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The coverage map of AT&T 3G voice coverage shows the scant covered areas in blue, with orange representing AT&T's older EDGE network. The map was created at the end of March by Chris Spera of the blog "Gear Diary".  (Source: Gear Diary)
The iPhone is soon to be feature 3G, but does your local AT&T network?

There's much excitement surrounding the launch of Apple's new 3G iPhone.  The new phone brings many wish list features like 3G, improved battery life on older EDGE networks, GPS, push email, simulated multi-programs, more applications (including better Microsoft Office integration), and a lower price tag.  Despite the phone's shortcomings -- no copy-and-paste, unsatisfactory storage for some users, and no video, among other things -- the phone seems poised to be another hit for Apple.

However, recent reports about the iPhone are sending uneasy murmurs through the online community.  It has been suggested that the iPhone 3G's new speed boost may be inaccessible to many users, as AT&T still has a relatively small coverage area for 3G.  This would leave customers paying increased rates for the same older service.

While the country's major cities and most populous areas see "blue", or 3G, in a coverage map created by blogger Christopher Spera of Gear Diary, based on AT&T metrics, more of the country is uncovered.

"If you live in one of these uncovered areas and already have an iPhone, I wouldn’t jump on the iPhone 3G wagon,” wrote Spera.  “I’d stick with my current iPhone (WITH my grandfathered data plan) and save $200-$300 bucks."

Spera points to the fact that Apple's new 3G phones' data plans cost $10 more a month due to the 3G access -- whether you have coverage or not.  Customers sticking with their old phones will continue to pay the same rate under grandfather clauses.

AT&T and Apple supporters were quick to point to holes in the claims.  Scott McNulty of The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) pointed out that Spera's maps were for voice coverage, not data and that the coverage areas differ slightly.  Secondly, he points out that Spera's maps were generated March 31, 2008.  This was before AT&T's spring expansion of its 3G networks, which will bring the service to 275 new markets according to AT&T.

Tools are provided by AT&T that can be used by curious customers to compare 3G data and voice coverage areas.  While Apple supporters gripe, the two forms of coverage in most areas are remarkably similar, with some minor exceptions.

The news site Apple 2.0 provides a list of cities with coverage.  Further, you can use the AT&T coverage tool found here to view more detailed information.

Apple and AT&T previously said that they do not guarantee 3G coverage in any area, even the ones that are said to be covered.  They say that radio interference and tall buildings can instantly kill the signals -- factors which they consider too complex to consider.

It appears that the coverage for 3G iPhone buyers will be slightly better than Spera's cautionary predictions -- but not by much.  The varying coverage simply gives customers one more thing to pause and consider when adopting the new iPhone.



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...And?
By onelittleindian on 7/7/2008 10:54:46 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Apple and AT&T previously said that they do not guarantee 3G coverage in any area,
No mobile company guarantees service in any area. They can't, there are just too many factors that can affect it.




RE: ...And?
By enlil242 on 7/7/2008 11:03:49 AM , Rating: 3
All of Chicago is "BLUE" yet, in my area, within the city limts, I barely get a signal with AT&T... In my den, I get 0-1 bar, and in the part of my house where I get the best signal, I get 2 bars and edge. No this should NOT be a revealation to anyone. Anybody who has a cell phone should know that this is still a problem in most areas of the country...


RE: ...And?
By ziggo on 7/7/2008 11:08:23 AM , Rating: 2
I encountered a dead zone just to the north east of LAX awhile back. I needed to call someone for directions and there was NO cell coverage, even outside the car.

The coverage is bad inside my apartment, but outside in the fracking middle of LA; who would have guessed.


RE: ...And?
By othercents on 7/7/2008 11:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
It is the nature of the beast. There are usually three factors in play. First is the phone. I have had phones that have bad service records while other phones work great. Second is the tower location in relation to where you are. There isn't a tower on every street corner, so you should expect varying degrees of service. Lastly is interference or obstructions to the signal.

All of these things are impossible to predict which is why even though there should be service, per the map, ATT or any other carrier can't guarantee it. ATT worked bad in my last apartment, but any other carrier doesn't work at my office. I doubt this will ever change since all cell phone carriers are there to make money and 1 unsatisfied customer out of 10000 is acceptable business.

