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Thread: Why Does GSM (AT&T) Have Such A Hard Time In The Mountans vs CDMA (Verizon)?

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    Why Does GSM (AT&T) Have Such A Hard Time In The Mountans vs CDMA (Verizon)?

    I was wondering Why Does GSM (AT&T) Have Such A Hard Time In The Mountans vs CDMA (Verizon)? because here in Colorado AT&T's GSM Mountain Coverage isn't the greatest. But I hear that here in Colorado Verizon's CDMA Mountain Coverage is A lot better. So I was wondering what the reason is that AT&T GSM loses service for ex. Right after the big turn on Hwy 24 heading in the mountains I lose Service and don't get service untill I get to Crystola, CO. is there some way GSM can get better coverage in the mountains when traveling?

    Top Picture: Right Before the big turn on Hwy 24 ouside of Manitou Springs, CO where I lose service with AT&T

    Middle Top Picture: Were I regain service in Crystola, CO with AT&T

    Middle Bottom Picture: Circled in red is where the towers for all four carriers are in Woodland Park, CO

    Bottom: Circled in red in Woodland Park, CO A closer look at the towers for all four carriers
    Attached Images Attached Images        

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    I don't have enough experience to comment, but I did hear that AT&T's 3G has slightly better range than GSM. So if anybody wants to chime in on that too...

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    Also, I'm sure the frequency band choice has something to do with it as well. I think AT&T's GSM is mostly in the 1900s while Verizon's 1x is mostly on 850. Would make quite a difference range wise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akhristov View Post
    I don't have enough experience to comment, but I did hear that AT&T's 3G has slightly better range than GSM. So if anybody wants to chime in on that too...
    Yeah you're right about the 3G having better range, I mostly mean GSM Service in general EDGE, 3G, HSPA+ and LTE Since AT&T's services are GSM based but the thing is though when I go after that big turn heading in the mountains I go from LTE to Nothing not even 3G or EDGE so I don't know what limitations that EDGE, 3G, HSPA+ and LTE GSM based service has over CDMA based services?

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    I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that GSM is not on 850 where this is occurring, and CDMA is. There are other factors such as channel width, CDMA channels are 1.25 MHz in width and therefore can travel farther distances than other technologies such as WCDMA and LTE that use wider channel widths.

    My experience in general is that CDMA does out perform any other technology in coverage using the same frequencies as those other technologies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GusHerb94 View Post
    I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that GSM is not on 850 where this is occurring, and CDMA is. There are other factors such as channel width, CDMA channels are 1.25 MHz in width and therefore can travel farther distances than other technologies such as WCDMA and LTE that use wider channel widths.

    My experience in general is that CDMA does out perform any other technology in coverage using the same frequencies as those other technologies.
    What's funny is that AT&T claims LTE the whole way and Manitou Springs to Woodland Park both have LTE antennas which are 15 miles apart. That makes me wonder how wide GSM and 3G are. Is there a way to see A spectrum map for AT&T's GSM and 3G in Colorado? because maybe your right the GSM and 3G are not 850 so that could contribute to loss of siginal so fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by One Direction View Post
    What's funny is that AT&T claims LTE the whole way and Manitou Springs to Woodland Park both have LTE antennas which are 15 miles apart. That makes me wonder how wide GSM and 3G are. Is there a way to see A spectrum map for AT&T's GSM and 3G in Colorado? because maybe your right the GSM and 3G are not 850 so that could contribute to loss of siginal so fast.
    The most accurate way of seeing spectrum holdings is using the FCC's spectrum dashboard:

    http://reboot.fcc.gov/reform/systems/spectrum-dashboard

    They may have 850 and may be using it only for WCDMA. I think at&t has 850 licenses in most of Colorado.

    At 15 miles apart theoretically LTE should work the whole way, but I know Colorado terrain quite well and know that there's probably a big tall obstruction in the way preventing that otherwise would be continuous coverage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GusHerb94 View Post
    The most accurate way of seeing spectrum holdings is using the FCC's spectrum dashboard:

    http://reboot.fcc.gov/reform/systems/spectrum-dashboard

    They may have 850 and may be using it only for WCDMA. I think at&t has 850 licenses in most of Colorado.

    At 15 miles apart theoretically LTE should work the whole way, but I know Colorado terrain quite well and know that there's probably a big tall obstruction in the way preventing that otherwise would be continuous coverage.
    Thanks for the info, The FCC says they have 850 GSM, 3G and HSPA+ Licenses as well as LTE 700 Licenses in both El Paso and Teller Counties here in Colorado Springs to Woodland Park it goes from mostly flat to Thick, Bold Mountains so siginal can drop real quick.

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    Mountains wreak havoc on cellular signals, no matter what frequency is being used. They will block, reflect, and just generally deter all attempts at coverage, and that isn't even including the trees ON the mountains and between your phone and the tower. And the higher the frequency, the greater the problems. I sympathize with you, it can be maddening to go from the flatlands where a signal can reach 10-15 miles with absolutely no problem to dropping a signal completely once you enter a place like US 24 west of the Springs.

