State of the art not too long ago.

Mobile phones are nearly ubiquitous, either carried on most people's person as they move about Davis, or stuck to the ear of an oblivious pedestrian walking into traffic. Coverage and local availability in Davis has shifted and changed over the years. See below for tips on what current coverage is like.

Smart phones generally operate on three main operating systems these days. The most common are the Apple operating system and the Android operating system by Google. Windows Phone is an operating system that is only found on a small percentage of mobile phones (perhaps 3 percent). Apple and Android have the most apps and therefore are the most popular phones. Windows phones have very few apps and most apps that run on Android and Apple are not found on Windows phones.

When choosing a smartphone it is best to choose one that meets your needs and is within your affordable price range. Please note that 4G LTE provides the fastest internet. 4G without LTE is slower. 3G is the old standard and is much slower. When you choose a phone, look for a phone with 4G LTE for the fastest internet connection. Next, choose a phone on whether or not you want to have a front facing camera so that you can chat with video and so that other people can see your face. If you do not need video chat, then you can simply buy a phone with a rear facing camera that can be used to take photos like a regular camera. Next, decide on screen size. Often the larger the screen, the higher the cost. Apple iPhones cost more than most Android phones. Apple iPhones have features that are not available on Android phones. Android phones also have features that are not available on iPhones.

Next, realize that cell phones are available with contracts and without contract. Contract plans often are the most expensive and breaking a contract will cost money. Non-contract or prepaid services are cheaper and you are not locked into a contract. However, service may be slower and you might have a limited amount of minutes. T-Mobile for example, will pay your early termination fee if you switch from another phone company to T-Mobile. Also, T-Mobile offers wifi calling even on their pre-paid non-contract plans. This means that if you connect to free wifi somewhere, you get phone calls and text messages through T-Mobile using wifi. On some plans it does not count against your minutes or data. However, on other plans it does count against your minutes and date. T-Mobile offers a 30 day money back guarantee. If you return the phone within 30 days, you get a full refund on the phone and your service. This is a good way to test out mobile service if you are unsure of which company to try out. If you cancel after 30 days you can unlock the phone for use on another carrier while continuing to make payments on the phone. Also, T-Mobile offers a pre-paid plan for $30 a month if you activate the phone on their website. The plan includes unlimited text and data. There is a certain amount of minutes that comes with this pre-paid plan per month.

In most cases, you can keep your old cell phone number and simply move it to another phone company. Speak to a representative of your new phone company and they will be able to help you move your number.

Cell phones are expensive and a good way to avoid costly repairs is to buy a case. The glass screen can crack if the phone is dropped. A rubber case can provide protection in case of a fall. A screen protector is a clear film that fits over the glass screen and protects against most scratches. Cases don't have to be expensive, and reasonably good ones can be found online at places such as

Many cell phones, such as Apple's iPhone, offer internet access via WiFi access points. On campus, this allows you to browse the web and check e-mail rapidly, without needing a laptop or going to a computer lab. You have two choices for access: Moobilenet, and Moobilenetx. Moobilenet requires authentication every time you connect to it. On a handheld wireless device, this means that you may need to reauthenticate quite frequently, since your device will probably go to sleep and give up its connection while you are not using it. Moobilenetx allows you to store a username and password, and is also much more secure. Because your device can send the correct authentication information, connecting to Moobilenetx is a much better choice, if your handheld supports it. The iPhone will connect automatically after you set up Moobilenetx for the first time.

On July 1, 2008, Senate Bill 33 became law prohibiting all drivers under 18 years of age from using a cell phone or portable electronic device in any way (i.e. calling using an MP3 player or a laptop) while driving. A separate law making it illegal for anyone to drive a motor vehicle while using a cell phone without a hands-free capabilities went into effect on the same day. CHP says that they expect to only enforce the law as part of a pull-over, and not a reason to pull someone over. As of January 1, 2009 it will be illegal to text while driving.

In 2010, 11th District state Senator Joe Simitian sponsored the first bill to make it illegal to talk or text on a cell phone while bicycling.

Telemarketing to cell phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will continue to be so (link).

Mobile Phone Recycling

Some e-waste information:

  • The average user replaces his or her cell phone every 18 months.
  • Nationwide, 130 million cellular phones will go out of use this year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That creates an estimated 65,000 tons of electronic garbage.

    — From

In 2005 SB 20 (Sher, 2003) Electronic Waste Recycling Act was signed into law, ensuring consumers cost-free recycling of cell phones at all retailers and making improper disposal illegal. Check out the California Aggie article and campus Multi-bin locations.

