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Handhelds The Almighty Buck Hardware

How's Your Cell Service? 342

Posted by Hemos
from the kinda-cruddy-actually dept.
Coldeagle writes "Well for those of us who are fed up with your current leash...Cellular phone providers... Here is an interesting article on various US cell phone providers and how their service adds up."
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How's Your Cell Service?

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  • Check! (Score:4, Funny)

    by vladid (694901) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:44AM (#6604836) Homepage

    Can you hear me now??


    GOOD!

  • You insensitive clod!

    • I bought a phone and had it for 3 years back in '92. contract was 2 years. Then I decided to upgrade, so I got a new 2 year contract with a new phone. 2 days later phone was stolen. They made me pay out the rest of the contract even without the phone, and would not give me a deal on a new phone. They wanted like $500 for a cheap ass motorola botom of the line phone.

      From then on I quit Ameritech. Screw them. I just tought me I could live without a phone, and I have for 8 years running now...

      I got on
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:48AM (#6604857)
    Overpriced...
    • by ZaMoose (24734) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:48AM (#6605306)
      Few people seem to realize that many cell phone companies, in the interest of retaining subscribers will actually do quite a bit. Give your company's service desk a call. Explain that you think you're paying too much and ask the service rep if there's anything they can do to help you.

      Since cell phone companies' service plans seem to change all the time, you can usually luck out and get them to change you to more minutes for less money than you're paying now.

      Try it some time. If you can stand wading through the 7 layers of Phone Menu Purgatory, you may just be pleasantly surprised.
      • I had a 2 year contract with Sprint. At the end of the contract, I called them and asked if they could offer me any incentives to stay with them.

        I was basically told no.

        Funny, I thought the biggest profit for cell phone companies was retention of customers.

        I changed to T-Mobile and have been happy so far.

        • by Chelloveck (14643) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:30AM (#6605646) Homepage
          Funny, I thought the biggest profit for cell phone companies was retention of customers.

          It is, but only because they're not giving incentives to the retained customers. The extra profit comes from the existing customers paying full rate (and probably on an older, more expensive plan) whereas the new customers get XX months or YY minutes discounted. Give the existing customers a discount and they're no longer a profit center.

          Which is why phone providers are so vehemently opposed to number portability. The current pricing structures try to get as many new customers as possible, and try to wring as much money as possible from the existing customers. The only incentive there is for people to continue with one provider is that they'd have to get a new number if they switched. Enter number portability and you get to take your number with you to any provider. Now there's absolutely no reason not to jump to a new provider for the incentives every year or two.

          Of course, any provider with a sensible pricing policy has nothing to fear. Call me when you find one...

  • by mjmalone (677326) * on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:48AM (#6604859) Homepage
    What about taking into consideration types of services offered? I had Verizon up until about 3 months ago when I decided I wanted to upgrade my phone. I found that Verizon had no GSM network and after talking on the phone with some representitives I found there was no plan to implement one either. The phone I wanted (ericsson t68i) was a tri-band GSM phone, so I decided to switch networks. I now have T-Mobile, and I admit that their coverage is not quite as good as Verizon's, but I have found it is getting better (I was in blacksburg, Va. in June and there was no service, I went back in July and had full coverage all over town.) Also you have to take into consideration the location of the individuals being polled. Some providers have excellent service in various regions, but very poor service elsewhere.
    • by numbski (515011) * <numbski@nOSpam.hksilver.net> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:57AM (#6604920) Homepage Journal
      Very true. I've used SprintPCS since 1998, and I would have sworn by them all the way up until last year. Then it seems like they started oversubscribing their network.

      Well, I've moved a few times, and it seems that in some areas this network over-subscription began in 2000, combined with the fact that their newer phones didn't always get the best signal. I had an old Qualcomm 1100 and never had any issues, then I got an LG flip phone, and the signal was miserable, and a 2G phone too. Now my sanyo 4900 will get full signal right next to that LG phone that gets none....wierdness.

      Some R+D and catchup work on their network would do them a world of good. I realize over-subscription is the profit ticket to a network provider, but it has to be done INTELLIGENTLY.
    • after talking on the phone with some representitives I found there was no plan to implement one either.

      A customer service rep told you that!!??!!

    • Another aspect that's left out, of course, is actual customer service (as opposed to merely cellular network coverage). I'm sure the majority of people with cell phones have at least one horror story - like my wife who had to cancel her AT&T Wireless phone service on 4 separate occasions before they finally stopped sending us bills...
    • I'm still in Blacksburg, va, and I find that verizon does indeed have the best coverage around here. [except when you get to wythvile area, that's when you get dropped to nothing].

    • Also you have to take into consideration the location of the individuals being polled. Some providers have excellent service in various regions, but very poor service elsewhere.

      I don't mean to sound like a shill, but I have never failed to have Verizon CDMA coverage (Motorola StarTAC) anywhere I've been in the US. Meanwhile, though, the T-Mobile phone I also have (because the Handspring Treo 180 is so cool, except for the phone itself) has really terrible, spotty coverage - but I can use it in Europe,

  • by numbski (515011) * <numbski@nOSpam.hksilver.net> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:49AM (#6604869) Homepage Journal
    If you purchased an account (or bought a new phone/got a new advantage agreement as an old customer) and had unlimited vision, and you removed unlimited vision since then, guess what?

