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Old 08-08-2003, 07:34 AM   #1
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Best cell service in Texas State Parks?

Sorry to be so very region specific; but, we stay at Texas State Parks a lot, and have found our T-Mobil cell phone service drops out when we get 20 miles or so off an interstate or out of a populated area. This has caused problems when the state park has no pay phone service due to broken phones or pay phones removed by phone companies due to everyone using cell phones (no profit). In particular, we have experienced this at Possum Kingdom SP, Caddo Lake SP, Tyler SP, Dinosaur SP, Guadalupe River SP. . .well you get the picture. Can anyone experienced in Texas State Park camping recommend an accessible cell service?
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Old 08-08-2003, 09:32 AM   #2
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While I can't remember being at any of those parks in particular I have been with ATT Wireless for some time now and have always had pretty consistent coverage.

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Old 08-08-2003, 09:44 AM   #3
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It does not need to be a State Park.

My cell phone will not work from my home. If I travel 1/2 mile in either direction (road in front of our home), it will work. While in Northern NM at the State Park (Airstream Forum gathering) my cell phone would not work at my campsite. If I walked towards the front of the park -- higher up the hill --- it would.

We're off in a few hours to a Texas State Park == Lake Tawakani === my daugher lives on the other side of the lake from the park and cell phone coverage does not work at her home --- but does in any land direction at least 1/2 mile from her home. I'll see if our phones work from that park or not.

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Old 08-08-2003, 10:05 AM   #4
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Thanks for the inputs so far. Chas, I've been looking at ATT Wireless. . .have had some positive inputs from a few friends here. Don, we go to Lake Tawakoni, too. We have friends who live just east of Quinlan, and T-Mobil reception is erratic.
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Old 08-08-2003, 12:28 PM   #5
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Verizon!!

According to an article in RCR Wireless News, Verizon Wireless was ranked as the highest quality network among the seven largest wireless operators, according to the J.D. Powers and Assoc. 2003 Wireless Network Quality Assesment Study.

Other Rankings:

Verizon: 104
Cingular: 103
AT&T: 100
Sprint PCS: 95
T-Mobile: 94
Alltel:93

I personally have tried Verizon, Nextel, Sprint PCS, AT&T, and Alltel. I keep coming back to Verizon.
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Old 08-08-2003, 12:59 PM   #6
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Thanks, Pick. . .unfortunately, quality service often doesn't address the issue of no reception in semi-remote areas. While many Texas' State Parks aren't necessarily in the extreme wilderness (except Big Bend SP), very often either the cell phone companies' towers aren't close enough and/or their signal strength isn't adequate to reach the average parks' locations.
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Old 08-08-2003, 05:37 PM   #7
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Re: Best cell service in Texas State Parks?

I don't have service in most of the Texas State Parks in the Hill country with my AT&T service.
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Old 08-09-2003, 08:26 AM   #8
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If Nextel is anything like it is here.....run....don't walk!

Work got us Nextels and even when there is a great signal, you'll be in the middle of a conversation and hear this beep.....and a message to please try your call again. Happens to all 15 of us all the time.....
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Old 08-09-2003, 09:47 AM   #9
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Hmmmm this post is right up my alley! hehehe I work for Cingular and run a repair center.

Ok lets address the first part of this question. "STATE PARK" this mean public owned land. It means building a cell site is next to impossible, hense no site no calls.

National park are no different. It litteraly taks a act of congress to allow a cell site to be built.

Now for poor coverage there are things that can be done. While in the car or camper a External antenna will help a great deal. The car or camper IS interference for a wireless device. Anytime you can get the signal above the vehicle it will greatly improve the signal.

Next time your fueling up at a truck stop hit their radio shop. Wilson makes a 20db gain antenna. My trucker customers all say it works great. On a SUV it could be attached to a roof rack. On the camper you might be able to attach it to the A/C.

Now who to go with. Well if you look at the above rankings chart it's a pretty good indicator. Ciingular and Verizon are both what became of the largest carriers that basicly started it all. Both companies have 8-10 years of build under their belt before the others even existed. Now why AT&T have managed to catch up so quick is if your not on their system your roaming on Cingular.


Ok now some indepth stuff.
Analog was the original "Cellular" technology. Before it was IMTS and that just had one central high power antenna. Cellular is the use of low powered "Cell sites" on a grid so that as you travle you hand off to the next tower. It allows the same channle to be reused about every 3-4 towers. This is possible because of the low power and the inability of the signal to trave long distances. I know back in the Analog days people would use the phone an all of a sudden hear somebody else. That's cross talk or Co Channel interference. A mobile had enough power to hit two "cells" running the same channel.

Now let me points something out. NO MATTER WAHT THE COMPANY SAYS THEY ARE TECHNICALY CELLULAR. Cellular is how the system is designed in reguards to channel reuse and multiple channels. Sprint is fixing to be sued for their disinformation advertising on this subject. They are a PCS cell company.

Ok Wireless works on 800-900Mhz and 1900-2000 mhz.
DCS and PCS is going to be 1900 related. Now to further muddle things up Cingular,AT&T and Verizon are using both bands but not in the same city. Cincular Atlanta is 800mhz. Cingular in the carolinas are 1900. This happend because the FCC auctions spectrum and sometimes favors start ups over big companies to promote compition. Basicly a carrier can only operate on one band per city.
Here is some terms you will hear.
Analog...Pretty well dead. Some mom an pop carriers in rural areas are still running it.

