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Northern Pennsylvania + I-476 Turnpike 2G Woes


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I've been driving through what appears to be a very neglected portion of Pennsylvania. I commute from Binghamton, NY to Allentown, PA once a week and the 2G is really killing me. Made me question what was going on around that area.

 

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I'm having a hard time finding any areas on the East coast with such widespread 2G-only service left. Is there a reason for most, if not ALL of Northern PA to not even have 3G yet? My initial thought is that the mountains must have something to do with it - maybe Sprint is not willing to add the amount of towers they'd need for good coverage through this area? Seems like everything North of the Lehigh Tunnel (Goes through a huge mountain separating N and S PA) is 2G while everything South of it is 3G.

 

Network Vision will convert these 2G sites to a minimum of 3G when completed, correct?

Edited by burnout8488
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If i'm not mistaken, that is the domain of shentel or another sprint partner.

 

Incorrect. That IS corporate Sprint. Luckily, this will be converted to at least GMO 3G by the completion of NV. It appears Sprint never saw it as cost effective to upgrade these areas to 3G. It's a PITA for me as I travel all over PA for my job.

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Incorrect. That IS corporate Sprint. Luckily, this will be converted to at least GMO 3G by the completion of NV. It appears Sprint never saw it as cost effective to upgrade these areas to 3G. It's a PITA for me as I travel all over PA for my job.

 

I would certainly think that this area would be upgraded and make good use the new 800 SMR band. If they do that, you will have much better voice coverage initially along with some 4G and then later, even better 4G when they can fully use 800 SMR for that.

 

When you are dealing with extremely rural area and low population density, quite often you have a backhaul problem. You may find little or no fiber optics in the area. Even if you try to use short haul microwave to feed some of the cell sites, you still may not have a good source of backhaul close enough to the cell sites. One thing for sure, if Sprint does upgrade the area like they are doing other places, the coverage will improve and probably quite significantly.

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I would certainly think that this area would be upgraded and make good use the new 800 SMR band. If they do that, you will have much better voice coverage initially along with some 4G and then later, even better 4G when they can fully use 800 SMR for that.

 

When you are dealing with extremely rural area and low population density, quite often you have a backhaul problem. You may find little or no fiber optics in the area. Even if you try to use short haul microwave to feed some of the cell sites, you still may not have a good source of backhaul close enough to the cell sites. One thing for sure, if Sprint does upgrade the area like they are doing other places, the coverage will improve and probably quite significantly.

 

I agree 100% that 800 MHz in these areas would be a godsend. All I know, however, is that many low pop density, rural sites aren't getting upgraded antennas initially which can broadcast 800mhz. Many are GMO initially with just new cabinets and RRUs at the base.

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I agree 100% that 800 MHz in these areas would be a godsend. All I know, however, is that many low pop density, rural sites aren't getting upgraded antennas initially which can broadcast 800mhz. Many are GMO initially with just new cabinets and RRUs at the base.

 

If Sprint is SMART (and we do not know if they are or not), they will take the time and spend the money to finally fix the area the right way. If there is any area that needs the top mounted antennas and RRU's to be pushing out some 800 Meg, this is the area.

Yes, it probably is going to be a difficult one to fix, but it needs to be done.

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This area is already starting to be converted to 3G. Hazleton went live with 3G EVDO for the first time a few weeks ago. So they are working on it now.

 

Robert via Nexus 7 with Tapatalk HD

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Incorrect. That IS corporate Sprint.

 

It is Sprint corporate footprint now, but that is a relatively recent development because it was iPCS affiliate coverage until only three years ago. And that is why many sites are only CDMA1X, which is still 3G, by the way. But iPCS dragged its heels deploying EV-DO in its markets and never did in many rural areas.

 

AJ

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It is Sprint corporate footprint now, but that is a relatively recent development because it was iPCS affiliate coverage until only three years ago. And that is why many sites are only CDMA1X, which is still 3G, by the way. But iPCS dragged its heels deploying EV-DO in its markets and never did in many rural areas.

 

AJ

 

AJ, I agree with you that this wasn't always a Sprint corporate market but the fact remains that they gained this network in 2009 and it is still 1X only. Sprint clearly didn't see much advantage to updating this area to EVDO for the past 4 years. I'm glad to see it's being updated now but it is still a relatively large amount of footprint which is 1X only. Regardless, I understand it is very low population density and I'm sure very few subs reside there.

