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Poll: When your cell phone has poor or no reception, who do you blame?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 15, 2012 10:01 AM PDT

To give you some perspective of this poll, read this blog here:
After nine dropped cell phone calls for help, couple dies

When your cell phone has poor or no reception, who do you blame?

-- The phone itself.
-- The service provider.
-- The government for not mandating the service providers for making
coverage everywhere.
-- I blame myself for being in that remote area.
-- I don't blame anyone, as I know service isn't available everywhere.
-- I blame the environment for not allowing cellular services through.
-- I wouldn't know; I don't have a cell phone.
-- Others.

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Cell phone services

All I can say is what did people do before cell phones?
If you are traveling anywhere you should have a CB for emergency service and not rely entirely on a cell phone.
I feel bad for the couple died as they depended too much on a cell phone.

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Relying is dependent on what your told
by gslrider / May 16, 2012 2:14 AM PDT
In reply to: Cell phone services

Sure, back in the day, many people in rural areas had CBs. But with the advancement of technology, they have become antiquated. You don't have to lug around anything that is unnecessary. For the most part, mobiles have been pretty reliable. Whenever I go camping, depending where I go, I always make sure my cellular company provides service in that area. And most times they do. My mobile has never failed to work. But that all depends if they give me the correct info. If they told me there was no service in that area, or that service is not very good, I would make sure to pack two-way radios. Again though, I would rely on the information given to me by the service provider that I pay for. If they give me the wrong info, then that is on them. So it is in the best interest of service providers that their tech is working properly, and they have competent employees giving correct and updated information.

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who do you blame

simple take away all the hype that the phone can do this or that if the provider cant reach the area the phone cant work. they care about one thing and one thing only the god almighty dollar there sales people will tell anyone any thing to get the sale to keep there this case look how close they were to there home and it didnt work does it take a rocket expert to tell you the provider failed and cost people there lives

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So your cell phone failed. Get over it.
by 419carl / May 15, 2012 1:05 PM PDT
In reply to: who do you blame

Since when is the gub'mint, cell provider, or anybody have to guarantee 100% coverage and who do we get to pay for anything different? It's free enterprise. Asking government to get involved is foolish, making the vendor provide service underground, or in a ditch, is ludicrous.

Sure, it's unfortunate that these people tried to use the cell and it failed. What did they do next? If they were incapacitated and couldn't get out, or honk the horn and get attention, well, they would have died before cell phones anyway. While I'm sympathetic, I'm also thinking no one is to blame.


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get over it
by Thomas McWhorter / May 16, 2012 5:06 AM PDT

I hope that you never have to face the lies companies tell people to get there business and then short change them every chance they get.

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Let's keep the conversation civil....
by birdmantd Forum moderator / May 16, 2012 5:10 AM PDT
In reply to: get over it

....stick to the facts and be polite with each other. There is plenty of blame to go around.

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are you saying i was anything but polite and civil?
by Thomas McWhorter / May 16, 2012 6:49 AM PDT

if it wasnt PLEASE TELL WHAT WASNT, if i was why did you post that reply because you have the big company M there not to worry never any mroe replies

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You aren't being singled out...
by birdmantd Forum moderator / May 16, 2012 6:59 AM PDT

My post was a reminder to all to keep it civil. The red "M" means moderator and it's my job to help keep order in the forum. Nobody is in trouble.

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Signal blocked

In a remote area, my cell phone has no reception because no cell tower available. That is understandable.

However, I'm puzzling why, right in the heart of the city limit and only 1/2 mile from a regional hospital, whenever I enter this particular stucco 2-story townhouse, built in 1975, I do not get the signal of an incoming call or cannot hear the caller voice while the caller can hear me clearly. I have to step outside this townhouse to get an incoming call signal or to make an outgoing call. I have repeatedly experienced this blockage.

This stucco townhouse is almost completely soundproof. Once inside I could hardy hear any nearby noise from outside.

The point is it does not necessary mean that a cell phone can always work inside a building of certain structure even if there is a cell tower in the vicinity.

My phone is Samsung and the provider is AT &T.

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Reason for blocked signal
by Derek37 / May 15, 2012 4:22 PM PDT
In reply to: Signal blocked

Radio waves are a very fickle phenomena. Transmit and received patterns of cell tower and phone antennas have null points and varying signal strength in vertical and horizontal directions as well as polariztion angle. Transmit and receive paths are altered by frequency and any intervening conductive structures including rain. The problem of reception or transmission from within the stucco building may be caused by several factors:
(a) a null of the cell tower antenna receive pattern (either in the vertical or horizontal plane)
(b) the building has a metallic grid basis for the stucco. (RF shielding effect)
(c) the problem might be in a steel construction next door. (if located in a straight line between you and the tower)
(d) if you have an older phone (newer phones have a better automatic power transmit level adjustment with improved compensation for the shielding effect)
(e) different cell phone operators have different patterns, different patterns and different tower locations (check if other cell phone users have a similar problem in that location and compare your phone with those users who have good reception; also check what operators they use)
Don't throw out your cell phone just yet. Be aware that even newer more fancy cell phones have drop outs in specific locations no matter how close you are to the "assumed tower" (are you sure which tower your phone works with at any particular place and time?).
For instance, you may find that in tall buildings (offices or condos), the signal gets worse the higher the floor you are on (say above the 30th floor). It sounds odd, but it is a fact. The reason is that a broader antenna pattern has a lesser distance range, than a narrow pattern. And a narrower pattern will not reach the top of skyscrapers (unless they have a special repeater).

