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Recommended Service for Southeast Coast

Discussion in 'Southern US Wireless Forum' started by svhelios, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. svhelios

    svhelios New Member

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    My husband and I will be moving onto our boat and cruising
    the Southeast coast from Virginia to Florida over the next 7 months. We live in Northern Virginia and have T-Mobile, which if fine for our
    current life, but doesn't look like good choice for most of the coast.
    Starting in October the only place we will spend some concentrated time (2 months) is in Southern Florida and the Keys.

    I am looking for opinions on the best coverage/service for us to switch to
    for both our upcoming plans and then when we get back to VA. I expect the most important plan feature will be the ability to have unlimited roam since we will not be in one place more than a few weeks.

    Thanks
     
  2. UFO

    UFO Bronze Senior Member
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    Location:
    Hampton Roads, VA
    My Phone:
    Palm Centro
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Sprint and alltel
    Well, one thing you must consider is how far out in the ocean you will be. Cell companies usually don't throw up towers on buoys in the ocean. So if you are taking that route down I'm sure there are many areas, with any provider that your coverage would be hit or miss.

    You definitely want to go with a CDMA provider such as Alltel, Sprint, or Verizon because of the coverage area and it is easier to make clearer calls with fewer bars. With my experience, my advice would be to go with an Alltel National Freedom Plan. If there's no Alltel retail stores around you in NOVA, it's well worth a trip to an area located closer to Richmond. Leaving from the southeast coast of VA, I'm guessing you're talking about around VA Beach. I'm currently living in Norfolk and Alltel has the best coverage around here. Along the coast, I have heard good things about their coverage along the entire east coast and can vouch for it in SE VA as well as many areas along the coast in the Carolinas and up through VA above Richmond. I just had family in Myrtle Beach with Alltel, where some say their coverage isn't great, but they experienced absolutely no coverage problems. Their national freedom coverage map shows they cover the entire Southeast coast very well. Alltel customers also free roam off of Sprint and Verizon with the National Freedom Plan so that should give you the highest possible area you could possibly free roam on. Plus, they generally offer more minutes for the price than other companies and you get the MyCircle option on plans 59.99 or higher. They also have by far the best two-line family plan for 75.00 with 1000 minutes, MyCircle, and Nights starting at 7 along with several other options. I would also go with the Motorola E815 phone because it tends to be their best phone as far as reception quality goes. But depending on where you are in NOVA, if it's close to DC, when you get back home Alltel might free roam off of Verizon or Sprint depending on your location but it won't cost you any extra. And I'm not sure, one way or the other about their coverage, or anybody else's, in Southern Florida or the Keys. But the alltel map shows decent coverage, anywhere you would want to be in Puerto Rico so I would think they would cover the Keys with as many tourists that visit there. Sorry for being long-winded but I hope this helps. :)

    Edit: Just thinking that if you do indeed live in an area of NOVA that's near DC and Alltel has no native coverage, you might not be able to get a local number with a local area code. But I know you could get an area code for around Richmond if you live in that general area of NOVA. If this would be a problem, which for many people it's not because cell companies now don't charge anymore to call long-distance vs. local, I would still recommend a CDMA carrier such as Verizon or Sprint even though their prices are a little higher and you get fewer minutes compared to Alltel. But I do think that Alltel, Sprint, and Verizon pretty much free roam off of each other. I also believe out in the ocean and in many areas along the coast, Alltel would provide better coverge, just because they use a cellular band of broadcasting their signal in many places as opposed to the PCS band. This should provide you with better coverage at a greater distance from the mainland and fewer areas where your phone holds onto an unusable signal before switching to a free roaming parter. But in any case, enjoy your trip and worry more about having fun rather than a cell carrier! :)
     
    #2 UFO, Aug 24, 2006
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2006
  3. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    I would also take a close look at Cingular. They have very solid coverage up & down the east coast. Cingular service paired with a Moto V557 & an external antenna to mount on the boat (I recommend an external antenna for any phone/service you eventually decide to get) will give you great coverage. The V551/7 can hold a clear call with very weak signal, and it has an external antenna port that you can plug a larger antenna into. The last time I bought an antenna like that it cost about $35, so they are very affordable and well worth it in my opinion.

