Review by NetFixer
Good "Good coverage most places, and 3G is available here."
- Location: Murfreesboro,Rutherford,TN
- Cost: $74 per month (24 month contract)
- Install: about 1 days
Bad "A free 3G Microcell should be automatic if you live in a poor reception area."
Overall "Reliable service most places, but unfortunately not in my home/office."
|Pre Sales Information:|
Value for money:
I am not a new AT&T/Cingular user, I have used their cell phone service (and prior to that their pager service) since they were called BellSouth Mobility in this part of the country.
I had not previously done a review because the GPRS data service I had was for emergency use only if I could not find a WiFi hotspot when on the road (and I did not use it very often). Several weeks ago, I traded in my GSM/GPRS handsets for a pair of GSM/UMTS/HSDPA/EDGE handsets, so at least in the three cities where 3G is available in this area, I no longer have to search for a hotspot if I need to do something more than just check email status. Even the EDGE service is better than I expected in the (large) areas where 3G is not available than I had expected it to be.
I typically seem to get ~250-300 kbps down in 3G areas, and ~80-100 kbps down in EDGE areas. Definitely better than the ~20-24 kbps I used to get with GPRS.
I had to go to Huntsville today, and I forgot my external Bluetooth adapter, so I had to use the USB direct connect cable to connect to my notebook. I discovered that with the direct connection, I got ~1.3-1.4 mbps down. Guess I will need to start looking for a new USB Bluetooth adaptor.
I recently added another 3G phone to my plan to take over a business number that I had to port from AT&T CallVantage since they are shutting down that service. The only problem was with CallVantage initially refusing to allow the number port, and then dragging their feet even after an AT&T Wireless manager raised hell and forced them to release the number.
Recent upgrades to the service here now provides me with good connectivity in my home/office and that has allowed me to now use only cell phones. No "landlines" at all, not even VoIP. That will likely change for financial reasons (unlimited calling from my home/office will mean that I can cut back on the minutes in my calling plan) if/when AT&T Wireless actually starts marketing their MicroCell service, but for now everything is over the air and working great.
Not much really to report, but the DSLR update robot is bugging me to update my older reviews.
I did just get a new handset to replace one that I mangled by dropping a Cisco 3800 series router on its keyboard. It is the Samsung Impression with a bigger screen than the old Samsung Sync (I can actually use it for reading email and limited web surfing, and its QWERTY keyboard also helps if I have to reply to an email). It also has GPS for running mapping apps (although I have not had a chance yet to test it out in the boonies to see if it can actually replace paper USGS topo maps). Another plus is that its Bluetooth interface is faster (I have gotten up to 2 mbps downstream data rates on the new phone).
On the downside, I am still waiting for AT&T to actually make their MicroCell product available in this area as a backup for tower problems (which has happened twice in the past year).
Numerous problems connecting to the tower nearest to my home/office lately, and my Zboost repeater is not much help there, because it just can not get a good signal from towers further away. The 3G Microcell is now available in my area, but AT&T is not interested in providing a free one (or even a discounted one), and I am not going to pay $200 for something that may not work anyway (especially since I am planning on dumping AT&T, and I don't want to initiate another 2 year contract).
Last week I ported my business number from AT&T Wireless to Vonage (partly because I needed to have a reliable connection, and partly because I just no longer want to do any business with AT&T). There were the usual delaying tactics from AT&T, but eventually they relented and allowed the number transfer to Vonage. The new Vonage line is working fine (as expected).
One down, and two to go AT&T (&*%#@ ETFs).
Nothing much new to report, but the DSLR update bot is bugging me for a new review.
I am still using AT&T Mobility as my cell phone service because I still have time left on my contract (ETFs suck). Recent changes in the way that AT&T uses their spectrum (they migrated 3G service from 850 mhz to 1900 mhz) made my old 850 mhz Zboost repeater useless. Since AT&T still did not make a free (or discounted) 3G MicroCell available to me, I was forced to invest in a dual band repeater in order to have cell phone coverage at my home/office location. The bright side is that the new repeater will still be useful when I migrate to another carrier (and with the apparent demise of the AT&T assimilation of T-Mobile, my choice for a new carrier has been improved).
