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Old 12-30-2007, 10:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Determining best coverage in my area?

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What is the best and easiest way to determine which provider has the best coverage in my area?

I'm currently a T-Mobile subscriber and I have VERY poor connectivity in my new home. I would prefer to stay with GSM so that my blackberry will continue to work when I travel out of the country. I compared the coverage maps for both T-Mobile and AT&T in my area. AT&T indicated better coverage than T-Mobile. (How accurate are these maps anyhow?) Is there a way that I can test reception on the AT&T network without having an AT&T phone? Does manually selecting the Cingular/AT&T network in my network options give me a true example of reception in my home? If so, then it appears that the coverage maps are inaccurate because the cingular network never seems to connect.

Should I go another route? With the exception of the coverage in my home, I'm happy with T-Mobile. My wife and I have an old low usage family plan with the data add-on and it is by far the least expensive option for us. I waited to upgrade my phones until the T-Mobile@home service was available but I recently found out that my employer (I'm in the securities industry) disables the WiFi option on any Blackberries on the enterprise network. Should I be considering a repeater?

All I want is a compact Blackberry with GPS that also functions in my home.

Thank you,
st8ofmi9d
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Old 12-30-2007, 10:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've found carrier coverage maps to be so-so with coverage, depending on the area and if you'll be inside. Both T-Mobile and AT&T showed they would work at my house, but neither did - at all.

If you have a friend who has AT&T you could invite them over to your house to test the coverage.

You could also check here: Signal Map - Find the best cell phone coverage in your area, or add your own cell phone signal to the map.

This is a site where people indicate what signal they recieved, so it's only as good as the data people add to it.
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Old 12-30-2007, 06:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Since you are on T-Mobile, if you get a Blackberry 8320, you can use your personal WiFi network as a virtual cell site for the 8320 via a technology called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA). Thus, you don't have to switch carriers (thus potentially paying contract early termination fees) and you still get a functional phone while you are at home. T-Mobile calls this "HotSpot @ Home", and more info can be found in the WiFi sub-forum here. AT&T does not offer a UMA solution at this time. (I personally make use of UMA on T-Mobile, and have on the whole been pretty happy with it.)

Coverage maps from the carriers are pretty meaningless. They just say where they think they provide coverage, they're not actual measurements. You will still find lots of dead spots, regardless of carrier. The only way to know which carrier "works best" for a given area is to try them both (ideally with the same handset model so as to rule out the differences that do occur between handsets).
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Old 12-30-2007, 07:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Not very scientific--but have you asked your neighbors who provides their service and how dependable it is?
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Old 12-30-2007, 08:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you for all of the advice. I'm going to have a difficult time switching. I use the data often but my wife and I used less than 300 minutes on our phones (total between the two of us) a month. We are currently paying less than $80 (with corporate discount) for two phones with one on the Blackberry enterprise server. T-mobile no longer offers this low usage plan and other plans are at least $120 for similar services.

I guess the question gets down to if I should pay $40 more a month and reliably be able to use my mobile phones in my house or continue to spend what I am and deal with the situation.

Thank you
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The T-Mobile website doesn't list all the plan options available. You can add the Blackberry data plan to any of the listed plans for $20/mo. Do both you and your wife need data? Or only you? The lowest myFaves family plan is 700 minutes for $70/mo. With data for one phone, that becomes $90, and for both phones would be $110. Going individual myFaves with 300 minutes is $30/mo for each phone, so would give you 300 minutes each for $60/mo (as opposed to the 700 minutes shared pool for $70/mo).

If you are having signal problems inside your house, there is a good chance that other carriers will as well. Going UMA with T-Mobile would be a much "safer" bet for ensuring coverage at home. Unless you have someone who is on AT&T that can come over an test in your apartment.

You also mentioned you wanted to stick with GSM in case you had to travel internationally. That would again benefit from having a UMA phone. When the phone is connected via UMA, it is always treated as though you are in your "home" network. Thus, you eliminate international roaming charges (which can be substantial) while connected via UMA. You can pick up a travel WiFi router for cheap ($60 or so) and thus even when a hotel does not offer WiFi, you can provide your own via the travel router.
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Old 01-02-2008, 05:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by st8ofmi9d View Post
Thank you for all of the advice. I'm going to have a difficult time switching. I use the data often but my wife and I used less than 300 minutes on our phones (total between the two of us) a month. We are currently paying less than $80 (with corporate discount) for two phones with one on the Blackberry enterprise server. T-mobile no longer offers this low usage plan and other plans are at least $120 for similar services.

I guess the question gets down to if I should pay $40 more a month and reliably be able to use my mobile phones in my house or continue to spend what I am and deal with the situation.

Thank you
If you switch to AT&T, you'll pay maybe that much for just 1 phone on BES. I think your idea of a signal repeater may be the way to go if there's a decent signal outside.
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