SIM-based GPS Trackers: A Risky Choice for Rural and Suburban Dog Owners

1 comment

Many users struggle with which type of tracker they should choose when choosing a tracker, especially those who live in rural areas or like to go hiking or camping in the countryside. The fundamental reason is whether there is a mobile network signal in the place where you live, if the signal is not stable, then all the plug-in trackers have become ornamental, which brings hidden danger to the safety of dogs; the secondary reason is that for the unstable network and service, you have to pay the monthly fee which is not cheap. It is important to know that the brand of trackers from the operator's share of the monthly fee commission is very substantial.

In rural or suburban areas, is a SIM-based GPS tracker trustworthy?

I. How is the mobile network coverage in rural America? 


1. Analysis from some publicly available data and reports

1)  Coverage maps from website

A number of publicly available comprehensive websites refer to mobile service penetration in various countries around the world. But penetration rates are not indicative of coverage.

The only sources for systematic presentation of coverage maps are carrier websites and the FCC. You can find the latest coverage map from FCC.GOV  Mobile LTE Coverage Map

All the data looks good, but this doesn't seem to be quite what many people normally feel. Note, however, that the FCC makes it clear,

How the Map was Prepared

The coverage map was created using data submitted voluntarily by the four mobile carriers using certain standardized propagation model assumptions or parameters that were established by the FCC as part of the Broadband Data Collection. These standard parameters are intended to create a more uniform and consistent comparison of coverage among service providers than has previously been available through the FCC’s Form 477 process. Because of this, this map is the first ever standardized look at 4G LTE mobile data and voice service availability.

Please note: The map depicts the coverage a customer can expect to receive when outdoors and stationary. It is not meant to reflect where service is available when a user is indoors or in a moving vehicle. 

Because the coverage map is based on propagation modeling, a user’s actual, on-the-ground experience may vary due to factors such as the end-user device used to connect to the network, cell site capacity, and terrain. 

So we can be sure that
1. The maps on the FCC are submitted by the individual carriers themselves, and the FCC is not in a position to verify the authenticity of the data on a case-by-case basis;
2. All the data is calculated based on a hypothetical model, and it is unknown how far the parameters of the model are from the actual application of the algorithm.


Not only this, but the FCC had conducted independent and authoritative tests in 2019, and the results were a shocker.

To confirm the problem existed, the FCC ran drive tests covering 10,000 miles of driving and almost 25,000 tests. The results were abysmal. Verizon and T-Mobile couldn't even offer the minimum download speeds in more than 35% of the tests run by the FCC. The smaller U.S. Cellular fared even worse, with more than half of the tests coming in under the minimum speed. Additionally, even though coverage maps claimed users would find 4G LTE service, in many instances the FCC found no such coverage. T-Mobile failed to provide promised LTE coverage more than one-fifth of the time, while Verizon did a bit better and U.S. Cellular a bit worse.

from Verizon and T-Mobile in trouble after FCC accuses them of lying about coverage maps 

If we had spent one more minute searching for keywords like FCC investigations, false, lying or coverage maps , we would have found more worrying and unpleasantly coverage.

Also, remember the PCMAG real-world test article we mentioned earlier? There was a comment in there that said.

Then again, the famous Lead analyst Sascha Segan of PCAMG, a media outlet we greatly admire, has also conducted live road tests , and the results were not encouraging;

Some comments below the article,

You missed a large area of central US.  Nebraska has large dead zones.  UP of Michigan, Northern Minnesota, N Dakota, S Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and others have very large dead zones, M Lewis.

Obviously you missed a huge portion of the western United Stated,  Beth.

Change the title of this article to No Signal: Some of The Many Worst Cellular Dead Zones in the US . Let me add the entire state of Massachusetts west of I-495 and Worcester. Zero bars in my home without help of a Verizon network extender to route calls through the internet. One bar and middling reception outside my house on a good day with clear skies and a strong tailwind. Other parts of Harvard, MA have no reception whatsoever, same as other towns around here, despite presence of a cell tower on the other side of the ridge, so it can provide signals to drivers talking on their cell phones traveling ay 80 mph,  Ben Myers.

