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I've heard talk about how ATT is "working on their network coverage" and plans to provide 3G service in Northeast MI "in the coming months". Well, now that another 2 year contract has expired, I'm seriously wondering if I would be better off jumping to Verizon. The EDGE data network up here if virtually useless. 5 full bars, yet extremely poor data transfer.
Can anyone provide an HONEST answer as to when this coverage is planned to be upgraded??? Verizon has had 3G for quite a long while up here...
I was up just this past weekend and was experimenting with one of the one-day passes for data on an Elevate 4G that I picked up for that purpose. Despite getting 4 bar indicator for signal strength, I could barely keep any data flowing at the 2G speeds that appeared to be available.
I was camping in a camper (read: a fancy word in wireless terms for a large faraday cage on wheels) but had an external antenna hooked up outside, thus the 4 bar signal strength on the wireless. However, my regular phone provider is T-Mobile (and my phone does not have the benefit of an external antenna jack and my plan doesn't include roaming data, thus is why I was trying AT&T which is the strongest signal I receive in that particular area. I assume they have a cell up on the CMU tower(s) just accross the road NE of Clear Lake)
I had to move my laptop outside to get their technical support on the phone, but was eventually able to keep them on the line, chase down the right phone number to call and at least get 'some' kind of connection (as mentioned above, barely working).
One of the things the guy I spoke with told me was that the towers in that area were due for an upgrade at some time in late July. My reason for coming to the forums this morning was that I was curious if there was any more specific comments on these upgrades and/or any way that I could be notified if and when they were actually up and working. (I won't be buying any more AT&T day/week passes until I know something has changed)
In the meantime, I will be playing with the Verizon hot-spot USB dongle that I have on the next trip. Allegedly Verizon bought all of the Alltel systems up there, and although there aren't any towers in the immediate vicinity of where I camp, there were a number of towers around the nearby towns and cities (two by Atlanta, one by Onaway, one by Hillman, one by Lewiston, a couple around Gaylord, etc) and i was seeing a very weak signal using just the omni antenna. (I also have an 11 element 850MHz Yagi I built to try to grab the verizon towers, but didn't end up buying any time on verizon this trip as the adapter I got for the antenna didn't quite want to fit on the Pantech hotspot to get a clean connection to the directional beam)
The upgrades, if what i was told was accurate, should help considerably if and when they end up covering at least the existing towers if not additional places. If you are in a weak signal area, there are a number of antenna options (for those not as savvy with antenna design like myself) in the $15-80 range depending on how much 'help' you need to find a good signal. In many cases, a hot spot or even a signal-booster (a bit more expensive) with a good, high profile omni-directional vertical antenna can help considerably in a given, fixed location. For very weak signals, if you can figure out which tower you 'see' the best, a fixed-location directional yagi antenna can also improve at least the signal side. (but as I mentioned, i was getting an 80% 4-bar signal consistently and still getting crap for data speed/consistency/reliability on 2g)
Most of what is currently implemented up there is still 800-850Mhz range signals. (verizon uses CDMA, AT&T uses HSPA) From where I was at, I could not see any GSM or LTE/4G signals, but among the weak-signal sporadic stuff I was picking up, presumably from the Onaway former-Alltel tower, I did see a 3G that identified itself as 'National' or something similar as the service provider - I assume the Verizon partner.
I was interested to be alerted or otherwise notified when AT&T upgrades the service towers as I will otherwise not do anything with AT&T until I know that things have improved. I already got bit in my sphincter-pucker when a non-AT&T, AT&T branded franchise store bent me over for $25 to get a sim card that AT&T corporate gives away for free. And I'm further disappointed by the costs, terms and limits of the pre-pay data cards. (T-Mobile, for example, sells similar bundles for about 1/4 the price in their coverage area, but unlike AT&T, when your data allotment is up, they don't tell you that you are Shat-outta-luck and simply switch you down to a throttled 2G speed until the actual time-period of the card is used up. From what I've been told, both AT&T and Verizon basically tell you to suck rocks when your data-block is used up, and verizon costs about twice as much, AT&T about 4x as much)
Drove by our local tower just south of Pickford last week. Absolutely no activity. They are telling us that 4G will beoperational by June 29. Pretty hard to believe looking at the tower. I'm posting a pic of the tower.
I checked out the tower in McFarland, no activity there. Just "whip" style antennas on it. I'm assuming it will probably be one of the last towers upgraded.
AT&T is really moving in the area around my cabin. There are now 3 towers that have been fitted with broadband antennas in the last month. Red Oak, Lewiston, and the tower on 491 and M-32 about 8 miles north of Lewiston. This pic was taken Saturday and by evening time the work was completed.
Looking on AT&T's coverage map it looks like they fired up the tower in Pickford, MI. Is 4G live there??
I have a question. How do you normally tell when you're going to be getting 3G/4G on your phone? Will you lose cell service voice/data for a few hours that day or something?
I'm not really sure because AT&T uses quad-band for voice/data, excluding LTE. When my home area was upgraded to 3G back in 2008, I had no issues with service. My phone simply restarted itself and when it came back online it was on 3G.
No 4G here yet in Pickford. But I did drive by the local tower located about five miles south of town. A big roll of wire on the pole at the entrance to the site. Drove back to the tower. They have cleared out a bunch of trees, which I think is to allow the wire to be buried. But then there was some big wiring on the side of the tower.
From the looks of everthing, I'll be suprised if 4G is up and running around here by the end of summer.
@JRE - That tower is HSPA+ '4G' ready. Those are new coax lines on the tower and it looks like they will be using Charter fiber for backhaul. The ILEC doesn't use aerial distribution, so it could only be from Charter (which their fiber backhaul is great).
If you look closely on the coax lines when they run into the cell equipment shelter, you can see some wrapped in a blue tape and some wrapped in red. These color differentiators denote specific 3G/4G frequency. The blue might denote 850Mhz HSPA+ and the red might denote 1900Mhz HSPA+ (or visa-versa).
From my sources online I can tell you that Verizon Wireless is using Charter fiber backhaul for their LTE network. AT&T maybe using the ILEC. Double check the antennas and make sure its an AT&T site and not a VZW site (or they maybe sharing the same site).
@Lewyman..... If you are looking at the orange on the map, you are looking at cell coverage. You need to hit the data tab and the data will be displayed in blue. We have just average cell reception in Pickford, but zero data coverage, contrary to the map.
Verizon has no cell coverage in Pickford. Rumor has it that they are trying to get access to the tower about two miles west of our ATT tower.
The new AT&T coverage map depicts coverage in Orange and Yellow rather than Blue. Here are pics of the maps shown from my phone and PC The map on the left shows regular voice coverage and the one on the right shows 2/3/4G data. Although there might not be actual 4G, you can see that Pickford is shown in solid dark orange 4G (hspa+). Here is the new AT&T coverage map:
HaHa yep. That blob of orange in Pickford is new as it was not there last Friday. Hope they get it finished for you before the end of this month. I will say that AT&T, like Verizon, might be waiting on certain components from vendors for their towers as all the wireless carriers are scrambling to upgrade their networks.
Called att for an update on our tower upgrade. July 15 is the new target date for 4G. Drove by the tower today, and the roll of fiber is still on the poll.
Any idea about 3G in Grayling yet? Specifically between Grayling and Lewiston. I'll be in Lovells next week. Was hoping there would finally be some 3G. I got full bars of Edge last summer but was so slow.
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