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AT&T 3G Upgrades Degrade 2G Signal Strength

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the cellphone-walks-into-a-bar dept.

Cellphones 210

Timothy R. Butler writes "Much to the chagrin of owners of various 2G cell phones on AT&T Mobility's network, including the highly visible (and originally highly expensive) first-generation iPhone, we have discovered that AT&T has been quietly adjusting its network in ways that degrade 2G network performance as it has sought to build out its next-generation 3G network. Many of the phones affected, including BlackBerry devices, are still well within their two-year contract period."

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Wow (0, Troll)

ndberry (1369409) | about 6 years ago | (#26313911)

This is going to piss off alot of hipsters....

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Elsan (914644) | about 6 years ago | (#26314159)

Those hipsters won't know because the mass media won't advertise this. Even then, will they care? Most people don't even know what 2G is. Unless a big campaign is started, there's not gonna be much happening.

Re:Wow (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314959)

I'm glad I don't have a whole country full of deceitful, greedy kikes stealing all my water and land anywhere near me. Fucking Jews can't just live in peace. They have to steal other people's land. Our national economy is collapsing from the Jewbanks doing their usual Jewthing. You see, with Jews, you lose. That's how THEY win. They WIN by making YOU lose. So let's do the smart thing, shall we? Let's lose the Jews.

Re:Wow (4, Funny)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 6 years ago | (#26315829)

Why is it only the trolls who know the difference between loose and lose?

Policy makes sense... (0, Offtopic)

Smidge207 (1278042) | about 6 years ago | (#26313929)

Listen peeps: AT&T subsidizes the price of every phone it carries, by about $200. So that phone you got a few months ago for free was actually about $200. Youâ(TM)ve probably seen these un-subsidized prices if youâ(TM)ve ever damaged a phone and had to purchase a new one at full price.

The idea is that AT&T will make up that $200 over the course of your two-year contract. So about $8.33 per month goes toward paying down that subsidy. When you get toward the end of two years, youâ(TM)ll be eligible for an upgrade, which is essentially the ability to purchase a new phone at the subsidized price, as long as you commit to another two-year contract.

Maybe not the most ideal plan in the world, but it keeps the apparent cost of mobile phones low, and gets people in the door.

When the original iPhone came out, the arrangement was unique: AT&T wasnâ(TM)t going to subsidize a cent of it in exchange for some flexibilities they allowed to Apple (such as at-home activation). Since there was no subsidy, AT&T lifted the âoeupgradeâ policy for existing AT&T account holders, and allowed them to purchase the iPhone at the standard retail price everyone else paid.

But the iPhone 3G is indeed subsidized, and so the upgrade plan is back in effect. If you currently use a phone subsidized by AT&T, and you arenâ(TM)t currently eligible for an upgrade (you arenâ(TM)t nearing your contactâ(TM)s two-year anniversary), you will need to pay the full, un-subsidized price for the iPhone 3G. In this case, that works out to either $199+200 or $299+200, hence the $399 and $499 prices.

If you already own an iPhone, AT&T doesnâ(TM)t need to get back their lost subsidy, so you get to pay the standard $199/$299 price.

Hopefully, this clarifies things a bit.


And ... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#26313931)

... first-gen iPhone owners.

Planned Obsolescence (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 years ago | (#26313935)

Its the way people do business now.

Sad and immoral, but true.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (5, Insightful)

Grand Facade (35180) | about 6 years ago | (#26314045)

Not really planned obsolescence, appropriating resources for the new revenue stream forsaking existing customers.

This to me seems worse as they are stealing services paid for by existing customers, instead of just letting their stuff expire as obsolite.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (3, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | about 6 years ago | (#26314459)

It seems like this would be fine, if there were an open market. But to lock user's phones into a particular network, lock users into multi-year contracts, then downwardly adjust service, seems a little dodgy.

I don't doubt that shifting spectrum to 3G is the right way to go... I'm just not convinced that now is the time and this is the way.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

asamad (658115) | about 6 years ago | (#26315037)

Welcome to capitalism, and american democracy, where pollies can be bought.

Consumer comes last, big business first and freedom of choice - what choice !

even without contracts, the competition is sketchy (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 years ago | (#26315257)

There are a lot of identical prices/features in the plans the major 4 providers offer, so much so that it seems like an odd coincidence if this is truly a competitive market between non-collusive entities.

For example, say I want to buy a laptop cell-phone modem, and buy a wireless data plan. There are four providers who will sell me that, so you'd think I might have a choice of packages, maybe some carriers offering higher data limits for a higher price, others structuring their service with multiple tiers, etc. Instead, every provider offers exactly one plan, and all four have identical terms and prices: $60/mo for 5GB of data.

Re:even without contracts, the competition is sket (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#26315341)

Instead, every provider offers exactly one plan, and all four have identical terms and prices: $60/mo for 5GB of data.

What in the world are you talking about? I went to check your facts and the very first carrier that I checked had a $50/month data card plan with unlimited data [t-mobile.com] .

oops, looks like I missed one (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 years ago | (#26315939)

I stand corrected; T-Mobile's offer is reasonably good, and gives the others some competition.

AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all do offer only the same $60/mo, 5-GB limit plan for data cards, though. Well, Verizon also offers a useless 50-MB limit one, for $40/mo.

