Straight Talk is a subsidiary of TracFone Wireless. It is a no-contract phone plan service that offers low-cost plans with unlimited talk, text, and data and a great selection of high-quality mobile devices. They also provide the option to keep your own phone, to buy their products and services at Walmart – their exclusive retailer, and to manage your service anywhere, at any time with the use of their user-friendly Straight Talk My Account app.
Most importantly, Straight Talk allows their customers to enjoy their quality services on the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network – and this network is what we will be looking into today.
What Network Towers Does Straight Talk Use?
Straight Talk is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) type of carrier, which means that it doesn’t use or own its own wireless network. Instead, an MVNO purchases the right to use towers from one of the ‘big four’ or after the Sprint – T-Mobile merger ‘big three’ carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (and Sprint).
Now, as most MVNOs only have a contract with one of the major carriers, Straight Talk has partnered with all of them to provide coverage. Indeed, Straight Talk uses network towers of all the big 3 or 4 networks: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (and Sprint) and that is one of the company’s biggest advantages and selling points. Not only does it ensure that every customer has the best possible coverage, regardless of where they live, but the fact that the company doesn’t have to carry the cost of building and maintaining the towers also enables them to use their savings to create a better service.
Just to be clear, the fact that Straight Talk has partnered with all four networks, doesn’t mean that one user has access to all of them. A certain customer only has access to one of the major carriers, depending on where you live and which device you use. As such, you will get access to the carriers that will give you the best possible coverage.
How Good Is Straight Talk Network Towers?
Given the fact that Straight Talk uses network towers of all the major carriers and that each consumer gets access to the network that is most suited for their device and location, Straight Talk’s network is not only good but the best!
Before the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint in 2020, each of the four major carrier companies had a different yet excellent 4G coverage. Verizon had a 70% 4G coverage, T-Mobile had a 59% 4G coverage, AT&T had 58% of 4G coverage, and Sprint had 27% of 4G coverage. Since T-Mobile and Sprint have joined powers, T-Mobile’s new 4G network covers 99% of the population and the company provides access to their 5G network to over 80% of the citizens.
While all of these carriers offer great coverage in urban areas, their coverage in remote areas is unevenly distributed. Therefore it is always best to check the coverage map before committing to their services, especially if you live in the outskirts. However, as Straight Talk can give you access to any of the major carriers, you won’t have to worry about the coverage at all. When signing up, you will simply select a device and location, and the company’s experts will give you access to exactly the network that will best fit your needs and give you the best coverage.
Straight Talk Network Towers Coverage Area
As we have mentioned before, Straight Talk coverage area is huge, mostly due to their access to all major network towers. All of the largest carriers have excellent coverage and reception in urban areas and all of them cover a good chunk of the remote territories as well, but their distribution in secluded parts of the country is unequal. As such, Straight Talk will do its best to hook you up with the network that has the best coverage in your area.
Nonetheless, even if your coverage is perfect at home if you travel a lot, you may travel to some parts of the country where your network has bad coverage. In this case, there won’t be much you will be able to do about it, as Straight Talk only gives you access to one network and you won’t be able to change your network as you please. You will, however, be able to change the network permanently if the network you will originally get access to will turn out not to work for you.
Straight Talk’s coverage area is the sum of all the coverage areas of the four major carriers, therefore it virtually covers all of the country. Officially, Straight Talk has a 99.6% coverage. You can check out their exact coverage area on their coverage map at straighttalk.com. This webpage also allows you to enter your ZIP code to verify the best coverage in your area.
How Straight Talk Coverage Can Compare?
Straight Talk’s coverage area can be best compared to and described as the sum of Verizon’s, AT&T’s, and the new T-Mobile’s coverage area. Their combined network reaches 99.6% of the U.S. population.
If you decide to use Straight Talk’s service you will get access to Verizon, AT&T, or the new T-Mobile network. Below you can find their 4G and 5G coverage and their coverage maps.
4G coverage listed from best to worst:
- Verizon: 70% 4G coverage
- AT&T: 68% 4G coverage
- T-Mobile: 62% 4G coverage (99% of the population)
5G coverage listed from best to worst:
- T-Mobile: 36.7% 5G coverage (80% of the population)
- AT&T: 15.9% 5G coverage
- Verizon: 10.9% 5G coverage
Coverage maps and overall best coverage:
- Verizon: verizon.com (best overall coverage)
- T-Mobile: t-mobile.com (second-best overall coverage)
- AT&T: att.com (third-best overall coverage)
You can find Straight Talk’s coverage map at straighttalk.com and by entering your ZIP code the system will tell you which of the three major carriers listed above has the best coverage in your area.
Is Straight Talk Network Reliable? How Reliable?
Since Straight Talk runs on all three (or four, counting Sprint, which is now a part of T-Mobile) of the country’s most dependable networks, Straight Talk’s combined network is super reliable. As you will get access to the network that offers the best coverage in your area, you can always count on staying connected and not losing reception.
