Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Okay, right now I have T-Mobile, and it sucks, sucks, sucks. Calls drop, signal goes in and out, half the time it is showing zero bars where Cingular shows two and Nextel shows four, regardless of whether I am at work or at home. Nextel is at 850mhz while Cingular and T-Mobile are at 1900mhz so that's probably why Nextel's signal is so much better in this location (generally, the lower the frequency, the further the signal travels and the better it penetrates dwellings), but anyhow I'm getting pissed.

Now, Cingular and T-Mobile use the European GSM standard. This is nice in one way because I have two T-Mobile phones and can swap the SIM card between them if I need to switch phones. For example, when I went camping, I put the SIM into my small flip-phone because I didn't want to haul my big PDA phone onto a camping trip. But if it doesn't work, dammit...

One possibility is going back to Cingular. But their plans suck big-time. They're proud of their network, and it shows. Too damned proud for my pocketbook.

The other is to go to one of the CDMA vendors, of whom two serve my area -- Sprint PCS and Verizon. CDMA is derived from the phase-shifting frequency-hopping "jam-proof" radios that the military uses and is an inherently more reliable technology than GSM, which is a variant of the antiquated TDMA time-slicing protocol. But it was basically created by Verizon and Sprint for their own business purposes, which means that the serial number is built in rather than on a SIM card. What that means is if I want two phones (a PDA phone and a flip phone), I must have two accounts. Which is how Verizon and Sprint like it. The Europeans may have dictated an inferior standard in GSM, but they also dictated that it would be a consumer-friendly standard. When American companies dictate standards, on the other hand, they make sure that the consumer gets serviced alright -- serviced like a stallion services a mare, that is.

So anyhow, Verizon thinks they're Cingular when it comes to their pricing. But Sprint PCS has towers on all sides of my home, and on two sides of my work. These are all 1900mhz towers as of now (Sprint got some 850mhz spectrum when they bought Nextel's ancient proprietary network, so will probably be transitioning the part of the spectrum that's CDMA compatible to CDMA over the next few years, but that hasn't happened yet), but CDMA supposedly has better range than GSM, so I should hopefully get the kind of service that Cingular gave me, for T-Mobile prices. Hopefully.

Has anybody out there used Sprint PCS in the Bay Area? Am I smoking herring when I think that maybe it can give me better coverage than T-Immobile?

- Badtux the Out-of-communication Penguin


  1. Sorry Badtux sweetie. I can't help you with the Bay area. Out here in the midwest, Verizon has the best to offer. Of course there's not much to obstruct service across rolling fields of corn, beans and livestock.

  2. huh. I've never had a second's trouble with T-Mobile for the past four years, but then I don't live in da bay area. I really like that I can use my crappy lil Nokia phone all over the planet (for a price, of course, but yeah) and when I get a non-crappy phone I can just pop the SIM card into it.

  3. Well, in most foreign countries you can just walk into a drugstore and buy a pre-paid SIM card. I have at least one unlocked GSM phone, so that's definitely an option for me. And Sprint/Verizon *do* roam into Canada and Mexico, which is likely as far as I'm going anytime soon.

    T-Mobile works great for me everywhere *but* home and work. I even got some signal in the San Francisco subway at least until the train was several hundred yards down the tunnel. But maybe this helps you figure out why T-Mobile is oversold at my home and work: I look out my doorway at home, and I am staring at the side of Sun's Santa Clara headquarters complex. I walk out the front door at work and look a few blocks down the street, and I see the side of the Googleplex. *LOTS* of geeks bearing phones in those two places :-). And oh, there's 12 apartments within WIFI distance of my apartment. I can detect 9 WIFI networks in my Wireless Neighborhood in Windows XP. Hmm... does that mean lots of geeks live in my apartment complex? DOH! I think T-Mobile simply is oversold on these towers, and GSM drops connections when towers get full, rather than gracefully degrade like CDMA.


  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. No, never tried any of those phone services in the bay area.

    Why did I bother answering? Well, you asked:)

  6. Verizon here, no dropped calls, no static, no problems for the last 5 years.

    Their pricing plan sucks, but when I need my phone, it works.


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