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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > Love the iPhone, but AT&T sucks

Love the iPhone, but AT&T sucks
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Jul 17, 2008, 01:37 AM
 
I used to be with Verizon and I counted the hours and minutes until I could dump them for the iPhone. But you know those Verizon commercials toting their network? Well, they ain't kiddin'.

I never--I mean NEVER--had less than five bars with them.

Now, I'm sitting in a dead zone in my own f'ing house with AT&T. I'm 1.1 miles from an AT&T store, ironically. I live on the border and this morning I picked up a Mexican cell phone signal over by my bathroom when I lost the AT&T signal. I'm going to call AT&T to make sure I don't get charged for it because I sent texts without realizing it. (Yes, I was texting in the can, leave me alone.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm still glad I bought the damned thing--I'm a frickin' Apple cultist, I have to be--but I've given up the idea of getting an 8Gb for my wife because this would drive her nuts. And if someone else asks me if it was worth it, I'll say this:

"For me, yes, but for any rational person, no."
     
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Jul 17, 2008, 02:02 AM
 
I agree. I love the iPhone too.

I can't be bothered to change my family plan from T-Mobile and move to a more expensive plan in Atnt. I don't even pay my bill , sister pays it for me.

I just saved up couple of hundred for the iPhone so I can unlock it and use with T-Mobile. However, I'm having trouble finding an iPhone now.
     
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Jul 17, 2008, 02:44 AM
 
That sucks man. I know the feeling of paying for a cell service and not being able to talk in your own home because the reception is so bad there. Fortunately for me switching to AT&T improved my signal at home and most other places. My previous provider was T-Mobile. I think all wireless providers suck in one way or another. And its just luck of the draw if any given provider gives you good reception in any given place.
     
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Jul 17, 2008, 08:55 AM
 
There are consumer repeaters/pico cells that you can purchase for relatively cheap (a few hundred dollars). They're designed to enhance reception in rooms of the house where cell service may be spotty. You could get one of those and set it up. They come with an external antenna, and with some tweaking you could probably replace an external omni or patch with a yagi and point it on the right azimuth to the closest AT&T tower.
     
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Jul 17, 2008, 10:03 AM
 
I wouldn't say that the carrier sucks just because my home was on the edge of a coverage area—AND on the border. Overall, AT&T provides amazingly good coverage throughout Texas, one reason I stick with them. They have great signal strength all the way from San Antonio to Eagle Pass and Del Rio, as well as in some of those tiny spots west of Houston that seem to be just forest. The border is a different matter, and I seem to recall something about an agreement between Mexico and the US about us not blasting the border area with our signals (a completely separate issue from broadcast radio, I should point out).

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Jul 17, 2008, 10:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
And if someone else asks me if it was worth it, I'll say this:
"For me, yes, but for any rational person, no."
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
(Yes, I was texting in the can, leave me alone.)
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
I'm still glad I bought the damned thing--I'm a frickin' Apple cultist
Awesome.

Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
But you know those Verizon commercials toting their network? Well, they ain't kiddin'.
I've found that it all depends on where you live. I live in the Mid-South. Here, AT&T and Alltel rule. Verizon and Sprint? Not so much. On the right coast, it seems Verizon is the way to go. That may be true on the left coast as well, but I don't spend enough time there to say, and don't have enough friends/family out there recounting their experiences to me.

I manage telecom for a decent sized company. My users are always complaining, "I don't even get Alltel coverage at my house! Alltel sucks!" Well, not really. Alltel just has a hole at their house. AT&T might not. We selected Alltel because of their (a) price point and (b) rural coverage.

I guess maybe you can hope that with time, AT&T will get better where you are. More importantly, you should definitely try an external antenna for your house. They've become VERY affordable over the last 12 months or so...
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." - Winston Churchill

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Jul 17, 2008, 11:42 AM
 
Just a note of support. AT&T is the worst in my experience, too.

I averaged "No Service" to 1 bar at home with my original iPhone. I thought the 3G, with the plastic back, would improve that... Hell, the old and disposable Motorola and Nokia my wife and I were using averaged 2-3 bars here. But no, the new iP3G also shows "No Service" most of the time, or maybe 1 bar.

At work, I have 1-2 bars. On AT&T's coverage map for both voice and 3G data, I'm covered in orange (or blue for data). The map is simply a lie. Between home and work, I go from no bars to 5 bars to 1 or 2. Their coverage is very patchy. Sitting in the Starbucks walking distance from a brick & mortar AT&T store... "No Service." Inside the AT&T store, of course they have it tweaked to show full coverage.

It's brutal.

Originally Posted by CorpITGuy
More importantly, you should definitely try an external antenna for your house. They've become VERY affordable over the last 12 months or so...
Have you seen one other than the Wi-Ex Dual Band Cell Signal Booster?
( Last edited by DigitalEl; Jul 17, 2008 at 11:49 AM. )
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Jul 17, 2008, 02:42 PM
 
I switched this week from Verizon Wireless to AT&T too just for the iPhone. The web site shows my house should have the fullest EDGE coverage and full 3G coverage. In reality I only get 2 bars of 3G when I'm outside and when inside my house I only get 2-3 bars of EDGE. Pretty dissatisfied. But just a couple miles away at my friends house in a more populated part of town I get 5 bars of 3G everywhere, even in the back of a large warehouse.

But even with 2 bars of EDGE phone calls are clear and the internet works decently.
     
