Archive for the 'AT&T' Category
I saw this article about AT&T’s plans for the upcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) event and how they are planning to have ample capacity this year to avoid the embarrassment of last year. In AT&T’s defense, this event (music, film and internet people) concentrates a lot of the iphone toting people into a small area. Without an active plan to address that AT&T (and any carrier) would fail 100% of the time. But since AT&T has also had and continues to have major issues in big cities across the county on their 3G network, the event last year was more of a lightning rod for existing issues rather than anything new.
But it got me to thinking about my AT&T service in the last couple of months and while it may be a little earlier and a little unscientific, I believe that my service has gotten much better. I no longer am seeing a lot of dropped calls. Nor am I seeing a lot of situations where I can not make a call. That does not mean that I never have an issue, but it seems to have gotten better.
Plus I have not had the need to switch my phone to EDGE to avoid the 3G network being congested recently for my data apps either.
I know AT&T put up three towers in the area recently. So maybe that has helped? Or maybe AT&T has done some other tuning things to help with the local issues at the Reston Town Center? But for whatever reason, I think things are better.
I will have to check the call drop logs to see for sure. But maybe they are finally turning a corner.No comments
Corporate hypocrisy is terribly commonplace these days. So the fact that another huge, oligopolistic, company is at it again might not even be worthy of me passing gas much less taking the time to continue writing about it.
But I finally realized a couple of things about AT&T and their lack of service that made me realize why I am so ticked at them….
1) AT&T requires absolutely every iPhone user to purchase a data plan. There is no choice. $30 bucks every month for 2 years. Period.
2) The data plan is unlimited. It says so on the AT&T website. Don’t believe me?No comments
“…AT&T was working on improving service to the strained New York and San Francisco services. AT&T may soon introduce pricing tiers that would penalize high-bandwidth users.”
Good that they are working on improving service in NYC and San Fran. I hope they can make things better quicker than the 9 months AT&T told me it would take to put a new cell tower up for my area at the Reston Town Center.
Penalizing high bandwidth users is an interesting idea and approach. I know from my monthly bill that I used 1,340,989 KB of data last month (1.34GB). My wife used 784MB. My son (original iphone/edge) used just 11MB.
The month before I used 1.433GB. The month before that 1.285GB. So I am likely always the biggest consumer of data on my family plan of three iPhones and my average is fairly consistent around 1.3 to 1.4 GB. Am I a “high bandwidth user” ? I thought that my data cap was 5GB and for the $30 a month I am paying, I was entitled to up to 5GB which I have never hit.
But I bet my wife is likely more of an average iPhone 3G user and she does about 700MB a month. I likely use more BW because I stream Radio Paradise in my car a lot. And even though it is just 64kbps, if you do an hour of streaming, that totals 28MB an hour. So 10 hours of streaming is 280MB which starts to get close to the difference between an average user and me….a bit above average.
My fear is that AT&T is talking about me when they refer to high-bandwidth users. They will want to cap me. So instead of capping me at 1GB a month and lowering my data subscription fee, the fee will stay the same and the cap will be implemented. I will then have the option to pay $60 a month for that 5GB I currently have along with maybe a 3GB tier for $45 or so.
Why do I think this? I think AT&T mispriced the data portion of the iPhone plan at $30/mo. ATT offers “Laptop” data plans for $60 a month (USB modem) which also have a cap of 5GB a month. How could two plans both with 5GB caps be different prices? The answer is that AT&T mis-guessed on how much data iPhone users would actually use. The data plans offered by the carriers for each device/phone are based on how that device will most likely be used. Old WAP browsers had very low usage and the carrier knew that. Laptops can have a lot more usage. Blackberry’s are somewhere in between…but if you use your Blackberry with a corporate account, the data plan charges are more expensive as the carriers know those corporate users do a lot more email than silly AOL/Yahoo/MSN email users. So back to the iPhone and AT&T bad guesses…now that we are using the iPhone a lot more (app store, voip, streaming music, streaming video, etc) they want to change the price.
