Free Internet for AT&T, WAS: New Flex 6700 - anyone at Dayton?

Patrick Gray patgperiod at
Sun May 27 09:18:09 CDT 2012

Hi Chip, et al,

      Before my present job supporting an FAA contract, I spent 12 years in
the wireless telecoms industry.

    I share your frustration having been a subscriber myself with the three
wireless carriers you mention, and contracting to all three in various
phases here in the Wash. DC Metro area at the same time. I was working for
Ericsson (whom AT&T chose as their wireless network vendor in in the DC
metro area) at the time when AT&T chose to go with IS-136 at 1900 Mhz doing
an overlay on top of Bell Atlantic Mobile's (Now Verizon) 850 Mhz. In other
areas of the country AT&T had bought and renamed McCaw Wireless' Network,
which had used Ericsson IS-136 on 850 Mhz.

    AT&T knew that they had coverage area gaps before they dropped the
first Radio Base Station in place. They planned on mitigating this through
the use of Tower Mounted Amplifiers (TMA) in lieu of leasing additional
cell site locations which is costly. Yet even with TMA's in place a number
of critical sites were unable to "hand-off" with any measure of cell phone
traffic. Add to that, AT&T's cell phone rates were appreciably higher than
that of competing carriers. Eventually, AT&T built in the additional
coverage required of their network and even got around to locating a Mobile
Switching Center (MSC) to downtown Wash. DC, having previously back-hauled
their switching functionality to Philadelphia,PA and Queens, NYC - amazing
what a backhoe or bulldozer can do to make you see the light!!

   Well, about this time, with surmounting debt after numerous failed
acquisitions and general mismanagement, AT&T Wireless decided to solicit
herself to Ma Bell's streetwalker cousin SBC Cingular. With Cingular's
acquisition, they now had coverage into major Metropolitan area in both the
East Coast and West Coast areas of the US. As well, Cingular had dual and
sometimes trio-coverage over major segments of wireless licenses and were
required by the FCC to sell or divest of this excess spectrum. Also, they
had numerous cell sites that were adjacent to each other both on expensive
leased city rooftops and suburban radio towers.

    Worry Not!! For they had a solution for this, they would literally
disconnect and de-install these radio base station cabinets and drag them
back and forth between shelters or run extended length RF jumpers laid out
on the ground with no use of multicouplers or combiners, just simple
Mini-Circuits RF splitters hooked up, usually haphazardly until the leases
could be negotiated and the excess spectrum sold off. And you know what?
Those little RF splitters would get really hot to the touch for some
reason. Still don't know why! (tongue in cheek)

    SBC (Southwestern Bell) having acquired AT&T Wireless, trying to market
under the Cingular name, was having problems with PR, and keeping wireless
subscriptions from departing, decided to re-Brand itself, after due
diligence, as the new AT&T Mobility using the name and an approximation of
the old "Death Star" graphic - how fitting. About this time SBC acquired
the last of the AT&T wireline remnants, a hollow shell of it's former self,
and again SBC using the AT&T nomenclature for branding.

Chip, if I had to identify the one party responsible for allowing the
dissolution of the wireless industry in the US it would bethose folks who
occupy the offices at
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

Every single cellular radio site requires an FCC license for operation. If
they were regulated and enforced like they should be, you would have full
signal strength reliable service wherever you go - on pavement that is.

Whist that unmentioned aforementioned agency was fighting it's Holy Wars on
BPL, the rest of the wireless industry was dying away - in my humble

    A little history, the IS-136 standard was partial GSM standards and
functionality, but built on top of the Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS)
developed by Bell Labs and Motorola in the late 1960's, which by the 1990's
was arguably obsolete, but was believed to allow a faster deployment in
North America because of the AMPS component. GSM the Global System for
Mobile communications, was begun in the1980's in Europe and was started
from a blank slate, with the (cooperation? - I'd like to have been a fly on
the wall during some of those defining standards debates) R&D and inputs of
several hardware manufacturers and carriers. they left open many areas in
it's architecture for "weight and space reserved for" for the technology to

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

73's Pat KF4MTV

On Sat, May 26, 2012 at 11:29 PM, Chip Fetrow <tacos at> wrote:

