I snipped my landline and converted to a smartphone. I know what my daughters thought of this momentous occasion.
The smartphone features rock. The apps offer options for productivity enhancements I never imagined like voice typing. And the instant pictures and video clips of my Granddaughter make me wonder why I waited so long.
I discovered that the carrier I chose, MetroPCS, rides on the T-Mobile network and has no coverage in my neighborhood. Funny, their coverage map did not show a service void in my location. The only way the phone is functional in and around my home is over Wi-Fi. Calls drop, voices distort, and my mother is about to blow a gasket yelling into her phone. “I can’t hear you. You’re breaking up!”
I live in a T-Mobile dead zone and do not want to remain a cell phone zombie.
Through the power of Google I discovered that T-Mobile often provides a booster amplifier for customers living in marginal coverage zones. I called MetroPCS to inquire about the program and was assured that someone would call back. I guess that person must live in a dead zone, too, as I never received a call.
The first thing to ignore about wireless carriers is their commercials and advertising. All of them claim to have better coverage than their competitors. How do I determine which carrier really covers my home? Let’s answer this vital question with tools and data.
Smartphones offer a mechanism to view the current signal level. Google the model of the phone to find the applicable instructions. I have an Android and poking these selections in this order will show the answer:
Apps > Settings > About the device > Status > SIM card status > Signal Strength
The signal strength is given in units of dBm and a larger number means a smaller signal. Signal strength runs from -51 dBm to -113 dBm. A level of -100 dBm is considered marginal depending on which expert is consulted. The hottest T-Mobile signal I could find in my home was in the guest bathroom upstairs. I once saw -101 dBm but the range usually ran -105 dBm to 1113 dBm.
Smartphone owners can download an app, OpenSignal, to glean more information about cell coverage. The tool plots coverage by carrier for a specific location. It also points in the direction of the strongest signal for my chosen carrier. Here are some screen shots showing T-Mobile’s 3G and 4G coverage at my location (the blue circle in each picture).
The data showed that T-Mobile coverage stops more than one mile from my home. I chose the wrong carrier for my situation.
My options for restoring reliable communication includes returning to the landline or moving to another carrier. Shawn’s wireless service with Verizon offers marginal coverage. She often sits on the porch to make a call. OpenSignal showed Sprint coverage is less robust than Verizon for our location.
That left AT&T as a strong contender.
As a long-term AT&T customer I fall solidly into the “NOT A FAN” camp based on their business practices of deception, hidden charges, and general obfuscation. Nevertheless I needed functional wireless service so I visited their site and attempted to understand their plans. The sub-screens of minuscule text detailing all the loopholes and ways they can skewer customers reminded me of why I’ve dropped most of my services with them.
Then I discovered Cricket Wireless which offers flat rate plans with no hidden fees and uses the AT&T infrastructure. After a lengthy web search for customer ratings of the company Shawn and I visited the Cricket store to intimate a switch.
My smartphone is 44 days old but MetroPCS refused to unlock the device so I could switch carriers. I explained the problem with their lack of coverage but a customer must suffer for 90 days before penalty-free switching is allowed. Who knew? In short, with MetroPCS I paid for a service I did not get and to escape I have to discard the phone or find a hacker site somewhere in cyber space that might unlock the phone for $29.99 payable via PayPal. Glad I only had a monthly agreement with the MetroPCS organization.
So, I bought a new phone. (The old one will become my platform for developing a killer Android app!) The Cricket agent ported my number, moved my contacts from the old phone via some wizardry, and by the time I had my favorite apps installed and configured I was up on the AT&T network making calls. I’ve observed signal levels from -86 dBm to -101 dBm. First call to Mom I heard this comment, “Wow. I can hear you just fine today.”
Sweet! Problem solved.
As I’ve waded through the wireless carrier experience I’ve thought about prayer and God’s generous offer that we can come to Him for help.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NASB
His offer includes:
- 100% coverage.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.
Psalm 50:15 NASB
- No dropped calls.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4 NASB
- Excellent voice quality.
The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17 NASB
- No outages.
Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3 NASB
Now that’s a great deal!