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Best Phone Coverage in Pittsburgh: Cell Service in the Steel City

By
Kyle Reyes
June 9, 2023

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The three major networks have excellent coverage within the city of Pittsburgh. Alongside them are many MVNOs offering more affordable plans at the cost of low data caps and deprioritized data. There are a lot of plans and carriers competing for space in the Steel City, and we will dive into their cell phone coverage, how reliable they are, and the download speeds you can expect in the ‘Burgh. 

Through our research, we found that Verizon, T-Mobile, and Mint Mobile are the top three for best phone coverage in Pittsburgh overall. This article features detailed information on the following: 

  • Map of the fastest cell phone coverage in Pittsburgh
  • Local and national carriers that cover Pittsburgh
  • Frequently asked questions about phone coverage in Pittsburgh
Best Cell Phone Coverage in Pittsburgh || Source

Phone Coverage in Pittsburgh at a Glance

Lightning-Fast Data Speeds on Major Networks

Over the years, Pittsburgh has quietly turned itself into a vibrant city with amazing culture, spectacular districts, and a healthy job market. Due to the city’s boom over the past few decades, the quality of wireless plans available to residents has skyrocketed. All the major providers have put down roots in the city and have nearly 100% 4G LTE coverage and at around 50% 5G coverage. Each carrier has a few slow spots in the city, and we will highlight the carriers that ensure you have your high-speed data when you need it most, like the lightning-fast GPS updates you need to make it through the Ft. Pitt bridge. 

The three major carriers have great coverage and plans within the city, but those plans are very expensive. MVNOs are a great alternative to major wireless networks that let you save money on your cell phone bill each month. The fastest coverage in the area comes from the 5G networks in the city. Each of the three major wireless networks has their own 5G network that delivers tremendous speeds near those towers. All of the networks have built their 5G around the most populated areas, so if you are living in one of the larger districts, it is likely you will receive 5G data speeds. One or more wireless networks cover almost one hundred percent of the 300,000 people in the city, so we’ll get down to the brass tacks of the carriers to decide which ones provide the best phone coverage in Pittsburgh. 

[Image: Top 3 carriers in the City. The top three carriers are Verizon, T-Mobile, and Mint Mobile]

Local and National Cell Phone Carriers in Pittsburgh

The top three carriers in Pittsburgh are Verizon, T-Mobile, and Mint Mobile. 

Verizon and T-Mobile are major wireless networks, meaning they own and operate their own infrastructure throughout the country. Mint Mobile, on the other hand, is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). MVNOs receive bandwidth leased from the major wireless networks and offer more affordable plans that often have high-speed data caps and the potential for deprioritized data in times of high bandwidth usage. 

Let’s look at which of these carriers provides the best phone coverage in Pittsburgh.

Verizon 4G (Light Purple) and 5G (Dark Purple) Coverage in Pittsburgh || Source

#1 in Pittsburgh: Verizon Wireless 

Best Speed in Pittsburgh

Verizon is a colossus among wireless carriers. They are one of the big three, defending their title in Pittsburgh. Their average speeds hit over 100 Mbps throughout the city, and their coverage is exceptional. Let’s jump into the details of their service. 

Price: Varies

Plan: Verizon offers a pair of unlimited plans. They separate data into high-speed unlimited data and “premium” high-speed data, which has priority over their other customers. 

Verizon offers two unlimited plans. 

  • Welcome Unlimited, priced at $65/55/40/30 a month per line
  • Unlimited Plus, priced at $80/70/55/45 a month per line

These plans bring a lot to the table. Both have unlimited high-speed data, and the unlimited plus brings a number of additional incentives to the table, including: 

  • 30 GB mobile hotspot
  • Device savings
  • Price Guarantee
  • Premium data

The cost is $15 a month, which is worthwhile if you want to have priority data. If you live in an area of Pittsburgh where there are a lot of phones out and about (looking at you, Oakland!), that premium high-speed data is really nice. If you’re out in the Strip District or Squirrel Hill, we don’t think you’ll need the premium data because their network is strong enough, so no one’s data will be slowed down. However, some dissatisfied customers note that Verizon’s coverage is spotty in certain parts of Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, and Lawrenceville. 

Verizon offers a wide variety of add-ons, which are nice bonuses to their service. The best part — they are optional. Each add-on is $10 a month and saves you some money on the service, but if none of them seem like things you need, then you can skip it entirely and stick with the base plan. 

If you are interested in opening a Verizon account in Pittsburgh, find some friends to join you! Their multi-line savings are exceptionally strong, and you can round up some college buds on campus, neighbors, friends, and family to enjoy the big savings from the extra lines. 

