Communication while on tour - cell phone, e-mail, etc.

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Frank Krygowski, Mar 27, 2003.

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  1. So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!

    I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better than
    anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?

    And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    taking along? How does all that work?

    Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    not appeal to me. Any advice?

    --
    Frank Krygowski [email protected]
     
    Tags:


  2. It seems your first order of business would be to go to a 'cell phone carrier' like ATT and tell
    them what you want and see how much they charge. Also see Verizon, Sprint and others. Make sure they
    cover the areas you plan on being in.

    It can be a little confusing until you get comfortable. By asking the same questions of different
    vendors, you can do comparisons.

    When you start getting into mobile e-mail service, the bucks start to grow.

    "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?
    >
    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    > not appeal to me. Any advice?
    >
    > --
    > Frank Krygowski [email protected]
     
  3. In rec.bicycles.misc Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote:
    : I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    : than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?

    a lot of the providers have plans with nationwide coverage, included long- distance and no roaming
    fees (i use voicestream, but at&t and sprint pcs as well).

    : And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    : stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    : taking along? How does all that work?

    $$$. SMS or text-messaging may do it. there's definitely an email to SMS gateway but i'm not
    sure about the other way (from your phone to an email address). if you have friend with SMS tho,
    there ya go.

    : Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    : not appeal to me. Any advice?

    i had my phone while touring last summer and found it .. sometimes useful. mine was pretty damn
    small (an ericcson t28), had it been bigger i would have pitched it. the converage was better than i
    expected (i mean it didn't work in the middle of south dakota or wyoming but it did in a lot of
    other rural areas of larger states. if you have a dual-band phone (analog and digital) you may have
    more luck with analog service (you'll have to pay roaming -- roaming on my provider is included only
    when digital -- but you may not care in an emergency).

    i sure saved on long distance, tho. and the voicemail was a lifesaver for getting a hold of people
    up the road.

    i nearly always had the phone off. when i left it on it kept ringing. besides it saved on the charge
    and since i camped a bit i wasn't always able to get a charge. get a phone with a good battery.

    and turn it off. i didn't learn to love my cell until i realized that you do that.
    --
    david reuteler [email protected]
     
  4. Gary German

    Gary German Guest

    "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?
    >
    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    > not appeal to me. Any advice?
    >
    > --
    > Frank Krygowski [email protected]

    Long distance charges can be pretty steep on most cell phone plans, even when you're not paying
    roaming charges.

    One way to circumvent the long distance charges is to purchase a cheap prepaid phone card. I've
    found some for less than 5 cents per minute. To place a long distance call from your cell phone you
    call the toll-free 800 number that's on your phone card, enter your phone card's PIN, then the
    number you want to call. The phone card can also be used from pay phones, hotels, etc.

    The only downside is that most pre-paid cards "expire" after a period of time (usually 12 months),
    so it's "use it or lose it".

    GG
     
  5. Dan Gillette

    Dan Gillette Guest

    If you have a Windows CE or Palm handheld, you can probably get a modem for
    it. A few years ago I did the ride from Canada to California with an HP PDA with a built in modem.
    Most of the state parks down the coast had a modem line available free for use if dialing a
    local or 800 number, which my ISP had. Now, due to a business need, I have a cellphone and a
    modem card to connect my PDA to my cellphone, which would be the easiest way to go, but the
    cards to make the connection to the phone cost around $100, which may not be worth it just for a
    tour. Also, this setup only works when there is digital phone service and its pretty slow (it
    could be faster, but that costs more -- right now I just dial my ISPs phone number as if I was
    using a normal modem over my standard rate service). I think that these days modem cards for
    PDAs are pretty cheap and would work wherever there is a phone line.

    - Dan

    "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?
    >
    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    > not appeal to me. Any advice?
    >
    > --
    > Frank Krygowski [email protected]
     
  6. Golightly F.

    Golightly F. Guest

    All mobile companies have "national plans" (no roaming no ld). Take a look at T-Mobile. I have a
    national plan and email access to all my pop accounts and IMAP. I have their 1 MEG plan for $2.95 a
    month. From there it goes to $10 and then to $20 a month.

    I seldom use more than 1 meg on the phone. It's nice to be able to check your email from anywhere.
    Sending is a bit slow... as you must type using the phones number pad.

