Tmo’s Talking the Talk, Not Walking the Walk

In: Mobile|Reviews|Tech Reviews

9 Jan 2011

I love T-mobile – I really do. We’ve been on a family plan with them for over fix years – probably six or seven. We’ve always received excellent customer service, and compared to Verizon, Cingular (now AT&T) & Sprint, they’ve messed up on our bills remarkably less. (In fact, I can’t think of any major mistakes at all.) Based on my experiences with them, they are, I feel, a company that has integrity.

This is why their new 4G ads bug me. It’s not the fact that they are taking liberties with the definition of 4G (technically HSPA+ is not 4G/LTE.) It’s the rather spurious claims they’re making about the superiority of their data network overall.

Until recently, I had no reason to doubt their claims. However, a recent trip to New Orleans for the holidays proved to be an exercise in frustration and futility. With the exception of major cities (Houston, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans), the maximum download speed I was able to reach on my MyTouch 4G was about 13kbps. Meanwhile, my husband’s iPhone 3Gs was getting speeds in the neighborhood of 2015 kbps. (We were a bit closer on upload speeds; 10k for me, 14k for him.)

AT&T's data coverage between Houston & New Orleans

Upon reaching home, I did a little research and compared the two carrier’s coverage maps. AT&T’s map shows consistent 3G data coverage running the length and breadth of most of this nation’s highways, including the stretch of I-10 between Houston and New Orleans. T-mobile’s map shows small pockets of 4G speeds along the same route, but the Mobile Web (EDGE/GPRS) speeds are what’s primarily offered. Now I have no idea what top EDGE/GPRS speeds are supposed to be, but as I said, I never got above 13K in those areas.

T-mobile's data coverage from Houston to New Orleans

I find it rather annoying that T-mobile is now focused on adding 4G to their lineup when they don’t even have the basics built out. I would much rather stop and ask for information in a busy city than along a deserted stretch of highway. AT&T apparently understands that one has to walk before they run; I have a lot more faith in their long-term plan at this point.

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