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Verizon Test Drive Report... Fringe Area Help Please

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Peter B
EVDO Heavy User


Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 109
Location: SW Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:20 pm    Post subject: Verizon Test Drive Report... Fringe Area Help Please Reply with quote

Yesterday, I took the plunge, went to the local Verizon store and signed up for the 30 day test drive. I'd already done what 'homework' I had the presence of mind to do, and knew more or less what to ask for. They set me up with a USB720 modem, and I headed home.

I live in a low lying area in NationalAccess 'territory' but very near the fringe of BroadbandAccess. I have a long driveway descending to my house. At the top of the drive, I am able to pull in Rev A at (peak) speeds up to 1 Mbps... 3 bars (of 4 possible)... at about -90 dBm (or better)... with 35+ Kbps throughput (judging from a browser download). Inside my house - about 100 vertical feet 'away', I can only manage NationalAccess, 175 Kbps peak, no bars, at -100 dBm (or well below), with throughput of about 8 Kbps.

On one trial, after locking onto Rev A at the top of the hill (then losing it on the way down), for a moment - just outside my house - I got a bump back into Rev A... at about 200-300 K... which gave me some hope I might be able to do better indoors... with an added antenna and/or amplifier.

Put simply, the observed performance of NationalAccess (over a 24 Kbps local dialup maximum speed), is only marginally better... and will *not* be adequate to my needs. I'll cancel the test drive and revert to dialup (for now) if I can't manage BroadbandAccess. I'm not at all eager to get locked into a two year plan without pretty much *knowing* I can pull in at least mid range Rev A speeds reliably.

BUT... if I can possibly get into a fairly steady 500 K (minimum) range indoors, I think it might be worth the added cost of the service...

So...

What I'd dearly like to hear from folk who've been in a similar situation is whether I might be able to achieve my goal on the cheap (with an inexpensive indoor antenna) or whether I'll have to go full bore with an external antenna and a pricey amplifier? And recommendations...?

(Or am I gonna need a danged tower for what I want?)

I would really appreciate help with this... thanks for any and all replies.

Peter B.

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Species8472
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Joined: 30 Jun 2007
Posts: 119
Location: 29.09373N 82.410825W

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why not force the card to EVDO only. Open VZM and do not connect. Hit Ctrl and D at the same time. enter diagvzw then settings .. set to HDR only. Save. Try that again. I am in a fringe area and this seems to keep me happy. Wink
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Peter B
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 109
Location: SW Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a Mac, Option + D brings up a dialog where diagvzw gains access to another dialog offering options including 'Field Test', with a slew of info... but I don't see anything to do with 'HDR'... and there is no 'Settings' option.

Elaborate?

Thanks.

Peter B.

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pismo
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Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

why not just use a router such as the KR1 at the good location powered by a battery and solar panel.

then you wifi to computer in house
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dondrm
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Joined: 06 Sep 2007
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter B, If you'd like to determine whether the EVDO and 1XRTT in your area are on different bands, possibly enabling you to select/boost only EVDO by using a single-band antenna, you could go to Field Test and scroll down about 10 items to the first four 'Channels' settings (primary/secondary A/B) and note those; then scroll another 20something items further and note a fiftth 'Channel' entry--that one's changeable while the others are fixed--and note what it says when you're in EVDO and what it says when you're in 1XRTT.

If you post all of that, we should be able to determine what bands you're using, since the 850MHz range and the 1900MHz range use their own distinct set of channels (see thebordella's 850/1900MHz-question thread at http://www.evdoforums.com/thread7019.html )
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Peter B
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 109
Location: SW Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dondrm:

It has been an interesting 24 hours...

I don't know how or why, but last night, I somehow lost the USB720 device activation, and repeated attempts today to reactivate it have failed even after calls to Verizon support... who, by the way, have bent over backwards to help... but have not yet succeeded in remedying the problem. I can't now connect to the web on either NationalAccess or BroadbandAccess. Even after re-installing and upgrading the VZ Access Manager. (See related note below.)

The Access Manager work(ed) well enough to provide some information, though...

Here are the channel specs, with the exception of the last one (labeled simply 'Channel').

Channel Primary A - 283
Channel Primary B - 384
Channel Secondary A - 691
Channel Secondary B - 777

'Channel' seems to 'hunt' constantly even when I have a signal strong enough for the VZ Access Manager to report a Rev A connection... but I _think_ the channels Rev A uses are 625 and 675.

Meanwhile, a friend stopped by today with a USB extension cable, and just by hanging the USB720 in the window nearest where I might want to work, I'm managing a Rev A signal (but no bars) indoors. The (reported) signal strength is extremely low, and I can't (per above) connect at all at this point, but there's Rev A staring me in the face.