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    Cdma 1x will win almost every time vs 2g edge/ 3G hspa/ 4G lte due to the underlying technology and narrow channel width.
    iPhone Xs Max , At&t Unlimited Plus Austin, TX .................... Grande 1000/50, $80.99/month

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    Understand that there are various other reasons that GSM doesn't carry as far as CDMA in given areas. GSM towers are not always coupled with CDMA towers depending on the leasing/owner of the tower. I'm not sure about the area you're in, but where I live in SWVA (eastern side of the US), Verizon/Sprint share towers and they are interpolated on spacing with GSM towers that AT&T & T-Mobile use. In other words, towers go from CDMA/LTE to GSM/LTE to CDMA/LTE and so on/so forth. Like others have mentioned as well, if the GSM signal is riding in a higher frequency band (1900 mhz, for example), it's not going to reach as far as lower frequency bands (850 mhz). Also, the way AT&T has their RRU's set up on the towers could explain why signal penetration isn't directed toward that gap in coverage. Many different factors involved; heck, even the phone you're using could explain it (albeit the G4 has pretty decent radios). I own a Galaxy Note 4 and the radios in it are garbage, so there are many times I lose coverage way before I should with GSM technology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by One Direction View Post
    Thanks for the info, The FCC says they have 850 GSM, 3G and HSPA+ Licenses as well as LTE 700 Licenses in both El Paso and Teller Counties here in Colorado Springs to Woodland Park it goes from mostly flat to Thick, Bold Mountains so siginal can drop real quick.
    Does AT&T have CLR licenses in the neighboring counties you mentioned? AT&T won't deploy a specific band near a spectrum boundry where it doesn't have the license.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nucleartx View Post
    Cdma 1x will win almost every time vs 2g edge/ 3G hspa/ 4G lte due to the underlying technology and narrow channel width.
    That makes me wonder how wide the 2G and 3G are because I know that LTE in El Paso and Teller are 10x10 so that would be interesting to know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by balleron24z View Post
    Understand that there are various other reasons that GSM doesn't carry as far as CDMA in given areas. GSM towers are not always coupled with CDMA towers depending on the leasing/owner of the tower. I'm not sure about the area you're in, but where I live in SWVA (eastern side of the US), Verizon/Sprint share towers and they are interpolated on spacing with GSM towers that AT&T & T-Mobile use. In other words, towers go from CDMA/LTE to GSM/LTE to CDMA/LTE and so on/so forth. Like others have mentioned as well, if the GSM signal is riding in a higher frequency band (1900 mhz, for example), it's not going to reach as far as lower frequency bands (850 mhz). Also, the way AT&T has their RRU's set up on the towers could explain why signal penetration isn't directed toward that gap in coverage. Many different factors involved; heck, even the phone you're using could explain it (albeit the G4 has pretty decent radios). I own a Galaxy Note 4 and the radios in it are garbage, so there are many times I lose coverage way before I should with GSM technology.
    What is RRU's? Here in the Springs and Woodland park it's the same thing with the tower spacing, I've seen one tower 8 miles east of Colorado Springs that shares AT&T and Sprint. In El Paso and Teller we have 850 EDGE, 3G HSPA, HSPA+ and 700 LTE but I'm going to guess that the GSM based services are much wider than CDMA that's probably why CDMA can penetrate though Mountains and GSM can't. Wit The G4 I get good LTE siginal going all the way to Yoder to my friens house and I get 4 Bars -90 Dbm of LTE and the tower is in Calhan, CO which is 15 miles from my friend's houseso I think that pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by One Direction View Post
    What is RRU's? Here in the Springs and Woodland park it's the same thing with the tower spacing, I've seen one tower 8 miles east of Colorado Springs that shares AT&T and Sprint. In El Paso and Teller we have 850 EDGE, 3G HSPA, HSPA+ and 700 LTE but I'm going to guess that the GSM based services are much wider than CDMA that's probably why CDMA can penetrate though Mountains and GSM can't. Wit The G4 I get good LTE siginal going all the way to Yoder to my friens house and I get 4 Bars -90 Dbm of LTE and the tower is in Calhan, CO which is 15 miles from my friend's houseso I think that pretty good.
    RRU = Remote Radio Unit, basically, the panels you see on cell towers that actually send the signal out. They can be adjusted to direct signal, as they are directional devices. So I'd assume maybe the RRU's could be directed in a better path to penetrate in that area that signal drops.

    GSM does run at a higher channel width, even wider with HSPA+. CDMA obviously can penetrate better, but with tower spacing being done properly and proper alignment of RRU's, GSM signal provides much more usability than CDMA in terms of raw data speed and theoretical throughput.

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