Author Topic: phone service issues  (Read 1372 times)

Mongoose

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phone service issues
« on: July 24, 2018, 08:48:49 PM »
Situation: We live in a quite rural area. Nearest cell phone towers are 9 miles away, and belong to Verizon. We are exactly between the two towers. We use their service and have a grandfathered plan that predates smart phones being very available. DH and I both have flip phones on purpose because we don't like smart phones. Away from the house, we are happy with our cell phone service.

Issues I would ideally like to resolve:
1. Our cell phones drop calls quite often at the house. Previously, we had a land line but a couple of issues arose with that. First, they were getting much more expensive and secondly, my folks have issues dealing with more than one phone number per person. Due to their health and age, they need to be able to get in touch but the concept of calling house phone and then cell phone if the house phone isn't answered has been problematic. So, if I was away from the house and didn't answer my house phone for several hours, they got panicky. Dropping the house phone and forcing all communication to one number solved that issue but has left me with the dropped call issue. Overall, I find the dropped call issue to be much better than the issues that arose from having two phone numbers.

We have internet service through the only local provider. It runs on line of site to the local water tower and then relayed to another station.  The whole town uses this same system so it gets bogged down when the local school lets and and into the evening when more people are using internet. Our wifi is pretty good unless the whole system gets bogged down. We tried VoIP years ago but the call quality wasn't good. Is there a budget priced system for VoIP that works tolerably well on slower internet connections? If we were to have such a service, is is reasonably easy to forward it to my cell phone when I am away from the house so if someone calls the VoIP phone, I could receive the call on my cell? I am not tech savvy so this would only work if it was somewhat easy to turn the transfer on/off.

I have discussed the dropped calls with Verizon and they recommended a signal booster for the house to help with cell phone signal. Those run $200-300 and I haven't been able to decipher if they are likely to solve the problem or what specific unit might help with this issue. If we could find a signal booster that would reliably work, this would be more economical than adding a recurring monthly fee for another service.

2. Our kids play some sports in a neighboring county. Communication about the sports teams is via text. I can receive texts on my phone from most people, but some people seem to be only able to send multi-media text messages and those come through blank. It seems that this issue has arisen with one or two individuals who use newer iphones. I often get these messages when I am away from wifi so I would ideally like to be able to receive these via some sort of text-specific, inexpensive cell service. Last year, we routed these folks to DH's work phone and he passed the necessary messages along to me. We can continue to do that if there isn't an acceptable solution but it would be nice for him to not have to be a messenger service.

I have borrowed an inexpensive smart Tracfone for a month to see if I could easily solve both issues. My theory was that I could potentially use it for a text device for kid activities, a few cell phone calls, and over the wifi via a free calling ap as a "home phone". Currently, this doesn't look like a workable solution because the calling ap over wifi is dropping calls plus the the texting/calls I've tried in cell phone mode have been iffy as well (not sent, phone unable to complete calls). Possibly Tracfone wasn't a good choice but it was a cheap option for me to try due to only having to purchase a one-month activation card.

I would greatly appreciate any information/thoughts/recommendations about how to solve either of these issues. Thanks!

Daley

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Re: phone service issues
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2018, 09:33:38 PM »
If the phones are CDMA only, pre-LTE SIM card with Verizon, you're on borrowed time anyway. The 1xRTT CDMA network is getting shut down next year. You need to upgrade phones. You upgrade phones, that'll theoretically fix the MMS issue (MMS also needs a data plan). There's no such thing as feature phones anymore with phones that require VoLTE (Voice over LTE network) support, as even the most basic phones are running ridiculous processors and using stripped down versions of Android and KaiOS (Firefox OS) to make this happen, so you're still going to be stuck with convoluted and overly complicated user interfaces and terrible battery life, even if the form factor still looks like a feature phone with buttons. You're also not going to get much of a selection as Verizon currently only sells one LTE "feature phone", the Kyocera Cadence. This said, you may get improved coverage with a VoLTE capable handset. 4G LTE tower density with Verizon isn't as important as the older CDMA days. One tower in the 700MHz spectrum can do line-of-sight up to about 40 miles. You may not need a signal booster.

Regarding VoIP with a WISP? The problem isn't bandwidth. You can do VoIP successfully over the bandwidth available with a 20 year old 56kbps dial-up modem. The problem is network latency, jitter and packet loss, or signal delay between locations and loss of transmitted real time sensitive data. WISPs and wireless internet really don't lend themselves well to VoIP. If that's your only option for broadband, don't even bother trying that path. You need something wired with infrastructure in decent shape. This also means that using WiFi calling support with a supported Verizon handset or a femtocell is off the table, as the same shortfalls will impact call quality there as well as VoIP for the exact same reasons. There are passive directional yagi antenna solutions for boosting signal strength with Verizon service and your nearby towers, but they're imperfect... and given the network changes coming to Verizon as the old CDMA spectrum and towers gets refarmed in a few months anyway, may be a bit of a pointless investment.

