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Steve Jobs says blame your neighbor for poor iphone signal reception

Original post made by Steve, Old Palo Alto, on Aug 13, 2010

AT&T wants to put up more cellular antennas, but NIMBYs in the San Francisco Bay area are making each one a 3 year process. Story in CNN: Web Link

Comments (18)

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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Yet another iJobs smokescreen to cover a poorly engineered cell phone.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Ever since I kicked the extension cord loose forcing Steve to have to re-toggle the code in to his first computer to play Fool On The Hill at the Homebrew Computer Club I have been looking for an opportunity to make it up to him. Steve, I'm sorry.
But, Annie Engineer, this older Engineer squared absolutely agrees with Mr. Jobs. If you subdivide property you have no option but to locate a fire hydrant every 400 feet. Cell towers are every bit as essential to public safety. I don't want the ability of my daughters to call for help abridged because someone's aesthetic sensibilities are bruised by the sight of a functional artifact. I would grant cell towers eminent domain and prohibit requiring them to look like trees or anything other than an example of technological service to the community. I would further agree that anyone who objects to a cell tower be forever banned from the wireless net.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

There may not be enough AT&T cell towers, but even with 4 bars of service, often it's still not possible to make a voice call over the AT&T wireless net. AT&T has oversold their network capacity and it needs more than cell towers.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2010 at 5:10 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Nony, it's a crap shoot. 4 bars and delay, or 1 bar and dropouts. I would suggest that in return for public service status all towers be multi tenant.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

I never hear anyone complain about Verizon's signal in the Bay Area. Why is AT&T so much worse?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Why is AT&T so much worse? I suspect it is because they have more customers. Or perhaps Verizon's customers are too wimpy to complain. Nevertheless everybody's signal and service would be better if only engineering determined the location and height of the towers. If PA's citizen engineering were to rule we would have sewers running uphill or trying to.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm

"But, Annie Engineer, this older Engineer squared absolutely agrees with Mr. Jobs."

I regret to report that you are flat wrong, Alleged Engineer. You could climb to the tippy top of a cell tower and still get no joy from your iPhone if you hold it wrong. It's fundamental antenna physics. Fire hydrants have nothing to do with it.

"If PA's citizen engineering were to rule we would have sewers running uphill or trying to."

Sewers can and do run uphill, AE. Never heard of sumps and pumps either, apparently.


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Posted by Too Wimpy to Complain
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Mr. Wallis,

Verizon Wireless customers don't complain, because there's little to complain about: not because they're 'wimpy'.

Verizon's service 8-10 years ago had 'holes' along major roads. And, we could not get reception inside our house near Duveneck, because there was no tower close enough. As of 2 years ago, we get excellent reception throughout our home. And, the 'holes' along major roads disappeared about 6-8 years ago, as compared with two other services we tried.

Verizon covers more of the places in the country where I travel: Colorado, New England, lower peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, throughout California from Shasta to the Mojave and the encompassing the Sierras.

IMO, the reason AT&T is 'worse' is two-fold: first, they don't have the same density of cell towers as Verizon; second, they are selling mostly high-end/high data-rate service, as compared to Verizon.

I don't have the data, but wish I had: but my sense is 1) Verizon has more customers, 2) Verizon has greater cell tower density, 3) Verizon has fewer smart phone (high data rate) customers.

The point about antenna physics is somewhat true. However, I think any phone would operate fine, if you were sitting right on the tower, no matter how you oriented the phone. I could do the calculation, but would have to scratch my head about it for a few hours, to remember how to do it.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm

No calculations are required, in the near field on the tower the relative antenna orientations are not terribly important. I was referring to the famous tendency of the iPhone antenna to short out when the user's hand shunted across critical points. Building more cell towers to fix that goof is like lowering the river instead of raising the bridge.

Consumer Reports had a simple solution: duct tape over the antenna. I'd recommend black plastic electrician's tape. It's more effective, and it looks more cool.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Annie, They are force mains if they go uphill. Sewers, also called drains, drain. Ancient plumber's saying - It don't flow uphill & payday's Friday.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I get v poor reception on my Verizon in Duveneck neighborhood and I don't like it; I am not "wimpy" but on a family plan that makes sense for other reasons; plus I am not currently planning to put out the $$$ for a luxury iPhone...


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2010 at 5:49 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Nony, more towers is the solution. Jobs said that. I agreed.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 7:44 am

AT&T can erect cell towers every block and it won't solve their bandwidth problem. AT&T only can use their spectrum allocation and it's been oversold, mostly to smartphones like Steve Jobs's iPhone.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:34 pm

"They are force mains if they go uphill."

That which we call a sewer. By any other name would smell as foul.

You omitted the most important apprentice plumbers lesson: don't chew your fingernails.


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Posted by Jerry Fletcher
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I like my 3 year old ATT Razor. I'm tired of my friends blaming the network for their dropped calls. My old razor never drops calls and it's using the same towers as the Apple i-gotahaveits.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Maybe Steve and AT&T should offer to erect a new cell tower on each new library and each new train station, assuming HSR is ever built. And, of course, on Steve's house in Woodside and Palo Alto.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2010 at 5:33 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Dang - I stood up for my old buddy Jobs and - no bright, shiny i-phone, pod, pad or whatever on my doorstep the next day. Oh, well, schmoozing Carlie didn't get me anything either.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2010 at 8:11 am

Jerry - I'm with you, I have an 5 year old non-smart phone with ATT, it never drops calls and gets good reception everywhere. Its the phones, not just the cell towers. As a bonus, I only need to charge it a couple of times a week!

That said, the California process to do anything is ridiculous, I totally believe that it could take 3 years to get permission for something that would take weeks in Texas. I'm not a big Texas fan, but they do seem to want to make life easier, not harder for businesses.


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