But they can’t just change the price. Or can they? We all have contracts. And Apple may have a contract too for the $30 price point. But maybe the contract does not state the limt? If it doesn’t, AT&T will keep the price but reduce the limit and make new plans available for higher tiers. Or they will change the whole pricing for data on the iPhone and open up an opportunity for iPhone users to get out of their 2 year contracts without the ETF fee.
But would people with iPhones drop their AT&T service if given an opportunity? I happen to love my iPhone and could not think of going back to a freakin’ MOTO RAZR. But I might switch to T-Mobile. Of course if AT&T waits too long and Apple does a deal with the red devil (VZW), then all bets are off. Maybe VZ would have tiered pricing for data too? Will be interesting. But wouldn’t some competition (and extra towers) be wonderful for us poor iphone folk :-)1 comment
Recently, I posted a couple of times about AT&T’s poor network in the Reston Town Center area. Well the issue is spreading.
Now the tower by my house is starting to show strain. My house is located 2 miles south of the town center and exactly 2,102 feet from the cell tower at the Fox Mill shopping center (actually in the parking lot of the fire station). I always have 5 bars. And I have never had much issue with my iPhone when I am at my house. But in the last 5 days or maybe a week now, I have noticed dropped calls, the inability to make calls, and missed voice calls (you get a voicemail but nothing in the missed call list). All of this while at my house, stationary.
For example, last night (Tuesday) I was talking to my tax guy at 3:32pm. The call lasted 6 minutes before I got the below CALL FAIL. Sitting in my living room, 5 bars, not moving much at all. I dialed back at 3:39 and we completed our conversation during the next 4 minutes.
On Sunday, I was on the phone with a customer support center getting help installing a new thermostat at 2:46pm. I was on hold for about 7 minutes before I got to a person. I was just beginning to tell the person what the issue was when I got dropped with a CALL FAIL. 9 minutes on the phone. Stationary in my kitchen. 2102 feet from a tower. 5 bars.1 comment
So AT&T is pissed at Verizon for the TV ads Verizon is running which make fun of AT&T’s lame network. So they sued Verizon. But they lost their fight in court. So what now?
Spread a little FUD.(see video below)
1. Whose got the fastest network? Well AT&T does!
Why? Their HSUPA speeds are actually slightly faster than Verizon’s WCDMA data speeds (5Mbps vs 3Mbps approx). The technical specifications do not lie. But how much faster? Not much that will make much difference to anyone. Latency on both networks likely affects browsing speed more than anything (500ms average!). And isn’t the ability to actually use the data network kind of the first issue. AT&T’s data network is way overloaded and/or broken in many big cities including my own here in Reson, VA.
If AT&T’s network actually worked, then they would be killing Verizon. But as it stands, AT&T is way behind on network planning and everyone knows it. Bad AT&T. Spend less on Ads and more on towers.
2. Talk and Surf at the same time? Yup, GSM standards provide this capability. But how many times do you really need it? Not very often. And I doubt anyone on Verizon even realizes they can’t do it. Very minor point unless you are on conference calls for hours at a time on your cell and need to check your latest email on your cell.
3. Most popular Smart Phones? Well, the iPhone is popular. That is one phone. What is the other phone?
3b. (not 4) Access to 100,000 apps? Yup. iPhone once again. It’s like AT&T is taking credit for Apple’s App Store. Silly. And it is like they think they can make a list of 100 things they are better at even though it is the same thing….”This is a great car. Will get you to your office and back. Even has wheels!”
4. Name that starts with “V”. Funny guys. I get it, humor.
Truth is that AT&T missed the point. Their customers understand the issues especially those with iPhones. Verizon’s 3G network is freakin’ huge. And the coverage is always better than AT&T. Sure they both have coverage in the big cities. But once you get a little out of the way, Verizon still has coverage where AT&T drops to nothing most of the time. Maybe you are lucky and get EDGE coverage, but mostly I find AT&T just does not have any footprint period. Such was the case on my camping trip last weekend. People with VZ phones had full bars. ATT, nothing.
