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Yet another AT&T GSM 850/1900 MHz question

Discussion in 'Northeastern US Wireless Forum' started by SteveW, May 24, 2004.

  1. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    Hi - first time posting on the new forum.

    Since moving to a new house in Cambridge, MA, I am having a significant issue with my AT&T wireless service and Siemens S46, which I bought last year after much research on this forum. Essentially, there is a 2 block area around my new house where I never get more than 2 bars of signal and this is not enough to make or hold a call. Doesn't matter whether I stay in GSM or force it into TDMA.

    I have had several calls with AT&T tech support on this and we agree it is not the phone, it is the signal. They call the signal in my immediate vicinity "average" and agree that it is weaker than it is a few blocks away. They can't tell me when it might be upgraded and it sounds unlikely.

    I am sure some will advise me to change carriers, but I am reluctant to do so. I travel extensively, so I need a phone that works all over the US and, ideally, in Europe. Only Verizon has better coverage in the US than AT&T, but they don't have GSM or "world phones". The S46 fits my needs perfectly but it doesn't work in my new house!!

    My question is - Is it possible that a new phone will help? The S46 supports GSM 900/1900 MHz. I assume I am using AT&T's 1900 MHz band in the US and the 900 MHz band in Europe. Also, as I understand it, I can't use the 850 MHz US band. Is this true? Is there any chance that a phone that supports 850 MHz would see a stronger signal, now or when the Cingular merger happens? I know I would have to give up TDMA to do this, but I might consider it.

    Thanks for your advice,

    SteveW
     
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  2. rockon83

    rockon83 Junior Member
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    AT&T now roams on Cingular in Mass with no extra charges. I suggest you find out how Cingular works in your house by finding a friend or neighbor using it, and asking them, or having them come by. However, Cingular in Mass. is GSM 850. Your phone is not capable of such. I suggest you switch to a phone including GSM 850.

    If you need a GAIT phone, get the nokia 6340i and buy a 900/1800 mhz gsm phone for travel abroad. If not, maybe buy a motorola v600 or another quadband gsm phone.
     
  3. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    rockon83 -

    Thanks for the reply. I guess this is consistent with the fact that when I do a Network Info search on my phone I only see AT&T and Voicestream (old name for Tmobile). They are both on 1900, right? If I could use the 850 Mhz band I would presumably see Cingular, yes?

    BTW, the guys in the AT&T store in Central Square, Cambridge didn't really understand this question and when I persisted, gave me the wrong info. Even the manager thought the 900 on the S46 data sheet was a misprint and I was really using 850 here and 1900 in Europe. :D

    SteveW
     
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  4. rockon83

    rockon83 Junior Member
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    Yes, AT&T and T-Mobile both run GSM on 1900mhz in MA. Cingular has acquired some 1900mhz spectrum as well recently from Nextwave, not sure if that's up and running yet. Doubt it. If your phone included 850 mhz, then yes, you would see cingular.

    Sales reps know very little. Don't trust them. Trust this board. That is, trust what's said on this board by trustworthy members (you figure it out after a while) or whatever is the conclusion at the end of long threads/discussions.

    A good idea might be to borrow a 850/1900 mhz phone, and pop your sim into it. See if you roam on cingular. By the way, it's very possible that the phone will hang onto at&t as long as it can, and you will need to wrap your hands around the antenna, or go i the basement to lose at&t completely and see if it grabs a cingular signal. Or it may just grab the cingular signal when the at&t signal is low. If anyone is ever at your house with a phone including the gsm 850mhz band, just pop your sim into it (as long as it's an at&t gsm phone, or unlocked)
     