    You still have it. They've 'grandfathered' your account into having unlimimted vision anyway. Set that next to the fact that since the christmas season, the novelty of the vision network has worn off, and I'm now getting comparable to ISDN speeds off my phone using a USB cable hooked to my powerbook.

    Ja ne!
    • I got modded up anyway, but I meant to say if you bought a new phone/agreement this last christmas season while they were giving unlimited vision for free, and then removed it.

      Hate to see a bunch of people remove it and find out they are getting metered because they didn't fall in that group. I'm saying if you've removed it since christmas, not to go do it now. :P
    • I spent about a week looking at providers and talking to various CSR's from multiple carriers for a three phone package. No one plan from any company was above and beyond the others. My advice is to take what is most important to you and make a weighed scale.

      My general comments on Sprint..

      Overall, very happy with the phones and the service. Occasional dropouts when driving but not an issue for me.

      Pros..

      The phones they offer are very good with many gadgets and gizmos and are not expensive to replace.

    • Read closely on their Vision website -- using a USB cable with the phone (instead of their 'PCS Connection Card') is a definite no-no.

      Enjoy your service while it lasts, eventually you'll get a phonecall from Sprint saying 'Mr. So and So, you have three options, we can cancel your vision outright, you can purchase a monthly service plan (20MB for $$, 40MB for $$$, etc) for business connections, or you can pay a per kilobyte charge on your data.

      reference 1 [sprintusers.com] reference 2 [dslreports.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward
        uh, but you won't get caught unless you d/l gigs a month...something most people don't do.

        Has anyone actually ever take five different phones around and used them to compare?

        I did this late last year with:

        Sprint
        AT&T
        Verizon
        T-Mobile
        Nextel

        I really wanted to know what worked best.
        I used common model phones, so as to eliminate that as an issue.

        Sprint - good overall coverage, some missing spots. Rarely got the network busy.

        AT&T - good coverage, but over-saturated
        network...lots of "network busy" mess
  • Verizon Wireless (Score:5, Informative)

    by GeckoFood (585211) <geckofood@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:49AM (#6604871) Journal
    I have Verizon Wireless. Last month, I drove from Northern Virginia to northern Indiana (and back), and I never lost the signal and never went into roaming, even in the mountains of West Virginia. Can't get too much better than that...
    • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:52AM (#6604885) Homepage
      Verizon is significantly more expensive than most other US-based providers.

      It has always been (in my opinion) worth the extra money, so I'm not surprised they were ranked #1.
      • Actually, I have to correct you on the "expensive" thing. In the second quarter Verizon Wireless's average service revenue per subscriber was $48.66 This is a lot lower then the other major cell companies out there. The reason for this is Verizon does not pull tactics like placing you in plans that are not fit for you. I.E. Some other providers like to put you in lower plans and then when you use up your minutes your bill gets outragous. Verizon actually has a computer based tool that calculates your
        • True (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Andy Dodd (701)
          That's part of why Verizon rocks.

          But assuming that one chooses the optimum plan for a given provider, Verizon is significantly more expensive per minute - With other providers, you get more minutes for the same price.

          Nonetheless, minutes aren't everything. Having tons of minutes is worthless when you waste them due to dropped calls or can't use them because you're roaming. Per-minute, Verizon is much more expensive, but they are worth every penny.
      • Verizon is significantly more expensive than most other US-based providers. It has always been (in my opinion) worth the extra money, so I'm not surprised they were ranked #1.

        That's funny, a few posts up a guy was saying that AT&T's coverage kicked Verizon's booty. But he said he still used Verizon 'cause it was less expensive...

        I don't know where he was, and I don't know where you are, but here in the Seattle area you can't beat AT&T's coverage. :-)
      • Verizon is significantly more expensive than most other US-based providers.

        Well, someone has to pay for all those annoying commercials...

      • Verizon is significantly more expensive than most other US-based providers.

        Yeah...everyone other than Nextel. Who I've been using for years, as do most of my business associates and friends, and, more importantly, my fire department. LNP or not, Nextel has their customers who actually use direct connect by the balls, and thay know it.

        They could double the price, and I'd still pay it. Any more than that and I'd carry a phone for calls and a Nextel for just durect connect. I suspect others feel the s
    • by jmkaza (173878) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:24AM (#6605091)
      Good to hear that Verizon's coverage is good, but as a fellow motorist, I'd prefer that you had watched the road rather than stared at your signal strength bar the whole drive.
    • by duckpoopy (585203)
      Try I-95 near the North Carolina-Virginia border. Very bad to no coverage. I guess it could also be my cheap (V-120) phone.

      It seems that phone quality can skew the results of customer surveys, like those in the article. My phone is apparently prone to dropping calls, by no fault of Verizon. Perhaps the companies that push better phones have better perceived service quality.