However, keep in mind that traveling will affect your reception as none of the big three or four carriers offers 100% coverage and you will always be able to find a location with bad coverage, regardless of the network you use. Moreover, the country’s remotest areas have patchy to no coverage on all of the major networks.
Also, remember that if you decide to bring your own phone, your network will depend on which carrier the device is coming from. The good news is, that as Straight Talk is on all major networks, most smartphones work on Straight Talk (both GSM and CDMA devices). As such, getting started only requires you to buy a SIM or activation code and a plan.
What Other Carriers Use the Same (Straight Talk) Network?
Straight Talk is a part of the elite group of MVNOs that have access to all four major networks. There is only a handful of other carriers that use all 4 major networks (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint):
- Red Pocket
Straight Talk Plans Based on the Networks They Use
All of Straight Talk’s plans can run on either one of the big four carriers – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. As such, their plans do not vary depending on the networks they use, and the plan doesn’t dictate the network you will use (only your phone and location do).
Straight Talk’s plans include:
- Ultimate Unlimited Nationwide plan for $55 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data, and 10 GB of hotspot data.
- Platinum Unlimited plan for $65 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data, 20 GB of hotspot data, 100 GB of cloud storage, and Mobile Protect.
- Unlimited International plan for $30 a month. It comes with international calling and nationwide calling.
- Unlimited Nationwide plan for $45 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, 25 GB of high-speed data, and unlimited 2G data.
- Unlimited Nationwide plan for $35 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, 5 GB of high-speed data, and unlimited 2G data.
- Extended 3-month plan for $130 for 90 days of service. It comes with unlimited talk, text, 25 GB of high-speed data a month, and unlimited 2G data.
- Extended 6-month plan for $255 for 180 days of service. It comes with unlimited talk, text, 25 GB of high-speed data a month, and unlimited 2G data.
- Extended 1-year plan for $495 for 365 days of service. It comes with unlimited talk, text, 25 GB of high-speed data a month, and unlimited 2G data.
- Data plan for $15 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and 2 GB of wireless internet connection.
- Data plan for $25 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and 4 GB of wireless internet connection.
- Data plan for $40 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and 8 GB of wireless internet connection.
- Data plan for $50 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and 10 GB of wireless internet connection.
- Data plan for $75 a month. It comes with unlimited talk, text, and 20 GB of wireless internet connection.
As we have already mentioned – all of these plans can run on either one of the four major networks (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint).
Important Things About Straight Talk Coverage – are There Any Limitations of Straight Talk Which You Should Know About?
Even though Straight Talk uses all four major networks and thus offers virtually the best possible coverage, it still comes with its limitations, just like every other network.
First of all, even though Straight Talk runs on all the ‘big four’ networks and uses their towers, it doesn’t own any of the towers. As such, the owners of the network towers tend to have a slight advantage over all of their MVNOs and therefore better coverage, better reception, and higher data speeds, especially in times of congestion.
As we have already established, each user has access to one network – depending on the phone they have and where they live. But to one of the major four networks is perfect. All of them have more towers in more populated areas and fewer towers in less populated areas and all of them have some areas where they have poor coverage. If you happen to travel to any of those locations, you will get limited to no reception. If you travel outside of your coverage area, your phone will not work, and you will not be able to make 911 calls.
Moreover, there are many other factors that can influence your coverage and reception, including your device, network changes, network traffic volume, network outages, signal strength, technical limitations, the terrain and proximity to buildings, foliage and other obstructions, weather, and other conditions. All of the conditions that can have a negative influence on your coverage can result in dropped or blocked connections, slower web service, slower data speeds (or no data connectivity), call interference, and more.
In addition, as the coverage shown on the Straight Talk coverage maps is based on the information provided by other carriers, they can’t guarantee their accuracy. Also, if you get bad reception in an area where there is supposed to be good coverage, there is not a lot Straight Talk can do about it, as they are not the ones providing the network.
Pros and Cons of Straight Talk Network
Theoretically, Straight Talk has the best possible coverage and with all the other amazing benefits, such as affordable plans and great devices, they provide a great service. However, everything in life comes with its pros and cons, and Straight Talk’s network is no exception.
- They use all four major networks and offer their customers access to the network that will work best for them (depending on the location and device).
- They have 99.6% percent coverage.
- Offering the best nationwide coverage.
- As an MVNO they have a natural disadvantage over the network tower’s owners, which may result in slower data, call interference, etc.
- They don’t have much control over their coverage, as the coverage is provided by the four major carriers.
Straight Talk is one of the few lucky MVNOs that have contracts with and access to all of the four major networks – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Each customer gets access to only one of the four networks, depending on the mobile device they bring (if it’s Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint-compatible) and on the area where they live.
As such, Straight Talk offers the best, most reliable, and most expanded network. However, as an MVNO, it does come with a set of disadvantages, therefore it’s up to you to decide if Straight Talk is the best option for you.