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Cell Phone service providers

Discussion in 'General Chat Forum' started by Koyak, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. Carol Al-Ajroush

    Carol Al-Ajroush New Member

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    Maybe I'm being naive but that doesn't sound very practical! I'm speaking from the perspective like me when one is in a different country and it is cheaper to buy a new sim locally than use your originally one and pay ridiculous international roaming fees!


     
  2. WesGurney

    WesGurney New Member

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    There is a Cingular store at Reston Town Center at the base of the Hyatt.

    I think its the same type as the one in the Safeway shopping center in Broadlands.


     
  3. neilz

    neilz New Member

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    Actually Wes, that's a full company store like the one at the Regal Center. The one by Safeway is an 'authorized provider'.



    Neil Z.
    Resident since 1999
     
  4. BLSFmly

    BLSFmly New Member

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    We have family plan with T-mobile. I was very happy with them till I moved to Broadlands. Afer moving, I realized that I hardly get signal in the house. Anytime the cell phone rings, either we have to run out of the house or call them back from our land line.

    When I called T mobile, they told me that they are installing new towers. However, I was amazed to hear the customer support person saying that the towers are going to be in Richmond and Roanoke. These towers won't serve anything to us.

    At present, I am talking to them to come out of the contract without penalty as it is the service issue.

    What I would suggest is, before deciding on a provider, if you have anyone using the service, just get the phone/invite them and check it out.
     
  5. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    ironically after all this.. my verizon service has been the pits the last few days.

    I had no signal at all from home depot all the way until I hit the safeway parking lot.. 1 bar and couldn't hold a conversation at all.

    -Steve
     
  6. robzilla

    robzilla outta sushi

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    Check out the Consumer Reports reviews of cell phone providers. Cingular rates very well. T-Mobile and Nextel seem to have problems all over the DC area.

    Robzilla
    "Whoa no. There goes Tokyo."
     
  7. Carol Al-Ajroush

    Carol Al-Ajroush New Member

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    Under the for what it is worth heading I have had a number of folks tell me that Cingular will work when in the covered/underground portions of the metro. I am surprised to about problems with Nextel for what I had seen firsthand was that Nextel seemed to work great in the metro area and also within Broadlands.


     
  8. WesGurney

    WesGurney New Member

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    Gotcha - didn't realize there was a difference.

     
  9. brim

    brim Member

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    When I was there and had Cingular, nothing worked underground. I'm pretty sure Verizon has an exclusive contract with WMATA for coverage in the tunnels.
     
  10. Pats_fan

    Pats_fan Former Resident

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    Could someone explain to me how the whole "coverage" thing works? I was under the impression that the cell phone companies shared transmission towers, so as long as you were in range of someone's</u> tower you would have service. Isn't this why we used to (and some may still) pay roaming charges?
     
  11. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    sharing towers is one thing (physical structure).. the networks are seperate though.. many are completely different technologies so your phone can't even talk to them (your Cingular GSM phone can't talk to Verizon's CDMA radio).

    I think in general people are sharing tower space by leasing space from the tower owner or selling space themselves.. but the networks are still seperate.

    as far as i know :)

    -Steve
     
  12. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    There is also an "optimal" location on each tower. The higher up on the tower the greater the range. Also, the more money one has to spend to get that prime spot. If a tower is partly owned by a carrier, guess who gets the prime spot?
     
  13. Twriter

    Twriter Get a Mac!

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    I've had Sprint until a few years ago when I switched to T-Mobile.
    At my house, Sprint coverage was spotty, but when I got outside it was OK. I had good coverage in all of Ashburn and through to Reston where I work. Sprint coverage faded in Leesburg and Sterling. Sprint also had good coverage on trips up and down the East coast (Massachusetts to Florida).

    T-Mobile has very good coverage at my house and in all outdoors areas in Northern Virginia (including Leesburg and Sterling), but in some buildings I can't get any coverage. T-Mobile coverage up and down Route 95 is spotty, and sometimes the phone switches to other carriers (Cingular, SunCom, and so on). T-Mobile acknowledges that they do not have their own networks in many areas, and to compensate for that they offer free roaming. If you use a non T-mobile carrier in places where T-Mobile does not have coverage, you won't pay any roaming fees. However, if you use Cingular in this area, where T-mobile does offer service, you will pay a fee. T-Mobile phones default to using the T-mobile network when available, and other carriers as a backup, but you can change this option setting if you like.

