GSM Data Coverage in Iowa?

I am in the market for a new phone and am leaning towards a BYOP option that I think is GSM only. I live near Chicago with excellent coverage for both CDMA and GSM Republic partners - Sprint and T-Mobile, respectively. But I travel to Iowa all the time. And Iowa was (at least a year ago) a GIANT hole in the middle of the country with virtually no GSM data coverage for Republic. I’ve heard that T-Mobile’s relationship with iWireless has changed recently and that MVNO’s like Republic may now have data coverage in the state.

Can anyone confirm FIRST HAND that there is now at least “respectable” GSM data coverage in Iowa and maybe point me to a coverage map with a reasonable representation of expected data coverage?

Note: When I use the coverage checker tool on the Republic website with my IL zip (60016) and then click “shop phones,” no restrictions are shown. When I enter an Iowa zip (52726) though, some phones in the list have the restriction “phone is not optimal in 52726.” Presumably, the coverage checker guides me to GSM service through T-Mobile for the Illinois zip and CDMA coverage through Sprint for the Iowa zip. The strange thing is, when I click “see nationwide coverage map,” the exact same coverage is shown for BOTH the Illinois and Iowa zips. Therefore, I do not trust the nationwide coverage map one bit. If the suggested phones are different, the coverage should not be identical. Something isn’t right…

Thank you as always to awesome Republic community for your feedback!

Try the root metrics app for actual user coverage rather than the cellular partners theoretical coverage maps. Zoom in to the areas you are interested in.


The coverage map that all Republic links point to is for T-Mobile (GSM)
As @Majorninth suggested Root Metrics provides excellent mapping

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Thanks for the confirmation on the coverage map being for GSM data, but something here still is not right. Republic’s coverage map shows great data coverage in 52726 and Root Metrics also shows there is great T-Mobile data coverage. Why then are certain phones “not optimal in 52726” per the coverage checker? If the two maps are correct, all Republic phones should work just fine. I get that there is good data coverage for T-Mobile, but I wonder if MVNO coverage is “lesser” in this area.

Hi @ryand.wsr2ce,

I’m not sure where you’re seeing great coverage?
When I search 52726 on our map I see “fair” coverage. “Fair” coverage is defined by the carrier partner as “cell reception outdoors and occaisionally indoors.”

However, our CDMA partner map shows “excellent” coverage. Please don’t order one of the phones that says it is not optimized for coverage in your area. That means it cannot support a CDMA SIM card and you’d have to rely upon the “fair” coverage.

Our coverage is the same non-roaming coverage that our carrier partners provide their own customers.

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OK thanks for your confirmation. I will trust your recommendation to stick with CDMA. If I go the BYOP route, I will make sure to contact support for a CDMA SIM.

But I do have to point out that you and I are getting different results using the coverage checker and Root Metrics shows I should not have any issues with T-Mobile. So…some conflicting info exists out there.

Here are my results from the coverage checker:


And here are my results from Root Metrics:


Thanks again for your assistance :grinning:

Hi @ryand.wsr2ce,

I won’t try to troubleshoot Root Metrics, but I am concerned that you and I are seeing very different results on the RW coverage map.

Are you viewing that at Cell Phone Coverage Map – Republic Wireless and is that a recent screenshot? Have you been researching coverage in your area for several weeks? We did recently update the map and I’m wondering if you’re viewing cached material.

The default view that RW brings up for that zip code shows Fair coverage…but if you click around in the zip code…you will see that RW map does show Strong signal for other locations within the same zip code.

It is tough to read the RW map because it uses the same color for Fair, Good and Excellent coverage.

Take a look at T-mobile map

I put the marker approximately where RW places the marker for that zip code…and at that location the coverage is Fair. There is big swath of Good/Excellent coverage around the two exits on US-61…but you can see how it quickly tapers into Fair coverage in surrounding areas.

Confirming that my screenshots were both from this morning. However, per amitl, the coverage in this very rural area does taper off quickly. I expected to see that…and I’ve lived it :grinning: One nice thing though, is that the “more populated areas” of the state appear to be much better served by T-Mobile now. This was not the case just a few short years ago with the iWireless / T-Mobile relationship. I will stay with CDMA for the time being though. Thanks again for all of the assistance.


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