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OlympicMtnBoy

Cell coverage in the mountains? Which carrier?

Which carrier has the best rural coverage in the NW?  

198 members have voted

  1. 1. Which carrier has the best rural coverage in the NW?

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Ok, so I finally have to make the leap everyone else made years ago. I need a cell phone. I know (from using other peoples phones) that of course, coverage sucks out of metro areas and rarely works in the hills. But which one works best? Which carrier is most likely to get me a tow truck when I'm stuck on a dirt road on the Olympic Peninsula, or sliding in the snow in the Cascades? What carriers have you had good experiences with outside of the cities?

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My Cingular had a full SOS-Only signal from the top of Snow Dome, up to the summit on Mount Olympus. Cingular uses that stupid GSM signal that is good for multimedia, but sucks for strength. I agree with Josh; I've heard from several people that Verizon's digital/analog default is the best for rural coverage. When my Cingular contract is up, I'm going to switch.

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You should send Lambone a PM. I suspect he will provide with the name of a carrier that reliably serves really remote, glaciated peaks. laugh.gif

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Look for an analog option that you can flip to from digital(you might have to select an option at time of subscription) where you can switch to from digital with most of those carriers. Analog will carry better in the mountains, and usually digital is line of site (electronically), which means you would get reception if your provider had a good cell placement if you used digital. An analog option will give you more reception, but you would have to select it to make it work. Remember to turn off the phone if you are in digital mode in the mountains, if you go into seeking or roam it will drain your batteries.

TTT

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The cell coverage maps I've seen of the West are at least all in the same ball-park - except for the Oly Peninsula. Verizon is the only carrier I would consider on the peninsulua. I've talked to the bubbleheads at the Verizon store in Tacoma and according to them and the maps I've seen Verizon and everyone else is phasing out analogue as fast as they can.

 

However, from White Pass to Tieton (near Yakima) I got analogue or roaming or Extended Network while in the valley and digitial when in sight of Yakima (up high). I get digital at Baker and Crystal, nothing much near treeline from Longmire to Paradise. I've had no coverage on I-90 either side of Snoq. Pass, but that seems to be getting better.

 

Verison Coverage Locator:

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocatorController?requesttype=ZOOM%20LEVEL%20STATE

 

Wich phone you get is also very important. Verison uses cell towers that transmit CDMA on two frequencies as well as the legacy Analogue towers. But you can't use all of this unless you ask for a "Tri-mode" phone. Remember the secret word = "Tri-mode."

The newer phones, since they rely mostly on digital have one third the transmiting power of phones of just a few yrs ago. This is why the batterie and phone can be so small. Unfortunatly Verizon won't activate anything older than this yr because only the very newest phones can be located by the feds and those 911 centers equiped for locating 911 cell calls.

 

Verizon (nor anyone else I've talked to) will tell you how strongly your phone transmits, however, if you know the FCC ID # (usualy under the battery) you can look up the transmit power at: https://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/oet/cf/eas/index.cfm

 

Gripes:

Although Verizon usualy has as good or better coverage than anyone else they only sell one durrable phone - and you have to buy two and a more expensive plan to get it. The Kyocera 444 is the only phone they sell that I would drop more that six inches. Nor do they make any cell phones that are at all water resistant. In fact they have a little white paper dot near the battery that, when it gets damp, turns red. Because of durrability issues I keep my phone in a new zip-lock bag inside a hard-shell eye-glasses case. If your phone gets wet - do not turn it on! Remove the battery and shell, dry everything out ( a day in front of the vent), re-assemble it, turn it on, and pray.

 

Oh, one last gripe about Verizon. Although the cell phone apears to uses gps and cell technology to locate the phone, you, with the phone, can't get your location.

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Verizon, if only for the coverage. the coverage is superior IMO and I've been happy with them overall as well.

 

If you get Verizon, be sure to get the cell number of another Verizon customer. If you tell Verizon that so and so sent you, and then they go fill out this little slip of paper at the Verizon store, they get a $25 credit off their next bill. sweet deal. Oh and also Verizon calls are free to other Verizon customers.

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Great, looks like I ought to go with Verizon then. I'll just have to do a little research on phones and make sure I get a tri-band phone with decent power and durability. Thanks for all the great input.

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I have had a total of 25 minutes of coverage from Cingular in the last three days here in Bellingham. madgo_ron.gif

Whatever is going on, I am now for sure switching.

 

Thanks for the good info. thumbs_up.gif

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Wich phone you get is also very important. Verison uses cell towers that transmit CDMA on two frequencies as well as the legacy Analogue towers. But you can't use all of this unless you ask for a "Tri-mode" phone. Remember the secret word = "Tri-mode."

