Welcome to Our WirelessAdvisor Community!

You are viewing our forums as a GUEST. Please join us so you can post and view all the pictures.
Registration is easy, fast and FREE!

GSM or CDMA in Alaska?

Discussion in 'Western US Wireless Forum' started by NorthernGal, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. NorthernGal

    NorthernGal New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Central Alaska
    Hi All,
    I'm brand new here, just trying to learn something because we are going to try wireless internet.
    As such, I have a question that I hope someone who knows something about wireless can help me with.
    We live on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. We currently have cell phone service with ACS, have had for several years. We live out of town, so we don't use our cell phones very much. Around here, as soon as you get out of town, the signal goes down, and if you get even a mile or two off the main highway, the signal is usually gone completely. Standing in an upstairs window, we get reasonable cell reception on a Motorola V323i (3 bars). Start driving to town, and you lose it on the first downhill.
    We also have ACS dialup internet, and it's slow, very slow. 26-28 kbps. Getting kicked offline is common. So we're looking into wireless internet.
    We talked to both ACS and GCI ( they use Cellular One), and tried out the Sierra Wireless 860 aircard with GCI's Cellular One network. It worked pretty well, again, upstairs, and should I mention we have metal siding?
    Cross country, we're about 2.5 miles from the highway, which is where everybody concentrates their cell coverage, as far as I know.
    Question: given these circumstances, any ideas on which would be better, GCI/Cellular One's GSM system, or ACS's CDMA system? Thanks for any help on this!
     
  2. t6821hn

    t6821hn Junior Member
    Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2003
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    My Phone:
    Vertu Ascent Ti Knurled
    Wireless Provider(s):
    VZW, T-Mobile, Iridium
    ACS's CDMA system is better in my opinion. I have visited Alaska a few times going as far north as Prudhoe Bay down to Kennicott, southwest to Katmai and places in between. From my experience I would say that the CDMA system is more mature and provides more comprehensive coverage as limited as it is in Alaska.

    I only tried using the data side in Anchorage and Copper Center and for the most part it was pretty good for checking email and a little web surfing.
     
  3. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,281
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    130
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Phone:
    HTC Thunderbolt
    Wireless Provider(s):
    VZW, Vodafone D2, Solomo, Swisscom Mobile
    I agree. I have heard that ACS is the way to go up there. I would suggest looking at a repeater option or external antenna, that could increase your signal tremendously and even make the wireless internet faster and more reliable as well as give you cell coverage throughout your home.
     
  4. nKrypteD1

    nKrypteD1 Software Architect
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Messages:
    1,606
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    My Phone:
    Motorola Droid X
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon
    I would hold off changing, GCI right now is scrambling now that AT&T is buying CellularOne. As a former GCI employee, I can say with all honesty, ACS is a bit more prevalent in the Kenai/Soldotna area, but I honestly believe that GCI's scramble will be a big thing and soon. Also keep in mind GCI owns majority of Alaska DigiTel, which would be another CDMA alternative. If GCI cable service is available for you (and I know it's all over the peninsula so there's a chance) then you have Internet and cheap long distance phone there, keep that in mind.

    Good Luck,

    Shawn
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  5. Jerro

    Jerro Bronze Senior Member
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Phila area
    My Phone:
    LG EV 3
    Wireless Provider(s):
    VZw
    Given the weather potential and wilderness coverage (out of town) did you ever consider trying Iridium for a back up.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  6. nKrypteD1

    nKrypteD1 Software Architect
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Messages:
    1,606
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    My Phone:
    Motorola Droid X
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon
    The kenai peninsula (where the OP resides) isn't that "out" of town for alaska, at least not to where they should need a sat phone. I'm willing to guarantee that the op has a landline either through GCI or ACS (GCI leases traditional copper lines from acs to provide the state with local phone service when it's own coax network isn't available.) You know, come to think of it, a repeater/signal amplifier should work for the OP in home for cellular service. That maybe an option to look into, the wireless amplifiers aren't that expensive and they could pick up the signal upstairs and rebroadcast throughout the house, they're fairly expensive in comparison to the phones 200 - 500 dollars, but it might be a decent investment if you're looking into getting a wireless internet access card through CellOne/AT&T (if you're going that route, trust me, keep GCI out of it, makes for less headaches if something goes wrong)
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  7. Jerro

