Cellular data coverage in 2018

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Dan Robinson, May 11, 2018.

  1. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Starting this thread since it's been quite a while since we did the last one.

    On May 2 in Oklahoma, I had no internet with my new Verizon jetpack once I was 5 miles south of I-40 at Clinton and didn't get it back until got on I-44 at Chickasha (including Cordell, Hobart, Minco, Fort Cobb). I do not have an amp. This is the first time I've seen a major hole (zero data) with Verizon outside of Illinois (Jersyville to I-72). The device showed 1 bar of 4G, but no data was pulling. There weren't many chasers near me from Clinton all the way to Mountain View, so it couldn't have been overloaded towers. I had to use Threat Net for radar that entire time.

    I'm curious if others have had the same experiences? I hear in other threads that Verizon has gone downhill in the Plains, but I hadn't had any issues until this year.
     
    #1 Dan Robinson, May 11, 2018
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  2. ericjkelly

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    Kept Verizon almost the entire day yesterday in far eastern WY and the entire panhandle of NE. I wasnt far from 80 so that probably helped!
     
  3. Quincy Vagell

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    I've had Verizon for over 10 years and I haven't had big problems chasing (outside of very rural areas like Colorado and the Dakotas) until this year. Okay, maybe "big" is an overstatement, but there has clearly been throttling going on. It's not often, but sometimes I'll clearly have a decent LTE signal, but data takes forever to load or does not load at all. It usually seem to happen in the vicinity of other chasers (or high traffic areas) during peak hours, so maybe it's just larger scale throttling. I don't know.

    I keep a log of all places where I've had "no signal" and those are very few and far between, usually lasting no more than a few miles. That hasn't gotten worse, but the overall speed and consistency of the LTE network seems to be degrading a bit.

    I also have an unlimited data plan, so I don't know if that's a factor. I started suspecting some legitimate throttling last year, but its gotten worse in 2018.
     
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  4. Randy Jennings

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    Bandwidth coming into towers is a limited resource, so it is possible that a hord of chasers simply overwellemed a tower. I use an external antenna on my jet pack and it helps a ton.
     
  5. Bob Schafer

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    I have been using one of those jetpacks for about 7 or 8 years, and I have always had very good data coverage in SW OK, but not 100%. I do have a couple of tips about the jetpack:

    1) Mine will turn itself off after hunting for, and failing, to find a signal for awhile. I cannot say how long, exactly, but I would guess around 10 or 20 minutes. Could it be that when you thought you were in a dead zone your jetpack was actually turned off, Dan? I have been tripped up by this several times.

    2) I chased caravan style with a friend a few years ago when he was using a brand new jetpack and I was using mine for the 3rd or 4th season. I was getting consistent and reliable GRL3 data, and he was getting nothing. This was in E NM. I came to the conclusion that there was something in his jetpack settings that was a problem, but I do not know what. It had been so long since I had tinkered with my settings that I didn't and don't know now what the problem may have been. Moral of the story: check your jetpack settings very carefully.

    Also, I have no evidence that it helps, but I tuck the jetpack above the visor, and it is always plugged into a laptop USB port for charging, which seems to work well. I do not use any external antenna.
     
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  6. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I should also mention that during the 5/2 outage, I tried pulling data on my phone (Radarscope and web) and timed out there as well.

    Bob, my Jetpack is in "Global" mode - I checked into it and apparently that's the setting that is supposed to work on all network types (4g, 3g or lower).
     
  7. Devin Pitts

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    Last week was my first week chasing with my new signal booster(WeBoost Drive Sleek), and there was exactly one spot that I dropped signal with Verizon, and that was in Oklahoma on 5/2 east of Cooperton. I didn't drop signal once in Kansas the day before, and only really ran into clogged cell towers while on the Tescott cell at around the time the EF3 dropped.
     
