AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G network

AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G network

Summary: Earlier this morning T-Mobile issued their 2nd quarter report and as Larry stated their churn rate was up slightly this quarter. In case you didn't know, churn is the term used to measure the number of customers who leave or switch to another service provider, usually stated as a percentage. The slight increase this quarter, from 1.9 to 2.2 percent, is tough to blame on a single cause. I personally left T-Mobile after 6+ years to switch my family to AT&T so I could reduce my family monthly fees by having a single carrier instead of two. I selected AT&T over T-Mobile because of AT&T's 3G data and iPhone services. However, after spending the last 3 weeks experiencing constant dropped calls in areas where our various phones showed a full signal I had enough and switched back to T-Mobile last night.

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Earlier this morning T-Mobile issued their 2nd quarter report and as Larry stated their churn rate was up slightly this quarter. In case you didn't know, churn is the term used to measure the number of customers who leave or switch to another service provider, usually stated as a percentage. The slight increase this quarter, from 1.9 to 2.2 percent, is tough to blame on a single cause. I personally left T-Mobile after 6+ years to switch my family to AT&T so I could reduce my family monthly fees by having a single carrier instead of two. I selected AT&T over T-Mobile because of AT&T's 3G data and iPhone services. However, after spending the last 3 weeks experiencing constant dropped calls in areas where our various phones showed a full signal I had enough and switched back to T-Mobile last night.

I don't make a ton of phone calls, I am a data hound, yet when I do I want my calls to be uninterrupted. My wife has a consultant business and good quality phone calls are essential for her too. Dropped calls in areas where we know coverage is weak can be planned around, but random, constant dropped calls are unacceptable.

In addition to the dropped calls issue, I had a few other reasons for returning to T-Mobile. These include the amazing customer service and support I always receive from T-Mobile, the recent (just last week) rollout of T-Mobile 3G data all around the areas where I live and work, the support I receive as a reviewer from their PR company (thanks Kristen!) and T-Mobile employees, their competitively priced voice and data plans, and their support for Android devices.

As I stated in my hands-on with the myTouch 3G article I met with T-Mobile reps and was quite impressed with the device. A follow-up article on the device will be coming next week. I recently chose the T-Mobile G1 as my Dead Finger Tech mobile phone and like the fact that I get the touch experience like an iPhone along with thousands of applications (including Google Voice) and a QWERTY hardware keyboard. Android gives me the best of the UI and functinality experience and I am quite happy with the platform.

T-Mobile credited back my $800 in early termination fees and also reinstated my grandfathered family plan and $10 unlimited family text messaging plan. I know $800 is a lot for ETF, but I have been updating my phones regularly (T-Mobile G1, BlackBerry Curve, and more) and was under contract on four of my five lines. I am pleased to be back with T-Mobile and also to be saving a few bucks each month during this uncertain economic time.

My next decision with T-Mobile is to figure out if I should get the myTouch 3G or go with the upcoming HTC Touch Pro2.

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Hardware, Networking, Telcos, AT&T, Wi-Fi

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25 comments
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  • Return to T-Mobile

    Good for you, Miller. I was thinking of switching from VZW to AT&T for the Samsung Jack because I like WinMo smartphones, but switched to T-Mobile on their Dash 3G instead. A week after I got it I was pleasantly surprised to see 3G turned on in my city also, after just having been told it was still a month or so out.

    As a bit of a Linux geek, I'm quite fascinated with their new Android offerings, almost wish I'd gone with that instead of the new Dash or maybe the TouchPro2, but my 14 day return period is up so I'm stuck with it, but as a replacement for my old Moto Q I like it just fine. And now that Barnes&Noble offers free Wi-Fi at their stores where I frequent, how can I complain. Too bad Borders doesn't offer free wi-fi on their T-Mobile network yet lol but hey, beggars can't be choosers after all.

    As for dropped calls on AT&T, well, I don't EVEN want to remember THAT nightmare when I originally had them.
    podstolom
  • Before and after the 3G rollouts

    Before T-Mobile was by far the worst carrier in my area. Since the rollout it has been by far the most reliable.

