How many times have you been visiting a city away from home and had this conversation with a local?: “I have the worst reception here!” “Oh, what do you have?” “[Here's where you say which mobile carrier you use] and it’s getting a crap signal.” “I have [one that works awesome in this particular town], so that sucks for you.” It’s one of those things where some lucky locals find out their calls won’t be dropped and their mobile networks will actually connect, but once you leave your hometown, all bets are off. So which cities have the worst cell phone reception?
Time teamed up with OpenSignalMaps to check out which U.S. cities have the spottiest service, so at least the next time you’re visiting your parents and standing out in the backyard waving your phone at the sky, you’ll understand that it’s not just you. Here are a few of the worst offenders.
10. Detroit, Michigan: Worst Carrier — AT&T, Best Carrier — Sprint
All those tall buildings in Detroit could be interfering with reception, a situation that could be improved with extra cell phone towers. However, because Detroit’s population is declining, the companies putting up those towers might not think it’s a good investment.
7. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Worst Carrier — T-Mobile, Best Carrier — Sprint
At 597,867 residents, Milwaukee is among the 75 cities with populations over 250,000, which is where Sprint has the best average signal strength in general for this study.
5. Toledo, Ohio: Worst Carrier — T-Mobile, Best Carrier — Sprint
Toledo’s average signal strength is less than a decibel away from #6 Tucson’s. According to OpenSignal’s founder, phones can make calls okay but there are likely going to be more dropped calls, at a poorer quality of call and slower data speeds.
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Worst Carrier — AT&T, Best Carrier: Sprint
Oklahoma City is so sprawling at 600 square miles that cell phone carriers experience a multitude of connection problems here. Los Angeles is only 470 square miles, in comparison.
1. Bakersfield, California: Worst Carrier — AT&T, Best Carrier — Sprint
We hate to break it to you, Bakersfield residents, but you’ve got it rough. It could be due however to the population explosion — the number of citizens has shot up by 40% between 2000 and 2011. Ah, the pain of being super popular.