How well do cell phones really work?

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OT for AHR, not for other ng.
How well do cell phones really work?
My niece graduated NYU a couple weeks ago, and standing outside Madison Square Garden, using a cell phone, I could not reach her mother (who had the tickets***), only her voice mail. She was probably inside by then.
But I could reach my niece, who was also inside by then.
Her mother could not reach me, although I later found 4 messages from her from that time period on my voice mail. But she could reach her daughter at the same time.
Her daughter could reach both of us.
How is this possible?
A couple days later, someone called me in the morning in Northern New Jersey and reached me fine. But at 3:30 PM, when I was on the southern end of the NJ Turnpike, or the Delaare or Md Turnpike, he called again and even though I was wearing earbuds, I didn't hear it ring. How is that possible? Even though I read that watching a movie on the NJ turnpike didn't work so well, surely phone call coverage is complete??
***(Finally learned that her mother had left the tickets with a security guard.. If this had been something with a box office, I would have expected her to leave them at the box office, but it didn't occur to me that one could do this with security guards. Especially with all those entrances, but there was really only one entrance for "The Theatre". I think Eva was the one in charge, of about 10^^ or more, at least she was the one who got to walk around, and she actually had them in her hand when the first guard I asked pointed her out. That is, ours were probably the only tickets she was holding. ^^They even did metal checking to get in.) We were supposed to get them the night before, and should have gotten them the night before that, to avoid all this.
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Even though I read that watching a movie | on the NJ turnpike didn't work so well, surely phone call coverage is | complete?? |
It depends on where towers are, and the US is a big country. I have relatives in NH/VT who can't use their cellphones from home. Parts of NJ are rural. In cases I've tried to use my Tracphone in bad spots in VT, which can use any of 3 networks, I think, and it also gets no signal. The phone company maps show lots of gaps in coverage, yet I know they're overstating what they do cover because their maps show coverage in areas where I know there is none. So I'm guessing that they fudge it by doing something like marking an area covered if there's some coverage with, say, 20 miles.
I think that people living on their phones is mainly an urban phenomenon.
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Not all that well - even in urban areas! And considering some versions of the i phone the metal frame around the edge IS the antenna, you have to hold it just so in order to avoid accidentally dropping calls.
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On Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 8:19:43 AM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Anecdotal: some cheap LG phones have better antennas than iPhone and Samsung smartass cells. *L*
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Also when signal is marginal moving around few feet this or that way makes difference. When I m out at our cabin I can call home at one spot in the living room. That is sweet spot.
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On 6/4/2015 8:56 AM, Mayayana wrote:

My cell phone, also a Tracfone, won't connect from where I'm sitting in northern DE even though there is a cell phone tower only a mile away. Problem is hill between me and the tower. If I walk outside, less than 50 ft from the house, the phone works. Same with TV and radio signals.
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Mayayana wrote:

You might be surprised. Farmers use theirs quite a bit. They can order supplies, check the weather and markets etc.
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On Thu, 04 Jun 2015 21:20:19 -0500, Dean Hoffman

But walking into light poles is an urban phenomenon. Farmers walk into trees.
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Not likely in my part of the U.S. They might drive their tractors into something if they're busy yapping or playing games on the cellular device if the auto steering fails or they fall asleep. The GPS on row crop tractors is accurate to within one inch. A bit here from John Deere. http://tinyurl.com/pxp6bo3
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On 06/05/2015 06:08 PM, Dean Hoffman wrote:

Why do the tractors need a driver? One of the more boring things I've ever done was drive a tractor. Of course it was an elderly Minneapolis Moline without air conditioning and the entertainment center the new ones have.
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Farmers say the GPS sometimes fails when they get over a certain hill or to a certain spot in their fields. They have to turn the tractors around at the ends of the fields and operate the equipment when they do. Someone has to keep an eye on the planter or fertilizer monitors also. Then there's refilling the sprayer tanks, the planters with seed etc. at planting time. I've meant to ask someone if the tractors have dead man's switches but haven't thought about it at the right time. It's been maybe a dozen years or so since I've even climbed into a tractor. The familiar levers for the hydraulics had been replaced by rocker switches even then. There's one nearby farmer who still uses a Minnie tractor. A few of the irrigation wells are still powered by Minnie power units. Those things must be close to fifty years old.
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On 06/06/2015 05:05 AM, Dean Hoffman wrote:

