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Cell Phone Reception and Wifi Connection in the California Foothills

Updated on April 3, 2015
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Hello...Hello...? Are You There?

Valley Springs, California is the epitome of random connections especially if your just passing through. or a new resident of the area, trying to make a simple phone call. It's entertaining, at the kids ball games, watching a new city transplant walking around furiously scowling at their cell phone, pacing, circling, raising the phone up to the sky like an icon worthy of worship, only to swing it back down towards the ground as if a huge sweeping movement will bring the cellular connection rulers to your phone. Shaking their head they snap the phone shut only to try again a few minutes later. I know this because I was that city transplant. I thought something was wrong with my phone. I thought to myself, "No bars?! What the heck? How could I have NO bars, for cryin' out loud, I'm in the middle of town!". Some of the on-lookers, who are my friends now, giggled as they watched my parody. They knew exactly what I was doing because they had gone through the same dance when they first moved here. Anyone with a child in Valley Springs, at one time or another, ends up on that campus trying desperately to find connection for a phone call or internet query and if your like me, from the city, where cell phone connections are everywhere, you'll find yourself baffled until someone tells you, "There is no such thing as reception on the school grounds at all, ever, zero, zilch, zip, nada."

Great Cell Phone Reception Area's

City
Route
Reception
Linden heading West towards Stockton
Fine Road all the way to Stockton.
Perfect
Hwy 88/12
Stockton all the way to the 88 turn off toward Jackson.
Perfect until the 88 turnoff.
Valley Springs to San Andreas
Approximately three mile stretch from Zippy Mart to 2nd Lime Creek Road
Good/Acceptable
Valley Springs to Jackson via Pardee
Watertown Road/Pardee Dam Road
Very Sketchy
Valley Springs to Jackson via Moke Hill
Hwy 26 to Hwy 49 to 13 Curves
Fair
Perfect: Have no worries, you're call will go through! Good/Acceptable: Not for important business calls. Fair to Sketchy: Reserve this area for calls you don't care to make or look forward to dropping.
Source

Update on Reception in/around Valley Springs

*Update - A new tower has been put up somewhere in the Valley Springs area and reception has boosted for everyone! T-Mobile works here now as well! Although the dead zones are still dead zones.

Dead Zones

In my new job as a bus driver in the area I soon became well versed where the reception was and where the dead zones are. There aren't a lot of totally dead spots, but where they are, they are dead!

The dead zones are on average less than a mile long, except for a couple. One of the largest dead zones is the Valley Springs to Stockton hwy. Hwy 26 heading west, toward Stockton, is one of the largest dead zones. It's a major commuter highway, that is rarely (if ever) patrolled by any policing units, so a person walking on the roadside, waving a phone around, is not un-common. There are NO call boxes on this stretch of hwy, there is no reception for any carrier in that area and the towns are twenty miles apart. So if your car breaks down, help won't be coming for a while.

Between friends, family and transport drivers in the Valley Springs area I have a good idea of what company gets what kind of reception. It seems like everyone has a different carrier in their attempt to find a solid connection. AT&T customer's seem to get the best all-around coverage. The AT&T customer is the one that's rarely going to experience a dropped call, but they do experience the dropped calls in the dead zones, everyone does. On the other hand T-Mobile is one of the worst. One lady doesn't bother carrying her phone when she's in Valley Springs. She says, "Its pointless. It'll ring but if I answer I can't hear them and vice versa". Sprint appears to be pretty good, but not as good as AT&T. Most 611 calls in the area go to AT&T operators.


Dead Zones Heading to Valley Springs, CA

City
Route
Reception
Escalon towards Valley Springs
Escalon/Belotta Road starting at Farmington until Hwy 26
Sketchy/Poor
Oakdale to Valley Springs
Twenty-Six mile Road to Milton Road
Was None; As of 1/2015 Poor/Weak
Linden
South Burson Road/Hwy 26 to Valley Springs
None
Copperopolis to Valley Springs/S.A.
Hwy 4 to Hwy 26
None/Sketchy/Poor
Pardee Dam in Valley Springs
Pardee Dam Road
Sketchy/Poor
Sketchy/Poor: Don't make important phone calls. None: Well, that means no reception at all.

What The Heck?

The service for any one particular company is so sketchy that often your cell phone call will be routed through another cellular company that has reception, without you even knowing it. The "roaming" indicator doesn't come on because your not necessarily "roaming", your within your calling area, your just using another air service.

