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Mjrtom7

Explorer

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25 Messages

Wed, Sep 19, 2012 6:57 PM

Will Northeast MI ever receive 3G?

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...

Responses

Scholar

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150 Messages

7 years ago

Nice, hope they do more.

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

I hope AT&T keeps their word on upgrading their entire network by years end. They do have the best overall coverage out of all the carriers. Looks like Sprint has joined Verizon in turning on LTE in the St Ignace area including Mackinac Island.
treii28

Teacher

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20 Messages

7 years ago

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)

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

@treii28

Yes there is an AT&T tower near Clear Lake St Park/Canada Creek Ranch. Go the the AT&T coverage viewer and view the voice coverage. That will pretty much show you where the towers are....in the center of the darkest orange areas. Verizon's signal is not good on that area and there is no tower between Atlanta and Onaway, which LTE are active on both towers now. Just keep reading these forums because word travels fast when they upgrade service as a lot of times you know withing hours after a tower gets upgraded. Also watch sensorly.com for user based real time coverage maps. AT&T has by far the superior network as far as coverage though we all know EDGE sucks. Compare AT&T/Verizon coverage maps including the U.P. and you will be shocked how many areas Verizon doesn't cover. I personally don't travel much to those areas so Verizon is better for me as they have pretty much statewide LTE coverage now. When AT&T upgrades to total 3G/HSPA/LTE statewide they will win back a lot of customers from Verizon.
JREwing53

Scholar

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173 Messages

7 years ago

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. snip tower.JPG

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

@JREwing53
That tower has 3/4G broadband antennas on it and as you can see there are no black omni-directional "whip"
style antennas which means those panels are active. It's not impossible to have 4G service by the end of June especially since it has been backhauled with fiber. What irks me is the fact AT&T can turn on 3G with T-1 backhaul while they are running fiber but they have chosen to do nothing until they have fiber run to the tower. That's what Verizon did when they upgraded to 3G back in 2007ish. There are several AT&T towers around that appear ready to be fired up but are sitting there idling on EDGE. I imagine when they start turning on 3G/HSPA there will be huge areas lighting up at once.

Scholar

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150 Messages

7 years ago

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.

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

American Ninja..
It is really hard to say. The tower in which I uploaded the picture of in Red Oak is in between Mio, Lewiston, and Luzerne. It is pretty much forest all around but sometime in the last three weeks they moved in and installed the broadband antennas. They could do the same to the tower by you as they are working diligently to upgrade the remaining sites. Verizon has pretty much forced all the wireless carriers into massive upgrades to all of their networks plus there has been a lot of federal money available to them as well so they have incentive to invest sooner rather than later.

Scholar

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150 Messages

7 years ago

Oh ok, Thanks for the info. Smiley Happy

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

Well today I drove by the AT&T tower here in Lewiston. It is a goofy looking wooden mono pole with the old style antennas on it which I posted a picture of in an earlier post on this thread. Well, today there was a guy in a boom installing broadband antennas on it getting it ready for 3G/4G. That is significant as this a smaller town and the tower is old. Really glad to see that they are working up here!! I will post a pic tomorrow. Just a quick note, Verizon fired up LTE here this past Thursday.
Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

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.

 

P1130910_Downtown Lewiston.JPG

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

@JREwing53

 

Looking on AT&T's coverage map it looks like they fired up the tower in Pickford, MI.  Is 4G live there??

Scholar

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150 Messages

7 years ago

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?

Lewyman

Scholar

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391 Messages

7 years ago

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.

JREwing53

Scholar

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173 Messages

7 years ago

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.Tower 1.jpgTower 2.jpg

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