Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Summits | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

No more 3G in Germany

For those who wish to spot or check spots from a German Summit, it should be noted that all three cell networks in Germany (Telekom(T-Mobile), Vodafone and Telefonica(O2)) stopped their 3G data services on June 30th. The existing frequencies and mast space are to be re-used in the expansion of the 5G networks into regional areas.

Even if (like me) you have a 4G/LTE smartphone, this may not solve the problem as many such (older 4G) phones have the 1800/2100 MHz LTE bands but not the 850MHz band that is used in regional Germany (and across many regional areas of European countries including the UK). This is the old CDMA frequency and is known as “Band 20” that has been re-purposed for 4G. In large cities the 1800/2100 MHz bands give good 4G coverage but when out on a summit (as I was on Monday) it is hit and miss if you can find a cell tower with one of these bands and hence have data capabilities to your phone.

In theory some data connection might be possible via the old 2G network, which is still in place however for current Apps that is far too slow. I also found I was unable to send SMS texts on Monday, which I thought should still be possible.

If your phone has Band 20 4gLTE support, you should have coverage over most of Germany but if visiting with a 3G only or early 4G without B20 you will be lucky to get a data connection once you move into the countryside.

73 Ed.

4 Likes

Hi Ed,
thank you for the info. This is going to be similar to my experience when traveling in the US with a European smartphone. 3 family members with different phone models, resulting in a “data coverage lottery” whenever changing to another area/state. So it will be a good idea to carry a APRS capable handheld as a backup for spotting. A pity though for monitoring the spots for potential S2S during activations.

In HB9, 2G is being discontinued instead.

73 Jens HB9EKO

Hi Jens,
even with 3G gone - I should have been able to SMS my spot in - I don’t know why that failed.
The other problem is that I need to see what the current spots are and I think I need Internet for that, or can the current list be received via HF APRS?
73 Ed.

1 Like

Hi Ed,

Via APRS one can request the spots. But via SMS it is not available.
There used to be a system for that on the old Spot SMS system that required a registration with a pin code. And as far as I know a donation as sending SMS is not for free.

But I agree 2G should work fine for sending SMS.

73 Joe

1 Like

It was probably time to get a new phone in any case. It arrives tomorrow. Then everything will hopefully be back to normal on the summits as regards receiving spot data. This is probably a lot cheaper than an APRS equipped radio as well!

73 Ed.

I have a couple of numbers registered for you Ed. But I didn’t see anything from them in the logs. Nothing rejected, no bad formats etc. It looks like it never arrived at my end and that normally means it never left your phone for whatever reason.

There are real problems sending SMS out to people apart from the cost. A typical week consists of about 2900 spots (no special events running). As Andrew commented, “wonder what an iPhone would do with that many spots”. 2900 a week is 414 day or 17 an hour or one every 4 minutes.

There are currently 1410 sotawatch sessions and if everyone wanted spots by SMS that would mean sending 580000 SMS a day. When you get to that kind of volume you need a hefty server(s) to handle the traffic and that volume is going to trip every mobile network’s spam detection alarms.

If people want to get spots by SMS then they’ll need to roll their own solution using the SPOTS API call and something of their own to filter and send the spots. A basic system is probably a day’s work for an average programmer

1 Like

I agree with your summary Andy. I would say getting the actual spots by SMS is not really needed.
If one is on a summit without data connection others will try to get you S2S.

And getting the spot out is key and that is covered by SMS or APRS. Or ask a chaser to spot.

I think we are fine :+1:

73 Joe

1 Like

The only time I’ve considered receiving SMS on a summit is as an ACK message to my satellite spotter. However, the 14p per 30bytes received soon made me see the error of that idea!

Thanks for checking Andy. It was clearly a cell network problem and I think that might be not uncommon now in Germany as the 3G service has gone, my phone would be hunting for the 4G cell that it couldn’t find. If I had turned off the data, it might then have connected to a 2G cell and been able to send out the SMS spot message. It was only after getting home that I remembered that 3G has been closed down a few weeks back.
The two numbers you have for me are on the different networks here and usually either work without issue.
73 Ed.

1 Like