CZ and EB Cell Phone Service

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Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
3
My wife and I will soon be taking the CZ from Chicago to California, then the EB from Portland to Mpls. I know there is no WiFi service on these trains, but I am wondering about cell phone service. I have a T-Mobile 3G/4G dongle that I am hoping to use for internet access on the trip. The T-Mobile coverage map is pretty detailed, but it doesn't show the Amtrak route. (I know!) It does look like the cell towers mainly follow the freeways in the wide open spaces, but I can't find a good enough Amtrak map online to determine how much of the trips will be close enough to the freeways to ensure access.

Can anyone here enlighten me as to the availability of any cell service, and more specifically T-Mobile, enroute? I don't need to have my nose stuck in the computer all day, but an hour or so each day would be really helpful.
 

MikeM

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
518
Location
Wichita Falls TX
My experience from several years ago on the CZ from CA to Galesburg was pretty good. There were a few dead spots in the Rockies (Grand Junction to Denver is a wild card in particular), but if you're going for voice, and intermittent data you will be ok, but not spectacularly successful.
 

The Davy Crockett

Conductor
Joined
Jan 3, 2011
Messages
3,313
Location
ALX
I use Sprint. I had pretty good coverage on the EB from CHI to PDX, with the worst coverage in the mountains between East Glacier and Spokane.
 

lyke99

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
137
Location
Rochester, MN
I have Verizon for my cell service. On the Empire Builder last summer coverage was pretty good west of Spokane as well as east of the Montana/NoDak border. Montana was spotty. I slept through Idaho both ways.
 

CHamilton

Conductor
AU Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
5,286
Location
Seattle
When I traveled about a month ago, Sprint service on the CZ wasn't bad -- I generally had signal in the areas around cities and towns, and in the segments where the train parallels I-80. On the EB, however, there was no service in most of ND and MT. From talking to others on the train, it seemed that Verizon users had the best coverage, with AT&T and T-Mo having the least.

Google Maps does show train tracks, and although they don't mark where Amtrak trains go, you can generally figure out the route by going from station to station on the map. If that doesn't work for you, the EB parallels US 2 for much of its route west of Grand Forks, so you can try looking for towers that way.
 
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