Cell phone service on the playa

Postby gyre » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:50 pm

Worrying about video transmission makes as much sense as the music industry worrying about napster when anyone can record off the radio or cable.
Of course, they want copy protection on those too.

The music industry and ct have the same problem.
A bored audience.
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Postby MikeVDS » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:38 pm

Jammers? Are all conventional cell phones in the 800ghz range? How might a "jammer" effect the communications at the airport? From what I understand they'd work by creating so much "noise" that a cell phone cannot detect a signal, does anyone know the s/n ratio before typical cells are effectively "jammed"?

Though it's not a bad idea if you're one who wants to keep things how they "were" (good luck buster), there are some things that need to be worked through. Anyone here educated enough on some of the specifics to inform others about the feasibility of the idea?
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Postby Finnegan » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:46 pm

Yeah, I'd love to know. I've wanted one mounted on my dashboard for years.
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Postby hsdavis » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:37 am

Well, in the immortal words of Richard Nixon, "let me say this about that".
First, Archantael, there is no apology required----but thank you.
Next, for years we could take pictures and short video clips with our tiny digital cameras and upload these images on the internet. There is WiFi on the playa so now it can be done while the event is still going on. The simple fact that the camera is a phone makes not a shread of difference in the uploading of videos and pictures. It's simply a different shape camera with much worse resolution than my 6 megapixel camera. In other words, pictures of CT and other bare body parts should be of absolutely no concern if there is a cell signal here.
Jammers, even in small areas like restaurants are illegal, but still used by business owners to keep people from sitting at their tables yacking on the phone. The FCC (not to mention Sprint) would never allow any jammers on the playa.
For me the real concern is the feel of the playa changing. I simply would hate to see everyone with a cell phone walking around like I see at the mall. Meeting people and interacting with as many people as possibly has made this event special and cell service would (IMO) change and destroy this forever. The cell phone would isolate everyone in their own little groups and cliques.
My thought is that it should be considered wrong and discourteous to use your phone on the open playa just like moop and poop. It may still work, but using it in front of other could be considered taboo.
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Postby Lassen Forge » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:03 am

MikeVDS wrote:Jammers? Are all conventional cell phones in the 800ghz range? How might a "jammer" effect the communications at the airport? From what I understand they'd work by creating so much "noise" that a cell phone cannot detect a signal, does anyone know the s/n ratio before typical cells are effectively "jammed"?

Though it's not a bad idea if you're one who wants to keep things how they "were" (good luck buster), there are some things that need to be worked through. Anyone here educated enough on some of the specifics to inform others about the feasibility of the idea?


Things change. Ya have to learn to grow with it and adapt to it. Sad, but true.

Jamming the cellsite? Not the smartest idea. Along with the problems with harmonic interference to other services (like the Org's com system, Remsa/lifeflight, the local cops, etc.) you're jamming a legal licensed radio service. Know what the FCC will do? Show up on the playa and see all the pretty pyrat stations (including things like BMIR) and shut them down, take their equipment, and fine the shit out of the owners. And maybe pull the org's radio license for allowing the jamming and the pyrats, eminating from their "property", to continue. The FCC have become real (pardon me) dicks recently. Wanna bet Sprint (and all the other licensed carriers) wouldn't jump on this bandwagon? Can your lawyer beat theirs? Ug.

Will the cellsite reach the playa? It already does in places. Won't take much of an upgrade to blanket the thing. And looking at the big picture (the other 48 weeks of the year) the first time that Sprint service saves some fool's bogged ass out there in the spring they'll be saviors.

So the thing is (sadly) this. The event has to (again) change to meet the current conditions. Just like forming a circle and having a city plan and putting the man on a pedestal because of the people, like having ESD and Rangers and DMV and Fire safety and Remsa and CampArtica and all the infrastructure - the event will survive this. Is it good? It doesn't matter - it just is.

