What Does Extended Network Mean?

This domestic roaming feature gives you free access to other carriers' networks

An extended network is a common technique employed by cellular providers to enable continuous service to customers when they’re in an area not covered by the company’s own cell towers.

When a customer travels outside of a service provider’s established network coverage, their smartphone will automatically switch to a network run by another company that their own provider has made a deal with. The entire process is completely seamless and, in most cases, doesn’t incur any extra fees. Data speeds on extended networks can often be slower though.

What Is Extended Network LTE?

Extended network LTE is one of many different phrases used by mobile phone carriers to describe the extended network feature or process described above. The phrase can be used on a provider’s official website and can even appear on your iPhone or Android smartphone in place of your carrier’s name once a connection has been made to a provider on an extended network.

Other words and phrases frequently used by mobile providers to describe the extended network process and service are:

  • Extended
  • Extended network
  • Extended network LTE
  • Extended LTE
  • Extended coverage
  • Off-network data
  • Off-net coverage
  • Domestic roaming
  • Roaming domestically

While the volume of different phrases used for the same service can be overwhelming, individual carriers often stick to just the one or two. You likely won’t find yourself confronted with all of these words at once if you stick to just the one company.

When comparing cellular providers, it’s important to remember most will often use completely different words for describing the same services offered by their rivals.

For example, AT&T tends to use off-network and off-net when describing their extended network options while Verizon and T-Mobile refer to this feature as domestic roaming.

What Does Extended Network Mean With Verizon?

While Verizon does typically refer to its extended network service as domestic roaming, when this feature activates on your smartphone when out of range of a Verizon cell tower, the words Extended and Extended Network will be used to inform you of the switch.

Typically, Extended will appear in place of Verizon’s name at the top of your smartphone or tablet and Extended Network will display whenever you open your device’s carrier settings page.

Why Does My Phone Say Extended Network Instead of Sprint?

As with Verizon handsets, Sprint smartphones will also display Extended or Extended Network once they’ve switched to a third-party provider’s network. This is true for both Android smartphones and iPhones and is not something to worry about.

How Are Extended Networks and Roaming Different?

Extended network almost exclusively refers to domestic roaming. Domestic roaming is generally a free service offered by cellular providers so they can promise their customers their smartphones will work everywhere within the United States, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Some older mobile plans may still charge for connecting to an extended network so it can be worth speaking to a customer service representative to confirm the specifics of your plan and to discuss the possibility of switching to a better one if available.

International roaming, on the other hand, uses extended networks to provide service to customers while traveling abroad. International roaming, sometimes also called global roaming, can be very expensive and is something most should speak to their provider about if planning to use their mobile phone while overseas.

Renting a SIM card is much cheaper than using international roaming and is one of several ways to save on phone fees when traveling abroad.

How Do I Turn off Extended Network?

The extended network feature only switches on when your default cellular provider is unavailable. This means it’s impossible to manually switch back to your preferred provider. Turning your cellular settings off will simply leave you without any service at all.

If your smartphone says Extended, your usual provider’s network is likely out of range or unavailable. Trying to turn it off will leave you with zero service.

However, if your iPhone or Android smartphone has been using an extended network for a while and you feel as if you’ve now traveled back within range of your provider’s network, there is a way for you to trigger a potential reconnection.

All you need to do is place your device into Airplane Mode for a few seconds and then turn Airplane Mode off. It should scan for the best cellular network and connect to it immediately.

What Is a Network Extender Device?

A network extender is a piece of physical hardware used to boost your provider’s cellular network in your house or on your property. These devices are also often referred to as cell phone boosters and are completely unrelated to the extended network feature used for domestic roaming.

Similar devices are also available for boosting Wi-Fi networks.

What Does Extended Network Mean on Social Media?

You may see the phrase, extended network, pop up on social media sites and apps such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This usage also has nothing to do with domestic roaming cellular services and instead refers to second or third degree contacts or friends.

For example, a friend on Facebook would be in your immediate network of Facebook friends but one of their friends that you don’t know would be in your extended network.

  • Can I use my smartphone when traveling to another country?

    If you want to use your phone in another country, check with your carrier for international travel plans or roaming services. You may need to rent a new phone or buy a prepaid SIM card.

  • How do I avoid data roaming charges?

    Roaming fees vary, so contact your service provider or carefully research their policies online to avoid roaming charges. Turn off data roaming if you don't need it, or ask your carrier to unlock your phone so that you can buy a pre-paid cellular service.

  • How can I make free international calls?

    To make free voice and video calls anywhere in the world, use an app like WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, Google Voice, or Viber. All you need is an internet connection.

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