TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Cell Phone Reception

Re: Cell Phone Reception

Justin Time (
15 Mar 2005 05:22:08 -0800

TELECOM Digest Editor Noted in response to a question:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: On my personal cell phone, which is on
> Cingular Wireless, my latest contract is about to run out, and when
> I was downtown Friday, I went in the Cingular Wireless store and
> talked to the lady about getting a new phone in exchange for renewing
> my contract. There were several hangups, IMO: the newer phones are
> a bit smaller and (a) they would not work with my existing Cell Socket
> device; I use a Nokia 5165, which is an older phone, but it works
> quite well (and, it also works quite well when tied into my PBXtra
> through the Cell Socket) ... (b) the picture quality on the newer
> phones, while it has gotten better, _still_ has a way to go before the
> picture quality is as good as an inexpensive digital PC camera, and
> (c) the lady told me unlike Cingular Wireless text messages, to send
> a picture costs more money, around 40 cents per transmission. If
> there was a way to avoid that transmission charge (for example by somehow
> transferring the picture directly to my computer, then using my own
> email to move the picture around, I might be inclined to get a new
> phone and try it. PAT]

And what the lady in the Cingular store DIDN'T tell you was that all
the new phones are GSM. While on the average the sound quality is
better with GSM (a poor analogy would be FM and AM radio) they will
not work in an analog service area.

The TDMA phone you are now carrying, the 5165, should have about 5 more
years of service life left -- assuming the phone itself doesn't die --
before they shut down the older TDMA networks. As more people move to
GSM, the service on TDMA will become somewhat spotty (like GSM was a
couple of years ago) and the few channels allocated will be busy, the
ability to make an analog roaming call in the event of an emergency can
be a mitigating factor.

If you don't do a lot of traveling -- I know you take the cab, -- then
moving to GSM and its price plans may be a good move -- if the right
phone can be found. If there is an old AT&T Wireless office near you,
stop in and see if they have any stock left. The "Blue" phones are no
longer being ordered and are not offered for sale, but if you ask they
may trot one or two out of the stock in the back room. Any they sell
and activate are ones that are not written off.

OBTW, Cingular calls the two networks "Blue" and "Orange." Blue being
the AT&T equipment, Orange the Cingular. The biggest problem they
have right now in this merger is getting the back offices merged.
Working for the government (and no, we're not here to help), we can
only order "Blue" as "Orange" isn't the name on the contract.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I am sort of provincial these days; I
only rarely get out of Independence, and then I go to Coffeyville or
perhaps Neodesha or Cherryvale. We _had_ an AT&T Wireless office here
in town four years ago, then one day the same storefront (122 North Penn)
had a Cingular Wireless sign in front of it, but the same people were
working there. The manager said to me "about a week ago AT&T decided
to trade our agency to Cingular Wireless, and all the customers as

At the time I migrated here from the Chicago area, I had an AT&T
Wireless phone, but AT&T has or had a policy that if their customer
roamed out of range, AT&T would hold the customer on _their_ tower
as long as possible, even though the transmission got pretty
awful. They would only release the call to another tower (a competitor)
when they absolutely had to, and then to a Cell One system. I had a
Chicago area 630 number on my phone (also a 'blue' Nokia 5165) which
was registered with AT&T. The phone said 'AT&T' on the LED when I was
in Chicago, St. Louis or Tulsa on the bus coming here, and it did all
the AT&T features. Once the bus got north of Tulsa the screen display
changed to say 'AT&T Extended Area'; I got handed off to Cellular One
(a company named 'Dobson Cell One' is big in this area), but according
to conversations I had on the phone with Mike Sandman, the connection
sounded pretty awful (as AT&T customer being handled by Dobson which I
would be here.)

I went by the AT&T (but now Cingular Wireless) dealer a few days after
I first migrated here and asked them to switch my phone over to
Cingular. The lady said it could not be done. Yes, it is the same
phone (Nokia 5165) which she had a stack of sitting in her window,
but AT&T has some firmware installed which locks out anyone but themselves
and no programming is possible. She said she would give me the very
same 'blue phone' (Nokia 5165) but they could _not_ do anything with
the AT&T. AT&T confirmed the same thing, as did the other cellular
dealers in town (Radio Shack sells Alltel [which also goes through
Dobson here]), United States Cellular agreed, and do did Dobson Cell
One: "take whatever phone you like and get it turned on, but the AT&T
Wireless Phone can go in the garbage can when you give up using AT&T."

So I got the AT&T Wireless Nokia 5165 cut over to prepaid to use in
emergencies and got a Wichita area 316 number installed on it. It
still refers to itself as 'AT&T Extended Area' (Wichita is too far
away to reach us directly, and Tulsa is too far south to reach us
directly. I mostly use the Cingular Wireless Nokia 5165 since they
have cellular towers in town (one is five blocks away from me, at the
Presbyterian Church bell tower). They both work fine in my Cell Socket
so I guess I will just keep what I have and use it until it either
falls apart or gets turned off totally. I know GSM is very popular
here, all the kids carrying cell phones have these newer (and
relatively small, and IMO flimsy) little things. PAT]

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: John Levine: "Re: Hackers Target U.S. Power Grid"
Go to Previous message: "Re: Cell Phone Reception"
May be in reply to: "Cell Phone Reception"
Next in thread: Joseph: "Re: Cell Phone Reception"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page