Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Extended" pseudo-roaming in West Virginia: Is Sprint providing more coverage in remote areas than Verizon? Looks like it.

For the first time ever, my new iPad showed an “Extended” coverage icon as it reached Internet sites while I was on an excursion train from Romney West Va Friday.  Apparently it was able to access the web through Sprint in an area where Verizon did not have towers.  At first, the iPad would say “no Internet service” but if I keyed in Google as the web address, it would start working in Extended mode.

The cell phone was able to access Internet only as “1X” at the train station, which means that it is in extended mode, in this area connected with Sprint.

But later, in Wardensville, the cell phone could not locate service at all (even for phone), despite the fact that the restaurant said that Sprint was available in the area.

A link on how extended “pseudo-roaming” works is here

It's interesting to compare Verizon coverage (here) with Sprint (here).  If you enter a zipcode in a white area for a town in West Virginia, where Verizon is weak, you find pockets of "extended coverage" (dark red) that work only for a few miles.  It seems that right now Sprint has fewer areas of no coverage. That's a surprise.  Not all coverage is 4G, much of it is 3G in remote areas.

It does look as though some people in the area (both along the railroad and in the hollows back toward Lost River State Park) must indeed live "off the grid".

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

FCC urged to prohibit local government wireless shutdowns; but DHS has the mysterious "SOP 303"

In May 2012, Public Knowledge filed a brief with the Federal Communications Commission encouraging it to promulgate administrative rules that would normally prevent state and local governments from shutting down Internet or wireless service in an area because of a perceived emergency.

The story is here.

The brief is motivated in part by an incident where BART in San Francisco shut down wireless service around its stations to prevent a flash mob from forming.  Local governments could try this in other circumstances where flash mobs are feared (they have been a particular problem in the UK).

DHS has a “secret” protocol document called SOP 303”, supposedly signed on to by telecommunications carriers, providing for shutdowns in case of major cybersecurity threats. 

The Center for Democracy and Technology has a link about this SOP (website url) here

Thursday, October 04, 2012

More on the mystery Comcast package

I got around to looking at the Comcast package.  I have digital voice, and the new (smaller) Arris modem didn't have a jack for the phone, so it couldn't be right.  I returned it all to a Comcast store nearby, which said I didn't appear to need an upgrade anyway.

I suppose it could have been useful to keep it, to have another one upstairs, but the router seems to be able to reach the entire house, and I would never need more than five computers (including iPad) on at once.

So I'm not sure what this was all about. But if I find out more what the upgrade could have been for, I'll update here.  

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

To save money, many people live "almost" off the grid

Anton Troianovski has an interesting story in the Friday Sept. 28, 2012 Wall Street Jounal, Technology, p. B5, “Living without a cellphone: To cut expenses, some Americans give up wireless service or switch to budget plans.

That doesn’t work for someone whose life plan includes staying connected, especially when travel, with multiple redundancies to cover outages and failures. 

However, many people are switching to plans that allow only limited data per month, and keep their phones off most of the time.

They say that without cell phones, they have to learn to “be punctual”.