The Coverage Critic Coverage Map

Earlier this year, I quietly released an interactive coverage map that shows the strength of cell signals from the three nationwide networks (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile). I’ve now polished the map to a point where I’m ready to make an official announcement.

If you want to cut to the chase, try the coverage map now. The rest of this post details how the map works, its limitations, and improvements I’ll release going forward.

Map Structure

The information surfaced in Coverage Critic’s map is richer than what’s typically found on carriers’ own maps.

Here’s what the map looks like when representing T-Mobile’s coverage in Vail, Colorado:

Screenshot showing Coverage Critic's coverage map in Vail, CO

Each hexagon is the size of a few city blocks. Darkly shaded hexagons indicate where T-Mobile’s network is predicted to have a strong signal. Lighter shades indicate weaker signals. No coverage is expected in areas in white.

Compare Networks

Map users can toggle between different networks and technologies with a single click.

Screenshot showing menus coverage map users can click on to toggle between networks or technologies.

After selecting a specific hexagon, users are presented with details about coverage within the hexagon:
Coverage map screenshot showing details about coverage in a hexagon
With a few more clicks, users can compare coverage within the hexagon across the major networks:
Screenshot from the coverage map showing details about a hex

Zoom Levels

In rural and remote areas, the map can be informative from a zoomed-out perspective. However, in dense cities, the zoomed-out view becomes chaotic due to a plethora of cellular antennas and tall buildings that block signals.

In big cities, I recommend initially entering an address or the name of a neighborhood. The map will automatically zoom to the selected spot at an appropriate zoom level.

Screenshot of the geocoder users of Coverage Critic's coverage map can use to zoom in on specific areas.

Data Sources

The base data underlying the maps comes from the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection program. I adjust the data from the FCC based on the results of in-house testing.

For the moment, the adjustment procedure is relatively simple, but I have more ambitious plans in the works. In the future, I’ll share more about my in-house testing and my intention to incorporate data from third parties.


The map shows predicted signal strengths rather than on-the-ground measurements of signal strength.

While signal strength is a decent proxy for service quality, it’s imperfect. As the map evolves, I’ll account for additional factors that affect performance.

Known Issues

The map has a few major issues:

  • Coverage data is unavailable in Michigan and Alaska
  • Verizon’s LTE coverage is not correctly represented in portions of the Northeastern United States
  • Coverage information is sometimes missing around bodies of water and state borders

Upcoming Improvements

At the moment, the map draws on FCC data that reflects networks’ coverage as of mid-2022. A newer data set, reflecting coverage at the end of 2022, was released yesterday. As I build a new version of the map incorporating the latest data, I’ll also resolve some of the issues.

Additional networks, including US Cellular and Dish, will be included in an upcoming version of the map.


The map relies on the work of an awful lot of other people. I’d particularly like to thank the FCC’s Broadband Data Task Force, the folks that build and maintain the H3 geospatial indexing system, and contributors to OpenStreetMap.

I’d also like to thank my audience for helping me get this far. I’m enjoying the experience as Coverage Critic evolves into a more useful product.

Photo of a mirror

Reflectons on Verizon’s myPlan

Today, Verizon launched revamped plans with a new approach called myPlan. While existing subscribers are, for the moment, able to stick with their old plans, new postpaid subscribers have just two options for unlimited plans:

  • Unlimited Welcome – The Basic Plan
  • Unlimited Plus – The Premium Plan

Previously, Verizon offered six different plans with varying features.


With many of Verizon’s old plans, services like Disney+ or Apple Music were bundled in by default. Verizon’s new plans unbundle these services. Subscribers can instead pick and choose (or entirely opt-out of) various perks priced at $10 per month. Some of the perks are access to third-party streaming services. Other perks involve add-on features Verizon offers to enhance subscribers’ plans.

A few examples:

  • Disney Bundle (Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+)
  • Apple Music Family
  • 100GB Mobile Hotspot Add-On
  • 3 TravelPass Days (for international roaming)

Elsewhere, I dive in the weeds comparing Unlimited Welcome Vs. Unlimited Plus. For now, I only want to comment on the shift in Verizon’s approach.

Are The New Plans Good For Consumers?

The reactions to Verizon’s new plans have been pretty negative on Reddit and Twitter. If you try to make a myPlan subscription that’s more-or-less equivalent to some of Verizon’s old plans, you’ll likely end up with a higher price tag than those attached to Verizon’s old plans. Commentators are largely correct that the new structure of Verizon’s plans conceals a price increase.

Still, there’s something praise-worthy about Verizon’s shift. Things were getting out of hand with six different plans. Normal consumers couldn’t easily make sense of the offerings and compare all the different features. The plans didn’t even have a straightforward hierarchy from the lowest-cost plan to the most premium plan.

There’s something odd about cell phone services automatically bundling in a bunch of vaguely related third-party services or add-on features (many of which won’t be used by the typical subscriber). I prefer this new scenario where people who want something can pay a reasonable price to add it on, and others can opt-out.