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AJ, I agree with you that this wasn't always a Sprint corporate market but the fact remains that they gained this network in 2009 and it is still 1X only. Sprint clearly didn't see much advantage to updating this area to EVDO for the past 4 years.

 

You are stretching the facts a bit. The iPCS acquisition did not close until basically this time three years ago. Sprint could do nothing prior to that point. By that time, Sprint was getting rather cash strapped and further deployment was not in the offing.

 

Furthermore, the iPCS territory in question was acquired in a merger with yet another Sprint affiliate, Horizon PCS. So, who knows what "Frankenstinian" mix of infrastructure from various, potentially cheap vendors these markets contain. Additionally, by the first few months of 2010, the start of Network Vision was only 18 months away. Had Sprint deployed EV-DO in these former affiliate CDMA1X only areas, that infrastructure would have ended up being scrapped just three years later.

 

So, I give Sprint a free pass on this one. The affiliates almost universally screwed up. They thought they had a good idea at the height of the tech bubble around the millennium, but they got in over their heads and did not pan out.

 

My point, though, is really this: we can both look at the situation from the benefit of hindsight. You see a negative -- Sprint should have done more sooner. And I see a positive -- Sprint did well to hold off on renovating these areas until Network Vision. And, you know what, we are both right.

 

AJ

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Incorrect. That IS corporate Sprint. Luckily, this will be converted to at least GMO 3G by the completion of NV. It appears Sprint never saw it as cost effective to upgrade these areas to 3G. It's a PITA for me as I travel all over PA for my job.

 

I feel you - even trying to stream Pandora is a struggle on 2G most of the time!

 

I certainly woke up to much more information than I expected, thanks everyone! It looks like this will iron itself out over the next couple of years. The areas around the highways in Northern PA certainly are very rural, with low population density. It baffled me that most of the turnpike was not upgraded to 3G though, I always thought major highways got priority.

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I feel you - even trying to stream Pandora is a struggle on 2G most of the time!

 

I certainly woke up to much more information than I expected, thanks everyone! It looks like this will iron itself out over the next couple of years. The areas around the highways in Northern PA certainly are very rural, with low population density. It baffled me that most of the turnpike was not upgraded to 3G though, I always thought major highways got priority.

 

Careful with the 3G comment or AJ will correct you! :D 1X IS a 3G technology, just not one that is very good at moving large amounts of data! But yea, not used to being in non-EVDO coverage when traveling.

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You are stretching the facts a bit. The iPCS acquisition did not close until basically this time three years ago. Sprint could do nothing prior to that point. By that time, Sprint was getting rather cash strapped and further deployment was not in the offing.

 

Furthermore, the iPCS territory in question was acquired in a merger with yet another Sprint affiliate, Horizon PCS. So, who knows what "Frankenstinian" mix of infrastructure from various, potentially cheap vendors these markets contain. Additionally, by the first few months of 2010, the start of Network Vision was only 18 months away. Had Sprint deployed EV-DO in these former affiliate CDMA1X only areas, that infrastructure would have ended up being scrapped just three years later.

 

So, I give Sprint a free pass on this one. The affiliates almost universally screwed up. They thought they had a good idea at the height of the tech bubble around the millennium, but they got in over their heads and did not pan out.

 

My point, though, is really this: we can both look at the situation from the benefit of hindsight. You see a negative -- Sprint should have done more sooner. And I see a positive -- Sprint did well to hold off on renovating these areas until Network Vision. And, you know what, we are both right.

 

AJ

 

And now for a history lesson, Sprint had to buy out these affiliates due to purchasing Nextel, correct? Because they were competing with there own affiliates in essence?

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I feel you - even trying to stream Pandora is a struggle on 2G most of the time!

 

I certainly woke up to much more information than I expected, thanks everyone! It looks like this will iron itself out over the next couple of years. The areas around the highways in Northern PA certainly are very rural, with low population density. It baffled me that most of the turnpike was not upgraded to 3G though, I always thought major highways got priority.

 

It probably was quite a chore to get even one T-1 to the cell sites for Voice. The turnpike goes through some very rural territory.

