Cell phone service on the playa

Cell Phone with WiFi?

Postby gtojames » Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:52 am

I have heard there is no cell reception but what about WiFi?
I have WiFi on my crackberry. I really don't plan on making any calls but was just curious if anyone has gotten a WiFi connection on The Playa?

THX
JMH
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Re: Cell Phone with WiFi?

Postby Archantael » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:12 am

gtojames wrote:I have heard there is no cell reception but what about WiFi?
I have tha on my crackberry. I really don't plan on making any calls but was just curious if anyone has gotten a WiFi connection on The Playa?

THX
JMH


Yes and No. Yes, there is some WiFi on the playa but there's nothing officially ORG provided for BRC citizens to use. What's out there is considered a gift to the community and it's provided by a group that seems to love the technical challenge of pulling it off.

As for the No part? It's hit or miss, and 3/4 of the time when I tried to use it I gave up due to slow connections / congestion / the playa gods were trying to tell me to turn the damn thing off.

So to directly answer your question: YMMV, but you're best bet is to plan on being without your crackberry for the week. Trust me, withdrawal is a bitch but by the 3rd day you'll be quite happy going off exploring the playa without it.
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iDEN / Nextel / Sprint... blah...

Postby grogling » Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:51 pm

Ok... enough of the wild speculations (not to bash on those that tried to provide information... I just know the facts because I used to work on this stuff).

Airpeak was never a reseller. They were an independent iDEN provider based out of Reno that was in competition locally w/ Sprint. All Sprint had to do was swing the T1 over to their network.

The site is on a peak about 10 miles south of Empire.

No, the site doesn't transmit at 100 watts... it's more like 40watts at the very most, and probably lower than that (100w and Sprint would be in hot water w/ the FCC, not to mention iDEN base radios haven't been manufactured at any level above 40w since 1999 or so). You never want to crank a site up that high anyways, since you're going for what's called a "balanced path" so the tower can actually hear the phones that are locked on it (remember, the phone is only transmitting w/ 0.6w max).

The site BARELY reaches gate road and sketchy at best up to the greeters station (gate road is well over 2 miles this year). By the time you reach the city perimeter the phones are pretty much useless. By the time you're in the city, walking around in lazy circles (try getting drunk first, it's more fun), and you MIGHT get the phone to connect, and one bar of signal if you sacrifice a small animal. Good luck trying to hold a call or actually have an intelligible conversation.

Those of you who think you're sitting pretty with your old analog bag-phones and a nice high-gain yagi, the party's pretty much over starting in 2008 with that gear. The FCC just gave the go-ahead for all carriers still supporting analog service to start ripping it all out. Sorry.

Cells on wheels (affectionately referred to as COW's in the industry) require at the very least a T1 backhaul either via copper or microwave. There isn't that much bandwidth coming into the region to support probably even one site at low-capacity. A fully loaded iDEN cell could probably support some combination of up to (approximately) 120 conversations fully loaded with a single T1. Since that would be with 3 sectors at the site (if it's even configured that way), only 1 would be pointed in the direction of Gerlach, providing effectively around 40-45 conversations maximum (have to put aside a few timeslots for control data, etc, which precludes a conversation from happening on those slots).

CDMA sites (if Sprint had put one up there, which I'm not sure if they have) can support up to 1000 calls or more per site (though many aren't configured / loaded up that much in most areas). Of course that depends on configuration and # of T1 lines attached. 1900MHz range is much worse than 800MHz (where iDEN operates), so even if they did, it wouldn't make it to the event site.

Now... for those that are dying for a different kind of 2-way radio service on the playa (since FRS and GMRS are FUCKING USELESS most of the time with 10,000 of the 40,000+ users trying to squeeze on to 14 half-watt channels, or a whopping 2w on the 8 GMRS channels), there is a solution. IF you have one of the newer iDEN phones that does "direct-talk" (yes, this is not the same as the "direct-connect" function), you've got a built-in 2-way radio that doesn't require a license, and virtually nobody is using. 10 virtual channels and 15 codes on the service, and it'll work with any other iDEN phone that's in direct-talk mode and matched up with the channel number and code. They'll practically cover the entire event site, and they do not need to have any coverage from the network to operate.

Sprint/Nextel iDEN phones that have this feature...

* Motorola i930
* Motorola i870
* i850
* i760
* i560
* i502
* i455
* i355
* i275

For those that are interested, it's using the 900MHz ISM protocol (think it's spread-spectrum).

Good luck!
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Postby bigbluedoggy » Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:26 am

wow... my brain hurts
Don't go complicating my reality with facts.

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Postby hsdavis » Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:13 pm

Grogling is correct with all the information---including the radius of the service in the area. There is talk of a tower north of the playa, but so far that i just talk. There is a mountain in between the Nextel tower and the playa. If anyone has the ability to move a mountain, please speak now. If you have a Nextel phone, it will work perfectly in Gerlach. This would be better than waiting to use one of the very few payphones in town.

This is good news to me, since my office and my wife will not be able to get ahold of me while I am resting and relaxing on the playa. I am starting to feel a little green.
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Postby frenchblue1 » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:18 am

So if I have 2 cans and a string will I have better luck if one of those cans was refried beans? need a little technical help...
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Postby hsdavis » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:49 am

The refried beans should allow you to communicate in some sort of primative form of morse code. My guess is that people around you would prefer that this communication be "long distance"!
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Postby frankh » Thu Aug 16, 2007 10:00 am

Well being a newbie I have heard that the only way to talk to the outside world was a Sat phone witch could be found on the playa. It seem it was acceptable. But now that cell phones have arrived it is a big deal. So what is the difference.

seems to me you are saying if you can afford the big cost of a sat phone it is all good, but if you make it affordable then all hell will break out.
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Postby frenchblue1 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:13 pm

Some of our crew just arrived at the Playa to help set-up and they are not getting any signal anywhere. The past 3 years I have sprung for a sat phone for the week and I've paid about 200-300 depending on the extra minutes but it has been worth it for our group. I won't post their link but it is a good outfit and would be happy to let you know on a PM who we use. They fed ex the phone to you and you start paying when you activate.
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Postby gyre » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:18 am

They say the Sonim is the toughest phone on the planet and dustproof.
I have no tolerance for portable devices that can't be dropped.

http://www.sonimtech.com/
http://www.mobiletopsoft.com/devices/sp ... nduro.html
Image
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Postby unjonharley » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:44 am

gyre wrote:They say the Sonim is the toughest phone on the planet and dustproof.
I have no tolerance for portable devices that can't be dropped.

http://www.sonimtech.com/
http://www.mobiletopsoft.com/devices/sp ... nduro.html
Image


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Postby gyre » Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:55 am

I have to agree with that.

Had a working phone in camp last time and couldn't think of anyone I wanted to talk to, outside of black rock city.
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Postby DragginLady » Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:25 am

I hope that there is NEVER wide spread cell-phone or internet access at BRC. Can't we go a week without it???
If you really need to be found, let your family know where you are.
In 2007, one of my sisters stroked out and was dying.
Because my family knew where I was camping, I was found within 20 minutes of the call being made to BRC. That was amazing luck; I am glad I got out and was with her when she died....
But if I had not been found, the world woulda kept on spinning....
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Cell phones on the playa

Postby corthew » Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:50 pm

If someone is walking along talking with someone who is walking with them you have no problem.

Why is it so different just because the other person is talking through a phone?
In a world full of people you thought you were alone
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Postby gyre » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:24 pm

Makes it too hard to tell who's schizophrenic.
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