So I'm still in the dark... still wondering if an antenna (and/or other devices or tweaks) will do the trick for me.

(Side note: In the process of following Verizon's instructions for a fix, I upgraded VZ Access Manager to 3.7.0 {from 3.3.1}... and 3.7.0 now crashes VZ Access Manager when you start a Field Test... on both OS X 10.4.3 and 10.4.10. Might be a good idea to keep an old version of VZ Access Manager around).

More news as it develops. Help and advice still *MOST WELCOME*.

Thanks again.

Peter B.

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dondrm
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Joined: 06 Sep 2007
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter B wrote:
dondrm:

It has been an interesting 24 hours...

I don't know how or why, but last night, I somehow lost the USB720 device activation, and repeated attempts today to reactivate it have failed even after calls to Verizon support... who, by the way, have bent over backwards to help... but have not yet succeeded in remedying the problem. I can't now connect to the web on either NationalAccess or BroadbandAccess. Even after re-installing and upgrading the VZ Access Manager. (See related note below.)


Hmm. First of all, when I opened (later cancelling) an account months ago, I got a need-to-activate error message a couple of times, and when I would try to activate, I'd get the activation-failed message--but apparently the simple cause of both phenomena was trying to use the modem at an extremely low signal level: It seems that in my case, the need-to-activate thing was one of those error messages that pops up because something is caddywampus and the program doesn't know what else to say, and it's a fact that the modem can't be activated without a fairly strong and stable signal.

That was my experience, of course, and yours might be different, but if I were you, I'd take the modem to a good strong signal area and try 'activating' and using it again (with the old VZAccess Manager reinstalled) to see if the problem disappears before going any further with VZW Support.



Quote:
Here are the channel specs, with the exception of the last one (labeled simply 'Channel').

Channel Primary A - 283
Channel Primary B - 384
Channel Secondary A - 691
Channel Secondary B - 777

'Channel' seems to 'hunt' constantly even when I have a signal strong enough for the VZ Access Manager to report a Rev A connection... but I _think_ the channels Rev A uses are 625 and 675.


Exactly the same with mine. Those first four are all 850MHz channels; the others are both 1900MHz channels, but the modem is obviously searching in that case, as you said. Mine goes through those latter two as well, but only when at very low signal levels and only for a moment; it never settles on anything other than 850MHz channels for either EVDO or 1XRTT--so it's possible (but certainly not certain) that, like me, you're entirely on the 850 band. You'll be able to tell if you do another field test in a strong-signal area, and you might find that your modem is active and eager there, too.

Quote:
Meanwhile, a friend stopped by today with a USB extension cable, and just by hanging the USB720 in the window nearest where I might want to work, I'm managing a Rev A signal (but no bars) indoors. The (reported) signal strength is extremely low, and I can't (per above) connect at all at this point, but there's Rev A staring me in the face.

So I'm still in the dark... still wondering if an antenna (and/or other devices or tweaks) will do the trick for me.


I wouldn't be at all surprised, based on everything you've said so far, if simply boosting the signal with a good antenna, conveniently placed outside but near where you wish to work, would get you the minimum speeds you're hoping for. You might be surprised at the signal-strength increase you get from even a cheap magnetic-base cartop antenna, placed on a pie tin on your outside window ledge--you might be able to borrow one to get an idea--but something like 3G's omni or the equivalent would do a much better job.

Now this seems unlikely based on the first four 'Channel' entries, but if your stable Rev A channels turn out to be in the 1900MHz band (all multiples of 25, such as the 625 and 675 you mentioned), then there might be even more interesting things in store. :-)

Quote:
(Side note: In the process of following Verizon's instructions for a fix, I upgraded VZ Access Manager to 3.7.0 {from 3.3.1}... and 3.7.0 now crashes VZ Access Manager when you start a Field Test... on both OS X 10.4.3 and 10.4.10. Might be a good idea to keep an old version of VZ Access Manager around).


Noted!

And yes, do keep in touch.
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Peter B
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 109
Location: SW Wisconsin

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A day in the life...

Immediately below the local Verizon tower, 40-50 dB signal, 4 full Rev A bars... still can't connect/re-activate.

Ran VZ Set Up Assistant in the shadow of the tower too... just in case it might make a difference.

No more word from Verizon as yet.

30 day trial... the clock is ticking... and I can't make many meaningful tests unless I get on line again.

Very locally (i.e. anywhere near the house, my 'raw' signal ranges (momentarily) from 95 to 105... or weaker... even though fairly routinely Rev A brags availability in the VZ Access Manager.

Hopes are fading...

PB

--

Edit: Rev A channel is almost certainly 625.

