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Old 11-21-09, 04:44 PM   #1
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Cellular providers

Any one have experience with T-Mobile? They are available locally, but their marketshare is tiny compared to the area's big 3. Currently have Sprint (becoming rather displeased after 10 years), ATT is not an option (wife can't stand 'em), and US Cellular. Verizon is starting to make gains on the above after about 2 years in the market, but they are a little pricey.

Anyway, I was just wondering about their customer service/support, and if you have/had any issues with dropped calls.
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Old 11-21-09, 05:33 PM   #2
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It depends on what you want for service, I use a Blackberry all in 1 unlimited and I tether to my laptop. The best service provider for that service is Sprint. It is 99 dollars for unlimited all in 1 and 15 dollars for a tether to my laptop. I also have a Verizon account that I have nothing bad to say about. I have had Verizon for over 10 years and sprint on my blackberry for the last 4. I will put everything on sprint eventually but that is only because of the Blackberry service.
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Old 11-21-09, 06:56 PM   #3
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I've been a super-satisfied customer of T-Mobile's since Jan 2003. Their customer service is excellent. Their rates are excellent, too. Their coverage is adequate, though not as good as other companies'. It's good in the metro areas but bad out in the rural areas.
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Old 11-21-09, 08:08 PM   #4
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Happy with AT&T with the rollover plan. I also get 15% discount through work. Never had any issues with dropped calls, coverage or messed up bills. Calls to other AT&T customers do not count as minutes.
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Old 11-21-09, 08:09 PM   #5
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I've had tmobile for years. Coverage isn't as good as the others. I do have issues with dropped calls. But it's by far the best value. Anyone with a data plan (which is relatively cheap) can tether their laptop for nothing extra.
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Old 11-21-09, 08:29 PM   #6
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I was with T-Mobile for a while years ago and had spotty coverage. Their customer service was great, though. I haven't seen much improvement in their coverage just talking with my friends who are with T-Mobile.

I was with Alltel before they were bought and they were crap.

I'm with Verizon now and love the hell out of them. They're really stable, have a lot of product to offer for their rates (coverage is extremely thorough), and have great customer service. It means a lot to me, because I can easily lose a client or appointment if my phone drops a call.
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Old 11-21-09, 09:08 PM   #7
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Hmm, so far TMo's customer service and pricing rocks, but their coverage ain't that great past the 'burbs. That might be an issue, since it looks like the oldest will be attending college about 30 minutes WSW from OKC, unless RIT can pony up one helluva scholarship package.

As I stated in the other thread (touchscreen phone users), my step-daughters phone is on the fritz. It's power cycling, and removing/replacing the battery does not fix it all of the time. There is no insurance on that phone, and it's only eligible for a partial upgrade, which would require a 2 yr commitment. My wife and I are in the same upgrade boat, and our phones have issues as well, just not critical ones. Can't afford to break the contract ($200 per line x 3= $600), nor can we afford to replace phones.

We've put our heads together and figure that we'll set-up a new account for my stepdaughter under her mom's name (to take advantage of the discount) and make the girl pay for it all. She has a job and no other monthly obligations, other than the texting plan she's paying to me for her current phone. She may not like it, but she knows that we were going to do this when she turned 18 anyway. Time table has just moved a bit is all.
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Old 11-22-09, 12:30 AM   #8
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I've had Verizon for about 10 years. Tried Cingular/ATT at one point, but the coverage was lacking. I travel all over the place and Verizon has the best network. Last summer, for example, on RAGBRAI, the people with ATT just couldn't get a call through. Those of us on Verizon had zero issues all week.

Customer service is getting much better. I hated them for a long time and only grudgingly stayed for the network. Now they're a lot better, though i still wish they offered rollover or an intermediate plan between 700 minutes (just a bit too few) and 1400 (too many!). But, their costs are comparable to the other carriers, too.

Verizon's protocol is unique to the US, though, so if you'll be traveling to... well, pretty much everywhere else, you may want to consider a GSM type company. Verizon does offer some dual network phones... just don't roam internationally on a Verizon plan! Get a local SIM card if you do travel.
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Old 11-22-09, 01:15 AM   #9
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I've been with Verizon for about 11 years now. I tried AT&T and T-Mobile, but they just didn't have the coverage. I get bars from the mountains to the city with Verizon.

Customer service has been great when I've had to use it.