    Before T-Mobile I used ATT. I never had a problem with either in terms of coverage. Note; the
    further away from cities the more likely you are to lose coverage. Hills and mountains don't
    help either.

    hth

    "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]>
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?
     
  7. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...

    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently,
    we've got one
    > cell phone, which somehow seems to offer very spotty
    coverage - as in,
    > no service when we tried to use it just south of Cleveland
    Ohio on the
    > turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans,
    etc. Is there
    > anything markedly better than anything else? How do you
    avoid
    > exorbitant roaming charges?

    For coverage, Verizon are the champs. They have the best peering arrangements with the other
    providers. So if there's any service in the area at all, you'll get it no problem. That's assuming
    you get the right plan. Go for the national one. It's the same price to call anywhere in the US,
    with no roaming charges ever, and both digital and analog service. Many other plans are
    digital-only, which may be useless outside big cities. I travel a lot, and I have yet to find a
    significantly large hole, except behind the occasional mountain. But my friends with other providers
    have many tales of woe.

    Unfortunately, you'll be locked into a year contract when you sign up for the first time. However,
    if you need a cell phone anyway, a national plan lets you use it for all your long distance instead
    of your home phone. This can defray the cost somewhat.

    I don't think Verizon's pre-pay plans are national -- they have roaming charges no matter what. I'm
    also not sure if they're both digital and analog. But the higher cost per minute may still be
    cheaper than being locked into a year contract you don't need or want.

    Also be careful of the phone you get. They vary a lot in their ability to pick up a signal. Those
    little Nokias everyone thinks are so cute really suck, while my crusty old Star Tac seems to pick up
    a signal anywhere.

    > And a related question: It would be nice to have
    occasional e-mail
    > access, too, other than by stopping when we happen across
    a library.
    > Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    taking along?
    > How does all that work?

    A couple of ways. First, some phones are web and email capable, with little built-in browser
    screens. However, this usually costs extra per month. Second, there's text messaging (SMS), which
    you do with your phone's keypad (yuck). It costs 10 cents a message to send or receive. Third, as
    long as you're on a digital circuit, just connect your phone to your laptop or PDA, and it becomes a
    digital modem with 14.4 kb/s speed. It's billed as regular airtime minutes, with no extra charges.
    This is perfect for email. AFAIK, Verizon is the only one who does this.

    If I sound like a Verizon commercial, it isn't the first time. Last time someone told me that, I was
    checking my email while lounging on a sailboat, anchored in a quiet cove in the San Juan Islands. A
    perfect Wired magazine cliche.

    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and
    vacations, so
    > high-budget solutions may not appeal to me. Any advice?

    I don't work for Verizon, they've just worked well for me.

    Matt O.
     
  8. Gary Mishler

    Gary Mishler Guest

    "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?
    >
    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    > not appeal to me. Any advice?
    >
    > --
    > Frank Krygowski [email protected]

    I've the best go of it with Verizon national calling plans - no roaming charges, no long distance
    charges, excellent coverage and fantastic customer service. Get a small tri-band phone (I have the
    Motorola V60i) and you're all set. My phone will send and receive 160 character emails in addition
    to voice mailbox.
     
  9. Matt J

    Matt J Guest

    Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    We recently switched to Verizon from Cingular, and I have to say the coverage is much better. I'd
    sugegst Verizon, and you can get pretty basic e-mail through the SMS (small message service), your
    email is simply the 10-digit number @vtext.com. You can also send email from their phones, but it's
    kind of a bother to type everything. It costs about 10 cents to send a message and 2 to receive, I
    believe. Someone else mentioned a modem for a handheld - that would work nicely, as it's small but
    offers greater typing opportunities. Good luck! Matt

    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    > not appeal to me. Any advice?
     
  10. Karen M.

    Karen M. Guest

    Frank wrote:
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?