    I am partial to the Android offerings so that's what I would go with. But it is a shame that the Hero will not be offered by T-Mobile (or at least it looks that way) because that has the slickest interface and has the nicest handset. But even so if you don't mind a bit of minor hacking you could always change your ROM image to almost anything on the XDA Developers site, which to me is an Android device's greatest feature.
    Michael Kelly
    • Too bad about the Hero

      I understand the Hero looks to be a fantastic HTC
      customized device, but if you are a heavy Google
      user then the myTouch 3G may be more optimized for
      their services than the Hero anyways. Like you
      said, one of the great things for geeks and
      tweakers is the ability to mess with and customize
      HTC devices with the help of the people over at
      XDA Developers.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • I've used the JACHero ROM

        and I can't say that I'm seeing less Google integration, just more other stuff, like MS Exchange, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr integration, plus a lot of HTC goodies, plus a slick method of using a class 6 SDHC card to expand internal storage.

        I've since gone off that and on to the JACxROM due to unacceptable slowness in the Hero ROM. The xROM has most (but not all) of the HTC widgets plus it's lightning fast, but lacks the Exchange, Facebook, etc. integration. But all in all the xROM is a good compromise that gives you some of the new goodies without sacrificing speed.
        Michael Kelly
      • The MyTouch

        ...while not as slick as the Hero is definitely worth a peep from what I'm seeing. I started downloading some of the MyTouch featured apps to my G1 and the FreshFaces app does get you some extra widgets that are appealing.

        The Hero wouldn't be so big of a deal (excluding Exchange etc.) if developers would get more on the ball with widgets. Either I suck act searching the market or developers are missing their opportunities by a long shot on Android.
        storm14k
  • I guess dropped calls are market dependent.

    We dropped T-mobile and went to AT&T for this exact reason. Everyone I know with T-mobile constantly complains about dropped calls.
    Go figure!
    kd5auq
    • Agree, one carrier doesn't do it for everyone

      I agree that carrier signal strength and quality
      are highly dependent on your geographic location
      and understand there is probably one or maybe two
      carriers that work best for each of us. I don't
      understand how I could also be shown a strong AT&T
      signal on my phones though and still have constant
      dropped calls. I NEVER have dropped calls with T-
      Mobile and the calls even sound clearer than they
      do for me on AT&T.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Never had dropped calls on ATT Edge, but 3GS is doing it

        Same as you described - full signal strength and I lose the call. This never happened with my first gen iPhone on Edge. Since getting the iPhone 3GS it has happened half a dozen times. I'm wondering if it can be chalked up to network growing pains on AT&T 3G? Will it get better?

        SPEAKING of AT&T - where the heck is our MMS? Can somebody at ZD follow up with AT&T to find out when it's coming?
        BillDem
        • It also may be a bug...

          in the phones OS.
          mrlinux
    • I have used T-Mobile

      for about 5 years and have no recollection of dropped calls using my phone any where in the US that I have traveled too. (This includes Corning NY which is about as far from any major metropolitan area as you can get in the Northeast.)

      Two things to note though:

      1] My phone is just that, a phone. I don't have a camera, MP3 player, Internet applications or any of the other PDA features that they sell on "handsets" these days.

      2] My phone is a "Prepay" or pay as you go plan. I find that this is the best value for me as I have no access fees, FCC taxes, or ETF fees. It's simply 1000 min for $100. That rate is higher per minute than most pay but I don't mind as I "refill" the phone only about 2-3 times a year.

      I moved from (then) Sprint because I could never even complete a call on Sprint 5 years ago. Fortunately, my contract had lapsed so I left Sprint taking my cell number with me. I chose a prepay account because I did not want to sign a contract with any carrier without at least seeing if their service didn't suck first.

      And that's the insidious part of contracts with carriers. Once you're signed up, you're nothing more than a revenue stream and performance is not a priority. You no longer have a market choice with a contract in place.

      I think that may be why my service with T-Mobile has always been excellent. Their bean counters know that I can choose at any time to leave their network and move to another one.

