Monday, August 11, 2008

Who is broken? iPhone or ATT 3G network?

Unlike a lot of people discussing their problems I have the luxury of personally carrying 3 separate ATT devices; (a) Nokia S75 for work (b) iPhone 3G and (c) Optimax 3G PCMCIA card. Here have been my experiences:

USA: I travel alot so my coverage has literally been coast to coast SFO to LGA and many places in between.

Spotty 3G coverage. Often the Optimax 3G PCMCIA card has varying signal strength from 3-bar 3G to "No Signal." This is sitting still in one place working on my laptop. Very frustrating. At least at my hotel tonight I have solid 4-bar 3G service and have not seen it sway at all. But at the office I'm working at the signal tops out at 3-bars 3G and then goes to "No Signal." Can't get a lot of work done like that. Most 3G service in the US seems to have 2-bars or less so I'm surprised at the good signal here in Albany. I had similar good signal in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.

I have seen the same problems with the varying signal strength on my Nokia & iPhone. I think the problem has to be ATT 3G service but as a Amateur Radio guy I can't understand the violent swings in signal strength unless it is some kind of an equipment problem at the tower (i.e. bad ground on the antenna, faulty transponders, etc).

The Nokia often lets me hear people on calls but they can't always hear me. I have to shut the phone off and turn it on again and then call them back. Then they can hear me. I think this has happened once with the iPhone since I got it last month. I know I have had problems calling other people with the frequent "call back" button displayed after the call was not established.

Europe/Middle East
The 3G signal is dead strong everywhere. I've have been utterly amazed at how strong the 3G signal was. Hardly any dead spots anywhere and didn't see the Nokia exhibiting any issues it had in the US.

Certainly seems like a network issue to me. I guess it is hard to deploy 3G nationwide reliably.

Apple - Support - Discussions - Dropped Calls on the iPhone 3G ...
When I bought the iPhone 3G, I knew that 3G coverage would not be perfect, and I can accept that. The coverage will only get better with time.

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