 

Gripes:

Although Verizon usualy has as good or better coverage than anyone else they only sell one durrable phone - and you have to buy two and a more expensive plan to get it. The Kyocera 444 is the only phone they sell that I would drop more that six inches.

 

I’ve had very good luck with the Nokia phones being dropped from up to six feet onto concrete. The covers pop off and the battery usually takes a flight, but they almost always power back up. In seven years I’ve lost one Nokia when the screen broke during an especially traumatic flight down a flight of concrete stairs. A leather case makes it really hard to break them in a tumbling drop.

 

My current phone is the tri-mode Nokia 6015i with Verizon as the carrier. One nice feature of this phone is the retractable antennae which can significantly increase analogue signal strength in certain situations. Another plus is that this phone is free with Verizon activation. It doesn’t have a camera or any other bells or whistles, but it does make calls and survives drops (though probably not as well as the 444 might).

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So far they have one, the Motorola VWM? Navigator, a.k.a. the 325?

 

However, I'm not sure if it is GPS or pseudo GPS like AGPS. If anyone can find a true GPS phone for Verizon (one that will work w/o cell towers) let me know!

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This cell phone subject is a pet peeve of mine. I have a particularly hard time making calls from the tops of mountains. I use Verizon and currently an LG6100 but the same thing would happen with my previous phone.

I have full signal strength, like five bars and when I dial a number it tries and tries and tries and then the call will fail. Maybe one out of ten attempts will go through. Something is amiss but I'm not sure what. It happens on each side of Puget Sound. It's like I'm getting too good of coverage. ??? Anyone know whats going on?

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That's common on any phone. The signal strength indicator just shows you the relative power level of the incoming signal. (from a high powered tower). In order for you to get out the signal from your phone(a low powered transmitter) has to make it back to the net somewhere.

 

What happens is that cell phones auto regulate their transmit power in acordance with the incoming signal. If the phone sees a high signal level it thinks it is close to the net and transmits at a reduced level. You are in essence trapped by the fact that you are up in the mountains where the signal flies around good.

 

There are ways to trick your phone into transmiting higher levels.

 

I will look into the codeing for your phone give me a PM if interested.

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About 5 years ago I chose ATT, reasoning that because their system was older they would have more (analog) towers in more remote places...compared to the newer networks that seemed to concentrate on digital towers in large metro areas.

 

I was happy with my choice at the time, though I'm not so sure my reasoning holds true today with the other companies expanding their networks.

 

Funny story, I was on the summit of Mt Baker on Father's day a few years back and thought I should call my dad then...wouldn't be back to cell coverage for a number of hours after that. I took a little stroll away from the herds of climbers so as not to impact their wilderness experience and called my dad, hiding the phone inside my shell hood so as not to spoil the view of the wilderness for the herds. Short good conversation.

 

When I got my bill ATT had billed me some extra charges, saying I made that call from Canada. When I offered to send them summit photos, affidavits from my climbing partners, and a map of Washington State showing where Mt. Baker is the customer service rep capitulated and took the extra charges off my bill. The extra charges were less than a dollar or two, but it was the point of the matter...let's be accurate!

 

One certainly wouldn't get that same service now that Cingular has bought out ATT Wireless.

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About 5 years ago I chose ATT, reasoning that because their system was older they would have more (analog) towers in more remote places...compared to the newer networks that seemed to concentrate on digital towers in large metro areas.

 

I was happy with my choice at the time, though I'm not so sure my reasoning holds true today with the other companies expanding their networks.

 

Funny story, I was on the summit of Mt Baker on Father's day a few years back and thought I should call my dad then...wouldn't be back to cell coverage for a number of hours after that. I took a little stroll away from the herds of climbers so as not to impact their wilderness experience and called my dad, hiding the phone inside my shell hood so as not to spoil the view of the wilderness for the herds. Short good conversation.

 

When I got my bill ATT had billed me some extra charges, saying I made that call from Canada. When I offered to send them summit photos, affidavits from my climbing partners, and a map of Washington State showing where Mt. Baker is the customer service rep capitulated and took the extra charges off my bill. The extra charges were less than a dollar or two, but it was the point of the matter...let's be accurate!

 

One certainly wouldn't get that same service now that Cingular has bought out ATT Wireless.

 

you were receiving the rogers network signal from canada on top of baker and therefore were charged the roaming.

 

you originally had a digital at&t tdma service which, back in the day was superior as it was the only choice but now is bout as worthless as 2 cups on a string because most the channels (850) have been migrated to the gsm network. try the gsm netwok now...much better

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While an ATT customer, I got good Verizon pay-per-use access deep in a valley in the Alpine Lakes area. Pretty remote stuff, so I was fairly surprised to even get a signal.

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