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Coast to Coast Cell Service


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#21 Big Iron

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 07:07 PM

On the Capitol Limited cell service between Cumberland, Md. and Pittsburgh, PA in intermittent.  I have Verizon.


Trains Ridden: Broadway Limited (3), Capitol Limited (10), Cardinal (James Whitcomb Riley) (4) , Lake Shore Ltd. (4), Silver Star (5), Night Owl (3), Montrealer (2), Illinois Zephyr (10), Palmetto (2)

#22 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 07:16 PM

On the Zephyr, cell coverage drops completely for about two hours west of Denver, particularly in Glenwood Canyon and the Gore Canyon. In Nevada, coverage is limited to 3G in some places east of Reno.


Trains taken (Amtrak): Coast Starlight (VAN-LAX), San Joaquins (BFD-SAC, BFD-MTZ), Empire Builder (PDX-CHI), Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, California Zephyr, Sunset Limited (LAX-MRC), Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited (NYP-CHI), Capitol Corridor (EMY-SAC), Acela Express (WAS-NYP)

Current Amtrak mileage: 47445 miles


#23 Don Newcomb

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 10:03 AM

One thing I didn't notice in the previous discussion is if you plan to be in coach or a sleeper. In a sleeping car you should have WiFi service, where the connectivity, I believe, comes from Verizon cellular towers. So, depending on which car you are in, you may not need cellular data service. This connectivity is shared with other people in the car, so you may not get the fastest possible service but if you have your own Verizon device, would it be much faster? Interesting question: Assume that each sleeping car has it's own cellular connection, plus all the other Verizon devices (including yours) all hitting some rural tower, as hard as they can, all at the same time. You may just be trying to get a 9th slice out of an 8-slice pie. 

 

In my limited experience, the in-car WiFi is generally not stable or fast enough to support VoIP, much less Skype, Face-Time, etc. 

 

If you can use the on-train WiFi, you may not really need ubiquitous cellular service and might be able to go with a more economical option.  



#24 Lonestar648

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 10:13 AM

I have not found WiFi in the sleepers on the CZ when I traveled this past summer, nor on the CL but that was over a year ago.

 

I do know that the closer you have the cell phone to the window, the better coverage you may get in spotty areas.  The metal of the car limits the signals in and out.  On the CZ holding my phone mid room was zero bars, but up against the window was one -two bars.



#25 Don Newcomb

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 10:25 AM

I have not found WiFi in the sleepers on the CZ when I traveled this past summer, nor on the CL but that was over a year ago.


The CZ is not on the WiFi list but the NER is. I suppose the lack of WiFi on CZ can be chalked up to the fact that so much of it's route runs through really remote areas with poor cellular coverage. The CL runs through relatively well covered area for cellular, so any carrier would probably do. 



#26 cpotisch

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 06:12 PM

Do Verizon. I found it to work VERY reliably when I took the CZ end-to-end in 2016. Just bear in mind that the scenery on the Zephyr is better than ANYTHING the internet can offer you!


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#27 RDT

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 06:26 PM

On the Zephyr, cell coverage drops completely for about two hours west of Denver, particularly in Glenwood Canyon and the Gore Canyon. In Nevada, coverage is limited to 3G in some places east of Reno.


I suspect that these areas are also more likely to offer a visually stellar alternative to Netflix or a FaceTime call back home.

I’m in agreement when it comes to shared WiFi, especially onboard moving trains/planes/buses - contention rate is never going to be on your side... never mind factoring in the potential fragility of moving in and out of cell tower range. I’m very glad to be carrying my own options.

RDT


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#28 RDT

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 06:36 PM

Do Verizon. I found it to work VERY reliably when I took the CZ end-to-end in 2016. Just bear in mind that the scenery on the Zephyr is better than ANYTHING the internet can offer you!


Totally get that. I’m definitely not traveling AMTRAK for speed, price or reliability.

But it’s nice to know I can make the decision to ‘switch off’ myself, rather than at the behest of a crappy cell service.


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#29 cpotisch

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 06:39 PM

 

Do Verizon. I found it to work VERY reliably when I took the CZ end-to-end in 2016. Just bear in mind that the scenery on the Zephyr is better than ANYTHING the internet can offer you!


Totally get that. I’m definitely not traveling AMTRAK for speed, price or reliability.

But it’s nice to know I can make the decision to ‘switch off’ myself, rather than at the behest of a crappy cell service.


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Also very true.  :)


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#30 chakk

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 08:31 PM

The only “guaranteed” service would be via a satellite phone service. But even that will drop at some points, such as the Moffat Tunnel on the CZ route.

I drive every year between California and Colorado in a car with Sirius/XM satellite radio, and I lose signal in tunnels and deep canyons on the route.