Charitable Recycling of Cell Phones, Environmentally Friendly and Socially Conscious:


Cellular coverage within Davis varies considerably, especially indoors. If you're looking for a new phone or service, try and find someone who already has it or take advantage of the 14-30 day trial period to make sure it will work where you want. If you're curious where the towers are located, you can see them on the City of Davis' Telecomm Site guide.

Please note that cellular companies are constantly adding new towers and that the information on coverage may be outdated as of now.

Verizon: Signal is poor to non-existent in northwest Davis. Signal is poor around campus and A street.

AT&T: Signal is (usually) very good in northwest Davis. Signal is poor on campus, although there are a few spots (mainly towards the tops of buildings) where it is reasonable. Signal is moderate downtown.

The newest GSM frequency is 850 so if you are using an older T-mobile/Cingular phone they won't be able to pick up the new signal. This is why some phones work better than others in certain areas. When purchasing a new phone make sure to pick up a quad band, for continous coverage in America and abroad.

In Kemper Hall, you can pick up a very strong AT&T signal, but not be able to make a call at all! There is supposedly a microcell or picocell installed in the basement of Kemper, which is the source of the signal.

To post and read information about cellphone reception in Davis, search for "95616" on It might also be useful if someone wanted to summarize postings here.

see also Improve Campus Cell Coverage

Service Providers

Lots of people moving to Davis for the first time want to know the track records of various cellular providers, and how good their service is in Davis. Please comment on your experiences.

  • CREDO Mobile - A "socially responsible" wireless company that operates on Sprint's network. They donate an unspecified percentage of their profits these guys.
  • All UC Davis employees and students qualify for discounts on their AT&T bills. Sign up with your UC Davis e-mail address here.
  • T-Mobile Coverage map- AT&T offered to purchase T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom, but the acquisition fell through in December 2011 after AT&T faced increasing regulatory and legal action.
  • Sprint - Sprint PCS merged with Nextel in 8/2005
  • Verizon Wireless
  • MetroPCS - Unlimited minutes for a flat fee, but only covers the Bay Area and the Sacramento region. Coverage map.

Cingular(Now AT&T) and T-Mobile share 1900MHz GSM towers in California. Cingular(Now AT&T) also has its own 850MHz GSM towers in the area.

