Blog Post

Has Your AT&T 3G Network Improved?

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. Schaumburg is a suburb of Chicago, and last week my speed test on a motorola android phone showed download speed of 2700 download and 382 upload… 3G is great here in Chicagoland and no dropped calls.

  2. Live in Walnut Creek & Travel to San Jose for work. There are 8, count them, 8 points along the way I drop calls. Sprint 4G comes in January & I will be giving it a hard look. Love the Iphone but cannot afford AT&T coverage issues.

  3. I live in the Noe Valley area of San Francisco, and for years had no service in my house. When the microcell became available recently I installed one back in June…yesterday when doing some housework I unplugged the microcell…only to find that I suddenly had regular 3G service all over my place. Now I can make calls and get data seamlessly…AT&T must have improved their network in this area, anyone else experiening the same?

  4. Any updates to this? Doesn’t seem like it’s improved. Calls drop quite often in SF and especially on the Caltrain ride from SJ to SF… I’m close to ditching my phone, which I love, because of AT&T’s terrible performance… Would love to know if you’ve checked lately.

  5. Around the Oakland area/hills..per ATT reps say that “several” of their 3g towers have been out since ’09!! They are “aware” of their problems…the issue is a corporate problem. They just won’t commit resources to resolve the problems. It’s all about greed, priorities, complaints…and back to that bottom line/greed. My 3g is less than 1mb upload/download (I’ve tested it by tethering both my HTC and iPhones with the usual online speed tests albeit their +/- accuracies). Only major metro areas stand the best chances of full 3g coverage. So in a nutshell…no…ATT’s 3g coverage isn’t “everywhere” or even as wide of a coverage as their cartoon maps suggests. And no…I did not pay for 3g service to settle for EDGE,etc. Verizon may be a little better..but most major carrier’s data systems are overtaxed as pointed out by quite a few engineering buddies that work for these major carriers. Too many data users and not enough $$ spent to improve the systems or maintainance of preexisting systems. So therefore the complaints will continue!

  6. AT&T has been seamless on my BB Bold and the Curve we also have, but the iPhone in my family isn’t so lucky.

    I’m much less apt to blame AT&T as I am Apple for connectivity problems with the device and would venture a guess the masses will learn the same when Apple opens up on another network like Verizon.

  7. The 3g has improved here in the mission district in san Francisco. I actually get it now, as of the last few weeks. I have no problem withthe 3g data. The call quality still blows, that’s when I get a call.

  8. Robert White

    3G? The nearest 3G we have is over a half hour away and there hasn’t been an update in Michigan all year according to the AT&T website. Remember how it was supposed to be at&t, a ‘kinder gentler megopoly’? Yeah.

    Hey Steve, just think about how many iPhones you could sell with a Verizon version. Yeah, even though Verizon is rumoured to have passed on the iPhone, isn’t Apple in the business to sell hardware? Just imagine…

  9. Michael

    I actually had recently noticed that my data connections in Noe Valley were failing more often than not (new problem starting about a month ago). And this was even though my phone was reporting that it had a data connection. I have experienced this on three devices — a blackberry (EDGE), a first gen iPhone (EDGE) and an iPhone 3Gs (3G).

    I finally got around to submitting a trouble ticket today, and got a call. During the call, I asked if my tower was scheduled for an upgrade to 850 MHz… and was told that the closest tower (and indeed, all the towers within a few miles of me) seemed already to have been upgraded to 850 MHz.

    The tech couldn’t tell me WHEN this had happened, so it’s possible it occurred in the last few days, and I just haven’t yet had a chance to notice that my data void problems were gone. Or it’s possible that they’ve upgraded and my coverage is still weak :(

  10. So usually I get ‘searching…’, 0 bars, or 1-2 edge bars in the office. Mission and 1st. Today, I get full 3G. I’m streaming Youtube video with no lag whatsoever. (But just as I write this it goes to 0 bars… then within a few secs back to full 3G… and then back to 2 3G bars and then back up to full in a few secs.)

    Let’s see if my service at home is improved as I didn’t look at it this morning.

  11. I live about 20 miles north of SF in a pretty remote area. Until a couple days ago, I generally teetered between No Service and a half bar of Edge. Every so often I’d see a couple bars of 3g, but only in certain parts of the house, and never consistently.

    I noticed yesterday that I not only have 3g, it’s 5 bars. I even turned off wifi for a while to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It’s solid. Whatever they did, it worked. For the first time in a year, I don’t lament giving up Verizon so I could use this fancy gadget.

  12. allison

    Been constantly having problems connecting using 3G. I called AT&T and their solution was to disable 3G on my iphone and use edge. GREAT SOLUTION….meanwhile my bill is staying the same and no one can help me. AT&T get’s a major FAIL in my book.

  13. Earth to Om, Earth to Om. Hello? Hello?

    Um, I don’t think the market cares about your narcissistic infatuation with your own iPhone use case analysis. If you need quantitative proof that the market values something other than what you’re reporting on, just look at the iPhone sales volumes. Your ongoing commentary is about as relevant as saying you don’t like the particular shade of orange they chose for the mute indicator switch.

    You don’t like the AT&T-iPhone call continuity (BTW, it is BOTH the network AND the device that have to play nice with each other). Fine. Duly noted. Could you please get back to posting links to interesting stuff now?


  14. I can’t get AT&T to admit there is a problem. I’m 2 miles from downtown Denver in a really nice neighborhood. Their AT&T reps say “our map shows you in a good coverage area – it must be interference in your house.” I explain it doesn’t work outside the house or anywhere near the house. “Our map shows you in a good coverage area.”

    It’s like talking to a wall.

    I think they might actually fix the problem if they would believe there was one.

    • James Lowe

      I live in Denver to in Potter Highlands/Sunnyside. I have had horrible service inside my house for over a year now, but for the last two days I have had full bars at all times. Hopefully things are a changing…

  15. I didn’t have any 3G experience until upgrading to the 3GS last month, but the difference between using it here in the Greater Cleveland area and my own Wi-Fi at home is negligible. I’m really impressed, which is not something I expected to say.