In my initial Straight Talk Prepaid review I mentioned that although the service is powered by Verizon Wireless, the service area shown on the Straight Talk coverage map is clearly much more limited than the full Verizon coverage area.
Is the coverage map outdated, or is the coverage area really that limited? Today I had a chance to find out.
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OK, back to coverage map talk. Springfield, MO is within the Straight Talk service area, but Buffalo, Missouri is not. If you enter the zip code for Buffalo (65622) when looking at the details for one of the phones on the Straight Talk page on walmart.com, it says that it's not operable in that zip code.
Buffalo is, however, within the Verizon prepaid coverage area. My parents were heading up to the lake today, and the their route takes them from Springfield, through Buffalo, over to Pomme de Terre lake. I loaned my Straight Talk W385 to my dad and asked him to test the coverage along the way. I explained how it probably wouldn't work in Buffalo, but to give it a try anyway.
I was in a meeting today at work, and my pager kept going off because of messages being left on my voicemail.
The first message was from my dad calling on the W385 as they were passing through Buffalo.
The next message was from my dad calling on the W385 as they were passing through Mohawk Corner, which is basically just a crossroad community out in the country.
The next message was from my dad calling on the W385 as they were passing through Pittsburg, MO.
The last message was from my dad calling from the living room of their lake house. Interesting. My TracFone Nokia 2600 on At&T does not have coverage there. In fact, the only cell phones that do get coverage there are on Alltel. My dad mentioned that the Straight Talk W385 seemed to have the exact same signal strength as his Alltel phone.
Tonight I had him open the web browser on the W385 and browse around on www.fone-review.com to make sure that the data services worked there also. Worked like a charm.
So does this mean that Straight Talk has coverage on the post-Alltel-merger Verizon network instead of the pre-Alltel network as is implied by the coverage map? Well, that's hard to say. It certainly seems to be true for the lucky residents of Buffalo, Mohawk Corner, and Pittsburg, but I can't say for sure that it's true for anywhere else in the country.
If you enter your zip code on walmart.com and it says that the phone is not operable in your area, then I probably wouldn't risk buying one unless you know that it actually does work in your area.
If you have a Straight Talk phone and have the chance to test the coverage in areas shown as "no coverage" on the Straight Talk coverage map, can you please leave a comment with your experience?
Here's something else I just noticed on the coverage map.
Notice how the legend mentions service ACTIVATION area instead of service coverage area? Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but one could almost read that to mean that the green areas are where you can activate the phone, not just where the phone has coverage. Hmmm....
Note that the Straight Talk coverage map may have changed some since this post was written because Straight Talk now has phone with AT&T, not just Verizon.