    Depending on where the tour is...I would start with checking national carriers' coverage maps
    (available on their websites). For more realism, deduct 10-20% around the perimeters. Different
    carriers focus on different locales. F'instance, here in metro Detroit my ATT phone has excellent
    coverage out past Ann Arbor or north to Flint, but by the time I get to K'zoo I'm ROAMING. If you
    get a couple different carriers you'll increase the chances of service. Someone started an
    entirely new thread about Nextel. The walkie-talkie feature is useful and productive in large
    workgroups in good-coverage areas. However, no towers, no service; I wouldn't bother with it on a
    bike tour. (A couple of years back my company was contracted to them, and they demanded that we
    all have their service. But we were working to get new towers in areas where there were none--did
    this make any sense? Nope. A co-worker and I couldn't talk to each other even in consecutive cars
    at a traffic light. On a site walk I got better results by shouting.) Look at their coverage map,
    full of holes. It's lousy in the area where GOBA went a couple of years ago: nothing southeast of
    Columbus. Also, there are federal regs about coverage "bleeding" across state lines. If you're on
    the Indiana Turnpike, you're likely to have decent service, but if you go north a couple miles
    and hang out near the Michigan line, you may as well shout. If family contact is an issue, nail
    down an itinerary and let your loved ones know that small town police can be a big help in
    relaying messages. (Also, officials at bottlenecks. One year on Shoreline, a family needed to get
    a message to someone driving the tour in an RV. They left a message with the Mackinac Bridge
    Authority, and the tourer received it.) Also consider the pertinent details involved in being
    completely available. Several times I've had to consider whether the business trip I'm on is of
    greater importance than rushing home *after* someone who's "expectant" has gone on to Mister
    Rogers' new neighborhood. Do you really want to know that the cat died, or a thunderstorm hit, or
    someone had a fender-bender?

    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?

    Don't waste your money, carrying capacity, or GVW. Libraries have excellent super-fast
    connections and typically several terminals, even in the kids' section. They also have printers
    in case you need a hard copy of a route look-up. And it's a nice way to meet locals. If you stay
    at private campgrounds, they sometimes have internet cafes set up, as do coffee bars, even in
    small towns. My local paper (www.freep.com) has a technology column with all kinds of enticing
    gee-whiz reviews about wireless technology. But consider batteries (and charging them), rain,
    dust and dirt, and sharing among users. Yeah, it seems like it'd be cool to spend a rainy day
    lying in a tent surfing the web, but wouldn't you rather be riding than trying to type posts to
    r.b.m. on a tiny keyboard while your pards time your session? HTH --Karen M.
     
  11. Dane Jackson

    Dane Jackson Guest

    In rec.bicycles.misc Matt J <[email protected]> wrote:
    > Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    >> So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    >> seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    >> Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    > We recently switched to Verizon from Cingular, and I have to say the coverage is much better. I'd
    > sugegst Verizon, and you can get pretty basic e-mail through the SMS (small message service), your
    > email is simply the 10-digit number @vtext.com. You can also send email from their phones, but
    > it's kind of a bother to type everything. It costs about 10 cents to send a message and 2 to
    > receive, I believe. Someone else mentioned a modem for a handheld - that would work nicely, as
    > it's small but offers greater typing opportunities. Good luck! Matt

    ObDisclaimer: I work for Verizon Wireless.

    SMS is really pretty nice, it's work well for intended purpose (short messages to other cell users -
    including other carriers phones), and can be useful as a phone->email dodge. I believe it's possible
    to do SMS on a prepay plan (the national one (freeup?)). I can't tell you for sure because my job is
    so far removed from sales it's not funny.

    For the wireless data, Verizon offers something called 1XRTT (2.5G wireless data). This allows up to
    a 144kbps connection from your phone (70-80 is what you'll see typically, YMMV, void where
    prohibited, don't go in thebiggreenglowinthedarkhouseuponthehill, etc.) The coverage for this is
    better in urban areas, you'll drop back down to 14.4 kbps in a non-XRTT market. You would need to
    get a phone that supports 1XRTT and if you're using a laptop - an adapter for that. I think the
    marketing people call 1XRTT "Express Network".

    Of course one route to go is to get one of the PDA phones with 1XRTT, but I don't know if we have
    any reasonably priced ones you could use.

    >> And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    >> stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    >> taking along? How does all that work?
    >>
    >> Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    >> not appeal to me. Any advice?

    Depending on when you're trip is, you might be able to get Blackberry service with Verizon.

    Blackberry (SMS, email, etc). http://www.blackberry.net/index.shtml

    (This is partnership announcement, I don't know what the real street availability date is).
    http://www.blackberry.net/news/press/pr-18_03_2003.shtml

    Actually the more I look at it, the more Blackberry looks like what you might want. There are are
    different models for different carriers. So you can see which carrier/plan/HW might work for you.
    Drop me an email if you have any questions you think I can answer.

