New theory on antenna issue: It's the towers?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Vertigo50, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. Vertigo50 macrumors 65816

    Vertigo50

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    #1
    Okay, so I know a lot of people are saying they have not had the problem at all, and others are saying they ALWAYS have it. I had thought the people who never have it might have gotten a phone that isn't affected for whatever reason. Some people have guessed it is based on signal issues, but one person tried it directly under a cell tower and still had it happen.

    So I have a new theory: I think the problem is definitely the phone, but it also has to do with the TOWERS. I think some towers respond okay to the phone, or compensate, while others don't. I'm not saying the phone isn't doing something weird, just that certain towers cause a loss of signal and others don't. Here is why I think so....

    I have about 4 to 5 bars in my home office. I can make the phone go to 1 or 0 bars EVERY TIME I bridge the two antennas, even barely touching it with one finger.

    BUT, I just went to a busier part of town tonight and tried it, and no matter how much I gripped it or touched it, I could not get it to go lower than 5 bars.

    Obviously, the signal is stronger in this area, but as I said, someone had tried this standing directly under a tower, and was still able to do it. I think that if I found the tower near my house, I could probably get it to lose signal, but no matter what I do, I can not get it to lose signal in the busy part of town.

    It could even have something to do with towers that overlap? Maybe it is able to switch to another tower and not lose signal?

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. Eric-PTEK macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    #2
    I spoke at length with AT&T today. My tower, about 900ft from the house has 2 3G "pods" she called it with a 3rd to be added on August 12th.

    I get great reception, nearly every drop call is on full bars.

    The thing is this, the calls just drop or go silent, there is no break up, fading, none of it, it just stops.
     
  3. iPhoneHome macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    #3
    It's definitely the towers. I can easily replicate dropped bars in my apartment but at work it is ABSOLUTELY impossible. This led me to come to the same conclusion as you.
     
  4. utcarsons macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2010
    #4
    Turned off my 3G and my reception issue stopped. I also had alot of fluctuation in signal strength/bars as well as the death grip phenomena.
     
  5. Eric-PTEK macrumors 6502

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    Mar 3, 2009
    #5
    Part of my next phone call to AT&T will to be to send me a microcell and discount the amount off my phone.
     
  6. AshStorm macrumors member

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    Apr 16, 2010
  7. zoman504 macrumors regular

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    May 10, 2010
    #7
    This, exactly, has been my biggest issue with the phone. I don't care about the bars dropping, it's that I'll drop calls (a lot of calls) while having 3-5 bars and good reception.
     
  8. Vertigo50 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Vertigo50

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    #8
    Just to be clear, I am NOT blaming AT&T.

    Do you all remember in the keynote or somewhere, they were talking about how they rewrote the baseband or the software to use a different method of choosing a signal? Something like it would choose the signal with the least interference instead of the strongest?

    I am starting to think that what is happening is when you bridge the antennas, it triggers some kind of "switching" in the phone or something. This obviously shouldn't happen, and is a flaw with the phone or the software.

    But what I'm speculating is that maybe some towers are able to compensate for this, or their signal is strong enough to overcome it, while others are not.

    In other words, I think it's a flaw in the hardware or software of the phone, but that maybe the tower you're connected to makes a difference too, which is why some users are having the problem and others aren't.
     
  9. i-John macrumors 6502a

    i-John

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    Jul 14, 2008
    Location:
    The Republic of Texas
    #9
    The reason you won't find it anywhere is pure strength of signal. Attenuation occurs when that part of the antenna is covered. Attenuation is sort of if you put on sunglasses, the sunlight is attenuated because of that.

    If there are plenty of towers and they can handle the attenuation caused by your hand over the antenna, you'll probably be fine. There are also other mitigating factors like what type of structure you're in etc.
     
  10. Vertigo50 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Vertigo50

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    Apr 11, 2007
    #10
    I would agree with that, except that one guy tried it standing directly under a tower, and still had it happen. How do you explain that? A tower designed to cover blocks and blocks doesn't have enough signal to go through your hand?

    In fact, if a cell signal can get through walls and other obstructions, attenuation of my hand shouldn't be enough to lose significant signal. I don't think that explanation holds water. If your hand was capable of blocking signals, cell phones would never have caught on.
     
