3G Signal Strength means nothing sometimes

Submitted: Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 13:17
ThreadID: 100957 Views:2209 Replies:13 FollowUps:7
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Recently camped within couple of Ks of a tower - we were at the Nannup Music Festival.
The small country town was crowded with visitors for a 3 day weekend.
Had 4 bars on a Telstra 3G mobile phone and the computer’s mobile broadband – lots of drop outs and often no connection - it wasn’t just our phone and computer but people in nearby caravans too.
I assume that the town’s system was overloaded and that affected the data transmission, even though the signal strength was good.
Are there any telecommunication technicians that can confirm my assumption?
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Reply By: member - mazcan - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 13:24

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 13:24
hi dennis
not a techo
but
same thing was experienced 2 years ago when i was there for the music festival
i think your assumptions are probable right
too many poeple at once overloads the small tower equipmt
i also had good signal strength but constant dropouts with my nextg phone
cheers
AnswerID: 506336

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 13:46

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 13:46
Thanks Mazcan - confirms my suspisions
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Reply By: milkieboy - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 14:11

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 14:11
Like you noticed you can have a strong signal and insufficient bandwidth. Good analogy is a water down pipe, you can have great connections and nothing wrong with the pipe but there is a physical limit to how much water it can carry before your gutters start to overflow :-)

A good trick I find is turn off 3G and only use 2G. There arent as many users left on 2G and depending on where you are and your mobile carrier (Frequency) you can usually get some data and voice calls out with more luck. This is what I do at the Clipsal 500 as the 3G system cant cope on race day.

Ian
AnswerID: 506341

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 18:46

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 18:46
I was at the Clipsal 500 last weekend and although a little slow at times, data transmission (sms, voicemail, etc.) was still occuring.
I only use 3.5G (Telstra)

Voice calls didn't appear to be affected at all.



Bill


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Reply By: Ian & Sue - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 15:27

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 15:27
We cancelled our landline as we were spending money on a service we weren't using due to travelling in our van or working away from home for extended periods. Anyway, no landline equals no phone on broadband other than our mobile and 4G mobile broadband. Our home is located in Geraldton and one would have thought that we would be fine using the equipment we have after all when we are in Karratha we have no problems even when we go out to Cleaverville. Not so. Our mobile and broadband don't work on most evenings even though we have full bars showing. We ventured into town centre to try our 4G broadband there and no luck under the tower - told by Telstra being under a tower isn't an indication of service you actually have to be between a couple of towers. Another more helpful local tech told us that it was pointless us buying an expensive antenna if we looked at a setting in our phone which tells us the actual signal and if that number is greater than I think 94 then an antenna isn't going to help. Someone else with more tech expertise than I will be able to fill you all in on the number sequence you dial to get the info or with IPhone the way you can read it but is useful when trying to decided what is going on.

So here we are paying out big bucks for a service that doesn't work for half the time. Hmmm.... time to take off in the caravan again, usually works there and I don't get stressed chatting to Telstra!

Sorry for the long ramble -

Sue
AnswerID: 506345

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 15:42

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 15:42
Hi Sue thanks for info.
“So here we are paying out big bucks for a service that doesn't work for half the time”
But in most cases its way in front of the other providers.
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Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 10:14

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 10:14
The number you dial to show the numeric signal strength is *3001#12345#*
Bob
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Reply By: Member - LeighW - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 16:26

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 16:26
Two things,

You maybe getting good signal strength but might not be your carrier.

Second thing is cells allocate available free modulation headroom to data calls. What this means is as voice calls increase priority is given to the voice traffic and the cell will start shedding data calls.

Bottom line is too much traffic for the cell to handle. Cells are generally configured in a triangular pattern with the calls generally handled by the nearest cell, if the cell can't handle the traffic load it should hand you off to the next available cell but sometimes they have problems doing this, therefore you might try using a directional antenna (yaggi) if you can and try pointing it different ways to locate a different cell with less traffic on it for better performance, down side to this is if the traffic on that cell increases it won't be able to hand your call off to another cell and again you will get a call dropout.

