Warning: Cell Phone Coverage Map May Not Reflect Reality

Like many of its fellow regional wireless carriers, Cricket has a relatively small coverage area, and then roaming agreements with other carriers so their customers can make calls more or less nationwide. If you don’t live within that native coverage area, you can’t sign up for service with that particular company. Thom’s dad thought that he lived in Cricket’s coverage area, what with the area where he lives being shaded on one of their maps. But it isn’t so.

Cricket is a regional cell carrier. They have near nationwide coverage through roaming agreements with Verizon (a good portion of which don’t cost any extra to use), however they will only activate you as a new subscriber if you live in their native coverage area. No problem, MetroPCS and many local cellco’s do this.

My dad has been looking for cheaper blackberry service for a number of years. Cricket seemed like the obvious choice, it uses the same towers as Verizon (which is the ONLY carrier that gets reception at his house), and his address on Cape Cod is clearly within Cricket’s non-partner “Nationwide Coverage” on their map (a very dark shade of green.) An attempt to sign him up, returns a “we do not accept customers from your area” message – the same one I got when I tried to sign up with Cricket years before (although I was living five miles outside their coverage area at the time, so it made sense in my case.) I called Cricket to try to sign him up over the phone, the service rep said if the website says no, then they can’t override it there.

It appears that their native coverage area and the area from where they accept customers do not correspond, but what bothers me is that their coverage map doesn’t state this at all – it makes it look like he should have been able to sign up. He has to stick with VZW for now, but has anyone else had this problem with Cricket or any other local cellco?

Carriers provide for situations such as this: on their website, the disclaimer below coverage maps reads:

Actual coverage area may differ substantially from map graphics and may be affected by such things as terrain, weather, foliage, buildings, signal strength, customer equipment and other factors.