Thursday, August 06, 2009

AT&T “Fixes” My Phone by Downgrading It

I don’t want to be another corpse in the AT&T pile-on. AT&T has many problems, and they impact me, but let’s look at another technical clue about the network trouble:

I stopped in Tuesday at an AT&T store to see if they had any advice or fixes for the network issues plaguing my phone. The only thing the service rep said he knew of was to replace the SIM card. Sure, why not? Can’t hurt anything, can it?

Well the answer to that question apparently depends on whether ditching 3G access counts as “hurting.”

Since I got the new SIM, the phone spends most of its time on the EDGE and GPRS service, and only rarely gets a fix on the 3G service even when I’m in known-good 3G areas.

For a fleeting moment, I thought about taking the phone back and asking AT&T to do something to restore my 3G goodness.

But I quickly realized that the network’s inability to keep the phone on 3G was a big part of the problem. In other words, as so many iPhone users have discovered, staying on EDGE is better than flitting between EDGE and 3G and getting nowhere. Likewise in the case of EDGE and GPRS.

So for now, I’ll take my retro GPRS and its 50kbps or so of throughput. Since the setup and teardown of the data connection, as well as the latency in repeating a request, are the slowest part of the process, I’d rather use dependable 50kbps connection over an unstable, unusable 500kbps one.

Until I get a network that actually works, that is.

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