Re:even without contracts, the competition is sket (1)

jkgamer (179833) | about 6 years ago | (#26315989)

Perhaps you yourself should have 'continued' to check YOUR facts. From t-Mobile's "View Data Plan Terms" section 2. Protective Measures:

"To provide a good experience for the majority of our customers and minimize capacity issues and degradation in network performance, we may take measures including temporarily reducing data throughput for a subset of customers who use a disproportionate amount of bandwidth; if your total usage exceeds 10GB (amount is subject to change; please periodically check T-Mobile.com for updates) during a billing cycle, we may reduce your data speed for the remainder of that billing cycle. We may also suspend, terminate, or restrict your data session, Plan, or service if you use your Data Plan in a manner that interferes with other customers' service, our ability to allocate network capacity among customers, or that otherwise may degrade service quality for other customers."

As with many other providers, "unlimited == limited". Advertising a specific bandwidth speed as unlimited and then cutting that speed to aproximately the same rate as an old 9600 baud modem, is effectively the same as 'limiting' your usage.

Re:even without contracts, the competition is sket (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#26316039)

I think you missed my point - 10GB at $50 is still a different plan than 5GB at $60.

Not that much.. (1)

Junta (36770) | about 6 years ago | (#26315801)

I know that is Verizon's price. I'm unsure about AT&T, but T-mobile's is a tad lower as is Sprint's. Sprint's is particularly interestingly low for shared plans relative to the rest. This of course makes sense, as at the moment Sprint is the most desperate as they have a lousy reputation and must take the most drastic action. I'm pretty sure that Verizon has the highest prices (excepting AT&T, who I've no looked up), and they also happened to have the largest market share.

In other words, things are shaping up pretty much as one would expect a competitive market to shape up, with the leaders enjoying the benefits of reputation. The fact that things are not more different as they are makes sense too. Competition should force competitor's to price equivalently. In the auto industry, a common 4-door sedan will run in the 15-20 thousand US dollar area, regardless of manufacturer. There are outliers, certainly, but the major auto makers tend to manage the same price points.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315469)

It seems like this would be fine, if there were an open market. But to lock user's phones into a particular network, lock users into multi-year contracts, then downwardly adjust service, seems a little dodgy.

Yeah, especially when they hold a gun to your head to force you into signing up in the first place!

Oh, wait...

Re:Planned Obsolescence (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314145)

It's pretty much the only way Apple does business.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314175)

Its the way people do business now.

now? I remember the phrase being applied to American Automakers in the 1970's.

Though given that industry's performance, perhaps it should be a cautionary tale?

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#26315729)

I wonder how many devices are not only designed to be obsolete but which actually self-destruct! [slashdot.org]

Re:Planned Obsolescence (4, Interesting)

LoadWB (592248) | about 6 years ago | (#26314205)

If true, then this is exactly what Cingular did to the TDMA network (back when I had my GAIT phone, http://slashdot.org/~LoadWB/journal/123321 [slashdot.org] ) while transitioning to GSM/GPRS. Cingular quietly discontinued various network services to TDMA phones, then essentially told us "tough shit, get a GSM phone."

I have noticed that my EDGE speeds have not been quite up to their norm lately. I was hoping this was just an anomaly, but I guess you never really can tell.

I wonder how friendly T-Mobile is to unlocked phones. I really have a hard time abandoning my Sony Ericssons...

Re:Planned Obsolescence (4, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | about 6 years ago | (#26314241)

I wonder how friendly T-Mobile is to unlocked phones. I really have a hard time abandoning my Sony Ericssons...

Friendly -- T-Mobile will even unlock one phone every 90 days for you, for free.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 6 years ago | (#26315887)

Too bad their network isn't that great. I don't get signal outside of my house and I live in the biggest city in NJ by population.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314483)

I posted this on the OFB.biz article as a comment... LoadWB, you're 100% right, AT&T did *exactly* this before, and I expect them to do it again -- screw up 3G service to "encourage" people to go to LTE.
  Par for the course. I predicted over 5 years ago that this is exactly what would happen once they decided to go to a post-GSM technology, based on the handling of the previous TDMA->GSM conversion.

AT&T and Cingular (pre-merger you understand) BOTH did exactly the same thing during TDMA->GSM conversion â" they pushed GSM hard when GSM was not even fully rolled out on their own network. ANY problem I had was obviously because I did not have a GSM phone yet (including billing problems, and problems with texts not going through at all until they kicked my account a bit.) They pushed people to buy GSM phones in areas where they themselves had not deployed GSM yet, meaning the new phone would have been a paperweight. They pushed GSM in areas where the former TDMA relied HEAVILY on roaming, and there was no GSM to roam on, all the time swearing the GSM coverage would be better.

Worst of all, they did in fact start turning TDMA down to like 2 or 3 channels WAY before TDMA usage had dropped enough for this to make sense; âoeOh, youâ(TM)re getting constant busy signals? Better get a new GSM phoneâ.

(I did get a TDMA+GSM dual-mode phone â" a Siemens S46 â" but then when I was told the TDMA roaming was getting shut off, I bailed for Verizon at this point.)

After I already bailed, people who clung to their TDMA phones encountered decreasing signal strength and increasing problems. The official line was equipment âoenatural degradationâ or that they were intentionally reducing TDMA signal strength, depending on who you talked to. Yes, they say they INTENTIONALLY worsened service, not to free up channels for something else, but just to make service worse to âoeencourageâ upgrades. Or at best, did not maintain their own equipment to keep it functional.