    • Re:Verizon Wireless (Score:3, Informative)

      by pogle (71293)
      Go just a little further south with Verizon and you encounter problems. I just got back from a week in North Carolina, once we crossed from VA into NC my Verizon Wireless connection went to perma-roam. Roaming charges everywhere in the eastern part of the state. Made me severely unhappy, despite good service elsewhere. Lucky I don't visit down there too often, would be expensive.
  • by geddes (533463) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:50AM (#6604876)
    I use t-Mobile, the second to lowest scoring provider. I havn't had that many service problems, with the exception of coverage. Thier coverage could be a lot better, but I use them over Verizon because of the quality of their customer service. It is really excellent, and customer service, to me, makes all the difference. What I would like to know is how to honestly figure out a cell phone companies coverage (other than taking their 7 day trials or whatever and walking your route, that is annoying). Like, how can I find a map of all the cell phone towers in and around Groton, Massachusetts, and which companies run them. Having such a map at my disposal would be far more useful than the "coverage maps" the companies hand out with the entire nation shaded red. I have heard that some of the mobile shops have these, but that they really aren't allowed to share them. Surely these towers' locations have to be registered somewhere
    • I'm sure the towers are registered somewhere - however, it's then got to be mapped against geographic features that nork up coverage etc.

      In the UK we used to have these kind of maps, but there were too many cases of people thnking they'd get coverage then not doing so because of geographic features such as hills etc that were creating blackspots. So I think they've actually stopped doing them now - I'd assume they've done the same in the US, although this assumption is speculative rather than based in fact
      • If the providers cared they could actually map an area for pretty accurate maps of coverage zones. There is a company called wireless valley that maps a VERY good although terribly expensive package for doing just that. Then again it would probably cost way more to get a competent person to operate the software then it could possibly be worth to them.
    • by ccoder (468480) * <[ten.ronzihs] [ta] [redocc]> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:56AM (#6604916)
      if you are a complete sadist, you might be able to compile the information from http://svartifoss2.fcc.gov/reports/index.cfm
      • Tower Location (Score:5, Informative)

        by Duckz (147715) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:43AM (#6605266) Homepage
        This site does most of the work for you.
        http://www.berkana.com/tower.php3 [berkana.com]

        Todd

    • by WhiteDragon (4556) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:00AM (#6604944) Homepage Journal
      check usenet. alt.cellular [google.com] and children have lots of info. I bet some people have made some nice detailed cell site maps. I actually have a friend who's hobby is finding cell towers, he has a big book with photos of just about every tower in the city he lives in, and he draws up maps of all the different providers. It is pretty cool, he looks at the pattern of existing towers, and says, "ok, I predict that Cingular will have a tower here", then goes to that spot, and sure enough, a tower! I had never previously heard of such a hobby, but he can't be the only one.
    • by wolf- (54587) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:26AM (#6605111) Homepage
      I was doing contract work for a cell provider in atlanta about 6 years ago. We had to have a serious background check done in order to even view the database with tower information in it. The cell companies claim that the hush hush is for security and anti-terrorism reasons. Personally I thought it was so we couldnt share just how lousy their coverage really was.
    • Refer to the article, Grad Student's Work Reveals National Infrastructure (here) [slashdot.org]

      This guy used public information to build a very thourough mapping of communication, transportation, power, etc. infrastructure. IIRC, it included cell phone towers.
      Of course, this caught the attention of politicians and various agencies, and he can't share his research.
    • I remember in a TMobile store the sales guy pulled up a map of my home area coverage on the sales computer. The coverage wasn't good. He sugested I try some other provider (I respect that alot). Ask if you can see a coverage map when you go to buy, if your nice they might show it to you..
    • I work for a company that does Phase-I/II** 911 Emergency Management Systems for states including PA, FL, ME, NY, VA, IN, LA, MS, NC and Washington DC. To properly figure out total coverage and signal strength, you need to know the lat/long/alt of every tower, as well as the antenna length, signal strength, and any local interference generators. You take all that info, and you plug it into a composite signal rendering program (such as SIGNAL [edx.com] by EDX [edx.com]. This will give you a "100% coverage" map. This assumes
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Their becoming useless and using bullying tactics. My sister wished to swap her service away from verizon and verizon proceeded to contact ME telling me i would be paying higher charges because she was leaving the network. their was no information ever about lowering costs if we had the same provider in the first place and I even had my plan at my exiosting price far before she ever had a cell phone. So now they wanted to raise my price probably to pressure me into making her stay, so I told them to get th
    • Nextel is threatening to change our rates in mid-contract. A very rude Mr Harris was put on the phone a few days ago when we called up about a billing problem (cell minutes magically disappeared from the plan???) All he kept saying was "we are losing money on your account"

      My answer was tough, your agent signed us up and for 6 months, you honored the contract. You make any changes to the accounts between now and December, a breech of contract suit will ensue.

      Ends up, customer service passed us to him.
  • by rlsnyder (231869) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:53AM (#6604895)
    The standards for "intersting article" seem to have gotten lower. This is a very brief writeup of a customer satisfaction survey. There is very little information on how the survey was taken, and the scoring on the survey ranks in the range of 0-104, with all services being ranked right next to each other at the top of the spectrum (with only a few % difference between each).

    In other words, a short article vaguely describing a survey with largely insignificant differentiation in results. Whoo hoo!
    • Shout out to rlsnyder for laying the smack down on this being a seriously whack article!

