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Recent Road Trip Coverage Report UT/NV/CA

Discussion in 'Western US Wireless Forum' started by Andy, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    All right, just got home from a road trip from Salt Lake to the Reno Area, San Francisco Area, Sacramento, then down to the Vegas Area and back through rural Utah.

    Utah:

    -Verizon: I got continuous coverage from Salt Lake to Wendover whereas before there were a few weak/no service areas.
    -T-Mobile: Worked well most of the way to Wendover.
    -Sprint: West of Tooele there was just one coverage "hot spot" until you reached Wendover.


    I-80 Nevada:

    -Verizon had one coverage hole just west of Wendover, where my phone roamed onto ALLTEL. In Western NV along I-80 Verizon does not provide native coverage so my phone roamed onto CC Communications, who had amazing coverage through the desert, although coverage outside of towns was IS-95. ALLTEL also worked great (1x) throughout Nevada. Once I gained Verizon service back east of Reno, it was great.

    -T-Mobile: Had coverage most of the way, although there were certain areas with no service or service that was too weak to place/receive calls.

    -Sprint: No native service whatsoever until east of Reno.

    Reno, Nevada:

    -Verizon: Excellent coverage in the areas I visited.

    -T-Mobile: Generally great coverage, although we had one dropped call driving and some coverage issues indoors.

    -Sprint: Pilot Pollution at the hotel we were staying at and some weak coverage indoors.

    Reno to Sacramento/San Francisco:

    -Verizon: Covered the entire stretch of I-80 through the Sierra Nevada and Donner Pass to Sacramento and on to San Francisco. EVDO the entire way other than one or two cell sites in the Sierra Nevada.

    T-Mobile: Generally great service, although some coverage holes in the Sierra Nevada.

    Sprint: Coverage holes through the Sierra Nevada.


    Sacramento:

    -Verizon: Great service through the places I visited, although part of the Folsom area was weak indoors, although I never dropped/missed a call.

    -T-Mobile: Great coverage throughout the Sacramento area, although coverage hole near Lake Natoma.

    -Sprint: Worked well throughout the city, although there was a dead spot, along with T-Mobile, near Lake Natoma.


    San Francisco:

    -Verizon: Excellent service throughout the city (the places I visited), although I did drop a call at Bubba Gump at Pier 39. No issues whatsoever even on the bridges leading in/out of the city.

    -T-Mobile: Generally great coverage, although Pier 39 was very bad. The signal was low and it kept dropping calls and going straight to voicemail. Also, some places deep inside buildings were not very hot on T-Mobile. Dropped a call going Eastbound on the Bay Bridge.

    -Sprint: Dropped a call on the Bay Bridge going Westbound. Hotel in downtown San Francisco was horrible (signal in the -90dbm, but the noise level was off the roof). China Town was not too hot on Sprint, I dropped a few calls ,especially indoors and some calls went straight to voicemail. Pier 39, especially as you got further out on the Pier, got worse and worse. Some coverage issues deep inside buildings.

    -Metro PCS: I have to say that while I didn't use Metro PCS while there, whenever I forced my phone onto their network, they had a very strong places in all places I visited. I was very surprised, especially since I used to hear that their network needed improvement.

    Sacramento to Las Vegas:

    -Verizon: Excellent service overall with EVDO the entire way, even across the high desert. I did drop a call in the high desert going from SID 228 to SID 2.

    -T-Mobile: Worked great overall, although there was a rather large dead spot in the high desert outside Barstow.

    -Sprint: Great coverage until you hit some of the more outlaying parts along I-5/99, where the are some coverage holes here and there. The high desert was quite sporadic, but coverage was existent in places like Mojave and Tehachapi thanks to recent synergy CDMA additions.


