I have family in Montana and make periodic trips to visit, vacation, and hunt. My last trip was Thanksgiving last year and all was just fine with coverage in Missoula and Butte for my wife and me (we've had a Sprint phone for about 10 years and have always had coverage in the major cities of Montana). Yesterday I was in Missoula and Butte. I saw a roaming signal on my Android phone all day and my wife had no signal in Missoula or Butte on her BlackBerry (I have roaming turned off on her phone). I checked the coverage map today and appears to claim that there is still coverage in both Missoula and Butte. I called Sprint and they claim that everything is just fine on their end and that it was probably a device issue or weak signal between towers. Niether statment makes sense since I NEVER saw a Sprint signal and since our devices are completely different platforms.
Not having coverage in Montana is not acceptable, so if this isn't addressed, I'll be looking for a different service provider.
Has anyone else encountered difficulties with coverage in Montana? Has Sprint provided any reasonable solutions that enabled you to pick up a Sprint signal?
Frustrating isn't it? From public news sources, the coverage was provided by Altell under contract to Sprint. With Altell being bought by Verizon, part of the change was that we no longer offer on-network coverage for Montana. I can't speak about future plans, but I too am affected by this - I vacation up there every year and will now be on roaming the whole time.
You can read more about how this will impact your Sprint service at:
Thanks for the feedback!
Alltel here was purchased by AT&T, who was legally required to maintain the CDMA network and all pre-existing roaming agreements. This change appears to be Sprint's choice. My own GUESS is that, with AT&T switching the Alltel customers to UMTS devices, Sprint was now in a very one-sided deal (normally, roaming is made cheap by the fact roaming use tends to balance out) and they could no longer afford to let their customers use 3G data here and treat it like the home network.
P.S. Sprint has NEVER offered truly native coverage in Montana. Even the PCS coverage using Sprint SID 4188 is part of the Alltel (now AT&T) network, under a spectrum lease agreement between Sprint and Alltel.
P.S. while I'm not encouraging a switch to any particular carrier, if you do decide to switch, and the coverage you had with Alltel ("Sprint") was good for you, I'd recommend AT&T, as they now own that network (and have overlaid it with UMTS/HSPA). You will need a UMTS (3G) AT&T phone to use the network in Montana (you may get some service from the old Alltel GSM network but it'd bad, to get equal coverage a 3G handset is required)