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by offerocker / May 15, 2012 5:41 PM PDT
In reply to: Signal blocked

You have a well-constructed and insulated home!
I'd also rather live in such a building than have the great cell phone coverage.

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Can you hear me now?

I blame the carrier. When they first moved into this area - they really tried to give us good coverage. Now, 3 phones later - latest move from Razr to Droid Razr, I'm now having problems with them. I call a particular cell phone from the office phone and the number is in auto dial and I frequently get the message "Your call cannot be completed as dialed". Well, nothing has changed, that number works as dialed the majority of the time. I travel up and down the same roads every day and some days, I can get a call through and some days I can't. Since last fall when they supposedly was putting in the 4G service (which I still only have 3G) we have had intermittant service. Now what is it going to be like this summer when all the tourons came in with that particular brand of phone and overload what's here that can't handle the year round population?

That's carrier's fault. I am a ham radio operator and do not travel w/o my radio in the car, so I do have back up at least around where I live. Before I travel to an area that I don't have presets already in place, I will put repeaters in for the route I'm traveling, so that I do have access to other hams along the way if cell phone service is MIA and I'm in the need of help.

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Blame ?

I do not know whether I would " blame " anyone in such a case but there are certain issues which need attention.
While nobody( reasonable) expects to have cellular coverage everywhere- try to cover whole rural Alaska- the very fact is that providing rural coverage is not on the top of the list of major carriers any more. Most of the existing rural coverage is the result of efforts of rural carriers many of which were taken over by the big carriers. The big guys do not want to spend any money on it, they rather spend money on gimmicks for urban dwellers.As a matter of fact, some carriers actually decreased their coverage by eliminating some roaming agreements. I think that here is a regulatory task for the government .
One issue where the government is to be blamed is the chaos of incompatible systems where you can be in an area with strong signal however your carrier happens to operate a different system and you are stuck. US should have joined the GSM standard and also make sure that any 4G systems are compatible.
The other problem where the government should have stepped up is the issue of limited coverage on most prepaid plans- only few carriers offer the same prepaid and post paid coverage and most users are not even aware of that till they find out the hard way. Similarly, it is hard to understand why there is no obligation to provide emergency access( and the obligation to show that on the phone indicator) in the case that there is a signal from another carrier with compatible system available.

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I don't really blame anyone, but it is annoying.

To the 8% who want government mandates: The government is the reason for 85% of the problems in this country. More government is not the answer and I suggest if you want more government move the heck to another country like Russia, China,
Cuba, Venezuela, etc...

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Cell Phone Coverage

Like any technology, it can be great, but it has its limitations. Seriously, one cannot expect that there is coverage in any remote area or in areas with blockage (eg. in an underground garage, or elevator). The newer phones will have better reception and penetrate deeper even in to blocked areas. You can't expect that technology is omni-potent and omni-present. In the case cited the poor connection could have been one of 3 things or a combination of all 3 things: (a) out of cell tower range (due to blockage or distance),
(b) cell phone type (newer phone versus older technology),
(c) battery charge level.

How could the situation be improved?
- Make phones larger or with appendage antennas to improve signal strength (not convenient)
- Increase power output of phones and cell towers (this will have the environmental authorities and health fanatics up in arms due to RF interference and radiation levels on your ear).
- If you really would want total global coverage you have to get a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite phone such as the IRIDIUM phone (the only one of its kind), a system which uses 66 satellites that fly in circular polar orbits (11 satellites in 6 quasi equally spaced orbits, about 30 deg. longitude apart). Except for political regulations, this system can afford you virtually complete global coverage at sea, on land, on north and south poles, in the remotest areas. However, this system also has its local limitations since you have to be in direct view of one of it satellites, that is in mountainous regions you may experience more frequent drop outs and the penetration into buildings and into vehicles may less effective.
Final thought: Technology is great if used within its realm of operation, but there are always limitations that every user ought to know and understand. This is the real world were the users understanding also has its limitations...

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Satellites is the answer
by jsmooy / May 15, 2012 7:51 PM PDT
In reply to: Cell Phone Coverage

Overseas satellites are the "towers" - more coverage and no dropped calls is the answer.
Instead of spending extraordinary amounts of money on 4G and useless other features, put the $$ into reception and coverage.

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Are you suggesting.....
by birdmantd Forum moderator / May 16, 2012 7:03 AM PDT

....satellite phones like Iridum ??? Those devices and the monthly service are insanely expensive.

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Learn to TEXT?

