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Caribbean roaming (Cingular)

Discussion in 'Northeastern US Wireless Forum' started by Charles58, Oct 21, 2003.

  1. Charles58

    Charles58 New Member

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    Bobolito--See you are back. How did you make out with Cingular roaming in the Caribbean? Did you get to Barbados and / or Aruba? Which phone did you use? Thanks
     
  2. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I had a TDMA phone (Nokia 8265)...it worked pretty good for the most part. I was in Grand Cayman, Roatan (Honduras), Belize and Cozumel (Mexico).

    Grand Cayman: Good digital coverage on the B side (800Mhz) although I can't say much because I didn't go too far from the shore. I was able to receive voicemail notifications and SMS but I could not send SMS. The dialing method was the same as in the US. I was also able to roam on the A side which was analog but my phone preferred the B side which was digital. Inside the cruise ship, the signal was pretty much dead in the lower decks forcing the phone to scan and sometimes it picked the A side. Although the signal was pretty strong outside (in the -50's dB), the body of the ship is a very effective RF killer, so I could be getting -55dB out in the pier, but inside my cabin I could only get about -109dB and sometimes it lost the signal completely.

    Roatan: It seems Cingular doesn't have roaming agreements in this island at least for TDMA/AMPS networks. I was able to pick up an analog signal on the A band but dialing did not work. I got a recorded message in Spanish saying that I was not a cellular subscriber. Apparently there is no B side since my phone never found a signal when doing scans. This is a very unspolied area and the towers I saw there were actually using omnidirectional antennas. I don't think GSM even exists there. However, signal was adequate. I went on a sigthseeing tour and I was getting a signal in the most remote "middle-of-nowhere" areas.

    Belize: Again I was in analog on the A side. My phone never found a B side, so it is possible there is none. I could not dial out either and I got a recorded message again saying that I was not a subscriber. Apparently, Cingular has no agreements with that AMPS carrier. Their antennas were omnidirectional as well. Coverage was good in the more populated areas, but out in the middle of nowhere I was able to pick up adequate signals from very far away (over 10 miles). Even though signal was in the -100's (dBm) the recorded messages I heard when trying to dial were very clear with barely any static. For some reason, those analog systems work 100 times better than in the US. I went to very remote areas where you don't see any type of civilization for miles and I was able to get a good signal. Even up in the Xunantunich area where there are some Mayan ruins near the Guatemala border, there is barely any civilization and I was getting a signal in the -80's (dB) and it sounded great even though it was analog. I had a hard time believing it was analog so I had to check that my phone was not displaying a "D" on the screen. In fact, it was an analog signal all the time as I was able to confirm using the Field Test.
    However, there seems to be a new PCS carrier in Belize, I don't know what technology they use, but by the notable proximity of the many towers I saw in comparison to the carrier my phone was picking up, I can assure this was a PCS carrier. All the towers for this PCS carrier were identical so I have to assume it was the same carrier. In fact, I saw workers installing some of them so they are pretty new.

    Mexico: I went on another tour here that took us far in the main land from the Cozumel island. Digital coverage from TELCEL was excellent all the way. They used the B side. I was able to dial and receive voicemail notifications and SMS with no problems. I even received a forwarded AOL IM message that Airb330 sent me while I was there, however, I could not send SMS so I could not reply. I had to call 611 to figure out how to dial to the US because when I dialed I kept getting a message (in spanish) that the call could not be completed as dialed. Telcel customer service was very corteous and asked me to add a 001 before dialing the 10 digits in order to call the US. I went to the Xel-Ha ruins and Tulum and signal was great far in the middle of the Mayan ruins. There was another carrier on the A side that my phone picked up while inside the ship. This was analog, however, but apparently, Cingular has agreements with both carriers as I was able to dial on the analog carrier as well.

    I was surprised that while sailing many miles away from Miami, I was still able to get a signal. Since the ship basically borders the Florida keys on its way south, I had a signal for many hours after we left Miami and many hours before returning to Miami. Although, we were so far from land that we could not see the Florida Keys on the horizon, the signal still reached my phone and I was able to use it. A friend using Sprint had a good PCS signal as well. However, we had to be on the top level of the ship. Inside the decks there was no signal unless you sat by a window because the body of the ship can effectively shield your phone from any signal. I also got some signal while passing by Cuba but I don't know if I was able to dial.
     
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