      I need to know where the approx. 16,000 folks they surveyed were located too! If they're all on the eastern seaboard or in southern California, what the hell does that tell me about the quality or lack thereof of each companies nationwide coverage. Nothing, that's what.
  • Different results (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:53AM (#6604896)
    Here in NE Ohio between my father and I we have used all of the major cellular companies. Verizon has shit for voice quality (I might blame it on the phone but we've had 4 different sets from 3 manufacturers), AT&T I couldn't be happier with (and their coverage KILLS anyone else, I have used my phone from coast to coast and in some pretty damn remote areas like on Mt. Whitney Calif, The Grand Canyon, etc, finally Nextel is fine so long as you are in a major metro area or never get off the highway but because they have no analog backfill don't expect to get a signal in the boonies (or even the outskirts of the Cleveland/Akron metroplex in my case). Oh yeah the only reason I put up with Virizon? Price, $80/month for unlimited anytime minutes =) My dad and I both use up more minutes then even the jumbo plans that many carriers offer for well over $100 and none of them have reasonable per minute charges if you go over.
    • Funny, after putting up with their dreadfully shitty DSL service, and waiting around for help with their dreadfully shitty phone service, who'da thought they'd be able to do something right?

      ...Right?
  • I remember being called while I was on the top of the Schilthorn (the Piz Gloria is the restaurant in which G. Lazenby plays "At Her Majesty's service").
    So I guess the coverage is quite decent, even far up the mountains. :)
  • by tbase (666607)
    With so many people having cell phones these days, all you have to do is ask around to see who's best in your area. This explains the high ratings and little spread in the study. By now people have figured out who they should go with in a particular area.

    A useful study would ask how people rated their service when travelling. I think you'd see the ratings plummet. I have T-Mobile which is ok for where I normally use it, but I just went on vacation, and any distance at all off the highway or away from any c
  • In my area I have had the following

    Primeco
    Verizon
    Bellsouth
    ATTWireless
    NextTel
    Everyone of them had problems. Finally I got MetroPCS. The service isnt any better but it costs only $40/mo unlimited usage. I may not have the service I want but at least I am not paying for service I don't actually receive.
  • Well it's great in the cities that are covered. but leave the city or highway and you are stranded. While traditional analog or tri-mode cellphones still work (at a higher "ohhh your roming? gimmie GOBS of cash" rate)

    It's all about coverage for me. AT&T wireless has the worst coverage and the worst agreements with other carriers for roaming so you get no service more often.. while verizon has super crappy customer care.

    I guess it's taking the lesser of the evils.
    • Funny, my experience has been just the opposite - I went camping with some friends and we all took our phones along for emergencies.

      Well, lo and behold none of them (AT&T, Verizon and 2 Nextels) worked at the camp site (in a valley at Macedonia Brook State Park (CT)), but when we climbed up to a fair height during our hike both nextel phones had full service, the Verizon was on analog-roaming and my AT&T phone was pleading No Service.

      There are some places my Nextel (switched this year)doesn't get
  • Verizon service in Maine is aweful. It's fine in southern New England, but i end up having to call-back several times to hold a 10 minute conversation. That's why I'm going to get an i90 and nextel service today.

    Some people I've talked with say that their cell phones get odd messages when calling sometimes, they say "Welcome to roaming services, credit card number please?" or similar. It seems like it might be a new "slam" or some telco trolling for extra cash.

    josh
  • by LogicX (8327) * <slashdotNO@SPAMlogicx.us> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:56AM (#6604910) Homepage Journal
    The next thing I want to know is which provider gives the best wireless internet services, including unlimited connections for a reasonable price -- and services such as AIM with a real client instead of through SMS messages. aim.com/wireless [aim.com] is a start, but I want to hear from those of you who use the services.

    I currently have cingular, who does not offer AIM, and I've had numerous problems trying to get the wireless web service to work (apparently it wasn't supported by the towers in my home calling area).
  • by selderrr (523988) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:56AM (#6604911) Journal
    I'll probably get modded redundant, but I still don't have a cellphone. And so far, except for 2 occasions where I got stuck in traffic for several hours and got late to pick up our kids from school, I have never even thought "damd, I wish I wasn't so stubborn and bough that cellphone"

    I honestly go whooptie-flip over those 15-year olds crammed together in the bus messanging or calling eachother, yelling in my ear, poking with their elbows and tripping over anything smaller than a shepperd-dog (I recently saw a teen running along the road while phoning. Neither he nor the road-sign pole had the immense fun I had when I saw him smack his forehead fullspeed into the metal, and then the back of his head into the asphalt as he bounced back. The silliest thing was that when I tried to help him get up, he could only utter 'mind your steps... my phone is on the ground somewhere overhere' The guy was nearly blind from the impact for christ sake !)... Not to speak of the near-constant phone ringing all around me whenever I step out the door. At a bus station for instance. Sometimes it's funny to just watch everyone grab for their phone (women in their purse, machos grab their crotch as those things seem to live in simbyosis with testicles)...

    That's perhaps one reason to buy a cellphone : stand at the busstation with a friend, and secretly call him. He doesn't pick up. I hang up after 3 rings and repeat. Mr. Cleese would be proud of me.
    • by Palos (527071) *
      The main reason I ended up with a cell phone was price vs a landline. For $40 a month I get unlimited nights/weekends, no charge for long distance, and a decent amount of anytime minutes. Compared to the phone in my house which used to cost about $30 after caller id/etc and included no minutes, this was very nice.
      As far as the article itself goes, as has been mentioned before its 100% location based. If you're getting a cell phone talk to people who have one there, and find out what is best.
    • achos grab their crotch as those things seem to live in simbyosis with testicles
      cellular = radiation + testicles = ball cancer. I'll be sure to keep my phone in my purse from now on.
    • Etiquette (Score:4, Insightful)

      by div_2n (525075) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:40AM (#6605222)
      Just as with anything else, there is (or should be) etiquette for use. Sometimes it takes quite a while for the social norms to develop. Smokers still seem to think it is and should be acceptable for them to blow smoke right in a non-smokers breathing area. I don't think too many people would argue it is ok to have sex in public (can't wait for responses to that).

