AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

Summary: AT&T works great, it seems, as long as you don't have to actually make a phone call.

SHARE:

"Hello? He- hello? Can you h...dammit!"

Three times in a row. My call dropped three times, to the same caller. We're both on AT&T.

I used a Verizon iPhone for several weeks recently. It was an eye opening experience. Data rates might been a bit slower, and you can't make a phone call and use data simultaneously as you can with AT&T, but you could make calls. You could actually use the iPhone as, you know, a phone.

Taking a cue from my friend Neil, I'd ask friends, "Hey, wanna see the Verizon iPhone's killer app?"

Some just stared as I showed them the iPhone keypad. Some got the joke.

The big difference between the Verizon iPhone and its AT&T counterpart is that it can make phone calls pretty reliably, see. Look's like Ed Bott is in the same boat.

I haven't dumped AT&T yet, but I've given switching to AT&T some serious consideration.

I live in a pretty spotty coverage area for AT&T, but that seems to describe a fair swath of the United States, at least when it comes to making phone calls.

My data access, meanwhile, has been excellent.

In fact, shortly after Apple released iOS 4.3, I upgraded my iPhone 4 and changed my AT&T data plan, from their grandfathered unlimited plan for iPhone users to their 4GB Data Pro plan. That's enabled me to use the iPhone 4 as a Personal Hotspot, so I can get online with a Wi-Fi-enabled computer, iPad or other device.

It's actually already come in handy a few times already. I'm waiting for my next bill to find out how close to the 4GB limit I'll get; with my unlimited plan, it was never over 1GB - but that was before tethering and Personal Hotspot, too.

This episode of dropped calls happened as I was driving with my wife. She sat there using her iPhone to access the Web. AT&T's 3G data coverage is fine in our area - she rarely loses access to the Internet on her iPhone.

I don't hear from my wife too much on the phone anymore. She usually just texts me. This started happening about six months ago. We have an unlimited text plan on our family account so I didn't give it too much thought. It certainly made it easier to shoot bits of data back and forth, though.

She just smiled at me as I cursed AT&T and said, "Why do you think I've just given up calling you and text you so much instead? I got tired of the dropped calls and having to repeat everything. It's easier, because you always get the texts."

So there you have it: AT&T is great. As long as you don't need to make phone calls.

AT&T-Microsoft Windows 7 360:

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Telcos, AT&T

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

19 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

    I haven?t dumped AT&T yet, but I?ve given switching to AT&T some serious consideration.

    fyi
    steveplunkett
    • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

      @steveplunkett I live in western new york and i hardly have any problems making calls.
      toberapture
  • Where I live....

    AT&T rules. (in NJ) I've had Verizon and the coverage was hit or miss and customer service was more like customer abuse. (Very reminicent of Dogbert's customer service advice. You know, you call customer service because you can't make calls on your phone and they say "Please call back using the phone that you're having a problem with so we can examin your connection." IF THE PHONE COULD MAKE CALLS I WOULD'N BE CALLING CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!) Anyway, Verizon's service here is lousy and AT&T's works dependably. I seldom have dropped calls and I don't even have a data plan. Calls and some texting, occasionally I'll get wild and send a picture to my sister in Germany. So for me, AT&T is best.
    Scubajrr
    • Exactly!

      @Scubajrr I have been chiming in on every AT&T post made repeatedly defending AT&T, mostly because my service is nearly perfect living in North NJ. I know of one hill in my area that used to give me a problem but my iPhone 4 fixed that, and the only other spot I got horrible coverage was in my computer lab at my old job. Oh no that means I have to get up and walk 100 feet to the window to make or take a personal call. (Which I don't do much anyway, I hate talking on the phone, so I use my phone for mostly texting and internet, I only have 500 minutes monthly and I never use 1/3 of it. My rollover minutes are usually pretty high come the end of the year.)

      I also don't know why anyone would drop their unlimited plan just for tethering. Seems foolish to give up something you can't get back (unlimited data!), for 4 gigs of data monthly, PLUS paying the BS charges to have tethering enabled.
      Bates_
  • When I was in San Antonio

    which was the corporate headquarters for AT&T at the time, I couldn't keep a call going while riding in a car, any hill or building going by and the call would drop. I missed a lot of calls and my voicemail would beep half an hour later. In the end my boss asked me if I was avoiding him so that was the last straw, I went and bought a Verizon phone that afternoon.

    Now that AT&T moved to Dallas, I wonder if their service went downhill, too?
    terry flores
    • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

      @terry flores

      Funny.. I was in San Antonio for about a week an a half in December 2008. Made loads of phone calls an didn't have a problem. I remember the data being a bit sluggish though.

