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What's the strongest signal you've measured?

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by bobolito, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    This is a rather informal poll for those of us who spend quite some time reading the numbers in our Field Test/Net Monitor screens. Please post the strongest signal you've read in -dB, the exact location, the frequency band/network you were on and the phone you were using.

    The strongest signal I've read is -20dB on the corner of 8th ave and 39th St in NYC on the Cingular/T-Mobile GSM network which uses 1900Mhz. As you might've guessed, I was using my LG 4050. Surprisingly, I could not find the antennas after I looked up and around for a bit. They might've been right under my nose. [​IMG]
     
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  2. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    The strongest that I measured was -28 dB on US Rte 40, east of Reynoldsburg, OH. The towers were just south of the highway. Verizon CDMA 1,900 Mz, Samsung SCH A310


    [The worst was -111 dB on Route 9 north of Wappinger Falls, NY.]
     
  3. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    So you mean to tell me you've never seen "No Signal"? [​IMG]
     
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  4. Buickman

    Buickman Gearhead/Gadget freak
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    -42dB in Rosemount MN on VZW 800MHZ CDMA, but that was just playing around, give me time I will probably find better.
     
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  5. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    Using CellTrack ( CellTrack Link) ( a Symbian OS App which tracks cell sites and measures dB signal strength), I'm getting -77 dB on my Nokia N-Gage running on Vodafone UK (GSM 900/1800).

    I'm located in the Kensington/Chelsea area of Central London. I've gotten higher readings of up to -90 dB on my N-Gage when using it on E-Plus (GSM 1800) in Germany.
     
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  6. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    You know...i was just going to ask this question...so ill ask another one. Whats the highest db level you can use to make a call? Also, how come my sanyo has 4 out of 4 bars, but the db level is in the high 80's?
     
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  7. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I think there might be some confusion in the air here. A higher reading is a reading that is closer to zero which means a stronger signal. Remember that we are dealing with negative numbers. A reading of -20dB is higher/stronger than a reading of -100dB.

    So, yankees368, your question is probably "Whats the <u>lowest</u> db level you can use to make a call?". To avoid confusion I use the terms "weaker/stronger" instead of "higher/lower." But to answer your question, at approximately -100dB or weaker, you start to have problems. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Now, you can still have problems with signals stronger than -100dB but due to other factors such as network congestion, signal interference, etc. But under most circumstances, -100dB seems to be the dividing line, although sometimes I've had clear calls with signals weaker than -100dB. Going weaker than -109dB seems impossible to hear anything, although on rare occasions audio works at that level.

    Just for reference, most cell phones indicate full bars when they reach at least -82dB approx. whether they have 4, 5 or 7 bars. However, we don't want to use bars as reference.
     
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  8. ILUVSOCAL

    ILUVSOCAL Banned
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    Strongest so far I've gotten since putting the new version of CellTrack on my Nokia 3600 is -77, this is at my house on Forsythe Dr in Redwood Valley, CA using Cingular (well, actually it's Edge Wireless's towers, but they have a sharing agreement thing up here with them), I will try it out over the next few days as I travel around Nor Cal (Willits, Laytonville, Rio Dell, Scotia, Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Korblex, Hoopa, Williams, Willows, Anderson, Cottonwood, Red Bluff, Redding and Weaverville) and report back.
     
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  9. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    What a funny coincidence that we both got the exact same reading using CellTrack [​IMG]
     
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  10. ILUVSOCAL

    ILUVSOCAL Banned
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    Lol yeah, I just noticed that, hmm, maybe it's a sign, time to hit the lottery [​IMG]
     
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  11. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    yeah, sorry for wording that poorly. I you got my question right. I saw yesterday a db -45...standing under a sprint tower. The weakest signal ive had was -111 in my garage.
     
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  12. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    What about "No Service"? [​IMG]
     
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  13. GoodmanR

    GoodmanR Silver Senior Member
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    -46
     
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  14. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    Yes [​IMG]

    But -111 was the lowest signal I have seen with a connection. Once the level reaches -115, the phone begins cycling through PCS and AMPS and then back to Cellular. If I am looking at the debug screen, it does not say "no service". But no conection is possible. This was at the bar of the Best Western on Route 9, Wappinger Falls.
     