      The point is that social norms will develop. It will probably take too long (as in smoking) so establishments will probably have no cell phone policies except in special areas. This makes sense anyway as phone conversations tend to be louder than normal conversation. Whenever I get a cell phone call in a public place I always move to a point where I am out of the way and talk just like I was having a conversation with someone right next to me.

      Just as a car shouldn't be driven just anywhere (a neighbors lawn), a cell phone shouldn't be used anywhere and anytime. For example, answering a call while your girlfriend is yelling at you is likely to get it broken upside your head. Strangely if they go down while you are actually ON the phone it is ok. Go figure.
  • I hate the phone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AssFace (118098) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [77znets]> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:58AM (#6604922) Homepage Journal
    I absolutely hate the phone and will do nearly anything to avoid talking on one.

    That said, I love shiny things. I have had a series of phones over the years and a series of carriers.

    I started in '99 with a Nokia - I think it was a 6590 or something like that - it seemed cool at the time. It was with Sprint in Boston/Cambridge.
    There were small, but frequent dead zones and when I walked into one while on a call, it would drop out. Frustrating.
    I called Sprint about it and they actually said "yeah, we aren't planning on upgrading out networks at all"... so I told them I would be leaving their service, which I did.

    I then got a Nokia 8860 - the shiny mirrored girly phone that Christina Aguilara had on one of her MTV interviews. That phone scratched easily and had terrible reception - but I was worshipped like a god whenever I pulled that out of my pocket. It was also excellent for finding nose hair issues.
    The reception on that phone was so bad that it is hard to fault AT&T for any of that. That said, AT&T fucked up the billing on my phone and my cable service about 4 times in a row and led to a several month series of events that made me decided to never use them again. They were incredibly annoying to deal with - one person would say the situation was resolved, then I would get a letter from a collection agency - for something that I never needed to pay in the first place according to AT&T.
    Finally, the last straw was when the woman (many supervisors up) said to me "I understand that you aren't supposed to have this charge, but you do, and I can't fix it, so how about you just pay $10 of it and then I will write off the rest (of a $100 charge)".
    I was so pissed that I had to pay anything at all since I wasn't supposed to - but at that point, I saw the $10 fee as my way of getting out of their fucking phone annoyance hell - and I was sick of getting collection notices for things that weren't my problem.

    So I will never go with them again. I later got some mail telling me that I was part of a class action suit against them and would in the end get like $1 off of my cable service if I upgraded - right.

    Then I switched to VoiceStream, and they then renamed to T-Mobile. I have the Nokia 8890 with them. GSM - works in other countries and many cities.
    Great service, great customer service - no billing errors - great phone.
    Was very happy with them - they would upgrade my service for free as things came along - great stuff.

    Then I moved to Bermuda and had to cancel that.
    I can still use the same phone here, and the service is decent enough, considering I didn't want to get it in the first place (work made me get it, but then refused to pay for it, so as a result, I don't answer it much).
    The customer service here is non-existant - but so far haven't had to deal with that yet. Have had a rude person and a nice person when signing up. That is pretty normal here - usually more rude.

    In the end, the only way I would change phones is if I get one of the new Treo phones from Handspring/Palm, or if Nokia's upgrade to the 8890 comes here (I think it is the 8910 and 8910i - nice looking phones).
  • by timothy_m_smith (222047) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:00AM (#6604937)
    The problem with this article is that mobile service should be rated regionally as opposed to nationally. I understand that some carriers have national plans, but in general each carrier has strengths in different geographic areas.
  • by emo boy (586277) <[moc.hab] [ta] [nairb_namffoh]> on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:00AM (#6604942) Homepage
    I have Sprint PCS and I would say over 50% of the time the people on the other end just sound like Ewoks. It could be the service quality or it could just be that I'm talking to Ewoks but I mean what sounds more likely...Eworks or the quality of service?? Yeah Ewoks...those damn ewoks.
  • I just got AT&T service a few weeks ago and I am happy with it. Although coverage in my town is spotty (I live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but trees), their coverage elsewhere is excellent. I also got the Sony Ericsson T306 for free, which I have found to be a good, full featured phone.
  • Cingular (Score:5, Informative)

    by LogicX (8327) * <slashdotNO@SPAMlogicx.us> on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:02AM (#6604950) Homepage Journal
    Just wanted to toss out there that I went to get a new phone at cingular last week, and they've JUST switched everything to GSM networks from CDMA. All their new plans are for GSM service, all their new phones are GSM. If you are a currently customer you have TWO phones to choose from that still do CDMA. The GSM service has MUCH less coverage, they claim better quality and signal strength.

