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The (Wireless) Dead Zones

Monday, October 11, 2004;

What's that noise? It's the sound of one guy pounding away at a keyboard for an hour and change, taking a break only to look up yet another fact in the 10th tab he's opened in his Web browser ... Yes, it's time for another Web chat. I'll be taking your questions from 2 to 3 p.m. ET today at washingtonpost.com/technology. So please stop by, or submit a question in advance.

Now, topic A for this week's newsletter: Cell-phone dead zones. I asked readers in last week's e-letter to tell me where their phones lose service, prompting about 100 replies. Some exceedingly detailed -- one woman inventoried every dead zone she encounters on the highways between Norfolk, Va., and upstate New York.

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The point of gathering these reader tips is to help me and my colleagues assemble the Post's annual guide to wireless phone plans, which will run in the Sunday Business section later this month. (Last year's is here.)

Here's a quick summary of the reader reports I received, broken down by which carrier was involved and which state readers complained about reception in, but otherwise in no particular order:

AT&T Wireless

D.C.: Rock Creek Park, Massachusetts Avenue NW (at Observatory Circle and at Nebraska Avenue).

Maryland: Temple Hills Road (from Clinton to St. Barnabas Road), I-270 N. (from Falls Road onramp), Silver Spring (Dennis Avenue between Sligo Creek and University Road).

Virginia: Leesburg (Edwards Ferry Rd. between River Creek Pkwy. and Battlefield Pkwy.), Fair Lakes, Tysons Corner (Route 7 between Tysons and Georgetown Pike), I -66 (Beltway and Dulles Toll Road interchanges), Reston (20194 Zip code, at the intersection of Lawyers and Twin Branches Roads), Vienna (near Westwood Country Club).

Cingular Wireless

D.C.: Connecticut Avenue NW (between Dupont Circle and Cleveland Park), Adams Morgan (blocks around Ontario Place).

Maryland: Clinton, Silver Spring (Georgia Avenue between Connecticut Avenue and Randolph Road), I-270 "all the way to Gaithersburg," Bethesda (Woodmont Triangle).

Virginia: Fredericksburg (Locust Grove), George Washington Memorial Parkway (between Old Town Alexandria and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, and at Fort Marcy), Fairfax City, Sterling (Potomac Falls neighborhoods), Dale City, Telegraph Road, Woodbridge.

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