Alaska Coverage

  • 29 January 2016
  • 19 replies

I am going to Alaska and would like to know more about the coverage. I already checked the coverage map and it indicated that there is "partner coverage". I also read that the partner coverage is provided by roaming on AT&T's network.


Has anybody else been to Alaska and can confirm if it was decent coverage?


Is there a charge to roam on AT&T's network? I read someone else's question posted here and one answer was contradictory regarding pricing. The answer stated calling is free but then it said calling is .20 per minute so I'm curious which it is.


Is there anything we need to do to ready our phones (iPhone 6plus and Samsung Note 4) to be able to use the AT&T network?


Thanks for your help.


Best answer by Anonymous 29 January 2016, 20:42

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19 replies

Hi @leahrenae76

Do you have a regular monthly account (postpaid) or are you prepaid?

Do you know where all you'll be yet?

Roaming in Alaska will be on either GCI or  AT&T.

When you're on GCI, it's treated like you're on T-Mobile's network from a bucket. In the places where you might see AT&T, texting/calling is just like normal (included in your plan if you've got a normal postpaid account). For data roaming, you can check out Domestic data roaming FAQs to see how much data you might have available. We have a great roaming deal with GCI, AT&T isn't quite as generous.

As for coverage, I drove from Canada across through Fairbanks, down to Anchorage and the peninsula below, then back out to Canada. Coverage is generally pretty good. Obviously it's Alaska so there's a lot of nature but if you've looked at the places on the coverage map and it shows service then you should be at least able to call and text. I was chatting (both carrierS), texting (both carriers) and even streaming music/videos (on GCI) throughout my trip.

Hi tmo_ryan,

Thank you for the information you provided.

I have a regular monthly account with the Simple Choice unlimited 4G data plan. On the Domestic data roaming FAQs link, the table shows that if you have unlimited data you're limited to 50MB of roaming. Is that the regular unlimited data, not the plan I'm on where I pay an extra $10/mo to have truly unlimited 4G data?

We're taking a cruise and the first two ports are Ketchikan and Juneau.

The 50MB would be the roaming allotment for the Truly Unlimited plan.

The great news though is that as far as I can tell both Juneau and Ketchikan are showing as GCI for roaming so you should be golden.

Hi Ryan,

Thank you for your informative posts on exceptional roaming coverage in Alaska.  I am interested in purchasing a 'GPS Smart Sole‌' for my 75 YO Mom whom lives in Anchorage, AK 99508.   Glady's unfortunately has dementia borderline Alzheimers.  This product has great reviews and features but is dependent and available "wherever T-Mobile coverage is available".  Would this product work in Alaska without a TMobile account as TMobile is not offered in Alaska at this time but appears you have a cooperative agreement with GCI and AT&T for TMobile devices.

Appreciate your time and consideration in advance.

Best Regards.


Userlevel 4

Hey @davidnovaak‌ 😀

Products like that do require primary native T-Mobile coverage, so I would not work for a situation such as yours where roaming would be the primary. 😥

I wish I had a more favorable answer and hope you are able to find something that works for you and your mom!


Hi David,

i am currently in Alaska. I have with me an IPhone 7 plus and a OnePlus 5, both with tmobile Pre-pay sims. Both claim to be connected to GCI with 3G connectivity, neither deliver mobile internet. Spoken with tmo support and they can't solve the problem. Seen others in these forum with similar issues. As I am on vacation I do not want to spend hours online or on the phone to tmo support - so in the end I went into town and bought an AT&T pre-paid sim for $30 which works like a dream. Of course only works if your phone is unlocked.

not the first time tmo has let me down when roaming in exotic places. I would strongly recommend if mobile internet is important to you in far flung parts like Alaska or North Dakota choosing an alternative supplier.


I have not hit a data cap, but I do connect with wifi at home. How "generous" will my 'unlimited' data be on GCI?

I live in Alaska where T-Mobile's coverage map shows that I get 4G LTE coverage, and so was enticed by T-Mobile's 55 Plus plan, 2 lines for $60 unlimited text, voice, AND data (for those over the age of 55). I have discovered that the coverage map is misleading. I get GCI where I live (and AT&T, but my phone seems to lock onto the GCI tower now that I am with T-Mobile), and coverage seems decent.

GCI has very good coverage in AK, especially in and near remote villages. It is the carrier of choice for Alaskans that work or live in remote places. However, GCI isn't very good outside the state. I think many Alaskans would be interested in T-Mobile if they could get the best of both worlds...

