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Old 19 March 2017, 22:24
Jim1348 Jim1348 is offline
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Cell Phone Maximum Range From Towers

I have Googled this, but I seem to be running into conflicting information. How far will a cell phone work from a cell tower? The most consistent answer seems to be that AT&T and T-Mobile are designed in such a way as they will disconnect at about 22.5 miles. Is that true regardless of which AT&T/T-Mobile band is being used?

Also, is Verizon designed the same way? I know that Verizon was originally CDMA and AT&T/T-Mobile were GSM, so they were different technologies.
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Old 19 March 2017, 23:01
Akheloce Akheloce is online now
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ATT is still GSM, Verizon is still CDMA.

GSM is (in 90% of applications) limited to 22mi based on timing limitations of the protocol (round trip time of signal).

CDMA has no technical limit other than the tx power of the handset. In reality, something like a 40 mi max in optimum conditions.

In the real world? There is no real answer because there are too many environmental factors involved- terrain, interference, frequency management, etc.

Back in the day, 5w bag phones on the old analog network could get close to 100 miles, but that technology has fallen out of favor due to form factor, and advanced features.
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Old 20 March 2017, 00:42
wildman43 wildman43 is offline
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I have Verizon, an can reception when AT&T can't.
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Old 20 March 2017, 00:48
wildman43 wildman43 is offline
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What I was told is the company that puts up the tower, Has the best service for it customers, any other Telephone company will be lower on the Tower an you will have less service area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim1348 View Post
I have Googled this, but I seem to be running into conflicting information. How far will a cell phone work from a cell tower? The most consistent answer seems to be that AT&T and T-Mobile are designed in such a way as they will disconnect at about 22.5 miles. Is that true regardless of which AT&T/T-Mobile band is being used?

Also, is Verizon designed the same way? I know that Verizon was originally CDMA and AT&T/T-Mobile were GSM, so they were different technologies.
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Old 20 March 2017, 02:50
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Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
In the real world? There is no real answer because there are too many environmental factors involved- terrain, interference, frequency management, etc.
This. Real world RF has many external factors and results in very few definitive answers.
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Old 20 March 2017, 08:44
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Akheloce covered it succinctly. There's nothing I can add.
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Old 20 March 2017, 20:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim1348 View Post
I have Googled this, but I seem to be running into conflicting information. How far will a cell phone work from a cell tower? The most consistent answer seems to be that AT&T and T-Mobile are designed in such a way as they will disconnect at about 22.5 miles. Is that true regardless of which AT&T/T-Mobile band is being used?

Also, is Verizon designed the same way? I know that Verizon was originally CDMA and AT&T/T-Mobile were GSM, so they were different technologies.
Can you explain a little more? Like what is the environment? Urban? Flat open desert? Etc?
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Old 20 March 2017, 21:22
Jim1348 Jim1348 is offline
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Cell Phone Maximum Range From Towers

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Can you explain a little more? Like what is the environment? Urban? Flat open desert? Etc?
I was thinking across the water. Say you leave on a cruise ship. How far could you talk from the ship back to a Verizon cell site on shore?
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Old 20 March 2017, 21:42
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Originally Posted by Jim1348 View Post
I was thinking across the water. Say you leave on a cruise ship. How far could you talk from the ship back to a Verizon cell site on shore?
Water makes RF do stupidly weird things. Also Verizon networks can either use voice over LTE or not, depending on how the local network is configured. It may drop down to 3G to handle voice and leave data in 4G in which case ranging can depend on user density, time of day, and other dynamic factors. Finally, the carrier may not even tune the sector of the tower facing the water to reach the same ranges as the other ones due to low usage - or it may be an omnidirectional and weak signal.

There is no deterministic answer here. Bank on being able to talk out to a couple hundred meters offshore, anything beyond that is a bonus.
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Old 20 March 2017, 21:51
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Originally Posted by Jim1348 View Post
I have Googled this, but I seem to be running into conflicting information. How far will a cell phone work from a cell tower?...
Smart phones and flip phones are limited to one watt maximum EiRP (effective isotropic radiated power); and it's usually below 0.8 watts. Cell phone transmit power is variable, and controlled by the tower (BTS). The BTS has a broadcast channel that sends out a signal for the cell phones to lock on. Cell phones, by default, lock onto the strongest signal in the area. After the cell and the BTS "handshake" with each other, the BTS continuously checks the cell's signal strength and 'tells' the cell the boost its EiRP, so the signal doesn't lose too many bytes of data in transit.

So, your battery life in your cell is (partially) a function of your distance from the servicing BTS. If you're close to the tower (less Tx power), your battery could last for days between recharges. If you're far away (more Tx power), your battery could drain faster than Roseanne Barr drinking a chocolate milkshake.

In any wireless communication, both the transmit (Tx) and receive (Rx) antennas have to 'see' each other; i.e. line-of-sight. Higher frequencies (VHF and UHF) are practically straight LOS. Whereas HF and lower frequencies can 'bend' over the curvature of the earth and can 'see' each other; even though they don't have visual LOS. So, if you want to increase your range, make sure your Tx and Rx antennas can see each other.

Transmit power affects your signal strength, not your range. At the Tx point your is signal is strong, and it gets weaker over distance. At some point, the signal is too weak for the receiver to pick the signal out from the background noise. Digital transmissions (like cell phones) drop off abruptly when your lose more than 5% of of the bits in the data stream. The good news is that digital signals stay strong right up to the drop off point. Analog signals fade gradually (strong, medium and weak...)

Rx antenna sensitivity can affect range (as long as LOS exists): the more sensitive the antenna (better gain), the greater the standoff distance. Almost all telecommunication corporations put a LOT of money into antenna research, because good antenna design can increase coverage areas.

Terrain, endo-atmospheric and exo-atmospheric conditions also serve to affect range. Usually not in a good way.
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Old 20 March 2017, 22:20
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Geez. This site has some pretty fart smellers. Um, I mean pretty smart fellers. The SME talent here is second to none.
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