Best Phone Coverage in San Francisco: Cell Service in the Golden City

Kyle Reyes
July 24, 2023

San Francisco is a thriving city with many residents, tourists, and travelers. The Bay Area air is fresh with a tinge of salt that reminds you of the ocean surrounding this golden peninsula. Living in San Fran, it is crucial that you have the best phone coverage. Coverage inevitably peters out as you journey into the ocean, but the best phone coverage keeps you connected on piers, wharves, and docks surrounding the city. If you don’t have the best phone coverage in San Francisco, you will run into more trouble with dead spots in and around the city, data deprioritization, and slow speeds. 

Our research found that AT&T, Verizon, and Cricket Wireless are the top three for best phone coverage in San Francisco. This article features detailed information on the following: 

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

Phone Coverage in San Francisco at a Glance

Lightning-Fast Data Speeds on Major Networks

San Francisco’s proximity to the ocean makes data speeds vary more than in other cities in the USA. Not to say the coverage is bad within the city, but data suggests that the northeastern parts of the city enjoy more reliable coverage and faster speeds than the northwestern portions of the city. 

San Francisco’s coverage is a bit below average, likely due to its geographical position in the country. It is more difficult (and expensive) for the big three to develop networks in the area because of the ocean surrounding the city. As you can see in the map above, AT&T has a stronger network in various sections of the city, including the northwestern area, where coverage is weaker in general. This makes AT&T the purveyor of the best phone coverage in San Francisco. There are reports of inconsistent Verizon coverage and dead spots around San Francisco with T-Mobile. AT&T has problems as well, but they provide the best overall phone coverage in the area. Alongside a discussion of AT&T, we will discuss Verizon and Cricket Wireless as a pair of excellent options within the city. 

Local and National Cell Phone Carriers in San Francisco

The top three carriers in San Francisco are AT&T, Verizon, and Cricket Wireless. 

AT&T separates itself from the pack with its high coverage in San Francisco. Verizon, with its 5G Ultra Wideband network, is a strong second vying for the best phone coverage in San Francisco. Along with T-Mobile, these three companies are the major wireless networks in the United States. This means they own and maintain their own mobile network. For customers, it means they offer bigger plans with faster, priority data at a high cost each month. 

Our third pick is Cricket Wireless, the first MVNO in our top three. MVNOs, like Cricket, 

rent their bandwidth from the big three networks to give their customers cheaper access to data. These lower prices are possible because their plans often offer limited high-speed data and less data priority, meaning there is a greater chance of data throttling in times of high usage. Cricket Wireless uses AT&T’s network, but there are MVNOs on each major network providing similar affordable plans. 

Let’s take a look at which of these carriers use the network that gives people in San Francisco the best phone coverage.

AT&T Coverage San Francisco || Source

#1 in San Francisco: AT&T 

Best Cell Phone Plan Range in San Francisco

AT&T provides the best cell phone coverage in San Francisco with its reliable service and fast network. Nationwide, AT&T has less 5G coverage than the competition, but their coverage in and around San Francisco is the best you will find. Walking in the sand on Perles and Baker Beach, among other areas, are where AT&T users shine. The coverage extends further into the surf than the competition, meaning AT&T users on the beach receive full-speed data, whereas Verizon and T-Mobile customers are on the edge of their company’s service and, as a result, have much slower speeds.

Price: Varies

Plan: AT&T offers three unlimited plans at various price points. Their price is comparable to the plans at Verizon. 

AT&T offers three unlimited plans. 

  • AT&T Unlimited Starter Plan
  • AT&T Unlimited Extra Plan
  • AT&T Unlimited Premium Plan

There are few surprises in AT&T’s unlimited plan pricing. Like Verizon and T-Mobile, these plans start at a very high price point before any multi-line savings. Opening a single-line account with a major wireless company is always expensive, and while there are some great new customer deals out there, we caution you to look at the contracts and ties that come with the deal. Many lock you into paying more over a few years than you initially saved. With three cell phone plans, AT&T has a basic plan with new bells and whistles, a medium plan, and a premium plan with many extras. 