Must be. White bought them in the '60s and dropped the brand name in the early '70s. M-M had the first enclosed cab in the business on the DeLuxe model, but the one I spent time on wasn't deluxe in any way, shape, or form.
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| > I think that people living on their phones is mainly | > an urban phenomenon. | > | > | You might be surprised. Farmers use theirs quite a bit. | They can order supplies, check the weather and markets etc.
IF they can get a signal. As I pointed out, many can't get a signal at their home.
Actually, though, you raise an interesting point. I've noticed that cellphone addicts often don't really seem to notice how bad the service is. It's often difficult to understand what they're saying due to gaps or static. One would think that at home they'd use the superior technology of a landline phone, rather than subject friends and family to 1950s-quality phone communication. But they seem to just be out of the habit of using regular phones.
Lase week I was on the Boston subway when a young man approached and asked to borrow my cellphone. He was very anxious. His iPhone battery had died and he needed to call his father to get picked up at the station. I told him sorry, but I don't use a cellphone. He repeated his story and then slowly wandered away. He seemed to think I was suspicious of him, never considering that maybe I meant exactly what I said -- that I didn't have a cellphone.
I thought of offering the young man that I could call his father as soon as I walked home from the station, but I decided that by that point he probably thought I was unfriendly at best and an anti-social weirdo without a cellphone at worst, so maybe it was best to leave him to his own devices.... or lack thereof. :)
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wrote:

I just called his father. He's home already and that's exactly what he thought of you. He said he saw you looking at him atterwards and he reached for the knife in his pocket, to have it in his hand, in his pocket, just in case.     
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On Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 8:03:22 AM UTC-4, micky wrote:

M > mother no mother > M no M > daughter yes daughter > M, mother yes
The only part there that would raise any question would appear to be the daughter being able to reach the mother, while you can't. Why the daughter would be trying to reach the daughter who it sounds like is standing right next to her, IDK. But I would think the most logical explanation is that connections, especially inside buildings, are highly variable. If the phones moved even a few feet during the trial, which it sounds like they could, then reception can change and the phone may no longer be able to contact a cell site.

It's not that unusual. And it depends very much on the carrier. In NJ, Verizon has better coverage than Sprint or ATT, for example. The major highways do have excellent coverage, but it's not perfect and the southern NJ part of the turnpike is in less populated areas too.
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On Thu, 4 Jun 2015 06:25:13 -0700 (PDT), trader_4

No, the daughter was on the stage, waiting I think for the curtain to open. The mother was in the audience. (OT The college graduating class is about 1000, so big it had to be split into morning and afternoon groups. Of the 500 people graduating that morning, only 40 got to sit on the stage! Did I mention she was Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude? and she has a job and an apartment.)

But it's not like the phones are talking directly to each other. All three connect to their cell company's cell tower, and from there (I think) to the regular phone system, and from there to the cell company of the recipient and then to a tower to each cell phone.
If my phone can reach my cell company, and the mother's phone can reach hers when we place calls, or receive them from the daughter, why would it matter from whom we are receiving the call. It made it to the cell company or there would be nothing on voice mail. The mother probably never moved from her chair, and I barely moved while looking for her.
She called me 5 times (or maybe 4) and I called her 3, I think, and we got none of them, only voice mail. The next time I get voice mail for anyone, even if there is no one in the role of daughter, should I call a third party who might be anywhere and have him call my 2nd party, on the theory that whether the phone rings is dependent on who is calling? Should everyone do that?

With all the big shots driving on that road, from NY to DC, it surprises me that there would be an empty space. I have ATT. OTOH, maybe they like it because if they don't want to answer the phone they can claim they were in a dead spot.
Missing this one call would not have been noteworthy were it not for the preceding potential fiasco on graduation morning.
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On Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 8:55:13 AM UTC-5, micky wrote:

I think the only time "regular phone system" comes into play...is when you place a landline call to a cell. Otherwise, tower to computer system to tower...but don't quote me!
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On Thu, 4 Jun 2015 07:10:26 -0700 (PDT), bob_villa

That would make sense, but then what would all the switchboard operators do?
Also, and you didn't say otherwise, it doesn't change the basic question. If I can call in and out and the mother can call in and out, why can't we call each other?
(I'm quoting you anyhow, so there.)
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On Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 9:33:02 AM UTC-5, micky wrote:

...and how are we to take you seriously on *any* of your questions?
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wrote:

Venues like Madison Square Garden can go through periods of hardly anyone using a cell phone followed by periods with hundreds or even thousands of calls. Cell sites and interconnecting system can and do get overloaded. All sorts of strange things can happen including calls just being dumped or sent to voicemail for no reason apparent to the user. I can imagine 90% of those graduating students texting, calling relatives, and calling each other before during and after the ceremony.
Pat
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