Partner coverage tends to be provided by GCI and more or less is indistinguishable from “normal” T-Mobile coverage. When I moved to Alaska last year I too had concerns about the carrier and was told about the partner program. It does work like that... BUT, GCI calls it domestic roaming, and after you use your data allotment (5GB), you are throttled back to “Courtesy 2G” which is essentially nothing. I’m not kidding, you can pretty much only make voice calls. No maps, no texts, definitely no browsing or streaming. even with very conservative data use I maybe get to 2/3 through each billing cycle. Im on T-Mobile One Unlimited and it makes zero difference, you might as well count on 5 GB

to circle back to the original question though, it will work, but there is a cap. Find and use WiFi as much as possible to save your data

T Mobile offers better service in foreign countries than Alaska. I just returned from two months in Thailand. With my T Mobile hot spot I had wifi internet anywhere I went. I live in Alaska and was so impressed with the service in Thailand I contacted customer service to change my provider to T Mobile. I was assured that I could port my Alaska, 907 area code, to T Mobil and I would not be roaming in Alaska after the change. WRONG information from T Mobile customer service! After I signed the contract and tried to port my Alaska phone number I was told they cannot port my number and I will be roaming!

T-mobile doesn’t work at all in far northern Alaska (sprint used to) and despite GCI being prevalent up there, t-mobile doesn’t roam on GCI. Incredibly frustrating! I’m going to have to get a GCI SIM for my work up there 😡

I have a T Mobile Hotspot that is roaming in Alaska.  I think it's using GCI towers. It's crazy that I can have unlimited data when I'm in the Philippines and Thailand but not in Alaska.

Any updates for 2023 on roaming data in Alaska?  Several points:

  1. Based on a press release in June 2020 (see its headline at the bottom here), T-Mobile and GCI inked a new partnership that allows T-Mobile customers to roam in Alaska on GCI’s 5G network (as opposed to 2G).   If you Google “T-Mobile Alaska GCI”, the first thing in the list should be this press release, which is on T-Mobile’s website.
  2. For domestic roaming, T-Mobile says it has two types of roaming partners:  standard and preferred.  Is GCI a preferred partner?  Based on the press release noted in #1 above, surely GCI must be preferred?  Does this mean that domestic roaming on GCI in Alaska allows for more than 200MB of data?  Surely so if this data is 5G?

Has anyone had any recent experience on GCI in Alaska, specifically in Anchorage?  Did you hit a data cap?  Did you get 5G?  Customer Service at T-Mobile has no clue about the roaming situation in Alaska.  All they can do is quote the standard domestic roaming policy:  200MG cap per cycle, and 2G speeds. They have no clue about standard vs. preferred domestic roaming partners.

If T-Mobile has made a strategic decision to not build out its native network in Alaska but instead rely on a roaming partnership with GCI (which does have the best coverage in Alaska), then surely T-Mobile will not apply its silly domestic data caps there of 200MG at 2G.


T‑Mobile is First with 5G in all 50 States! Customers Get 5G Coverage in Alaska Through GCI Partnership

I'm visiting Anchorage and just got a text saying I have used 4GB of my 5GB roaming data.  I am connected through GCI, but it seems it is still considered roaming to the TMobile systems.  The partnership must be limited to being able to connect through and roam on GCI, not to extend TMobile service.   Their service map is clearly misleading in that you can connect, but it is not TMobile, and you're capped at 5GB.  

Thanks SteveH3032 for the info.  Well, 5GB of roaming data is certainly better than 200MB of 2G, which is what T-Mobile says is its “standard” data allowance when roaming domestically.   Are you getting 5G or 5G UC (or whatever GCI’s equivalent of 5G UC is)?

I'm on a Galaxy S9+ which isn't 5G capable, but speeds are good, the same as if I were home in Hawaii.  I wasn't connecting to the Hotel WiFi because I have unlimited data.  I got the alert on roaming and was cast back into the early 2000s.  If you end up visiting here, make sure to take advantage of WiFi where available.


So it sounds like if you are on GCI you get 5GB. I’ll be up there over a week. 5GB isn’t enough. Once you hit 5GB does it allow you to use 2G or 3G speeds or does it just shut off?

It slows down to 3G I believe.  I maxed out my 5GB in Anchorage on that trip and was still using 3G.  I just got back from 10 days in Fairbanks and maxed out my 5GB again, and it went back to 3G.  If you're at a hotel, use your wifi and you'll get through just fine.

As long as it doesn’t completely shut down that is good. I’m sure I will blow past 5GB in a week.