Nine dropped calls? So there were nine connects-right? So had the elderly couple known how to text, and had been told that texting has a better chance of getting through than a phone call, wouldn't their survival have been more probable or possible? I don't know for sure. I'm asking...


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Learn to TEXT?
by SINBAD / May 15, 2012 4:42 PM PDT
In reply to: Learn to TEXT?

There are special phones especially made for Seniors that are not designed for texting. They are just basic phones without all the frills. One is called Jitterbug and I can't think of the names of the other ones. So perhaps that was the case. I know on mine I have disabled texting as it costs for this service and I never use it anyway.

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by KLMCats / May 15, 2012 9:50 PM PDT
In reply to: Learn to TEXT?

This is certainly true re: text messages, but what if you do not know anyone that can receive? This was an elderly couple after all, but EVERYONE should have ICE contacts in their contact list, at least one that understands how to send/receive text messages.

An older friend w/ new iPhone has issues recently. Her son downloaded an APP that allows her to see where all the family members are (uses gps) on a map to see who is closest.

Some folks fight technology & buy only the most simple pgone & service. There are features available on the smart phones that could be life savers!

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Quit relying on technology!

I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (da UP, eh?). Cell phone coverage is reliable only around population centers, of which there are very few, so I know of what I speak. Simply put, don't rely on a cell phone for ensuring your safety. The deaths of the elderly couple were tragic, and my sympathies go out to their families, but as a society we are becoming too reliant on technology for our basic survival.

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Prepare for where you are going

If one knows they are going to an area that may not have good reception, then check to see if you phone will have coverage there, if not then get a phone that will do the job. That poor couple probably didn't think they needed a special phone, so got a cheap one. Sad.... But sometimes they tell us oh this phone is good for older folks, affordable etc. It just pays to be prepared. I have a cheap phone, so far it works for me, hope it works if I ever really need it.

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Myopic Americans

The one observation I have to make is that in the US we have "cell phones", roughly meaning that your phone only works in areas that your provider has, or chooses to have coverage. That is, their cell of operation. Whereas in Europe and most of Asia they have " Mobile Phones", which is exactly what they are. Our system is inherently different predicated on our capitalistic system of commerce. Like it or not.

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It should work if you are in the claimed coverage area.

If a cell phone provider says a location is in the coverage area, the phone should work well. If you are likely to get dropped calls like my ATT phone does at my home inside my city, then the provider shouldn't put that area on their coverage map.

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I wouldn't blame anyone. If it doesn't work in certain areas, that's the way it goes!
Don't count on it working in these areas.
What would you do if you didn't have a cell phone?

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fact is that ...

fact is that ... people are likely to be in need of help when they are in remote areas, not downtown when any way of help is much easier ... therefore must not rely on cell phones in such circumstances!!!

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From the European perspective, this story is almost unbelievable. FCC has not done a super job in the past 20-25 years at all. Here, it was also difficult to agree on the rural coverage, but it was solved long ago. Hey, it was not easy to agree on a single digital standard, either (GSM), but governments and operators together pulled it off, too.

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Dropped calls

I blame the cell phone itself because I have several areas on my route That will drop calls with one brand of phone but not with other brands. I have had Verizon service for several years. the first smart phone I got would drop calls in a few areas. I changed to a Samsung and the problem was solved. I now have an I Phone with no problems!

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Back in the mid to late 1990s I was treavelling w/ friends. The car broke down in a remote area between Houston & the LA border. 3 people in the car had cell phones, all with different carriers. The cell service ranged from acceptable, spotty to non-existant. It was the Sprint phone that allowed us to make contact & receive callbacks from AAA service. After that weekend the other 2 eventually switched to Sprint & when I finally got a phone it was also with Sprint. Over a decade later during a tropical storm my car got stuck in high water... I was able to call for help.

I do feel that this is a multiple issue & the government needs to be involved... we need towers that service EVERYONE scattered throughout the USA, both rural & suburban. There needs to be research into "deadspots" & the cause. Shaky service out in the middle of nowhere I can understand, in the middle of a major city - I cannot!

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We have the tech

It's so sad to hear about anybody passing from any type of accident...and NO one is actually prepared for it or know when it will happen. We have the technology and the cell tower coverage for the entire U.S. (according to a friend from A.T.T.) and it is also a government mandate that ALL cell phone service providers to allow use of the 911 from ANY cell phone, whether you have a contract or not. Which is way more than any ole' CB Ch 9 did back in the old days. The issue here is the breakdown of society itself. My daughter was in a bad car accident, trapped in her car in a city (Bethlehem Pa). Her calls to the emergency center ( 3 of them) were cut off as a prank call. They didn't believe she was in an accident and threaten to fine her for making false emergency calls. Plus on the up shot, people standing around would not make any calls from there cell phones because they thought some one else already did. The police claimed that if YOU don't use a land line phone, cell phone calls would not be considered in any investigation. TOTAL FAIL ACROSS THE BOARD.I would do the same thing as that elderly couple did if trapped in a car and no other means but a cell phone but to use it for a try to call for help .... short of a flare gun on board.

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