Mobile Phone Operators Still All Suck

from the best-network,-huh? dept

Remember the silly debate among mobile operators over whose mobile phone network was really “the best”? It got so ridiculous that some of the participants ended up going to court to argue over how they could describe their own and their competitors’ networks. Well, the latest Consumer Reports survey of mobile phone networks has basically said don’t believe most of the claims: especially from the companies who are fighting the most about declaring their network the tops: Cingular and Sprint. Apparently, both had problems, often related to the things they were most fond of bragging about. Cingular, who went to court to claim that it had “the fewest dropped calls” actually had quite a few complaints about dropped calls. All of this, again, suggests that perhaps the companies should spend a little less time with their advertising teams and their lawyers, and a bit more on making sure their networks actually are as good as they claim.

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Comments on “Mobile Phone Operators Still All Suck”

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Dan says:

Re: cingular and dropped calls

I’ve been with cingular, well. foirever. Before ATT actualy. What I found was. It’s the phone that matters most, even their sales people will tell you that. Nokia’s are a better phone when it comes to reception. And I had that cheap phone your talking about, your right. It had great reception. Better then the more expensive ones I’ve bought sence then. But, then again. I didn’t stay with the nokia phone.

Seriously, do a google. Types of cell phones really do count.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Location?

Location, location, location … You can view coverage maps of most of the major providers. Location is EVERYTHING!

I travel the U.S. as a consultant for a living. Fortunately, most of the time I’m located in large cities where coverage is very good. Because of that I’m able to use a cheaper carrier (T-Mobile) who’s coverage is not that great in outlying areas.

The main point … do your research before signing that 1-2 year contract!

chris (profile) says:

i have had sprint, verizon and cingular

in the 10 or so years that i have had a mobile phone, and i have to say that network wise, verizon sucks least. when i was with cingular i had whatever the baseline nokia du jour was (3360, 3525, etc.) and i like them the best because they were easy to use. my employer let me port my personal number over to my work phone, an LG flip phone from verizon, and i love the more reliable service, but i am not nearly as fond of my phone.

tho, since i don’t pay the bill, i don’t really care about the phone.

in my opinion, the thing that makes verizon suck is that their phones don’t use sim cards, so you can’t switch between phones easily.

there are a handful of times when a smartphone (pda+phone+whatever) would be nice, but i don’t want to give up my small mobile for when i am not at work. at least with cingular and other 3g providers you can swap phones easily by pulling the sim card and putting it in whatever handset you like.

the other thing i hate is when a handset is exclusive to a carrier. i would get a sidekick, but as long as t-mobile is the only carrier in the US that has them, i won’t get one.

mobile phones are pretty much like birth control pills: they all do the job you want, you just have to choose which side effects best suit your lifestyle.

Ron (profile) says:

Who Sucks Most

Maybe their ads should be that consumers believe the company sucks less than the others.
Cellular One had great customer service; because it got used so often. ATT had decent rates and phones, a fairly good coverage area (that’s why Cingular bought ’em), and they had good service overseas; but their customer reps generally sucked. Cingular has more expensive rates, less options, decent phones, OK overseas support, and 1/2 sucky customer support (their regular service number cannot handle “smart” phones so you have to give your info to pne person who then tells you to call another number. Verizon has good coverage but many sucky phones; and no overseas support. Where ya gonna go if you want service that just works most places?

Manny says:

I too have had Sprint, Verizon, and Cingular

What I discovered was that the phone and not the service help to really play a part. When I had Cingular, I had an old Motorola Flip phone that worked great and no dropped calls. Once I switched to a newer Motorola flip phone, it was dropped call city. Was mad that Cingular wouldn’t switch me to a new phone so I went to Sprint. Was happy with the non-flip motorola phone that Sprint provided. Never had a dropped call. However, the ol’ Sprint customer service monster decided to take a bite out of me, so I left them quick. Now I’m on Verizon, and I have an Industrial Strength Kyocerra KX444. This thing has literally taken a beating and it never drops the call. However, I hear people complain about Verizon always dropping their call. When I ask what phone they have, it is always the newest “all-in-wonder-hey-look-at-me-I’m-so-cool-just-like-the-millions-of- other-people-who-have-this-phone”. The phones that these companies push the hell out of are cheap, and try and do too much for the processing power that they have in them. Trust me. Stick with a simple phone, and you will avoid most dropped calls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Have had sprint, verizon, alltel, and cingular. I hated them all. In retrospect, alltel was by far the best (south mississippi and texas) reception wise, although pretty bad supportwise. Sprint was excellent supportwise but of course there was literally no reception anywhere more than 1 mile from a freeway.