Verizon, in contrast, has had almost no service impact adding EVDO to their network. They made sure if they accidentally reduced coverage (maybe misaimed an antenna), that they fixed it and brought service back. They kept analog in good shape right until the analog shutdown.. from what Iâ(TM)ve read they counted analog calls in the dropped call and fast busy stats.. so while urging people to replace the analog phones they kept service perfectly acceptable for them.

Given past behaviour, I predict your GSM service will continue to get worse, and you may even get complete service failures â" well, more than now â" with AT&T becoming increasingly unhelpful other than saying âoeOh that wouldnâ(TM)t happen with a 3G phone.â

Then, in ANOTHER 3 or 4 years, they will probably start âoedegradingâ 3G service so you can be pushed into buying ANOTHER new phone, this time with LTE technology.

To be honest, this attitude towards service upgrades AT&T had pushed me away more than the actual lack of GSM coverage my area had at the time.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (3, Informative)

Cousin Scuzzy (754180) | about 6 years ago | (#26315069)

Wow, thanks LoadWB. I had the same problem as you with my TDMA service back in 2006. After being with AT&T Wireless and then Cingular since 1999, my service abruptly became very flaky. Near my house I would lose service for hours at a time, when otherwise I would have an exceptionally strong signal. If I walked a few blocks away from my house my service would resume again, though at poor signal strength. As quickly as the problem appeared it would go away for several days. The frequency and predictability of the problem gradually increased until I had no service every single evening when I returned home from work.

I called Cingular (or AT&T, I can't remember which it was at the time) regularly and spent hours both on hold and troubleshooting with their customer service representatives. They sent me a used phone, the same antiquated model as mine, to try out. It had the exact same problem. Throughout it all they denied vehemently that there were any issues with their service or any specific tower(s). Naturally, their suggestion was to sign up for a new 2 year contract with a GSM phone.

At the time I strongly suspected that they were intentionally degrading the service to weed out the old technology, but not until I read your post just now did I get any degree of confirmation. You were lucky to eventually get through to someone who was truthful with you. I have no problem with changing technology, but feel that it is unacceptable to intentionally degrade the service your customers are paying for with no warning, no explanation, and no positive incentive to move to the new technology. This was the treatment they were giving me after subscribing to their service for 7 years.

I decided to complain with my wallet, so rather than sign up again with AT&T I switched to T-Mobile. Of course then I had endless problems with T-Mobile charging me for hundreds of phantom text messages and I ended up dropping them shortly thereafter. Sadly, I'm back with AT&T now. At least my 2 year contract is up so now I can try to find a competent, honest provider if such a thing exists in the US.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

Macrat (638047) | about 6 years ago | (#26315655)

I wonder how friendly T-Mobile is to unlocked phones. I really have a hard time abandoning my Sony Ericssons...

I'm using unlocked P910 and P990's on T-Mobile. Just pop in the SIM and go.

iPhone 4 Fags (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314281)

Slides in and out of your asshole.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314423)

No it's not. I have Verizon, they kept analog in FANTASTIC shape right until the analog shutdown date. I mean, they surely did reduce the number of analog channels, but they counted analog in their call drop and fast busy stats, so they made sure to keep *enough* analog channels to keep service in good shape, urging people to get a new phone but not forcing them into it by destroying their service.
          They rolled out EVDO without harming existing service.. in rare cases (i've read about on howardforums) where they misaimed some antenna or whatever, they found out within a few days and reaimed it how it was supposed to be. They made sure existing services were not reduced, and often improved service a bit (tweaking antenna aims etc. while they were already there.)

          They bought 700mhz spectrum for LTE so they will not have to bother existing service for this either.

Forced Premature Obsolescence (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | about 6 years ago | (#26314779)

Forced Premature Obsolescence

There, I fixed it for you.

So? (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 6 years ago | (#26313939)

I'm sure these new features are well defined in the contract you sign with A&T.

Yet another reason (1, Flamebait)

Paladin_Krone (635912) | about 6 years ago | (#26313943)

AT&T sucks. Honestly though, I cant say Im surprised. Its like the local cable company here degrading our analog signal when they started pushing digital service. Oh, and once again I'm glad I have sprint.

Centro (4, Informative)

Rock Chalk Jayhawk (1443729) | about 6 years ago | (#26313945)

Just a few months ago, I upgraded to the AT&T version of the Palm Centro. I was a little disappointed to learn that the AT&T version of the Centro doesn't support 3g while the Sprint version does. If AT&T was going to upgrade to 3g at the expense of 2g, they should have made as many 3g offerings available as possible. I've noticed as well that my signal strength has seemed poorer in many areas of Missouri lately than it was when I first purchased my Centro, but I'd never associated it with anything AT&T had done.

Re:Centro (4, Funny)

(startx) (37027) | about 6 years ago | (#26314121)

Your signal strength degradation in MO has nothing to do with AT&T, and everything to do with your slashdot username!

Re:Centro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314727)

please direct your anger at the proper facilitator

your centro on ATT only works on 2G EDGE because Palm's ancient OS is incompatible with the GSM version of 3G. Same is true with RIM's curve/pearl/8800 series software..

AT&T and Food Lion (1)

fuego451 (958976) | about 6 years ago | (#26314953)

Got my Centro three months ago and have not noticed any degradation of service during that time here in rural SC but AT&T reception has never been really great either.