Getting anything more than a T-1 for backhaul can be next to impossible. I would suspect that even today, there will be some major issues getting a fast connection to many of the cell sites. They may be able to get a fast connection to one cell site somewhere and microwave a back haul link from this one site to several other nearby sites. But even that is not always an option.

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Careful with the 3G comment or AJ will correct you! :D 1X IS a 3G technology, just not one that is very good at moving large amounts of data! But yea, not used to being in non-EVDO coverage when traveling.

 

Being a member here certainly involves a learning curve, I'll get the hang of it over the next few weeks :)

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It is Sprint corporate footprint now, but that is a relatively recent development because it was iPCS affiliate coverage until only three years ago. And that is why many sites are only CDMA1X, which is still 3G, by the way. But iPCS dragged its heels deploying EV-DO in its markets and never did in many rural areas.

 

AJ

You beat me to it AJ. The mountains and relatively thin population density also add to the problems in building out the network. As a comparison, the land line service has changed hands twice in the last few years. Guess who owns the land line service now(in most parts of NE PA). Hint: used to be a baby bell.
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And now for a history lesson, Sprint had to buy out these affiliates due to purchasing Nextel, correct? Because they were competing with there own affiliates in essence?

 

Right. The Nextel (and/or Nextel Partners) acquisition effectively violated a non compete agreement that Sprint had with its own affiliates, even though Sprint retained control of all of the spectrum in question.

 

AJ

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Right. The Nextel (and/or Nextel Partners) acquisition effectively violated a non compete agreement that Sprint had with its own affiliates, even though Sprint retained control of all of the spectrum in question.

 

AJ

 

Makes you wonder what looked so great on paper about merging Sprint and Nextel. Not only did they use disparate technologies, it also broke contracts they had with their affiliates. Now out of curiosity, how is it that a few affiliates still remain? Did Shentel and the few others not have non-compete clauses?

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Makes you wonder what looked so great on paper about merging Sprint and Nextel. Not only did they use disparate technologies, it also broke contracts they had with their affiliates. Now out of curiosity, how is it that a few affiliates still remain? Did Shentel and the few others not have non-compete clauses?

 

I think that Gary Forsee and company looked around the industry, saw increasingly threatening consolidation, then looked at Nextel's largely business/industrial sub base and below 1 GHz/above 2.5 GHz spectrum and saw complementary assets. Any potential conflicts were just collateral damage. I also still believe that if Sprint had not gotten Nextel, then VZW would have for the business/industrial sub base, and the W. Bush administration would have rubber stamped that merger, too.

 

I gotta run but can write at greater length later. We may also want to branch this discussion off to its own thread or merge it with an existing Nextel thread, as we are starting to run pretty far afield from the original topic.

 

AJ

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Wow I remember Sprint would be 1X after the Lehigh Tunnel on 476. I haven't had Sprint since 2011 so I naturally figured it was EVDO by now. Good to know, thanks for the info.

 

Nnnnnnope! Just drove through it at 5PM, kept my eye out for all of the pitiful, pitiful towers on 476. Was able to stream Pandora on Hi-Quality today despite being on 1X... it really must be maxed out to do that. Skips occasionally though.

 

Once in 5 bars of EV-DO south of the tunnel, it's still horribly slow. My guess is that the towers are completely saturated from Allentown users.

Edited by burnout8488
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Nnnnnnope! Just drove through it at 5PM, kept my eye out for all of the pitiful, pitiful towers on 476. Was able to stream Pandora on Hi-Quality today despite being on 1X... it really must be maxed out to do that. Skips occasionally though.

 

Once in 5 bars of EV-DO south of the tunnel, it's still horribly slow. My guess is that the towers are completely saturated from Allentown users.

 

The Allentown area makes me sad! The population density there kills the network so horribly. Even once I get to Bethlehem things are much better.

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The Allentown area makes me sad! The population density there kills the network so horribly.

 

Population density? Wait, there are still people living there in Allentown?

 

But they've taken all the coal from the ground

And the union people crawled away-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Ayyyyyyyyy-ayyyyyy-ay

 

AJ

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Population density? Wait, there are still people living there in Allentown?

 

But they've taken all the coal from the ground

And the union people crawled away-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Ayyyyyyyyy-ayyyyyy-ay

 

AJ

 

I secretly like that song. Don't tell anyone. OK? :)

 

Robert via Samsung Note II via Tapatalk

 

 

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