      In fact that is the only beef I have with AT&T is that if I am ever in a crowded area like a sporting event or concert the data works for crap. Don't see much problem with the calling though but it does seem to happen because of all the people. I was at the Bon Jovi concert in Chicago earlier this month and had a lot of trouble sending a text but then again so did my Mom who has verizon.

      Yes, I went to a concert with my Mother. It was her Christmas and Birthday present. Don't judge me. ;)
      bobiroc
  • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

    The only city I've ever had problems in is SF, that includes most of Norway!<br><br>I do so get tired of the same old song. ATT sucks in SF, NYC...OK! We've all heard and are tired of hearing the same crap over and over and over and over. Get over it, switch WE WON'T MISS your crying asses.
    timspublic1@...
  • It all depends on where you live.

    But, of course, bashing AT&T gives you street cred with the geek pundit crowd.
    fr_gough
  • Last time I dropped a call

    I was in the basement area of work. Other than that maybe 2 - 3 dropped calls a year? The last time I had calls drop repeatedly was when I first got my iPhone 3G but then an iOS update fixed that.

    I don't do a whole lot of traveling so I cannot say about the rest of the nation but I wouldn't say that this is a fair swath of the country. I think there is a few areas in the US where AT&T needs some major improvement and I think those places are where all the bloggers live for this site it would seem because all they can do is bash AT&T. Frankly it is getting old and you need to move on and realize that no cellphone company (not even the almighty Verizon) is perfect so you may have to do your research for the area you live and choose from the ones that have the best coverage and ratings for your area. Then move on with your life instead of complaining about it all the time.
    bobiroc
    • Houston area is terrible

      @bobiroc

      We were with ATT for four years. Both before and after the launch of the iPhone. And all four years were worse than our previous two years with Verizon. We've now been back on VZW for almost 3 years and it's been way, way better. It's not even comparable in the Houston area.

      Perhaps ATT is better around here but it was too much. The final nail in the coffin was Hurricane Ike. People would have to call me 4+ times before it would even ring on my end. And then maybe I could stay connected for a few minutes. I knew people who were on their Verizon phone throughout the entire hurricane. Also, public safety uses Verizon around here after examining coverage for Sprint, ATT and T-mobile. VZW was by far the best. Now I've got priority 1 calling on my phone in case of a disaster so it's even better.
      LiquidLearner
  • Come on be honest

    You're staying with AT&T because you really like that your wife is no longer bugging you on the phone :)

    Am I close?
    oncall
    • Sounds like the best reason...

      @oncall

      To stay with ATT. I was telling my boss today I was contemplating uninstalling the phone portion of my Droid 2 so I could use it for the important stuff. Porn and e-mail.
      LiquidLearner
  • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

    This is exactly why I left AT&T. I *never* could have a phone call during which I didn't have to ask the other person to repeat what was just said on several occasions. Dropped calls weren't that terrible for me, but drop-outs of the audio were an infernal nuisance.

    AT&T's call quality overall is abysmal, I'm sure in no small part due to their decision to use AMR Half Rate as their codec of choice. It doubles their capacity, but halves the call quality.
    spatula6
    • Orly?

      @spatula6 The call quality of my iPhone4 is crystal clear compared to some of my friend's Verizon Android phones.
      Bates_
      • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

        @Bates_ <br><br>I hear ya on that one. My sister has the original Droid and my mom has the Droid-X and when they call me I frequently hear static and low call quality.

        Can you hear me now?

        Yeah, I can hear you but I cannot understand you?
        bobiroc
  • Larry, I think it is time...

    Time for you to get a Thunderbolt! You can talk and surf the web at the same time and AT&T's iPhone cannot come close to what it can deliver for speed!

    Seriously, go try the speeds and see for yourself.
    slickjim
    • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

      @Peter Perry That's great if you're in an area serviced by LTE. Like most of the country, I am not.

      - Peter
      flargh
  • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

    Just to att a few cents...

    I still have a trusty iPhone 3GS on AT&T, and I use it all around the Salt Lake City area, including suburbs, without an issue, for calls and data. Occasionally it drops a call, but that's actually pretty rare, and usually in the middle of a long call, and usually it's fine after one party calls right back. Not discounting anyone's trouble, but I'm happy with AT&T and my iPhone.
    Snarkrifice
  • RE: AT&T: great until you need to make phone calls

    This is entirely subject to where one is... in my area AT&T works great - data and voice.
    athynz