Why is Cell Service So Bad on the KP? Some Help is Coming

T-Mobile is looking to add up to two new cell towers on the Key Peninsula by 2025. Time to switch carriers — again?


Spotty cell coverage across portions of the Key Peninsula has left some homeowners dependent on sometimes even less reliable landlines. Residents may well wonder why it is so bad and what can be done about it.

The Big Three carriers — T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T — all attribute signal strength issues to the KP’s terrain and heavily wooded surroundings.

Case in point: for all three, according to coverage maps, the closer customers are to either Case Inlet or Carr Inlet, especially Carr Inlet, the better service tends to be.

“While the Key Peninsula’s dense forestry can be challenging, we continue to upgrade our sites on the peninsula to improve performance for customers and provide faster wireless speeds,” Lauren Peterson, Verizon’s senior manager of corporate communications, told the Key Peninsula News.

Within the last four years, AT&T invested close to $1 billion in their wireless and wireline infrastructure just across Washington State. The company also said it made recent updates to existing cell sites in the area to improve network capacity.

“We understand the importance of keeping our customers connected and continue to look for ways to improve our network,” said an AT&T spokesperson.

Although all three of the large carriers claim to offer great coverage on the Key Peninsula, their coverage maps show each has its bread and butter areas: AT&T seems to provide the best coverage from Purdy down into Key Center, T-Mobile takes care of most of Vaughn, especially along Lackey and Crescent Beach Roads where a tower is close by, and Verizon is top-notch from Home down to Erickson Road SW and from Palmer Lake to Penrose Point State Park, as well as in Wauna down the shoreline to Minter Creek.

That is not to say each of those carriers doesn’t have glad or sad customers in all of those areas.

Key Peninsula News randomly selected comments about cell service woes from local KP Facebook groups over the last few months and shared them with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Only T-Mobile responded directly to the feedback, saying they are adding a “cell site,” which means a tower, to help address issues in areas like Longbranch, where current Verizon and AT&T customers lean toward being happy with their service, but T-Mobile customers shared mostly bad news stories.

Bellevue-based T-Mobile also plans to address the dreaded dead zone stretch of State Route 302 and the KP Highway between 118th Avenue NW and Lake Minterwood that seems to affect all carriers and could be a major public safety issue or a minor inconvenience. Work in both areas will likely be done in 2025, according to the company, but it won’t divulge exactly where the towers will go.

Knowing time, and speed, is of the essence, T-Mobile is making more immediate improvements on the KP. A company spokesperson said this past March T-Mobile expanded its Ultra Capacity 5G coverage which likely gave a boost to customers. The carrier says it already covers about 98.6% of the area with 4G LTE and 5G, “and we expect that number to improve as we continue bolstering our network in the region."