    I visited some other, outlying areas as well but I'm too tired to write up a review of those right now, but I did travel over 2,000 miles over the past week. My equipment considered of T-Mobile and Verizon phones (one of which was always forced on Sprint systems). Some of you will say that my results are invalid because of various reasons, but those are fairy tales.
    Overall, I was very impressed with the T-Mobile coverage we got on this trip, although some places GSM just is not present, like the Nevada desert off I-80, but T-Mobile had more native coverage than Sprint and where they were present they were generally of good quality.
    Verizon I was very impressed with. I noticed network improvements in many areas since last time I visited those areas and I had EVDO at least 90% of the time I was in reach of the Verizon native network.

    CC Communications has an excellent network throughout their Nevada coverage area. I was very amazed at their coverage and quality, although they unfortunately do have some handoff issues between some of their cell sites. And yes, they are still just IS-95 inbetween towns, and 1x in towns. ALLTEL has a great 1x network and the quality was great throughout their footprint.

    ALLTEL now also covers the Virgin River Gorge with CDMA- they used to only have AMPS up on their cell site within the Gorge. Thanks to this CDMA addtion on ALLTEL's part I had coverage through about 80-85% of the Gorge. I think this was a well-needed addition as there was no digital service whatsoever available through the Gorge before. The GSM phone did not pick up the ALLTEL system within the Gorge so I'm assuming GSM is not active there.

    This trip reminded me of why I deal with some of Verizon's (and CDMA's) limitation- it's the fact that my phone works well, whether I am in town or in the middle of nowhere. No doubt does CDMA have a great presence throughout the rural Western U.S.

    Thanks for the read. ;)
     
  2. M in LA

    M in LA Mobile 28 Years Plus
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    Great report, Andy! It's good to know the I-80 corridor is strong for Verizon, and decent for T-Mobile. Thanks for the info. :D
     
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  3. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    Yay andy who did you talk to most of the way
     
  4. shango

    shango Junior Member
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    I was just up and down 93 and 95 in Nevada. Alltel still has a lot of analog only in 93, Verizon has really good 1x coverage.
    On 95 Alltel has much better 1x but CC and Verizon do a great job too.
    375 and 6 had huge dead zones. On 375 the only coverage was Verizon analog only in the town of Rachel.
    Alltel does have EV in the larger towns like Tonopa.
     
  5. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Thanks for elaborating on my post. :)

    So Verizon still has an analog only tower in Nevada is what you're saying?
     
  6. shango

    shango Junior Member
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    Yes, but only 1 and you can see it on verizons map. lower middle of the state there is a big analog spot.
    You know it could be Wue inc or whatever its called. Ill be out there again next week. Ill check it out some more.
     
  7. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Ah yes, it indeed could be WUE; I've never really understood the VZW/WUE relationship and why Verizon just doesn't "buy them out" or whatever.

    Please do update us on this and other trips you take- it's always nice to have first hand coverage reports.
     
  8. SprintToTheRescue

    SprintToTheRescue New Member

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    Andy-
    I am sorry but I have traveled this route myself and with the exception of nevada sprint is very good and does nothing like you report.
     
    #8 SprintToTheRescue, Jan 12, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2008
  9. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    That it is thanks for your review
     
  10. ace41690

    ace41690 Junior Member
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    I dont know if you can really judge a network if your not using one of their phones and roaming instead. Example: I force roam on alltel in my house because I dont have good sprint coverage, but sometimes My phone will randomly drop a call, sporatically refuse to connect, not send texts, or be garbled. My friend with an actual alltel phone does not experience these problems in my house. How were you able to force a verizon phone onto sprint's system? I thought you couldnt force roaming with Verizon???
     
  11. n7ryy

    n7ryy Member
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    What's a good test mode for CDMA networks these days? I want to do some cell site sleuthing on some Verizon, Sprint, and Cricket sites.
    Thanks
     
  12. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    I use ##DEBUG# to get into debug mode but it varies a little from phone to phone.
     
  13. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Wow, Andy, that's incredible that you took the time to make these observations and to make a report of it! :googlyeye

    Just to clarify, how/why did you have 3 phones with you all the time? Most of the observations were made in idle mode? (ie: not connected on a call)
     
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  14. MOTOhooligan

    MOTOhooligan Former Mobile Data Addict
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    I deleted all the off-topic posts.