    Does anyone have any good URLs showing what network types all the providers use, and maybe compares them?
    • Re:Cingular (Score:5, Informative)

      by WhiteDragon (4556) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:37AM (#6605198) Homepage Journal
      cingular was never CDMA, they have been TDMA. That being said, the two phones that have TDMA and GSM (a combination known as GAIT) are the Sony-Ericsson T62u and the Nokia 6360. I have had a cingular phone for a year and a half and really love their coverage. I am on a national plan which includes roaming to analog and tdma, and I almost always have some signal. I don't care whether it is cingular, other tdma, or analog, since I don't pay any extra for it. My only complaint is the fact that calls made while off the cingular network are not billed immediately, so you might have to wait a month or two, then all of a sudden you wonder where those extra 150 minutes on your bill came from. I suppose that is probably not cingular's fault though, since they have to wait until they get the data from the roaming partners.
  • by Comsn (686413) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:04AM (#6604958)
    you insensitive clod! my tinfoil hat blocks cell service!
  • by MImeKillEr (445828) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:07AM (#6604978) Homepage Journal
    .. Sprint PCS did better than T-Mobile. We had nothing but problems with our Sprint phone and I had absolutely no issues with my VoiceStream (now T-Mobile) phone.

    I'd like to see another report, however, that takes cellular coverage issues as well as billing and customer support. I wouldn't be surprised to find Sprint at the bottom of that list.

  • I used to have alltel and had no end of problems. I'd be driving down a city street and get no service...I'd try to make a call and get a fast busy. I switched to verizon and have had almost no problem. The only time I have a problem is sometimes when I am in a large brick building, but that is to be expected I guess.
  • by miketang16 (585602) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:18AM (#6605044) Journal
    No.

    At least according to those results.
  • Using Sprint, this weekend I was in: Detroit Pittsburg New York Washington DC And in all those sites I got the infamous "Signal Faded" (the other end was usually a landline). Are the other carriers as bad as Sprint?
  • Prepaid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Patik (584959) * <cpatik AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:19AM (#6605057) Homepage Journal
    Prepaid phones are a great resource for those who wish they had a phone for occasional usage (emergencies, quick short calls, etc.) but won't talk enough to justify $30/month. I've found Virgin Mobile [virginmobile.com] to offer the best rates. You have to add $20 every 90 days, which works out to $7/month if you never use it (or use up to about a half hour a month). You can add money on their website, through the phone itself, or by buying a card at a store. The balance also carries over until you cancel the service. I've never had to add any more than the minimum, and I feel like I've adequate usage out of it. It's .25/min, which seems costly but if I had a $30/month plan I'd still only use it 30-60 minutes, and I'd be pay three times per minute when you average it out. Free text messages (10 cents to send) are very convenient.

    For the 7 months I've had it the service has been great, phone has worked fine, and everything has run smoothly.

    Since then I've convinced three people close to me to get their own. They, too, disregarded cell phones because of the daunting costs, but have found the occasional usage quite convenient.

    • In the UK there was a massive uptake in prepaid mobiles a few years ago with prices as low as 15GBP

      Problem was, the networks were making no money on them - prices are now around 70GBP for the handsets + a minimum spend

  • I've been on Sprint for about 4 years now... not sure why, I barely use the damn thing anymore. But one odd problem pops up; when my dad calls me from his cordless phone at home (one of those 2GHz thingies), the noice-cancelling on each phone seems to be out of sync with the other, and I get nothing but talk-(drop)-talk-(drop)-talk.... any ideas on that one?

    Other cell-phone fun... I bought one partially for emergency use while I'm traveling, but good luck getting a signal if you drive to most western US Na

  • by weave (48069) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:23AM (#6605077) Journal
    I've driven all over the southwest with a friend of mine. I have Verizon, my work phone is Nextel, and he has Sprint PCS. Coverage wise, it was Verizon by far, then Nextel, then that POS Sprint. Even in dense areas like - ah, er, Phoenix -- he often had trouble getting a decent signal.

    Then there's the entire southeast quadrant of New Mexico. All around Carlsbad, Roswell, and basically anywhere east of I-25 was a complete dead zone for Nextel and Sprint. Verizon was great except for a few isolated areas between some mountains.

    Sprint's "all digital" shtick is supposed to be a selling point, but it's actually a disadvantage. If there's no digital signal, I'd much rather fall back to analog (plus not have to pay roaming charges) than have no service at all.

    One more thing, modern cell phones pretty much suck. I've had a startac 7868W for years now, works like a champ, great sound quality, and goes ages on a charge. It's basically a very good telephone. OK, so it doesn't have solitaire or allow me to snap photos inside of locker rooms. I'd rather just have a good phone and reliable dependable phone service.

    • Sprint's "all digital" shtick is supposed to be a selling point, but it's actually a disadvantage. If there's no digital signal, I'd much rather fall back to analog (plus not have to pay roaming charges) than have no service at all.

      I have a (company-owned) Sprint SCP4900 dual-band digital phone through Sprint PCS, and I get analog when I get outside of their digital network.
  • maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Datasage (214357) <<moc.yergsidlroweht> <ta> <egasataD>> on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:26AM (#6605116) Homepage Journal
    Verizon may be best for the entire country, but not best for every area. When i was choosing a cellular provider i did a bit of shopping around. sometimes by overhearing other customers talking to the guy at the counter about thier problems. Most of them were compaining about the quality of verizon's service. In the end i choose t-mobile.