  • AT&T’s starter plan has unlimited high-speed data with 3 GBs of high-speed hotspot data.  
  • AT&T’s extra plan comes with 50 GB of premium data and 15 GB of high-speed hotspot data. 
  • AT&T’s premium plan comes with unlimited premium data and 50 GB of high-speed hotspot data.

AT&T’s premium plan also gives UHD streaming on mobile networks, perfect for those who have long commutes or like to stream video outside of their home’s WiFi. AT&T’s other two plans, however, only receive SD streaming on mobile data, something that may jar you more when you are used to HD at home. The decision is yours. The different plans only affect your data speeds in times of congestion in San Francisco. AT&T’s towers are generally able to keep up with all data users, so we only recommend switching to a plan for premium data if you notice big drops in data speeds throughout the month. 

👍 What We Liked

  • Area Coverage. All three major networks put a lot of money into their networks annually, and AT&T has the very best coverage in San Francisco. That extra coverage means fewer slowdowns and dead spots within the city.  
  • Family Plan Savings. The savings with multi-line plans are incredible at AT&T. This is true for all major wireless networks, but it bears mentioning here as well. Family plan savings are amazing. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • SD Streaming. Cutting video streaming off at standard definition for the starter and the mid-tier plan is a tough sell for anyone who likes to stream video when on the move. 
  • Premium Data. While it is an unlikely occurrence, a surprise slow-down of your mobile service is quite vexing. Their basic unlimited plan provides no premium data, and while the second tier comes with 50 GB, that goes quickly if you use your phone a decent amount.  

Verizon Coverage in San Francisco || Source

#2 in San Francisco: Verizon Wireless 

Fastest 5G and 4G LTE in San Francisco

Verizon’s fast network speeds elevate it to our number two spot in San Francisco. There’s a lot of competition, but the rollout of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network puts them just behind AT&T and ahead of T-Mobile. One of Verizon’s downsides is that its super high-speed network is only available in a few locations, and the speed decreases the further away you are from the 5G towers. 

That being said, even if you aren’t receiving the max speeds from Verizon, their standard 5G network is still lightning-fast. You can stream audio and video on the go with Verizon 5G. 

Price: Varies

Plan: Verizon offers a pair of unlimited plans. One has unlimited high-speed data, and the other has unlimited premium high-speed data.  

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

While expensive, multi-line savings make these two plans much more affordable. On top of unlimited premium data, the unlimited plus comes with the following: 

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

Regardless of the number of lines, the unlimited plus plan is $15 more per line on your account. This is a lot, but the premium data comes in handy whenever you are in spaces with high data usage. It is hard to gauge how important premium data is. There are many areas around the country where Verizon’s network is strong enough to keep everyone using full-speed data, but there are a lot of other areas, especially in big cities, where data is slowed down almost every day. We recommend starting on the less expensive plan and checking your data speeds for a month or two. San Francisco is a big city, but new networks are strong. 

Alongside the base plans, Verizon offers a package of optional add-ons that each add $10 to your cell phone bill. The best part is that you can skip them entirely and stick to the base plan price, but if you find any Verizon add-ons you like, adding them to your plan always saves a few dollars on the service. 

Regardless of which plan you choose, the multi-line savings make Verizon’s service much more affordable. Spending a flat $65 or $80 for your service line before taxes and fees is a lot of money. Finding like-minded people with whom to share the account is an excellent way to get some of the best phone coverage in San Francisco. 

