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Summary:

I remember when Om divorced his iPhone over the AT&T network issues he was having. I kept telling him that here in the sticks where I live, it’s been a rock-solid experience. When visiting our offices in San Francisco, I feel the pain: poor signal strength […]

new-att-logo2I remember when Om divorced his iPhone over the AT&T network issues he was having. I kept telling him that here in the sticks where I live, it’s been a rock-solid experience. When visiting our offices in San Francisco, I feel the pain: poor signal strength with various fluctuation, crawling data speeds, and my very first dropped calls. Luckily, the office visits are just a few days long, and when I return home to wide-open spaces, all is right with my iPhone. (I like going to the office; I just don’t like the phone issue.)

But recently, something happened, and I’m not sure what it is. I started to notice it about a month ago: two signal bars where I used to see five and calls going right to voicemail. Say what? I though it was just me, but then I read Ed Oswald’s recent post about AT&T issues in rural areas. All of the same symptoms are there. What used to be a safe haven for me in the land of cows and farms is starting to become a frustrating exercise in futility, and I don’t know why. Are the recently announced network upgrades causing service issues? Has AT&T sold one iPhone too many in my area? I simply don’t know.

Since I have a first-generation iPhone and didn’t upgrade to the iPhone 3G last year, I easily qualify for the maximum subsidy, and therefore the lowest price, for a new iPhone 3G S. I’m starting to wonder: Will be worth it? Last month, I thought the network upgrades would cement iPhone exclusivity for a few more years. Perhaps it will, but a solid phone with a shaky network is like driving a Corvette that’s down a few cylinders.

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  1. Maybe they are taking away your bandwidth in the country and giving it to the city folks??

    Really, I have a Pre as I have been on Sprint for 10 years, but I really like the iPhone and have tried it twice in the past 6 months (yes, TWICE!). But I have to make phone calls! I *thought* they were upgrading the network nation-wide, but I would wait and see how things go before jumping on a new 3GS later this month.

  2. Every time I think of jumping ship from Verizon to GSM, I think of things like this.

    You never hear stories like this about either of the major, US, CDMA carriers.

    1. It’s time for you to hear a story, I guess.

      I have an AT&T BlackBerry Bold, an AT&T BlackBerry Pearl, a Verizon BlackBerry Pearl and a Sprint Treo 700w in the Portland area. I frequently travel from the extreme outskirts of the greater Portland area. My AT&T phones consistently drop fewer calls than the Sprint and Verizon counterparts and the 3G speed and coverage on AT&T blows the CDMA carriers out of the water. I loathe the fact that work puts me on terrible CDMA carriers. Plus my GSM phones have at least 2x the battery life of their CDMA counterparts. It’s no wonder that GSM is the Global Standard.

      However, I will agree with Kevin that since they’ve been doing their “upgrades”, service has been a little odd. Mostly just the occasional moment of silence on a call, but not an actual drop. I’ve been through a few network upgrades, so I know this is unfortunately normal.

    2. Yes my old Sprint coverage *dropped* fewer calls however – I could make fewer calls as signal was too weak at both my brother’s house in Chattanooga & parents house in Knoxville
      – Sprint also routinely would not inform me of voicemails until days later and sometimes not deliver them at all! (a problem that seemed to be getting worse not better)

  3. If I remember from some of your earlier posts, you don’t live far from me. I’ve been noticing exactly the same thing with my service. Especially in my house. Depending on where I am in there, it switches from 3G to EDGE, and that’s when I have problems.

    I think it may be something to do with the 7.2Mbps upgrades. With all of this going on, plus the crippled iPhone and absurd pricing, I think I’m officially done with AT&T.

    1. Sorry for being a little confused here, but you’re going to deal with the old *Apple crippled* (not AT&T crippled) iPhone and some slight network issues for a month just to jump ship when the fixed iPhone launches on an even faster network? The only crippling the 3G S has from AT&T is MMS and tethering and they said that’s going to be available by the end of the summer. It’s June now, end of Summer is August, so you’ve got maybe two months of “crippling”.

  4. I am just biding my time for LTE and the Verizon Iphone, I have a G1 and a contract that will be up around the time that LTE starts its major rollout, so the timing should work out to my favor. On a side note the 1.5 update for Android has definitely made me happier on my decision to go with the G1, there was a point where I was regretting my decision to not go AT&T.

  5. As part of the 3G expansion, AT&T has been moving their 3G service to the 850Mhz frequency, and Edge up to 1900Mhz. Essentially, they’re swapping them.

    850Mhz at a given power level has longer range and better penetration into buildings. So it’s entirely possible that your Edge phone is now using 1900Mhz, when it was on 850Mhz before, and you’re seeing the effect of the frequency swap – poower performance.

    1. Thanks – very interesting info.

  6. I have noticed it here as well. Where I live outside Chattanooga, I get 3G because I live on the top of a ridge other parts of my subdivision are still stuck in 2003 ;)

    Over the last month, I’ve noticed that when my iPhone “forgets” it can get 3G here and switches to Edge I have just a sliver of bar (instead of 2-3). However bar wise 3G service seems a touch lower as well: 4-5 bars of old are now 3-4 bars. I’m not sure if that changes is upgrade related as I’m always on wifi here so speed changes would be meaningless.

    1. Scott,
      Where in Chattanooga? I’m in Ooltewah, off Hunter Rd, and am looking forward to my 3Gs arriving in just over a week. But I’m now concerned about the service at home.

      Thanks!

  7. i thought at&t was phasing out the 850mhz band which is used in the rural areas and going to the 1900mhz band (i am not sure though)?

    i think they mentioned this awhile back.

  8. When AT&T boosted 3G they cut Edge signals. With their new upgrades speculation is that Edge AND existing 3G signals are being cut to save money to go towards 7.2. Which sounds about right and par for the course for AT&T. No wonder everyone hates them so much. When the 3G iPhone first came out I upgraded and had nothing but frustration with dropped calls. i sold it and used a Verizon phone. Then went back to the 3G after AT&T boosted 3G signals. I wonder if i am going to have to go through the same thing again. I’m seriously thinking of getting a Blackberry on T-Mobile since Verizon’s phone selection sucks.

  9. Rick Huizinga Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    Shortly after the iPhone 3G was announced, I noticed that the performance of EDGE data on my 1st gen iPhone dramatically decreased to nearly unusable levels.

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