Category: CARRIERS

AT&T pushing DSL subscribers to “Internet Air” in the Reno area, but is their network up to the task yet?

Filed under: at&t,Wireless data - May 23 2024

In late 2023, AT&T began notifying internet customers in the Reno area that are not currently eligible for Fiber Internet, about the availability of AT&T Internet Air. The targeted customers include subscribers to DSL and former “U-verse” branded Internet service.

AT&T advertises “as of March 2024, Internet Air delivers typical download speeds between 75-225 Mbps and upload speeds between 10-30 Mbps”. But in order to deliver the advertised speeds on a consistent basis, their wireless cell site near your location needs to be upgraded with the extra 5G+ bandwidth that can support multiple users in your neighbor. As of this writing in May 2024, AT&T has only upgraded 19 of their 60 cell sites in the Reno area. This map shows the cell sites that have been or are currently in the process of being upgraded.

Therefore, before acting upon AT&Ts offer to “upgrade” your service, for best results make sure that you live near a cell site that’s been upgraded to 5G+. Also it is suggested to perform some speed tests near various windows around your home to check download, upload and latency speeds – and compare with your current internet service.

Reno wireless cell sites leaderboard

Filed under: CARRIERS - May 15 2023

As of 7/15/24 – recent changes highlighted below:

This chart will be regularly updated to show the Reno area wireless carrier’s number of active cell sites, sites under construction (U.C.) and sites in the planning or permitting process (P/P). The chart also includes small cell (SC) sites and outdoor distributed antennas systems. Numbers reflect sites serving the Truckee Meadows – Reno/Sparks city limits, and unincorporated areas in-between (such as Saddlehorn, Mogul and Sun Valley).

Wireless CarrierMacros ActiveMacros U.C.Macros P/PSC ActiveSC U.C.SC P/P
Dish Wireless4500000
Legend: U.C. = Under Construction, P/P = Planning/Permitting (activity within past 2 years), SC = Small Cell/oDAS

Upgraded 5G+/UW/UC midband sites

Upgraded 5G midband macro sites with 5G+ (AT&T n77), Ultra Wideband “5GUW” (Verizon n77) or Ultra Capacity “5GUC” (T-Mobile n41). These sites have much more bandwidth enabling more simultaneous users and data speed availability of 1 Gbps or more. These sites also allow home internet Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) to be offered in the area.

Wireless CarrierActive/U.C. vs Total MacrosP/PMap
AT&T21 / 60 (35%)165G+
T-Mobile49 / 66 (74%)8
Verizon47 / 83 (57%)215GUW/CBRS
Massive MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) panel antennas noted above with the red arrows, are used with midband frequencies and high bandwidth to help allow more simultaneous users and data speeds of 1 Gbps or more. This cell site is located on E 7th St & Montello St in Reno.

Download bandwidth by carrier in Washoe County

CarrierDeployed Total Download Bandwidth (Low band FDD + mid band FDD + mid band TDD + 3 GHz TDD)*
AT&T35+50+0+120=205 MHz
Dish10+45+0+0=55 MHz
T-Mobile25+55+200+0=280 MHz
Verizon20+35+0+200=255 MHz
*Excluding 3 GHz CBRS.

Data used for these tables is derived from on-location cell site observations, user reports and public records.

Verizon Wireless completes coverage improvements for commuters and residents along Mt. Rose Hwy

Verizon Wireless recently completed coverage improvements along the Mt. Rose Highway stretching from Wedge Parkway in Reno on the east, to Tahoe Meadows near the Mt. Rose summit on the west. Improvements in the past year include the installation of 4 new cell sites along the Mt. Rose Highway corridor and improvements to an existing cell site atop Slide Mountain.

New cell sites include:

  • Sky Tavern ski area (at the summit)
  • New site serving the Saddlehorn/Arrowcreek/Whites Creek area
  • Mt Rose Hwy & Wedge Pkwy
  • NDF Galena Fire Station – new taller monopine with room for 3 carriers replacing existing monopine.

New monopine on distant/right with Verizon Wireless and AT&T antennas. T-Mobile will locate on the bottom position.

City of Reno moves forward to allow small cells on city owned street lights

Filed under: CARRIERS - Jul 25 2018

On July 25, 2018 the Reno City Council moved forward to allow the installation of small cells on city owned street lights. The agreements with AT&T, Verizon and ExteNet Systems, Inc. are projected to allow the installation of 100 small cell sites in the first year of deployment, and up to 5000 locations after 5 years. Additionally over 150 miles of fiber optic cable will be installed to support the small cells.