When I travel abroad, I just use a piddly little phone with a SIM card.

Overall, I'm a satisfied customer.
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Old 11-22-09, 11:21 AM   #10
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You can also check out the Consumerist for info about T-Mobile and customer service.
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Old 11-22-09, 12:45 PM   #11
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Really kind of a loaded question in a forum like this. Customer service comments would be OK but Carriers "network" performance varies from city to city so you need to ask a BUNCH of people in the area you live for actual performance in your area.

A lot of reception complaints are due to the end user product so also pay attention to what the people are using. As an example. Nokia for years made the best performing phones. (I use to repair cell phones including board level repairs and tuning). They killed their sales with one thing. Everybody wanted flip phones and they resisted making flips because anytime you have to run a cable through a hinge you have a point of physical failure. My wife's V3 Motorola crapped out after 3 years from cable failing. My Nokia still doing fine at 6 years and about to need its forth battery. Nokia stuck with no moving parts on 90% of their product line. Unfortunately most people shop by the "cool factor" or price not quality so they lost business by late to market with flips and plain Jane low tier product.

I just bought a iPhone and I am MAJORLY disappointed in the volume of these. The audio volume just plain sucks even on my Bluetooth that was just fine with the Nokia I carried for 6 years. That said the "cool factor" of the phone and what it can do data wise makes it a trade off I will live with. I wanted a data heavy product and it had the features I wanted in one of the easiest to use packages. About to give up on the Blue tooth and stick with the included head phones that have better audio volume.
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Old 11-22-09, 03:44 PM   #12
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^^You are right, of course. I should be asking T-Mo customers in my area, but I don't know of any. Their slice of the pie around here is smaller than anyone else's, with ATT being the alpha male. Network coverage will vary from carrier/region, whether the towers are owned or leased, the amount of traffic the network is handling at any given time, and probably some topographical/environmental variables as well.

I'm just trying to find the best possible plan at the most affordable price for my step-daughter.
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Old 11-22-09, 05:18 PM   #13
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^^You are right, of course. I should be asking T-Mo customers in my area, but I don't know of any. Their slice of the pie around here is smaller than anyone else's, with ATT being the alpha male. Network coverage will vary from carrier/region, whether the towers are owned or leased, the amount of traffic the network is handling at any given time, and probably some topographical/environmental variables as well.

I'm just trying to find the best possible plan at the most affordable price for my step-daughter.
Just a FYI:

The owned towers bit is a bit misunderstood. AT&T for instance sold a LOT of their towers but they still have a hut and antennas hanging on all the toweres they sold. It is cheaper to lease space on a tower that 5 other companies are co located on then to own a tower that only one company is on. Fact is most companies do that these days in most locations. The biggest tower owner in GA is not a carrier at all.

T-mobile is one of the last of the companies to get going. Their pie is smaller but that doesn't mean their coverage is poor in most major cities. Most of the time it means their coverage is poor in rural areas between major cities. If you never leave your area then you may be fine with T-Mobile or Metro PCS etc. If you travel frequently then you are better off sticking with AT&T or Verizon if your travels take you to smaller towns.

Capacity is driven by customer use. Less customers = less tower locations needed. A tower can only handle so many calls. Yes you can double up the transmitters but you start raising the noise floor and run into issues from co channel interference (its technical stuff so just take my word for it if you don't have a GROL). It is better to add a tower between towers and lower the towers transmit power to add capacity. It is a better experiance for the customer and allows more channel reuse.

If a carrier maxes out their capacity you can be damn sure they will add capacity. That's lost revenue if they don't and they start call blocking and the customer perception goes in the toilet if they start dropping calls because of a lack of capacity. Building a tower these days is a MOJOR pain in the butt with zoning and NIMBY's. That's another reason most carriers sold off their towers. Instead of building another tower they just co locate on an existing tower. Everybody wants their phone to work everywhere but nobody wants to look at the towers. Use to be competing companies would stand towers side by side and the towers caused a LOT reception complaints that both companies being on the same tower wouldn't have had becasue of antennas pointed at each other.
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Old 11-22-09, 06:17 PM   #14
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That was very informative, Grim. Thanks!

BTW, the TMo rep I talked to today said that if for some reason the phone went into roaming, they would take care of any charges. Part of me thinks that's great, part of me thinks it's slick marketing, but the phone really won't work in roaming, unless it's a 911 call.

