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  1. #1
    GA - Central PA 1977
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    Default AT Cell Phone coverage

    I know this goes against everything I believe the trial should be about but with my heart problems at this time I like carrying my cell phone with me on my little day hikes (They aren`t even "day hikes" just a few miles up the trial)..Because most of the trial in Maryland is overlooking heavily populated valleys it seems I can get a strong cell signal on most of the areas I`ve walked lately (I`m on T-Mobile)..Saving the pro`s and con's of carrying a cell phone for another thread..How much of the trial does everyone think might be covered by cell access?

  2. #2
    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Programbo
    I know this goes against everything I believe the trial should be about but with my heart problems at this time I like carrying my cell phone with me on my little day hikes (They aren`t even "day hikes" just a few miles up the trial)..Because most of the trial in Maryland is overlooking heavily populated valleys it seems I can get a strong cell signal on most of the areas I`ve walked lately (I`m on T-Mobile)..Saving the pro`s and con's of carrying a cell phone for another thread..How much of the trial does everyone think might be covered by cell access?
    I haven't walked the entire trail, but I'm in the industry. You should of course do some research on you own, but I would say the two best bets for cell phone providers would be Cingular and Verizon. Definitely not T-Mobile for widespread coverage. Luck to you!
    Skids

    Insanity: Asking about inseams over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)

  3. #3
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    They are always upgrading and/or installing new towers so my experience is somewhat dated (plus I didn't carry a cell phone on my thru in 2003) but from what I remember it was pretty hit and miss. One time I remember that they did work was at Ensign Cowall shelter ...and thank goodness we had a signal cuz we had the best pizza and soda party that night !!

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  4. #4
    Slow and steady does the trick... AbeHikes's Avatar
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    Default

    Was thinking about renting one of these for my GA leg this fall...

    http://shop.store.yahoo.com/satphonestore/index.html

  5. #5

    Default From Ga to Va...

    I've took my verision cell with me every time and most of the time I got a pretty good sig and there has been other times that I have stood on/under a tower and still not got a sig.You also can get lots of false readings on windy days and at certain places sometimes you need the force mode or analog to get a sig.Im sure you know this already but I learned this one the hard way that keeping yo phone on all the time will kill the battery fast from searching. I never use mine in shelters least Im alone then again I only use shelters for eating and conservation. Yoy may have research & read diffrent findings but you will fast learn if you ever do wip ye cell somebodys WILL surly wantta borrow it just to call and chitchat. For sure dude if you got heart probs absolutly take yo phone and a extra battery.Have a good Hike!

  6. #6
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    Default Cingular

    Took my Cingular to Central SNP last year and got zero coverage.

  7. #7

    Default Talked to a T-Mobil sales rep a couple of weeks ago...

    I looked over their service area maps, and they appear to cover way less than 10% of the AT south of Shenandoah Park. The rep told me that she had T-Mobil, and was able to get service at her cabin in the Smokies.

  8. #8
    tideblazer
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    Default It will probably improve before you leave

    Quote Originally Posted by Programbo
    I know this goes against everything I believe the trial should be about but with my heart problems at this time I like carrying my cell phone with me on my little day hikes (They aren`t even "day hikes" just a few miles up the trial)..Because most of the trial in Maryland is overlooking heavily populated valleys it seems I can get a strong cell signal on most of the areas I`ve walked lately (I`m on T-Mobile)..Saving the pro`s and con's of carrying a cell phone for another thread..How much of the trial does everyone think might be covered by cell access?
    Don't worry, they're clearcutting more mountain tops as we speak to get you a better cell phone signal while hiking. That's what everyone pays for.
    www.ridge2reef.org -Organic Tropical Farm, Farm Stays, Group Retreats.... Trail life in the Caribbean

  9. #9

    Default

    This year I carried both a sat phone and a cell phone on my hike of the 100 mile wilderness. To my surprise, I had more places of coverage for the cell phone than for the sat phone.

    I carried the phones for the same reason that you do -- I am a heart patient. A phone probably wouldn't increase my chances of survival much, but it makes my wife feel better to hear from me once a day.

    I had cellular coverage (verizon) on most of the high places along the trail. Verizon has the best coverage in New England, but I found coverage in Virginia to be spotty when I was there last year.

    The sat phone was a lot heavier than the cellular. A sat phone has coverage anywhere there is an opening in the canopy, but it was harder than I expected to find a clear enough spot to get a clear view of the sky.

    I gave serious consideration to buying one of the personal locator beacons. When I was a pilot in the Air Force, I carried one of those. After a good bit of thought, I concluded that a sat phone would cover more situations than a locator beacon. The beacon signal will get out in more situations, but it only gives one message -- "I need to be rescued!!" There could be a lot of circumstances where I might want to seek help or give out information without calling for a rescue.

    Having the phone really made a difference for me. My hiking plan called for me to meet up with some friends at a certain time. Because of three days of rain, I lost a day on my hiking plan. I was able to contact my friends to meet me at a different place. That week, two other hikers borrowed my phone to make contacts. Neither of them were situations where they would have used the locator beacon, but we important needs.
    Shutterbug

  10. #10
    Registered User hammock engineer's Avatar
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    One thing to consider is the coding technology on the phone. A lot of the newer phones are only bi-mode phones (cdma and cdma 2000, the newer digital ones). There are also tri-mode phones(cdma, cdma 2000, and old analog). The tri-mode phone is one that you want to look for. They tend to work more often in the middle of nowhere. The older phones will also get better coverage. The newer phones use a smaller bandwidth than the newer phones. In areas with spotty coverage, this could mean that the older phone will get a better signal.