  8. Bob Schafer

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    Well, Dan, given that your phone wouldn't work either, my guess is that you were in a dead spot. I was just now (for the 1st time in years) looking at my own settings. I notice in Jetpack Settings>Advanced>Networks that I am on Automatic for Preferred network technology. You might want to make sure you have that set thusly, too.
     
  9. John Moore

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    I've been chasing using Verizon for a long time, and I have used an external antenna and an amplifier for all that time. In general, the coverage is good. The amplifier (Wilson Sleek now, Wilson other stuff before) almost certainly helps, although it is hard to objectively measure it. But I'm an RF guy, and if the amplifier and external antenna are working right, they have to help in areas of marginal signal.

    I have also experienced data dropouts during chaser convergence, although less of that recently. "Throttling" isn't likely the problem - it's bandwidth starvation at the sites. Radio isn't like the Internet, where bandwidth can be very high. Cellular radio has limited frequency bands available, so it literally has significantly limited bandwidth, which results in less data capacity (which is colloquially, but incorrectly known as "bandwidth").

    All of that said, there will be places with weak or no coverage. This is more likely in hilly areas and forested areas.
     
  10. Warren Faidley

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    Everyone needs to check their data plans. The details are in the fine print. I've used ATT with excellent results. However, the plan on my phone is a "no-throttle" data plan. I will receive a notice if I exceed the data limit and I have to buy more. The cost is crazy so I only use my phone for data when there is no other option. I purchase a separate, no-throttle data plan for my iPad. Fortunately, it's inexpensive. I've found that some local towers throttle data on their own, not via your service provider. They also get overloaded when there are too many data requests. I have a separate Garmin aviation unit (also works with ground mapping) with satellite radar reception so I'm never w/o radar even if the cell data is not available. It's saved me many times, especially when driving in darkness. I don't use a laptop in my vehicle as I don't want it flying around in the event of an accident. The iPad provides all the data I need and I'll stop at a wifi location if I need to use the laptop.
     
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  11. Tony Laubach

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    Attached to this reply is bullcrap... that is the 4G LTE coverage map in Kansas. At best, this is false advertising. I made comments regarding Verizon in a post in an equipment thread, but since this is dedicated to coverage, I'll share it here.

    I dropped Verizon last year after over a decade with them. The cost was outrageous, and the coverage had obviously significantly decreased in many areas, including multiple large holes along I-70 between Salina and Denver. The attached map shows constant coverage, but I can attest and then some of how inaccurate this map is regarding coverage.

    I switched to AT&T, knowing I was getting less coverage in some areas, but the money saved per month is worth it. I still utilize a Verizon card through my station, but all my personal data/phone plans are through AT&T.

    My cell phone is in coverage much more than my AT&T data card and my Verizon card, so it wins of the three. My data card through AT&T is a Mobley vehicle card, which isn't the greatest, but has unlimited and no throttle, so it's useful in that regard, particularly when paired with Verizon. However if I am not in service with Verizon, chances are, the AT&T card is out as well. Meanwhile the phone holds pretty solid.

    I don't get throttled often... although I did have issues on the 2nd as well with very slow Verizon service (3G and even 1X in 4G areas). I called Verizon and they claimed I was not being throttled on that account. But seeing as others had issues that day, I wonder if it was a data issue. Certainly not a bunch of chasers clogging towers, but definitely had noticeable issues.

    Verizon, in my humble opinion, has become overrated and certainly overpriced. They have declined in coverage over the last couple of years, and it was enough to make me switch. I am satisfied with AT&T given the money I am saving monthly, and my experience with phone coverage has been the best of the three devices I carry with me, so perhaps an upgraded hotspot will get my data service on par with the phone.

    No amps, antennas yet... am checking into signal boosters.
     

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  12. Brett Roberts

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    This is my first year using the hotspot feature on my phone as my sole data source, rather than any Jetpacks, USB modems, etc. I switched from AT&T to Verizon for my cell service during the offseason.

