Cellular or smartphone calls / texts / data when on a moving train

  • #1
symbolipoint
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Summary:
Smartphone users on moving train receive good cellular service?
Do smartphone users get good cellular service as well as good cellular data while on a moving passenger train? This is assuming no wi-fi available.
 

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  • #2
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It depends on where the train is and whether there is coverage in rural areas the train passes through.
 
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  • #3
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My wife had an odd experience with her cell phone and sending a photo while on a national parks tour. Their tour bus would go in an out of service areas. While on the bus, she tried to send me a few photos but the sending would fail when she lost service and try again when service was strong enough and then fail...

We got an error message email that said we had exhausted our cell data plan and that when we discovered what had happened.
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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My wife had an odd experience with her cell phone and sending a photo while on a national parks tour. Their tour bus would go in an out of service areas. While on the bus, she tried to send me a few photos but the sending would fail when she lost service and try again when service was strong enough and then fail...

We got an error message email that said we had exhausted our cell data plan and that when we discovered what had happened.
That tells us something. Restrict data usage while using cell/smartphone on moving train. One thing best to avoid, is to try to send picture attachments in email. Another thing best to not do is upload images to cloud storage. Waiting until you're in a stable wi-fi location would be the way to go.
 
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  • #6
berkeman
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It depends on where the train is and whether there is coverage in rural areas the train passes through.
In addition to poor signal strength issues in rural areas, the multi-path reflections will play havoc with the cell signals when there are reflecting objects in the area (like buildings, bridges, etc. Multi-path is hard enough to deal with for a stationary TX/RX system, let alone when the RX device is moving through multiple reflection zones (at several time a second...
 
  • #7
symbolipoint
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In addition to poor signal strength issues in rural areas, the multi-path reflections will play havoc with the cell signals when there are reflecting objects in the area (like buildings, bridges, etc. Multi-path is hard enough to deal with for a stationary TX/RX system, let alone when the RX device is moving through multiple reflection zones (at several time a second...
So the meaning is, cellular data while on a moving train will likely be spotty or absent. I guess this also means that travelers who are on the same moving train but in different train cars will often not be able to call or text each other.
 
  • #8
berkeman
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I believe so. But in a moving car, we can often carry on voice calls, so maybe the cell companies have figured out ways to combat the multi-path issues (make the packets small enough to make it through the multi-path flutter...
 
  • #9
anorlunda
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In a voice call, a 1 second dropout may be hard to notice. But when sending a picture, it may be enough to spoil the upload and make it start over.
 
  • #10
tech99
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I believe that Fourth and Fifth Generation mobile systems are designed to work with multipath and even to exploit it to actually increase performance by using diversity. A mobile can communicate with more than one base station simultaneously, for instance. However the high speed of a train plus the frequent obstructions to propagation will mean frequent loss of signal, which I have found worse than with road travel. When at a remote location with no apparent mobile coverage, I have found that I can send a text via reflection from a passing aircraft. Text is very efficient for getting a quick burst through.
 
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  • #11
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Does your provider provide a map of coverage? I know with mine, Vodafone NZ, you can see signal coverage for 2G / 3G / 4G and areas now privy to 5G.
 
  • #12
symbolipoint
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Does your provider provide a map of coverage? I know with mine, Vodafone NZ, you can see signal coverage for 2G / 3G / 4G and areas now privy to 5G.
Good question and worth checking. I believe the carrier (the provider) does give a coverage map. Worth a recheck!
 

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