I'm just trying to figure out if we're going with T-Mobile or US Cellular at this point.
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Old 11-23-09, 09:24 AM   #15
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T-Mobile never charges roaming charges. So that's out of the way. Also, there are no long distances charges, ever.

Verizon's (CDMA) protocol isn't exactly unique to the US, but kind of. It is an older technology. They are transitioning to GSM (the world standard) gradually, in a plan they call LTE (long term evolution). It makes sense. They'll be selling dual-mode phones which do both CDMA and GSM, so they'll work on the CDMA stuff here and whatever GSM they've managed to put up. And it will work outside the country immediately. Eventually, they'll tear down the CDMA and replace it all with GSM. Sprint also uses CDMA, and I wonder what their plans are.

AT&T is now as big as Verizon Wireless is, and their coverage is improving rapidly. Any reports from a year or two ago about how it sucked may be inaccurate now. They still have to catch up, but at the current rate, they may succeed.
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Old 11-23-09, 09:36 AM   #16
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I've been a super-satisfied customer of T-Mobile's since Jan 2003. Their customer service is excellent. Their rates are excellent, too. Their coverage is adequate, though not as good as other companies'. It's good in the metro areas but bad out in the rural areas.
It depends on your area, but overall, I agree wholeheartedly with this. I have T-mobile and customer service is good (I wouldn't go as far as "excellent"), rates are excellent compared to nearly all other companies and their coverage is generally adequate, though not quite as good as the big boys.


what it boils down to is each provider has different service in different areas. I found a great website regarding this recently. It lets users rate their signal strength in certain areas. Pick you area (and check nearby areas) and see the ratings on T-Mobile and others.
http://www.cellreception.com


There is a similar website that lets users record dead zones. I found it a week or so ago, but haven't seen the website up yet (always says down for server upgrades or something similar).
http://www.deadcellzones.com/

Doubt that last one will help, but if it does happen to be open, it may help.
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Old 11-23-09, 09:54 AM   #17
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Tmobile is the ONLY cell service I have ever had (going on 9 years, now) and I've been very happy with them. Over all, I have few issues that require dealing with their customer service... but I do recall missing the due date on my bill a few months ago, and I called them- they waived the $5 late fee since I've been such a good customer

As for dropped calls, I rarely have any problems. About 5 years ago (or so) they really started expanding their coverage, and I rarely have an issue unless I'm up in the big woods of MN/WI. I'm not sure where you're at, as "Location:On the mother road" might be in a whole different service area, though.
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Old 11-23-09, 10:51 AM   #18
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T-Mobile never charges roaming charges. So that's out of the way. Also, there are no long distances charges, ever.

Verizon's (CDMA) protocol isn't exactly unique to the US, but kind of. It is an older technology. They are transitioning to GSM (the world standard) gradually, in a plan they call LTE (long term evolution). It makes sense. They'll be selling dual-mode phones which do both CDMA and GSM, so they'll work on the CDMA stuff here and whatever GSM they've managed to put up. And it will work outside the country immediately. Eventually, they'll tear down the CDMA and replace it all with GSM. Sprint also uses CDMA, and I wonder what their plans are.

AT&T is now as big as Verizon Wireless is, and their coverage is improving rapidly. Any reports from a year or two ago about how it sucked may be inaccurate now. They still have to catch up, but at the current rate, they may succeed.
AT&T bought another carrier this month adding another 871,000 customers.

The MAP BS is a bit misleading. Foot print wise Verizon and AT&T are prettly close if you include all the technologies each carrier has. The difference is the technology. The MAP verizon shows on the comercials is 3G coverage only. If the map included AT&T's "EDGE" techonogy ( GSM 2.5 G) the maps would look nearly identical. AT&T's Edge platform is just a little slower then Verizon's 3G.

AT&T's UMTS aka 3G is variant of WCDMA platform aka Wide band CDMA. It is a variant of what Verizon has but includes some weird technologies that do some funky stuff with channel hopping that I am still not fully grasping despite handling the equipment daily. I am out of the end user handset repair end of the buisness so my training is not as in depth as it once was when I did board level repairs and tuned product when I worked in the shops.