👍 What We Liked

  • High-Speed Coverage. Verizon’s 5G network provides the fastest data speeds in the country. Speeds so fast that sometimes you don’t know how to handle them. We expect this lightning-fast coverage to extend in the coming years, but for now, there are only a few select areas in the country where the speeds reach these heights. 
  • Family Plan Savings. Verizon's family plans to make up for its single-line costs. There are huge savings if you get together with a few people who are willing to share services from Verizon. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • Price. Even though they have a strong network and provide services to make the price worthwhile, Verizon is very expensive. If you are planning to open a single-line plan, the best way to utilize Verizon’s amazing network is through an MVNO like Visible Wireless. 
  • Customer Service. This appears to be a common trend among cell phone companies, but there are many negative experiences with Verizon’s customer service.
Coverage in San Francisco || Source

#3 in San Francisco: Cricket Wireless

Most Affordable Cell Phone Plans in San Francisco

If you are thinking that this coverage map looks familiar — You’re right! Cricket operates through AT&T’s mobile network, so you will receive the same coverage throughout San Fran as you would with the major wireless carrier. Cricket Wireless, as far as MVNOs go, is much closer in operation to a major wireless carrier than some of its competition. It has a lot of retail locations around the country, just over 4,500 as of May 2023, and provides a cell phone plan with unlimited high-speed data. The majority of MVNOs with “unlimited plans” have a hard cap on high-speed data usage (usually between 30 and 50 GB) before throttling speeds down to 3G speeds for the rest of the month. Let’s take a look at this excellent AT&T MVNO. 

Price: Varies

Plan: Cricket Wireless has four plans, two providing unlimited high-speed data and two providing limited data. 

Cricket Wireless's four plans for one line are as follows:

  • Unlimited data + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot
  • Unlimited data
  • 10 GB data 
  • 5 GB data 

While the base pricing of Cricket’s plans is rather pricey, the company provides excellent multi-line savings. 

These multi-line savings are what really draw us to their service. Although Cricket’s plans are expensive, their robust plans make it one of the best MVNOs out there. As they work on AT&T’s network, you can rest assured that Cricket’s service in San Francisco is one of the best. 

👍 What We Liked

  • Mutli-Line Savings. While the prices start high, multi-line accounts rack up serious savings. 
  • Reliable Network.  Cricket Wireless works on AT&T’s network, providing some of the best cell phone coverage in San Francisco to all its users. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • High Starting Prices. The single-line pricing of Cricket plans is much higher than other MVNOs that provide similar amounts of data. 
  • Strange Pricing. The multi-line pricing on the two limited-data plans means low-data users cannot save as much as those on unlimited plans.

Visible Coverage in San Francisco || Source

Get to Know Your Local Carrier Options in San Francisco

While not included on this list, T-Mobile has an excellent presence in San Francisco, and there are dozens of MVNOs that operate on the three major networks, providing affordable and reliable coverage in the area. We highlighted Cricket Wireless as our favorite MVNO, but if you aren’t too keen on using AT&T’s network, here is one awesome MVNO for each major network.


Mint Mobile is our pick for T-Mobile MVNOs. 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 of high-speed data before your data is throttled to 3G speeds.

Visible Wireless is our favorite Verizon MVNO. They only have two plans, both of which provide unlimited high-speed data. Visible’s plans start at $30, and they don’t have any multi-line savings. Their inexpensive single-line plans make it our top choice for anyone interested in opening a single-line account with unlimited high-speed data. 

There is a lot to see in this beautiful city. Start your exploration today with the best phone coverage in San Francisco!

FAQ: Your Questions About Cell Phone Coverage in San Francisco, Answered

What is the best cell phone carrier in San Francisco?

AT&T provides the best phone coverage in San Francisco

What is the best signal in San Francisco?

While all three major carriers have excellent signals in San Francisco, AT&T provides the best. 

What is the best cell service in the Bay Area?

In the larger Bay Area, AT&T came out ahead among serious competition. 

TLDR; AT&T is your best bet for fast phone coverage in San Francisco

Use to compare! 

There are many excellent options in the area, but the best phone coverage in San Francisco goes to AT&T. Their network extends further and is more reliable than the competition. If you want more info about plans available in San Francisco, compare carriers at to decide which phone carrier is best for you. 

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.
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