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Wyoming Cellular Network Report
General Wyoming Observations:
Verizon Wireless covers the largest amount of territory in Wyoming. Wyoming's own Union Wireless does a very good job, especially across the western half of the state. AT&T covers most of the eastern half of the state with coverage yet to be built on the western half. TracFone and Straight Talk are good choices across most of the state. Other than a few sites in Cheyenne, T-Mobile and Sprint have little service in Wyoming. There are a few small carriers that do a respectable job locally, and may provide the best signal in some communities. I-80 in Wyoming is one of the few Interstate highways with dead zones for all carriers, but they are short. Yellowstone National Park has coverage in several areas: near park entrances, at Yellowstone Lake, around Old Faithful and a few other locations, but service cannot be relied upon in many areas of the park.
As one of the Top 4 networks in the US, most of us know much about AT&T. They are generally considered second overall 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 most urban markets and will upgrade most of the network in the near future. AT&T in some markets is among those with the top data download speeds, but not all. AT&T now offers plans that gives customers a better value when you bring your own wireless device and no-contract pricing. AT&T has acquired wireless networks in Mexico and will soon be able to 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 under the GoPhone and Cricket Wireless brands.
Pros: AT&T has a large network and covers much of the nation, usage is transparent whether on- or off-network, good digital and data services, good national plans, and they have a very good selection of phones. Improvements in coverage have been substantial in some areas, lacking in others. Excellent international roaming capabilities. Additions of multiple network purchases give AT&T substantial rural coverage improvements. No-contract plans gives you a better value over the long term.
Cons: AT&T has whittled down many of their downsides including improving Data capacities. What few Con's they have remaining are somewhat minor. They include most AT&T plans aren't as generous as some, customers can only access GSM networks which are not as universally available in the US as CDMA, customer service varies from above to below average, some markets have a large number of dropped calls caused by large data users or poor coverage design. Some customers who have been transferred from other networks have noticed substantial changes in coverage, mostly while roaming.
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Choice serves rural and small-town customers in 9 western US states and the entire US Virgin Islands. They offer mostly National "Unlimited" plans at a fixed price, starting at $20 a month, $30 with some data included. They use CDMA phones, they have excellent coverage, and their plans have a simplified structure that includes a certain amount of US roaming minutes. They have a moderate number of phone models including Smart phones and they allow you to bring your own phone from another CDMA carrier. All plans are prepaid so there are no contracts, and they offer monthly, pay-as-you-go and pay-per-day plans, and an Unlimited Data plan. Most areas support 3G broadband, 4G in USVI, and 4G-LTE in the Navajo Nation. They offer wireless Internet devices which could give you the fastest broadband service available in a rural area. Choice supports Free or low-cost LifeLine service. Choice has acquired Innovative Mobile in The US Virgin Islands which should dramatically improve coverage and technical support in the islands. There is no relationship between this Choice Wireless and the Choice Wireless in northern Texas.
SILVER STAR WIRELESS
This is a small system associated with the local wireline company south of the Jackson Hole, WY area. This is a mountainous and sparsely-populated area and their coverage can be spotty, but they may have the best coverage in some areas where other providers have dead spots. They offer a wide range of plans that include Local, Unlimited, Data, Prepaid and National minutes. Adding Data makes their plans rather expensive. They have a reasonable selection of CDMA phones including Smart phones. They claim 3G and 4G coverage but it is not known how much of that is on their own network.. They offer Fixed wireless service including home phone and Internet access. Most of their plans, including Unlimited, are Nationwide. They have some attractive promotions. While roaming is included with the National plans, you can use some of the neighboring carriers as local. Customer service seems to be above average.
The wireless division of Strata Networks covers northeastern Utah around Vernal and surrounding areas of Wyoming and Colorado. They offer included Local coverage in surrounding "Extended" areas. Their own CDMA cellular network has good coverage including 4G LTE Data. They have reduced the number of plans to just "Unlimited" plus the amount of Data you need. Their Prepaid plan is charged by the Day and works with a limited number of phones. They offer a large selection of phones including Smart phones, the iPhone and air cards. They are part of the local communications cooperative which usually means better customer service and bundle discounts.
Strata Network's Own Wireless Coverage Map
Strata Network's Extended Local Wireless Coverage Map.
Serving Wyoming and adjacent areas of northwest Colorado and northeast Utah, Union has very good coverage in most areas, most of it is 3G with some areas being upgraded to 4G LTE. 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 for now. They offer reasonable plans and their Unlimited Talk/Text/Data plan is priced above average but allows Unlimited downloads in areas both within and to the west and south of their home area. 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.
Pros: Union is a small company with very good coverage and better than average customer service including several local stores, they are the only carrier available in some areas of Wyoming, they offer most digital features on a mostly 3G network.
Cons: While their western Wyoming and northwestern Colorado coverage is very good, coverage in the eastern half of Wyoming is not as robust. There is little 4G coverage.
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.
Pros: Verizon has superior coverage especially in very rural and very urban areas, excellent customer service and some 'customer-friendly' policies. With such a large coverage area of their own, little roaming is necessary, and their roaming partners normally have superior coverage. They offer a large variety of phones and devices. They have excellent data service including the largest coverage of faster high-speed connections.
Cons: Some Verizon plans are a more expensive, with odd combinations of charges for data-capable phones. Some of their data services are not available while roaming. CDMA phones roam in a limited number of foreign countries but Verizon now has phones that will roam in foreign countries. Verizon has been slow to match the competition.
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Viaero is a GSM carrier in rural Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and border areas of eastern Wyoming. Coverage in most areas is excellent with only a few holes in some very remote areas. Viaero covers many areas where other carriers serve only minimally. This company is run by people with a technical background so coverage and operations are top-notch, often better than the local land lines. They are rapidly widening their coverage footprint, sometimes into surprising locations like the San Luis Valley and eastern Wyoming. If you live in their service area you can even request to have them build a cell site near you if you can come up with enough neighbors' signatures. They offer very reasonable on-network "Unlimited" plans, including several for fixed location (home or business) use for both voice and Internet access. They're a good substitute for a wireline in most areas. They have a large number of reasonable plans with National coverage. While their Data plans can be pricey, they are truly "Unlimited". They offer to pay the Early Termination Fee if you leave another carrier. Their phones will roam in Mexico and Canada and they offer discount International Long Distance add-ons. Viaero does not lock their GSM phones, making it possible to use your Viaero phone with a local SIM in foreign countries. They have discounts for people on various support programs. Viaero's network is almost all 4G with the goal of 100% as soon as technically possible.
Pros: They offer flexible, reasonably-priced plans with convenient price points, including Local, National and Unlimited plans. Very good to excellent coverage, good customer service, local stores, good nationwide roaming, good data service, 4G broadband available. They are an excellent substitute for wireline service. Theirs is the most responsive network in the country to network technical issues.
Cons: The network can be weak in extreme rural areas, but still beats the competition in most places, and you can ask them to add a tower! Most Unlimited and some promotional features are limited to their own network. Their customer service is usually good but there have been isolated problems, especially with how products are marketed, but not with the performance of the network.