👍 What We Liked

  • Reliable Coverage. Verizon has 95% coverage over Pittsburgh’s area, providing excellent service to all within the city. Alongside that, their cell towers are incredibly strong, ensuring fast speeds at all times but those of insane usage. Don’t plan on utilizing your 100 Mbps speeds during the upcoming Taylor Swift concert! 
  • Family Plan Savings. The biggest con of Verizon is the price of their plans, and their family plan savings neatly cut the price of their plans. If you have at least three lines on the plan, it becomes much more affordable, but be wary of opening a line with Verizon if you are on your own. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • Price. Verizon is expensive. Their plans provide great service, lightning-fast speeds, and lots of add-ons, but they come at a high price. If you aren’t able to find family and friends with whom to share the account, the price point of their plans is a hard pill to swallow. 
  • Customer Service. This is certainly not unique to Verizon, but their customer service does not always solve the problems ailing their customers. 
T-Mobile Coverage in Pittsburgh || Source

#2 in Pittsburgh: T-Mobile 

Best for 5G Coverage

Sitting at 60%, T-Mobile has the highest 5G coverage in the city. Of the big three carriers, T-Mobile is unrolling the most 5G nationwide, and the Steel City is no exception. They hope to expand their coverage to over 90% within the next few years, positively blanketing the city with their high-speed 5G coverage. 

Price: From just $20/month

Plan: T-Mobile offers three unlimited plans at various price points. Like Verizon, these plans are very expensive as the single-line plan and offer immense multi-line savings. 

T-Mobile offers three unlimited plans. 

  • T-Mobile Essentials, priced at $60/45/30/26/24
  • T-Mobile Go5G, priced at $75/65/43/39/36
  • T-Mobile Go5G Plus, priced at $90/75/50/46/44

T-Mobile’s family plan pricing gets a bit strange near the end, but the third line is where the big savings come in. T-Mobile Essentials is half price per line with three lines, and their two more expensive unlimited plans, while not quite 50% off, receive significant savings. T-Mobile’s plans are great, but they don’t include many add-ons. Their main offering is premium data. While the base Verizon Unlimited plan did not offer any premium data, T-Mobile Essentials comes with 50 GB premium, their Go5G has 100 GB, and their most expensive plan has unlimited premium data. While their data coverage is excellent, some Pittsburghers complain about dead spots in Johnstown and the rural areas surrounding the city. 

Their premium data is, again, nice if you live in an area with a high volume of cell phone users. As a young adult, securing some premium data when going out in the South Side or North Shore on the weekend is fantastic when you need to call an Uber home in the wee hours of the morning, but as long as there aren’t any Steelers games at Heinz, we reckon their premium data speeds and normal data speeds are similar. 

👍 What We Liked

  • Large 5G Network. Out of all the major wireless providers, T-Mobile is the clear winner in 5G network coverage. The 5G network is well-suited for streaming video on the go without worrying about a WiFi connection. If you have a 5G-Compatible device, you will let it flex its muscles the most on T-Mobile’s Pittsburgh network. 
  • Premium Data. While it is an unlikely occurrence, a surprise slow-down of your mobile service is quite vexing. The fact that they include 50 GBs of premium data with their Essentials plan is something we like a lot about their service. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • Phone Deals. T-Mobile has long been a fan of highlighting amazing phone deals locked to their most expensive plan: Go5G Plus. Carriers often open up great deals on their higher-tier plans, but T-Mobile often locks the deals to their premium plan only, taking them out of the running for users happy to open an account on the Essentials or Go5G plans. 
  • Price. This is a common qualm with major wireless networks, but T-Mobile’s prices are steep. Overall, prices at major wireless networks are challenging to pay without multi-line discounts. If you can, find some friends to take out an account together and enjoy serious savings. 
Mint Mobile Coverage in Pittsburgh || Source

#3 in Pittsburgh: Mint Mobile

Best for Affordable, Reliable Plans in Pittsburgh

Mint Mobile is the Ryan Reynolds-backed MVNO that’s entered the fray in earnest. They operate on T-Mobile’s network, so their data speeds and coverage match T-Mobile’s. They are known for affordable cell phone plans, but it is worth noting that their unlimited plan is not unlimited high-speed data. Mint’s unlimited plan comes with 35 GB high-speed data before your data is throttled down to 3G speeds. 

Price: From just $15/month

Plan: Mint Mobile has a variety of limited-data cell phone plans. Ranging from 5 GB to 35 GB of high-speed data, Mint’s plans are very affordable. 

Mint Mobile is our favorite MVNO in the Pittsburgh area. As they work off of T-Mobile's network, Mint Mobile customers enjoy T-Mobile's tremendous 5G network without paying the steep price for a major wireless cell phone plan. The downside is that, unfortunately, they don’t offer unlimited high-speed data. These are the plans Mint Mobile offers: 

  • 5 GB High-Speed priced at $25/20/15
  • 15 GB High-Speed priced at $35/25/20
  • 20 GB High-Speed priced at $45/35/25
  • Unlimited (35 GB) High-Speed priced at $40/35/30

These plans are priced fantastically in relation to major wireless networks. One thing to note about Mint Mobile is its contract-based savings. They offer 3, 6, and 12-month contracts, and the longer the contract, the lower the plan's monthly cost. A year-long contract is quite serious and locks you down for a while. There is, fortunately, a way around that contract, which is Mint Mobile’s family plan. Their family plan lets users take out 3-month contracts while enjoying the lowest price on all the plans. Mint Mobile’s family plan gives each line their own data pool and the ability to pick their favorite plan. That flexibility is amazing. 