I thought AT&T's network went down yesterday while I was out shopping only to realize that Food Lion, or someone in the store(?), was blocking cell phones for whatever strange reason.

Edge service (2, Interesting)

Lon (37445) | about 6 years ago | (#26314039)

Where I live, AT&T has both Edge (2.5G) and 3G deployed - I only have the first gen iPhone so I cannot speak to 3G quality here, but over the past couple of months I have seen an improvement in 2G coverage and quality. My house used to be on the edge (hah!) of an Edge dead zone - but now we get nearly full bars and no missed calls.

Re:Edge service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314161)

Pun FAIL at 0xffffffff

Guru Meditation

Re:Edge service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314361)

Lurk more.

Re:Edge service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314559)

Murk lore.

Re:Edge service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314749)

murk loar

Come to Europe (1)

ReadErr (25815) | about 6 years ago | (#26314065)

Where 3G and 2G are on entirely different frequencies, so carriers don't have to choose which one they'll support this week...

they already chose (2, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 6 years ago | (#26314227)

I had my 2G (quad band) phone in Europe. I only ever got EDGE once, and that was in the complete sticks.

The rest of the time, I only got GPRS. This is because that's all that was offered, GPRS and 3G.

So far from being an idyllic solution, it seems in Europe the outcome is even more decided for you.

Re:they already chose (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 6 years ago | (#26314267)

How long ago? Edge was only rolled out when the iPhone came out, and came quite a while after UTMS (3G).

Re:they already chose (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 6 years ago | (#26314603)

Three months ago. In England, France and Malta (!).

And EDGE wasn't rolled out in any significant amount, even when the iPhone did come out. This is part of the reason the iPhone didn't sell well in Europe before it had 3G. And who can blame them? Surely they knew Apple would have a 3G phone soon (since Europe had had 3G phones for years already).

And it's UMTS, not UTMS.

Re:they already chose (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 years ago | (#26315105)

Why would you even want EDGE? No one deployed it much because UMTS infrastructure was being rolled out by the time it was finalised (even in the UK, which is pretty crappy by European standards for mobile networks). The networks are now deploying HSPDA and modern phones are starting to support that instead. My four-year-old cheap phone uses UMTS and falls back to GPRS where it's not available. EDGE is two generations old now. It's for fall-back if you can't get HSPDA or UMTS signals.

Re:Come to Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314333)

Or switch to T-mobile here in the US. 2G operates on 1900 3G operates on 1700

Re:Come to Europe (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#26314381)

My carrier in the US (T-Mobile) does the same - 3G is on a completely separate frequency.

I don't know what the other carriers are doing - not all of them have the luxury of a totally new frequency like T-Mobile has.

Re:Come to Europe (1)

Rakishi (759894) | about 6 years ago | (#26314513)

So in other words 2G is shit in Europe period since ATT is doing exactly that right now, moving it to a different frequency. Just so happens that not all frequencies are the same and some don't provide as good a signal everywhere as others.

Why so serious? (0)

y86 (111726) | about 6 years ago | (#26314097)

I've read about this in multiple places today and I'm really surprised this is such a big deal.

A network decision is being made at AT&T to best serve the current customer base. Old tech is being worked out of the network while the new tech is being worked in. Edge will still work, it just won't have the best band anymore. 3G is becoming the hot service to have and more and more users are coming while edge users are dropping off.

Edge users are equivalent to VHS users. The technology has moved on, you need to move on or deal with slightly degraded service.

This is the only logical path, the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few or the one.

Re:Why so serious? (3, Informative)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | about 6 years ago | (#26314165)

You do realize that the "many" are currently 2/2.5G phone users? Users locked into a contract that means you can't upgrade (without paying a pretty nasty chunk of change)?

Re:Why so serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314547)

No, the AT&T contract locks you in to using their service, not the phone. If you go in and upgrade your phone to a 3g model, they will not make you pay anything extra. You may have to sign a new 2 year contract to get a decent deal on a new phone though.

Re:Why so serious? (2, Informative)

KStrike155 (1242390) | about 6 years ago | (#26314811)

You're right, AT&T locks you into a service. But you're wrong about the phone aspect. You can not just go in and get a new phone by signing a new 2-year agreement. You need to have had your old phone for a certain period of time (that varies by the type of plan you're on).

FishWithAHammer was saying that you can't upgrade without paying full retail price to AT&T, or by saving a bit of money buying it online. Either way, you're out a large chunk of money unless you're eligible to upgrade.

Re:Why so serious? (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | about 6 years ago | (#26315315)

That's why I go with Virgin Mobile, pas as you go. I get calls, and texts and NO 2 year contracts!

Re:Why so serious? (1)

carpe.cervisiam (900585) | about 6 years ago | (#26315699)

****Disclaimer*** i work for at&t Sometimes the public amazes me. 3G has been rolling out in the US for about 2 years now. The same length of time as the longest at&t contract. Every customer who has upgraded in that time has had the opportunity to upgrade to a 3g handset but some chose not to. It is the nature of technology to progress and leave old standards by the wayside. How many of you still use 5 inch floppies or 14k modems? The reality of the situation is that there is only so much spectrum depth to be had in each market. The efficient use of that spectrum to promote better services is exactly what the FCC expects from companies. at&t uses 850 and 1900 Mhz in the US. 850 gives better in building penetration and a larger footprint for the tower that 1900. 1900 gives more capacity for users but at the cost of coverage area and building penetration. It's a tradeoff. Does a company keep investing the bulk of it's capital in an older technology, or does it give the customer what they are asking for, in this case 3G speed for data. The 3G handsets that are being sold today are backwards compatible for 2G. All things considered, a 3g handset is a smarter purchase if you are an at&t customer in the US.

