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Reality check: LTE range and speed in rural central IL
restlessbee
Member

Hi there,

I am currently an out-of-contract AT&T customer, planning to switch providers when the new iPhones become available. I live in Chicago, but spend a lot of time in rural central Illinois--outside a town called Shirley, a few miles south of Bloomington-Normal. The DSL connection there is sub-horrible, barely a step up from dial-up; average download speeds are 0.9 Mbps, and upload, 0.1. I'm a web designer and developer, and need to be able to work down there, and there are times when those speeds make it impossible.

So, in shopping for a new provider, my primary criterion is 4G/LTE availability at this location, so I can tether to my iPhone and do my work. http://opensignal.com/ shows the nearest Verizon tower as being a little less than 5 miles away as the crow flies; both a Verizon sales rep and a Verizon tech confirmed this today. There don't seem to be any other towers in close enough range that I'd benefit from any mesh effect. This being central Illinois, the terrain is extremely flat all around--a plus. However, it's also extremely windy, and most houses of a certain age have substantial windbreaks--groves of tall trees--surrounding them. And guess where the windbreak is relative to the tower?

overhead.png

Not so good. Some of these trees are quite substantial--I'm bad at guessing heights, but maybe 50, 60 feet?

Leaving the trees out of the equation for a minute, because I didn't mention them to the people I spoke with--I was told that, even 5 miles away, even if my phone only had one bar, I could still expect 5 Mbps – 12 Mbps down (this is coming from a tech support person, not a sales rep, FWIW). From what I've read about LTE range, this seems like cloud-cuckoo land talk to me--I'm not really buying it. That said, I'd be ecstatic, and more than capable of doing my work, if I got, say, 3 Mbps down.

But back to those trees... between the substantial obstacle they represent directly between me and the signal, and the overall distance, should I give up on my beautiful dream of being able to achieve download speeds that don't begin with a 0 and a decimal point?

Any thoughts or personal experiences from folks in similar situations would be hugely welcome! Baseless speculation is OK too. Smiley Happy

Erik

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Re: Reality check: LTE range and speed in rural central IL
Ann154
Super User
Super User

If the signal is faster and better in the winter then the trees do contribute to the signal issues.

I'm most definitely NOT a VZW employee. If a post answered your question, please mark it as the answer.

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Re: Reality check: LTE range and speed in rural central IL
B33
Sr. Leader

The Bar Strength on the main screen is for the CDMA part of the phone it tells you how much you have when Making Calls, When you see the 4G indicator for Android or the LTE for the iPhone it is active and is pulling in the Data on a Android phone if you can Go to About phone tap on it Find Status >> then Network Type & Strength it will show what your status is for both as for iPhone's since i'v never owned one I can't tell you were to Look for current status except for what it shows on the Home screen..

And if your Signal is Really Low at your Farm you could try a Network extender and it might pull it in enough to bring you up to full strength. but getting the phone and doing some testing by walking the property on the outer core is all you can do to see how it will react to were your Located..  Good Luck & Welcome to the Forum Smiley Happy  b33

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Re: Reality check: LTE range and speed in rural central IL
restlessbee
Member

B33: Thanks for all the good info! I had always assumed the number of bars and the potential data throughput had a linear relationship; thanks for setting me straight. And thanks for the Android status tip--unfortunately, neither me not my girlfriend (resident of the country home) have Android phones. Well, I have an unlocked one that I use exclusively in Wi-Fi mode for testing the sites I build, but I assume that won't get me very far.

So, yeah--I might just need to take the plunge and reconnoiter the property with my new Verizon phone once I get it, if I get it. I just need to read the fine print about the circumstances under which I can get out of the contract during that initial two week period they grant you.

Cheers!

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Re: Reality check: LTE range and speed in rural central IL
restlessbee
Member

Hi Ann154,

Indeed. I'm on AT&T right now, but can speak from personal experience on this issue--I live on a second floor apartment, typical long and narrow Chicago flat, and when the giant tree directly out my front window leafs out in the spring, my service goes from deplorable to unusable.

Unfortunately, this is kind of an urgent issue and I'd rather not wait till winter. And my girlfriend, for some reason, is against my using Agent Orange to defoliate the trees prematurely.

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