    In general, the coverage with Verizon through my phone has been good. It's been my slowest season-to-date in terms of days chased, so there haven't been many opportunities to really stress test this new setup. However, I have already noticed coverage dropping out completely (for relatively brief periods) in areas it shouldn't, such as near interstates in OK. I believe it happened on at least one of the two days I was out last week. It wasn't bad enough to make a big impression on me, and I only remembered after opening this thread.

    If/when there are finally setups worth chasing that I can chase, I'll try to pay closer attention to any drop-outs that occur in areas they shouldn't. I'm on a standard 5 GB/mo. plan that's still offered to new customers, so throttling shouldn't be an excuse.
     
  13. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I occasionally will hit the data cap on my Verizon unlimited account (it doesn't take many Youtube videos or ENG uploads to do it). The throttling is far worse on my new Jetpack than it was on my old VL600. When the Jetpack is throttled, it's horrendous, worse than 3G - you can't pull two connections at the same time (as in two web pages or a web page and GRLevel3). With the VL600 I still had usable internet - a little slow, but workable.

    At this point I'm thinking of going back to the second tier ThreatNet plan (I'm currently on the first-level one with radar only), another 20 bucks a month but it always works everywhere and it's cheaper than getting a second cellular line as a backup.
     
  14. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    Faidley, you use a Bendix King AV8OR with MTL on it? That's sweet. $$$$$$$ though.
     
  15. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    Anyone who is having issues using their hotspots, and haven't attached external antennas to them, needs to go do that immediately. You're trying to shove a bunch of data through a device communicating with a tower sometimes miles away, with less than a watt of power, from inside a steel shell.
     
  16. Jesse Risley

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    I've been with Verizon since 2010 and haven't noticed any significant issues so far this year. Last week was my first trip back to the Plains, being in KS, CO and briefly the OK panhandle. I just tether through my Pixel XL's hotspot, but I am grandfathered with the old, truly unlimited plan (i.e., pre-2015) that is $80/month with NO throttling. Coverage in IL, IA and MO hadn't changed noticeably in areas that I frequented more locally over the winter and early spring either.
     
  17. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Saturday I went I-70 to KC, then south through eastern Kansas (Iola, Parsons) then I-44 back to STL and never lost data (Verizon Jetpack). So it appears those areas are still good (for now).
     
  18. Quincy Vagell

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    I'm pretty sure there is throttling going on. I chase frequently through the Plains all spring and I can see how those who aren't out chasing frequently might not notice much of a difference.

    Based on a user who spoke with customer service in the quote above, I believe that Verizon is, at least occasionally, throttling users on the old plan as well. I don't seem to be losing 4G more than before, but there's undoubtedly an increase in times when 4G is sluggish or fails to load any data. Thankfully it's usually not a prolonged issue and sometimes a hard reboot of the phone or switching back and forth between airplane mode seems to reset the connection.
    Reference post #13: https://community.verizonwireless.com/thread/927527?start=10&tstart=0
     
  19. Jesse Risley

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    I use my phone for everything Internet at home too, year round, and have not had a problem, and I routinely use 30-40 gigabytes of data a month, since I have no home cable or satellite Internet provider. Speed testing has not shown an decrease in upload or download speeds. As far as getting booted off of a tower, I don't know, because I really haven't been out on the Plains on a major chaser convergence day. My understanding is that throttling those old plans would actually violate the contract.
     
  20. Jesse Risley

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    Correction - throttling the grandfathered plans would violate the rules VZW agreed to adhere to when they acquired the newer LTE spectrum. My source inside told me that VZW worked around it with the new plans by defining the limit, but the old plans were not "defined" as a limit before the throttle. So unless they go back across the board and define that limit, and take the hit to let people out, they are on the hook with the truly grandfathered unlimited plans that existed prior to the acquisition of the LTE spectrum.

    It's basicly the rules Google had insterted for whomever got that band, and the same reason all 4G phones on Verizon are unlocked. It's not a contract with the customer so much as the rules on how the 4G specturm was dished out. They can raise the price and it's your choice if you want to pay more, but I don't see how they can legally change the actual underlying service unless they just kick you off.
     

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