Other


RE: ...And?
By enlil242 on 7/7/2008 11:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
For me, I had an unlocked iphone which had full signal everywhere, but with the AT&T plan had no or very poor service... Also, my Blackjack II with AT&T, I have very poor or no service... However, my "T-Mobile iPhone" has no issues. I think AT&T need to add more towers in a lot of areas...


RE: ...And?
By onelittleindian on 7/7/2008 11:36:19 AM , Rating: 2
Are you kidding? T-Mobile has the worst coverage of anyone.


RE: ...And?
By weskurtz0081 on 7/7/2008 12:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
weird, I have been using Cingular/AT&T along with T-Mobile for the last 5 years or so, and I have found it to be a pretty mixed bag. Some places the T-Mobile phone will work great while the AT&T phones won't, while in other places it was opposite. So, unless you have quite a bit of experience using both in different locations, just hearing something might not be true.


RE: ...And?
By flydian on 7/7/2008 5:25:13 PM , Rating: 3
True. In my current house, I get 0-2 bars on AT&T, while my roommate never has a problem on T-Mobile. Yet in the last house, it was the exact opposite. No service is the best everywhere.


RE: ...And?
By paydirt on 7/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: ...And?
By blaster5k on 7/7/2008 12:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I live in a well covered area, since the only times I've ever had trouble with signal are in some subway and road tunnels. I have Verizon though, which has better coverage than anybody else. They also offer terrible phone selection and expensive internet and text messaging. Yippie.


RE: ...And?
By V3ctorPT on 7/7/2008 3:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
I live in Portugal... All of Portugal is covered by 3G, but that doesn't mean $hit... I'm paying 30€ to have 3.5G internet... and the best signal i ever had was 2G... so don't look at the "charts"... they really are deceiving...


RE: ...And?
By V3ctorPT on 7/7/2008 3:35:38 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I forgot... I was thinking of buying the new Iphone, Vodafone here offers 250mb of downloads per month and free phonecalls between family for just 20€/month, and the regular calls are pretty cheap too... the only problem is the 3G network... :(


RE: ...And?
By omnicronx on 7/7/2008 12:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I doubt this will ever change since all cell phone carriers are there to make money and 1 unsatisfied customer out of 10000 is acceptable business.
Sure right, it won't change with people like you who think that they have to live with the cards they are dealt. I live in Canada, where most places have more than one Cell phone companies available, and I can not say I have any trouble in any major city in terms of coverage.

It's pretty obvious to me when I go to the states that your cell phone service is satisfactory at best. I have not had a real dropped call in at least 3 years in any large Canadian city, where as every time I go to New York, I get low signal and dropped calls like it is nobodies business.

I undertstand the US has a lot more people and thus a lot more infrastructure must be put in place, but if I lived in the US, I would have to say I would probably not be a cell phone customer with the quality of service you guys receive.


RE: ...And?
By elpresidente2075 on 7/7/2008 7:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would probably not be a cell phone customer with the quality of service you guys receive.

Aye, but getting a call every once in a while is better than none at all. I think perhaps you'd be an unhappy customer more than not a customer, much like many of the people who live in those areas. Personally, I get great coverage (in the middle of Missouri), although I don't have a 3g phone, and have only had one dropped call in 4 years of service, and that was when I was traveling to LA.

Anecdotal evidence in support of an opinion is showing what it's made of in these threads I see...


RE: ...And?
By nosfe on 7/7/2008 11:16:47 AM , Rating: 3
all areas are blue, but some areas are more blue than others, or some such


RE: ...And?
By Alexstarfire on 7/7/2008 4:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
It sure isn't, but what's the point of the 3G network in the US anyways? I've been told that many of the features that can be used on the 3G network, such as video calling, simply aren't instituted in the US, with AT&T anyways. Is the only reason for having the 3G network a faster internet? Because if it is then I think many of the iPhone users won't give a crap. Hell my dad can get WiFI service just about everywhere he goes and that's a hell of a lot faster than 3G could ever hope to be.

Not to mention that 3G is only offered on one band here in the US, and it's the only band my phone doesn't support. Which I think is rather sad considering my discontinued phone supports all the "newer" bands of 3G.