Re:Why so serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314181)

I think it's more to do with the contract. Need a car analogy?

You paid your road tax for the coming year. Three months in, the council starts taking bitumen from the roads you drive on, and using it to repave roads available only to people with new cars.

Re:Why so serious? (4, Insightful)

Kinjin (1340519) | about 6 years ago | (#26314319)

Normally I would agree with your premise.

"Edge users are equivalent to VHS users. The technology has moved on, you need to move on or deal with slightly degraded service"

That isn't really a valid analogy. If VHS players suddenly couldn't fast forward, rewind, or record, and could only play some parts of a tape, then yeah. That's not the case here though.

  In this case there seems to be a large group of people still under thier original contracts. INAL but sounds like 1. Breach of contract (Degraded services) 2. Bait and switch (oh if you want it to actually work properly you need to upgrade to G3) 3. Fraud (Offering and contracting services you have no intention of providing - which is where the purposely degrading comes in)

Re:Why so serious? (2, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | about 6 years ago | (#26314343)

Edge users are equivalent to VHS users. The technology has moved on, you need to move on or deal with slightly degraded service.

Except my tapes don't stop working in my VCR just because the VCR company started phasing out VCRs.

Re:Why so serious? (2, Insightful)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | about 6 years ago | (#26314357)

What evidence do you have that ATT's current customer base is primarily 3G? ATT especially has been a laggard in 3G deployment; I would guess that most of its current paying customers are on the losing end of this decision.

There is still a business argument that it is better to prepare for the future than to support the past, but it's a questionable one.

Re:Why so serious? (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | about 6 years ago | (#26314433)

But, people with VCRs can still use theirs until they break. AT&T is making a service less valuable that customers are bound by contract to continue paying for. If they can't afford to build out 3G without harming 2G, then they simply can't afford to build out 3G.

Re:Why so serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314627)

"I've read about this in multiple places today and I'm really surprised this is such a big deal."
          Are you?
          1) Every other cell company has managed to keep "old" service working well enough until they shut it off, EXCEPT (pre-merger) AT&T and Cingular. Verizon kept analog in *great* shape until analog shutoff. US Cellular *still* has usable TDMA + analog running. Alltel kept analog going until shutdown as well. They did not degrade coverage. They reduced the number of channels of old tech, but only as much as demand reduced (i.e. so there wasn't a huge spike in fast busies.) In contrast, AT&T and Cingular did the EXACT same thing to TDMA they are now doing to GSM -- they eventually even went so far as *intentionally* reducing signal strength, which doesn't even help GSM capacity, it just makes TDMA worse than it could be.

          2) AT&T is *STILL* selling 2G-only, plain GSM phones, and not just 1 or 2 token models. GSM *was* already obsolete by the time AT&T began rolling it out, but you cannot pretend it's some extremely antiquated thing when they are selling numerous NEW phones for it.

          My solution was to ditch AT&T when they played this game in the TDMA->GSM transition. My guess that they'd play the same game once they got tired with GSM has proved correct. It is NOT normal to have to worry about if you have the "hot new" tech or not for cell phone service -- I am enough of a techy to be reasonably up to date (1X+EVDO rev 0 phone and 1X+EVDO Rev 0 aircard), but Verizon kept analog in good shape. They have not degraded 1X while rolling out EVDO. And they bought a new band for LTE, they will not be degrading EVDO or 1X while rolling out LTE. They might turn down the number of channels of 1X and EVDO, but not so much that they start getting slow data or fast busy voice service.

          Also, do realize, I'm sure AT&T will do the same thing AGAIN when they start rolling out LTE. You'll have a pretty new 3G phone, and wonder why the service is so bad -- "Oh, you don't have an LTE phone yet? That'll be why."

bitchfest (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314099)

"OFB was able to confirm this situation for itself using multiple devices in St. Louis, MO, and also obtained information on similar cases across the country."
"I walked around St. Louis with my three iPhones and there's a bar less than normal. I emailed some friends and they think they're seeing fewer bars too."

Seriously AT&T offered the guy to offset the contract cost on 3G iPhones. know how many 2G owners would jump at that offer? What a diva. Blame it on Apple for designing hardware that was obsolete before it was manufactured.

NYC (5, Interesting)

clinko (232501) | about 6 years ago | (#26314113)

In NYC my 1st Gen iPhone has become unusable. It's so obvious I'm glad someone else is noticing.

- Pandora for the iPhone used to work, now it doesn't (Too slow).
- Loading map searches on google maps takes a minute plus.

The constants are my apt location and my desk location at work. I haven't changed a thing, but the network has definitely slowed down with the same "signal strength"/Bars.

Shreveport too... (3, Interesting)

Shawn Parr (712602) | about 6 years ago | (#26314907)

It's funny, I noticed this a month or so ago in Shreveport Louisiana. I live in an area where Shreveport is the closest 3G network. At home we have horrible signal fluctuations, but when it works Edge is mostly fine. Before Shreveport went 3G I would get 5 bars and Edge was pretty good (for Edge anyway).