    We just took a cruise from Miami to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. Out on the open water we had Cingular coverage but in ports we had no coverage! Go figure! We made several calls on our T-Mobile phones on the Cingular network when we were out at sea. This coverage was not available when we cruised last year. I have no idea if the coverage was from land-based towers (maybe in Cuba?) or if was from the ship. I'm curious to see the bill to see if we get extra charges for those calls or not.

    I used to work for a cellular engineering firm, so I have some idea how network coverage works. Each carrier has its own set of frequencies available to it, divided into channels. The carriers have to distribute their channels around their assigned geographic region in such a way as to not cause interference between their channels. For example, if they use channel 1 in Leesburg, with enough power to reach for 15 miles, then they can't have another channel 1 on any other tower anywhere in that 15 mile area. But they can reuse channel 1 in Springfield or in Rockville, and so on.

    Network planning is a complex exercise in putting enough channels in each "cell" to support the number of users there, and controlling the size of the cells so you can reuse channels efficiently. A cell in a highly populated area like downtown Washington DC, may need 20 or more channels, whereas a cell in a sparsely populated area like Paeonian Springs may need only two channels.

    You control the cell size by adjusting the transmitter power and by selecting antennas with specific coverage patterns. Simple, omnidirectional antennas cover a 360 degree circle around the antenna. Directional antennas may provide coverage in an area as narrow as only 10 degrees. A very common arrangement is to have six directonal antennas on a tower, each one covering 60 degrees (providing a full 360 degrees). Each of those six cells will have their own power setting and their own channels.

    --- John B.
     
  14. broadmind

    broadmind New Member

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    T-mobile and Cingular will unlock your phones after being with them for a few months so you can use it anywhere in the world with any carrier (just pop in a local SIM card). I did that with T-mobile last time I went to India and now did with Cingular. In fact, the phone my wife uses originally came from T-mobile. For a good rebate, I took a crappy phone from Cingular and took the SIM out of it and put it in her old T-mobile phone. It works.
     
  15. USAgal

    USAgal New Member

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    Our Verizon cell phone gets 4 bars inside Broadlands Safeway near the Deli & Bread section, and then the signal drops out in the Vegetable section (when moving from the Tomatoes to the Meat section).
     
  16. neilz

    neilz New Member

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    That's where they put the cell phone jammer !! [:eek:)]

    Neil Z.
    Resident since 1999
     
  17. Twriter

    Twriter Get a Mac!

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    I got my bill and T-Mobile did charge me $52 for cell phone calls made on the cruise ship. After doing some checking I learned that this is a pilot program that Carnival is running to see if they should roll this out to all their ships. I'm a bit unhappy that they didn't tell us about the pilot and the charges associated with it.

    Another odd item is this is my second T-Mobile bill this month. I got one earlier, due 1/3/06, and this latest one is due 1/27/06. On a whim, I pulled out all my T-Mobile bills for 2005 and compared service periods with due dates. The service periods are all consistent, they all end on the first of a month. However, when the bill is actually due varies wildly. In most cases the bills are due about 28-35 days after the period ends. In one case the bill was due over 50 days after the period end and in another it was 11 days!

    I've written to T-Mobile asking why their due dates vary so wildly. If I get a cogent answer I'll post it here.

    --- John B.
     
  18. Lee

    Lee Permanent Vacation

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    Well I thought I would report back that my sprint phone works perfectly all over safeway and the two giants and now even all over lowes.

    My sprint phone is a few months old that replaced my old sprint phone that never worked very well in at least lowes. Really don't remember if the old phone worked well in safeway or the giants. The old phone is a samsung 400 and the new one is a samsung 840 wonder if the new phone has a better antenna in it for better reception???

    Lee J Buividas
     
  19. Twriter

    Twriter Get a Mac!

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    Lee... Sprint has an unusual design that requires its cell phones to have an internal list of cell towers. When they put up new towers in an area, your phone can't access them until it is updated. The only way to update the phone is to bring it into a Sprint store, like the one in Reston. Your old phone may not have been updated and therefore not had a recent list in it, making it unable to access new towers.

    According to a Sprint salesman, they put a notice on your monthly bill when they add a new tower in your region. I've never seen such a notice, as I rarely examine the bill line by line. The notice only shows up on one bill, and it only announces new towers close to your billing address.

    Beats me why they do this. No other wireless provider requires that you bring phones in for regular updates. This is one of the reasons I switched from Sprint, as I disliked the hassle of updating all my family's phones several times a year.

    --- John B.
     
  20. boomertsfx

    boomertsfx Booyakasha!

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    That sounds fishy.... there are hundreds of thousands of cell towers in the US I bet... a phone only looks for a signal on the network it is programmed for. The only reason I could think of is when SprintPCS switched from GSM to CDMA or something? weirdness.
     

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