9-11 Technology Filter: I have never been able to even get signal on my Blackberry 8200 (GSM) within 10 seconds of liftoff, so how were cell phone calls completed from hijacked planes on 9-11? Specifically, given the prevailing handset, carrier, and tower technologies present in the Boston, NY, and DC metro and intervening areas at the time, and given the flight paths and altitudes of the hijacked planes, how were passengers able to complete cellphone calls to loved ones?
On the radio this morning, I heard some conspiracy theorists posit that proof of the 9-11 hoax is that all the evidence of the hijackers comes from cell and AirFone calls from the planes. They claimed that one of the planes was not equipped with AirFones, but that nonetheless descriptions of that hijacking came from passengers calling loved ones and their own voice mails on their cell phones (I don't not remember which plane they claimed didn't have airphones). All I could find online that was remotely coherent was here
but it is very light on the technical details which would seem to put this issue to rest conclusively.
Some my questions are as follows:
A. How was it possible to for passengers to complete these calls at high altitudes? Were phones and towers more powerful then? Did they use a different encoding scheme that was more robust? (Analog vs. Digital, CDMA vs. GSM, etc.) The more technical the response, the better.
B. Were any of these calls from passengers recorded? What about the infamous "Let's Roll" (or "let's roll it"?) call? Are the voice mails available online?
C. Is a map available of the flight paths of the four planes that (a) includes their altitude, and (b) includes tower locations from 2001
from the major wireless carriers?
D. Has anyone been able to complete a cell phone call from an aircraft at any time between a minute after takeoff and a minute prior to landing? What carrier and phone?
E. If you have ever worked near the top of a very tall building (i.e. much taller than surrounding buildings and far above the ground, i.e. Transamerica in SF, Sears Tower in Chicago, Empire State or WTC in NY, Petronas Towers, Taipei 101, etc), have you experienced poor service that was explained because of your floors height above the surrounding towers?
F. Do cell towers not broadcast or receive signals from above? I assumed that towers broadcast signal radially and would therefore be subject to the inverse square law. Am I wrong? Are towers in rural areas significantly higher and stronger than towers in urban areas? Why?
Sorry if this is too long or inappropriately formated for AskMe. There is very little I could find about this on the web, so any help would be appreciated, and as I said, the more technical, the better.