After the 3G switch, I still get 5 bars of service, but the Edge symbol almost never comes on, instead I get the weird little 'dot in a circle' that tells you you are one GPRS, and with a 1st gen iPhone that means no data whatsoever. Calls are great though.

Occasionally the E will appear for a short time, and when it does it is like the Edge network that was there before 3G came. But it only lasts seconds, or sometimes maybe minutes, then goes away again.

At least with this setup I know out of the gate I'm not going to get service when the edge icon is completely missing.

The first time I noticed this I was with some people who had 3G iPhones. With the 3G disabled their phones were doing the exact same thing, so I know it isn't my phone being weird.

This is one of the few times I feel lucky to be nowhere near 3G service, as it would make my fully functional phone not work properly, and I'd be 'incentivized' to upgrade. Now I can keep my working phone, and slightly less expensive data plan for the time being.

so was it worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315003)

In NYC my 1st Gen iPhone has become unusable.

to be badass for a week? There's a reason they call it the bleeding edge.

Re:NYC (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315961)

The simplest explanation for that is that there are more people using EDGE in your area, and AT&T hasn't increased capacity to handle it.

FCC? (4, Interesting)

dmomo (256005) | about 6 years ago | (#26314131)

Does this only affect at&t 2G phones? Even if-so, should this not fall under the jurisdiction of the FCC? Is a company allowed to create devices/systems that use the spectrum in such a way that they interfere with other devices created by the same company?

Clever contract wording or not, this just doesn't seem like it should be allowed.

Re:FCC? (1)

cycler (31440) | about 6 years ago | (#26314239)

It's not a matter if it should be allowed or not rather than if they can get away with it.
Unfortunately this seems to happen more and more.

I should have studied to be a lawyer...... /C

Re:FCC? (5, Informative)

pin0chet (963774) | about 6 years ago | (#26314453)

Read the article again. This isn't an device interference issue, but rather an issue where AT&T is moving EDGE/GSM to a higher frequency band that has inferior characteristics to other bands that AT&T used to use for EDGE. The problem is that the higher frequency doesn't offer the same signal strength in certain places, so EDGE users who've been switched to the 1900mhz band will notice a lower signal in certain areas.

Re:FCC? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315113)

Output power is the same for both frequency bands. The higher frequency provides greater distance loss but also better in-building penetration. So while those a further distance from the tower don't get as good reception, those closer to the tower but obstructed by an object (or in a basement) have improved reception. But everyone looooooves to complain about cell phone comapies so the story is about those with coverage losses instead of those with coverage gains.
People (ok, people over the age of 30) need to step back every once in a while and marvel at how amazing it is that you can talk on a cell phone at all instead of constantly complaining that they don't get reception in one location (but hell no you aren't going to build a tower in *my* neighborhood).

Re:FCC? (1)

MaineCoon (12585) | about 6 years ago | (#26314651)

I've filed a complaint. I hope more people do the same.

In the last 4 months I've seen my signal strength go from 4 bars to no bars in my home, nearby grocery store, and at the hobby shop I hang out at every other weekend.

I'm on PrePaid, I have no contract, but I've got over a hundred dollars in my account still.

Re:FCC? (1)

Rigrig (922033) | about 6 years ago | (#26315021)

It isn't caused by interference, but by AT&T putting 2G on a different frequency, FTFA:

While previously the company had been primarily relying on the 850 MHz band that offers a more robust signal, including superior indoor reception, company technicians confirmed to OFB that transmitters for the 2G signal used by the original iPhone and most other handsets, including most AT&T offered BlackBerry and RAZR models, have been shifted to the weaker 1900 MHz band in some areas.

stop the presses... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314141)

Hey guys, marketing mismatch.

AT&T's "2G" network was the pre-GSM TDMA network. The iPhone works on the 3G GSM network.

What is happening here is degradation of the stronger 900Mhz spectrum of the 3G GSM network which has twice the distance but half the capacity, because north america's UMTS runs on the 900Mhz band, so they can't expand the UMTS without degrading this.

Re:stop the presses... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314741)

"AT&T's "2G" network was the pre-GSM TDMA network. The iPhone works on the 3G GSM network.

What is happening here is degradation of the stronger 900Mhz spectrum of the 3G GSM network which has twice the distance but half the capacity, because north america's UMTS runs on the 900Mhz band, so they can't expand the UMTS without degrading this."

          100% wrong.

          Marketingwise, AT&T called the TDMA network "digital". (Which is a poor term but that's what they used.) They did not call it 2G.

          iPhone *3G* works on a 3G UMTS network. There is no 3G GSM network. GSM is classified 2G, or some call it "2.5G" as long as EDGE is working. The older iPhone doesn't use 3G anything. If anyone does talk about "3G GSM" they are either talking about UMTS or just technobabbling a bit.

          There is no 900mhz service in the US, 900mhz and 1800mhz are used in Europe (for GSM). 800mhz and 1900mhz bands are used in the US (for whatever they want.)

          800mhz spectrum penetrates buildings better and goes a bit further than 1900mhz spectrum. This isn't always considered an advantage in the city though, they tend to have to tune the transmit power so neighboring sites don't interfere with each other.. if they have a lot of cell sites in an area, they will just have to turn the transmit power down at 800mhz so that extra range doesn't cause interference.