  15. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Well, if we are going to look at it that way, the lowest I've seen while on a TDMA phone call has to be weaker -113dB. Needless to say, I could barely understand anything, but the connection was there. Nokia TDMA phones don't measure less than -113dB so I couldn't tell how weak the signal really was. But judging from the behavior of the Field Test, it looked to me it was less than -113dB. It was stuck solid at -113 and would not move to -111 or more at all which means it was probably much less than -113.
     
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  16. michiganeric

    michiganeric Junior Member
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    The strongest on my Samsung SCH-411 (Verizon) was -36 dBm, with an Ec/I0 of either 03 or 02. This was on a highway in the Detroit area several years ago... could've been Southfield Fwy. (M-39) coming up on a very short Verizon monopole I've been meaning to inspect. The best Ec/I0 I've ever gotten was 01, and it was brief, while driving right past the Verizon tower in Milford, MI.

    On Nextel, the strongest I saw was -38 dBm standing outside a party store in St. Clair Shores, MI. I'm 99% sure the antennas were on the side of the roof of a hotel across the road. Interestingly enough, the measured signal quality was only in the low 20s (&gt;= 28.00 is four bars, 27.99 to about 24.00 is three, etc.) and thus the phone only read between two and three bars. Nextel phones are strange like that.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be no easy way to make a Motorola V66 or even a Nokia 5190 show me measurements like that, so the T-Mobile network still has that bit of mysticism to me. Indeed, this is one of my biggest disappointments now that I've been with them for a few months. My Nokia 5165 (AT&T TDMA) only shows readings up to -55 dBm or so. I understand these phones won't display readings higher than that.

    Can someone provide me with some insight as to what kinds of numbers you'd get while (stupidly) climbing an active tower? While I'm absolutely sure of the dangers of spending any amount of time perched in the middle of an active cellular antenna array, I'm not sure of the kind of numbers I'd see in field test mode. It sure wouldn't make the calls any clearer -- if anything, I'd imagine it might confuse the base station controller somewhat.
     
  17. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    On Sunday I climbed the hill behind our development. The top was 620 feet (according my iQUE) which is about 400 feet higher than my house. This is no where near a tower, but the hilltop has an unobstucted few of the Edna Valley and thus clear line of sight to all the nearby towers.

    I got signal strengthes between -51 and -54 dB on the hilltop.
     
  18. ILUVSOCAL

    ILUVSOCAL Banned
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    I beat it the other day, I got -63 next to Ridgewood Ranch on Hwy.101 (where Seabiscuit came from, and is buried at) on the Laughlin Grade just a few miles south of Ridgewood Summit (highest elevation on Hwy.101, 1953 feet), in comparison, Verizon has NO signal there, nor does US Cellular, way to go Cingular and Edge Wireless!!
     
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  19. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    All hail to GSM too [​IMG]
     
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  20. ILUVSOCAL

    ILUVSOCAL Banned
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    Viva la GSM! [​IMG] I got back last night from a 3 day trip with my dad to do some work, we took 101 from Redwood Valley to Arcata, then 299 to Williow Creek, then 96 to Hoopa, then back to Arcata, then on 299 to Weaverville and Redding, RR Ave to Anderson, 5 to Red Bluff, 99 to Yuba City, 20 from there to Hwy.101, then on 101 to my house, and the ONLY place my Verizon phone had a signal where my Cingular didn't was a short stretch around Whiskeytown Lake, other than that, I had awesome service on my Cingular Nokia 3600, even in some EXTREMELY remote areas of the mountains! Sorry Verizon, but in Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties, you don't rule the roost.
     
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  21. tbrusky

    tbrusky Junior Member
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    I have a Samsung N300 how do you do a field test for that phone, any code you might have so I can give you some strong DB tests!
     
  22. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    Try Steve Crow and use the steps to get into the debug menu for the N200.

