Backing up Beartooth

I almost wrote “Backing up Bluetooth” which would have been an entirely different article.

In preparation for this cross country trip, iOS 6 compatibility and the opportunity to give my son-in-law my workhorse original iPad, I upgraded to the new iPad. The question at the moment of purchase was whether to go with AT&T or Verizon.

I wanted the Personal Hotspot feature that wasn’t available on my unlimited AT&T data plans, and I finally chose Verizon. This gave me an iPhone 4S on AT&T and the new device on Verizon. I’d be traveling in areas with limited coverage, so if one service failed, hopefully the other one would be available.

Today, I’m one week into the trip and I have been disappointed in the Verizon coverage. Traveling up to Yellowstone, and spending the night in Santa Clara NM and Pinedale WY, not to mention various gas stations on the way, the iPad showed no coverage. Certainly AT&T is light as well, but if there is any signal to be had it’ll be on my 4S.

Here in Yellowstone, cell coverage is limited to about four towers in the whole park. As I type this in Canyon Village, I have 4 bars of 4G on the iPhone and one bar intermittently of Verizon 3G on the iPad. It was fairly solid at Mammoth Hot Springs, but in general AT&T wins here.

This morning, realizing we needed to make a phone call in Silver Gate Montana, we drove up the Beartooth Highway, searching for a remembered signal from previous years. Outside of Cook City, there was a flicker of signal and as I watched a deer grazing beside the road, Mary Ann had me turn around, and then back up on the Beartooth Highway, hoping to pick up something usable, but it wasn’t to be had on any device. This is the area none of the cell companies bother with.

I expressed my disappointment on twitter and quite soon got this response from Verizon: @HenryMelton We want to make sure that you have reliable service. Where did you travel? Are you still there? I can check on coverage. ^LA

I replied giving details. I was in Yellowstone.

They replied: @HenryMelton Ahh I see! There are certain areas that do not have coverage. Go to to view coverage. ^LA

Thanks Verizon. Yes, I know there is limited coverage here, my post was comparing the two services, where AT&T was a clear winner.

I have often thought that the tech journalist coverage of AT&T vs Verizon was based purely on the San Francisco cell service area where those reporters all live and gave AT&T a bad rep that it can’t seem to shake.

Who knows? The trip has just begun and the situation may well reverse when I’m on the west coast. We’ll see.