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 07-05-2018 04:10 AM
So for those who remember I had issues with AT&T in Colorado. They picked up their game - in the city - as I was getting insane speeds in the city compared to before. So I assumed they also probably improved rural coverage. Nope. It's so bad right now it's kinda scary. Many areas have had gaps for over 10 years known by all locals (example: to pass from Woodland Park to the springs) that Verizon added B4 LTE into the pass, and T-Mobile soon after. AT&T still a dead zone a decade later even being a major tourist area/highway and known issue.

But even more rural, this was from Buena Vista, CO, to Colorado Springs, CO. I didn't get the entire drive, only 80-ish miles. The results aren't good though, LTE wise.

This picture shows enough itself:

Click to view image

Thank god AT&T still has HSPA 3G (probably roaming and not even actual native AT&T) and HSPA+ 4G. Over 80 miles of basically entirely 3G (actual 3G) or 4G which both worked for GPS/music streaming. LTE doesn't exist for 80-100 miles until you reach the city. Only a couple spots it picked up 1 unusable bar, then back to either 3G or 4G.
This is a nearly 90 mile stretch that first responders use a lot. In fact twice I saw first responders on the side of the road, both areas had NO SERVICE at all. Unless First-net adds a bunch of towers, then 3 counties are not going to have reliable service. They'll be lucky to get 3G or 4G.
This is not exclusive to this highway only. Highway 50, and a few others which are 80-100 mile stretches are the same. Only 3G HSPA or 4G HSPA + reaches, which luckily AT&T hasn't shut them down yet of they'd be screwed.

If AT&T shuts down regular 3G I'd have lost service for a good 40 mile stretch. Yikes. Also scary if car ever had issues. Same for HSPA+ 4G, AT&T isn't even close to ready to get rid of that either.

Click to view image

3G PCS 1900? There must be no LTE sites at all, and must be roaming? I'm guessing they haven't added anything to this area in a good 10 years or so, or whenever 3G came out.

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The 4G HSPA+ at 850mhz makes sense, as it always seems to have superior penetration and better reach even against 700mhz LTE.

That's only 1 highway, out of over half a dozen that branch off from Buena Vista or Salida, etc that have similar results of mainly all HSPA for very long stretches until you hit a major city.

So will Firstnet only add LTE? Or will 3G HSPA or 4G HSPA+ be added also? Seems like a fallback would be good to have, and in many cases the 850 HSPA seems to reach further than 700 LTE.
 07-05-2018 04:18 AM
To be fair AT&T has done fine through the crazy fires here in Colorado... Verizon has not. Their service was down or hardly usable for days, AND, the counties 911 service was down for days due to no back-up system in place.....Click to view image

I know semi-off topic but it stresses the importance of: is ANY carrier really as ready as they think??
ESPECIALLY rural. The sheriff, per the picture above is filing a complaint with the FCC for having no 911 service for 3 days, due to no back up plans I guess.

I have a feeling if AT&T has Firstnet here it would be just as bad, possibly worse, as AT&T is known for not putting as many towers out in rural areas in Colorado like Verizon does.
 07-05-2018 04:53 AM
Originally posted by Josh177:

Click to view image

3G PCS 1900? There must be no LTE sites at all, and must be roaming? I'm guessing they haven't added anything to this area in a good 10 years or so, or whenever 3G came out.


That MCCMNC isn't AT&T so it makes sense that it says 3G and not 4G, even the HSPA mode is the same but because it isn't AT&T, it's just 3G but really is "4G" actual "3G" would be UMTS @ something like 3mbps peak rate, which is shared with everyone so more like 500kbps on a good day.

Sounds like this area is a roaming area for AT&T, and because of that they haven't over built or built there because another provider is covering the area for them. However, now with firstnet they will either be forced to build over the partner carrier or have to lease the spectrum to the partner so that they can build the firstnet network there. I think however that they're gonna have to over build them because I dont think they can lease spectrum that they themselves are leasing. Whatever the case, coverage has to change at some point for firstnet.

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 07-05-2018 05:23 AM
Interesting, didn't know that! Good to know. Even though the 3G is peaked at 3mbps and is shared, that tower only covers the highway (no houses or anything nearby, and if there are and houses it's only maybe 2-3 houses hidden in the boonies) so is it likely it might get faster speeds than 500kbps since no-one is on it?

I never tested the speed on their 4G, but it streamed Apple Music the entire time fine along with GPS in the background.

Hopefully though with Firstnet they do start to add towers, as I'm really surprised that in a 86 mile drive that was 1 hour and 32 minutes, that LTE basically didn't exist at all. The full drive was 102 miles - and I didn't get all of it on the Sensorly mapping - so in reality it was more like 1 hour and 45 minute stretch of HSPA only, then LTE once you hit the city. But HSPA still works so I'm not complaining much, if anything this shows that HSPA is still "king" in some rural areas. LTE is still lagging behind at least in the areas I drive. Even if Firstnet added HSPA and HSPA+ to really rural areas that currently have no coverage I'd be happy. I just hate areas of no service for many miles, or 1 bar of unusable service. But I believe firstnet is LTE only based. Hopefully it can handle it without a fallback network like they have now..

Whatever the case I'm hoping First-net helps AT&T really expand into rural areas and beats out Verizon rural coverage wise.
AT&T has great performance in major cities throughout Colorado, and I like the option to fall back to HSPA when LTE is congested to the point of not working, which on Verizon when that happens you are screwed.
Like right now LTE is overloaded, so I switch LTE off and use HSPA+ and get a solid 10mbps download =P VS having 3 bars of LTE that hardly can load google. Most people don't know that trick, luckily
 07-05-2018 06:02 AM
It is for visiting places like that that I have a $20 backup plan on a Verizon MVNO. Never know where I may have car problems.
 07-05-2018 11:01 AM
Rural coverage seems hard for all the carriers in some spots. It is nice to have a cheap backup in case you ever need it. With how crappy my car is I need all 4 carriers, 3 towing services, and have uber and lyft on standby. If the car breaks I could always leave it in a ditch and take an uber rude to the nearest car dealer

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