From No Signal: The Worst Cellular Dead Zones in the US

In addition to the above mentioned as the governing body, or one of the few objective and impartial media and journalists, it is difficult for us to get enough rich and reliable information from more places. Many discussions can't be opened properly, for example,
 Mapping out the world's LTE coverage (It's in fewer places than you think) - Tech News and Analysis  (can not read)


2. We make our own inferences by comparing some data

1) A comparison of different latitudes to see the mobile network coverage in the US.

First, according to the area of the country: the United States has an area of 9.2 million square kilometers, and the country closest to that area is China with 9.6 million square kilometers.
The number of mobile base stations owned by the United States, 410,000, or an average of 0.04 base stations per square kilometer;
The number of base stations in China, 10 million, averages 1.04 base stations per square kilometer.



Qty/Base Station

Base Station/Km2









Theoretically, the level of mobile network coverage in the US is 1/24 of that in China. While we don't want to compare China in this area, this is the truth!

The above area is the area of the country, and may be more serious if we take into account the factor that China's habitable area is actually lower than that of the US.


2) By total population, the US has 339 million and the country closest to the US total population is Indonesia with 277 million.

There is no public data on all operators in Indonesia, but we can speculate from some of the data: Indonesia's largest operator, with 165,000 4G base stations, and considering non-4G base stations, Telkomsel's total base stations may be around 200k, and its market share is about 48%, thus inferring that the overall number of base stations in Indonesia is about 416k.

XL Axiata, the third largest operator in Indonesia, has 88,000 base stations in the publicly available telecom network, and with about 10% market share, it is inferred that there are roughly 800k base stations in Indonesia.

Therefore, we presume that the number of base stations in Indonesia is between 400k and 800k.

In this way, the number of base stations per capita in the United States is not higher than that in Indonesia, and may be half of Indonesia.


II. Why is it hard to get good coverage of mobile networks in rural America?

We learned about it through search engine, but the content has been removed. There is a close Q&A that is described like this.

Why doesn't rural America have better cell phone service yet? We only rarely get a phone call through and have to rely on messaging or texting

And the deleted post is  Why is cell phone service so bad in rural America (can not read)

Also, remember the PCMAG article we mentioned earlier? There was a comment in there that said:

Cell phone companies exist primarily to suck data from passers-bye that they can sell to retailers. Of course they also generate revenue from selling their service contracts. If the population is sparse and hasn't a significant amount of purchasing power, they are of no interest to cell service providers. The number of towers needed to provide service also enters the calculation. For example, the poor coverage along the northern California coast with all its nooks, crooks, and valleys is largely due to the coast mountain range where it would require a much denser concentration of towers than any provider seems to think worthwhile given the relatively low concentration of potential users. Surprise, surprise, it's all about the money!    Dennis M



If our dog will not go to places where the signal is not good, then it is safe to use Sim card based GPS trackers such as Tractive, whistle, etc.; (5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Tractive Pet GPS Tracker)

However, if the cell phone signal is not stable where you are, or you and your dog will often play and travel to areas where the cell phone signal is not stable, be cautious of SIM-based GPS trackers as they are not as reassuring as advertised. The reason for this is that the cell phone network that such trackers rely on may not be as reliable and adequate as we expect in a short period of time.

Finally, if this is the case, welcome to Aorkuler, we have the following advantages:
1. We don't depend on any carrier network, no monthly fee, no activation, no app to download, no risk of privacy leak. (learn more about product)
2. Not only that, Aorkuler also offers you a return window of up to 30 days, that means a three-month trial for you, during which you have any questions, feel free to contact fast-responding customer service; any dissatisfaction/non-applicability, easy refunds, and refunds and cancellations don't involve the difficult journey of subscription fees, Simple, no worries.(Why choose Aorkuler)
3. Finally, Aorkuler offers an upgrade protection plan for existing customers, we will protect the investment of customers, when there are new products, the customers can buy new products at a lower discount.(Upgrade Program)

1 comment

  • Posted on by Marilyn Philipps
    It’s true, especially in rural areas, sim-based dog trackers can be quite problematic.

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing
You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered