Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Towns Without Cellular

Pick a "white" spot on any cellular coverage map and you have a good chance of finding no service. If that spot appears at the same place on every carrier's coverage map, you have an area of no coverage. If that spot appears deep in the mountains or inside a protected area like a National Forest, we aren't too terribly concerned. But if that spot appears in a populated area, what's up with that?

We reviewed a few towns with no cellular service in the west which were surprising due to their popularity with tourists and notable full-time population. But they aren't unique. We spend a few days in southeast Ohio each year for the family reunion, and accept the fact that there's no cellular service. Why haven't the locals complained? I guess you don't miss what you never had. But visitors like us sure miss it, especially when some family members get lost.

Relief is possible, if these residents have broadband service, and if they don't mind only using that phone around the house or in the next town with service. T-mobile offers their HotSpot at Home which utilizes wi-fi equipped phones, and the new Sprint "femtocells" are now available using cellular frequencies. "Femtocells" are the next step smaller than "picocells", which are smaller than "microcells" which are used inside public buildings like shopping malls and airports.

An even bigger surprise was that a walk to a nearby hill sometimes formerly yielded a weak analog signal which would rarely support a call. Now those hilltops have digital service, and we could actually make calls. If we could just drag that signal to the valleys...you know, where the people are?

1 comment:

Ian said...

Well you can get consumer-grade repeaters...

...but you have to wnder who owns the frequencies in the area. If some weird phone company owns all of 'em, that may be the reason for no cell service.

However, within range of WiFi you've got phones that work on Skype (in addition to the T-Mobile Hotspot@Home deal).