Some differences between a small cell and the more common “macro cell” are the size of antennas and equipment, and the range. While a macro cell will typically service a range of one to several miles with multiple directional antennas as large as 8 feet tall, a small cells range is typically no more than 1/4 mile with antennas just a few feet tall and hidden inside a shroud atop a street light or other tall pole.

A small cell pictured here was constructed in mid-2018 on an existing street light at the corner of Evans Avenue and Enterprise Road in Reno, and served as a demonstration of what future small cells would look like.

Edited 11/8/18 to correct that the small cell shown in the picture was a non-operational demonstration of the what small cells would look like. 

How to improve wireless cell coverage at home

Filed under: CARRIERS - Nov 24 2016

Do you have poor wireless cell coverage at home due to wireless carriers having trouble locating their cellular transmission antennas, towers and poles in residential neighborhoods? Resident complaints that cell towers will decrease property values or become eyesores within the landscape have persuaded elected officials to deny the permits needed to construct new cell sites.

Fortunately there are a few solutions that will improve wireless cell coverage within the home or other small-to-medium size buildings where coverage is weak. All four major U.S. wireless carriers now offer Wi-Fi Calling, which is available on many of the latest smartphones. Alternatively, the carriers also offer a small device that connects to your home broadband internet connection technically called a “femtocell” – which improves the wireless signal to cell phones located nearby. Each carrier has their own branded femtocell – links for the individual carrier’s femtocell offerings follow:

Wi-Fi Calling can be a better alternative – it uses the existing wi-fi connection in your home to connect your phone to the wireless cellular network through your home broadband internet connection. When connected, calls and text messages will typically be as clear and reliable as your wi-fi connection. Check with your carrier and/or smartphone manufacturer for instructions on how to setup Wi-Fi Calling.

The advantage of Wi-Fi Calling vs. getting a femtocell is that if you have a compatible smartphone and a Wi-Fi router, there is no extra cost to setup Wi-Fi Calling. A femtocell can cost up to a few hundred dollars, however carriers will sometimes discount or fully subsidize the cost for the device for their more profitable customers.


Verizon adds 3 more cells sites in the Reno area since July, relocates one

Filed under: New Cell Site Active,Verizon Wireless - Oct 30 2016

Verizon has launched three new cell sites since July and relocated one due to road construction. The new sites include:

  • Lemmon Valley – next to the water tower off Patrician Drive
  • Wooster High School – replacing one off the light poles on the football field
  • Summit Mall – a monopine located at a self-storage facility behind the mall

In Sparks, a cell site near Pyramid Way and Queen Way was relocated to a new church tower to the east due to the construction and widening of Pyramid Way.

Verizon Wireless continues to add new cell sites in the Reno area

Filed under: New Cell Site Active,Verizon Wireless - Jul 28 2016

Verizon Wireless continues to outpace other wireless carriers in the construction of new cell sites in the Reno area. Since February 2015, Verizon has added 4 new cell sites:

  • McCarran & Neil – atop the office building across from Meadowood Mall
  • East Lincoln & Howard, Sparks – a monopole near the Sparks Marina
  • Greenbrae Shopping Center, Sparks – a monopine behind the Post Office
  • Las Brisas Blvd. near N. McCarran – a monopine near the NV Energy power substation

Verizon currently has at least 7 additional cell sites in the planning, permitting or construction process.

T-Mobile adds new cell site near South Virginia & Patriot

Filed under: New Cell Site Active,T-Mobile - Jan 01 2016

T-Mobile has added a new cell site near South Virginia Street & Patriot Blvd. The site is co-located on an existing monopole which is also occupied by Sprint.

Reno ranks second-to-last in June mobile network test of 125 most populous metro areas

Reno ranks 124th of the most populous 125 metro areas in the United States in testing of overall mobile network performance according to a recent RootMetrics report.

Data for the Reno metro area only shows a virtual three-way tie between T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T for overall network performance. Individual tests of Network Reliability, Call and Text are virtually tied between the 4 major carriers which include Sprint. According to the report Verizon is the Award winner in terms of Network speed and Data, while Sprint falls short of the other 3 carriers in those categories.

Cricket Wireless old CDMA network to be shut down by mid-September 2015

Filed under: at&t,CARRIERS,Cricket - Feb 27 2015

Fierce Wireless has reported that the Cricket Wireless CDMA network will be shut down by mid-September 2015. AT&T bought Cricket in 2014 and has been transitioning customers to AT&T’s GSM/LTE network.

It’s possible that once the shut down is complete AT&T will transition the old Cricket cell sites to AT&T LTE sites and help fill-in coverage gaps in AT&T’s network.

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