    Quality of service is not the only reason why i would choose a provider.

    GSM vs CDMA: Because we in the US always have to be incompatible with the rest of the world we create the cdma standard. Generally i have found that the cdma based networks cant send sms outside of thier network or to very few others. while t-mobile to many of the networks around the world. T-mobile also can be used on many of the networks around the work, but you pay a premium price to do so (anywhere from $1-5 per minute). But if you were in those countries, it would be rather easy to just get a sim card for a local network. The last reason i like gsm over cdma, i can upgrade my handset by just moving the sim card to another phone, no programing needed.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:30AM (#6605148)
    ...Wireless Local Number Portability (LNP), meaning you can change to another wireless provider in your service area while keeping the same telephone number, goes into effect November 24, 2003:

    FCC press release [google.com]
  • Don't use Sprint! (Score:2, Informative)

    by rsheridan6 (600425)
    Unless you like
    1. roaming charges in a major metropolitan area
    2. incompetent customer service people who will send your bill to the wrong place no matter how many times you tell them to correct your address
    3. a web site that doesn't work half the time
    4. sneaky tricks to lock you into a service agreement for a year. Your phone breaks? You better get a new one because you have to keep paying the bill, regardless of whether you actually have a working phone. Got a new phone? You have to sign on for another yearlo
  • by PincheGab (640283) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:47AM (#6605304)
    That's all I know about L.A. cell service. In finding out which provider to switch to from AT&T, I ran into this ePinions page [epinions.com]. Unlike this awful and non-informative article, the ePinions page divides ratings by territory or metro area. Use something like this when choosing a cell service provider, as providers DO vary in service depending on the location.
  • I've had Sprint since 2000. The only place I had trouble was in my old apartment. Since my building was right beside another one, I got nothing inside. If I wanted to talk to someone, I had to sit next to the window and hope for the best. Since I moved to another apartment with line-o-sight to the freeway, things are a lot better.
  • The "best" cell phone service is simply which ever service works best for any given person. I've had Sprint PCS for 18 months and (Orlando/Daytona, FL area) I'm perfectly happy with it. The price is right and the coverage and quality of service is impeccable. So I have no desire to roll the dice with another provider.

    No doubt there are going to be others in this same area who will say their Sprint PCS service sucks. That it costs too much and that their coverage is horrible. Thus proving my point.
  • They make last place sound pretty good with a 93. How fucked up is that?

    I'm an AT&T customer and if that's a 100 e.g. pretty good then naked snow virgins are gonna feed me grapes in hell.

    I have had every extra service turned off because they simply don't work. For example no voicemail. After 3 months of trying to get it to work. I finally just had them shut it off. Messages could never be retrieved w/o operator intervention. Similarly paging, text messaging both never functioned I could neither send n
  • I have to say that I've been tolerant of their poor coverage, primarily because the rest of plan is so simple. I've been with them for ages (Omnipoint->Voicestream->TMobile) and never wanted to give up my phone number. My wife had Verizon, but when her contract was up we put her on TMobile too in order to get the family plan. But scores like this, coupled with the new legislation to let us take our phone numbers elsewhere, will probably have me switching in the near future.
  • I use Sprint PCS, using a 3G phone. It works very well.

    My wife uses Sprint PCS using a 2G phone. It works very poorly, with frequent signal drops.

    My father uses Verizon Wireless. I get a signal in many places where he does not, and I am surprised his phone hasn't become a projectile yet.

    Several of my co-workers use NEXTEL (company issued). They had to install a signal booster just to get the signal into the building. Other Verizon and Sprint users do not have such a need (no, the booster cannot h

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:33AM (#6605670) Homepage
    Big deal, so Verizon's the best of a bad bunch. Let's see some ratings on an absolute scale.

    What do I want from a cell phone? I want it to just work.

    Every time I contacted Verizon regarding problems, they implied it was because I had one of those "old" analog phones. So I bought a spiffy new digital tri-mode phone and digital service.

    And it still acts weird. People still call me at times when my phone is powered on and showing five signal bars, and get sent to voice mail. And it can take hours for my phone to tell me that I have voice mail.

    And sometimes it beeps for no reason at all and I can't figure out why and Verizon's customer service can't tell me.

    And if I'm actually walking around with the phone, I hear little bits of garble as if I were briefly underwater--I suppose it's decided to change what tower it's talking to, for no reason.

    And when I was on a trip, every time I turned it on, the first call I made would not go through--I'd get a recorded message to the effect that "this mobile unit is not authorized in this area." But the second (and subsequent) phone calls would go through fine. Why? Customer service couldn't tell me.

    And all my conversations are strange, because--something nobody bothered to mentioned to me--unlike analog cell phones, which work in real time, the digital phones for some unfathomable reason incorporate a split-second delay of nearly half a second in each direction.

    And the thing has a complex, pesky, homebrew user interface that takes me back to the days of character-oriented DOS programs which all had their own UI conventions.

    And the "end call" button is also the "power off" button so if you don't have a good sense of timing you can turn the thing off when you just meant to end the call.

    And the maps they give you showing where cell service is supposed to exist are just jokes. The coverage areas look like slice of American cheese, but the reality is more like Swiss cheese.

