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Old 03-29-2020, 11:02 AM   #1
wiiawiwb
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Cell phone carriers

At this point in time, who would best carrier(s) to choose for cellphone use in the Adirondacks, in general?
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Old 03-29-2020, 03:48 PM   #2
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VzW. "Best" is a loose term as once away from I87 coverage from any carrier is limited. Having said that I go to Spec, North Creek, Indian Lake, even Blue Mt village and get VzW decent coverage (North Creek not in the village, rather up a few lift towers on Gore).

Friends w/ AT&T no so lucky.
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Old 03-29-2020, 05:47 PM   #3
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While I agree with the above post my advice to you is 'buyer beware'.

Generally speaking, yes, VZW has probably the best coverage nationwide, the operative term being nationwide. AT&T is catching up, though, I have found.

Mountains are a whole different ballgame. You need to drill down to very specific locations if you are looking for reliable coverage in certain areas.

Try talking to people in your area(s) of interest to see what works and what doesn't. Don't rely on coverage maps.

If you are looking for general usage it's probably 50/50 between AT&T and VZW.

We were VZW customers for 20+ years and had to switch to AT&T to get coverage when we bought our camp, even though both offer service in our area (Blue Mt. Lake north)

Dead zone. There was nothing VZW could do, even though they both use the same tower/location on top of Blue. Additionally, VZW has a small tower for hamlet coverage there. It did not help us at all when it went on line a few years ago. AT&T works flawlessly for us here.

The technology between the big carriers is different. Phones are different in how they acquire signal and that means different results for consumers.
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:51 PM   #4
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Id say its pretty universally accepted

That Verizon is the way to go, here in the tri-lakes at least
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:52 PM   #5
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We have T-Mobile and have fairly decent coverage in many parts of the Adirondacks. My wife's iPhone seems to get a signal better than my older android phone.
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Old 03-30-2020, 05:31 AM   #6
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I have a tracfone. For the longest time I had a very weak signal at home, but it has gotten better. In fact, I use it a lot more now as I've changed jobs. Also, when I upgraded to an iPhone about a year ago it improved as well.

In the mountains, it depends on where you are. I seem to be able to get service anywhere anyone else does whether it's on the road, in the woods, campgrounds, etc..
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Old 03-30-2020, 06:21 AM   #7
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I've got a really old smartphone and am getting a new one. As technology evolves, you'd think that things would be easier. Every phone can connect with every carrier. Not so fast. There still the issue of GSM vs CDMA vs LTE and which frequency band that particular smartphone can connect too. It's too complicated.

I started looking at a "rugged" smartphone that is mil-spec rated (MIL-STD-810G), like the Ulefone Armor 7, that would be more likely to survive the abuse that can accidentally occur when hiking or backpacking. It seems that almost all are designed for GSM which means you're limited to AT&T or T-Mobile.

I've thrown up my hands and decided I'll probably get a classic, slimline smartphone and then get a "rugged" case, which I is not what I prefer. Here's the Ulefone I was considering:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm0Tyt7Dd5A
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Old 03-30-2020, 07:38 AM   #8
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I have a tracfone.
In the mountains, it depends o where you are. I seem to be able to get service anywhere anyone else does whether it's on the road, in the woods, campgrounds, etc..
I had a tracfone for several years. When I first got it, I knew from research that Verizon had the most consistently available signal in the Adirondacks.

At the time, when you signed up for tracfone, the service the phone was tuned to was dependent on the most used location zip code you signed up with (not necessary to be your home zip). I knew that Verizon serviced the town of Inlet at the time better than AT&T, so that is the zip I used to get my simple easy to pocket flip phone. I had and still have no need to text on a device primarily meant for making voice communication with other people. If I need to write a paragraph of information to someone, that is what voice mail is email and a computer are for.

I recently had a new camp constructed over the summer in the western Adirondack area. The construction team all had contracted with AT&T for service and had no signal at my location. My little flip friend had great service at the same time and location all the time.