    --
    Dane Jackson - z u v e m b i @ u n i x b i g o t s . o r g "Consistency is the last refuge of the
    unimaginative." -Oscar Wilde
     
  12. In article <[email protected]>, Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote:
    >And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    >stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    >taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    >Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    >not appeal to me. Any advice?

    For email, I'd think the obvious solution--depending on public libraries and net cafes and
    such--would work fine. Cheap, lets you travel light (no equipment needed), etc. The only preparation
    required might be to set up a some sort of free web-based email so you could still access it from
    braindead web-only kiosks.

    --Bruce F.
     
  13. Mark

    Mark Guest

    "Frank Krygowski" wrote ..
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?
    >
    > And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    > stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    > taking along? How does all that work?
    >
    > Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and vacations, so high-budget solutions may
    > not appeal to me. Any advice?
    >
    > --
    > Frank Krygowski

    The prepaid cell phones are nice- per minute call costs are a bit high, but if you don't use the
    phone much it doesn't really matter. The nice thing about pre-paid is that you do not have a fixed
    contract, you just buy the cards when you need them. AT & T has a plan that will give you nationwide
    coverage with no roaming charge, long distance is the same price as local. Their phones also will
    send and receive text messages and e-mail (160 characters). This is not an endorsement of AT & T;
    from reading what other posters have to say it sounds like Verizon would be a good deal too.

    The nice thing about libraries and internet cafes is that you don't have to lug a computer around
    when you're not checking your e-mail or sending e-mail....

    --
    mark
     
  14. Chris Breen

    Chris Breen Guest

    "Matt O'Toole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >
    > > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently,
    > we've got one
    > > cell phone, which somehow seems to offer very spotty
    > coverage - as in,
    > > no service when we tried to use it just south of Cleveland
    > Ohio on the
    > > turnpike!
    > >
    > > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans,
    > etc. Is there
    > > anything markedly better than anything else? How do you
    > avoid
    > > exorbitant roaming charges?
    >
    > For coverage, Verizon are the champs. They have the best peering arrangements with the other
    > providers. So if there's any service in the area at all, you'll get it no problem. That's assuming
    > you get the right plan. Go for the national one. It's the same price to call anywhere in the US,
    > with no roaming charges ever, and both digital and analog service. Many other plans are
    > digital-only, which may be useless outside big cities. I travel a lot, and I have yet to find a
    > significantly large hole, except behind the occasional mountain. But my friends with other
    > providers have many tales of woe.
    >
    > Unfortunately, you'll be locked into a year contract when you sign up for the first time. However,
    > if you need a cell phone anyway, a national plan lets you use it for all your long distance
    > instead of your home phone. This can defray the cost somewhat.
    >
    > I don't think Verizon's pre-pay plans are national -- they have roaming charges no matter what.
    > I'm also not sure if they're both digital and analog. But the higher cost per minute may still be
    > cheaper than being locked into a year contract you don't need or want.
    >
    >
    > Matt O.
    >
    I have a Verizon pre-paid account and have been told that as long as you are in a Verizon covered
    area the cost is the same wherever you are in the country. I don't make many calls and buy the least
    amount of time I can ($30, I think the daily cost of a call is ~10c minute, plus you get more
    weekend minutes) this lasts for 60 days, therefore ~15$/month, this was the cheapest I could find
    and you don't have to sign up for a long term contract. You can buy more time and I believe the cost
    per minute drops the more you buy. You do have to buy the phone, or at least you did when I got
    mine; it was ~$65 for a Kyocera phone, that I have had no problems with. Apparently you can set up
    the phone to get email and use as a browser, I've never done it so can't comment how it works in
    practice.If you are going to make a lot of calls this is probably not the best plan for you, I have
    been quite happy with it so far; ~1.5 years.

    Hope this helps, Chris.
     
  15. Leave the phone at home. Send postcards.

    dkl

    Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike! ... Naturally, I'd prefer to spend my money on bike parts and
    > vacations, so high-budget solutions may not appeal to me. Any advice?
     
  16. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, "Gary German" <[email protected]_NOSPAMX_.net> wrote:

    > Long distance charges can be pretty steep on most cell phone plans, even when you're not paying
    > roaming charges.

    Long distance is included on my plan (Sprint PCS)- $40 per month, 2000 night/weekend minutes plus I
    think 800 business-time minutes.

