Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Verizon and AT&T Cellular Data Coverage

To help support all the various smartphones and tablets accessing geological maps and other information we brought along dedicated Verizon WiFi hotspots and also have a couple AT&T iPhone 5's that can act as hotspots too.  So far we have found Verizon's coverage to be better along our route, with perhaps 10% additional areas covered when we lost AT&T service. In both cases though, the are still plenty of places where we had no service with either solution, particularly in Missouri and Kansas along our route; again for about 10% of the distance we've covered to-date. In general, when AT&T had LTE service, we also had 4G service on Verizon, so performance was about the same. 

We depend on the cellular data coverage to support the geological maps we are accessing using the ArcGIS app on iPhones and iPads. (We used this approach quite successfully on our Spain field trip last year, where data coverage was even greater; however, just like last year, the Android version of the app doesn't not work at all for anyone who has tried it.) After about three-and-a-half days, we've consumed about 5GB of data. In addition to the maps, some of that is downloading PDFs, email, web surfing, and blogging, of course! We also have GIS Pro for use off-line with data we loaded back in Ann Arbor, and to which we have been adding observations; however, at $300, it is not an app we can provide to the students or expect them to download themselves :-(

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