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Thread: AT&T LTE, is it even close to ready in rural areas?

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    AT&T LTE, is it even close to ready in rural areas?

    So for those who remember I had issues with AT&T in Colorado. They picked up their game - in the city - as I was getting insane speeds in the city compared to before. So I assumed they also probably improved rural coverage. Nope. Itís so bad right now itís kinda scary. Many areas have had gaps for over 10 years known by all locals (example: to pass from Woodland Park to the springs) that Verizon added B4 LTE into the pass, and T-Mobile soon after. AT&T still a dead zone a decade later even being a major tourist area/highway and known issue.

    But even more rural, this was from Buena Vista, CO, to Colorado Springs, CO. I didnít get the entire drive, only 80-ish miles. The results arenít good though, LTE wise.

    This picture shows enough itself:



    Thank god AT&T still has HSPA 3G (probably roaming and not even actual native AT&T) and HSPA+ 4G. Over 80 miles of basically entirely 3G (actual 3G) or 4G which both worked for GPS/music streaming. LTE doesnít exist for 80-100 miles until you reach the city. Only a couple spots it picked up 1 unusable bar, then back to either 3G or 4G.
    This is a nearly 90 mile stretch that first responders use a lot. In fact twice I saw first responders on the side of the road, both areas had NO SERVICE at all. Unless First-net adds a bunch of towers, then 3 counties are not going to have reliable service. Theyíll be lucky to get 3G or 4G.
    This is not exclusive to this highway only. Highway 50, and a few others which are 80-100 mile stretches are the same. Only 3G HSPA or 4G HSPA + reaches, which luckily AT&T hasnít shut them down yet of theyíd be screwed.

    If AT&T shuts down regular 3G Iíd have lost service for a good 40 mile stretch. Yikes. Also scary if car ever had issues. Same for HSPA+ 4G, AT&T isnít even close to ready to get rid of that either.



    3G PCS 1900? There must be no LTE sites at all, and must be roaming? Iím guessing they havenít added anything to this area in a good 10 years or so, or whenever 3G came out.



    The 4G HSPA+ at 850mhz makes sense, as it always seems to have superior penetration and better reach even against 700mhz LTE.

    Thatís only 1 highway, out of over half a dozen that branch off from Buena Vista or Salida, etc that have similar results of mainly all HSPA for very long stretches until you hit a major city.


    So will Firstnet only add LTE? Or will 3G HSPA or 4G HSPA+ be added also? Seems like a fallback would be good to have, and in many cases the 850 HSPA seems to reach further than 700 LTE.
    Last edited by Josh177; 07-05-2018 at 12:47 AM.

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    AT&T LTE, is it even close to ready in rural areas?

    To be fair AT&T has done fine through the crazy fires here in Colorado... Verizon has not. Their service was down or hardly usable for days, AND, the counties 911 service was down for days due to no back-up system in place.....

    I know semi-off topic but it stresses the importance of: is ANY carrier really as ready as they think??
    ESPECIALLY rural. The sheriff, per the picture above is filing a complaint with the FCC for having no 911 service for 3 days, due to no back up plans I guess.

    I have a feeling if AT&T has Firstnet here it would be just as bad, possibly worse, as AT&T is known for not putting as many towers out in rural areas in Colorado like Verizon does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh177 View Post



    3G PCS 1900? There must be no LTE sites at all, and must be roaming? Iím guessing they havenít added anything to this area in a good 10 years or so, or whenever 3G came out.

    [
    That MCCMNC isn't AT&T so it makes sense that it says 3G and not 4G, even the HSPA mode is the same but because it isn't AT&T, it's just 3G but really is "4G" actual "3G" would be UMTS @ something like 3mbps peak rate, which is shared with everyone so more like 500kbps on a good day.

    Sounds like this area is a roaming area for AT&T, and because of that they haven't over built or built there because another provider is covering the area for them. However, now with firstnet they will either be forced to build over the partner carrier or have to lease the spectrum to the partner so that they can build the firstnet network there. I think however that they're gonna have to over build them because I dont think they can lease spectrum that they themselves are leasing. Whatever the case, coverage has to change at some point for firstnet.