          There's no capacity difference between "900mhz" (i assume you mean 800mhz) and 1900mhz spectrum. You get x channels in y mhz of spectrum either way. In fact, the 800mhz spectrum was given out in 25mhz chunks (12.5mhz up, 12.5mhz down) (2 chunks per market) versus 1900mhz being more often 10mhz or 20mhz chunks (6 per market), so an 800mhz band actually has more capacity than a single band of 1900mhz.

          Finally.. UMTS runs at both 800 and 1900mhz in the US, it's up to AT&T to decide where to put it. Since UMTS is allocated in 5mhz pairs though, you use 40% of the 800mhz spectrum for each block of UMTS.. meaning it has room for 2 channels of UMTS, with the remainder left over for a little GSM.

          And the row here seems to be that AT&T is moving exessive amounts of GSM from 800mhz to 1900mhz and not setting the transmit powers and such right, so coverage is reduced. They would move this GSM to 1900mhz to make room for 800mhz UMTS -- either the first channel, or a second additional channel if they already had one at 800mhz.

          Just wanted to clear this up.

Re:stop the presses... (1)

neovoxx (818095) | about 6 years ago | (#26315687)

Actually, you're wrong as well.  Here in the US, GSM operates at 850MHz or 1900MHz, not 800.


Re:stop the presses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314797)

If we are to believe this announcement from AT&T found here [att.com] (found via reference in Wikipedia article on TDMA(D-Amps) [wikipedia.org] ), AT&T shut down their TDMA and Analog service in Feb 2008.

act surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314167)

Need a new tag for this: actsurprised. Seriously.

Pulse Dialing... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 6 years ago | (#26314221)

Get with the times, 2G is going the same way as Pulse Dialing did for land lines.

Re:Pulse Dialing... (2, Informative)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | about 6 years ago | (#26314301)

1 - These damn 2-year contracts make "getting with the times" a real pisser.

2 - Pulse dialing for land lines still works fine... right? Well there are some systems that *never* supported it, nasty phone trees and VOIP providers and whatnot, but it works on every POTS network I've ever plugged into. Flick the little switch on the back of your phone and try it, or, if you've got rhythm, just tap out the numbers using the cradle switch! Weee, fun!!!!

Re:Pulse Dialing... (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#26314631)

Flick the little switch on the back of your phone and try it,

Do they still make phones with a pulse/tone switch? Seems strange, since the last pulse-only POTS service disappeared a long time ago. So the only purpose the switch serves is to create frustrating delays for people who don't know what it's for.

But you're right, POTS still supports pulse dialing. And a lot of people are using it, judging from the number of rotary dial phones for sale [ebay.com] .

Re:Pulse Dialing... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 years ago | (#26315735)

But you're right, POTS still supports pulse dialing. And a lot of people are using it, judging from the number of rotary dial phones for sale.

Judging use of a product by its sale availability is basically wrongheaded. You might also note that the phones for sale are probably not in service.

Re:Pulse Dialing... (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#26315909)

When I said "a lot of people" I meant "hundreds", which is enough to account for those eBay sales. And I very much doubt that that many are being sold for use as planters.

I also have to quibble with your sig. Not all trolls are ACs. Some are even editors [slashdot.org] .

Sent from rentmej's iPhone (0, Offtopic)

rentmej (775047) | about 6 years ago | (#26314231)

First Post!

Spectrum Speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314271)

I dont entirely know the details of AT&T 3G frequency spectrum use, however i know that T-mobile managed to gobble up a ton of new spectrum for their 3G network over a year ago. T-Mobile is deploying their 3G in an entirely different frequency band than what their 2G network operates in, thus both 2G and 3G should be able to continue to operate without affecting one another, untill it is no longer profitable to operate the 2G network.

It is sounding to me as if since AT&T probably lost bids on alot of the spectrum that t-mobile gobbled up, they are deploying their 3G network in the same frequency band as the 2G network, meaning as 3G capacity is ramped up, 2G capacity is going to drop.

This is nothing new... (4, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | about 6 years ago | (#26314283)

This is nothing new. When AT&T and Cingular merged, They started "not repairing" the AT&T towers. When I called about the problem, I was told that when Cingular took over the towers, they were not given the passwords to maintain them (an obvious lie), but that if I wanted to sign a new 2 year contract, I could start receiving a signal again with a plan that had less minutes and cost more per month. After much arguing, they eventually just let me cancel my current plan with them and I moved to Verizon. (Yes, I know that they are evil too.)

I found it unbelievable that anyone would pay more, receive less, and sign a new contract with a company that just failed to live up to their old contract. Unfortunately, my pessimistic view of the general public was once again shown to be overly optimistic.

but ... but ... but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314611)

When pessimism is revealed as realism, where does that leave optimism?

Re:but ... but ... but ... (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | about 6 years ago | (#26314757)

In the hands of AT&T, from the sound of it.

Re:but ... but ... but ... (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 6 years ago | (#26314963)

surrealism? metarealism?

Re:This is nothing new... (3, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 6 years ago | (#26315531)

That's incorrect.

First of all, in many areas of the country, AT&T (merged) sold the Cingular towers off to T-Mobile (this was the case in California). They only used the AT&T towers.

There was a complex migration, you could read a lot about it by the people who tracked the switchover on howardforums.com.