Mint Mobile users receive fantastic coverage in Pittsburgh with the added risk of the lowest priority data speeds. There’s a greater risk of having a slower data speed in times of medium usage, whereas areas of Pittsburgh with moderate usage become risky if you rely on high-speed data. Most likely, it will be annoying but not debilitating. 

👍 What We Liked

  • Affordable Plans. The low cost of cell phone plans at Mint Mobile is a big draw to their service. 
  • T-Mobile’s Coverage. T-Mobile has great coverage in Pittsburgh, and the dead spots throughout the city are easier to handle when paying less than $30 a month for service versus the high prices of the major wireless provider. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • Prepaid Plans. Regardless of contract length, all Mint Mobile plans are purchased, in full, upfront. That’s a pretty high cost that is hard to fit into budgets. It’s easier with family plans as it’s only three months at a time, but anyone working with the 12-month contract must purchase those 12 months at once. 
  • Data Deprioritization. Mint Mobile does not offer any unlimited high-speed data plan, making these plans ill-suited for high-data users. 
Visible (Darker Blue = Stronger Signal) Coverage in Pittsburgh || Source

Get to Know Your Local Carrier Options in Pittsburgh 

Outside of the three carriers we mentioned in this list, AT&T was close behind with great overall signal and dozens of MVNOs have reliable service in the area. We’ve highlighted Mint Mobile, which is a T-Mobile MVNO, but if you don’t want to operate on T-Mobile’s network and want an MVNO service provider, we recommend Visible as a Verizon MVNO and Cricket Wireless as an AT&T MVNO. 

Visible is one of our favorite MVNOs because they have unlimited plans with no high-speed data cap at very affordable prices. They are our pick for high-data users interested in an MVNO in Pittsburgh. 

Cricket Wireless is our pick for AT&T because they are another MVNO with an unlimited data plan without a cap, and they also have cheaper options for low-data users. Unfortunately, their unlimited data plan is very expensive, so that you won’t see too much savings compared to AT&T. 

Pittsburgh is an amazing city. The best phone coverage in Pittsburgh leaves you with many excellent options with major wireless networks and MVNOs.  Image courtesy of the Encyclopedia Britannica

FAQ: Your Questions About Cell Phone Coverage in Pittsburgh, Answered

Who has the best 5G coverage in Pittsburgh?

The largest 5G network in Pittsburgh is T-Mobile, with 60% coverage throughout the city. AT&T is close behind T-Mobile’s development with 50% coverage, and Verizon Wireless is a bit less than that. 

How is AT&T coverage in Pittsburgh? 

AT&T has excellent phone coverage in Pittsburgh. Their area of coverage encompasses the entire city, and their 5G network, while not as big as Verizon’s or T-Mobile’s, still covers a fair bit of the city. 

Does T-Mobile work in Pittsburgh? 

Yes! T-Mobile suffered outages a few times in the last year, but their network is currently up and running for mobile phone and internet service throughout the city. 

TLDR; Verizon is your best bet for fast phone coverage in Pittsburgh

Use really.com to compare! 

You have lots of options to find fast phone coverage in Pittsburgh, but Verizon takes the cake with its reliable service, lightning-fast speeds, and loads of add-ons. In terms of MVNOs, Mint Mobile takes the cake. These and T-Mobile are our top three picks for the best phone coverage in Pittsburgh. If you want more info about plans available in Pittsburgh, compare carriers at Really.com to decide which phone carrier is best for you.

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your questions,
answered

does this phone service work everywhere?

Yep, we offer premium wireless service on the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network. If you are in our dewi coverage areas, you’ll also get access to our decentralized phone network powered by the people which will give you even faster speeds and better coverage.

is there a contract?

Nope, it’s pay as you go.

is this prepaid?

yep! You put your card on file and prepay each month so that you never experience any disruption.

does my phone need to be unlocked?

Yep, but it’s super easy to unlock your device as long as it’s paid off. Chat with us and a real human can help you here.

what if I want a new phone?

We have some recommendations on what we think you should get, from iPhones to Droids. Check out our list here which includes affordable places online to get a good deal.

what does decentralized wireless (dewi) mean?

It means we are building a phone network that is powered by the people. Your neighbors put small radios on their roof and help extend the phone network to cover deadzones™ and get even faster speeds. Right now our DeWi network is available in Austin, but we’ll be expanding to other cities REALLY soon. Learn more about DeWi here.

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