    I would add, however, that Sprint's coverage sucks even within the metro area where I live
    (Minneapolis-St. Paul). If you're 1/4 mile off the highway, your phone likely has no coverage. These
    things are explicitly designed for people to use while driving. I have a dual band phone, but get
    charged when I have to use analog to get a signal.
     
  17. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Chris Breen" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...

    > I have a Verizon pre-paid account and have been told that
    as long as you are
    > in a Verizon covered area the cost is the same wherever
    you are in the
    > country.

    That's the key, "Verizon covered area." Once you're out of range of Verizon's towers, you can still
    make a call, but there are roaming charges.

    With a national plan there's no difference. Verizon has deals with these other companies to let you
    use their networks. Verizon has to pay for this, and that's why national plans tend to be a little
    more expensive, in a strict $/min sense.

    Matt O.
     
  18. In rec.bicycles.misc Tim McNamara <[email protected]> wrote:
    : I would add, however, that Sprint's coverage sucks even within the metro area where I live
    : (Minneapolis-St. Paul).

    i had a sprint phone when i worked in the wtc downtown saint paul and the damn phone never worked.
    ironically sprint had an office on one of the floors of the building and we'd joke with the sprint
    employees about the lack of signal. my phone worked just as yours: in the car between home and work
    and almost nowhere else (i lived in south minneapolis, 3 miles from downtown mpls and nothing).

    aerial/voicestream/t-mobile is pretty good in mpls.
    --
    david reuteler [email protected]
     
  19. Ray Heindl

    Ray Heindl Guest

    Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote:

    > So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    > seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    > Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!
    >
    > I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    > than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?

    There was an article in Consumer Reports within the last few months, telling a lot about different
    cell phone options, and rating the different services. Well worth a trip to the local library.

    --
    Ray Heindl (remove the X to reply)
     
  20. On Fri, 28 Mar 2003 00:24:08 -0500, Dave Thompson wrote:

    > "Frank Krygowski" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >> So, three of us are planning an extended tour. Presently, we've got one cell phone, which somehow
    >> seems to offer very spotty coverage - as in, no service when we tried to use it just south of
    >> Cleveland Ohio on the turnpike!

    All cellular networks have blank spots. You learn to live with it. Usually, freeways are the most
    likely to have coverage out in the country.

    Lots of deals are now available with nationwide long distance. You may get stuck with a 1-2 year
    contract, though.
    >>
    >> I know next to nothing about cell phone coverage, plans, etc. Is there anything markedly better
    >> than anything else? How do you avoid exorbitant roaming charges?

    Don't use the phone...
    >>
    >> And a related question: It would be nice to have occasional e-mail access, too, other than by
    >> stopping when we happen across a library. Are any gee-whiz, compact portable e-mail devices worth
    >> taking along? How does all that work?

    I had a PDA with wireless access (Palm VII). Royal pain in the butt. The network was very iffy -- no
    service even in my home, 10 miles from the center of Philadelphia. And even when I had service, it
    was dreadfully slow. The service is very expensive as well; the minimum contract is a year often, at
    $30-$50/month.

    Last year, I switched to a PDA that accepted a modem (Zaurus) or LAN device. Worked much better
    when I was in motels for the night. Some of their charges can be rip-offs, too. Next time I will
    sign up for a 800-type ISP to avoid hotel charges, which apply even to local calls over 30
    minutes. I managed to teach an on-line class while on tour, but I would spend evenings on-line.
    There is a wireless cellular connection for that, but my previous experience suggested it would
    not be worth it.

    Some cell-phones now do their own e-mail. You need to be kind of geeky to type a message using a
    telephone number-pad, but it can be done. They have some word-recognition that helps, but it is not
    a real keyboard.

    If e-mail is all you want, thay may be the way to go. For things like Web access, you'd need to
    basically do what I did. Taking a portable computer is IMO not a good idea. I have done that, and
    even the very light machine I took was too much weight, too much hassle, and not enough benefit. A
    PDA and a cell-phone is enough.

    One possibility is the Treo. It does PDA stuff, I think there is a version which _is_ a cellphone,
    and it does e-mail, with a real-ish keybpoard. Not as powerful as the Zaurus, and probably no
    phone-line connection, but it might be a good all-in-one solution. About $400 plus a cellphone
    contract, probably.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | "Business!" cried the Ghost. "Mankind was my business. The _`\(,_ | common welfare was my
    business; charity, mercy, forbearance, (_)/ (_) | and benevolence, were, all, my business. The
    dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
    --Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"
     
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