    Jerro Bronze Senior Member
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    1,573
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Phila area
    My Phone:
    LG EV 3
    Wireless Provider(s):
    VZw
    The antenna would probably have to be high too. When WiFi in home like T-Mobile has takes off , a lot of these problems will go away. Also a call to the cellular company may get them to make antenna adjustments if the poster is in a cluster of homes.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  8. Buickman

    Buickman Gearhead/Gadget freak
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Messages:
    901
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    1
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Bye Bye MN, Hello Cali
    My Phone:
    BB 9550, Moto Droid
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon on both phones
    Something I haven't seen brought up here, but what types of data does each network have available? I'm assuming the CDMA is 1X, which will give about 90 to 100K download speeds. What about the GSM, is it EDGE? if not, isn't GSM data 14.4K speeds?
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  9. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Messages:
    1,794
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    BVR
    My Phone:
    Blackberry 8230, KRZR K1m
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Alltel, T-Mobile, Sprint, Centennial
    It depends. 1x and edge are basically the same speeds. They'll have to find out which one actually has plans to upgrade to 3g evdo or other....i would bet on evdo before wcdma....

    qnc is the same for gsm and original cdma at 14.4.........
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #9 strunke, Oct 21, 2007
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
  10. RadioFoneGuy

    RadioFoneGuy Powered by HTC FUZE
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Messages:
    1,235
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    6
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Everywhere.
    My Phone:
    Nokia 6103, 6010, 2260
    Wireless Provider(s):
    The death star formally known as Cell One.
    Dead on, 1X and EDGE are pretty close in speed (depending on tower backhaul)

    They both peak out around 300K. GSM uses bursting technology so your not always at 300K and only peaks when the subscriber needs it and it is like Cable the more people the slower it is.

    CDMA 1X is more efficient with its backhaul so more people can be on it.

    GPRS is slow and will make you mad. Its faster than dial up thou at a max of a guestimated
    128K (similiar to ISDN). If you just web browse its not bad.

    I cant speak from experience but from reading around the net Cellone in Alaska has the largest Network assests (towers) from buying a few companies and traded the old AT&T all of its Alaska towers for the small market Cell One used to have in California.
    Cell One may have more towers but that doesnt mean the coverage is where you need it.

    CDMA 1X is easier to update than that of UMTS which a completely different network technology.
     
    #10 RadioFoneGuy, Oct 21, 2007
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
  11. nKrypteD1

    nKrypteD1 Software Architect
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Messages:
    1,606
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    My Phone:
    Motorola Droid X
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon
    Right on Tech,

    But I know form experience cellone and the other carriers in AK are sparse at best when it comes to the peninsula, keep in mind at least 90% of the subs are clustered in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and the North Slope.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  12. NorthernGal

    NorthernGal New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Central Alaska
    Wow, thanks for all the responses, everybody! I have to say, you guys are a wealth of information. Just to clarify, cell phone coverage is not really the issue, what we're looking for is faster internet at home. We're trying out the cards in our laptop but it's our home computers we wanted faster. We have ACS landline phone service (and cell service), but I would say the chances of getting cable right here are low. There are scattered houses, 1/4 mile or so apart. We live about 15 miles out of Soldotna and get good cell reception outside the house and upstairs by a window, but zero inside, on the first floor.
    (We have considered Iridium for extended backcountry hiking and hunting, but haven't checked in to it yet. It's expensive, isn't it?)

