In continuing my tv watching and catching up on the news from the last year, I see that Verizon has been doing lots of ads about network speeds and comparing them to AT&T.  And I found out that AT&T rates lowest on consumer satisfaction surveys, etc.  My brother said he has never heard of anyone who is happy with AT&T...

Since I am the first one he has heard of, I figured I should write about it.  We've had AT&T cell phone service for the last eight years, starting with a prepaid phone ($8/month minimum).  When they doubled the monthly minimum, we switched to a $20/month plan, with maybe 4 hours of minutes.  Once I started my company and the CDMA phones were discontinued in favor of the GSM phones, I was forced to upgrade to $35/month, and more minutes than I could use.  I am still basically on that plan, though it was changed to include rollover minutes a year ago.  Two years ago, I added a second data-only device, and I use it while on the road, and at various places where there isn't wireless, or where people have forgotten their WEP/WPA passwords.

Other than the forced upgrade to GSM, and a tower that went down in rural New Hampshire for a couple years, I've been quite happy with them.  I have heard of some people who don't pay for a laptop tethering plan, and get into trouble with speeds and overlimits, etc.  I don't use data on my phone, just on the second device (which costs $50/month).  I often get 3.5Mbps download speeds when in cities and big highways, and it works most places I try to use it, though occasionally when we've been camping miles from anywhere, I have had more trouble, or a slower connection.

My use of the connection is a lot of ssh access, so I really care about latency, since every character I type is sent to the server and back before I see it on the screen.  Latency is always great, and almost always excellent (defined as I can't see any difference from Wifi from a latency perspective).  I rarely test upload speed, so I can't say much about that.

Last summer, I did use the data device as a router, connecting it via a desktop to a wireless router, and we successfully ran three separate laptops off of it, checking our email and such in a location where only dial-up is available (and slow dial-up at that, presumably due to old phone wires).

I do have trouble keeping an ssh connection solid while driving down the highway; I assume that the IP addresses are changing as I switch from cell tower to tower, so I am more likely to use webmail when on the highway, or else pull over for a bit, if I need the ssh access to fix something.  I have wondered if I could fix that, by doing some sort of proxy underneath the TCP/SSH protocols, to allow for IP skipping, but I haven't looked into that yet - I am not sure if that is a solved problem or not.

In summary, I pay a lot for service (at least I think it is a lot, though I hear that lots of people now pay $100/month for phone and data service, so maybe I am more average than I think) but I've been happy with my phones and service.

If I'm willing to sign a new contract, AT&T sends a free phone every two years (I've never paid any setup fees or new phone charges)  Usually they are less than free, with a free month or two of service, or a $100 debit card.  I've heard of people buying cell phones, but I'm not sure why one would do that, at least for regular voice, text, data stuff).  I did avoid getting a new contract a year ago, by using an old AT&T phone from a family member when my old phone would occasionally shut itself off without warning.  I don't know if a new battery would have fixed the problem, but its been nice having two phones now, since I can switch the SIM card and use both batteries by switching phones if I ever forget to charge the phone.

The contract for my data device is up in February, and I've been debating about what to do, if anything.  I've wondered if I replaced the data device with a fancier cell phone (and thus be my first cell phone I pay for) that can do ssh access, in which case I wouldn't carry my laptop around as much (I use the laptop to check email, maintain my web servers, write software, etc)  The small keyboard is the biggest downside for me, followed by a small screen.  I've been checking out the HTC Fuze, which last I checked had the largest resolution of any cell phone device.  I suppose the cost of the phone also makes me hesitate, partly due to the initial cost, but more to do with if I drop the phone and then have to buy another one.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 29, 2009, 1:37 pm | Read 4610 times
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We, too, have been very pleased with our AT&T service. My only complaint is that voice coverage is not as good in New England as I'd like it be, though it seems fine in other places. My cell phone service costs us $100/year for more minutes than I use, even though I'm not particularly careful about using them. I've looked into other plans and have yet to find anything that comes close.

Then again, I use my phone for...[gasp]...short phone calls, and on rare occasions a text message. Part of me speculates that someday I may be tempted to go for a phone that does everything...but I'm nowhere near there yet.

Posted by SursumCorda on December 29, 2009, 3:23 pm

Just have to say... thank you for your comments on my blog. I just found them! I thought I would receive an email notice when I received them, but somehow I didn't.

Anyway, I appreciate your input. And, you are right about being single and devoted to God. I certainly feel that privilege in this season! I generally am confident in God's care for me whether I remain single or get married. But, every once in a while I get that twinge of, "OH NO! What happens when my parents die and I'm alone!"

I definitely don't feel as though I'm missing anything because I AM single. But, I've been spoiled by Matt's care for me when we were together and sometimes miss having someone interested in all that I do and helping me grow... though I'm certainly not lacking in being cared for or listened to.

I remind myself that it all comes down to God's calling because that is what there will be grace for. Right now I'm single, so I'm called to live life this way... and it's really good... and I'm more in love with Jesus everyday. I really am the most blessed person I know.

Well, anyway... hope you guys are great!

If you don't have plans, you're welcome to ring in the new year at the Furman's! Come around 7 PM on the 31st and stay how long you like... we'll be up past midnight.

Posted by Lisa on December 30, 2009, 3:41 pm

Unfortunately, at least from your party's perspective, we are still in NH, so we can't come to your house this year. Have fun.

Posted by jondaley on December 30, 2009, 4:55 pm

Maybe the people who are unhappy are the iPhone users that want endless downloads and silly apps. If I understand correctly, iPhones have taken off like crazy in the US and only AT&T offers them, so if iPhone users make up a sizeable chunk of the unhappy cell phone user population, then the comparison between AT&T and Verizon isn't really accurate.

Posted by Stephan on January 8, 2010, 6:33 am

Yes, I think that is part of it. It also seems like in some cities (particularly New York City and San Francisco) they've allowed too many people to buy phones (particularly iPhones) and so their network has become saturated in certain places, (which means there are lots of people in one place that complain) and everyone not in those areas are fine.

The exclusive contract for the iPhone is rumored to be going away this year.

I am buying a used device today (HTC Tilt) and I'll start checking out how things work on it, and if things go well, I'll upgrade to another device (haven't decided what yet, the candidates are the LG eXpo, HTC Tilt2 and the HTC Pure). I like the idea of the Android, and AT&T is going to be supporting that shortly, but the resolution is still small, so the older three phones are still the best, from that perspective.

Posted by jondaley on January 8, 2010, 8:53 am

The other reason that the comparison between AT&T and Verizon isn't accurate is that, in general, AT&T's 2G network is faster than Verizon's 3G network, so the whole thing is just silly.

Posted by jondaley on January 8, 2010, 8:54 am
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