AT&T: A brief rant

I love my iPhone.

I really do.

However, I don’t love AT&T so much, and unfortunately the iPhone is yoked to AT&T exclusively for the foreseeable future.

I used to think Sprint was bad, and indeed it was and is in many markets. During my frequent trips to Chicago I found that the service was at times almost worthless, with dropped calls, crappy signal areas, and dead zones aplenty. However, I had to admit that it got better over the years to the point where I rarely had a problem making a call. Eventually it had nationwide plans at reasonable prices with promiscuous roaming plans that guaranteed I could make calls almost everywhere without getting hit by roaming charges, while coverage improved to the point where roaming was only rarely required.

Since switching to AT&T, which, as is the case with many iPhone users, I did only because I wanted the iPhone, not because I made a conscious choice to switch to AT&T, I’ve hit dead spots all over the place. You know that whole AT&T ad campaign about “more bars in more places”? It’s a big, steaming load of bull. However, despite the annoyances, service was generally tolerable, and having the iPhone made up for the somewhat more frequent annoyances than I had with Sprint.

That is, until I went to the AACR meeting in San Diego.

Let’s just put it this way. AT&T has virtually no signal in the San Diego Airport. Let me repeat that one more time: AT&T has virtually no signal in the frikkin’ San Diego Airport. Coming home, I had to wander all over Terminal 2 until I found one spot where the phone could hold a signal just long enough for me to call my wife and tell her that my flight looked as though it was going to leave on time, a call that only went through after three tries. The rest of the time, I could find no signal at all.

Think about it. If you run a mobile phone carrier, where is the one place that you absolutely, positively want to guarantee that there is a good signal? Where is the one place where your customers will absolutely demand good service and will raise hell if there is no signal?

That’s right, airports and the vicinity around them.

Around the downtown and convention center, service was tolerable, but I sure had a lot of dropped calls. I suppose I could conclude that AT&T just plain sucks in San Diego (at least in the downtown area and the Gaslamp Quarter).

AT&T users, is this what I get to look forward to now every time I travel? The only other place I’ve traveled since I got the phone was Chicago, and service there was OK; so from my limited sample thus far AT&T is only 1 for 2.