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#31 Don Newcomb

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 09:24 PM

I think the idea of getting a Verizon prepaid Jetpack is a good one. I recall they have/had a plan where you paid something like $3/day just on the days you used it. Some T-Mobile customers would use their Verizon Jetpack when they were out of T-Mobile's coverage. The phone would connect via WiFi Calling. I'm not 100% sure they still have that plan but it's worth mentioning.  



#32 Lonestar648

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 12:19 PM

Your best coverage will always be along the Interstates and Urban areas.  One reason for along the interstates is that Long Haul Trucking uses communication systems (PeopleNET, GeoLogic, etc.) that depend on cell coverage.  The truck is tracked 24x7x365, including engine monitoring, state line crossings, and load updates.



#33 KmH

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 03:03 PM

When I drove a long haul truck, tracking and almost all communication with the company was by satellite.

I drove for 2 companies and both used Qualcomm's satellite communication/tracking service.

 

Many times I was delivering or picking up loads well away from interstates or urban areas.

Indeed, I often drove routes well away from interstates or urban areas.

Like Salt Lake City to El Paso.

 https://www.google.c...d31.7618778!3e0


Edited by KmH, 26 February 2018 - 03:04 PM.

California Zephyr • Coast Starlight  • Southwest Chief • Sunset Limited • Texas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr • Capitol Corridor

. . . . Amtrak miles - 23,703, so far.


#34 Lonestar648

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 06:06 PM

Qualcomm is the largest supplier that uses Satellite as primary but also offers a terrestrial option. Other vendors all are primary terrestrial withone having satellite as backup. The terrestrial data speed is a few seconds pressing send to Display on dispatcher screen the cell ops have the data traffic uses an available packet on the cell control channels separate from the normal voice and data channels. Bottom line, there are so many trucking units paying that the cell infrastructure has been built along the primary interstate and rural US highways. Now the loads are generally delivered/picked up in areas away from the highways. With both satellite and terrestrial, the truck is rarely out of communications. For those deliveries in the canyons of NYC terrestrial is the most reliable, but for the loads in the rural areas like the Dakotas, satellite is the most reliable.

Just FYI from the late 1980s until recently I was one of the leading PMs to implement these systems. I started Swift Transportation system when Jerry had less than 500 trucks, working and developing a custom integration and rollout. Later Jerry used me to convert the entire system to Qualcomm when the Motorola system was bought out.

#35 RDT

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 06:51 PM

The only “guaranteed” service would be via a satellite phone service. But even that will drop at some points, such as the Moffat Tunnel on the CZ route.

I drive every year between California and Colorado in a car with Sirius/XM satellite radio, and I lose signal in tunnels and deep canyons on the route.


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I work in news media and we use BGAN terminals through INMARSAT to send audio packages back to the newsroom. They’re compact and robust, if a little temperamental at times, but are regularly used from war zones and holes in the middle of deserts... they also cost $15 per minute.

I know we looked at other systems recently that use geostationary birds, but they don’t have the same pole to pole coverage of low orbit constellations. You also have to book in advance... not always possible .

Anyhow, funnily enough, this is something I’m looking to use too - satellite radio. I picked up an XM Inno on my last trip for $40.

From my geek research, all of SiriusXM’s satellites (including the old Sirius backups), now remain fixed in position (no elliptical orbits from the days gone buy). As a result they’re a little higher above the horizon than they were. As you suggest though, that’s still no competition for canyon walls and tunnels.

I’m hoping to secure a south facing roomette (as far as possible), to listen in.

I’m guessing getting a room on the left side of the train (CL and CZ), facing the direction of travel, will afford the best chance. The Inno has a handy portable antenna, that would fit beautifully in front of that stunning picture window.

RDT


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#36 cpotisch

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 03:13 PM

From my geek research, all of SiriusXM’s satellites (including the old Sirius backups), now remain fixed in position (no elliptical orbits from the days gone buy). As a result they’re a little higher above the horizon than they were. As you suggest though, that’s still no competition for canyon walls and tunnels.

You're referring to geostationary orbit, correct? Those are not fixed in position, but rather orbit the earth at a speed such that it stays above one spot on the ground. Thus, it appears stationary.


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#37 jis

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 04:14 PM

Something can be fixed in position only relative to something else. There is really no absolute fixed position. ;) Prof. Einstein appears to have disabused most of the world of that notion of fixed anything :D - except perhaps for the Flat Earthers and their ilk.


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#38 Lonestar648

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 06:28 PM

Geosynchronous Orbit I think is the term I remember.  Now each of these satellites do have an assigned orbit location 26.000 miles above the equator.  Each satellite is monitored 24x7 for proper orbit and altitude so nothing runs into another. 



#39 willem

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 08:12 PM

[...] the Flat Earthers and their ilk.

 

"You're very clever, young man, but it's turtles all the way down."


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#40 JRR

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 06:45 AM

[...] the Flat Earthers and their ilk.

 
"You're very clever, young man, but it's turtles all the way down."



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