I still think that if you really need that outside link you should be willing to pony up for a satphone. As oversaturated as that cellsite will be, it still may be the answer. But ya can't pretend it won't be there, because now, or later, it will be there. Sorry. But it's better to face reality - and deal with it - than hide from it.
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Postby Archantael » Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:56 am

Of course a well placed Apokiliptikan nuke detonated in BRC would quickly solve the problem.
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Postby pyrotix » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:49 am

I wish I had known about this before the granting cycle was over. There are a million amazing mobile tech-based art installations just waiting to happen.
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Postby dragonfly Jafe » Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:15 pm

Archantael wrote:Of course a well placed Apokiliptikan nuke detonated in BRC would quickly solve the problem.


ABOVE the city would be preferred; bigger EMP and destruct radius (more doom is good!)
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Postby MrMullen » Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:22 pm

What makes you think a far and remote cell tower out there could handle the load of 40,000 peoples cell phones?

I don't know much about cell phone towers but I am going to assume they make different kinds of cell towers. Ones that handle a ton of people that put in cities and "lite" versions they put out in the middle of places that only would have a few hundred cell phones at the most. The lite cell phone towers probably are much easy to manage, cheaper to build, maintain and use whole lot less power.
Put 40,000 phones out where they only expect a could of hundred to be used and I think it would overload.
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Postby MikeVDS » Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:50 pm

Jammers, even in small areas like restaurants are illegal, but still used by business owners to keep people from sitting at their tables yacking on the phone. The FCC (not to mention Sprint) would never allow any jammers on the playa.


Hmm. For some reason I don't think many burners are too worried about following laws of this nature to begin with.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:26 pm

sometimes I have wished for a way to communicate with camp mates once already out on the playa, but overall, I detest public cell-phone speakin' pricks in Defaultia, and I sure as heck don't want to share an art car with a yuppie with a blue tooth thingie (or whatever they are) in his or her ear. My cell phone jammer sits on the end of my left arm and looks just like a fist! ARRRRGHHHH! (Howard Dean impression)
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Postby MikeVDS » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:36 pm

Defaultia, and I sure as heck don't want to share an art car with a yuppie with a blue tooth thingie (or whatever they are) in his or her ear.


That's no problem. It's really easy to interrupt a conversation with someone on a phone, especially if they're stuck on an artcar.
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Postby gyre » Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:43 pm

I have a design for a really nifty pulse emf generator made out of tubing.

If someone is on a cellphone in public just join in the conversation.
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Postby Archantael » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:00 pm

Perhaps it's time to go shopping for the loudest portable bullhorn available. It's cheaper than a jammer, and much more annoying.
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Postby The CO » Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:40 pm

MrMullen, cell towers don't quite work like you described. In big cities they just put more of them up. However, on the point of 40k people trying to use one tower, bear in mind not everyone has service thru that provider or a partner of the provider, and what are the odds that everyone in BRC tries to call at once? Hmmm, there's an event... everyone with cell service call at the same time. RIGHT NOW!
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Postby Lassen Forge » Thu Apr 12, 2007 2:16 am

The key constriction will be hardlne access. Once they have that they can drop a couple emergency response towers and switches there and you have your capacity. And that's not hard - they've been able to do that since cellphones were in "suitcases" in the 80's, and now it's even easier.

Wanna bet they already have tie-ins waiting for these porta-sites? Um Hmmm... I am sure that they've already thought this one out. The gains from this are staring them in the face - 40K customers who now can run up them minutes on OUR system for a full week? And get use of our emergency equipment, already in inventory, paid for by Homeland Security and Disaster Relief grants? Sure, we can put our trailer units out there, no problemo...

Sorry. I suspect Burning Man is the reason that Sprint wanted AirPeak. You get a year round base in Empire/Gerlach (and improve their service), you get the good will cookie of providing service to the playa for emergencies during the non BRC times, and you get the 40K spike on essentially free equipment generating good revenue for a week or 2. It's a business decision. If I were them I'd do it too.

