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Smarthphone Coverage in Ia -Sprint/Verizon

Between Sprint and Verizon which has the best data coverage in Ia for RAGBRAI?

12 Replies

Browner, February 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Verizon, if your choice is only those two providers, and then there will still be a lot of dead spots, especially for data. US Cellular has the best coverage for rural Iowa, but that may not be an option for you. With 10 to 20 thousand riders, most cell towers will be quickly overwhelmed for any provider.


Ragbrai Nation, February 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

This topic comes up every year. In the event that there is anticipated channel overload in any given area due to an event such as Ragbrai, providers are required by the FCC to add channels (mobile transceiver towers)… You paid for it but it doesn’t happen, because the rule is not enforced. Generally the overload problems are confined to Western Iowa due to its more sparse population. East of I-35 the situation improves drastically.


petra, February 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Last year my problem was not signal strength, but rather getting through. I concur that it got considerably better in the eastern part of the state. I also found that I could get phone service anywhere first thing in the morning.


Ragbrai Nation, February 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Indeed I was always able to text albeit they were delayed up to 45 min. during the busy times (late afternoon/early evenings). Phone calls went immediately to the recipient’s voicemails in the busy times, again with some delay but no communication was ever denied or dropped.


DallasBob, February 9, 2012 at 6:54 am

Gatorrider…what I found last year was that I always had a signal with Verizon and never had a failed call attempt. The challenge was sending email, text, or using your browser in camp at night. The congestion everyone vying for a signal created latency.


drgeorge1, February 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm

A somewhat practical question, what is the availability of places to plug in for a charge?


Tony, February 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I35 is the dividing line for cell service for GSM. West of I35 mostly no service. I now carry two phones. I have ATT. Its a GSM service. It is only good in metro areas for both data and voice. I have a Verizon. It is a CDMA service. It is good state wide for voice. Data varies. As soon as the contract is up on ATT. By By ATT. After 7 years I’m through with dropped calls when Im on the road. Bike or otherwise. In the overnight towns there will be exchange overload conditions for voice at times. Use WIFI hotspots for data. I would suggest using text as it always goes through.

On the charging issue. Good luck. Phones out number outlets by 10 to 1. Some of the charter services provide charging stations for there clients. Mine does. Some of the towns will have them at the info center. Some are free others are not. Sometimes the local cell service providers have free charging stations for their clients. Some riders bring extra batteries. Some bring battery powered chargers. When cell phones are hunting for a tower. They will suck they life out of a battery. The best thing you can do to conserve your battery is to turn the sucker off. Only turn it on when you need to make a call. Towns are about 10-20 miles apart. Turn your phone on. Check for calls and text. Then turn the sucker off. Your battery can last all week doing that. Tell people calling you to leave a message or better yet a text.


Thoreau, February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I had great luck with Verizon. A friend rode with a phone with Virgin mobile service and that didn’t work as well. On charging: Pork Belly has a charger wall of sorts, so I used that. On the route, I saw a lot of phones dangling out of sockets in church recreation rooms and high school corridors–so I think charging is manageable. You could argue that you don’t need a phone as Ragbrai is a time to have actual, one on one conversations with people. But then again, it is nice to use the phone to figure out where others on your team are and to get together at upcoming towns.


SSC1, February 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Last year there were some outfits in the booths/vendor areas selling solar powered chargers. You put them on the back of your bike and then, when you get where you are going, they have enough of a battery charge to charge your phone.

Here is a version I’ve considered getting for this next year (although someone else posted that you can purchase a Walmart Everready phone charger than runs off AA batteries for only $10-12):



brendanpatrick, February 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Have never had a problem with my Verizon service on RAGBRAI. My cousin, however, was cursing at her AT&T phone all week. Same iPhone, different service. No, I don’t work for Verizon…… :)


jhelmrich, February 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm

A somewhat practical question, what is the availability of places to plug in for a charge?

if you ask along the way, the Iowa folks will give you a bit of their electricity for free …might be smart to bring a charger that works off a car cigarette lighter, though.


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