cell phone service

The past several RAGBRAI events the group has overwhelmed to available cell towers in these small communities and have crashed their systems. Even when systems are working, service is intermittent. Can temporary cell systems be set up so phone service is functional for the riders and the local residents. ( Hoping someone in charge can see this)

20 Replies

Derek Fye, March 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

This definitely needs to be looked into. Last couple years cell service has been awful.


Mike Howe, March 5, 2019 at 4:27 pm

I would imagine cell service providers are not going to want to spend the extra time or the money setting up temporary towers along the route for one week. To me its part of the fun although the local residents who lose their cell phone coverage probably dont like it.


ESchiers, March 5, 2019 at 8:19 pm

I wish there was a “traveling” cell tower for the ride. The family gets nervous if I don’t check in everyday. Luckily, a text message will go through immediately or a little later in the evening after most people have gone to sleep if a call doesn’t happen.


TheBus2003, March 6, 2019 at 5:51 am

I enjoy being disconnected for the week.


jwsknk, March 6, 2019 at 8:04 am

I thought the overnight towns did have some brought in by some companies. The daytime pass through probably not worth the effort for 2-3 max rider period


Dizzy, March 6, 2019 at 8:09 am

jdeutmeyer: You are so correct that this is an issue, especially for the local residents. For me, 2012 seemed to be the worst year for service interruptions; less so in ’14, ’16 & ’18.
Commenting on “traveling/portable cell towers”, it’s a great idea. However, I can’t imagine the current providers doing so until they smell competition. Perhaps some entrepreneurial millennial will spring into action and make themselves a millionaire in the way that Steve Jobs took 10 year old technology and reworked it into the i-pod.
For “nervous families”, I was advised in 2012 to start each text w/a “date and time entry” so receivers would understand the time delay between sending and receiving. That helped relieve communication stress.
And finally, like TheBus2003, when I was working, I loved being “disconnected from the hive”. D


Anonymous, March 6, 2019 at 8:50 am

Service has greatly improved along with technology over the years. As mentioned above text with time and day goes right through. Verizon is big here in Iowa and I never have a problem, over the last few years, with cell phone usage on Ragbrai, being a Verizon customer, not sure if that has a thing to do with it.


Larry Klaaren, March 6, 2019 at 9:41 am

I just told people that phone calls weren’t going to happen. In case of emergency they could call my charter, and if anything that happened to me involved blood or the police, I am sure that the authorities would inform my wife. It was a nice restful week.


kicks9, March 6, 2019 at 9:52 am

I havent ridden since 2015 but I do remember windstream (i think) vans that provided service. I would look for them each day stop at their van connect to the internet they provided and send messages or call (over voip). Worked for me, i would usually find some shop or bar with wireless at night and do the same thing.


Groeny82, March 6, 2019 at 2:48 pm

This may be just an old rumor but I thought I heard several years ago Verizon had trucks come in set up with additional mobile towers or a signal booster or something but then they stopped doing that because of the costs involved. Maybe a more knowledgeable veteran can elaborate on this and if it is even true or not.


ESchiers, March 6, 2019 at 6:32 pm

Dizzy, great idea about date and time at the beginning of a text.


KenH, March 7, 2019 at 7:45 am

Roadside vendors locations between pass through towns are often excellent places to catch a good connection to the cell system. The masses of riders are in the towns and except for those who have stopped to eat at the same vendor those passing by on their bikes are not using their phones. So you stand a fair chance of getting a connection to the nearest tower. Another thing that works really well is to use those times in the middle of the night when something has woken you up. So many of the rest of us are asleep that you will usually get a connection. Granted the folks back home won’t want you calling at that hour but you can send texts, post to Facebook, pretty much do anything you want to do just as if you were the only one in town. If you are patient you can get a connection almost anywhere, just make sure the people you are calling know that it may take some time. And texts work much better than anything else. They require little bandwidth or dwell time so the system can service them relatively quickly.


Chad Frana, March 7, 2019 at 2:08 pm

US Cellular has at times had the mobile truck at the overnight towns.. As rumor had it, they were not able to provide as much support last year as a main tower went down and they needed the truck somewhere else in the state. I did see it once last year and 3 times the prior year.. I know it was in Cresco in ’17 and I had great reception but most anyone with Verizon and AT&T had issues.


Joe Chavis, March 7, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Plan to ride 23rd consecutive RAGBRAI in 2019. If memory serves, and I am gettin’ a bit in the tooth… I probably rode ’bout as many without a cell phone as I have with. ADVICE: Turn the thing off, while riding. It saves the battery and most riders I’ve seen got no real business trying to talk and ride anywho. Stop, check in with whoever at home, like you can do anything to help them anyway from the middle of Iowa… turn it OFF stow it, get back on your bike…ride. On average, my phone is maybe on for 10 minutes each day. Have Safe Be Fun


Bluestreelguy ., March 9, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Being out of touch is kind of the point on this ride.
It’s a week of no noise.
re-entry on Monday always just sucks.


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)

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