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Old 12-16-2007, 10:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default International Report: UMA in Costa Rica

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I recently tried my 8320 out in Costa Rica with the aim of using Wifi for data and UMA as my primary method of calling back home. I encountered mixed results in Costa Rica hotspots myself...with most problems on establishing a UMA connection. From reading other posts and conducting several tests myself, this was probably due to one or more of the following problems...everyone feel free to chime in with your thoughts/experiences.

1) I wonder about the weak signals I encountered. This is based on my experience at one hotel - I could not get UMA active until I had 3 or 4 bars on the Wifi signal indicator...interestingly, Wifi signals were weak at every hotspot in Costa Rica and I had to practically stand on top of the antenna to get a strong signal...perhaps there is some regulation in CR that weakens Wifi signals in public? Has anyone else found this to be true? Interestingly enough, with weaker signals, I was able to surf the net, but not able to establish a UMA connection.
2) Perhaps the WiFi spots I encountered had lower-speed connections? One test I ran had a speed of 300k. Can anyone confirm minimum connection speed necessary to establish UMA connection?
3) Finally...there was a TMO UMA outage while I was there. My luck!?!
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I wouldn't judge UMA too much if you were trying to use it last week. Like you said it was out from the 7th to the 12th.

However, the weak signal in hotels got me thinking a while back, as well, so I bought one of these.

Works great!


Linksys WTR54GS Travel Router. Takes any wired or wired internet connection and gives you your own wireless signal in your hotel room.

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Old 12-16-2007, 11:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks - as you were writing that, I was reading other posts about the outage. Initially I thought it was only a couple of days but as you say...it appears it stretched to the 12th. Ugh!

Thanks for the tip on the travel router - wonderful idea!!! However, I don't travel enough to justify that one. I'm sure others will take that tip and run with it, tho...

So have you noticed UMA problems with weak signals too?
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Old 12-16-2007, 06:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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As for bandwidth you need approx 89K for a UMA connection to not fail. I have not run into an issue with UMA and a weak signal, it appears to me you have it or you don't.
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Old 12-16-2007, 06:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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When on UMA, the UMA will automatically transfer to EDGE when you leave the wifi area. So, the device has to sense the signal weakening *before* you leave the area in order to make the transfer to EDGE. It must have some sort of signal threshold where it says, Ok, you're leaving wifi, I'll transfer your call to EDGE. So, in weak areas you will likely see UMA go back and forth from UMA to EDGE.

That's where the travel router comes in handy. The BB senses a nice strong signal all the time so the UMA connection doesn't drop. However, if signal weakens a little to the travel router, the call may get distorted or drop due to interference, low bandwidth, or low signal.

None of this is scientific, just my observations when using UMA. That's why boosting the power of my wireless router at home (after installing DD-WRT) had such a profound effect on UMA.
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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On the travel router front, I have a D-Link DWL-G730AP. I prefer it over the Linksys for one very important reason: power. The Linksys has a US-style power plug on it. As someone that travels internationally a lot, that is a pretty major drawback. The D-Link comes with an AC power adapter, but can also be powered via USB. So when I'm traveling somewhere in the States, I'll use the AC adapter so I can actually sit with my laptop on the bed in I so choose. But when traveling internationally, I can still use the travel router, albeit tethered to the laptop for power.

The only problem the D-Link has is the mode switch on the bottom is easily changed, especially when sliding it into its carry case. Thus, you have to remember to check that it is in router mode (as opposed to the access point and wireless bridge modes) before you fire it up on the hotel's Ethernet connection.
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have a D-Link also. The power adapter is compatible up to 240v, so with a socket adapter will work internationally. One of the main reasons I chose it over the Linksys is the size and the built in plug on the Linksys.

I don't always stay at the Ritz so I've seen places where the only electrical outlet is crammed behind the TV cabinet or some other hard to access place. Or it's far from the network connection, or you have to choose what 2 things you want to plug in. At least with the D-link, there's the USB in a pinch and it's possible to get it into some harder to reach outlets. Plus it is tiny!

But the Linksys can be updated to DD-WRT. I found that browsing the computer and phone calls don't mix over the D-link. At least from overseas. Although I think I managed to do both locally. With DD-WRT, the Linksys should be more able to maintain both.

Here's a pic of how tiny it is. Also it's plugged into a 220v outlet.
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