RE: ...And?
By AlexWade on 7/7/2008 4:25:28 PM , Rating: 2
I find that no network is perfect everywhere. Where I live in eastern North Carolina, AT&T is second to no one. I have dead spots, but they are dead spots everyone has. I usually get coverage in the back of the big Wal-Marts or similar huge concrete buildings, which is a miracle. Where my brother lives in Florida, AT&T is so-so. Part of the reason for that is AT&T/Cingular/BellSouth was the first company to do digital cell phones in North Carolina.

The exception is Sprint, which is bad everywhere in every thing.

The best thing to do with any cell-phone is to ask people in your area what they think of the service. Be careful, however, because some people assume another company is bad.


RE: ...And?
By Rodney McNaggerton on 7/7/2008 6:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
shoulda switched to Sprint -_-


RE: ...And?
By Chicagomac on 7/16/2008 4:37:59 PM , Rating: 2
yes, but its insane that Tmobile has such a better signal then At&t...


RE: ...And?
By masher2 (blog) on 7/7/2008 11:07:28 AM , Rating: 3
True enough. Even something so simple as your neighbor cutting down a tree in their yard can boost (or even degrade) the signal at your own home.


RE: ...And?
By weskurtz0081 on 7/7/2008 11:30:10 AM , Rating: 2
But clearly CAN guarantee NO coverage for 3G across the vast majority of the US. What a network!!


Virginia
By QuantumPion on 7/7/2008 11:19:26 AM , Rating: 2
Why is the GSM coverage for Virginia so crappy? It's like a barren desert of radio signal compared to the rest of the east coast, right where the state borders are. Is there some sort of state regulation or other factor that inhibits building radio towers there?




RE: Virginia
By masher2 (blog) on 7/7/2008 11:30:05 AM , Rating: 3
Thousands and thousands of pages of regulations exist, as well as local zoning approval for all such requests...most new tower requests in urban or suburban areas generate large community protests.

Additionally, there are federal requirements that are simply impossible to fill, such as the FCC requirement that most sites have backup power generators, which often clashes with EPA regulations that prevent storage of gasoline on site.


RE: Virginia
By lynxss on 7/7/2008 12:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
Out here in the mountains overlooking a military test range we have additional regulations (absolutely no new cell phone or radio towers!) due to possible interference with missile tests after a broadcast of Ella Fitzgerald set off a rocket test prematurely in the 40's right into a movie theater.

Only phones that work on analog will get spotty reception at best, and those phones that still work on analog are getting harder to find most everything is digital only now.


Didn't realize it was important
By FITCamaro on 7/7/2008 12:49:34 PM , Rating: 1
Good to know Gitmo's got coverage.




RE: Didn't realize it was important
By kamra on 7/7/2008 3:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
hahaha... i wonder if that's an exclusive contract? i'd think verizon would be all over that place.


By sprockkets on 7/7/2008 4:31:59 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, as to why it says that instead of Cuba, as if the entire country is Gitmo, is weird.


By Rodney McNaggerton on 7/7/2008 6:29:49 PM , Rating: 2
No, it won't. The people who think that the iphone is so great and drool about it every night are still going to buy one. I find it rather comical that people in my area try to tell me how great AT&T is, and yet most of them cannot even browse the internet around here.




By Anonymous Freak on 7/7/2008 9:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't matter what 3G phone you have, if you are in an area with no 3G, you get no 3G.

Duh.

And major cities have at least passable coverage, so something like 75% of the population is covered.

And also as others have said, no carrier "guarantees" squat. My house is within line-of-sight of an AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile/Sprint shared tower, yet I get crappy connection on all four inside my house (I've had all four in the past 10 years. If I go out on my deck, I get a passable connection.)




South Africa
By lickerish on 7/8/2008 3:41:56 AM , Rating: 2
Living in South Africa, and quiet a bit is covered by 3.x 3G HSDPA coverage, they are now rolling out 7.2 3G HSDPA, using it already on my datacard and works well in most of the country. Even in some remote towns I get 3G coverage, funny thing is we have 3G there but no DSL, so for a remote office we are rolling out 3G modems connected to firewalls to grant those small offices some means of life as well.




By Chicagomac on 7/16/2008 4:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
I was really hoping the new 3g would have a little better reception, but I was mistaken. My wife gets a good laugh at my expense, when we are both in our parking garage downtown Chicago, 3 lvls deep, and she can talk on her Tmobile phone and on my fancy 3g iphone I have :no service...

I'm counting the days for a jailbreak to be released for the iphone....




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