One way to find out who's air space you're using just dial 611 from your phone. The west side of Silver Rapids, in Rancho Calaveras housing area, if you dial 611 the operator that answers will be AT&T. If your normal carrier is, let's say Sprint, the operator that answers will tell you to try again in your own service area (nicely of course).

Cell Phone Reception Stockton heading to Valley Springs

show route and directions
A markerBellota road & hwy 26 -
Hwy 26 & Escalon Bellota Rd, Linden, CA 95236, USA
get directions

From Bellota Rd. on hwy 26 until Ospital Road calls will drop-off, a lot. If your carrier is a Metro PC, forget it, it won't get any signal at.

B markerOlive Orchard Rd & hwy 26 -
Hwy 26 & Olive Orchard Rd, Rancho Calaveras, CA 95252, USA
get directions

After Ospital, you'll get reception really good until you pass Olive Orchard. The twisty section is dead. Text don't even come through here.

C markerBaldwin Road & Hwy 26 -
Hwy 26 & Baldwin Ln, Rancho Calaveras, CA 95252, USA
get directions

By Baldwin Rd. you will be on the air again. Often several text messages will suddenly come through here also.

D markerHwy 12 and 26, valley springs, ca -
Hwy 12 & Rte 26, Valley Springs, CA 95252, USA
get directions

From Baldwin all carriers are on. When you see the stop sign for Hwy 12/26 you have about 30 ft to complete your call or it will for you.

E markerHwy 26 and lime creek road, valley springs, ca -
Hwy 26 & Lime Creek Rd, Valley Springs, CA 95252, USA
get directions

When you pass the 2nd Lime Creek Rd turn, all cells go dead until Double Springs Road. On occasion Verizon can get through this dead zone, not always.

F markerHwy 49 & 26 -
Golden Chain Hwy & Rte 26, Mokelumne Hill, CA 95245, USA
get directions

If you head towards Moke Hill on 49, hang it up unless you have Golden Cellular or Sprint. Text can't penetrate those trees.

G markerHwy 26 san andreas, ca -
Hwy 26, San Andreas, CA, USA
get directions

If you continue on hwy 26 towards San Andreas you'll have full reception unless your using Metro PC. Dropped calls and dead-zone for Metro.

There's Hope on the Horizon

Repeaters are located in hilly terrain areas or where a signal is notoriously poor, in an effort to boost the cellular signal. A repeater "boosts" the signal from the cellular towers to allow cellular and Internet access where it would not normally be.

Unlike standard home boosters, that work well at home or where there is a router nearby, they amplify the gains to strengthen the signal, the Cel-fi works on the 3G and 4G wireless signal.

A mobile signal repeater has been developed in the UK that will do the same thing as a repeater but instead of "boosting" the signal for a town or region, it "boosts" the signal for your cell phone. Cel-fi consists of two wireless devices a Window Unit and a Coverage Unit that work together to increase 3G and 4G mobile broadband connectivity. Its been tested for use inside buildings and looks promising for remote use. Nextivity Inc. is the company behind the creativity here.

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Wifi Connection

For a small town, Valley Springs, has an abundance of good wifi hot spots. The two local coffee shop's have wifi available. Starbuck's carrier charges a nominal fee to use their service, even if you purchase an item, to log-on you have to pay.

On the other end of town we have a coffee house called Common Grounds. Their wifi is absolutely free. Yes, totally and completely. Often when the sunset has that brilliant orange and yellow sweeping across the sky, I enjoy pulling into one of the parking spaces and surfing the web from my car. The view is incredible and so is the wifi connection!

Source

Below you'll find a map of the coffee houses and information on other spots to jump a wifi connection in Valley Springs!

Wifi Hot Spots

show route and directions
A markervista del lago & hwy 26, valley springs, ca -
Hwy 26 & Vista Del Lago Dr, Valley Springs, CA 95252, USA
get directions

Common Grounds has a strong signal that allows surfing in the parking lot if you like!

B markerStarbucks, Burger King & a Random Signal -
Valley Springs, CA, USA
get directions

The MarVal shopping center has several open wifi spots in the parking lot. Burger King's signal is only inside the restaurant.

C markerVista Del Lago Dr & Hogan Dam Road, Valley Springs, ca -
Hogan Dam Rd & Vista Del Lago Dr, Valley Springs, CA 95252, USA
get directions

When I'm desperate for a wifi connection I can usually find one up here with good reception.

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