Theres only one piece of advice I can give. If you can still get them (have had cingular for a couple of years now so I dont know) get a dual mode phone so when the digital signal gets flaky the good old analog signal works. its especially helpful at football games and the like when the digital cells are jammed.

Kevin says:

They all suck...

Arguing about which one sucks least is like arguing over whose turds smells the most like Chanel No 5. Whichever one scores the highest is still going to be crap.

I used to have Cingular, and they were awful. I switched to Verizon, and they are awful. Fortunately, I had no illusions when I switched about improved service. I switched because most of my friends and co-workers were on Verizon, and I could cut my bill in half if we were all on the same network.

Funny how it always comes back to money.

HEBREW says:

I am in the Southeast US and have had service with: Cellular one/Verizon, Cingular, Alltel, Sprint and T-Mobile…..
They all have sucked, suck currently or will suck in the future, “I PROMISE”
I was with cellular one the longest, before Verizon, and they were OK. When they were transitioning to Verizon I got stuck having to pay a $1,200 bill even though I never had a bill over $350 before that.(nothing changed)
I am currently with T-Mobile and am the happiest I have ever been with call quality and mobile internet costs.

John (user link) says:

After being in contract for years with Sprint, I decided to get a local GSM provider with no contract.
The most annoying thing about choosing a mobile carrier is the contract. Whenever you buy a new phone you always have to extend the contract thereby digging a deeper hole. Your problems with support don’t go away, but at least I can leave at any time and I’m not bound to TDMA or CDMA phones that only my provider can sell me.

Until the services come down in price and are in competition with VOIP and WIFI services I think we will always be dealing with having to choose the provider we find the least evil.

Anonymous Coward says:

did someone from another country write this article? i find it humorous that anyone who is familiar with america would suggest spending less time with advertising teams and more making sure that the networks are good…

we all know that in america the consumers are treated like the mindless idiots they have actually slowly become and like to have important information and facts hidden from them in favor of shiny bells and whistles

the cost of actually creating the best, most reliable network is probably far less expensive than advertising and teams of lawyers working to sell the kind of lies that the idiot consumers will buy into

Jeff says:

I heart Tmobile

yeah they drop calls
yeah there are dead zones all over San Francisco
yeah the phone selection is just ok

but when you call them to talk to them about your bill or your service they are SUPER NICE. Its like you are talking to someone with no evil thoughts. When you go into the store they are SUPER NICE. When I called to cancel my service they were SUPER NICE and offered me incentive to stay – so i did!

Dont know what they are putting in thier coffee but I like it.

zazie (user link) says:

Results may vary

I started off as a At&t customer back in the late 90’s, when I was barely old enough to need a phone. In that period of time, I re-upped every year, getting a slightly newer Nokia each time. The Nokias have never failed on me, and have proved generally tougher than the rest (a few motorollas not doing that bad either) 2 1/2 years ago, I was in vegas for the summer and Cingular offered me an upgrade with a new “better” Samsung phone. After two weeks I brought it back, and returned to using my old phone and my old plan. 6 months after, I joined the Cingular group with a new Nokia, which served me fine until recently, when I re-upped my contract, picking up another (you guessed it, Nokia!). Nokia has proven to be all kinds of awesome to me, and as such the only phone that has a shot of getting my business is the new iPhone slated for a release next year.

I tend to end up in a number of places that most people simply don’t get service at all. From where I’m sitting right now, the only provider that works is Cingular. T-Mobile? no, Verizon? no, Sprint/Nextel? Hell no. I believe that certain providers have advantages depending on where you are, and that different services can make a difference, but the phones themselves make the biggest difference. Odds are the uuber phone of tomorrow is going to work poorly compared to your 3 year old phone-brick.

