|2005/10/30 The sad state of the US GSM cell phone network|
π 2005-10-30 08:49 by Merlin in Public
Current Music: Les enfoirés - 2000 - La Bombe Humaine
Current Mood: Fair
I spent a fair amount of time yesterday with Cingular/AT &T; yesterday, for the 5th or 6th time.
This all started with me being an AT &T; customer, which was fine, until the day they got bought by Cingular. In theory, that means a bigger and better network to roam on, so that was good news.
In real life, this meant two networks that my phone could see, but this also meant that AT &T; turned off their closest tower to my house, leaving me with a far away tower with bad signal.
This turned out to be because Cingular Wireless had their own tower down my street with great signal. This was all great except that my old phone would not use the Cingular tower since it wasn't its 'home network' unless the AT &T; tower totally disappeared, which it seldom did (i.e. I had enough signal to get one unusable bar). Solution to that was to reconfigure my phone to manually lock to the (otherwise inferior) Cingular network. That worked for home, until I went out of Cingular coverage, and my phone wouldn't pick a working AT &T; tower until I put it back to automatic mode. Lame...
Solution from AT &T; : "you have to get a new phone with a new 64K Sim, along with cingular service". For quite a while, I just didn't bother since I was still using the old and reliable TDMA service on my Siemens S46 dual mode tri band phone, and one day they sent me a letter that they were going to turn that service off.
All, right, great: at this point I didn't have a choice anymore and bought a new Nokia Communicator 9500 (unfortunately it only did 1900Mhz in the US, no 850). Cingular asked me why I didn't buy one of their 850/1900 pre-programmed phones instead, and that's mostly because they were crap, like the Palm based Treo 650 (the Palmsource engineers, some of them I know personally , have since then fled the said company, confirming that that phone and its OS has no real future).
Anyway, the Nokia Communicator 9500 is a great phone, I went to Cingular to migrate my service from AT &T; to Cingular, went through more work to get everything working again, and ended up with a more expensive plan I didn't really need.
I then go home, and end up with the same exact problem: phone locks in on AT &T.; Grr!!!
More time with support on the phone, eventually I get a knowledgeable person from tech support who sends a reprogramming to my phone's Sim card to tell it to prefer Cingular over AT &T.; That was yesterday, the phone accepts the programming, I turn it back on, and still the same thing!
More time with support, more explaining why I didn't want to use their crappy phones, and eventually the support person tells me that my phone must be overriding the Sim's preferred network (i.e. Cingular) and that I should talk to Nokia to see if I can disable that.
I do so, and Nokia tells me that there is no such setting, and it must be a problem with the provider.
Anyway, I'm back to locking my phone on one network, and having to change that every so often when I get out of Cingular coverage. It sounds that my only hope at this point is to wait for Cingular to actually merge both networks so that they only show up as one. With a little luck, that'll happen in a few months...
Of course, I could switch to T-Mobile, the other GSM provider, but they just have an inferior network and don't offer EDGE, just GPRS...
I'm so glad I live in a technologically advanced country.