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In Living Blogs

AT&T vs. U.S. Cellular ... and, fight!

In Living Blogs

The two performed comparably, except in the Web browsing test, where AT&T timed out.

Cell coverage compared: U.S. Cellular vs. AT&T at Miller Park


I've been complaining about the coverage of AT&T Wireless for three years, since the day I switched from Verizon. My iPhone doesn't work where I need it most: at home, on top of the Hoan Bridge, on vacation in Door County or at the cabin Up North.

But where I'm most bothered is by the inconsistent and spotty service at Miller Park. Even when my phone says it has four bars, it's often impossible to send a text or post a tweet. Calls are just as bad.

Obviously, just as soon as the new iPhone comes out, I'm breaking my contract and switching to Verizon. But in the meantime, the PR agency that represents U.S. Cellular heard my plight and asked if I'd do a head-to-head test.

Sure, I said, so I jumped up to the Miller Park press box, which has the best view in the house, and during the first three innings of today's Brewers-Dodgers game, I conducted five different unscientific tests between the AT&T iPhone and U.S. Cellular Samsung Mesmerize.

The results were a bit surprising, as AT&T worked as well as I've ever seen it here in Miller Park. And that's not saying much. The U.S. Cellular did well, too, with, a few hiccups.

Here are my unscientific results:

Web browsing from U.S. Cellular Android to OnMilwaukee.com
Time: 92 seconds

Web browsing from AT&T iPhone to OnMilwaukee.com (cache cleared)
Time: 65 seconds, it said "could not activate cellular network" and service dropped to "Searching ..." Site did not load. Four bars of Edge came back, and it timed out, not fully loaded at 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Text from U.S. Cellular Android to AT&T iPhone: "At the Brewers game. Wish you were here."
First attempt: 8 seconds
Second attempt: 9 seconds
Third attempt: 9 seconds

Text from AT&T iPhone to U.S. Cellular Android: "At the Brewers game. Wish you were here."
First attempt: 13 seconds
Second attempt: 8 seconds
Third attempt: 10 seconds

Picture message from U.S. Cellular Android to US AT&T iPhone:
First attempt: unknown seconds (outbound), 36 seconds later showed up on iPhone
Second attempt: unknown seconds (outbound), 50 seconds later showed up on iPhone
Third attempt: unknown seconds (outbound), 10 minutes later showed up on iPhone

Picture message from ATT iPhone to U.S. Cellular Android:
First attempt: 45 seconds (outbound), 70 seconds later showed up on U.S. Cellular
Second attempt: 48 seconds (outbound), 28 seconds later showed up on U.S. Cellular
Third attempt: 44 seconds (outbound), 38 seconds later showed up on U.S. Cellular

Sample tweets from U.S. Cellular Android:
First tweet: "Testing cell coverage from Miller Park for upcoming blog. Next up, U.S. Cellular Android."
Time: 10 seconds
Second tweet: *Couldn't attach photo on mobile Twitter for Android

Sample tweets from AT&T iPhone:
First tweet: "Testing cell coverage from Miller Park for upcoming blog. First up, AT&T iPhone."
Time: 5 seconds
Second tweet: "That took five seconds. Here's the test with photo attached on AT&T iPhone."
Time: 20 seconds

Call to colleague Andrew Wagner, three feet away, on U.S. Cellular Android:
Time: Error, "Your call cannot be completed as dialed." Second attempt: 6 seconds.

Call to colleague Andrew Wagner, three feet away, on AT&T iPhone:
Time: 15 seconds until first ring on his phone


Talkbacks

Aardvark | Aug. 22, 2011 at 4:10 p.m. (report)

@mke_thucydides I see your point. I'm just saying that every cell company can't guarantee coverage in every single person's house. Each house is built differently (wood, cement, etc) and could affect the signal. I guess with the land lines they could guarantee the service to work because of the technology. I've had AT&T for years now, with an iPhone, and live in Bay View (same place as the author). I guess I have better luck with my phone signal/service.

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mke_thucydides | Aug. 20, 2011 at 11:52 a.m. (report)

Aardvark- Until I switched service providers a few months ago, I complained incessantly about having poor cell service at my house. The reason? My cell phone is the only phone I have. Im inconvenienced when it doesnt work just as you and your family would be inconvenienced if your land-line were periodically and mysteriously unavailable for such tasks as ordering a pizza, arranging play dates for you children, talking to distant relatives, calling 911 or whatever other uses you may have for your telephone at home. If you were paying $70+ per month for said phone service and experienced those inconveniences (assuming that you were well within that companys advertised service area), youd complain, too.

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U_damn_kids | Aug. 19, 2011 at 3:54 p.m. (report)

Granted there's a month or two until iPhone 5 release, so Verizon has time to wake up. But I would hate to hear you moved to Verizon during the CWA strike. There are a lot of things to like about Verizon cell service but I encourage you to hold your account until their labor dispute is resolved.

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Aardvark | Aug. 19, 2011 at 2:48 p.m. (report)

I can't stand people that complain about their phone not working in their house. Put the phone down and spend some time with your family. On top of the Hoan Bridge...who really cares? Wait 2 min to make a call. Door County/Up North - all cell coverage sucks...that's why it's called the boonies. Crack a beer and enjoy the scenery. #firstworldproblems

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sandstorm | Aug. 19, 2011 at 8:49 a.m. (report)

why don't you people just enjoy a baseball game and save the phone crap for when you're goofing off at work?

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