Then tracfone notified me that my flip was going obsolete and would not be supported any longer. I entered the zip for Inlet again to see which new tracfones were supported. I was told there was no service there from any mobile suppler for their phones (I had long thought that tracfone's internal contract with AT&T was cheaper for them, because AT&T was their default supplier in most locations). So I bought their only available flip phone, which I am sure was set to use AT&T. It did not work from my home, where my old flip phone on Verizon had always worked great. Thinking it was a problem with that particular phone, I returned it for another. That one did not work either so I returned that one also and dropped tracfone service entirely.

My wife had recently bought an iphone using AT&T. It worked barely marginally both at home and throughout the Adirondacks, though not at all at our camp construction site. With no other option, I broke down and got an older iphone model also. Mailnly because, fortunately, AT&T has a discount deal for first responders. Once my camp was completed, I researched and found a cell signal booster (from WeBoost) with an external directional antenna that has worked very well giving me a strong signal inside and around the camp. A signal strong enough to use the phone's hotspot to easily stream roku on TV.

I still refuse to use or respond to text (my friends and family know this) with just one exception; my initial SAR alert notifications come in via text, but are always closely followed by real information details in email.
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Old 03-30-2020, 07:29 PM   #9
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I have ATT. My friends that have Verizon seem to do better with coverage than I do.
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:14 PM   #10
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Definitely not Sprint, which is one of the main reasons why I like it.
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:41 PM   #11
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Definitely not Sprint, which is one of the main reasons why I like it.
And that will probably change once the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is completed.
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:55 PM   #12
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Thank god for Airplane mode!
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Old 03-30-2020, 11:51 PM   #13
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Some places in the Addacks there is no service at all unless you have a SAT phone. You can buy them or rent them. They will work anywhere in the world.
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Old 03-31-2020, 06:49 AM   #14
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I have ATT. My friends that have Verizon seem to do better with coverage than I do.
Ditto
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Old 03-31-2020, 07:28 AM   #15
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Thank god for Airplane mode!
Airplane mode should be changed to backpacking mode. I have done a week+ trip with my phone in airplane mode using it just as a camera on a single charge.
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Old 03-31-2020, 11:07 AM   #16
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verizon for me in Brant lake but i do have to climb up my mountain a bit to get the service! lol
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Old 03-31-2020, 12:35 PM   #17
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Some places in the Addacks there is no service at all unless you have a SAT phone. You can buy them or rent them. They will work anywhere in the world.
Sort of. When I was a student at Paul Smith's, carrying a satellite phone was mandated on some of our longer winter backpacking trips with the Outing Club (the school supplied the phone for us to carry). We found, through trial and error, that they worked best when standing out on a frozen lake without any tree cover overhead. In the woods they were hit or miss. And you also often had to wait for a satellite to be overhead, so it might require a couple of attempts over the course of an hour or so for a call to get through.

Of course, this was also ~15 years ago so the technology may have improved somewhat over time.

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Old 03-31-2020, 02:27 PM   #18
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Satellite Phones also are, and will always be, much bigger and heavier and more expensive than cell phones. This is because of the power required to hit a target (the satellite) that is many times farther away than a cell tower.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:04 PM   #19
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Satellite Phones also are, and will always be, much bigger and heavier and more expensive than cell phones. This is because of the power required to hit a target (the satellite) that is many times farther away than a cell tower.
Unless you are speaking of a SEAL SAT phone the SAT phones today are small and light and powerful. A SAT screen is not necessary. They can get a bit pricey for the service. Your car or truck phone uses a satellite too but it is not the same technology as a dedicated SAT phone.
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Old 03-31-2020, 05:56 PM   #20
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If it's small and light, then users must be ready for limited data transfer and short battery life. I have a Garmin InReach which talks to satellites and is small and light, but it can only send limited brief messages. It can't funcction like a smart phone.

Of course car phones have no problem; they tap into a big heavy battery.

There's no way around physics.
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