    Like so much high-tech gear, it doesn't really work and nobody cares.
  • The ongoing saga... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:29AM (#6606289)
    Cellular service in this country is a mess, and urban areas can be just as bad off as rural. Case in point: New York City. I've been with Sprint now for about 6 or 7 years, not because their service is so great but because everybody else is even worse. I live in Queens (though not in the boonies of Queens) and commute to Manhattan - I get 1 bar of signal strength in either place, occasionally going up to 2. A good 50% of my calls are either dropped or just go through to voicemail. This is not just on one model of phone, either - as I said, I've been with Sprint for a while and have used a good 4-5 phones over the duration, all with external antennas, and all have been equally bad. It's the service, not the phones.

    Fed up, I tried Verizon for 2 weeks about a year ago, based on their reputation (a reputation confirmed at the linked article). Every single call I made reverted to analog mode despite showing 4 bars of digital strength prior to placing the call. Accessing any data services was useless for this reason, and call quality was atrocious. Dropped Verizon within my 15 day trial period (which I believe is mandated by law around here).

    During all this time, Sprint's rates have shot up dramatically, and for my family plan I am now paying a minimum of $95 per month including taxes (taxes are much higher here than anywhere else - YMMV). That's the cheapest plan available with 2 lines.

    Just this weekend my wife and I signed up with Cingular, mostly due to their lower rates ($50 plus 17.1% total tax for 2 lines and a reasonable amount of minutes). Was instantly complaining that I was going to cancel the service again after I couldn't even complete a call to my wife's phone in our own apartment. Now that I've had a bit more time to play with the phones I'm starting to think the service is not particularly worse than Sprint (1 bar of strength at home, 1 bar at work, 2-3 bars everywhere in between, some calls dropped, some go through), so at the reduced rates I may as well stick with them. But I'm still not particularly happy.

    If any other product on the market (and cellular service is a product like any other) only worked 50% of the time it would be considered defective. Imagine picking up your home phone and wondering whether or not your call will go through. This is the beginning of the 21st century, not the 20th. The top priority of all of these companies needs to be to fix their service. And I mean fix, not "improve". The service as it is is broken.

    I have not tried cellular service in Europe but I can't imagine it is this bad. I have, on the other hand, tried it in Japan and was absolutely astonished. Now, granted, I only tried one company's service (DoCoMo) and only in one area (Tokyo metro) but it was full signal strength at all times, even in rural areas (yes, there are rural areas around Tokyo), with absolutely crystal clear call quality. I cannot understand how cellular service in the US could be so much worse.
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      If any other product on the market (and cellular service is a product like any other) only worked 50% of the time it would be considered defective.

      But you keep buying them and tell them that 50% is OK!

      I had a cell phone for about 6 months, hated it, got a $400 bill one month, dropped calls left and right (Verizon), and once my jobhunting was over, I enthusiastically paid to get out of my 1 year contract and then threw the phone in the trash.

      Once cell phones are as affordable (*cough*) and reliable as
  • Worthless article. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by faedle (114018) on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:38AM (#6606384) Homepage Journal
    First off, the point spread is like, what.. 10? So, can we infer from this that the "worst" cell provider (Alltel) is only a little worse than the "best"?

    Some other problems: they make no differentiation between, for example, AT&T subscribers on the old DAMPS/TDMA network versus the new GSM network. There is also no mention of regional networks like Cricket and metroPCS (and with their all-you-can-eat pricing, it would be interesting to see how they stack up against "real" cellular providers).

    Similarly, since cellular service can often vary widely from region to region, a breakdown by metropolitan area is almost a requirement. In Phoenix, SprintPCS was wonderful, while in Los Angeles it's oversold and almost unusable. NexTel also has a wide variance in quality, and I'm sure the pimping out of the service via Boost Mobile in California (a prepaid provider) is pushing their already heavily loaded Los Angeles network over the edge. Also, some of the technologies fare differently in different environments... a dense city like San Francisco is going to be less friendly to some technologies and more friendly to others.

    Oh, and a generic note to those who have commented on Virgin Mobile: in the US, it uses the SprintPCS network.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladvNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:42AM (#6606432) Homepage
    As some people have pointed out, the service that is best nationwide is not always the best region to region.

    My mother and sister have Cingular. It is by far the worst I've ever experienced and we can never talk to them because they are constantly breaking up. My father has a Nextel phone which is pretty good. I have a T-Mobile phone which is almost as good, though in some areas I get this bad echo which I believe is in fact my phone's fault and not the network (the echoing problem didn't start happening until they replaced my previous phone with a current phone, and they are the same model).

    A good cellular article will be broken down by region, or will be left to regional news outlets. Otherwise its little more than pandering to national phone companies.
  • Decide.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Monday August 04, 2003 @01:53PM (#6607754)
    I used to work for a co named Decide.com - we were an online retailer of cell packages and phones. We gave you the ability to rate cell phone features side-by-side and determine which carrier had the best package for your needs.

    In order to give you the full gammut of info - we had vans that were equipped with cell phones from almost every carrier, and it would drive around and the banks of phones would make automated calls from the van, play a pre-recorded message and then rate the quality of service.

    You could then put in a commute path - or an address and see which carriers had the best service for that area - based on actual call data. all nicely overlayed over a neat little map.

    The company obviously went under - but since I left before the final sinking - I am not sure what happened to the technology for doing these ratings...

    it was cool though.

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