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Droid Does… Not Get a Signal Here

DroidDoesNotI’ve said it once, I can’t say it enough: whether a particular wireless phone service works for you depends greatly on your geographical location. I don’t care if AT&T is the fastest, or if Verizon Wireless has the widest coverage. What I care about is whether a particular service works where I live. Yet, sucker that I am, I assumed that Verizon Wireless with their fantastic coverage would simply work in my house. It does not. As a result, my new Droid does not work for me. Here’s what happened.

My wife Tanya wanted to run out for a few errands today, so I took the opportunity to pop into my local Verizon Wireless store to get my new Droid activated. No problems there. In-store activation was a snap. I signed up for month-to-month, fewest minutes possible, with the intention of using it to replace my wife’s phone (we make very few calls).

Tanya previously had not wanted data on her phone, but just this week, her office locked down on Internet usage, keeping her out of her personal email and websites. Thus, it’s a good time for her to get email, web, and Pandora on her phone. Plus, now she won’t be asking for my iPhone every time she wants to take a photo of the cats (though she probably still will).

So that was all fine and dandy. But after I got home and started finishing setup with other services, specifically Google Voice, I found I wasn’t getting a signal in my basement. Didn’t concern me too much. My iPhone gets a 3G signal in my basement, but it’s inconsistent and drops completely in certain spots. No big deal for the Droid, I thought, I’ll just move upstairs to finish. But to my surprise, that didn’t work either.

After some experimentation, I found my Droid would get a signal on the top floor… near a window. Even standing outside, on ground level, resulted in a weak signal and, yes, I did drop a call. Apparently, the mighty Verizon Wireless network has trouble piercing the shroud of trees that surrounds my house, same as I’ve found with the Sprint network (whose HQ is only a mile away). Possibly that’s a CDMA limitation; I’ll have to look into it.

Anyway, despite that limitation, the Droid is not an automatic FAIL for us. My wife prefers to use the home phone for calls, her Google Voice number is set to ring both home and mobile, and we have wifi for data at home. The real test will be whether it works for her at the office, where we want her wireless data to work. Shouldn’t be any problems there, but I wasn’t expecting any problems at home either, so we’ll see.

Regardless, it looks like I’m not going to be switching from AT&T anytime soon. Unlike my wife, I prefer to use my mobile phone for calls and have used it for backup when the power has gone out, taking the home broadband with it. Again, wireless coverage maps and download speed tests are fine for showing off, but they don’t tell me if I’m covered where I live. Xavier’s got T-Mobile antennas going up where he lives. I’ve got AT&T 3G in my basement. Go with what works for you.

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9 Comments

  1. CJ

    01/17/2010 at 10:06 pm

    This comes across as a trolling post to me. I find it difficult to believe that you were at a Verizon store and the didn’t setup the phone with you before you left the store. I find it even harder to fathom that you didn’t check to see what Verizon coverage is like in your neck of the woods. But perhaps this is all on the up and up. Perhaps you have a bad Droids. Perhaps….

    Reply

  2. Sumocat

    01/17/2010 at 10:24 pm

    CJ: I clearly stated that I setup the phone at the store: “No problems there. In-store activation was a snap.”

    What followed at home were additional services, such as Google Voice, which are not necessarily part of Droid. When I tried to route the GV number to Droid, which requires a call to the phone, I realized there was no signal in the basement and a weak one elsewhere.

    As for checking the map ahead of time, it is solid red in my area and has been for years. Check Reston, VA yourself if you don’t believe me. But again, I think coverage maps are just for show, and as my experience continues to demonstrate, the real proof of coverage comes with actual use.

    Reply

  3. jeffyo

    01/18/2010 at 12:30 am

    You can change cell towers to fix that. Dial *228

    Reply

  4. chris hickie

    01/18/2010 at 6:25 am

    I think Sumocat won the phone at CES, yes?

    Also, Verizon has always given you 30 days to try the phone (I live in a place where other plans have had bad reception) and if you don’t like the phone/reception, return it. Hopefully other carriers extend the same courtesy.

    Reply

  5. Sumocat

    01/18/2010 at 7:17 am

    Chris, that is correct, so I can’t return this particular phone, but I can end the month-to-month contract any time. My wife’s experience with the Droid at work will be the deciding factor for that.

    Reply

  6. GBM Staff

    01/18/2010 at 7:19 am

    I second a *228 at your house. It may help you out.

    Reply

  7. Sumocat

    01/18/2010 at 8:41 am

    I will try *228 later today and update along with my wife’s results.

    Reply

  8. Zeuxidamas

    01/18/2010 at 12:24 pm

    SC, following your tale, as my Palm Pre on the Sprint network is driving me nuts. I was surprised to see you are staying on AT&T and sticking with your iPhone? I thought it created issues out at CES and you were particularly concerned about its reliability in an emergency? So…yes, I am poaching your posts to see if you look at a smartphone platform that, from your reports, I might decide is a good replacement for my Pre. An Android-based phone is one of my options. If you’re sticking wiht the iPhone does that mean you’ve decided it is “good enough” for now?
    – Vr/Zeuxidamas..>>

    Reply

  9. Sumocat

    01/18/2010 at 12:35 pm

    Zeuxidamas: That was Xavier. I did run into problems the first day but was pretty clear after that.

    Reply

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