GSM Cell Coverage

This has been a long time coming, but I am serioulsy thinking of switching to Sprint. Why? in a word - cell coverage. I am talking about VOICE and text. I can usually wait for Wifi for data. I have the 3.0 plan and am on the Tmobile and the coverage is horrible. I estimate that I can make and receive voice in less than half of the area in which I travel. I have a hard time believing T mobile is really this bad. I stuck with it because I had heard that Tmobile was the fastest growing service and I had hoped it would get better. Are we just getting second rate service because Tmobile provides degraded service to RW? So why not switch to RW CDMA (Sprint)? Well, although much better, the coverage still was not great when I had the CDMA coverage. I almost always had worse service than native Sprint customers. And since the Sprint network is CDMA compatable with the Version network, why could I not get the same coverage that Version has?

I guess I really don’t know how the whole coverage and roaming thing works. RW has Sprint and Tmobile, but it is apparent that coverage is worse than native Sprint and Tmobile customers have. What, do they only give access to certain towers? Are they more reluctant to roam to other (ATT, Version) towers? Years ago, I had Alltel and I was virtually never without coverage. I understand most of these towers went to Version, but for all intents and purposes these towers might as well have been destroyed. Yes, I realize that GSM service is not available on CDMA towers, but why could I never access them when I was on the RW Sprint?

Sprint rutinely has $22 offers and this is for unlimited data and much better coverage. Give me a reason not to switch. Sure, RW might be a little slicker in the handover technology, but handover to what, if there is seldom any cell coverage?

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If your current 3.0 phone is compatible with RW’s CDMA network I’d recommend opening a support ticket and test the current network yourself before deciding to leave RW.


Hi @johndb,

I’m sorry to hear of the experience!

For what it’s worth, my experience with Republic’s GSM cellular partner (whom you’ve correctly identified) via Republic is no different than using that partner’s network proper. I have a household phone activated with that partner directly. I notice no differences in coverage between household Republic phones provisioned for GSM coverage and the phone serviced by that partner directly. In my area, the coverage is excellent, however, this isn’t going to be true in all areas. The point is that while GSM coverage provided by Republic’s partner may be inadequate where you are, I don’t believe you’d find the coverage experience to be any different were you to activate your phone on that partner’s network proper.

A switch to provisioning with Sprint might be an option if you have a compatible phone. Not all phones supported by Republic are hardware compatible with Sprint’s CDMA network. For more on that, please see here: Republic Wireless Coverage – Republic Help.

There’s also no reason your previous coverage experience with Republic on Sprint’s network should differ from using Sprint directly. Republic’s coverage via either of its partners is supposed to be equivalent to the coverage received by direct customers of those partners.

Republic has access to the roaming partners of its’ cellular network partners for talk and text but not cell data. In some areas, Sprint’s roaming partner is Verizon but in other areas it might be smaller lesser known providers. Republic’s GSM partner’s main roaming partner would be AT&T but, again, in certain areas it might be a smaller lesser known provider.

If you’d like the Community’s assistance in troubleshooting your coverage issue, it would be most helpful to know the following:

  1. What is the brand, model and generation of the referenced phone.
  2. What is the zip code(s) where you’re having this unfortunate experience.

Thanks for the response. I have a Moto g4. I think the key here is “supposed to”. I had Sprint and had seriviceable coverage until I got the 1.0 RW plan, then got noticably worse coverage over the “same” Sprint system. Both are “supposed” to roam to Verizon, so how come cell coverage is abysmal compared to Verizon? have not done a controlled comparison of TMobile and RW TMobile, but I can’t imagine how TMobile would even be doing business around here if their native coverage was this bad, especially if it is so good where others are. The coverage maps for West Michigan are comple fiction.

That’s just not the way roaming works. You don’t get the same coverage as people on Verizon. Sprint contracts for only certain towers where they believe their coverage is weak. Sprint sets the phones to only roam as last resort, because of the cost. Verizon prioritizes roaming dead last behind all other traffic.

If you want service with Verizon, you well, have to buy service with Verizon.

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I had the same experience with tmo. Like you, no data needed. Friends have tmo in the area no problem. Didn’t work for me on my s7. I switched to sprint via a new SIM card, and all is well. Republic was very helpful during the trouble shooting, and I’m satisfied. I too wonder why tmo didn’t work for me when others with them directly did, but regardless the sprint switch fixed it.


