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Thread: Cell phone question...

  1. #1

    Default Cell phone question...

    Hello again, I'm heading your way next month and I have a question about cell phone service. I am considering switching to AT&T, but I was wondering if anyone has any advice on there service area? I can wait until I get back if it is bad. I currently have verizon (who should have a pretty wide service area up north). If anyone has any advice (or horror stories), I'd love to hear it... Thanks, Christian

  2. #2
    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Eagle River


    Quote Originally Posted by 2ktj View Post
    Hello again, I'm heading your way next month and I have a question about cell phone service. I am considering switching to AT&T, but I was wondering if anyone has any advice on there service area? I can wait until I get back if it is bad. I currently have verizon (who should have a pretty wide service area up north). If anyone has any advice (or horror stories), I'd love to hear it... Thanks, Christian
    Where in Alaska will you be? In Anchorage either service should be fine. I have an iPhone on AT&T with no problems in Anchorage and the surrounding areas. For other areas, post where you plan to go...people familiar with those areas should be able to tell you if you'll get service.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Default Valley

    AT&T cell access works in the Valley too (an hour north of Anchorage).

  4. #4


    I will be bouncing around but staying in the south mostly, lower kenai peninsula and up towards denali park... I certainly don't expect (or really want haha) service everywhere, but if getting AT&T means not getting calls i'll pass. It seems their map shows service along the highways but I would rather hear from someone who isn't trying to sell something! I'll be there for about 4-5 weeks and just want to make sure I wont have to drive an hour to check in with home... Thanks for the help, Christian

  5. #5


    I had my verizon moto droid in wasilla to whittier and 60 some miles out in Pws. I was on an extended service so that means you can call and text, but no data services. It worked pretty well, I even noticed I had a couple bars way out in pws as I turned it off for the weekend. I should have tried calling or texting from there, but did not. I was a little disappointed that I didn't have data as it looked like I should have on the maps, but no data in ak.
    If att works for you at home I would go that route, but I have to go with verizon for my rural work in the L48, att is worthless in most places I work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    It really depends on where you're going, but AT&T's cell coverage outside of larger towns is pretty spotty, and non existent on a lot of the highways. That's one of it's biggest failures for my use. It's data streaming is a little bit faster than the competition while in Anchorage though.

    ACS Alaska still has the best coverage on or near the Alaska road system, and Verizon uses their network while roaming here, so that could be an advantage to you. GCI has coverage in most remote villages where no one else does, but their AK road system coverage is not as good as ACS.

    CDMA (Verizon & ACS AK) has a technical advantage for distance coverage over GSM (AT&T & GCI), and it shows in a lot of marginal areas. That said, I know of places not far off the highway that GCI works and ACS doesn't, so these are all just generalized comments.

    I don't know why a Verizon phone would not do data well in AK cities. My ACS phone has good data coverage in a lot of AK towns & semi-remote areas, and still roams well on Verizon's data network when I'm out of state. It should work.

  7. #7
    Member AKMuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Palmer, AK


    If you already have a cell contract with a major national company there is no reason to switch. Most folks make the mistake of thinking it is the cell service they need to change when in fact it is the phone itself that is usually the issue. 95% of the time in Alaska all the cell companies are using the same cell towers to TX/RX calls from. Several years ago (before we got AT&T in Alaska) I researched the cell phone industry and what caused folks issues with different companies services. I was considering Verizon because I wanted to add my Onstar truck phone to my cell coverage and Verizon is the only company to have a contract agreement with Onstar. I wanted this because I noticed my Onstar phone was ALWAYS in coverage on the Alaska Hwy system where my cell phone was not. Onstar uses cell towers just like a cell phone...they do not use satellite service. After researching the issue I determined that it was because the Onstar phone had a 3 watt transmitter/receiver where all cell phones are only 1/2 watt or 500 milliwatt (it's the same thing). I also determined with a few exceptions all cells services are pretty much the same (within reason). So, I started looking at phone specs and user satisfaction ratings of phones...and here is what I discovered. Prior to AT&T coming to Alaska most cell companies up here sold dual or tri-mode phones. These phones don't have good coverage in Alaska because they only use part of the overall cell band. Quad mode or "world capable" phones do a much better job of making and receiving calls. Now, to test my threory...

    I contacted a few friends from the lower 48 that were planning trips up here for that particular summer and spoke with them about their cell service, phones, and cell coverage. I told them my theory and what I was trying to accomplish on their trip up. They agreed to help me and to keep track of cell success and failures while in Alaska.

    We discovered that my previous research was correct. Quad mode or "world capable" phones do indeed get much better service than dual or tri-band phones. We went the same places around the state during their visit and to my surprise they had better connection and service 90% of the time even though they didn't have a company that provided them service up here. They were in their "extended" network but they still got better coverage than I did and I live here.

    So, after this, I ditched my old cell phone and picked up a quad band phone. I immediately noticed a difference in cell coverage and now that AT&T has added tons of new towers coverage is even better. Quad band and tri band phones are pretty much the norm these days so all you need to do is get out your users manual and read the specs to ensure you have a quad band phone. That will pretty much guarantee you as good of coverage as you are going to get in Alaska.

    I get consistent coverage on and off the road system up here from Homer to Seward to north of fairbanks to Tok, to Valdez...on and off the road!!!

    ...and yes, you can and will get great coverage out on the water around Alaska.

    I have friends that have GCI, ACS, AT&T, and even Alaska Digitel and we always compare cell coverage...and I still believe it more comes down to the phone you are using than the service. I have friends that have AT&T (just like me) and we can stand two feet from each other and I will have 4 bars of service while they will only have two's the phones!!!

    Keep your current service. Don't go through the hassle of switching companies unless you were looking to switch anyway and just need an excuse. Research your phone and make the change there.
    2007 Yamaha Rhino 660
    2007 Yamaha Grizzly 700 SE w/EPS

  8. #8
    Member chico99645's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    AT&t finally has decent coverage in Seward, compared to last year. Full Bars in Moose Pass then Full Bars about 5 miles comming into town. Also cell service just slightly past Caines Head. They got a new tower up on Nash Road. Much better than last year. I guess all the complaints worked.


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