2-week road trip in Alaska; will T-mobile work?

  • 3 May 2022
  • 7 replies


I'm taking my family on a 2-week RV roadtrip to Alaska later this month (we are from GA, and plan to stop at Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Kenai Fjords, Chitina, Valdez, Paxson, Denali NP, Talkeetna etc.). I've googled about T-mobile in Alaska but got either dated or confusing info. I called T-Mobile and was assured that my T-moble ONE will work just as it does in Atlanta--> i dont need to turn anything on, and all the unlimited talk and data will automatically work on the GCI network when i arrive in AK. Can someone with recent experience tell me what I'm up for:

1. Do i need to turn roaming on on my phone?

2. will T-mobile work in Alaska (understand that coverage can be spotty. but to the extent that GCI has coverage will T-mobile work?). is there cap or throttle or surcharge on my data/speed/talk (i've heard anywhere from 200mb to 5gb data caps)?

3. should i purchase additional add-on from T-mobile for this trip? the custy rep told me that for $15 a month i can upgrade to the ONE Plan Plus which comes with 20gb of high speed mobile hotspot data and can be used in Alaska just as in continental US. Is this believable?

4. Any suggestion as to what i should do for cellular and internet access for this trip? is T-mobile bogus for this purpose and i should just buy a prepaid package (From GCI/ATT) when i touch down in Anchorage? If so how do i go about it?


Thank you very much!

7 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +9
  1. The “Data Roaming” setting on most phones affects only international data.
  2. GCI has a roaming limit but it’s highly unlikely you would hit it in 2 weeks. It’s mostly there to prevent Alaska residents from using T-Mobile.
  3. Not sure. $15 for one month is probably worth the gamble.
  4. T-Mobile should work just fine for tourists in Alaska. If you’d plan to be there over 4 months I’d worry.

P.S. If you want service at Denali get and Iridium phone.

Userlevel 5
Badge +6

I’d recommend leaving Roaming ‘enabled’, as GCI is a roaming carrier, not T-Mobile native.

As mentioned above, you’ll have service, but I suspect that GCI has ‘favorable’ roaming with GCI which may be good for ~5GB (you’d have to check) vs. ~200MB on AT&T.

You may also want to check on T-Mobile’s coverage map to verify coverage in the areas you’ll be traveling to.

If you do think about getting a prepaid SIM, ensure that you have request the ‘temporary unlock’ from T-Mobile, if your phone isn’t already unlocked.  Typically good for 1 month.

I can speak from experience.  We flew into Fairbanks and the next day I got a notice that our data was shut down.  I called and was told that even though there is roaming there, data is capped at 50mb.  So here we were relying on smartphone maps and such, browsing to find places to eat/sleep etc. and not being able to connect.  Had a great signal with GCI, but no data.  Useless.  When we got to the next town with verizon, I switch over to them and didnt have any more problems the rest of the trip.  Tmobile wanted $35 more for 50MB more, which wouldnt have lasted long and still left us with nothing.

Look into something more reliable.

I switched back to TM a few months after my return home.  Much cheaper than Verizon.

Userlevel 5
Badge +6

Which plan were you on where you were capped at ...50MB?


Which plan were you on where you were capped at ...50MB?


Senior $55 plan/  I was told that it wasnt a tmobile cap, but a GCI cap on roaming data.

Userlevel 7
Badge +15

If you have a connecting flight through Canada or venture close to the Alaskan/Canada border.  Having roaming enabled is recommended.  Roaming in to Canadian carriers is included with the One plan and gives you 5GB of roaming data while roaming on to Canadian carriers..

Userlevel 5
Badge +6

I’m curious as to how long ago was this trip, and what plan you were on when on your trip into Alaska.