Low bandwidth weirdness

I was in East Nashville the other day. The details of why involve a birthday party for my oldest’s friend and me putzing around with the youngling trying to waste a couple of hours as there were space limitations.

TL;DR – just a few tales that took place this weekend with abysmal T-Mobile service causing Google oddness.

While signal strength was there, there was next to no data flow in most of the areas I was in. This is not a change from the Sprint days, but I would have expected T-Mobile would have had more of a footprint.

This was OK, I thought, because all I needed to do was navigate a couple of places and be able to get and send texts. Guess what I couldn’t do?

It started about what I assumed was 30 minutes until party end. I sent my wife a text asking about when I should get back using the standard Google Messages. The first thing I noticed is I sent the text, and it didn’t show. I sent another mentioning the first had not shown, and noticed that it too was gone. I pulled a speed test and got something that started with 0 but I can’t remember what.

About 10 minutes later the texts appeared and said sending. This was odd because I got a response. Pulling up maps I couldn’t navigate anywhere by name and address. Fortunately me and Kim have stalker mode on the phones (used almost exclusively to make sure the other is getting the kids on time at school after care,) and I was able to tap and navigate.

Maps didn’t have train tracks listed and a train decided to stop and not move. With no re-route options, I guessed and did a 3-mile jaunt around the train in an area I was not particularly familiar with but had a general idea about. I could see a map, I’m guessing pre-cached, and was able to figure it out as Google recalculated occasionally. At some point my phone randomly texted Kim “where are you?” while I was attempting to get around the train which I had not texted. Voice recognition was useless. Saying “Navigate Home” would just sit and spin because it could simply not reach Google.

The next day we ended up at the Tennessee Renaissance Faire. Always an interesting event for wondering what the signal is going to be. Here’s a hint – it’s 5G 4 bars at the castle, and the main area maybe 3 bar LTE fading to edge within about 1000 feet. I wasn’t planning on using my phone for anything other than taking pictures, but spammers left me messages and all I knew was I had voicemail.

On the Edge network I got that I wasn’t registered and could only make emergency calls. I could just about see the castle top at that point and knew there was 5G there, but whatever… I did not know at this point that it was just someone wanting to offer me cash for my house, I just knew I had a call and due to my work I’m on call 24/7 and so I got to look at that voicemail notification and hope that work was not on fire.

Oh well.

I’m extremely surprised that in the few years since T-Mobile and Sprint merged that there hasn’t been a push into East Nashville, or at least not the areas I was in. Not entirely surprised by the Festival though, as now that they’re operated by the city now and cash only they really have no incentive. You would expect in the latter they would have some sort of pop up festival cell towers, but they don’t… womp womp.

I’m not particularly complaining (except maybe about the attempt to call voicemail,) but it seems like it’s 2022, 5G is everywhere, I was able to drive to Florida providing a WiFi hotspot for my kids with only a small stretch of no signal, and in populated and well attended areas there’s no usable cell signal.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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