> Try?  They already are!
> In our case is is particularly bad.
> I had an analog Verizon phone.  It worked better than any phone does
> today, and it worked places where people with D-AMPS and CDMA only had no
> service.  D-AMPS is "Digital AMPS, a TDMA method.  GSM is another form of
> TDMA, so it was unwise for Cellular One and the handset manufacturers to
> call it TDMA.  Oh, well. Of course a lot of those early digital phones
> would revert to AMPS (analog).
> AT&T built a GSM PCS system which never had a analog component.  Cingular
> wanted to move to GSM for many reasons, which included handset costs, world
> phones, and entering into roaming agreements with AT&T.  AT&T built a "low"
> system in highly urbanized areas which had a lot more capacity because the
> cells were much smaller.  The first AT&T originally had no service much
> beyond the DC Beltway at the time.
> Anyway, we were getting raped on the Verizon phone, $25/month for 20
> minutes of talk time per phone.  My wife's phone was a 3 Watt car phone
> with the same plan but she didn't go over 20 minutes.  So we wanted phones,
> but we wanted them to work.  I also had the requirement that the phone work
> in Pahrump, NV and at Front Sight.  The single carrier in Pahrump, and for
> that matter, NYE County, the second largest county in the country, was
> analog only, and mostly sold bag phones.  The Cingular switch from D-AMPS
> to GSM was staged, and they could not dynamically allocate channels to the
> two (or three) different systems, so we were stuck, waiting for GAIT phones
> which did AMPS, D-AMPS and GSM.
> Finally they were accepted by Cingular and I bought two.  We got less
> expensive service on phones that actually worked everywhere.  In fact,
> people at Front Sight would approach me about my satellite phone, because
> no one had phones which worked on AMPS..
> Somewhere in this time period, Cingular bought AT&T's mobile service, but
> had to sell off some spectrum.
> Sony made one phone, it may have been the T-61, and Nokia made the 6340,
> which they replaced with the 6340i.
> Now, finally, closer to the point.
> The phones worked like a champ at my house.  Nine bars out of nine IN OUR
> Then AT&T formed AT&T Mobility, and bought Cingular.
> One night about a year later, my wife's phone woke us up at about 3:45 AM
> with a text message:  "Welcome to the new AT&T,"  the display on the LCD
> screen was switched from Cingular to AT&T, and her phone's signal strength
> display went from nine bars out of nine to four.
> About four months later, AT&T woke us up in the middle of the night again,
> but a little earlier, with the same changes.  Keep in mind Kathy's phone
> had 4/9 while mine stayed at 9 out of 9.
> A year or so later, we bought iPhones to replace the Nokia 6340is.  We had
> three, or sometimes two bars out of five on our iPhones, though AT&T/Apple
> re-calibrated the signal strength "meters" a few times.
> Then, not quite half way through our contract, or iPhones stopped working
> at home.  They might sometimes work on the second floor from time to time.
> Of course, I complained.  They offered to let us out of our contracts.  I
> wrote a letter to the President of AT&T Mobility.  Stuff rolls down hill,
> and I had several conversations with AT&T engineers, then they gave up.
> I wrote another letter.  This really stirred up the hornets' nest.  They
> put an engineer on fixing it.  She did coverage studies and they drove a
> signal monitoring van drive around my house.  She had a PR/hight level CSR
> type call me to explain the problem.  He was not an engineer.  He explained
> the problem is a hill between the nearest cell site and my home.  Yep,
> someone removed hundreds of houses, 60 year old trees, and roll up the
> streets.  They brought in a whole lot of earth, they put the houses, trees
> and streets back.  Hey, it used to work.
> So, when those were approved, they gave me a Microcell.
> It annoys me that they use my Internet bandwidth and don't give me any
> discount.  At least T-Mobile doesn't charge for minutes when you use their
> Wi-Fi enabled phones on your network.  In fact, there is a flaw in their
> system.  If you start your call on Wi-Fi and move out of range, it will
> switch the phone to PCS and not charge minutes against your account.
> At least I can use my iPhone at home, as can my wife, RS and a few other
> friends.
> --chip
> On May 19, 2012, at 1:00 PM, tacos-request at wrote:
>  -----Original Message----- From: Mike O'Dell
>> Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 7:50 PM
>> To: Tom Azlin N4ZPT
>> Cc: tacos at
>> Subject: Re: New Flex 6700 - anyone at Dayton?
>> [...]
>> so be prepared to supply your Internet connectivity
>> free of charge to the Picocell your carrier will try to
>> foist on you in the name of "better service".)
>> -mo
> ______________________________**_________________
> Tacos mailing list
> Tacos at
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