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Open Thread: Does AT&T's Network Still Suck?

Maybe Luke Wilson didn't get the message across.

In the last 24 hours, AT&T has released an avalanche of press releases boasting of a country-wide investment in its wireless network. In the first six month of this year, AT&T says, we've invested $275 million in New York City! $350 million in Illinois! $850 million in Texas! $200 million in Alabama! $450 million in Florida! $1.1 billion in California! The list goes on...

It's all part of the company's planned $18-$19 billion investment for 2010.

And certainly, we've seen AT&T's attempts to show off this much-improved network before. Thanks to a steady stream of Verizon attacks, the public was subjected to a series of tired Luke Wilson commercials defending the network; we've seen the U.S. covered in orange blankets; and heard endless claims of how AT&T covers 97% of Americans.

Yet seemingly every iPhone owner I've ever met can't stop complaining of AT&T's service. Indeed, several surveys have concluded that AT&T—not Antennagate—is the "biggest Achilles' Heel for the iPhone," as one report phrased it. Users' major dislikes of the iPhone? A whopping 51% cited either the requirement to use AT&T or the poor coverage of AT&T's network.

What gives? Pick any state out there and AT&T has invested tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars into its network in the last six month. So why do AT&T customers still complain?

How about it, Fast Company readers? Does your service still suck, or has it improved? Are 97% of you all covered sufficiently now? Is AT&T the "biggest Achilles' Heel" of the iPhone still? Or does the company need to prop up the zombie-like Luke Wilson for some more network promos?

And for those who want to complain on a state-by-state level:

Alabama $200 mn. Arizona $60 mn. Arkansas $75 mn. California $1.1 bn. Colorado $30 mn. Connecticut $30 mn. Delaware $13 mn. Florida $450 mn. Hawaii $9 mn. Illinois $350 mn. Indiana $35 mn. Kansas $60 mn. Kentucky $80 mn. Louisiana $150 mn. Maryland $70 mn. Massachusetts $50 mn. Michigan $80 mn. Minnesota $40 mn. Mississippi $125 mn. Missouri $225 mn. Nevada $90 mn. New Jersey $100 mn. New York $225 mn. New York City Region $275 mn. North Carolina $200 mn. Ohio $60 mn. Oklahoma $35 mn. Pennsylvania $150 mn. South carolina $100 mn. Tennessee $200 mn. Texas $850 mn. Virginia $75 mn. Washington $200 mn. Washington D.C. $9 mn.

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  • cia

    I work downtown NYC, a few blocks from the AT&T building, and we need our own M-Cell to get reception in our office which is on the 29th floor.

    I live uptown in Harlem and live on the 2nd floor and I have a 2-bar reception all the time because I'm surrounded by 10-story buildings.

    At this point, I only use the iPhone to text; I never use to phone anyone because it would be aggravating. Why did I get an iPhone? Because it's pretty and the interface works well.

  • Justin Velthoen

    I live in San Diego and consistently drop calls about every 15 to 30 minutes as I drive around. My favorite place to drop a call is right next to the AT&T building on Las Posas and Mission in San Marcos. If AT&T is investing in their network, it is most definitely not in Southern California.

  • holmz

    Ive come to the realization that AT&T sucks in San Francisco not because they aren't willing to invest in upgrading the infrastructure, but because there are just too many iPhones draining bandwidth. And the second they "fix" the problem so many people will sign up that it will be slow again. Its like transportation upgrades. Just because you make the highlway wider doesnt mean you are going to fix traffic...... Everyone using an iPhone knew what they were getting themselves into when they signed up, so be like me and just deal with it by using wifi /+Skype as much as possible.

  • John Nuttall

    My experience with the AT&T network has been excellent for many years. We have 5 heavy usage smart phone users in my family (Atlanta area) and our experience is top notch and has been for a long time. None of us has ever had an iPhone. We've always owned Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and now Android smart phones. Data speeds are outstanding. I stream audio magazines from across the network every day on my 13 mile commute and there is never a break in the audio for the entire drive. I have also, on several occasions, connected my laptop to a Webex conference via a teathered smartphone and connected voice to the conference bridge via the same phone, at the same time, and presented a power point. We've also had a 3G Microcell in our house for over a year, and our experience with that has been excellent as well. Activation was a breeze.

  • Bill Ellis

    I've had dropped calls and poor audio quality ever since I bought the two iPhones for our office. Complaints to ATT never resolved the issue. This July after hearing about the mini-cell towers available to loyal customers, I asked for one at the ATT store. Customer Service at ATT refused to do anything more than offer a $50 discount off the $150 price. I left unsatisfied and complained a couple more times to Customer Service. This past week. ATT tech support called to let me know the issue was over capacity on their 3G towers in my area and the problem would be fixed by 1 Nov. They gave me a $100 credit and said they were sorry. The next day another tech support person called to let me know the same thing and gave me another $100 credit. Then the day after that another tech support person called to tell me the same thing and suggested that I turn off the 3G network and use 2G.