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Postby hsdavis » Fri Apr 27, 2007 2:04 pm

The latest update on cell service in the Gerlach area is that the Nextel service will be up and running on May 15, 2007. The service will be Nextel only with the direct connect feature and WILL NOT have any roaming on it for other carriers. ONLY NEXTEL WILL WORK.
As far as coverage on the playa, it should be just the side facing Geralch although there is a 100 watt transmitter being used for this service.
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Postby meyouseek » Mon May 14, 2007 5:27 pm

If you've tried using a cell phone at the Coachella festival you probably know how useless they'll be on the playa. Indio has way more residents than Gerlach and still the networks are constantly overloaded.

Contrary to most of the opinions I've read here I'd actually like to have a working cell phone on the playa to keep track of friends at the event. Once we've got our crew out and about somebody always goes missing. Though this has led to many a pleasurable adventure, sometimes you just want to catch up with your buddies. I've not found walkie talkies useful out there as I don't hear them or there are too many people on a channel, etc. Nice (read: expensive) walkie talkies might do better, but c'mon.
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Postby trilobyte » Wed May 16, 2007 7:24 pm

No offense, but who the hell cares?

I'll be at the event, and I plan on switching my phone off on the approach to Gerlach and leaving it off until the return trip. Whether there's one functioning tower or a hundred, it won't change my experience. As for what other people do with their time, they can do whatever they want as long as it doesn't interfere with my life.

I think I'm more offended by the idea of someone thinking they have the right to approve or disapprove of what other people do than I am about there being cell service.

Do you really think that signal levels designed to service the local community 24/7/365 are going to have such a drastic impact on the whole population of BRC as to negatively affect your experience? I doubt most would either know or care. But the ability for emergency services and local residents to use it is probably enough of a win for it to be a good idea.

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Postby AntiM » Wed May 16, 2007 7:56 pm

One year we tried to keep track of each other with walkie talkies, annoyingly enough. Now we just wander off and cross paths whenever. That's a given for our camp, if you don't like solo or couple adventures, camping with us would be frustrating and lonely.
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Postby Finnegan » Wed May 16, 2007 10:49 pm

Yup, cell phone gets turned off and forgotten at first sight of BRC. Sorry, out of range for a while..
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Postby trilobyte » Thu May 17, 2007 1:08 pm

Hehe - some campmates of mine had that same idea in my first year, AntiM. They were veterans and I was a virgin, so I just did what they told me even though it seemed kind of ridiculous that we'd be able to stay in touch. After about half a day the plan was abandoned...

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Postby Lassen Forge » Mon May 21, 2007 3:17 pm

So...

To bring up a sore subject...

Has anyone been out to the playa in the past few days to see (a) if Sprint really did go live out there, and (b) if there is reception on the playa?
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Postby Killbuck » Mon May 21, 2007 3:24 pm

Hey... remember-- I was just there the past two days!

I have Cingular Service, so dunno about Sprint--- but I had zero signal.

I know... I also remember you had Cingular. You dare to ask what *else* I know?...

See, darlink, Interrogation works wonders. And now that we've displaced Pentathol for the "new" compound "W" (Pronounced Dub-yah), no one knows that they've been interrogated, they just continue on as if nothing has happened...

(Actually, with compound "W", we find people seem to have numerous blank spots... especially in e-mails...)

heh heh heh...

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Postby wedeliver » Mon May 21, 2007 4:03 pm

My two cents on working cell phones on the Black Rock Desert. It would be a very very good thing. I live on the edge of nowhere. (between Alturas and Klamath Falls) but the Black Rock Desert is the middle of nowhere. If you have ever been stuck way the fuck out there....

Anyway, if it is going to happen, why not embrace it and make it ART. Kernul Killbuck or someone should make a list of everyones cell phone number as they come through the gate. Texting to the masses, the potential is amazing. Reminders of events? Location changes from the guide. Someone's really horney and they text their request's to everyones phone, with photo??