And on top of the big footprint for 3G data and voice and even older technologies, Verizon also has a huge advantage in their network. IT WORKS! Sure AT&T has footprint in the big cities. But it is not reliable. My iPhone has shown call drop rates as high as 20% a day for a week straigtht as recently as September when the guys at the Apple Store ran some tests on the phone and showed me the results. Wow! That sucks something terrible for plain old phone service.
So instead of this bullshit, AT&T, why not fix your shit?No comments
The Reston Town Center in Reston, VA is a very upscale shopping and business area located near Dulles Airport about 20 miles outside of our nation’s capital. The mall is home to a number of high end stores including Apple, Bebe, Banana Republic, and many fine resturaunts. In addition, the area is home to numerous fortune 500 businesses including Microsoft, Oracle, Google Sallie Mae, Fannie Mae, and many more. And the town center is also home to a number of 20+ story high rise condo’s priced in the million dollar and up range.
Certainly the Reston Town Center is not a low population, far out suburb. This is a major metropolitan city on its own.
Yet for a week now AT&T has had zero coverage on its 3G network. No voice. No voicemail. No data. Period. My wife noticed it first (around 11/3) as she works in the area every day. Then I noticed it a couple of days later on Sunday 11/8 when I went to a store in the area. I tried to use data to find the phone number of my dog’s vet. I couldn’t. So I tried calling my wife. Nothing. The phone (an iPhone) showed 5 bars but it had no ability to do anything on the network.
Then I noticed that the bars would drop to zero and come back with the E (edge) symbol. Then it would go to NO SERVICE. And then a minute later back to 3G but still no ability to use the phone. Nothing including turning off the phone would help.
On Tuesday I was at theÂ town center and again having issues so I went to the Apple Store to test one of their phones in the store. Before I could even get to a phone, the Apple Store Greeter guy asked if I needed any help. I explained the issue and he immediately said they were aware of the issue with AT&T. No one in the Apple Store could use the network or was able to make calls at that location! Wow. Bad.
I happen to know someone who works for AT&T and I sent him some info about the issue and he said he escalated it internally. But days have gone by and still no resolution. So today, about a week after it seems to have started (according to the report from AT&T which has notes of first reports on 11/7) I went to the AT&T store at the Reston Town Center. The guy at the counter immediately acknowledged the issue and looked up the problem on an internal status website. He confirmed that it was listed as an issue on his site and had been a problem for over a week even though the status on his site said it was first reported on 11/11 (yesterday). He then told me to contact customer service to report the issue (why did they not report it?).
So I went home and called AT&T customer service (I could not call them from the town center, that was for sure) and found that they had the issue listed as “closed”! They were very nice and promised to re-open the issue. Then the call center person told me to restart my phone and even remove my SIM daily until the problem was fixed. What this hoo haa had to do with the tower at the town center being down I have no idea. Yes, I tried it. No it did nothing.
One interesting thing is that she did mention a new cell tower was going up about 3 miles from that area. Coupled with this report from another site, I wonder if the behavior I am seeing at the town center is equipment failure or simply an overloaded cell. Seems that New York people see this odd switching between 3G and E constantly and it is well known that AT&T is severely overloaded in NYC. Who knows.
But I guess in the end I got $70 out of Ma Bell and that made me feel a little better. But I wonder how long it will take the largest cellular company in the United States of America to be able to provide voice service for their customers who pay them north of $150 a month to place and receive phone calls?
UPDATE 11/13/2009: Was back in the area today in the morning around 9:30am. Everything looked like it was working. Called a few people on the drive up and the call lasted all the way through the trouble area. Data was working too. Went to lunch at the town center around 11:45am and everything still worked great. Maybe AT&T had actually solved the issue. My AT&T contact even said that he had confirmed the issue was solved and they thought he (and I) were crazy to be still reporting the issue.
At 12:30pm everything came to a halt just like it has everyday for the last week+. My phone said NO SERVICE. I could not make calls. No data. Nothing. I switched to EDGE and was able to make a call and leave a vmail for about 45 seconds before I was dropped. And this call was made while sitting in the Barnes and Noble parking lot in my Jeep Wrangler with the engine off. No reception issues there, right?