      Then again, maybe that's not the reason. I called and tried very hard to convince Sprint that my over $100 a month plan for 2 phones was not under contract and I could leave them at any time if they didn't get their service to even a crummy level of reliability. They didn't, I left, and now they're they're part of Verizon.

      I guess I am a dinosaur. I don't want an iPhone or any of those other gadgets. I just want a phone with a BT headset for talking to people. I can wait until I get to my laptop for all that other stuff. A lot of my co-workers have Blackberries and similar devices with integrated email. Guess who gets called for business emergencies most?
      jacarter3
  • Want to switch back

    But unfortunately it's been a few months so I would have to pay roughly $500 to switch back to T-Mobile from AT&T ($199 for MyTouch, around $100 for the actual plan, and then close to $200 in early termination fees from AT&T) and I don't have that kind of money right now.

    I actually had AT&T, switched to T-Mobile, then switched back to AT&T because I was enamored by the iPhone, but Android seems to be the coming thing.

    Carries should offer to cover your early termination fees if you switch to them from a rival!
    wayne62682
  • RE: AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G network

    So you had a bad experience and wanted to tell the world. Good for you. I had T-Mobile and in my area and those areas surrounding me by within a 100 miles, they are the worst. They didn't drop my calls, I could make any calls! So my wife and I had to cancel our contract and go to Verizon & AT&T for premium service. I just don't have a news column to bash T-Mobile. So perhaps every cell carrier is different in different areas.
    garjon19
    • RE: AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G

      Let me guess you have an iPhone and love it. Figures you would say that.
      Viper81481
  • RE: AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G network

    Service is obviously area-dependent, but I don't know anyone who would put up with AT&T's horrifying tech and customer support if any other provider worked in their area. I had AT&T for years but had to switch because I travel internationally. Nothing worked right when roaming internationally, especially voicemail. But the real nightmares started when I tried to get anyone to help me. T-Mobile's support is sublime.
    compudog
  • RE: AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G network

    As my personal opnion I have been fascinated by T-Mobile Dash 3G designed by HTC. Its great to stay organized while you are on the go, Most important thing is when i reviewed its specs. on http://justcompareit.com/s~q-T-mobile-3g.aspx.

    I really like its style :).
    humayunsaahi
  • That is crazy talk.

    TMobile is simply horrid. It has what? At best 1% coverage
    in the US. I had TMobile for exactly 2 years (the length of
    the contract) and it was the most miserable cell experience of my
    life.

    The chances of being in a cell was almost 0% once I left any metropolitan
    area.
    Bruizer
  • RE: AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G

    Here in So Calif, I have not had dropped calls and the service
    has been mostly excellent. However, my eyes were opened
    when we took a trip to Oregon via Utah and Idaho. Once we
    left Boise, I had very spotty service except in Portland and
    Eugene. Mostly, I had No Service. When we got to Northern
    California redwood country, I had no phone at all for two
    days. My wife, who has Verizon, had constant service except
    for a few gorges and redwood cuts. Man, they are BAD!
    So, Pre with Verizon in Jan? Or 3gs in Dec?
    cameljockey
    • I assume you are talking T-Mobile?

      That is what it was like for me with T-Mobile in N. Cali. No service. For
      2 freeking weeks.

      Talk about painful.

      OR, UT and NM were equally as bad. AZ has about 20% coverage at best.

      Verizon is great coverage but they charge an arm and a leg for it.
      Bruizer
  • RE: AT&T dropping calls like crazy, back to T-Mobile and their expanding 3G network

    no company will ever, not ever approve a 800 adjustment for early termination fees, it's obvious if that happened you know someone who works in a call center and put there job on the line for you , you should break them off a piece of change for that...
    reggiebrown
    • Wrong, just good customer service

      Actually, it is a standard policy of T-Mobile that you can get your ETF credited back if you return to them within a 90-day period. Any sales associate can take care of that and it is virtually automatic. I don't personally know any T-Mobile associate so there was no special treatment or anything.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)