Cheers
Leigh

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AnswerID: 506349

Reply By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 19:39

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 19:39
Hi Dennis

Experienced a similar problem some years ago on a Telstra phone - at the footy. Eagles hung on for a win and the moment the siren went, seems everyone went for the phone - calls or messaging - resulting in 'no signal' for many (Subiaco Oval) - sheer weight of numbers at times seems to leave a few of us 'out of the loop' - just have to have another crack at it until you snag an opening.

Cheers - Phil
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AnswerID: 506358

Reply By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 05:55

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 05:55
According to my resident guru, not only do the cells shed data traffic in high traffic situations, but the physical size of the cell shrinks. Apparently the physical size of the cell is set digitally not by the physical range of the Radio Frequency. The cell shrinks when usage is very high. Transceivers (phones etc) outside the set distance limit will lose their connection. So you may see lots of bars but not get or maintain a connection.
AnswerID: 506377

Reply By: patsproule - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 06:25

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 06:25
This happens pretty much every afternoon here in Wagga Wagga around 3pm to 4.30pm. Not a complete dropout, but a big slowdown. Why? School's out - kids texting, Facebooking etc...... And investment in 4G is a joke, around here anyway. There is one 4G cell to cover 70,000 people and it's range is limited to a few blocks from the pub roof it is mounted on (Romanoes).

Pat
AnswerID: 506378

Reply By: Priscilla G - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 09:00

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 09:00
What a wealth of knowledge you people are.I have been trying to get an explanation for years as to why my laptop with full bars & the modem with medium strength, will not work from after lunch till about 9.30pm.Have had people from all different areas of expertise & not one has explained why .I have a Yargi as we are a long way from a tower .Helped a bit.
AnswerID: 506381

Reply By: Echucan Bob - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 10:29

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 10:29
We have 4G in town which is excellent. On big tourist weekends traffic overloads the mobile network. We live 7 km out of town and only get flaky 3G. Signal strength as I write is -105 dB. Thats with Telstra. The other providers don't make it this far at all. On our landline we have ADSL which is marginal because of the distance from the nearest exchange. More people in our street want it than there are available connections. Our town can look forward to NBN coverage in ten years time, although at the present rate of roll out, I may be receiving it posthumously. Because of NBN, we are not getting the upgrades to the copper network or wireless that might give us decent phone and internet.
AnswerID: 506383

Reply By: get outmore - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 16:37

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 16:37
ok yes your correct next g has become a victim of its own success. believe it ot not the city is the worst place for it

everyone has smart phones now and many places in the city have overloaded towers

if theres any sort of gathering of plenty of people next g collapses straightaway now
AnswerID: 506418

Reply By: get outmore - Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 16:40

Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 at 16:40
another issue in the city is the towers are extremely de tuned compared to country towers

places like whitman park have patchy reception despite being a mere fewks from the nearest tower

i live under 3 km from my nearest tower and have significant reception and mobile internet issues
AnswerID: 506419

Reply By: Mark - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 21:49

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 21:49
Happens a lot in areas with high number of users such as train stations. The backhaul gets congested and some cell sites still use E1's (twisted pairs) for backhaul and each E1 is only 2Mbit/sec.
STM-1's (fiber) are better and provide 155Mbit/sec but fiber is not available everywhere.
AnswerID: 506805

Follow Up By: Mark - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 21:52

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 21:52
At a concert its most likely a portable cell that uses radio links as backhaul so that would become the bottleneck in this case.
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Follow Up By: Mark - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 21:56

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 21:56
At a concert its most likely a portable cell that uses radio links as backhaul so that would become the bottleneck in this case.
These are knowns as COW's in the industry (cell on wheels)
Some now use satellite for backhaul http://exchange.telstra.com.au/2010/03/22/satellite-cell-on-wheels-or-as-we-like-to-call-it-our-satcow/
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 22:00

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 22:00
Thanks for that Mark.
Its all very technical - a bit over my head
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Reply By: get outmore - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 22:50

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 22:50
might be a technical issue behind it but basically a concentrated number of people maxes out the tower. its made worse by modern smart phones most people have constantly being on the internet doing things like updating incoming emails etc

2 examples have had recently has been skyshow and more recently chilli festival

hard to make calls and impossible to get on the net

at subi during a full house for the footy is another
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