I finally decided I really needed to figure out why Verizon didn’t work at the land even though our phones would show signal. I think I figured it out.
Simple Explanation: There is Verizon signal, but it’s actually incredibly weak. With the house being positioned at the top of hill there are clear communication paths for radio frequencies (RF) so your phone gets the best possible signal. You can “hear” the signal but it’s not strong enough for communication.
More Complex Explanation: Again, the open air hill position is optimal for receiving RF signals (even though there might not be much to receive). The closest Verizon towers are 13 and 17 miles away, too far to work. Many cell towers operate a pilot channel that has more range than the other channels because it doesn’t carry traffic. It identifies you and assigns your traffic to one of the operating channels, much like a control channel. On one of the calls I attempted while I was there Verizon was able to look at the switch logs and see that my signal was -93dBM and my SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) was -19dB which is over 10 times an acceptable rate. So, there’s signal around but it’s not usable.
Furthermore, there is a US Cellular tower that is closer than Verizon that your phone could roam on. However, even though the US Cellular signal is stronger since there is still the presence of native Verizon service the PRL (Preferred Roaming (tower) List) will not switch down to the US Cellular network. This seems to explain the “random” inbound data occasionally received—there must have been times when my phone would cease to see the Verizon signal (possibly due to cell “breathing” or additional interference) and successfully roam onto the US Cellular service for a few moments or minutes. I think this also explains how Sprint service previously worked for me—it must have been roaming on US Cellular and was not set to prefer Verizon over another carrier.
There may be a chance that the Verizon signal can be amplified by using the booster Steve has there but the antenna needs to be pointed at one of the towers. Below is the tower information and GPS coordinates. I’ve also attached google earth .kmz files of these locations.
· 27078 Tabor Ridge Rd House: 39.731194, -81.336422
· Verizon Wireless “Warner” Cell Site #1152 13 miles SW 39.585008, -81.453342
· Verizon Wireless “Buffalo” Cell Site #1130 16.74 miles NW 39.854394, -81.546272
Conclusion: Use laser assistance to align the rooftop antenna towards one of the Verizon towers…or use AT&T or US Cellular.