Don’t Be Sad About Coverage On Your Mobile Network. Get OpenSignal & Be Smart

It will be nine weeks tomorrow that my wife, son and I have been in southern California. There are so many great things about where we are (Irvine) but one of them, surprisingly, is not the mobile networks! Thank God I just found something that I wanted to share with you since it might help you make your own decisions on what to do next if you’re thinking of changing mobile providers.

I suppose we’re spoiled since our mobile coverage in Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolitan area was almost always 4 bars and often 5 bars of service. Since I had Verizon on my iPad and AT&T on my iPhone in Minnesota, I could often compare the two and almost always they were pretty close in service strength and download speeds, regardless of where I was in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or their suburbs.

Then we got to southern California and almost everywhere that we found ourselves seemingly had crappy mobile network service. 1-2 bars was the norm. It seemed that every time we were somewhere with native Californians and I’d ask them what provider they had — mainly since they almost always had at least 2 bars of service when we had zero — they’d respond “Verizon!”

Thinking that maybe it was time to switch our family plan to Verizon, today I stopped in a Verizon store to get an idea of what their plans cost since their network saturation appears to be better than the one we’ve get with AT&T. The pricing wasn’t better, we have DirectTV NOW for $15 per month with AT&T, and we’d have to pay off a couple of devices. More homework was needed and, thankfully, I discovered something incredibly helpful.

OpenSignal To The Rescue
Imagine my delight when I came back to our rental townhome to use ‘the Google’ to examine network strength and coverage of the major wireless networks here in Irvine, California (along with our areas around us we’ve been to frequently). There were lots of anecdotal discussions, opinions and other useless stuff out there but then I stumbled across OpenSignal:

OpenSignal data is collected from regular consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage. As opposed to drive-test data, which simulates the typical user experience by employing a limited set of devices in a small number of locations, we take our measurements from millions of smartphones owned by normal people who have downloaded the OpenSignal app. Those measurements are taken wherever users happen to be, whether indoors or out, in a city or in the countryside, representing performance the way users experience it.

It’s truly the only independent, user-driven testing I’ve yet found and their methodology seems sound too. I’ve also been examining their network maps and they have been both accurate and enlightening.

So am I intending to move to Verizon and away from AT&T? Don’t know yet but it certainly seems that Verizon’s (and TMobile’s) coverage and capability is more robust here as evidenced in their report about the State of Mobile Networks: USA (July 2018). Plus, we are not that far away from 5G mobile network rollouts and the entire landscape might change too, especially since AT&T acquired Time Warner and their DirectTV NOW streaming service is on-track to be the #1 of its type in 2018. There is not better way to deliver entertainment than a fast, mobile, 5G network!

Are you interested in participating in this crowdsourced mobile data collection adventure with OpenSignal and learning more about your mobile provider and their coverage? If you are, download the app and give it a go: iOS | Android

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.