calls are Unlimited, and Regional plans include the Nemont Wireless territory as your Home calling area. Their calling plans are a little overpriced, Data charges are expensive but there are several price levels. They are part of the local telephone co-op, Mid Rivers Communications, so they are pretty friendly and easy to deal with, and they offer bundle discounts for various services including wireless, landline, Internet and cable TV. They offer Lifeline plans and a $20 "Value Plan".

NEMONT WIRELESS
The Nemont Telephone Cooperative provides CDMA wireless service in northeast Montana and northwest North Dakota surrounding Minot. They have good coverage across their area and have upgraded their network to 4G. They offer reasonably-priced plans including nationwide coverage and reasonable data charges. They have very inexpensive Local plans limited to their own coverage area and they offer subsidized Lifeline plans. As part of the local telephone cooperative you can expect better than average customer service and bundles are available. They have a small selection of phones but they include the latest iPhone and Android models.


SRT COMMUNICATIONS
SRT Wireless in Minot, ND and north central Montana has decided to discontinue cellular service as of July 15, 2017. They offer discounts to switch your phone to Verizon Wireless.
Straight Talk

STRAIGHT TALK
Straight Talk is reviewed at Prepaid Reviews
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T-MOBILE
T-Mobile is one of the Top 4 carriers in the US and is considered tied for the number 3 position in coverage and subscribers. Where they have coverage, T-Mobile works very well, especially in their new "Extended" coverage areas. While they have a slight disadvantage with their higher PCS-only frequency, they make up for it with strategically-located sites. T-Mobile doesn't serve many deep rural areas, but provides coverage along most major highways. They do offer coverage from roaming partners in rural areas, and the network is still growing. T-Mobile has been very competitive by offering sector-leading plans and features.  They offer a number of Family plans that better than most and were pioneers at allowing you to choose between subsidized handsets and non-contract pricing. Their plans include generous amounts of Voice, Text messaging and Data. T-Mobile charges extraordinarily low roaming rates outside of the US including Data.  they have FREE Calling, Text and Data both TO & FROM Mexico and Canada, and they offer a Wi-Fi Calling app that enables you to make Voice calls through wi-fi in any country at the same rate as local calls in the US. While T-Mobile's "4G" network does not universally operate at LTE speeds, it is still very fast and is available in a large number of cities. T-Mobile has a growing number of corporate-owned retail stores, which is a good thing, but the plans offered at retail stores and those offered online can be quite different. Review your options online before going to a T-Mobile store. T-Mobile offers Prepaid under the T-Mobile Prepaid, MetroPCS and GoSmart brands.
T-Mobile Pros & Cons

TracFone

TRACFONE
TracFone is reviewed at Prepaid Reviews.

TRIANGLE MOBILE
Triangle serves the northeast quarter of Montana.  They have very good coverage and a good selection of phones.  Their CDMA network is reported to be all 4G-LTE and they offer a good selection of phones including  smartphones.  Triangle is a telephone co-op which usually yields better than average customer service.  While they offer bundle discounts with their various communications services, they may not offer a bundle discount with wireless.

UNION WIRELESS
Union serves Wyoming and adjacent areas of Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Montana.  They have very good coverage, most of it has been upgraded to 4G LTE but several areas of 3G remain. In some locations they are the only game in town including parts of Yellowstone National Park. They use GSM technology and also offer 'fixed' wireless service for home or business use, but that service is limited to Colorado areas. They offer reasonable plans and their Unlimited Talk/Text/Data plan is priced above average but allows Unlimited downloads in areas both within and surrounding their home area.  Most plans include Canada roaming. They offer business enterprise plans that include multiple communications services. Union Wireless is 
part of the local telephone co-op so their customer service is better than average, however, there are no bundle discounts available with wireless. They have more roaming agreements covering a bigger US footprint than some larger wireless carriers, with international roaming and calling to many foreign countries. They offer a very large selection of phone models including Smart phones and the iPhone. They operate the local wireline network within parts of their wireless footprint and offer special low-cost home-based wireless plans within those areas.

VERIZON WIRELESS
As one of the Top 4 US carriers, Verizon has the largest wireless network, geographically, in the US. They are dominant in rural America. Their claim to fame is superior coverage on their CDMA network, especially in the west, and with excellent broadband capacity in the largest cities. In the few places where they don't have their own coverage, they have roaming agreements with carriers that have superior coverage. Therefore, their included coverage is about as close to "coast-to-coast" as you can get. Verizon's data costs are quite high but provide a very good online experience with extensive 4G LTE coverage in most areas. They have tried to simplify plans which are still overpriced compared to other options, and they are slow to match offers from the competition. Customer service is excellent but does not offer much flexibility in rates. Their phone selection is huge including Smart phones, wireless devices and wireless home phones. Verizon offers bundled discounts with other communications operators including their own wireline & video divisions as well as various local telephone companies. They offer their own Prepaid plans.
Verizon Wireless Pros & Cons



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