Posts Tagged ‘AT&T Wireless’

iPhone 4 – Verizon vs AT&T

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The iPhone 4 is nearly at Verizon’s door. Just a few more days and the pre-order will begin. As more details are being revealed about the iPhone at Verizon, one wonders if it is really a better deal than AT&T.

Verizon’s iPhone4 will be available for $200 for 16GB or $300 for 32GB. AT&T’s iPhone4 is available for $200 for 16GB and $300 for 32GB. Verizon will offer a personal hot spot for $20. AT&T offers Wi-Fi tethering for $20. Verizon will offer unlimited data for a limited time. AT&T has an unlimited plan for grandfathered customers, and a limited plan for everyone else. Verizon will follow suite. Seeing a pattern here? Verizon and AT&T are offering the same phone with the same pricing. So how do you choose your carrier?

Verizon is the largest US carrier. The size is partially due to the outdated CDMA network. It may be big, but it is not fast. Verizon does has some perks though. Rather than using hot spot access from your data plan, a separate 2GB is allocated for the feature. This will be helpful for conserving your data plan usage once the unlimited plan goes away. Verizon will have a lot less congestion on its network, so you probably won’t experience the major crashes that AT&T customers suffered as the iPhone rapidly increased in popularity. It’s not all roses at big red. Verizon can’t currently offer a simultaneous connection to voice and data services. This is a big deal.

AT&T, is on the more advanced GSM network, as is T-Mobile and virtually the rest of the world. AT&T has the fastest service, when it is actually available. . AT&T offers simultaneous voice and data services. AT&T’s huge coverage gaps are annoying, but recent upgrades have improved things, at least in the L.A. area. AT&T is even rumored to be offering unlimited data to those who opted out of the service last year. AT&T is trying to reduce the number of people jumping ship in February.

As you decide which carrier to go with, ask yourself a few questions. Do you want speed or reliability? The pricing is mostly identical. Do you want a fast network that is sometimes reliable, or a slow network that is typically reliable? Do you want to be able to check your email while talking on the phone, or not?

All of this might be moot, however, as Apple is expected to announce the next iPhone within the next couple of months. At the end of the day, the iPhone 4 is almost a year old. As much as I’d like to see a mass exodus from AT&T to benefit the rest of AT&T’s customers, you may want to think twice about signing up for a two-year commitment this close to the next version’s launch.

AT&T Rated Worst in Nation – Anyone Surprised?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

via Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has published ratings for the top cellular carriers in the US. At the top, US Cellular. Dead last is AT&T. While I’m sure US Cellular came as a surprise, many of AT&T’s customers will not be surprised at this news.

There was a time when Cingular was the best carrier not only in terms of call quality, but also customer service. Then the ill-fated merger with AT&T happened. AT&T customers suddenly had good service. Cingular customers suddenly had bad service. Then everybody took a hit as AT&T stopped caring about the customers. Things have been steadily deteriorating since then.

The carriers were rated in a Consumer Reports survey. The categories included voice, text, email, data quality, and customer service, among other criteria. AT&T was the worst in every category but one. It tied for mostly bad with T-Mobile on voice service. AT&T’s response was pretty weak, as you can see in the below quote.

“We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors. Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent – the equivalent of just one call in a thousand – of the industry leader.”

Rather than owning up to its mistakes, AT&T pointed out that their customer base increased in the third quarter. I’m sure the iPhone 4, iPad, Samsung Fascinate, and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 had everything to do with that increase. The Xperia is the only reason I remain an AT&T customer, as has been every other Sony Ericsson phone I’ve purchased since the Cingular/AT&T merger. AT&T’s customers are not loyal to AT&T, but to their phones.

AT&T has made some good moves recently, especially in avoiding the 4G fiasco. Sprint and T-Mobile are misleading customers about 4G. Verizon jumped the gun, and AT&T is playing the tortoise to Verizon’s hare. “Slow and steady, steady and slow.” AT&T is working on beefing up its lower-end service in order to supplement the faster LTE speeds when the upgrade comes next year. Verizon didn’t bother. This is the single laudable achievement of the year by AT&T though.

AT&T in general loves playing the ostrich with its head in the sand. This Consumer Reports survey will ideally shake the sleeping giant out of its narcissistic haze. If this doesn’t do it, the iPhone moving to Verizon should do the trick. When AT&T decides to care about its customers it will notice a huge upswing in customer satisfaction. Let’s hope it figures this out soon.

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Fun with AT&T Tech Support

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Somehow I managed to pocket-dial an order for the AT&T Navigator app for my Xperia. I became aware of this through two text messages sent to me from AT&T. I called in last night to cancel it during the free trial phase. I took the opportunity to mention how useless it was for AT&T to put a paid app on the phone when Google offers a superior product for free right alongside it. She seemed to agree.

While I was on the phone it I figured I would ask about the Eclair upgrade, fully expecting another “stay tuned for news” line that I’ve been getting through Facebook and Twitter. To my surprise she said, “Let me look that up for you.” After a brief moment on hold, she came back with “The X10 is already out, so if you are eligible for an upgrade you can get it. Would you like me to look up your eligibility?” I explained that I currently own the phone and was looking for the Android OS upgrade, not a phone upgrade. She sounded mildly embarrassed and took another shot. Back on hold I went. She came back and apologized, as there was no information available.

While I was at it I went ahead and asked about Froyo for the HTC Aria. She looked that up, and found the update from September, but no news on Froyo. I made a comment on how it would be nice for AT&T to join the modern era and she laughed. It was nice to get someone who realizes how backward AT&T is. Throughout the conversation she took all the comments on AT&T’s backwater ways in stride, and kept in good humor for the duration of the call. This stood out to me because of all the lousy customer service they’ve offered me over the last several years.

So, the bottom line is, we very well may not see Eclair for another year through AT&T. The status quo is a long delay for anything, including getting Android at all, so most of AT&T’s customers have learned not to hold their breath for any good news. In the mean time, calls like last night’s serve to ease the pain a bit. Friendly customer service reps make a huge difference, and AT&T finally found a good person to fill the need.

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