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Has Your AT&T 3G Network Improved?

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iphoneBy now, you all are very aware of my decision to break up with my iPhone because of connectivity problems with AT&T’s (s T) network. Since then, others have complained and switched away from the iPhone as well. As expected, my breakup didn’t go down too well in some company quarters. I think AT&T could have foreseen that a device that one of its senior executives deemed a “game changer” would be so popular that it would choke its bandwidth.

Today, an AT&T spokesperson reached out and gave me an update, pointing out that the company had started to turn up its 850MHz network in San Francisco, which is now being used exclusively for 3G connectivity. The company did a similar (albeit emergency) network upgrade in Austin, Texas, when SXSW visitors overwhelmed its infrastructure. To be clear, this is just the start of the upgrade process, and it will continue for some time before the network starts to perform better. AT&T has promised to keep me abreast — and hopefully have me back on the iPhone.

For now, I am rather happy with the not-so-cheap-but-rock-solid Verizon Wireless network. And I have no complaints about the BlackBerry Tour, which really is an excellent device. The question for those of you who are in San Francisco: Have you experienced any improvement in your network quality?

64 Responses to “Has Your AT&T 3G Network Improved?”

  1. Out on Maui, Hawaii. My friends on the ATT/iPhone are constantly frustrated with dropped calls and spotty signal even in well populated areas.

    My t-mobile coverage, while areas are less, is rock solid in the places they advertise as covered.

    My brother has verizon. SOLID.
    For my webcast business, I use verizon broadband: amazing coverage (even in nooks and crannies along the shore). It’s way better than Clearwire.

    Verizon has impressed me a lot (except for the prices).


  2. I live in DC and have no problems with getting a solid 3G connection here or anywhere else in the northeast that I travel.

    However, I spent last week on vacation driving from Seattle down to SF (where I stayed near Market). MAN, what an education about how bad AT&T’s network can be. Along the whole way my wife’s Verizon Blackberry had no issues. I went from no signal to minimal signal to an occasional 3G to Edge.

    In SF this past weekend I would sometimes get 3G but was usually stuff with Edge.

  3. Not in Chicago. They let me out of my contracts (2) ETF free due to my dozen or so support calls in a 3 month time frame. I vowed never again.

    @Panch: no they aren’t, but vocal and influential people are the ones who can help spur change. ‘the squeaky wheel……..’

    • hey i live in chicago too, and ive been thru 3 phones in the last 2months. all having the same problems. ive called in to service for help and now the whole 3g network not working well is overall frustrating. did they let you out of the contract without any fees? how did that happen?

  4. As shocked as I am to say this, my 3G service is much better in the last several days than it has ever been. I work at 1 Market St. and I can now actually get a strong 3G signal inside the buildings there (most of the time). As others have said, 3G and Edge basically disappeared from SF after the release of the 3Gs, so for me this is s huge improvement. Sorry to hear that not everyone is experiencing the same.

  5. Verizon/AT&T plans are too high. I will stick with Sprint/Pre and iPod Touch and with two devices I am saving nearly $1,000 compared to Verizon/AT&T plans and I do not have dropped calls. Sprint’s network is on par with Verizon (see PC World study). Verizon has a lot of phones but no good ones. The BB Storm has been a disaster. If you want to save money and have a good selection of devices, I would recommend Sprint.

  6. Jonathan

    Here in DC, I’ve found there has been a vast improvement in the 3G network. Very few dropped calls, and consistently high data rates. I can even make/receive calls in my basement office now, when only a few months ago, I could not do that.

  7. Ever since 3gs my service has also been horrible. When is att going to get their act together? I’m not sure when this supposed upgrade took place, but I still have poor 3g service downtown and at home. With service like this Im switching as soon as their contract ends and other networks open up to the iphone.

  8. Panch Rupaiyya

    Om Malik wrote: “As expected, my breakup didn’t go down too well in some company quarters.”

    Gee, AT&T is now quaking in its boots because Om Malik unsubscribed? And what about Steve Jobs – is he sweating bullets, too?

  9. Out here in Gig Harbor, WA, I drop calls and chew through battery like it’s going out of style. Funny how most of those problems simply disappear when I turn off 3G. Battery life is much more respectable and I drop far fewer calls.

    The only annoying part is remembering to turn it on (or off) when I go out on the road.

  10. Irony is that AT&T coverage where I live sucks – 1 block from Apple HQ.
    Finally switched to VZW 4 weeks – fantastic coverage anywhere within my house, neighborhood and where I commute to.

  11. fever104

    I work in South Bay area. What I notice is that I need to turn on 3G to get a better reception. I guess ATT starts to migration all the 850 Mhz spectrum for exclusive 3G usage. I used to turn off 3G at work to preserve battery life but couldn’t do it any more as edge reception is getting much worse.

  12. I’m in Pasadena (near Los Angeles, CA). A couple of months ago, I was averaging 800 down and 120 up with my iPhone 3Gs. My latest tests (within the last 2 weeks) are averaging 1700 down and 235 up, same location (using the app). Sweet. By the way – like iBav, I usually turn off 3G – if I just need the phone for calls or standby. It extends the battery life quite dramatically.

  13. jbrandonf

    Stamford, ct. 3g has gone to hell since the launch of the 3gs.

    I used to get speeds of 1 to 1.5 megabits/sec now I’m getting 400-700kilobits/sec. Terrible. AT&T/apple just keep piling on reasons for me to get a Pre.

  14. I live in SF and work in San Jose. And I can say without question that in the past week the service is much, much, improved in Milpitas & Northern San Jose, and all along 101. In San Francisco, I’ve had the same experience in the past few days in parts of the Mission, along Ceasar Chavez, and and the SE quarter of Noe Valley. Still zero reception in my house.

    • The only thing that has improved in Phoenix is signal strength. So while they have bars now, there is still too much traffic for it to be reliable. There are still serious issues which calls never connect, missed calls notifications aren’t sent, and voice mails come days after they are sent.

      T-Mobile sent me a myTouch demo for a couple of weeks and I can attest to their coverage being measurably better than iPhone/At&t coverage. I am thinking of switching.

  15. I live near 4th and King Caltrain in SF and the coverage is shitty as always. In fact, in the past week or so, I’ve noticed my phone switching to EDGE a lot more often. I’m curious as to which part of the city they actually upgraded.

  16. In March 09 I turned off 3G on the iphone, which improved call quality and battery life dramatically. Interestingly it didn’t really impact my non-video mobile web experience much…