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    AT&T LTE, is it even close to ready in rural areas?

    Interesting, didnít know that! Good to know. Even though the 3G is peaked at 3mbps and is shared, that tower only covers the highway (no houses or anything nearby, and if there are and houses itís only maybe 2-3 houses hidden in the boonies) so is it likely it might get faster speeds than 500kbps since no-one is on it?

    I never tested the speed on their 4G, but it streamed Apple Music the entire time fine along with GPS in the background.

    Hopefully though with Firstnet they do start to add towers, as Iím really surprised that in a 86 mile drive that was 1 hour and 32 minutes, that LTE basically didnít exist at all. The full drive was 102 miles - and I didnít get all of it on the Sensorly mapping - so in reality it was more like 1 hour and 45 minute stretch of HSPA only, then LTE once you hit the city. But HSPA still works so Iím not complaining much, if anything this shows that HSPA is still ďkingĒ in some rural areas. LTE is still lagging behind at least in the areas I drive. Even if Firstnet added HSPA and HSPA+ to really rural areas that currently have no coverage Iíd be happy. I just hate areas of no service for many miles, or 1 bar of unusable service. But I believe firstnet is LTE only based. Hopefully it can handle it without a fallback network like they have now..


    Whatever the case Iím hoping First-net helps AT&T really expand into rural areas and beats out Verizon rural coverage wise.
    AT&T has great performance in major cities throughout Colorado, and I like the option to fall back to HSPA when LTE is congested to the point of not working, which on Verizon when that happens you are screwed.
    Like right now LTE is overloaded, so I switch LTE off and use HSPA+ and get a solid 10mbps download =P VS having 3 bars of LTE that hardly can load google. Most people donít know that trick, luckily

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    It is for visiting places like that that I have a $20 backup plan on a Verizon MVNO. Never know where I may have car problems.
    iPhone X on ATT Prepaid. Backup iPhone 7+ on inexpensive Verizon MVNO plan. Hopefully covers me in the continental US for phone usage. Cheaper than a single unlimited plan on ATT or Verizon or T-Mobile.

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    Rural coverage seems hard for all the carriers in some spots. It is nice to have a cheap backup in case you ever need it. With how crappy my car is I need all 4 carriers, 3 towing services, and have uber and lyft on standby. If the car breaks I could always leave it in a ditch and take an uber rude to the nearest car dealer

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    Quote Originally Posted by eddiehaskell View Post
    With how crappy my car is I need all 4 carriers, 3 towing services, and have uber and lyft on standby. If the car breaks I could always leave it in a ditch and take an uber rude to the nearest car dealer
    I must be too old to relate. It must seem amazing that people were brave enough to even leave their homes in the pre-cellphone era (not that long ago).

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    Quote Originally Posted by coldknob View Post
    I must be too old to relate. It must seem amazing that people were brave enough to even leave their homes in the pre-cellphone era (not that long ago).
    I'm probably about the same "vintage" as you. To be a little fair, in the "old" days pay phones were far more prevalent (though probably not in the boonies either). So many people now have mobile phones that pay phones are hard to come by.