Pre-Paid Providers

  • Boost Mobile - Uses Sprint network (maintains # for 2 mos. w/no payment)
    • $.10 min./$.20 text plan (no web, no data)
    • $2.00/day (no extra fee for web, no data)
    • $50.00 Unlimited calls/text/web/data ($60.00 for Blackberry Plans) additional $5.00 mo. for unlimited interantional calls. No Roaming fees.
    • Shrinkage for on time payments (standard/Blackberry)- 6 mos. $45.00/55.00, 12 mos. $40.00/50.00, 18 mos. $35.00/40.00
    • No Family Plans
    • No additional fees for calling non-network phones
  • GoPhone/AT&T - Uses AT&T network (maintains # for 1 mo. w/no payment)
    • $.10/min./$.20/text plan (no Web/Data)... $2.00/day plan (+ $.20 text/$.50/web per minute, no data)... $50.00 unlimited call/text/web... Roaming fees apply to all plans
    • Data package is an additional $19.99 fee/mo. ($69.99/mo.) + $5 for 10 MB, $15 for 100 MB or $25 for 500 MB of Data
    • No Family Plans
    • additional fees for calling/texting non-network phones
  • h2o - uses AT&T network
    • Month plans
      • $25 - 1000 minutes or 1000 texts or 250 picture messages or 80Mb data. Confusing? Yes. Good plan for light phone user who wants to use the web sometimes.
      • $40 - Unlimited talk/text/picture messages, no data
      • $50 - Unlimited talk/text/picture messages with 250Mb data
      • $60 - Unlimited talk/text/picture messages with 1GB data
    • Day plan
      • $2/day - Unlimited talk/text
    • Minute plans (+ $.05/additional min., $.05/text, $.30/Mb data, $.10/MMS)
      • $10/30 days 200 minutes
      • $20/60 days 400 minutes
      • $30/90 days 600 minutes
      • $100/1 year 2000 minutes
  • T-Mobile To Go - Uses T-Mobile network (maintains # for 1 mo. w/no payment)
    • 4G plans- (all plans + $10.00 for International/+ $10.00 for Blackberry/ +Roaming fees)
      • $15.00/mo. + $.10/min calls with unlimited text and no web/data
      • $30.00/mo. includes 1500 minutes or messages (after 1500 reverts to $.10/min call/$.25 text), 30Mb Data
      • $30.00/mo. Unlimited text/web, first 5GB at 4g, rest is standard speed, 100 minutes
      • $50.00/mo. Unlimited call/text/web, first 100 Mb at 4g, rest is standard speed.
      • $60.00/mo. Unlimited call/text/web, first 2GB at 4g, rest is standard speed
      • $70.00/mo. Unlimited call/text/web/data all at 4g.
      • No Family Plans
    • Pay By The Day plans
      • $1/day - unlimited text, $0.10/min., no web
      • $2/day - unlimited talk, text, web at 2g speed
      • $3/day - unlimited talk, text, web at 4g speed for first 200Mb
    • Non-4G Plans (Pay-As-You-Go)
      • $10.00/30 min., $30.00/160 min., $50.00/400 min. All with 90 roll-over
      • $100.00/1000 min. 1 year roll-over
      • No Family Plans
      • additional fees for non- T-Mobile/ATT text/calls (receiving and sending) unless they are in your top five (or ten, depending on plan) friends/family
  • T-Mobile FlexPay - Uses T-Mobile network (does not guarantee # hold w/no-payment)
    • Calling Plans only, not truly Pre-Paid plan but requires no contract.
    • Plans for individuals and families begin at $39.99/mo. up to $159.99/Mo.
    • Varying cost for web/data/text
    • Night/Weekend restrictions apply on most plans
    • additional fees for calling/texting non- T-Mobile/ATT phones (no friend/family network available with these plans)
  • Virgin Mobile - Uses Sprint network
    • Limited call minute Plans
      • $35.00/mo unlimited text/web/data, 300 call minutes
      • $45.00/mo unlimited text/web/data, 1200 call minutes
      • $55.00/mo unlimited text/web/data/calls
      • no roaming fees
      • $10.00 extra for Blackberry phones
      • Additional per minute rates for all International calls with no monthly International Plan.
      • pretty good coverage on campus but not that great north of Covell
  • Verizon INpulse - Uses Verizon network
    • $64.99/mo 450 anytime minutes talk/text, unlimited night (9pm)/weekends $.45/min if exceed 450 anytime minutes
    • $84.99/mo 900 anytime minutes talk/text, unlimited night (9pm)/weekends $.40/min if exceed 900 anytime minutes
    • $94.99/mo unlimited anytime talk/text minutes $.25/min if exceeds 1500 anytime minutes.
      • all above plans are for non-smartphone/non-Blackberry phones
      • Smartphones/Blackberry phones additional $30.00 mo with addition web/data fees. Also, if there are not enough funds to cover the data/web when payment is due, automatically reverts to above non-smartphone plans.
    • Talk only plans also available for $20.00 discount on all above monthly non-smartphone plans
  • Tracfone
    • No Plans available, literally buy what you need every month either online or with pre-paid cards from $10.00-$200.00
    • Steep roaming fees and cost per minute charges.
    • Foreign calls extremely expensive, with or without calling cards


Former Retailers:

When shopping for a new phone and/or service, the magic number is $39.99. If you get a plan at this monthly rate or higher, the dealer gets a much larger commission than for lower plans. Thus, they will offer lower prices and/or larger rebates. Keep in mind that in addition to the above mentioned retailers, many phones/plans can also be purchased at stores like Safeway, 7-Eleven and other non-phone specific locations.

Note that there may be an activation fee for new accounts. Also, the monthly rate does not include fees and taxes, which may be anywhere from $3/month to over $10/month.

Note also that, contrary to prior belief, most pay as you go plans are now much less costly than contracted plans at all dealers.


Smartphone Apps

Since the debut of the iOS and Android operating systems, there has been a growing number of applications to help in just about any task you can imagine. There are now several Davis-centric apps available. Perhaps we will someday see a DavisWiki app?

iOS (iPhone and iPad)

  • Davis Map - A local wiki that makes prominent use a map interface.
  • Davis Routes - Designed specifically for cyclists in Davis, this app is an interactive map for planning routes. The app can track your speed, elapsed time, and distance as you are biking. It can also locate nearby air pumps and bike shops.
  • Pocket Unitrans - Local bus route info
  • Putah Creek Winery - Updates you when new specials and events arise at the winery.
  • UCD Map - A map of the campus with an index to help you find specific buildings.
  • UC Davis Mobile - Contains campus map, course info, bus routes, and more resources aimed at UC Davis students.
  • TransitGuru UniTrans - Local bus route info

For more information on telephones in Davis generally, see Telephones.


