Newsletter #286

Newsletter #286 - September 30, 2015

Cell Phone Frequency Issues

>>> Cell Phone Frequency Issues >>>

The last few newsletters have discussed SIM cards and unlocking. The next issue we all face when moving a cell phone from country to country involves the frequency bands supported by the particular phone itself.

It's always important to remember that cellular phones are radios. They have antennas inside and transmit/receive over electromagnetic waves. Because it's a radio, there's some technology needed to allow thousands of phones to be used at the same time. Imagine if everyone key'd the mic on their VHF on the same channel. No one could talk and be heard.

Over the years there have been different radio technologies employed to allow simultaneous communications among many phones. It's common to see "G" when referring to a cell phone technology - 3G or 4G. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as it may appear. Different cell service companies use different radio frequencies to implement communications for their customers creating a complex environment.

There are two main technologies that have evolved - CDMA and GSM - along with the newer LTE technologies. In the US, Verizon is CDMA and AT&T is GSM. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages.

In general, the rest of the world uses GSM cellular towers. So for international use, US AT&T phones often allow connections outside the US with much more consistency.

But there's another layer of complexity.

Some countries use completely different bands for the same radio technologies. The new LTE capabilities have generated an alphabet soup of new standards - TD-LTE, FDD-LTE - and include up to 30 different radio bands. You can pretty much guarantee that any phone you have will have problems somewhere in the world, often Africa or China, even if you've installed the proper SIM in an unlocked phone.

So what can you do?

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer. When you are purchasing a phone, you need to know the frequencies it uses and then compare that against the provider support in the countries you're traveling to. If you're staying in North America and Europe, stick with the major phone brands and you'll have few problems. But if you're traveling to other places around the world, be prepared to have some cellular issues. The easiest solution will be to purchase an inexpensive, unlocked phone for the special areas when you get there.

The next segment will be about Skype - the bridge between the cellular and Ethernet/WiFi world.

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When you're thinking about purchasing boating supplies, think of Defender first.

Dylan and Dee Dee have completed their final blog posting on their safety harness tests. They hope their experience will help other four- footed crew members stay safe onboard. Check out what they found on their blog:

Karen and Jeffrey Siegel
Castine, Maine
sharing the experience
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Newsletter Archive
We are currently merging the different ActiveCaptain websites into a single website.

Because of this, all later newsletters are being only put onto the ActiveCaptain Help Center found here:
ActiveCaptain Help Center : Newsletters

Older newsletters will be duplicated here until these pages are removed.

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2016-02-24 #307 - UK's MCA
2016-02-17 #306 - Chartplotter Support Questions
2016-02-10 #305 - One Giant Leap
2016-02-03 #304 - Bahamas Internet
2016-01-27 #303 - Community Anchoring
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2015-12-23 #298 - Joyful times
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2015-12-09 #296 - The Power of Love
2015-12-02 #295 - Windyty
2015-11-25 #294 - Mary Had a Little Lamb
2015-11-18 #293 - DeLorme inReach
2015-11-11 #292 - Celebrating Furuno
2015-11-04 #291 - Your ActiveCaptain Identity
2015-10-28 #290 - iPad/Android Tablet Owners
2015-10-21 #289 - The Top 5 Things...
2015-10-14 #288 - Skype
2015-10-07 #287 - Locations 1.2
2015-09-30 #286 - Cell Phone Frequency Issues
2015-09-23 #285 - Cell Phone Unlocking
2015-09-16 #284 - Mr SIM Card
2015-09-09 #283 - Route Storage & Sharing Continued
2015-09-02 #282 - Route Storage & Sharing
2015-08-26 #281 - Here's What You Told Us
2015-08-19 #280 - Bahamas 2016
2015-08-12 #279 - What is Services Missing?
2015-08-05 #278 - Aqua Map for Android
2015-07-29 #277 - Obtaining Critical Mass
2015-07-22 #276 - Our Backup Anchor
2015-07-15 #275 - Which Anchor is Best
2015-07-08 #274 - Pocket Mariner's SeaNav
2015-07-01 #273 - Services Galore
2015-06-24 #272 - Canvas and Upholstery Services
2015-06-17 #271 - Locations, Locations, Locations
2015-06-10 #270 - Keeping Track of Everything - 4

Archive Complete list of all newsletters
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