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    It depends on your location of course. IME, it's definitely ready where I live, with very few UMTS drops until you get way in the sticks. Where I live is also pretty densely forested, which makes it all that much more impressive. FirstNet spectrum is supposed to help with this, but of course, spectrum does nothing if there isn't a site to put it on. Hopefully AT&T does some more densification rurally (I think they will) along with these FirstNet builds (Which are supposed to be penta-band!) and your experience will improve. But of course, YMMV... that's why Verizon exists and is a larger entity both coverage wise and subscriber wise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steveinmn View Post
    I'm probably about the same "vintage" as you. To be a little fair, in the "old" days pay phones were far more prevalent (though probably not in the boonies either). So many people now have mobile phones that pay phones are hard to come by.
    I quit stressing about cell coverage in rural Southwest. I have the $15 Sprint plan and a Mobley plan. What gives me peace of mind is a $15/month Garmin InReach Explorer. Connected to Iridium network. Has two way text, GPS, weather, and SOS two way text. I carry it while out and about, and have used the SOS a couple of times to help others in trouble in middle of nowhere Utah. Nothing like hearing help coming in those situations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steveinmn View Post
    I'm probably about the same "vintage" as you. To be a little fair, in the "old" days pay phones were far more prevalent (though probably not in the boonies either). So many people now have mobile phones that pay phones are hard to come by.
    Of course there was also the matter of anyone that did see you on the side of the road would stop. Maybe the could not fix it but would be willing to send help when they got to a phone or business that could.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane B. View Post
    Of course there was also the matter of anyone that did see you on the side of the road would stop. Maybe the could not fix it but would be willing to send help when they got to a phone or business that could.
    Has that changed so much? I'm used to seeing the drivers of stranded vehicles in their cars or near them holding phones but when I don't see that I stop and ask. Maybe it's just me.

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    We have a strong Highway Call Box program here, too, they cover the state and federal highways, often in areas where cell coverage is weak to non existent, they use either cellular or satellite for service, are solar/battery powered and connect directly with the CHP.

    http://www.mendocinocog.org/safe.shtml

    http://www.mendocinocog.org/pdf/Map%...Plan-Final.pdf Call Box locations

    http://www.mendocinocog.org/pdf/News...2014-01-17.pdf About the satellite call boxes

    This is a very rural, rugged and heavily forested area, including Redwoods that can get almost 400 feet high, it's one of the hardest areas in the US RF wise to cover.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilvla2 View Post
    We have a strong Highway Call Box program here, too, they cover the state and federal highways, often in areas where cell coverage is weak to non existent, they use either cellular or satellite for service, are solar/battery powered and connect directly with the CHP.

    http://www.mendocinocog.org/safe.shtml

    http://www.mendocinocog.org/pdf/Map%...Plan-Final.pdf Call Box locations

    http://www.mendocinocog.org/pdf/News...2014-01-17.pdf About the satellite call boxes

    This is a very rural, rugged and heavily forested area, including Redwoods that can get almost 400 feet high, it's one of the hardest areas in the US RF wise to cover.
    As a California native I can confirm this. There are so many roadways especially on the coast towards Oregon where there is absolutely no coverage with any carrier. Even here in SoCal in our mountains once you pass the ski resorts cell coverage becomes non existent.

    Add 98% of Death Valley, CA. and nearby unincorporated roads of the beautiful Mojave Desert to this list of carrier dead zones.

    As an avid hiker even my Verizon MiFi that my employer pays for (that I keep in my bag) does me no good when there is no network to connect to. Most of the time I'm actually okay with this as I love nature and I love the solitude.
    ďThe Internet wasnít meant to be metered in bits and bytes, so itís insane that wireless companies are still making you buy it this way. The rate plan is dead ó itís a fossil from a time when wireless was metered by every call or text.Ē John Legere 1/5/2017

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    Quote Originally Posted by sectime View Post
    I quit stressing about cell coverage in rural Southwest. I have the $15 Sprint plan and a Mobley plan. What gives me peace of mind is a $15/month Garmin InReach Explorer. Connected to Iridium network. Has two way text, GPS, weather, and SOS two way text. I carry it while out and about, and have used the SOS a couple of times to help others in trouble in middle of nowhere Utah. Nothing like hearing help coming in those situations.
    That's pretty awesome.

    I can concur. I drove last year north from Vegas into Utah then down to the Northern RIM of the Grand Canyon. I had AT&T Postpaid at the time. If I wasn't roaming on Commnet I had no service for long stretches of road.

    It's irritating for a minute but I got over it. It was actually nice to disconnect.

    Funny thing was my buddy had Sprint and he actually had 1xRTT service in and around Bryce Canyon in Utah for some of those long stretches where I had No Service.

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