    The iPhone is a good device and fun to use. ATT really does not deserve exclusive status with Apple. My two year contract with ATT has been over since June and I'm shopping. You can bet it's not for a iPhone 4 even though it's the greatest device I've seen.

  • bud adams

    I live in a major metropolitan area (Long Beach, CA) and I have problems with voice & data from inside my house. The signal is fine from upstairs and outside, but I get very poor reception downstairs. However - my house is about the only area that does get poor service. It is great in most other places. Too bad I can't place a business call from downstairs in my own house...

  • D Rhodes

    i've had 'AT&T' since 2001 and the only time I have ever had an issue is in and at the same time & place that all cell coverage does not work.

    While traveling out side of my normal area (aka most of central and western NY State) I never have had issues with poor service either.

  • Steve Pelletier

    AT&T is doing better now. I noticed an increase in dropped calls after I switched from the iPhone3 to the iPhone4, but it has been better for the last couple of weeks. (I'm in the Los Angeles area)

  • Nancy

    It still sucks. My husband had it about 8 or so years ago (through work). He joined the rest of us on Verizon when work quit paying for his phone. He had to go outside to get a signal. While we can now use our iPhones inside the house in Sacramento, it was absolutely INTOLERABLY horrible in Orange County. Outside was better in that "outside it worked at all". NOTHING inside the house. No data. No phone. He was calling me from outside the house in OC and my phone did not ring. Only when I went outside to fetch things from the car and the multitude of texts and voicemails came through. That's a NETWORK issue, not a phone issue.

    When Verizon gets the iPhone, we will switch back.

  • Nancy

    Oh. And I was SHOCKED to waffle between the 3G network and the Edge network. EDGE???? In the heart of Orange County? Sure. I expected it in Steamboat Springs, CO. But a major metro area like Orange County???


  • Myklnz

    $0 spent in GA? No service even seemed to get worse when I moved from the 3G to the iPhone4.

    0-1 bars at home so I purchased a 3G Microcell to get '5 bars at home', yeah right. Even after spending an eternity with various AT&T reps, we could never get it to activate - was finally told it was probably because my DSL upload speed was too slow for the device. What? I'm paying for their fastest service......

    I'm sure it's partly due to saturation of the network, every high school kid in town now has an iPhone, but still calls don't go through, drop if they do, or don't even ring. I do know that Verizon has much better coverage in the Augusta area - no signal with AT&T, 5 bars on the Verizon devices....

  • Andrea

    My first personal experience with AT&T has been this week with my iPad. Service goes in and out. I am thinking I am better off trying to tether my Droid

  • Theyud

    Whatever AT&T spent in California, it didn't improve service in Studio City. There is still a huge 3G hole along a major street with restaurants, coffee places and shops. And the calls still drop regularly... too regularly... no matter where I am. I left Verizon so I could get an iPhone. While the device is amazing technology, it's sometimes like driving a Formula 1 racecar on a back country gravel road!

  • john weller

    Any one who says that there is no difference has never tried both. I am a traveling salesperson, have been for 20 years and I have tried both in the last 12 months. Verizon blows AT&T out of the water in a head to head comparison. Verizon works in the most remote areas you travel and AT&T drops calls in all areas and does not even have coverage in many remote areas. I also own an ipad with 3G, AT&T 3G is painfully slow compared to the 3G connection I have from Verizon to my laptop.

  • Chheang Yang

    I've been a Verizon user for 7 years and switched over to ATT 2 years ago for the iphone. My girlfriend has Verizon and has refused to switch. We've lived in many cities throughout the United states in the past few years: Philly, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, various cities in viriginia, and the list goes on...

    I can tell you for a fact that Verizon is superior to ATT (at least up to 9/11/2010). I didn't know what dropped calls were until I switched over to ATT. I'm sure I had 1 or 2 from Verizon in the 7 years, BUT I always thought it was a bad connection. With ATT, I've experience at times 10 dropped calls within a 10 minute conversation.... you quickly learn what a dropped call is.

  • Kim Mueller

    Try living outside of a major city or large suburban area - no 3G service at all and often times, no service at all. People really do live in rural areas and they do use technology. I'd hate to have to give up my Apple products but the ATT service really suffers greatly!!

  • William Dais

    I live in Wisconsin. AT&T really sucks up here in Green Bay. Not anecdotal. Real person evidence. It really sucks...dropped calls constantly, antennae issues right off the bat. Can't wait for Verizon

  • Bugs Moran

    Can we just end this preposterous notion that AT&T is not as good as Verizon, please?
    I am so sick of reading about it. Almost as sick as I am about the so called "AntennaGate".
    Anecdotal evidence? Yeah, so what. I've been a NYC customer of both companies and I give the edge to AT&T.
    And the call quality on the iphone4 is superior. No antenna issues, no dropped calls...ever.
    They HAVE invested in their cellular upgrades, and it shows.
    Now go do something interesting or productive with your blog.