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2005-01-03 20:41:07   My phone switches between cingular and AT&T. Even though the two carriers share towers, i tend to get different reception depending on which carrier my phone selects. However, I tend to get coverage everywhere in Davis. The weakest coverage is around campus, but is not terrible. —JaimeRaba

2005-01-03 21:02:22   In north-east Davis (north of Covell), indoor reception is pretty poor with T-Mobile and Cingular. I can get a strong signal outside but it drops to 0 once I step a few feet away from any windows. Maybe my walls are lined with lead or something. —AndrewChen

2005-01-04 00:43:02   I used to have horrible coverage (AT&T) in north davis, but since they combined with cingular, I get good to great coverage all over davis —PaulLanzi

2005-01-05 14:29:16   I use cingular, and don't get reception in some places in Kemper Hall, and inside other large buildings like the MUKenBloom

2005-03-05 11:26:10   If you have free roaming and a phone that is not locked to a particular network, GSM is the way to go. So that means AT&T or Cingular (basically the same now) or T-Mobile. —JaimeRaba

2005-10-05 22:38:17   I have cingular, but my reception is really crappy around campus (no bars at all in many places) and at my house (along 8th street). I DO have a really cheapy flip phone...does anyone know whether the quality of the phone makes a difference? —YumikoHenneberry

2005-10-08 13:53:15   I have a pretty good Verizon plan, but I get poor reception around campus. Outside reception is 2-3 bars give or take. Indoors you might get lucky and get 1 bar, but don't count on it. Other people in my building have Sprint and they get much better reception. —RyanCoates

  • 2008-10-18 22:21:50   I'd like to revise my comment to the effect that Verizon has really improved reception on campus with the addition of a new tower at the Howard IM Field. Service starts to fade on the southern parts of campus, but is pretty good in the central area, even inside some buildings. Some buildings will just never have good service due to the materials they are made of. (Although, I learned in a meeting at work that the campus negotiating to put low power "booster" antennas inside some such buildings). As far as the city of Davis, generally Verizon is decent, but has a lot of dropped calls (perhaps the network is too busy?). I have noticed, however, that service seems to drop off very suddenly west of Lake Blvd and becomes somewhat spotty north of Covell. —RyanCoates

2005-11-06 10:06:13   I hate this to sound like a plug, but I never have bad reception with my cheapie Siemens phone on T-Mobile and I always hear of people complaining with the other carriers. I recommend T-Mobile. —SteveDavison

2006-01-14 21:48:36   I live near the high school, have Verizon and lousy reception. We're changing to Cingular but having both services for a month just in case. I got Verizon to waive my early cancellation fees by asking to speak to your supervisor 3 times. But they won't port my numbers. They "own" them. Its a catch 22 with the early cancellation concession. Would like to know if there is Nextel coverage in Davis. —BarbaraClowers

2006-01-14 21:50:34   There is Nextel coverage in town. Fairly good on campus and around town. —JasonAller

2006-05-15 14:25:41   I'm in the Tercero dorms and I have T-mobile. I always have service outside (1-3 bars) but I might lose it inside (usually it's 1 bar max). Whenever I speak to my parents, they complain about a "wooshing" sound that I can't hear, but I'm not sure if that's my phone or my phone service. I have one of those free phones they give you when you sign up. Bleah, but it's my first cellphone and I didn't want to waste money in case I had to cancel. T-mobile is okay... I think I'll try Metro PCS next year, though. My dad has that... —NumiaCairaguas

2006-05-15 15:00:38   If you have a Motorola go to settings>>Network>>>network set up and set the band to 1900/850, search to manual and search speed to continuous that will help..... —JonathanNasca

2006-08-02 00:35:13   I lived in Alder Hall and I have t-mobile. Worked great! I had full reception in the dorm halls. No reception in lecture halls though. —WaylandLee

2006-09-01 18:19:19   I have sprint/nextel and the coverage is very good. My boyfriend just got a cingular razor phone and seems to have good reception too. So far I've had good reception with Sprint most places I need it (the Bay Area), so I would recommend them, except they just cut their minutes so now I'm looking around. I used to have at&t back when the network sucked. How is it now? —GreenThing