The only thing that you say that does make sense is about your reception. If you had an old AT&T "Blue" SIM, your phone would not access any Cingular towers. But the only thing you had to do to fix it was to get a new "Orange" SIM (which were literally orange). If you didn't didn't do this soon after the merger, you started to see reduced coverage rather quickly. A new SIM should be free if you complain about your coverage to AT&T's customer line (not a store, the stores always want to put you under contract as there is money it in for them). But even if you couldn't swing that, a new SIM can be purchased for $20, no contract extension necessary.

Re:This is nothing new... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 6 years ago | (#26315717)

No, it is not incorrect.

What AT&T did when they made the brief switch to Cingular that dropped coverage is irrelevant. The service that was contracted for with AT&T stopped being supplied. Personally, I knew that they were lying which is why I put "not repaired" in quotes, and specifically said "an obvious lie". That doesn't change the fact that phones that previously worked and were under contract stopped working as a direct result of AT&T/Cingular's actions, and "not being repaired due to not getting the passwords" was what the AT&T's customer line tried to pass off on me as a reason that it was perfectly OK for them to not fulfill their contract.

How complex the switchover was is totally irrelevant to AT&T not fulfilling their contract.

As for the "blue" SIM vs. "orange" SIM. You are wrong. They were not handing them out to anyone that asked, and anyone couldn't just go pay $20 for a new SIM with no contract extension necessary. The AT&T customer line was absolutely clear about that. If AT&T/Cingular wasn't pulling a scam, and all it took was popping in a new SIM, AT&T would have just done a mass migration. Either the new SIM would have just come in the mail, or there would have at least been a notice in with the bill indicating how to restore service. That didn't happen. AT&T KNEW that they were cutting off peoples service. To try to argue that they were not knowingly and intentionally disrupting contract customers service would be ridiculous.

Can I not just have it all?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314347)

My service started out with Suncom back a few years ago. They sold to Cingular, and then Cingular sold to AT&T. Each time my bill went up, and each time my phone service got worse. After a multitude of dropped calls, poor/no reception, and more bars in more places where I wasn't, I paid money just to get away from them.

Now I'm with Verizon and enjoy very good voice coverage, with crippled second rate phones. Honestly, can I not just have it all? I just renewed my contract with Verizon because I value a stable network over the quality of the phone, but the iPhone/Blackberry Bold almost tempted me away from them. Why can't Verizon offer me one good new phone with decent specs, Wifi, not laden with all their crap software, and just let me go with it?

Re:Can I not just have it all?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315493)

Why can't Verizon offer me one good new phone with decent specs, Wifi, not laden with all their crap software, and just let me go with it?

Because they didn't have to do any of that, and they already got you as a customer.

AT&T hates non-coastal areas... (2, Informative)

tonytnnt (1335443) | about 6 years ago | (#26314521)

I'm not sure if any of you have actually tried to test AT&T's network coverage, but this http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/ [att.com] is a very generous map for where you can get "good coverage" in the middle of the country. If you want a better idea of where you're get good coverage, zoom in one level from the furthest out. A lot of that partner coverage is subpar. Then look where their 3G coverage is. That's really where you're going to get a "great" signal. For two examples look at Wichita, or Omaha: the cities are fine, but as soon as you go outside of it, you're SOL. Same for most of the mountain-west. I just hate seeing AT&T maps with orange coverage everywhere when really, it's not. Such a crock.

Class Action Lawsuit? (1)

viksit (604616) | about 6 years ago | (#26314697)

I know next to nothing about legalese, but shouldn't this spell out a perfect use-case to launch a class action lawsuit against ATT?

Re:Class Action Lawsuit? (3, Informative)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 6 years ago | (#26314823)

If you read your contract with ATT, you will realize that any such lawsuit will have to go to arbitration, with a phone-industry appointed panel of phone industry lobbyists.

Re:Class Action Lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26314893)

IANAL, but dollars to doughnuts says that a good legal team could bust out of arbitration and into class action pretty easily. I hope they do; I'm sick of feeling powerless to doing anything about my crappy AT&T contract.

Re:Class Action Lawsuit? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315409)

Ah, but the courts have ruled that they can still step in and force a class action lawsuit even with arbitration clauses in the contract, so don't give up hope. Judges *HATE* being told what they can and cannot do like that.

Re:Class Action Lawsuit? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 years ago | (#26315209)

If you bought a phone that only did EDGE (2.75G) when every other phone did UMTS (3G) and the networks are busy deploying HSPA (3.5G) then you win the caveat emptor bonus prize.

Re:Class Action Lawsuit? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 6 years ago | (#26315339)

If you manage to use the idiotically bogus cellular industry "terms" 2.75G, 3G, and 3.5G in the same post, then you win the AT&T schill bonus prize!

It is really simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315331)

It is just people with 3G phones using the 2G network when they can't connect on HSDPA to read their email.

The hypocrisy! They did this with dialup v DSL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26315615)

They did the same thing when they started offering DSL service. I was quite happy with their dial-up service, but noticed that they kept reducing the speed to the point to which it was almost unusable - even to just download text based email (early part of this decade).

I had no need or desire for broadband, but ended up getting it because of this. (I got it from my cable company, though - didn't want to reward them for their behavior.)

The hypocrisy! - slowing down a slow connection to sell a fast connection over the same equipment!

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