Event though my contract with AT&T was up, I stayed on as I liked the service and never had any major issues.
Recently T-Mobile made waves in the wireless world with their un-carrier approach. With AT&T I was paying almost $200 for three lines for smartphones. With T-mobile it would come to $90 only. Wow that felt like no brainier and I was thinking if there was considerable savings then why is T-mobile not getting flooded with customers ? What are the stumbling blocks ?
The main attraction of T-Mobile un-carrier is if you don’t have to buy a new phone. If you were to buy a new phone then the savings diminish.
T-mobile is re-affirming their towers to 1900MHz band. This band is the common band between T-mobile and AT&T. So I thought my current iphone would be compatible. I checked the site www.airportal.de and found that T-mobile has re-affirmed their towers to this band. So I felt like the coverage would be good for my iphone.
Another line uses nexus 4, which anyway is compatible with T-Mobile.
So I jumped in.
T-Mobile sent the SIMs, we activated it. They gave temporary numbers until we are ready to port the numbers. They told us when I was ready to port the numbers, I need to call them back with the AT&T account number and the pin (if there is any). I thought, there is no going back, and how bad could it be with T-Mobile. I thought there will some call drops etc. Remember the early iphone days with AT&T (cingular), but went with AT&T anyway. So I started the port. The porting was easy, my lines got ported in few hrs (like 5 hrs) I think.
Now the trouble starts.
The coverage for iphone was pathetic in the 1900MHz range. It had literally no service in my office buildings. After some research I found that 1900MHz frequency does not penetrate the buildings. AT&T uses 850MHz for voice. 850MHz penetrates well and has excellent coverage for the places it uses 850MHz.
My nexus 4 had 1 bar sometimes and sometimes no signal at all. Even though nexus 4 had 1700/2100MHz bands, it is still not enough to penetrate the concrete structures and buildings at the place where we work.
So even if I were to buy a new T-Mobile branded phone, it would be not enough. For a few days I was with no cell coverage at work places.
I didn’t want to go back to AT&T yet. After some research I thought I should try Straight Talk with AT&T Sim. I read through all the ghost stories of Straight Talk on the net. Recently they came out with post they throttle after 2.5GB
We didn’t want to port to Straight talk yet without really verifying if it really uses AT&T network for the SIM we purchased. I Activated a Straight Talk sim and coverage was good and everything was good.
We called Straight Talk customer Service, explained that we liked the coverage and we are ready to port the number for the iphone. They said that we need a de-activate the current SIM and send a new SIM. They started the port, but had to wait for the new sim. The port completed immediately. The new sim came in two days. I inserted the sim into the iphone and immediately my number was active.
I had to program the APN to get the internet and MMS working.
So in the end I only switched one line to Straight Talk for now and the rest at T-Mobile.
AT&T reduced their rates for no-contract phones, I will write about it in the next post.