There are MVNOs on each major carrier’s network, with the major carriers being AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile has been growing rapidly, and because of that, it now has several well-known MVNOs using its network.
Some of the most popular MVNOs that use T-Mobile’s network are MetroPCS, Mint SIM and TracFone. Others include The People’s Operator, Consumer Cellular and Red Pocket. One thing to note with MVNOs is that they aren't limited to a single major carrier’s network, and instead, they may use multiple networks. For example, Red Pocket and TracFone each use all four of the major carrier’s networks. Many MVNOs only use T-Mobile’s network.
Coverage on the T-Mobile Network
The T-Mobile network currently provides coverage across almost all the major areas in the United States, although its network doesn't encompass every state yet. Consumers who are searching for cell phone service should check out a coverage map first to see if their area is covered. If they see empty patches on the T-Mobile coverage map around where they live, then they’re better off with a different carrier. Coverage with T-Mobile is strongest around the mid and southeastern areas of the United States, along with just about all the major metropolitan areas.
Although there are areas where T-Mobile’s coverage is lacking, that doesn't always indicate that coverage in those areas will be poor with MVNOs that use T-Mobile’s network, since that MVNO could also use the networks of other major carriers. This is why consumers who are thinking about going with an MVNO should evaluate its coverage map.
It’s also important to note the two types of radio systems cell phones can use – GSM and CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile have GSM networks, whereas Sprint and Verizon have CDMA networks. What this means is that since many T-Mobile phones uses GSM technology, they won’t work on Sprint or Verizon’s CDMA networks.
How Coverage and Roaming Work with T-Mobile MVNOs
Consumers who check out the T-Mobile coverage map will see that it has far more coverage shown that other coverage maps. That’s because this map shows not only T-Mobile’s coverage, but its roaming areas. This is easy to notice when zooming in to areas on the map. Since T-Mobile works with third-party partners who have cell towers in areas where it doesn’t, it can provide roaming service to its customers almost anywhere in the United States.
That may not be true for consumers who are with an MVNO that uses T-Mobile’s network, though. If the MVNO’s contract with T-Mobile only applies to T-Mobile’s network and not the networks of its third-party partners, then those with that MVNO could have limited or no access in those roaming areas. Those customers will need to check a coverage map that shows T-Mobile’s coverage on a non-roaming spectrum.
Phones That Are Compatible with T-Mobile MVNOs
If a consumer is switching to a T-Mobile MVNO and has a phone they would like to use, there are a few requirements. It must be a GSM phone that is unlocked and over one year old.
The term “unlocked” means the phone can’t currently belong to another carrier. This is the case when a consumer gets a phone on a payment plan. Until the phone is paid in full, it’s still “locked” to the originally carrier. The consumer must own the phone to use it with a new carrier, whether that’s an MVNO or a major carrier. Consumers should never try to get around this, because if it’s determined that a phone was stolen, T-Mobile has the ability to block that phone’s IMEI from its network.
The phone also needs to support T-Mobile’s frequencies and have the technology to access the latest 4G LTE network.
Since quite a few MVNOs operate on multiple carriers, consumers may be able to bring an unlocked phone from another carrier to the new MVNO. Of course, there is also always the option of getting a new phone through the new MVNO. Jump to top
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