Thanks for clearing that up, louisdi. As I said, I wasn’t sure how that (roaming) works.

Good to know I am not the only one, Scotto. I know I could get switched back to RW Sprint, and that would definitely help, but then why not just go right to Sprint itself? Two bucks more a month for unlimited and better reception to boot. I am not trolling here, I really want someone to give me a reason to stay. Maybe if Republic policed their vendors service better (especially TMobile) and forced them to offer the service they promised, it would not be an issue.

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The GSM carrier uses Enhanced 4G LTE mode in Western Michigan for some coverage. Please check in Settings > (Wireless & networks) More > Cellular networks > Enhanced 4G LTE mode is toggled on. In addition, check that Data roaming is enabled.


Yep, they were on. I don’t know this is particular to West Michigan, but I don’t know why it should be. It’s not like its the middle of Montana. I saw a post some time back about how bad the coverage maps are, but other than that I didn’t see anything about this area.

The coverage map for T-Mobile MVNO’s is actually pretty good (at least in my experience). You do have to take into account that if it says “Fair” coverage for your exact location, it means you likely won’t have any coverage indoors, and only a bar or two outdoors.


Hi @johndb,

Our service is supposed to provide the same coverage as the native subscribers. If you experienced poor coverage in the same places where Sprint customer had excellent coverage - on comparable phones - we would have very much liked to know about that. (Some phones support different bands, so coverage could vary for hardware reasons.)

I can’t give you a specific reason to stay, especially if “unlimited” is important to you, though I note that you did mention you can usually wait to be on Wi-Fi for data, so I think that’s not a top factor in your mind. Wi-Fi calling with seamless handover to cell is important to me personally, just because of the coverage at my house, but that may not be a factor for you either. Republic Anywhere - allowing you to text (and we’re working on calling) when your phone is unavailable, lost, broken, stolen, or when you just prefer to type on a real keyboard) is a nice plus in our favor.

In any case, if you want to give it a try before you decide, just let us know.

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Thanks for the info,Southpaw. Well, it was a while ago -i think we had Defys then - and I couldn’t tell you what Sprint phones we had so I don’t know how comparable they were, but it was at the same location. It was not really a big deal to me because we had wifi and the reception worked in most places.

The GSM reception is another matter. As I said, I do not know anyone with TMobile well enough to ride around with to compare coverage. Perhaps I will go down to the TMobile store. I just have a hard time believing native TMobile would be this bad and anyone would sign up for a service like that. It’s also kind of weird. Occasionally, I get good coverage in very rural areas but lose it when I start coming into outskirts and suburban areas. Cities seem good. At any rate, I should never find myself in commercial and populated areas with no coverage at all. I have never had that with Sprint or Att or Verizon.

I will take another look at the map, maybe I was not looking at the right map, but all i thought it said was voice coverage everywhere.

You are right, unlimited is not crucial to me, but I’ll take it if I get it. The Republic Anywhere does not seem to be necessary because I use Hangouts or Google voice for the few times I forget my phone. Seemless handover would be nice, but is is not that important if there is no cell service to hand it to. I have no cell service at home. I do at work, but I can’t trust it for important calls.

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Thanks, Cb, I see where you can’t just look at the map; you have to zoom way in and then pin locations. When you do that I guess it is pretty accurate- as long as “fair” is code for no reception. Or “indoors” includes being in a car.
If that is the case, coverage IS as bad as I thought and TMobile IS utter rubbish. Really? This is OK with TMobile customers - you lose coverage a few miles outside city limits? I can’t call home from the stores or car repair places I go?

There was a note that stated something to the effect that certain phones are optimized for LTE coverage. No Moto phones were on that list. I really don’t even care about LTE or 4g, I just wanna make a freaking call or text once in a while.

Also looking at the map, entire states are not covered, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska as well as the UP. It is listed as “partner” so I guess I would have to trust TMobile to roam to ATT? Oh great, the second worse company ever. And that is IF the latter chooses to allow them access.

It appears that you have made the determination that Republic’s GSM carrier is incompatible with your usage. Now the question is simply what to do next? You can try to work with Republic Wireless to move your phone to CDMA coverage (Sprint), or try another carrier.

I’m someone who always shops around. With the price wars going on between the postpaid carriers, I frequently look to see if they would be a better deal for my family. So far, for our use case, I still save money and have adequate coverage with an MVNO. Your usage may be different than mine, and you should make a decision based on your usage.