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Jul 17, 2008, 03:12 PM
 
Do you guys live in older houses? Is it possible that you might have lead paint? In my apartment, I have decent signal but in the hallway and the elevator the signal gets pretty weak. I also cannot seem to get GPS in my apartment in most spots.
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Jul 17, 2008, 03:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by aristotles
Do you guys live in older houses? Is it possible that you might have lead paint?
My house turns 2 next month. AT&T's weak-sauce signal made it through to my other phones... An old Moto ROKR I had lying around and a Nokia 35XX I dug out of a drawer. In my experience, AT&T has patchy, bad coverage and the iPhone's antennas are weaker than usual. It's a bad combination.
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Jul 17, 2008, 03:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by aristotles View Post
Do you guys live in older houses? Is it possible that you might have lead paint? In my apartment, I have decent signal but in the hallway and the elevator the signal gets pretty weak. I also cannot seem to get GPS in my apartment in most spots.
Lead paint isn't that effective at blocking radio signals, but metal-lined roof decking (called "Techshield", among other trade names) can be. That's my roof. I get very little broadcast radio inside, NO GPS, and if I were right under a phone tower instead of on a nice slant-line from a number of them, I probably wouldn't get much phone service either.

Basically, lots and lots of building materials that make a house energy efficient also make it harder to get certain radio signals inside the house. Check out your construction, especially your attic and the vapor barrier around the walls; if you have metalized anything, you'll get much less signal inside. And I'm not sure what sort of antennas the new iPhone has, but I've found that some Motorola phones have really good antennas, so it's probably not a fair comparison to say "my ROKR gets a good signal, why doesn't my iPhone?" Take 'em both outside (in the direction of better coverage) and see what they say then.

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Jul 17, 2008, 04:11 PM
 
My 1st gen iPhone used to have 5 bars in my house and now its just one. dunno whats up.
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Jul 18, 2008, 12:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I wouldn't say that the carrier sucks just because my home was on the edge of a coverage area—AND on the border. Overall, AT&T provides amazingly good coverage throughout Texas, one reason I stick with them. They have great signal strength all the way from San Antonio to Eagle Pass and Del Rio, as well as in some of those tiny spots west of Houston that seem to be just forest. The border is a different matter, and I seem to recall something about an agreement between Mexico and the US about us not blasting the border area with our signals (a completely separate issue from broadcast radio, I should point out).
We're in El Paso. It's a major metropolitan area and I'm actually 10 miles from the border (I mentioned picking up the Mexican carrier because it's ironic that I would this far from the Rio Grande!). We're not on the edge of a coverage area at all. I'm geographically smack dab in between two AT&T stores, neither of which is more than five miles from me. According to the 3G red spaces on AT&T's coverage map, I should be basking in high-speed connected bliss here.

You see my point now? And it's not just one dead zone at my house. I find my bars dropping to 1 and my service switching down to Edge all the time--and I've only had the phone a week!
     
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Jul 18, 2008, 08:49 AM
 
While you're right that being IN El Paso should mean you're well covered, your location between AT&T stores has nothing to do with where the towers are. The towers are what control coverage, and since they don't paint them orange to indicate which ones are AT&T, () it's hard to say whether you're actually covered at all. And yes, this IS a problem. El Paso is not a podunk little town. Uvalde is closer to that, and they have (supposedly) great 3G coverage. They're on the edge of the south-central Texas 3G area, but it's supposed to be quite good there.

I'd give corporate customer service a call about this. Major businesses operate in and around El Paso, and if their "ready for the enterprise" iPhone isn't doing well for you, it probably means that they have problems with their business customers too. And of course remember that you could actually be the first person to complain about this to them; AT&T is dumb enough to move their headquarters to Dallas (without telling anyone until it was a done deal), so they may actually be dumb enough not to monitor their system's functional status in certain, non-Dallas areas.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Jul 18, 2008, 10:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
While you're right that being IN El Paso should mean you're well covered, your location between AT&T stores has nothing to do with where the towers are. The towers are what control coverage, and since they don't paint them orange to indicate which ones are AT&T, () it's hard to say whether you're actually covered at all. And yes, this IS a problem. El Paso is not a podunk little town. Uvalde is closer to that, and they have (supposedly) great 3G coverage. They're on the edge of the south-central Texas 3G area, but it's supposed to be quite good there.

I'd give corporate customer service a call about this. Major businesses operate in and around El Paso, and if their "ready for the enterprise" iPhone isn't doing well for you, it probably means that they have problems with their business customers too. And of course remember that you could actually be the first person to complain about this to them; AT&T is dumb enough to move their headquarters to Dallas (without telling anyone until it was a done deal), so they may actually be dumb enough not to monitor their system's functional status in certain, non-Dallas areas.
I know, but I was just citing the spacing of AT&T stores for the sake of pointing out life's little ironies.
     
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Jul 18, 2008, 12:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
I know, but I was just citing the spacing of AT&T stores for the sake of pointing out life's little ironies.
Corporate ironies tend to be pretty strongly ironic, too.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Jul 23, 2008, 08:30 AM
 
AT&T will not do business with me because they claim that I have an unpaid balance with them when I left them about 5 years ago. I actually received a check from them when I had canceled for overpayment. More than 2 hours of combined hold time with customer service and they cannot find the supposed "balance." AT&T store could not assist. One reason that I did discontinue service with AT&T in the past was that the billing was riddled with errors, again requiring hours on hold to correct the mistakes. I wonder how many subscribers take the time to scrutinize their cell billing statements? It just is not worth it.
     
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Jul 23, 2008, 11:15 AM
 
Every AT&T billing error I've experienced (virtually all of which had to do with changing my DSL service, I've had very little problem with their billing of my cell service) was handled fairly quickly and professionally by AT&T, mainly perhaps because I called their billing department promptly and did not act like the employee was an evil drone out to cheat me. It may have taken a billing cycle or two for their dinosaur computers to get things straight, but they did get it all straight.

And eddavis, pleas tell me you didn't register here just to complain about AT&T billing. This forum is about iPhones, iPods and the like, and it's not a gripe pit.

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