The DSLR update bot is bugging me for a new review so here it is:
Nothing much new to report; I am still using the same Samsung 3G cell phones and the same zBoost repeater. I would still like to dump AT&T when my ETF period expires in a few months (for personal/political reasons, not because of poor service), but after checking the T-Mobile coverage maps (and talking to a few local T-Mobile users), their lack of coverage outside larger metropolitan areas takes T-Mobile off of my list of potential new carriers. The only other provider with reasonable rural area coverage appears to be Verizon, and their reputation for billing problems and strict rules on such things as tethering make them as unpalatable a choice for me as AT&T.
Well, despite my stated prior plans to dump AT&T, I just transfered my business number from Vonage to AT&T Mobility as another line in my Family plan. Fortunately since I was able to reactivate an unused Samsung Solstice II phone, there is no new contract commitment, and the only extra setup cost was $6 for a new SIMM card. I can still use that line as a desk phone via a bluetooth link to my GE DECT phone system, and it can also function as a bluetooth tethered backup Internet connection if needed, so it is more versatile than when it was a Vonage line.
After experiencing frequent compatibility problems between my dual band zBoost repeater and the Samsung Solstice II phone that I was using for the recently ported number from Vonage (and a billing problem related to activating that number that really pissed me off), I ported my old business number back to Vonage (their $9.99 for life retention plan). My only other choice would have been to purchase another cell phone (and hoping that it did not have problems using my zBoost repeater).
DSLR nag bot update 08/23/2013:
The DSLR nag bot is asking for a review update, so here it is:
I currently have two AT&T phones in service, and except for the crappy signal at my home/office that requires me to use a zBoost repeater with an external mast mounted antenna, I have no major complaints with the service.
My only current complaint is that my favorite phone (the Samsung Impression) went belly up the first of the year, and I am now using a Samsung Solstice II which is a poor substitute (and is also showing signs of impending doom). I really don't want to have to get a "smart" phone because of the crappy and expensive data plans that AT&T requires for "smart" phones (I currently have an "unlimited" data plan for $14.95/month), but AT&T doesn't seem to offer any large screen "feature" phones these days (and my poor eyesight makes the use of a typical smaller screen "flip" phone difficult).
My Samsung Solstice II finally became so unreliable that I had to get another phone. And since both the primary and secondary batteries for my wife's Samsung Sync were about to go belly up (and she wanted a phone with a larger screen), I got two Pantech Renue touch screen feature phones from Walmart and converted my plan into a Mobile Share 300MB plan. That plan change reduced my monthly bill from $135 to $95.
So far, except for really poor battery life in the phones, the new phones and the new plan are working well (and since the phone uses relatively inexpensive easily replaceable batteries, the poor battery life has not yet been a problem). Since neither myself nor my wife are addicted to Facebook, Twitter, or other Internet time/bandwidth wasters, the 300MB shared data plan has been more than sufficient; an occasional email check or a Yellow Pages look up doesn't use much bandwidth (since I retired from being a road warrior, I haven't used more than 100MB per month on my cell phone data plan).
The end times must be rapidly approaching; AT&T has lowered my monthly cell phone bill again. Last month I was notified that there were new price plans available for the Mobile Share plan; I could either select a plan with more data for the same price I was paying, or keep the same plan and save $20 per month. I chose to lower the monthly payment, and the new bill that was just posted did indeed lower my monthly payment from $95 to $74.
Thanks, T-Mobile...I guess that even a small amount of competition really does make a difference.
member for 10.1 years, 5769 visits, last login: a few hours ago
updated 172 days ago
| |NetFixerSnarl For The Camera PleasePremiumReviews:
Re: Poor reception on phone Thanks for the tips, but my poor reception is due to building construction, not problems with a specific cell phone provider. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon users also usually need to go outdoors to use their cell phones reliably (unless they are visiting me and can use my zBoost repeater, or live on an upper floor with their balcony glass doors facing their provider's tower). The RF blocking also affects WiFi (which is mostly a benefit, since it helps reduce interference between neighbors).
As for 4G vs 3G, I use my cell phones primarily as phones; Internet access is a seldom used function now that I am retired and no longer a road warrior.
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