One thought could perhaps make the masses move.

(personally there is a lot about the idea of digital phones working at BM that bothers me, and I can envision problems or issues but..if it's gonna happen, lets work it.)
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Cell Phone Jammers

Postby V_4_Vendetta » Fri May 25, 2007 8:36 pm

Indeed, I am all for cell phone jammers. If any event is so important that
you need to be in constant contact, I suggest that you stay home, and attend to those affairs, as they obviously have a priority in your life. However, if you plan well, there are few, if any justfiable reasons for cell phones or internet access. I realize many people get addicted to their cell phone pacifers, and can't go or do anything without having their "binky" with them. Nothing would
destroy the ambiance of Burning Man more than daily having to see people sucking on their cell phone pacifers!! Come now, and leave "Binky" at home where it belongs!
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Concerning Cell phone jamming.

Postby V_4_Vendetta » Fri May 25, 2007 9:04 pm

The govt will have your ass for using ANY KIND of signal jamming. All cell phone jammers are illegal in the US, yet not in Europe or the Middle East. They are in use heavily in the Middle East, as terrorists often use cell sigs to detonate IED's and other remote explosives. You're not going to get anywhere near a Mid-East politician with a cell phone that works!
Now, let me explain that there are several freqs that cell phone carriers use. I am aware of 800Mhz, 900Mhz, 1.2Ghz, 1.45Ghz.

from V's point of view, the best thing that could be done is to:
a) Find the freqs of the cell carrier.
b) Build a directionalized mobile transmitter of high wattage,, lest FCC triangulate your location!
c) Key ONCE and whack the carrier freq of the repeater station.
d) Obviously you would need a high Q circuit with filtering of the first upper and lower harmonic to keep from stepping on other freqs.

Disclaimer: V_4_Vendetta has never designed, built, or implemented any device in violation FCC regulations! In addition, V_4_Vendetta does not endorse, recommend, or suggest said implementation.
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Postby mdmf007 » Fri May 25, 2007 9:26 pm

we stopped using jammers in Iraq . Afghanistan. It was much easier and productive to simply send out signals randomly through the network and make all phones ring randomly.

WHen you hook an IED / with an electric blasting cap to a relay on a ringer circuit. it will blow up randomly. Sometimes we were lucky enough to have them blow as they were being built, other times at 0300 on a deserted road. waiting for a humvee to drive by.

either way it stopped working as terrorists simply switched technologies.

later

oh yeah. I am all for communication. I have kids, employees, and customers I deal with as necessary. If you can shut life off for the event - thats fine. Others WORK AT BM, and need communication to do their jobs. Satphones are great but at a couple bucks a minute on some plans it is ridiculously expensive and dont the people that live in Gerlach deserve the 21st century as well?

Last story - 1999 5 of our crews were responding to a fire on the north east edge of the playa, line of sight to Gerlach. We came across a car with 4 girls from a high school in Reno on a cmping / drinking trip. They got lost, and ran dry of fuel. Dialed 911 on their cell phone - no luck.

4th day one was almost dead, siezing from dehydration, and no food for any of them. We called for an airlift for her, and flew the other three to Reno on a USFS helicopter that was staged in Susanville. Had we not come across them randomly, they would have all died there. A Cell phone would have easily reached Gerlach as there was nothing between them and Gerlach. except 40 miles of Playa and ignorance as to their location.

Googlearth it yourself - I dug up the report and heres their location
118°46'13.98"W - 41° 0'19.57"N

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mesasge to BOB, with the couch logo

Postby burningbrother » Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:09 pm

In response to BOB with the couch logo, the second response:

When we welcome each other home each year on the playa, it's because we're all family, and that carries over to every day of the year.
Can we leave the insults and the name calling out?
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Postby Finnegan » Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:40 pm

I think BOB was referring to the behavior, not the person. Hugs, Rainbow Brother.

Complaining about the better communication technologies at Burning Man this year was better last year.
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