    Something to look for. I used to sell cell phones. There are still a couple of manufacturers that make tri-mode phones. I know that motorala makes some for Verizon.

  11. #11
    ECHO ed bell's Avatar
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    I've always experienced spotty coverage when my phone is with me (rarely bring it anymore). I concur that when your phone searches for a signal or tries to connect a call, it will devour battery life. On my older phone an analog call could toast a fully charged battery in less than five minutes. Now if the phone goes at all it stays burried in the pack with a full charge.

  12. #12
    Registered User gsmnpmtguyot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Wookie
    Don't worry, they're clearcutting more mountain tops as we speak to get you a better cell phone signal while hiking. That's what everyone pays for.
    There's your conservative conservation for you, conserve the right to rape America so they can conserve their wealth and power. Cell phone coverage in the Smokies: non-existent whatever your brand, the lady from T-mobile is a salesperson, say anything to sell a product(she sounds conservative to me). Coverage in a cabin in Gatlinburg is a far cry from coverage in the backcountry. You would think that there would be coverage on the AT in the GSMNP it being a ridgetop trail: don't bet your life on it. As for satellite coverage; thank goodness I purchased a GPS with a card that had buyer protection, otherwise I would have been out several hundred $. Hope the info is useful.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Programbo
    I know this goes against everything I believe the trial should be about but with my heart problems at this time I like carrying my cell phone with me on my little day hikes (They aren`t even "day hikes" just a few miles up the trial)..Because most of the trial in Maryland is overlooking heavily populated valleys it seems I can get a strong cell signal on most of the areas I`ve walked lately (I`m on T-Mobile)..Saving the pro`s and con's of carrying a cell phone for another thread..How much of the trial does everyone think might be covered by cell access?
    Sorry, I am dead set against cell phones on the AT. You are getting into the wilderness to get away from the dread of technology. It would seem very out of place for a cell phone to ring in the 100 mile wilderness or anyplace else in the wild. The best thing to do is wait until you reach a town and call on a prepaid phone card from a regular or pay telephone. Illinois Coy 2001.

  14. #14
    Registered User TrailReverend's Avatar
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    Default

    It is small enough to bring but would suggest leaving it off. I agree it shouldnt ring in the wilderness and coverage is bad but you never know when you may need it in case of emergency. better safe than sorry. I think you should only use 4 emergency purposes. You shouldnt be checking voicemails, text messages or calling out to socialize.

  15. #15
    ECHO ed bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Programbo
    ..Saving the pro`s and con's of carrying a cell phone for another thread..How much of the trial does everyone think might be covered by cell access?
    Not trying to moderate, just pointing this out. I believe the thread author wanted to stay away from debate about "to have or not to have". Plenty of other cell phone threads to weigh in on.

  16. #16

    Default Out of touch

    Quote Originally Posted by Illinois Coy
    Sorry, I am dead set against cell phones on the AT. You are getting into the wilderness to get away from the dread of technology. It would seem very out of place for a cell phone to ring in the 100 mile wilderness or anyplace else in the wild. The best thing to do is wait until you reach a town and call on a prepaid phone card from a regular or pay telephone. Illinois Coy 2001.
    Then you need to make sure you never have heart disease. I never smoked, great numbers on Blood pressure etc, ran half marthons then I got heart disease at age 45. Ten years later after 5 stents and a five way bypass I am now back on the trail. I don't use my cell phone but I like knowing it is there to call the family to say good BYE.

  17. #17
    Registered User orangebug's Avatar
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    Depending on the location and weather, there is cell phone coverage in the Smokies. The cell phone was helpful in locating a veteran injured hike Dec. 04, who wound up losing some frozen parts but apparently is back hiking.

    Personally, I've found spotty coverage most everywhere in the NC/TN section of the AT. A cell phone may be enough to keep anxious family reassured, even if a silent one buried in a pack causes great distress to some among us.

    I use Cingular, but understand that Verizon is a bit better for coverage.

  18. #18
    Registered User Tim Rich's Avatar
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    When I think of percentage of trail coverage, I don't think of continuous, step-by-step coverage, but rather if there's a place I could stop at any point during the day, get the phone out and get a reception. My hiking partner carried his Nextel phone most of the trail as we sectioned north. His Nextel coverage was not nearly as good as other carriers. A hiker with Verizon had a good reception at White House Landing the middle of the 100 Mile Wilderness, Nextel nothing.

    From GA to the Smokies, my time there is too dated for current info. See Orangebug's comments. Anything north of the Whites is quite spotty as well, but we got some reception, at times, between Gorham and Monson.

    Once you get north of the SMNP, the AT ridgelines largely parallel interstate highway corridors until you get to NH and Maine. When you do leave the interstates in PA you're in developed country with wide open spaces. Given today's technology (and contrary to Tha's and gsmnpmtguyot's ignorant or deliberately incorrect rants), there's a good chance that you could get a reasonable reception at *some point during the day* on the vast majority of the AT, perhaps as high as 80-85%. We didn't get the phone out every day to check for reception, and it's not such that you would be able to make a call at any time, or that your family could count on hearing from you every day, though. With our wives, we always gave them very low expectations in when we'd be able to contact them so they wouldn't worry. That way, as with our last hike, when we they didn't hear from us between Monson and Abol Bridge, they didn't think something was wrong.

    Good luck to you in your hikes.

    Take Care,

    Tim

  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gsmnpmtguyot
    Cell phone coverage in the Smokies: non-existent whatever your brand
    I'll drink to that!
    'All my lies are always wishes" ~Jeff Tweedy~

  20. #20
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    Hey,

    I get complete coverage of the AT, with the exception of the town of Port Clinton and Pine Grove Furnace State Park, in PA using Verizon.

    Grey Owl

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