Is t-mobile coverage adequate in the northeast
May 25, 2012 9:04 AM   Subscribe

What is t-mobile coverage like in the northeast?

I am considering converting from at&t to a prepaid monthly t-mobile plan.

While coverage is adequate where I am, I am about to go on a 3 week trip to the east coast.
I am wondering if t-mobile service has improved from its reputed spottiness on the east coast.
If it hasn't, I can wait until I get back, but it would be nice to have the data plan available while I am traveling.

I am mainly interested in voice/text but availability of 2g/edge is useful as well.
It doesn't need to be 100% continuous, but large areas of no coverage would be annoying.

I will be in and around:
Freeport/Portland, Maine
Saranac Lake, NY
The Mid-Hudson valley of NY.
posted by madajb to Technology (10 answers total)
You might check their coverage map.
posted by Marky at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2012

3G T-mobile user here. It seems like everything east of Syracuse and north of New York City is a big NO SIGNAL OR AT BEST A REALLY SPOTTY SIGNAL area. I was in Rhinebeck/Hyde Park/Poughkeepsie last weekend and eventually gave up on trying to do anything data-related.
posted by Lucinda at 9:23 AM on May 25, 2012

I have a house sorta near Saranac. The only cell service on the Northway above Lake George is AT&T. They just added another tower near Schroon Lake to complete the gaps from Albany to the Border apparently. Saranac, being pretty close to Lake Placid and a fairly decent sized town for up there, has ok service while in town. I have Verizon, but AT&T has the best service in the Adirondacks. Know that if you are driving within the Adirondack park, there are A LOT of dead spots. My house gets no coverage whatsoever for about 25 miles all around it too. Ocassionally, at night, with the sky clear and the winds just right, my blackberry will beep and I will grab a few emails whizzing through the wireless world.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:28 AM on May 25, 2012

In the mid-hudson valley, say Kingston, Poughkeepsie down to Putnam county should be ok for cell service and ok, but at time frustrating for data. I don't know about the area north of Kingston to Albany including Woodstock.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:29 AM on May 25, 2012

Response by poster: Know that if you are driving within the Adirondack park, there are A LOT of dead spots.

Yeah, I sort of expect dead spots in random places while in the hills, but I'd like to have at least decent coverage while driving down rt 30 or rt 3.
The place I am staying is on Upper Saranac.
posted by madajb at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2012

I can speak for 30 towards Long Lake and then into Indian Lake. There is an AT&T tower on Blue Mountain which gives some coverage north to Long Lake. Tupper Lake has some coverage. My best signal was near the mental institution. I have canoed to Saranac from 4th lake in Old Forge and coverage is pure whimsical. Driving from Blue Mountain to Saranac is also spotty. I leave a car charger in my vehicle so that when I am driving on 30 or 28 in the ADK while my phone is frantically searching for a signal and straining the battery, I am recharging. I have Verizon. Friends with AT&T report a little better coverage.

T-Mobile in the Northeast is ok if you are in a legit city like NYC or Albany, but driving from Maine west through Vermont to Saranac also gets very spotty service. I drive from Boston to the Saranac area and if I take the local roads instead of 90 to 87, coverage sucks. Data is next to impossible in my opinion. Many bars or restaurants will have free wi-fi or even carrier hotspots. There is a pizza place in Inlet that has a Verizon hotspot. I will drive 40 minutes there just to get my emails after a few days. I was in Saranac for the winter carnival ice carving thing a few months back and coverage was ok within the busier downtown area. Lake Placid I had good coverage downtown by the high school and oval, but not so good at the biathalon shooting range (neat experience shooting there).

As for the mid hudson area, I get decent Verizon service along the Taconic or Route 22. On the Thruway west of the Hudson (87) signal is very good. Straying inland from the highway can be a signal killer.

I would keep your AT&T until you get back.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:08 PM on May 25, 2012

I just moved up to the SW Corner of VT. Despite all of the criticism heaped on AT&T when we were living in major (and major-ish) metropolitan areas, I actually think they're the best (and most wide-spread) cell carrier in this area; even more wide-spread than Verizon. We never hear about T-mobile up here, so I don't think that they're a very good option.
posted by Betelgeuse at 5:01 PM on May 25, 2012

Most providers service suck in the Adriondacks, ATT & Verizon are probably the best, but there are huge areas without cell-phone service.

Where T-Mobile has an advantage is WiFi calling; you can make call with some of their phone models over a Wifi connect. You'll need a phone that supports Wifi calling and as long as you can connect to a Wifi network you can make and receive call (just remember to turn the Wifi Calling thingy on).
posted by zaphod at 6:01 PM on May 25, 2012

Response by poster: Looks like the consensus is that t-mobile is spotty enough for it to make sense to wait.

thanks all.
posted by madajb at 6:08 PM on May 26, 2012

Response by poster: A follow-up for future searchers:

t-mobile was indeed spotty along the Maine coast, though very few areas had no coverage at all. Mostly along the beaches where my at&t also didn't have coverage.
Data was mostly Edge, with higher speeds available in populated areas.
All in all usable, but not recommended.

Adirondack park was more of the same.
at&t had coverage pretty much everywhere, though data speeds were mostly horrible.
Only in very low lying areas did I lose signal completely, though there were many areas that had only 1 bar.
t-mobile had coverage, but I didn't get a chance to test the data. I imagine it would be close to at&t though, based on the signal coverage that I had.

Hudson valley had good coverage on both systems. I never noticed myself without signal. Data speeds were mostly low with the occasional "h+".
posted by madajb at 12:43 PM on June 29, 2012

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