Good Morning @waynv,
Candidly, in my experience, relying on Republic’s zip code based coverage check tool to assess coverage quality is not ideal. Please allow me to provide context regarding Republic’s coverage options.
Republic provisions cellular coverage with one of two network partners. One partner operates a GSM network and is T-Mobile. Republic’s other partner operates a CDMA network and is Sprint. T-Mobile and Sprint have merged, however, the networks remain separate. Cellular coverage is provisioned with one network or the other not both simultaneously.
Your Moto E5 play is compatible with GSM (T-Mobile network) coverage only. The Moto E5 play lacks the hardware (a CDMA radio) necessary for CDMA (Sprint network) coverage to be an option.
When I look at T-Mobile’s coverage map for the McLouth area I do see coverage, however, it’s rated as fair signal strength. T-Mobile defines fair signal strength as “Cell reception outdoors and occasionally indoors”. Indoors includes a moving vehicle. Worse, in downtown McLouth, T-Mobile network coverage is non-existent. You may see for yourself here: http://maps.t-mobile.com/.
Candidly, Sprint network coverage in and around McLouth isn’t a lot better. It’s mostly roaming (meaning coverage is provided by whomever Sprint’s roaming partner in the area is). With roaming coverage the best one might expect is talk & text but no cell data for Internet access. Again, however, a switch to CDMA (Sprint network and its roaming partners) isn’t possible for a Moto E5 play. You would need a different phone.
You don’t mention what other small KS and MO towns you frequent but if they’re as equally rural as McLouth, the coverage.experience may not be any better. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that your Moto E5 play is factory unlocked. In addition to Republic, it may be activated with any network provider willing to do so. In the U.S. the other GSM network operator is AT&T. Switching to another provider who like Republic partners with T-Mobile would be pointless.
Finally, I’ll go ahead and submit a request that Republic modify its zip code based coverage check tool for the McLouth area. In my opinion, it should indicate no coverage there.