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Alaska--can AT&T roam on GCI in villages?

Discussion in 'AT&T Wireless Forum' started by jayatmtu, May 7, 2010.

  1. jayatmtu

    jayatmtu Junior Member
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    AT&T has pretty decent service in the more populated areas of Alaska like Fairbanks and Anchorage, but not much in the smaller villages. GCI has built out a GSM network to many of the isolated villages..can AT&T users roam on it in places like Barrow, Adak, or Bethel? Does anyone have any experience with AT&T in areas like these?

    Thanks

    [​IMG]
     
  2. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    I know someone who had GCI was using Cellumap to map out their network around Anchorage, and I know that person roamed on occasion on AT&T's network when in rural areas outside of CGI coverage. But I'm not sure if AT&T users can roam on GCI. I actually thought AT&T had better coverage in Alaska, because they have 850MHz licences there and GCI has only 1800MHz. But you're right, it looks like GCI is building more sites to cover more area and AT&T is relying on just a few 850MHz sites for coverage.
     
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  3. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    NO

    I am a regular visitor to Bethel and I get the SOS mode there with my AT&T Blackberry Bold 9000.

    Advertisements on TV by GCI emphasize the point that AT&T "really blows" in the villages.

    GCI and ATT have a roaming agreement that applies to the structure existing at the time AT&T acquired Dobson Communications (2008). That agreement is supposed to extend until 2012; however, I have having problems in the Anchorage area very recently.


    Terry
     
    #3 tlagrone, Jul 25, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  4. jayatmtu

    jayatmtu Junior Member
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    When was the last time that you were out there? About two weeks ago I noticed that the AT&T coverage maps were updated to show some GSM roaming in places like Barrow, Dutch Harbor, Wainright, etc.

    I've attached a screenshot to show what I'm talking about.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    Replying to the original post.

    Been in Barrow and Bethel earlier this month.

    You can roam on AT&T in Barrow (Arctic Slope Telecom). No internet, just phone and text. If you get charged for international text from Barrow, explain that you really can't see Russia from your back yard. (been there, done that)

    You can call 911 in Bethel from your AT&T phone - nothing else. (GCI)

    Don't know about Adak specifically.

    Fisherman and others arriving in Dutch Harbor used to get a text message explaing how to roam add additional cost, that might have changed recently.

    The updated map also shows some new locations like Iliamna and Selawik. These are not GCI sites.

    I would expect the situation to change before 2012. The question is whether AT&T is willing to pay for sites averaging 50 customers each.

    Terry
     
  6. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    Some extra fact checking. AT&T customers cannot roam on GCI controlled sites. Prior to 2007, GCI did not have very much in actual sites -they used the Dobson / Cellular One sites. The purchase agreement of Dobson by AT&T gave GCI until June 30, 2012 to build their own infrastructure. That construction is well under way. GCI is not the only game in the state and AT&T does have roaming agreements with many GSM equipped providers. The AT&T customer service reps don't know these details and many sites will roam for a year or more before the map shows service (Barrow, for example)

    To find out for sure whether your phone will roam in a particular site, you must visit the site and turn your phone on. Results will vary. When Barrow was turned on, I could roam for several months with my Pantech or Blackberry before iPhone users could roam - something to do with the roaming database imbedded in the SIM chip.

    Best of luck to you on your travels.

    Terry
     
    #6 tlagrone, Jul 26, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  7. jayatmtu

    jayatmtu Junior Member
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    Very informative. Thanks!
     
  8. sandmanDLG

    sandmanDLG New Member

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    I live in Anchorage but have lived in dillingham ak for most of my life. GCI just turn on service in dillingham due to high volume of call active.
     
  9. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    Just got a GCI chip and works great in Kodiak, Nome and Kotzebue. Just barely works at my MatSu valley location (slightly better than AT&T).

    MTA is the only reliable MatSu valley service in locations away from the main road system. All the other carriers are sticking to the locations where most people live.

    From the GCI web site:

    Wireless (Cellular) Information GCI has established our own network and will no long be partnered with AT&T / Dobson.
     
  10. jayatmtu

    jayatmtu Junior Member
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    Hmm..looking at the T-Mobile coverage map though, it does appear they do offer roaming on GCI. If I type in Bethel on the T-Mobile coverage locator, it shows "partner" coverage. I suppose it would not be in GCI's best interest to offer roaming to AT&T, since AT&T already offers coverage in Alaska it could draw customers away. Since T-Mobile doesn't compete in Alaska, GCI probably didn't have the same concerns.
     
  11. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    I wiil have to check on my next trip to the Bethel area. My T-Mobile phone is giving me emergency only on 311-370 (GCI) in the Anchorage / MatSu area (uses AT&T in that area).
     
    #11 tlagrone, Aug 30, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  12. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    Location:
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    T-Mobile did not roam this evening, Sep 8, 2010 at the Bethel, Alaska airport. Will try again next trip.

    T-Mobile Phones (Samsung and Nokia) showed "No Access" or "Not Authorized" when manually selecting 311-370. Blackberry showed "Emergency Only" or red "SOS" on main screen.

    Did some SIM chip swapping with my GCI chip to make sure it was not a phone problem. GCI works well in Bethel. Was on a working trip, so I did not have a lot of time to experiment.

    Terry
     
  13. jayatmtu

    jayatmtu Junior Member
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    I checked the T-mobile coverage map and it no longer shows the "partner" coverage in Bethel or the other areas with GCI..looks like the roaming agreement must have changed. I know you could roam on GCI with them at least in a few places because I did while I was in Fairbanks...I could manually select ATT or GCI. I'm heading back to Alaska next month so i'll have to see how it works in Fairbanks.
     
  14. tlagrone

    tlagrone New Member

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    Location:
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    Some more roaming yesterday. In Barrow, AK, T-Mobile and AT&T roam on ASTAC Cellular. (no data available) GCI is available there. Verizon roams on ACS (slow data available)

    In Fairbanks, T-Mobile roams on GCI and AT&T is home. It would appear that the roaming agreements are location specific.

    In Anchorage area, T-Mobile will roam on GCI but will switch to AT&T when out of GCI coverage area.

    In Bethel, no roaming allowed on the GCI network. My T-Mobile G2 can go to a wifi hotspot and use the wifi calling feature -- the phone shows TMOBILE as the carrier. (not roaming)

    Results on my cheap prepaid T-Mobile phone are different; it will not use GCI at all.
     

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