    -Jay
     
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  4. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
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    Location:
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    Wireless Provider(s):
    Alltel, T-Mobile, Sprint, Centennial
    Another plus about Alltel is that there network is primarily in the 800 mhz of the spectrum, which travels further then pcs 1900 mhz does, thus further travel over water from the coast. PCS is used by all T-Mobile towers, most Cingular, most VZW, all Sprint. But Alltel uses the lower frequency as a standard for their network. They do hold some PCS (1900 mhz) licences over very densely populated areas for capacity. I think you would be best served with Alltel. Recently had a friend off the coast of Virginia, he was the only one with usable service in a large group who represented all the major carriers (cing, t-mo, sprint, vzw) sprint and vzw had a signal but it wasn't enough to make a good call and was enough to make the phones not roam, but the native Alltel was strong enough. The Cingular and T-mobile did not have service at all. This primarily being becuse it is in the cellular and not the pcs frequency. Might have just been the a bad area for the others but i don't think it was.

    You will want to get a Tri-Mode CDMA phone not dual digital, that way even the analog from towers will give you some usable service if you are way out where the digital doesn't carry. But if you can't find one the Motorola E815 would be the best one to get of the all digital phones.
     
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  5. Ironwalt

    Ironwalt Junior Member
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    Verizon
    I would say to give Alltel a look too. They have some of the best plans around and Like strunke said, if you can't find a tri, the e815 is a great all around phone.
     
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  6. QLR

    QLR RIP Note!
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    If you're trying to get a FL number, Alltel doesn't provide native service for most of theeastern side of FL except Jacksonville or Indian River/St Lucie areas (they primarily have service on the west coast of FL). They do free roam off of VZW and Sprint. If having a nonlocal number isnt an issue, Alltel is the way to go...

    I have a pal w/ Cingular in Miami and his experience has been ok; I also have a friend in Ft Lauderdale on VZ and she's been pleased (she initially had T-Mobile but she canceled because of service issues)

    I also feel that you cant go wrong with Cingular or VZW (preferably w/ a Tri-Mode like a V325)
     
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  7. AL904a

    AL904a Member
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    Location:
    Jacksonville Beach, FL
    My Phone:
    Sanyo Pro700
    Wireless Provider(s):
    VZW & Sprint, & "the carrier fka Cingular"

    IMHO, that is very good advice. All analog signals are in the longer-range 800 mhz band.

    The problem with Alltel (and their roaming partner, Verizon) on the east coast of Florida is that their digital coverage is all at 1900 mhz. (On the western half of the Florida peninsular, Alltel has 800 coverage. On the eastern half, Alltel has very little native coverage and mostly roams on Verizon's 1900.)

    Analog is still the "lowest common denominator" in wireless. I would not settle for anything less than a tri-mode phone.

    Is a satellite phone out of the question?
     
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  8. svhelios

    svhelios New Member

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    Thanks so much for the great advice, it has given me a number of ideas to research. I had not thought about the need for a trimode phone to get to an analog signal when we are along the more rural areas along the coast, though it sounds as if the E815 would be a good choice if we can’t find one.

    I do have one more question that involves the use of a satellite service. We plan on mainly traveling the Intercoastal Waterway, but had thought of using a satellite phone like the Qualcom GSP-1600 for when we were further offshore. I was concerned about the price of the Globalstar plans if we only used the satellite option. Since the Qualcom is also a trimode phone, does anyone have any experience with using it for cellular coverage with any of the providers suggested? Could then use the same device for both needs?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  9. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
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    Location:
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    Wireless Provider(s):
    Alltel, T-Mobile, Sprint, Centennial
    Well just by the look of it must get good RF :) . But after looking through the specs it supports AMPS (analog) and CDMA 800 mhz, but not 1900 mhz. So unfortunately using it with any carriers in the US in your situation wouldn't be the best thing. You could use the satellite while along eastern florida and the 800 while along GA, the Carolinas and Virginia. But it would probably have dead spots and you would end up being in areas where you wouldn't have normal cell service. If that is fine then you may want to contact Alltel, explain your situation and see if they will activate that phone for you or whatever the rate is through Globalstar for cdma service with a satellite plan. I'm not sure if you do it seperately or not.
     
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  10. mike220

    mike220 New Member

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    I may have missed it in my hyasty reading but I don't think you ever said how far off the coast your planning to travel. If your planning to be more that 5-8 miles off coast your cellular service will be unusable.
    Take a look at:
    http://www.globalstar.com/
    or
    http://www.iridium.com/
    Both are sat phone companies and you can lease or rent a handset that will give you service regardless of your location.
    Just another suggestion.

    Mike
    Oxford GA

     

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