As for Tracfone, Tracfone sells cheap, flimsy handsets. They also sell plans and phones on multiple networks, so unless you know for certain that it was using Verizon and also had VoLTE support, you have no guarantee that it even remotely approaches realistic modern coverage expectations with Verizon. If you want to switch to a Verizon MVNO, ideally search one out that's not owned by TracFone. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of Verizon MVNOs out there outside of various TracFone shell brands (Total, Page Plus), and the prices make Verizon Prepaid attractive unless you're a light user. If you want a feature phone with a Verizon MVNO, you already know the only option available with Verizon VoLTE support. If you can't find the thing used with a clean IMEI/ESN, you're going to have to do contractual obligation time on Verizon postpaid or prepaid first before porting a new one over.

You're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place unless a competitor's coverage has drastically improved in your region, or if getting a proper Verizon VoLTE handset improves coverage. Sorry.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2018, 09:51:32 PM by Daley »

katsiki

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Re: phone service issues
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2018, 09:41:27 PM »
2. Our kids play some sports in a neighboring county. Communication about the sports teams is via text. I can receive texts on my phone from most people, but some people seem to be only able to send multi-media text messages and those come through blank. It seems that this issue has arisen with one or two individuals who use newer iphones. I often get these messages when I am away from wifi so I would ideally like to be able to receive these via some sort of text-specific, inexpensive cell service. Last year, we routed these folks to DH's work phone and he passed the necessary messages along to me. We can continue to do that if there isn't an acceptable solution but it would be nice for him to not have to be a messenger service.


You may want to test out a google voice number for text messages.  You can view them on a computer like email.  I'm going from memory but you should be able to find info easily about this.  Google voice is free to try so it might be worth a shot.

dang1

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Re: phone service issues
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2018, 11:41:10 PM »
..




You may want to test out a google voice number for text messages.  You can view them on a computer like email.  I'm going from memory but you should be able to find info easily about this.  Google voice is free to try so it might be worth a shot.

ditto on google voice. give your folks your google voice number and when they call you, you can set it up so that it rings your cell phone and landline, at the same time.

I have a weboost cell phone booster in my car, works well. Try it out from ebay, make sure it's returnable in case doesn't work out for you.


Mongoose

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Re: phone service issues
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2018, 08:17:08 AM »
Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'll need to spend some time looking up the phone I have and determining if it is about to become obsolete. Technically I think it could connect to the Internet despite being a flip phone but I have never used that feature. We have some tiny amount of data with our current plan that is never used either. Wish this stuff was simpler. I have zero interest in tech so it's painful to decipher. I'll look into google voice as well. It sounds possible, but complicated.

katsiki

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Re: phone service issues
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2018, 10:25:34 AM »
..




You may want to test out a google voice number for text messages.  You can view them on a computer like email.  I'm going from memory but you should be able to find info easily about this.  Google voice is free to try so it might be worth a shot.

ditto on google voice. give your folks your google voice number and when they call you, you can set it up so that it rings your cell phone and landline, at the same time.

I have a weboost cell phone booster in my car, works well. Try it out from ebay, make sure it's returnable in case doesn't work out for you.

Good catch!  That is another benefit of a google voice # in addition to text messages.

Daley

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Re: phone service issues
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2018, 01:12:17 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'll need to spend some time looking up the phone I have and determining if it is about to become obsolete. Technically I think it could connect to the Internet despite being a flip phone but I have never used that feature. We have some tiny amount of data with our current plan that is never used either. Wish this stuff was simpler. I have zero interest in tech so it's painful to decipher. I'll look into google voice as well. It sounds possible, but complicated.

I can pretty much guarantee that it's about to become obsolete. VoLTE capable feature phones have only been on the market in North America for a little over two years now, and should not be confused with LTE data capable feature phones - as those rare few earlier ones on Verizon (even if they had a SIM card) still relied entirely on 1xRTT CDMA for their voice service. Having minimal internet access on the account also doesn't mean much if the handset can't properly support MMS and/or has the mobile data misconfigured or turned off.

Personally, I think GV is a bit of a red herring to your situation, and will just introduce another added layer of complexity and unreliability on top of letting Google stick its thumb in all your phone communications for their benefit.

Upgrade to a Verizon Kyocera Cadence if you still want a "feature phone" and see what happens. It might solve all your issues at once. Just one warning: If you do this and you don't like the phone or service gets worse, you will not be able to re-activate your old handset on the account for the same reason why you need to upgrade.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 01:17:13 PM by Daley »