Mike A. says:


I’ve had t-mobile for years. They are good in NYC, and have recently started using the 850MHz Cingular band, so coverage is great.

They are also the cheapest, and I can just put a SIM card into any tri/quad band phone I want and use it.

I am also not limited when it comes to PC-Phone syncing and copying of files/data, as opposed to VERIZON which forces you to basically use their network for any sort of data transfer and CASTRATE their phones with their UGLY-red UI.

Cingular is more expensive but probably as good or better than T-mobile service and coverage-wise, but like VERIZON, they nickle and dime you every step of the way.

michael tabor says:

Re: TMobile sucks the least

T-mobile is cheap, but the date plan is unusable, due
to poor coverage. Cheap, not if it doesn’t work.
Constant in and out, buffer, rebuffer. If you like
listening to shoutcast in 6 second segments, great.
well worth the money to get out of it. I went to
T-mobile, told them I wanted the Dash for internet
radio, signed up, and later found out the Dash
(“device does not support internet audio streaming”)
from 2 different techies. Their reps are know-nothings,
terrible coverage, and you get stuck with a second
rate, over-priced PDA wannabe. And of course,
a very short trial period, so you are stuck with their

Brian says:

fewest dropped calls?

i had cingular for two years, i was getting 3-5 dropped calls per day. its obvious what a dropped call is, look on your bill. notice when you talk to someone from 12:00 to 12:20 then call them again at 12:20? its a dropped call, unless of course you wanted to add something to your previous conversation.

the other problem i had with tat was i got stuck paying for the same minute twice, @ $.45 per minuted that adds up.

Cingular doesnt acknowledge their dropped calls as dropped. there is a code on the bill for “dropped call credit” this has never appeared on any of my itemized calls. i got T-Mobile two weeks ago and always have good service.

When I was a boy... (user link) says:

Cingular Larceny

I called my local cingular store today and asked to buy outright for cash money the new blackberry. Since i run a very small company, my only overhead is my phone/pda. I can afford to buy any pda i want. Imagine my surprise when the dipstick told me he cant sell me the new blackberry because i wasn’t adding a new line. I have 5 lines. I don’t need another line. Sorry, no can do. What a business model. I bet when i call customer no service and tell them they are losing 5 no contract lines they’ll sell me the little bugger!

Carl V says:

On a different note!...

Why do people rely on cell phone service soo much. This radio technology is so god dam old. lol Ok, We have satalite tv, we have satalite radio, sat internet Hello!! WTF Is SAT Phone? ok one phone sells for 400 $$ a phone and service is an arm and leg. If verizon would just think smart and said “hey lets put a satalite in space and sell our service with guaranteed no dropped calls with tons of new features…” You would have a new walmart, except in cell phone service.

This would fix probably all lost calls. You could get internet at high speeds wireless almost anywere, forget Wifi. The only exception would be that is if you lived in a cave. Are we still cave men??
Alls im saying is radio tech is a thing of the past. Y not go high tech in space??

WhatThe!?! says:

Well Said #6!!!!

As long as YOU ALL continue to stroke the protruding proboscis that continues to screw you through your ears,
I find it very hard to feel sorry for any of you…

Try getting a pair and quit fighting for more rights to talk while you drive and also try grouping together to boycott
some these companies that are providing you such wonderful service. It’s true, the American consumer is a weak bunch.

Lantern Bearer says:

Cell Phone Hell

In 1992, I was in a charter class for the CellularOne digital roll out in Florida.

I was a Digital Top Gun. I had been a medium level performer for an electronic retail giant and I had the run of the store. I had every product designation. When I became the Digital Jedi, my sales went over the top with product, services (cheese) and accessories. The brick days were over. Cellular went from a specialty item to a must have commodity. I have been through every handset available. I have kept my hand in on sales by being an events and off site part-timer.

From the GTE Go-Phone through Iridium and every other innovation to come along, I have been there. The major fly in the ointment is the vendors sales reps who know nothing of what they are selling. The other fly is the tech support and account servicing. It is a pain to be pounded on for months for unaccountable over charges. Once they are paid, a letter of appology arrives, a huge credit appears for a couple of months and then the process starts over.