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Species8472
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Joined: 30 Jun 2007
Posts: 119
Location: 29.09373N 82.410825W

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What type of laptop and how old is it? Do you have access to a friend's laptop to try a clean install on a different machine?
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Peter B
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
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Location: SW Wisconsin

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Species:

I have two PowerBook G4's... both 'up to snuff' for this purpose. One running 10.4.3, the other 10.4.10. Both now refuse to connect despite reinstalls of VZ Access Manager. I have no access to another machine.

The (very) weird thing is that I had *both* working fine for two days... receiving NationalAccess in NA areas and BroadbandAccess in BBA areas. I spent quite a bit of time testing speed and on line performance in different locations.

Then Saturday night, one computer simply refused to connect/activate. I switched to the other machine (making no other changes), and that one balked as well.

Verizon support told me to go to the strongest signal location I could find to try to reactivate, and (as described above) I did. No luck. Last night Verizon seemed to want to blame the OS (even though 10.4.10 is *definitely* among the supported systems), and they pretty much told me there was nothing more they could do.

My gut suggests to me that the device went dead... but it still lights up, reports signal strength and tries to dial in... just fails to connect... and I get the same Access Manager error each time. Apple's Internet Connect displays either one of two errors - that there's a 'problem with the modem', or that 'authentication failed'.

So it seems like I'm 'bricked' (if that's the right word). I think the Verizon store will let me switch out the device for another, but it won't be til later in the week before I can do that.

So I guess I've got a couple of days to decide whether to cancel out of the agreement or try another device.

By the way, my experience with Verizon overall - from the store to support - was actually quite good. I think support genuinely tried to help... they spent quite a bit of time with me... but obviously, something ain't right.

Anyways, thanks to all who've chimed in here... the help is much appreciated.

Peter B.

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Species8472
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Joined: 30 Jun 2007
Posts: 119
Location: 29.09373N 82.410825W

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VZ will send you a new one within 2-3 days if you ask them. No charge for shipping unless you want overnight. They will then give you a return FedX slip to send back the old one (needs to happen within 10 days).

Could be a dead card

Species

Quick note.. do not put the U720 directly into teh laptops. Use the cable. VZ told me they have more malfunctions if the cable is not used. Something to do with the lack of flexiblity if the device gets bent etc.
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pismo
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Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter B wrote:

Then Saturday night, one computer simply refused to connect/activate. I switched to the other machine (making no other changes), and that one balked as well.
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i think the quote above says it all

if it was working for a couple of days in two computers and you did no changes.

it is not two computers at the same time it must be a problem with the card.

although sometimes we forger that we made changes.
you have been playing in "test mode" which could definitely screw the card up.

once you start screwing around installing uninstalling changing settings activating over and over again etc.....

it may now be other problems as well as the card.

if you had it working and you liked the service then swap the card out.

and stay out of "test mode" sometimes we are our own worse enemy.

p.s. i use my U720 directly in macbook pro everyday and directly in KR1 router with external antenna connection when needed so i do not think you need to use the cable to be more safe not even sure where my cable is.

i will admit if i did not want to use it in KR1 as well i would have an express card much less likely to be damaged.
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dondrm
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Joined: 06 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter B, I would do as Species8472 suggests for sure, and then most likely be able to try an antenna setup, before calling it quits; it could mean that you finally get to spend time on the internet without half of that time being spent waiting.

Species8472, I'm wondering if, when we set to HDR only, are we programing the program, or are we programing the modem (as we would be if we doing the settings on a router)? Reason is, I'm thinking that if we're programing the modem, and it turns out that that can't be done readily on a Macintosh, maybe the modem could be set to HDR on a PC and then used in the Mac? Do you know?
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Species8472
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Joined: 30 Jun 2007
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Location: 29.09373N 82.410825W

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you set to HRD ... the card is switched. I do this on my laptop before I put it into my KR1. Periodically, I update the PRL using VZM then back in the KR1 that baby goes.
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Peter B
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
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Location: SW Wisconsin

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey... thanks again for all the input.

This seemed *almost* straightforward before the connection problem occurred. That is, do some research the best you can, make a decision, take a calculated risk, spend some money... but (now) not even being able to connect makes it kinda tough to move ahead.

Even though I haven't spent any money at the 3Gstore (yet), I've asked for help there, sent some specs and test results and we'll see what they have to say.

I'll wait for a reply from 3Gstore, I think, before asking Verizon to swap out the device or cancelling the service.

Which brings up another question: Do you all think I'll catch heat from Verizon if I cancel with them now and open a new Verizon service account with 3Gstore? (I'm thinking the available support could be a lot better from 3G than I've gotten from Verizon.)

Sorry I've beaten this thread to death... but maybe before the month is out I'll be able to post a 'success story'.

Peter B.

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