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What does ‘extended network’ mean?

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  • 3 min read

Telecom providers have come a long way both in terms of the features they offer and the overall network coverage you get. Unless you’re out in the middle of nowhere, chances are you’ll have relatively good coverage on your phone. 

However, we all experience connection drops from time to time when travelling or sometimes even in the middle of the city. Carriers have come up with a variety of solutions to fix this problem, including extended networks. In this article, we’re talking about what extended networks are and how they help keep you connected. 

Also read: What is Data Roaming and how to reduce roaming charges?

Extended networks explained

Simply put, an extended network is the network coverage provided by another carrier that has partnered up with your carrier to combine their coverage areas and hence give their customers a much wider coverage area. 

If a customer travels outside of a particular carrier’s network coverage area, it’s normal for them to lose network connectivity. However, if any of the carrier’s partners cover that area, the customer’s phone will automatically switch to the partner’s network to keep them connected. 

The process is seamless and doesn’t require any input or charge extra fees from the user. That said, internet or data speeds might be a little slow as compared to your carrier’s original number. 

The term ‘extended network’ is also often exchangeable and different carriers use different terms to say the same thing. Some popular terms are:

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

Most carriers will only use one or two of the aforementioned terms so you don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed with random network terms on your phone.

Also read: Why is my Verizon phone dropping calls? 9 Fixes

Can you revert back to our original network?

Considering the feature is a fallback in case you don’t have coverage from your original carrier, there’s no way you can manually go back to your carrier once you’re on an extended network. That said, you can put your phone on airplane mode for around 10-15 seconds and then disable it to find the best network around you automatically. 

Extended networks vs Roaming

The two ideas might seem exactly the same and functionally, they are for the most part. However, there is one key difference. When on an extended network, the carrier whose network you’re using and your original carrier have a deal in place that allows you to use the second network without being charged extra. 

When you’re roaming, however, your device is on another network where the two carriers have no agreement or deal between them to let you use the second network. This means that you might have to pay extra for cellular and data connectivity and connection speeds might also be a bit slow as compared to your original carrier’s network. 

Also read: Why is your Airtel SIM not working on international roaming? 6 Fixes

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: