Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cellphone call quality is a disgrace

Cellphone call quality is a disgrace, article.
I thought it was just me. No matter what phone or service I've used, it's always a problem just hearing what the heck people are saying. I know I'm eccentric, but I would have thought that solving this should be a higher priority than putting 12-megapixel 3D video cameras in those dang things?

4 comments:

ROSA said...

you know man, since the beginning of the this cellphones thing I said:
"In the future, cellphones will have mp3s, internet and lasers to shoot people. The only thing they will NOT do it to call people and let you speak to them"

|Well, everyday this seems more true. I hope for the lasers.

Alex said...

They're just trying to cram as many parallel conversations down the pipe as they can. Who cares about quality.

I had some hope for digital, it would clean things up. Sure did. It cleans up so much of the noise that often the start of words are clipped. I was talking to a field tech the other day, and every time he was quiet enough the background noise vanished. I kept wondering if the call had dropped.

I can now see a lot of the merits of analog cellular which we have thrown away.

One good thing about digital cellular is shipping information around. The average freeway callbox in California calls home every couple of days. The older ones talk DTMF, there were some data capable units which used to have a 9600 baud modem. Both of these were problematic. The newer models can send their overnight status in about 5 seconds of connect time, as opposed to a 2 minute DTMF session, or for the modems 2 minutes of just training the modem, for a 30 second log dump.

The strange thing is modern cell phones, even with QWERTY keyboards, have special modes to couple to TTY's (eg LG VX9800). These send characters in baudot, the cellphone is put in a mode where it reproduces the tones with greater fidelity than voice. I did try using this mode for voice, but it required using the headphone jack.

The latest breed of callbox still use DTMF tones, but the cell system can really mess them up, we are using the cellphone to genereate the tones, rather than back in the controller, which used to be the better way to do it.

My colleagues have been working with cellular for 20+ years ( I only entered the field 15 years ago), they talk about the bad old days and the good old days. The system and infrastructure is far superior today, we all agree on that. The voice quality of the calls is really crappy, we all agree on that.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Maybe voice over IP will solve it, and put a few more nails in the coffins of the old phone monopolies.

Alex said...

Isn't VoIP analogous to digital cellular? We've all had Skype conference calls, and know how bad they are. Last couple we've ended up using Skype for the video, and POTS for the voice.