TDMA= Time division Multiple access Basicly this is a trimmed down GSM. Yep your read that Right..GSM was first and TDMA was made to work for the american Markets to overlay on a existing Analog system. It was to complicated to go from Analog to GSM. This allowed carriers to put three calls on a single Analog channel and having as many available calls per channel is where it's at. Cingular and AT&T are the two big TDMA carriers in the US. It's going away like Analog because both companies are aggressively adopting GSM. The way it works is the phone broadcasts on a time slot and the phone rotate broadcasting
CDMA= Code Division Multiple Access. Simular to TDMA in that it was designed to overlay onto an existing Analog system. Agian it alows for 3 calls per channel. Noise floor is too high to get any more out of it reliably. Basily what happes is a "Color" code is imbeded in the signal and the phone ignores the two other color codes being broadcast on the channel. Virizon is the big CDMA carrier but again they are about to have problems. They are the only carrier using it heavy and while in the US that's roughly 40% of american service in the grand scheme it less then 15% world wide. One manufacture has already said screw it and decided not to make any more CDMA product because it so little of the world market. Not sure what Viriozon intends to do.

GSM= Global System For Mobile comunications. Solid 70% of the world market and growing FAST. It basicly allows 8 calls per Analog channel width. It does some funky stuff to make it happen including channel hopping timing tricks etc. It moves DATA very well. THis is the stuff to get for useing Data products like Lap tops, PDA's Etc. Cingular and AT&T will suport this in most of their systems by mid 2004.

GAIT The acronym slips my mind. This term is rapidly fading. It's a wireless phone that works on multiple transmit frequency's and Technoligies. It's a Stepping stone product. It will probably be gone by 2005. It's purpose is to alow a customer to have a product that will work on all of a cairiers systems since most big carriers are not running the same frequency or Technology in every city. This lowers roaming cost to the carrier because the customer can stay on the carriers system where ever they are. These are avalable only from AT&T and Cingular. It is by far the most complicated enduser phone ever built bar none. Only two of them on the market Nokia 6340 (and cosmetic variants sold by AT&T) and Ericsson T62U. To be qite honest it is doing to much to exceed at any. Still the phones to use if your traveling and a Cingular or AT&T customer till they get the GSM foot print filled out.

GPRS= General Package Radio Service. This is a data item. It's suported in GSM and CDMA products. This allows the wireless device to become a modem. It's basicly Wireless Eithernet for the Computer savy people. It alows a reliable data signal. Depending on system load it can move data from around 56k dial up speed up to 120k DSL speeds. This is what makes picture phones possible.

EDGE= Forgot the acronym but it's Data. It's the next step and it alows faster data speeds. This will be like Cable modem offering Data speeds around 300k.

Blue Tooth. This is a technology that allows electronic's to comunicate to each other on a standard language. It does it wireless where the current datsa products woudl need wires or Inferred to comunicate. It will let your phone talk to your laptop without having to down load any other comunications software. It will also suport things like wireless headsets etc.

Ok fingers tired. I'll let that sink in.
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Old 08-10-2003, 08:49 PM   #10
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Thanks for the detailed explaination re: Cell Phones --- what ever happened to Oatmeal boxes and string?

Camping in Texas State Park. We left Friday for Lake Tawakini State Park - temp in the triple digits or near it in E Texas. Arrived about 4 PM ---- sunny and hot! Nice once the sun went down --- sometime during the night a weather front came our way. Saturday I don't think the temp was over 85 all day. We were outside all day -- swimming, using daughters wave runner --- etc. Sunday we left - back to triple digit temps once again. Sure looking forward to going to NY/NJ in September <grin>

Cell phone worked great at this park - even INSIDE the Airstream. I had to call to see if I'm still requested to show up at the court house for jury duty in the morning (Monday). I do...Like I had mentioned, my daughter can't use cell phone from her home -- on the N side of the lake.

Guess it is almost line-of-site communications -

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Old 08-10-2003, 09:10 PM   #11
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The BEST cell service is.....

NO CELL service! Walk over to the park pool and throw it in! Sorry, I had to say that, I come from the "old world " school of camping.

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Old 08-10-2003, 09:15 PM   #12
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So Don. . .two posts and you still haven't said which cell company you use! Since Lake Tawakoni and other East Texas locations have given us trouble. . .who do you use?
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Old 08-11-2003, 07:03 AM   #13
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I use Verizon --- daughter uses some other service -- both worked just fine. But I'd venture a guess we are accessing the same tower. I don't think there are different towers for all the various cell phone service co's out there. Part of the sequence of data that each phone transmitts contains the vendor ID, I'm sure - along with your phone number, etc.

I use my phone for long distance calls and emergency use. Used it Saturday to call back to our E Texas area to hear the recording about Monday jury duty (yep, I have Jury duty --- need to get off the computer and get to town soon)

don
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Old 08-11-2003, 12:17 PM   #14
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Thanks, Don. . .Suzanne's federal jury call duty was our recent problem. We were at Cleburne State Park for a week and no T-Mobil cell service. It disappeared at about 20 miles west of I-35 and the park is about 10 miles further west. We had to get in the truck and drive 10 miles east each day after 3pm to check for the next day's jury list. I've been thinking of switching to Verizon!
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