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Western US Cellular Network Reports
Listed Alphabetically by State

Observations about cellular carriers in the western US, broken down by performance based on location, and reported by state. This information is gathered from online research, personal experience, and reports by contributors in the field.


CALIFORNIA:
It's too large and varied a state to declare a top cellular carrier in California but there are some indicators of what to expect. We believe T-Mobile has one of the best networks in the state, and with their new 4G LTE "Extended" coverage, now offers excellent service in rural parts of the state as well. Verizon Wireless has maintained good coverage that rises above the others when traveling outside of urban areas. Sprint invested heavily to become the leader in coastal California and comes close to that goal. AT&T has been slow but more recently aggressive in adding coverage and features. Consider US Cellular in the northwesternmost part of the state for their superior network and favorable customer service. TracFone and Straight Talk are good choices for prepaid across most of the state.  California is the home of a number of National Parks and each of them has a certain level of cellular coverage.


HAWAII:
Verizon Wireless has a slight edge for the best cell phone coverage on all of the Hawaiian Islands, with AT&T a close second. Another option is to deal with Mobi PCS.  They were Hawaii's only locally-owned carrier, and, while they have been purchased by Verizon, Mobi PCS still conducts business as if they were independent.  Sprint and T-Mobile follow behind with a number of spots tourists might go that have no service. TracFone and Straight Talk are also available in most areas.


NEVADA
:
There is a big difference between urban and rural Nevada cellular service. Verizon Wireless now has the overall lead in the state for coverage. If you live in rural Nevada, you would do well with Choice Wireless in the western half of the state, and AT&T in the eastern half. AT&T also provides excellent urban coverage. Sprint is next in line for coverage across the state due to good in-town and highway coverage, and being able to roam in some rural areas. T-Mobile does well in Las Vegas and is usable along I-15 and I-80, but there is almost no other coverage in the state.  TracFone and Straight Talk are available over most of the state.


OREGON
:
Seattle is the former home of AT&T Wireless and that may have contributed to their superior coverage in Washington and Oregon. Verizon has expanded to a strong second choice in the state, especially in rural areas.  T-Mobile was also based in the area (as Voicestream) and covers the cities and major highways well, but has little rural service. Sprint offers acceptable coverage in the populated parts of the state but has poor coverage along some highways and little in rural areas. US Cellular does a great job in rural areas and, if they're available near you, are a preferred choice.   TracFone and Straight Talk are good choices for prepaid over the entire region.


WASHINGTON
:
Seattle is the former home of AT&T Wireless and that may have contributed to their superior coverage in Washington. Verizon has expanded to a strong second choice, especially in rural areas.  T-Mobile was also based in the area (as Voicestream) and covers the cities and major highways well, but has little rural service. Sprint offers acceptable coverage in the populated parts of the state but has poor coverage along some highways and little in rural areas. US Cellular does a great job in rural areas and, if they're available near you, are a preferred choice. Southeast Washington is well-served by Inland Cellular. TracFone and Straight Talk are good choices over the entire region.
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