Why Verizon was able to roll out their "3G" so much faster then the other carriers is the other carriers were having to add new cabinets and antenna's to run 3G. Verizon only had to change cards in their CDMA platform to up grade it. Now that said their 3G is not as fast as the 3G that AT&T and T-Mobile are running nor is a compatible platform so their phone is not compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile or usable in most places out side the US.

AT&T has changed out network platforms 4 times in the last 15 years.

the original Analog bassed they started with to TDMA Digital starting in 96. Analog now turned off.
TDMA to GSM. TDMA now turned off as of Feb 08.
GSM is transitioning to UMTS a technology bassed on WCDMA

4G is about a year away.

GSM is still the world standard but that standard is rapidly turning to UMTS but as you pointed out the 4G is right around the corner. It is the great equalizer because all the carriers are going to have to do another platform change to accommodate it.
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Old 11-23-09, 10:58 AM   #19
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I said GSM but I really meant UMTS. I confuse the two often.
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Old 11-23-09, 02:48 PM   #20
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I've had bad experience with T-mobile. They had been sending me bills for months then one month I didn't get it I called them they said they would send it to me. I still don't get it. Two months pass I call them tell them I still haven't gotten it they say ok they'll send it to me. I finally get it three months after I have it documented I've been trying to get it and they have the brass to charge me late penalties. They say I still owe them money.
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Old 11-23-09, 06:15 PM   #21
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Verizon ... they're better than ever and getting batter all the time. They've continued to aquire more & more ntworks, other Co.s and impoved their workings in areas considered weak for them in the past 2 or 3 years. They've prevailed in these areas as well (the South) Independant cons. rating Co.s rate them the best or second best depending.. T Mob.'s good but not as good.
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Old 11-23-09, 09:23 PM   #22
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I thought I answered here, but guess not.

Here's a quick advantage/disadvantage comparison between them. These are very general comparisons; signal, call and data quality is highly dependent on where you're located and where you spend the time most.

T-Mobile
Note. My family and I have been with them for approximately 5 years and are very content with their service.

Advantages
- Cheapest plans in the industry ($50/month unlimited everything)
- Excellent customer service
- Uses GSM technology; international roaming works well.
- Relatively fast EDGE and 3G service.

Disadvantages
- Weaker phone selection (not a concern if you're not shopping for smartphones)
- Coverage is inferior to other providers
- Really bulky web-based control panel
- 3G network only runs on 1700 MHz band; barely any 3G devices work with it, including iPhone 3G/3G-S.

AT&T Mobility
Advantages
- Strong 3G and EDGE coverage, and even stronger cellular coverage.
- Strong phone selection, including native support for iPhone and Visual Voicemail
- More roaming agreements; makes international calling easier.

Disadvantages
- Expensive (especially iPhone plan)
- Iffy customer service reputation
- Oversaturated data network

Verizon Wireless (VZW)
Advantages
- Nation's best coverage, which is largely true. (VZW customers can talk in subways, and CDMA is supposed to be terrible at penetrating through walls!)
- Reasonable phone selection; flagship smartphones are Droid and Blackberry Storm/Bold
- Decent customer service.
- Super fast EV-DO data service.

Disadvantages
- Customized phone UIs support Verizon services at the cost of disabling others
- CDMA, which limits roaming options unless phone is dual-mode.
- Expensive!

Sprint/Nextel
Advantages
- Reasonably priced; unlimited everything is a popular seller nowadays.
- Walkie-talkie service with Nextel if needed
- Super fast EV-DO data service.

Disadvantages
- Horrible customer service
- Lacking phone selection
- Iffy signal coverage.
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Old 11-23-09, 09:25 PM   #23
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On another thought, anyone remember when unlimited plans were UNGODLY expensive? Hell, remember when 600 peak minutes was a serious investment? Cellular has come a long way. Damn, I feel old.
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Old 11-23-09, 10:14 PM   #24
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Looks like we're headed towards US Cellular. I lobbied for T-Mobile, but was out-voted. The step-daughter actually liked T-Mobile's plan/pricing better, but liked a new Motorola that is exclusive to USCC. Her mom can get the phone w/no activation fee, and rebate applied instantly, resulting in the lowest initial cost.
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Old 11-23-09, 10:18 PM   #25
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Bikes: '06 Kona Smoke
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I remember those days. Currently have a 550 family that has 3 lines, one of those is the teen's. A few months back she racked up 60 hours using the unlimited nights and weekends.
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