  5. GoodmanR

    GoodmanR Silver Senior Member
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    You should definitely be able to roam on Cingular if you get an 800 capable phone. That's funny that the store rep. thought 900 was a misprint for 800 or 850...Do you feel that you need the 900 band in Europe. Where do you roam most and what networks do you do it on (if you know)? Most handsets sold now in the US which are world phones do not include the 900 band, just the 1800 band. The 1800 band provides for coverage just about anywhere I have ever roamed. Getting a phone that supports 900 and 800 is tricky, ATT right now offers a limited selection of these quad band phones. One is the NEC 525 which I would try hard to avoid, and one is the Motorola v600, which a lot of people have loved (i returned mine because I thought it was a little heavy for me). If you can live without the 900 band, then you can buy another Siemens, a Nokia , Sony-Ericsson etc...I currently use a GAIT phone, and put my SIM in a T616 when I go abroad. The T616 has no support for 900 and I have never had trouble roaming fairly extensively in W. Europe and in a few major Asian cities. Cingular's international roaming agreements leave a good bit to be desired...but most of my coworkers use ATT and roam internationally a good bit. I only know of two people with quad-band phones, most just have support for 1800 when overseas and I haven't heard any complaints.
     
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  6. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    GoodmanR - I see your point. I don't care about the 900 MHz band specifically, just that I have something that works in Europe. I have been to Poland and Czech Rep. with my Siemens and it was convenient that it just worked. However, this sort of thing will be only a few times a year, at most. I definitely see the rationale for not spending $300 for the Moto v600 - I could get two good phones for much less than that and switch the SIM card when I need to.

    Thanks to all for the advice. I will update this thread when I try the 850 MHz band in MA.

    SteveW
     
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  7. BillRadio

    BillRadio Wireless Consultant
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    Verizon has a world phone that is 800/1900 CDMA for U.S. and 800/1900 GSM for elsewhere, primarily Vodaphone.

    -Bill
     
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  8. Critic

    Critic The Digital Ruler
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    Well, "will have", as soon as they actually launch. But BillRadio's right - there are two CDMA/GSM world phones coming to Verizon in the near future. The Samsung A790 (due...well, any day now) and the Motorola A840, which I think we're expecting to see in the fall.
     
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  9. GoodmanR

    GoodmanR Silver Senior Member
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    That would mean switching to Verizon, he said he wanted to keep ATT. Also, those phones are sure to be expensive. The a790 is around $300
     
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  10. Critic

    Critic The Digital Ruler
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    Just trying to provide a viable option.
     
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  11. Fire14

    Fire14 Easy,Cheap & Sleazy
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    AT&T has some multi band phones that would work in the US & Europe, Like the Nokia 6800 or the V600 and would give you the 850 band for the US. Check out there web site and look at the details of some phones to assist with finding one that will fit your needs.
    You can also go to this Link to help find a phone and which service is used in different parts of Europe and the world and which they have agreements with, as well as other traveling information.
    http://www.attwireless.com/international/travelguide/index.html
     
  12. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    Re: Yet another AT&T GSM 850/1900 MHz question - 850 is OK!

    Bottom line first: Cingular 850 MHz GSM works where AT&T 1900 MHz GSM is weak (in at least one, not necessarily representative, test in MA).

    So I chose the Nokia 6200 (IM) which is one of the few AT&T phones that 1) had many good reviews on phonescoop.com, 2) was under $100 (with my contract extension) and 3) does not look like a toy. I'm not particularly interested in cameras, fold-out keyboards, polyphonic ring tones, games. I am interested in good reception, phone book functionality, battery life, and at least one international band.

    Following on Fire14's suggestion I checked out the AT&T International pages and got confirmation on another thread that support for the 900 or 1800 MHz band is all that is needed, regardless of whether AT&T lists it as International in the Phone Store.

    Good news is it works in my house!! I have only had it for 2 days but reception has been good so far. Taking a business trip to Hartford, CT for a few days, so I'll be able to see its performance on Rts 90 and 84, including the AT&T dead zone around the Conn/Mass border.

    Thanks for the help. This forum is great!

    SteveW
     
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  13. GoodmanR

    GoodmanR Silver Senior Member
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    Re: Yet another AT&T GSM 850/1900 MHz question - 850 is OK!

    Good, glad to hear it worked out.
     
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