I have had two carriers and two vendors in small claims. I keep better records than they do. They always pay.

The biggest problem with cellular service?

End user head space. That means you, World of Opies.

Lantern Bearer
(No longer affiliated with any brand or product mentioned in a professional or contractual capacity.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cell Phone Hell

Besides bragging about yourself, did you have a point? You have most certainly failed to make it.

As for bragging about yourself, you have done so in such a fashion that I am now inclined to believe that every word you wrote was a fabrication of a reality you only wished you had. Perhaps you were the guy who carried the coffee for the real person.. maybe. But I highly doubt anyone ever called you any of the titles you just made up for yourself.

You bear no lantern.. that is your ego that is weighing you down..

Anonymous Coward says:

I have a couple of responses to a couple of comments. I apologise in advance that I don’t have time to cite my sources, but – it might interest somebody to want to do more research.

Comment #12: what you are describing is a Tri mode phone (not dual) and I have heard that the analog towers are going to be phased out by the FCC

RE: the post on SAT phones: I think you need a direct line of sight w/ the satellite, so they don’t work indoors, in cars, etc. The satellites are still up there, but I don’t know what became of the 2 (?) providers…

Verizon is an evil dirty monster. (and I am a verizon customer) They do “castrate” their phones (good word!) Verizon people do you know that? – lots and lots of phones can do lots of cool features that some (not all) other providers allow (i.e. plugging your phone into your computer via USB to transfer data, pics, sounds etc. But Verizon disables that so that you HAVE to pay their data transfer fees. However – – there is a work around.

Props to Lantern Bearer comment #36 – thanks for reminding me that I should be checking my statement!

Data Support Dude says:

Promises Promises

I work for Verizon doing data support for customers who call in. I can say for sure that data devices (PDA/Smartphones) definitely have more voice problems, and more problems overall because there’s more there that can go wrong. I completely agree that if all the big phone companies would spend less on advertising and more on their products they wouldn’t suck as much. I personally have T-Mobile, but only because my family is on it and I only pay $10 a month to be on the family plan. T-Mobile works where I need it to, and just for voice calls. I don’t text or send picture messages, and I certainly don’t need high speed internet. I have a decent flip Motorola (v333), but I’ve had Nokia phones before. I can say without a doubt that Nokia makes some of the sturdiest, most capable phones, particularly the non-flip ones.

There was another comment on here about researching your area before signing a plan. Please do, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief in the long run rather than ending up with service that doesn’t work in your house. And don’t trust sales reps %100. I used to sell Verizon/Sprint/Cingular at RadioShack and I’ve heard so many lies about phones (and told some too, I’m ashamed to say) that I get angry at the store reps that lie to customers who I then get to deal with when they call and want to use their phone as a tethered modem and “the guy a the store said I could” but they can’t.

Sorry for rambling. I hope I’ve helped all who read this in some way. I’m not saying that all cell service sucks. I’ve never had a problem with T-Mo, and I wouldn’t hesitate to switch to Verizon (mainly because I get a discount, but also because of their good coverage.) When I sold Sprint we had less complaints about them than Verizon, and when RadioShack switched from Verizon to Cingular we had less complaints about Cingular than Sprint.

If you travel a lot, especially out of country, go with Cingular or T-Mo for their GSM which is used in Europe and Asia. If you stay in relatively one major area and don’t move around a lot go with the CDMA technology of Verizon or Sprint and you should have decent, workable coverage for your phone needs.

“No time for love, Dr. Jones! We got company!” – Short Round

robert says:

they all suck... go with internet phone instead

to me the cell phones have not yet marketed a phone to me. They are all horrible. Why is it that I have to pay $200 to replace my phone with a very basic phone (a phone that just picks up). Why is that the cheapest when they manufactor basic phone for like $1.50. Why so many charges for nothing. I will tell you why, because they know that I must by a verizon phone. I can buy no other phone then one that they manufactor. The best i can do is get on ebay and hope to find a comparable one. Because there is no competion. They are all basically the same company. They all make a huge amount of money and they all screw us over. That is why i am switching to internet phone. Period end of sentence. I refuse to deal with those people any more.

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