I mentioned previously that Anne and I have been looking for a mobile phone service and had signed up with T-Mobile on their assurance we would get a decent signal at home, but we didn’t and they weren’t able to resolve the issue so we ended up turning the phones back in yesterday and then signing up with NEXTEL at the suggestion of my parents. As it turns out NEXTEL is an improvement over T-Mobile at the house, but only slightly so. Indoors we manage only one bar most of the time and zero bars more often than we’d care for, but going outside bumps it up to two bars on average and even when we have zero bars the phones don’t go into SEARCH FOR SERVICE mode all that often. In comparison the T-Mobile phones we had spent 90% of their time at the house unable to find the service at all and going outside didn’t really improve things until you got close to the freeway some 5 miles away whereas the NEXTEL service improves dramatically within a couple of miles of the house. At this point I think we’re going to have to declare my in-laws house a previously unknown MYSTERY SPOT that blocks cell phone signals in an almost supernatural manner.
At this point I’m thinking we may end up sticking with NEXTEL even though it’s more expensive and sticks you with a 2 year contract despite the fact that the service is only marginally better at the house than T-Mobile is. My reasoning for this is two-fold: First, it seems that the service is decent enough to receive text messages on the phone, if not carry on a complete conversation, as we both received two text messages last night letting us know they had successfully transfered our phone numbers from T-Mobile to our NEXTEL phones. Secondly, being NEXTEL we have that nifty—and highly annoying to everyone around us—walkie-talkie feature that may be enough to overcome the problem with the signal strength. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I’m hoping that it uses short bursts of data that don’t require a constant connection to maintain like a normal cell phone conversation does. If I’m right then the weak signal strength at the house may not be a huge issue as folks can either text me or use the walkie-talkie function to get a message through, but I’ll need to test these things more before I know for sure if it’ll work decently enough.
The other big test will be a trip up to my folk’s place this weekend. I’m going to be making a day trip up to set up their replacement printer they’re getting from Canon and it’ll give me a chance to verify that the coverage up there is decent. I fully expect it to be as my folks use NEXTEL themselves. The T-Mobile service was just as bad at their place as it was at home so that was one more reason not to keep it. We have 13 more days to decide if we want to keep the NEXTEL service before we’re locked into the contract and so I have some time to experiment a bit before making a final decision, but I’m beginning to think we’re not going to find anything that’ll do any better in the area and the service elsewhere, including here at work, is pretty good. This time around I got a camera phone as well so now I may be able to test out the moblogging features of ExpressionEngine, though I’m not sure I look forward to trying to key up an entry of any length using the numeric pad of the phone.