    Please keep posts on-topic, which is Andy's coverage report and/or coverage in that area.
     
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  15. RadioFoneGuy

    RadioFoneGuy Powered by HTC FUZE
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    I believe some of the deleted was relevant but your the Sheriff. I still say it was a good Drive test like my delete post had said.
     
  16. xchpstang

    xchpstang New Member

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    You're coverage report sounds a little too sugarcoated for Verizon :D . Not that I would expect a "Verizon was horrible" kind of report from you. But either way I'd totally have to disagree with you on the reports from Sprint in California. I can't comment on T-Mobile.

    I travel all the mentioned routes extensively and have a combination of Verizon/ATT/Sprint for work/personal use and I'd say that ATT's coverage is much overrated. Even the ATT phone I have loves to be optimistic: drops and garbles calls in a full signal area when out in the boonies. In town ATT is OK.

    While Verizon is very strong in California it is not the be-all-end-all of coverage. Sprint is a match in most areas as of recently and I haven't experienced indoor problems in most areas of Sacramento and S.F. as they have cellsites pretty densely built out.

    Perception is in the eye of the beholder;)
     
  17. nmt

    nmt New Member

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    That took a lot of blood, sweat & tears to keep this network as best as possible. Tower work in the winter for many of these sites isn't fun.

    The EV-DO system will be going through an optimization later this spring/summer throughout NV/CA markets. Going through installations of tower sites, antennas & lines will be maxed out on connector specs and this will increase the footprints even more. It's been a couple of years since me & my crew have done this but we have the green light this year.

    Curt
    Nevada Microwave & Tower
     
  18. rcallen7

    rcallen7 New Member

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    I enjoyed reading the trip coverage. I have a question that you might answer. You say that you put up with CDMA in apite of its limitations. Could you possibly expand on that and comment on what you view as the limitations of CDMA? I would also appreciate it if you would tell your view towards GSM, and what the strenghts and limitations are for both systems.

    Thanks.
     
  19. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    I sent an email to Andy so hopefully he will come here and help you with some answers.
     
  20. rcallen7

    rcallen7 New Member

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    Thank you. He reminds me of a line from the movie "Only You": "Itly? What's my wife doing in Itly?"

    "Itly" is a far piece from Utah. I was there 6-7 years ago, and it is pretty cool.
     
  21. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    No problem..........
     
  22. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Hi there!

    What I was referring to with my comment in regards to CDMA's "limitations" was the fact that you cannot swap out phones as easily as a SIM Card on GSM, or the fact that Verizon puts their own User Interface on their phone and places limitations on some of the phones features. There are times when I get very annoyed by this, but those annoyances disappear rather quickly when I have a phone service that works this well. I use my phone primarily for voice (anywhere between 6,000 to 10,000 minutes per month) and need something that works. If you travel a lot through the Western U.S. as I do, CDMA clearly has the edge in coverage. There are places where I make/receive calls from a Verizon cell site located over 80 miles away- this simply is not possible on a GSM network.

    GSM's obvious strengths are the facts that it works globally and the ease of swapping out phones simply by popping a SIM Card in and out of the phone. Unfortunately I don't think either T-Mobile or at&t come close to offering the voice quality and reliability that Verizon offers in Utah.

    I travel internationally a lot myself and have a GSM phone with both local and U.S. based SIM Cards for those times- it's a lot cheaper than using either at&t or T-Mobile service overseas. I chose what works best for me- CDMA for my extensive U.S. traveling and GSM SIM Cards for international travel that let me call to the U.S. for less than 1/10th of what U.S. GSM carriers charge.

    In the end, everyone's usage and mileage varies- but here's my story. I don't visit this forum too often, but feel free to shoot me an email anytime!

    -Andy

    By the way, Thanks for the email RJB :)
     
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  23. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    Sure thing Andy............
     

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