  11. muteki99 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    #11
    1 - there are 2 GSM frequency bands used by AT&T for their network. 850 band and 1900 band. What is being used varies by location. Those living where 850 is more prevalent will be easier to duplicate the issue because the lower frequency band is more susceptible to issues such as these as opposed to the higher frequency band.

    2 - Don't expect performance to be inversely proportional to the distance to the tower. All towers have a "null" area immediately below and surrounding them. So standing next to a tower and saying you get no/lower signal makes sense. This is compensated with overlap when the propagation study is done.
     
  12. Dammit Cubs macrumors 68000

    Dammit Cubs

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    Jul 31, 2007
    #12
    News team assemble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  13. Vertigo50 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Vertigo50

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    Apr 11, 2007
    #13
    Fair enough. I did just read an article that stated towers have poor signal above and below them, so that could be an issue.

    Your point in number 1 might give some credence to what I am speculating here, though. The towers near my house are probably older, while the others in town are probably newer, and maybe running on 1900 band.
     
  14. Metal Dice macrumors regular

    Metal Dice

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    Location:
    Denmark
    #14
    Exactly!
     
  15. Eric-PTEK macrumors 6502

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    Mar 3, 2009
    #15
    Careful...a thread filled with facts and common sense has no place where emotional responses to everything run high :D

    Is there anyway to verify if your in the 850/1900 band?

    My tower was Edge only when I first got my 3G, about 3 months after they put in 3G so I'd assume it was 1900?

    That would have been 3 years ago?
     
  16. Dr Kevorkian94 macrumors 68020

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    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    SI, NY
    #16
    its your location in relation to the towers combined with the strength and so on yada yada yada
     
  17. jkozlow3 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    #17
    Long story short, my buddy got his iP4 yesterday and neither of us could recreate the loss of signal/dropped call problem after multiple attempts in his townhouse (5 bars the entire time).

    At his office today (50+ miles away), he tells me that he had no problem recreating the issue several times and that he didn't have to grip the phone hard at all - just a light touch to the magic spot.

    So I agree that it seems that those who think they don't have the problem are probably just not testing it on the right combination of signal strength, tower frequency, etc (whatever that combination is).

    That's unfortunate, as my buddy was pretty excited yesterday thinking that he got a "good one".
     
  18. Dr Kevorkian94 macrumors 68020

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    SI, NY
    #18
    exactly
     
  19. Jongewehr macrumors 6502

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    May 1, 2009
    #19
    could be the software, not being able to switch signals to the specific tower
     
  20. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

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    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #20
    This is nonsense!

    It's a very basic scientific fact that HIGHER frequency signals are more easily disrupted, be that by distance or obstacles. That's why AT&T is rolling out 3G on 850MHz (like they just did in New York) to help improve their coverage.

    I have experienced this issue on 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz here in the UK.

    Frequency isn't the cause of this issue, nor is it AT&T.
     
  21. muteki99 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    #21
    If the field test mode wasn't disabled in the iOS 4, determining which band you are on would be easy. I would suggest having a friend with a phone from a different manufacturer with a known test mode that works (on the same network, obviously) and try it out in your general vicinity.
     
  22. muteki99 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    #22
    I am not implying that operating on one frequency will get rid of the issue completely, or that operating on another will cause the issue to occur 100% of the time. Nor am I implying that the issue is do to "distance" or "obstacles". It has to more to do with the close proximity of the separate antennas and the fact that your body can establish contact with both simultaneously.

    You should be able to duplicate this across the board, but to what degree depends not only on operating frequency but environmental factors as well. This is all based around looking at the bars as well, which is a less than scientific approach, as their specific functionality is unknown.
     
  23. Vertigo50 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Vertigo50

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    Apr 11, 2007
    #23
    You might tone it down a bit. Unless you are an expert in this field, you shouldn't be speaking as if you are an expert.

    Having said that, what most of us are debating is more about the phone and tower's ability to switch or adapt to problems in frequency, not so much the frequency itself, nor the ease with which they are disrupted.
     
  24. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

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    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #24
    You don't need to be an expert (which I would consider myself to be to some extent) to realise this, it's a basic physics concept.
     
  25. Steviejobz macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    SoCal
    #25
    I am in Manhattan and neither me nor any friends/colleagues are able to replicate the issue. I believe NYC is in the 850 band.
     

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