@johndb it is easy and cheap to compare T-Mobile’s coverage with RW’s GSM coverage. I did this about a year ago and at that time spent a mere four or five bucks for a T-Mobile SIM that came with some calling and messaging capability. I swapped the T-Mobile SIM for the RW GSM SIM a few times to conclusively prove that in areas with band 12 coverage the T-Mobile SIM worked where the RW SIM did not work.

That testing was sufficient to cause RW to investigate the problem and, sure enough, there was a problem RW fixed with a change to the Republic app. With that change my S7 has worked well where T-Mobile has “fair” band 12 coverage.

More recently my granddaughters who had roamed successfully with Sprint coverage for 3 years lost their ability to message while roaming. Extensive testing proved that this problem existed in a large area of north-central ND but not in an area of similar size in west-central MN. It is as if roaming data, needed for messaging and call setup, is no longer available from an entire array of towers. That same area in ND has, for the most part, “fair” native T-Mobile coverage and switching from an X2 with Sprint to a G5+ with T-Mobile completely solved the problem for one granddaughter. The other one now lives in an area with native Sprint coverage.

When I had Sprint coverage on my X1 and X2 models call quality began to deteriorate when my signal dropped below 2 bars. With T-Mobile’s VoLTE call quality remains superb all the way to 0 bars.

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Well, so much for “supposed to be the same”. What does it take for Republic to investigate?

It was a somewhat frustrating experience that started with a service ticket when my S7 had data but would not make calls on a Band 12 tower where the T-Mobile map showed excellent coverage for the S7 but roaming when one didn’t select a phone. The tech handling my ticket failed to select a phone and insisted the problem was unsolvable because they had no control over roaming issues.

I could force my phone to roam by turning VoLTE off but for the S7 their map showed very good native coverage. I learned it pays to select a phone. No Motorola phones are on their selection list so I usually recommend selecting the S7 since all RW phones support VoLTE and that is the only voice service available on Band 12…

Once I proved my case with the T-Mobile SIM the ticket was taken over by a different individual who immediately recognized the problem and troubleshot it with T-Mobile at one of their locations… It turned out that Band 12 wasn’t available for RW testing at their NC location hence they hadn’t discovered the problem. That fellow developed a fix and sent it to me for testing. The fix worked and my service was dramatically improved since I live and travel in a Band 12 region…

@johndb I should mention that I was rewarded by RW for discovering this problem and helping them solve it with a trip to their facility in Raleigh. They really are a great company.


You did Republic and your fellow members a service when you helped Republic identify the technical problem with Band 12 during 3.0’s early days. I suppose there might be a similar technical glitch occurring in @johndb’s neck of the woods. It’s also equally possible if not more likely the quality of Republic’s GSM partner’s coverage in his area is as that partner describes it. Here is their description:

Excellent signal:
Cell reception outdoors and in most homes and big buildings.

Good signal:
Cell reception outdoors, in most homes, and in some big buildings.

Fair signal:
Cell reception outdoors and occasionally indoors.

My experience with the network of Republic’s GSM partner both directly and via Republic is these descriptions are accurate. Signal is excellent to good where I’m at, so, therefore, I have no complaints. In areas of Fair signal, I find the description of indoor cell coverage to be accurate. And, yes, indoors does include moving vehicles.

I’m inclined to agree with @cbwahlstrom, that a move to Republic’s CDMA network partner (presuming a compatible phone) might be the solution. I would tend to discount any previous experience on that network using a DEFY XT. Much has changed.


I was one who joined the chorus of GSM users who felt T-Mobile’s “fair” coverage was overstated. I think we convinced RW and many of the Community members that “fair” was unreliable.

Perhaps my mind was clouded by my experience with Sprint where 0 - 1 bars of service led to dropped calls and poor voice quality and I imposed this thinking on T-Mobile. I’m speculating that this is why ZIP 58367 still reports this:
BUT my granddaughter tells me her G5+ works fine both indoors and outdoors at that ZIP’s home and in the surrounding area.

The inductive charging table in my Prius is at calf height and in the shadow of my dashboard. The S7’s Bluetooth connection to this car is superb letting me monitor my signal strength on the navigation screen or speedometer screen. When on the charger it typically displays 0 to 1 bars BUT calling and messaging works great.

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