    We had tried out GCI's (GSM)card for a week. (both companies let you do this for minimal cost, so we're planning on trying out ACS's card this week) Here's how the GSM card did: It definitely works in "bursts". Here at the house, performance really depended on where we had the laptop. In the living room= nothing. Upstairs, by a window= pretty good, generally 50-100 kbps, sometimes higher. We took the laptop to Anchorage with us, and the burst tech is really obvious, even there. We didn't know that was how it worked, and wondered why the rate fluctuated so much ( we spent a lot of time just watching the "Statistics" page of the software) so thank you for that info. In Anchorage we got speeds up to 200 kbps. Coming south out of Anchorage it worked pretty well until sometime up around Turnagain Arm. Then it went to zippo. We also took the laptop on a drive down to Homer, at the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. On the way down, it worked almost all the way, much better on the hills, and going down when you went down in a low spot. I think it gave out completely about 10-15 miles north of Homer. I t worked again in Homer, and out on the Homer Spit, but the rate fluctuated a lot. Overall, compared to our dial-up landline, it was fast !!! :D

    Regarding cell phones, we have ACS service. We got a new phone this summer, about when they went to CDMA. I don't know if it's the CDMA or the new phone, but reception is a whole lot better than it used to be. I checked it constantly the last week, as I drove around. In town (Soldotna and Kenai) it's great. Along the highway towards Anchorage, it's still good, and even off away from the hiway a couple miles, it's much better than it was last year. I got 2-3- bars in places I got no service before. I did run out of service when I was driving through the mountains, but FYI, there's great reception in Cooper Landing, which is right down in the mountains, because there's a cell site right there somewhere. A couple years ago, when I got my Nokia, I ran the battery completely down on it multiple times in the first week, just because I'd leave it on, and when I was out of digital, it'd switch to analog, and the battery would drop like a rock. That's when I got in the habit of only turning it on in town..... with CDMA and a Motorola, I can leave it on all the way home. :)
     
  13. NorthernGal

    NorthernGal New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Central Alaska
    Also, as a sidenote. It's difficult getting information about wireless internet around here, even in Anchorage. ESPECIALLY in Anchorage. We were just looking for info on antennae and an adapter for the desktop PC, and only found two guys, (one on the Geek Squad at Best Buy, the other at Comp USA) who even knew what we were talking about. The others had absolutely no clue; even at Frigid North if you know of them, they're an electronics place that generally has just what you need!
    No place in Anchorage had a PCMCIA- PCI adapter. Frigid North (isn't that a GREAT name!) had antenna equipment, but the guy didn't know if they even work for this application.
     
  14. NorthernGal

    NorthernGal New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Central Alaska
    ::O Sorry, I thought of more info to add. ACS's info says they use EVDO for their "mobile inernet", as they call it. They claim the fastest speeds in AK, saying they get up to 6 times faster than the competition. And they say EVDO is the most secure mobile wireless tech available. It will be interesting to see how their system does. When I talked to the ACS a couple weeks ago, she said that because of our location, we will only get about 50 kbps, as the cell sites here do not have the same equipment as the ones in Anchorage, or even in Kenai/Soldotna. I don't know what people in the lower 48 pay for wireless internet like this, but ACS's unlimited plan is $80 per month.
     
  15. Buickman

    Buickman Gearhead/Gadget freak
    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Messages:
    901
    Cell Tower Picture Gallery:
    1
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Bye Bye MN, Hello Cali
    My Phone:
    BB 9550, Moto Droid
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon on both phones
    That's what it used to be down here, now all the carriers are $60 per month. One thing you might want to look at is the kind of device I have, a USB modem instead of a PCMCIA card. That way you can easily attach it to a notebook or a desktop. Plus, with a USB cradle or extension cord you can move it around if reception is an issue. Looking at ACS's website they don't even list what devices they sell for mobile internet, so I don't know if that will be an option for you or not.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...

Share This Page

Copyright 1997-2022 Wireless Advisor™, LLC. All rights reserved. All registered and unregistered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.
WirelessAdvisor.com is not associated by ownership or membership with any cellular, PCS or wireless service provider companies and is not meant to be an endorsement of any company or service. Some links on these pages may be paid advertising or paid affiliate programs.

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice