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Thread: Is Two Bars the Norm?

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    Is Two Bars the Norm?

    Here in South Orange County California two bars of signal strength seems to be the norm in about 90 percent of the locations. Does this observation hold true in other areas of the country?

    I wonder how it compares to the received signal strength for folks on AT&T?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CellGeek View Post
    Here in South Orange County California two bars of signal strength seems to be the norm in about 90 percent of the locations. Does this observation hold true in other areas of the country?

    I wonder how it compares to the received signal strength for folks on AT&T?
    Due to the phone's calculation of bars to RSRP, bars have become pretty irrelevant. Having said that, in my area, I went from 1 bar on AT&T to 2 bars on Verizon at my home. Signal is all over the place as I drive around. Lots of spots are full bars (again, that doesn't mean anything), with a lot of 3 bar areas.

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    I'd suggest getting a dBm signal reader app from the store. Put a widget on your home screen for awhile and see for yourself. I have a Pixel2 and an iPhone 7 and both sets of bars fluctuate depending on where I am in town. FWIW, I have family in SoCal and I have always found signal there a bouts to be less than stellar. Family members down there had to move from Verizon to AT&T. Don't know why Verizon is so poor most places down there. I can generally send and receive when I'm down there visiting. WiFi calling is my friend in alot of places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by weskeene View Post
    Due to the phone's calculation of bars to RSRP, bars have become pretty irrelevant. Having said that, in my area, I went from 1 bar on AT&T to 2 bars on Verizon at my home. Signal is all over the place as I drive around. Lots of spots are full bars (again, that doesn't mean anything), with a lot of 3 bar areas.
    I second this. The carrier updates is the one who decides the conversion from dB to bars so it can seem irrelevant. -108 dB signal may be 2 bars on one carrier and 3 bars on a second carrier.

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    At home my phone usually has only 2-3 bars but it works fine, in places where it has 5 bars as far as I can tell it works the same, in an area with only one bar chances are it might drop the call, no bars no calls.

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    Is Two Bars the Norm?

    Another thing to take into account is that in the "old days" most networks only had one band (or possibly two) in most places. So if you were close to a cell site, you always had 4-5 bars. The cell sites were spaced farther apart, so you'd get the signal blasted out of the sites.

    Nowadays, with cell sites spaced closer together, power levels are lower to avoid interference. Also, you'll only see 4-5 bars when you're right on top of the site because the network will always prefer higher bands until you get further from the site or indoors, and once you've reached the point where you've lost that signal the low-band kicks in and is already weaker.

    You'll probably never see full strength signal on Band 13/12/17 since you'll be connected to Bands 2/4/30 etc. at that point. So yes, it seems like 2-3 bars is generally the norm across networks wherever I go unless I'm right in the middle of the urban core or literally next to a cell site.

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    I have total of 4-5 bars and my dBm ranges from -85 to -90. (Penna.) Per LTE Discovery on Band 13.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clonehappy View Post
    Another thing to take into account is that in the "old days" most networks only had one band (or possibly two) in most places. So if you were close to a cell site, you always had 4-5 bars. The cell sites were spaced farther apart, so you'd get the signal blasted out of the sites.

    Nowadays, with cell sites spaced closer together, power levels are lower to avoid interference. Also, you'll only see 4-5 bars when you're right on top of the site because the network will always prefer higher bands until you get further from the site or indoors, and once you've reached the point where you've lost that signal the low-band kicks in and is already weaker.

    You'll probably never see full strength signal on Band 13/12/17 since you'll be connected to Bands 2/4/30 etc. at that point. So yes, it seems like 2-3 bars is generally the norm across networks wherever I go unless I'm right in the middle of the urban core or literally next to a cell site.
    Good point

    I have one spot I know of where I have 1-2 bars of service then a matter of feet later I have 5 bars of service. Its due to the network preference settings on the phone. My iPhone absolutely loves to hang onto 1-2 bars of band 4 (primary LTE advanced speed band) for dear life and once the signal finally gets weak enough it will jump over to band 13 (LTE Coverage band) where I get 4-5 bars.

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    The other thing is that bars are pretty meaningless in a carrier aggregation world. Say your phone is told to choose band 4 as primary. You're already going to be at a disadvantage, as far as bars of strength. But band 13 doesn't just disappear. That's aggregated in. So you can get extremely good speeds even when sitting at two bars, because 13 (and maybe 2) are also at work. The tower has simply decided that band 4 will provide the least congested uplink band for your handset.

    It's a sad fact, but in a complex RF environment with your phone using bands all over the place on the spectrum, bars are pretty meaningless...unless you don't have any bars at all.

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    This brings up another point. In areas like mine, where I literally had to switch my primary line off of Verizon because of Band 13 congestion, does it really make sense to aggregate 13 with 2 or 4?

    Meaning, since there are areas where ONLY Band 13 covers due to wide tower spacing, why congest Band 13 with traffic that could easlily be handled solely on mid-band?

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    Quote Originally Posted by clonehappy View Post
    This brings up another point. In areas like mine, where I literally had to switch my primary line off of Verizon because of Band 13 congestion, does it really make sense to aggregate 13 with 2 or 4?

    Meaning, since there are areas where ONLY Band 13 covers due to wide tower spacing, why congest Band 13 with traffic that could easlily be handled solely on mid-band?
    From your lips, to God's ears. I've been annoyed by this stupid battle for the fastest possible speeds for a long time...and that's the only reason we have carrier aggregation, at least with the low bands. In a dense urban deployment, sure allow 13 to aggregate, I guess. But on a site where 13 might really be the only thing some users can get, why allow anyone on 13 at all unless they absolutely require it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by clonehappy View Post
    This brings up another point. In areas like mine, where I literally had to switch my primary line off of Verizon because of Band 13 congestion, does it really make sense to aggregate 13 with 2 or 4?

    Meaning, since there are areas where ONLY Band 13 covers due to wide tower spacing, why congest Band 13 with traffic that could easlily be handled solely on mid-band?
    Load balancing addresses this. You can be aggregating 4+13 and have almost no throughput on 13. What I think would help dramatically in the area is if they enabled 13+4 CA combo, and 13+4+2. Then you could be in places where B4/2 doesn't reach and still use it as secondary DL since the UL is what fails in fringe areas on those bands and not as often the DL. So far we only get 13+2 on some sites and it does double my speeds where I'm on 13 primary.

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    I said the same thing when I switched to Verizon from AT&T. I’ve concluded it’s because Verizon originally spaced there LTE network for 700 MHz. So when they rolled out the AWS (band 4) spectrum they didn’t have the density for it; and my iPhone camped out on AWS. It’s gotten better as they’ve added density to the networks, but they didn’t think out building a “data” network too well when they built out the original LTE network. T-Mobile and AT&T in my experience typically have better density than Verizon up until maybe last year ish. I’m down in Utah

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rldg View Post
    I said the same thing when I switched to Verizon from AT&T. I’ve concluded it’s because Verizon originally spaced there LTE network for 700 MHz. So when they rolled out the AWS (band 4) spectrum they didn’t have the density for it; and my iPhone camped out on AWS. It’s gotten better as they’ve added density to the networks, but they didn’t think out building a “data” network too well when they built out the original LTE network. T-Mobile and AT&T in my experience typically have better density than Verizon up until maybe last year ish. I’m down in Utah
    Forget about 700MHz - most of their towers were built long before LTE existed and were spaced for older technologies such as 1x which had far better range than LTE.

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    If we want to go back that far, many places had spacing set up in the old AMPS days, which had better range than CDMA!

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