Some screenshots below if it could possibly get AT&T to admit that maybe, just maybe, the problem may not yet be solved. One could only hope. Check out the one shot with the small circle instead of 3G or E (edge)…that is the GPRS network symbol. Man, that is grim. Makes me wonder why AT&T is so upset with Verizon that they are suing them about their latest TV ads. If Verizon has that much larger of a 3G network and if it even works half as good as the small footprint of 3G that AT&T has, Verizon should be tooting their own horn. You betcha.
I bought a 3GS iPhone back in June. It had an issue with the power on/off button in August and I took it in. They replaced the phone on the spot. I resync’d with iTunes when I got home and everything was back to normal. All data, apps, etc restored. Even wifi preferences and passwords.
Compare that my Motorola RAZR phone which had a problem when I was with Sprint. There was no way to take it to a Sprint Store and have it serviced even though it was under warranty (just 3-4 months old at that point). Instead I had to wade through Motorola’s support phone system tree, get an RMA, and send it in on my own dime. Four weeks later I got a new phone. During that period I would have been without a phone which is (for me) my only phone except that I stole my son’s phone and had Sprint transfer the number to it for that period.
But when the new phone arrived, I had another issue. Although I had backed up my address book using bluetooth sync to my Mac, I had to restore that data. Not a huge problem, but it was a lot of manual techie work to get it to happen. A normal person would have given up and re-typed it. But I eventually got it done.
But even after getting the address book back on the RAZR, all the settings, ringtones, wall paper, icons and more all needed to be set again to how I liked it. There was no way to just back-up the phone initially and then restore all settings to a new one. Did the RAZR have a setting file which contained all that stuff? Sure. But it was not something they would give to the consumer.
So fast forward another month. I again have an issue with my iPhone. This time it is a problem with the screen (a small crack under the glass). The issue was not due to a drop or anything. So I took it in. They replaced the screen in the store in about 10 minutes while I waited. Free.
Yes, I had two issues with the iPhone physically, but I think this is fairly unusual. The other units we have in the house have all worked flawlessly from a hardware perspective. But my real point is that Apple gives you something the other guys don’t (can’t?). SERVICE! And I am more than happy to pay a little more for Apple’s products in order to get service like this. It is so worth the small premium.
And of course this applies to their computer products as well. Why save $400 on a cheapo Dell or HP laptop when you can have a much nicer machine with local service for just a little more. I know my answer.
Now for the really funny part to the story. I read on the intertubes that Apple Store employees have been slipping up on info that AT&T has been a very poor performer. The first I personally heard this was when I bought my 3GS back in June. I was actually asked how I liked my 3G phone (which I had previously) and specifically how AT&T was working out. Not a formal survey, but definitely a question they were asking people. But lately AT&T’s network has been much worse. In fact, in New York one employee at a genius bar specifically wrote on a work order that typical call drop rates in NYC were 30% and that this guy’s iphone was only showing 20% or so and that was not enough to replace the hardware itself.
So I asked the employee to check my drop rate. The apple employee immediately told me that they had been having a “ton of people coming in during the last 3-4 weeks” since AT&T had been making changes perhaps to support MMS messaging. It got so bad that “they had a line out the door” of people complaining of the “inability to make calls”. He went further to say that many Apple store employees had the same problem. The issue was likely not my phone but he would check the drop logs anyway.
He would not give me a screen shot, but I can tell you that the call drop percentages for my phone since around Sept 9th were between 17% and 22% daily pretty much every day. He thinks (and so do I) that now that AT&T got their changes completed for MMS, that things might settle down. I hope.
AT&T: Your World Delivered (sometimes? on occassion?)
So in conclusion, I still love the iPhone and what I can do with it. And I absolutely love Apple’s service and support. All of this in spite of AT&T’s totally lackluster service.
AT&T service poor and expensive. Apple service excellent and free.
When should I expect that service credit from Ma Bell? ;-)1 comment