    Usually Samsung does not change the menu structure within a series of phones. For example: the A310 and A530 VZW phones share the same programming steps. So you can try the N200 debug menu access.

    Good luck.
     
  23. t720

    t720 Senior Member
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    Well, with my old digital 3360 from a while ago, the weakest signal I've gotten with a reading is -115 dB in my town (and the call actually lasted for a whole 30 seconds) and the strongest signal I've ever pulled is a -54 dB in NYC (not sure where, I don't remember).

    I wish I knew how to get the dB reading on my phone, does anyone know how to get into test mode on the T720? It's not the basic *3001#12345# that I'm used to on Nokia phones. Do you need some type of special SIM or something? Or is there a code for the T720 also?
     
  24. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Either that was not a 3360 you had, or the numbers are mixed up. First, the lowest cannot be -115dB because all Nokia TDMA phones, including the 3360, stop at -113dB. So they do not show -115dB. Second, all Nokia TDMA phones, including the 3360, show odd numbers only, so they cannot show a reading of -54dB. They will show either -53 or -55 but not -54.
     
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  25. Gainer

    Gainer New Member

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    How do you get into the test mode on a Nokia 3590???
     
  26. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    Look up several posts. Steve Crow my have something.
     
  27. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    We all know what we mean in this thread, but:

    Those numbers in field mode are correctly expressed in dBm not dB. dBm is an absolute reference, dB is not. Saying a signal is at -54 dBm means it is 54 dB below 1 milliwatt of received power at your cell.

    Expressing in dB is like your teenager saying he turned down the stereo -20dB, but your neighbors can still hear it a mile away.....its only relative.

    Bobolito: I also suspect that phones have some RF overload protection in them: I doubt that the dBm meter will ever go higher then some set value.....and it may be different for various phone models. I don't recall ever seeing my Nokia's ever going as high as - 20 dBm.....do you know if this is the case?

    P.S. In TDMA the Nokia display range is only -113 dBm to -51 dBm according to
    TDMA field test
     
  28. MrFlashport

    MrFlashport Junior Member
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    -12dbM, Verizon Wireless, on south cobb dr at gann rd, about 200 yards from their tower, A-band CDMA.

    drops to around -60dDM to -77dBM at my house, in my bedroom, about 1.33 miles away

    SouthernLINC is around -88dBM, according to my Motorola R2600 communications system analyzer, monitoring their 863MHz signal. They are a high site SMR, and their nearest site is in downtown Smyrna (about 3.2 mi away). Used nothing more than a 6" piece of wire for an antenna (should be a 1/2 wave at 800, a 1/4 wave on UHF)

    Nextel...out of the three channels I could find doing spectrum analysis and the FCC's ULS data, they hovered around -76 to -83dBM, not sure what was coming from where (no data on the ULS under system info??)

    other carriers at my home:

    Sprint PCS (PCS1900) is a robust -22dBM, their tower in my backyard (practically) helps alot, before that, they were like -100dBM at best

    Cingular TDMA (B band around here) measured at -58dBM, on an old Motorola Star-Tac 7790.

    The only GSM I could test was T-Mobile (using an old Nokia) at -103dBM. They dont work in alot of residential atlanta though so this isn't surprising.

    Metro PCS....does work any where around here. they suck.

    Could not get the old Nokia to find AT&T's GSM network....know they are here....will mess with it later.
     
  29. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    -40 something on Verizon. If I am pretty close to the tower. I have never seen a reading in the 30's or 20's and I have been under a Verizon tower, 200 feet away, etc. Just didn't think it'd show something that good. Of course it could have been my LG 510 or 4400. I miss field test [​IMG]
     
  30. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    I can't find anything on the GSM protocol. For my Nokia 6340i in TDMA mode the range is -113 to -51dBm in 2 dB increments (yes, dB).

    The same phone in GSM mode bottoms at -108dBm..........this morning I got -41dBm about 300 feet from a tower. It moves in 1 dB increments.

    So the protocol is different.

    NOTE: in GSM mode, the phone switches to TDMA around -108, but the meter will read down to -113dBm.
     

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