2006-10-29 21:35:28   I live at Fountain circle and I get horrible reception with T-Mobile. I'l have 1-2 bars, then itll drop to 0 or even die on me. :/ Cingular has pretty good reception up here though. —WaylandLee

2007-05-28 14:52:20   in my opinion, t-mobile has the worst service for on-campus usage other then that, t-mobile is really great around davis —DonaldJaye

2007-09-08 08:40:19   I totally agree with the above user, I barely get service in Tercero and Olson, and in no other campus buildings, but in the U Mall I get five bars. I've been all over Davis with excellent reception. A note about campus usage though, usually once you step well outside whatever building you were in, service will return. —KellyCorcoran

2008-03-12 20:07:30   I have AT&T and live near Pole Line & Covell...not sure what changed in the last couple of months, but cell reception at my place went from 1-3 bars, to 4-5 bars on my phone. —DukeMcAdow

2008-05-01 12:14:45   T-Mobile Update for on Campus reception: T-Mobile has a new tower in the center of UC Davis Campus scheduled to go on September 1st. This will help T-Mobile become one of the best options for reception throughout Davis. Please let us know if when you see a drastic improvement on campus. Go here for a picture:

2008-06-18 21:40:50   T-Mobile on G Street was most accomodating to a particular problem I had. I want to give kudos to their employees and manager. —bar775 (This review is the only edit this user account has made on the wiki. While it does not invalidate this review, please keep this in mind)

2008-06-26 12:45:59   Around 8th & J (College Square Apartments), Sprint has some pretty spotty coverage. I am unable to place or receive cell phone calls unless I am roaming :( —BrandonMinow

2008-10-06 07:59:57   Where is That new tower in ucd? another scam?I just wait till end of october and then change it to AT&T —Frederick

2008-10-09 17:19:09   In the past several months Verizon service has gotten much worse in north Davis, to the point that I can't even make a call from inside my house. There is a huge area around Drake Dr/Sycamore/Alvarado which is pretty much dead. Is AT&T any better in north Davis? —twblalock

2008-12-08 18:15:49   I live in the Tercero buildings and all of a sudden about 3 days ago, many students that have t-mobile have been getting service everywhere from wellman underground floor to the social science humanities room 1100 where hardly anyone gets reception. so I'm pretty happy with t-mobile right now. —rmsanchez

2009-04-18 17:07:15   I use Virgin Mobile and I have never been disappointed. This service doesn't have any contracts and you can change your plan every month. It is a prepaid service and you can recharge with top up cards from [[Radio Shack]] or through their website. This helps me a lot since I can switch plans. When I will be working in the summer, I will have a desk phone in my office and I don't require a lot of minutes. Also, their website has a feature called SugarMama through which you can watch ads and earn airtime. I live in East Davis and the quality of their network (Sprint) network is excellent. Phones can be bought from as less as $30 from either Radio Shack or Wal-Mart. —Praveen

2009-06-09 22:43:36   metropcs sucks if you enter a building, or your own apartment for that matter. It is suppose to have good service in Davis, but I guess they omitted the part about zero service inside your own room! —blastoff

2009-11-03 15:37:20   T-Mobile seems to be at least partially broke today. My wife and I get "number not in service" if we call each other on our cell phones, but we can still call to landline numbers. Get some sort of "not available" message if I call 611. Very strange. —JimStewart

2010-02-12 22:37:37   I have Verizon Wireless and it costs a TON and I don't even have all the features (the only real feature I have is unlimited Text and Image transfer). A friend of mine got Sprint (he doesn't live in the area) with a decent phone and got everything for about what I pay. If I wanted to get everything he got for Verizon then I'd have to pay like $30 more than what I'm already paying. Does anyone know if Sprint works well in Davis and specifically in central Davis around Covell? Any current info? BTW, Verizon coverage seems to be pretty good everywhere I've been in Davis. —davisRez

2010-10-04 15:43:08   Mobile Connections has never closed and definitely still exists. We now only carry T-Mobile pre-paid and MetroPCS pre-paid service. We also carry chargers, cases, bluetooth headsets, and other cellphone accessories. —MobileConnections

2011-10-01 22:14:31   Cell phones are absolutely worthless if people don't use them for at least two damn seconds to send response texts once in a damn while. —Wes-P

2013-03-27 13:14:02   I'm moving to the Davis area and need to pick up a new cell phone. Are there any service providers that have abysmal coverage in the area that I should avoid? Price is important, and I expect to use 3-4 GB of data per month. Anyone particular pleased with their service / pricing? —KyleAaron