Mobile Maneuvering: It Is All About the Carrier

James Kendrick blogs an interesting piece from his unique perspective of using a gaggle of mobile devices that have him using all four major US carriers. In the piece he rates the four carriers based on his usage. Obviously James’ experiences in the Houston area are going to be unique to him and that area and his travels. It is no secret that the choke point in mobile maneuvering is your choice of carrier. Depending on where you live a carrier can make your shiny new device operate like last year’s technology. We see reports of folks in both rural and urban areas having difficulty with connectivity. Xavier lives in San Francisco and seems to have a equal amount of trouble to what I experience here in rural Virginia with AT&T. Locally here, Sprint seems to offer me the most consistent coverage.

Consumers are at the mercy of the carriers and how and when they make improvements to networks. The coverage maps carriers offer are really just a part of the hype machine to a large degree, and while exclusivity agreements do reduce the cost of hardware, they also contribute to some of the problems as consumers act on their gadget lust often without thinking beyond the hype. In some instances it seems like the carriers are selling obstructed view seats without letting the customer know they are doing so, or offering a discount.

It would probably be massive project but wouldn’t it be nice to see an independent site that used Google Maps (or some other) that offered coverage reports based on users’ real world experience? I’m sure it would have faults, but it would probably be a very well viewed site.

7 Comments

  1. Sumocat

    06/22/2009 at 8:51 am

    Two other factors to be considered are traffic and hard lines. Sprint lost a lot of customers, leaving them with little traffic on their network, while AT&T clogged their pipes with a ton of new customers consuming a lot of data.

    Adding cell sites doesn’t necessarily solve traffic problems if the hard lines connecting them can’t handle the capacity. It might instead exacerbate the problem by adding more traffic.

    With that in mind, I suspect the only carrier prepared for the future is Verizon. Their wireless network is supported by an ever-expanding fiber optic network designed to handle huge data loads. I don’t think the others have anything comparable.

    Reply

  2. Darren

    06/22/2009 at 9:11 am

    Can you hear me now?
    Good. =)

    Reply

  3. CLC

    06/22/2009 at 9:36 am

    @Sumocat

    They might be prepared for some places; but I know someone who lives around Columbus, Ohio, who has Verizon and has to plaster his face to the window to get any calls at all. The best reception comes in when he is standing at the end of his driveway, which is not always a desirable option come winter…..

    I, personally, go with T-Mobile. They have their issues; but it’s decent; and I don’t recall any dropped calls.

    Reply

  4. HG

    06/22/2009 at 9:38 am

    I have to agree on what Sumocat says. Sprint has lost a lot of customers over the years so the traffic is less and will more likely work better if you use Sprint. I had Sprint for 7 years and voice and data was great. I would rarely have a drop call or problems with voice calls. Again this was areas I would travel had good signal and also Sprint had less customers. Reason I changed back to Verizon was that Sprint never really had any phones to choose from, and I have been using BlackBerry, so I switched when the Storm came out on Verizon. By the way I have had more dropped calls using Verizon in the same areas vs Sprint. But I like the phone. :)

    Reply

  5. GoodThings2Life

    06/22/2009 at 10:44 am

    I also agree with Sumocat, and now that Verizon has merged with Alltel, their network improves from there in terms of towers and infrastructure. Really, all they need to do is either buyout Sprint and adopt the Simply Everything pricing plan… and oh yeah, stop gimping the specs of their smartphones (GPS, RAM, etc)… then they’ll be the perfect carrier!

    Reply

  6. SAM

    06/22/2009 at 11:08 am

  7. SAM

    06/22/2009 at 11:18 am

    We only have 2 cell carriers to choose from in our area…

    Cell One has been bought out by Verizon, much higher rates.

    No At&T (iPhones) in our area.

    Reply

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