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T-Mobile is coming to town...

Discussion in 'Western US Wireless Forum' started by Rich, Jul 22, 2002.

  1. Rich

    Rich Bronze Senior Member
    Senior Member

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    Location:
    New Port Richey, FL
    My Phone:
    BlackBerry® Style™ 9670 s
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Sprint- AT&t
    T-Mobile is coming to town, giving Bay Area residents for the first time a choice between all six of the major wireless phone providers.
    Previously known as VoiceStream, T-Mobile (www.t-mobile.com) is now officially opening retail stores and mall kiosks throughout California and Nevada.

    More competition, of course, is a good thing for consumers. But I'm not expecting much benefit from T-Mobile's arrival _ and there's a distinct possibility T-Mobile could do harm.

    The wireless phone business is already so competitive, with most nationwide providers struggling to break even, that adding one more player to a market already saturated with pitches from AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Nextel, Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless isn't likely to start a price war.

    What's more, T-Mobile will be using the already weak network run by Cingular. If T-Mobile signs up lots of customers and Cingular fails to live up to promises to fix its many problems, both T-Mobile and Cingular customers could become singularly unhappy.

    To understand the situation requires a brief detour into ancient history, all the way to the 1980s.

    Two companies built the original cellular networks in the Bay Area: AT&T, previously known as Cellular One, and Verizon Wireless, previously known as GTE MobileNet. The landscape was wide open 20 years ago when the two companies started installing cell sites on towers and on the roofs of buildings.

    Much has changed since then; many communities now actively block new cell sites out of environmental or aesthetic concerns.

    A new generation of all-digital wireless carriers _ who have morphed into Cingular, Sprint PCS and T-Mobile _ started building networks in the mid-1990s. The newcomers haven't always been able to get permission to set up all the cell sites they need, especially in densely populated and developmentally conscious areas such as Northern California.

    The result is more "dead spots," pockets where there is no wireless phone reception, for the newcomers than for AT&T and Verizon. Based on admittedly anecdotal evidence, Cingular seems to be the dead-pool winner.

    I can, however, cite one piece of hard evidence: Earlier this month, the California Public Utilities Commission said it is investigating Cingular in response to a long list of consumer complaints, including questionable billing practices as well as poor quality of service.

    Meanwhile, Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile was itching to enter California and Nevada, the only big chunk of the nation where the company wasn't offering service. Cingular had the mirror-image problem, serving almost all of the nation except for the New York metropolitan area.

    So Cingular and T-Mobile arranged a swap: Cingular would begin selling its service in New York using T-Mobile's network, while T-Mobile entered California and Nevada using Cingular's network. Cingular kicked off its New York service July 11 with a ceremony that included an appearance by actor Kevin Bacon; T-Mobile will start showing ads featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones, but there's no word on whether the Welsh-born actress will be making any personal appearances in Milpitas or Mountain View.

    To try out the new service, I borrowed a Motorola V60 phone from T-Mobile on Monday and spent two days using the phone around the greater San Jose area, connecting through Cingular's network.

    I immediately encountered the same dead spots I've hit in previous tests of Cingular. At my local Safeway in Sunnyvale, the T-Mobile phone got a weak signal in the front of the store and died at the back of the store _ so I couldn't call my wife, Debbie, to ask if we needed milk while standing in front of the dairy case. My personal Verizon Wireless phone, in contrast, has a strong signal throughout the store.

    The T-Mobile phone conked out again inside my home in Cupertino, and it got only a weak signal in the driveway. Again, my Verizon Wireless phone gets strong reception in and around my house.

    I then sent out an internal e-mail asking colleagues if they had any Cingular experiences to share. I got back many stories similar to mine. One example came from my colleague Dan Stober, explaining why his family switched from Cingular to Verizon Wireless in December:

    "We live in Palo Alto, the birthplace of Silicon Valley and all that, but Cingular gave us no usable signal at home, at the kids' elementary school or the Little League field," Stober wrote. "Sometimes at night I could catch a weak, fluttering signal by standing under the street light in front of our house, but the neighbors wondered. Cingular said the signal would get better, but it never did.

    "Now we have Verizon. Full signal everywhere. I had to give up a terrific little Motorola phone to make the switch, but what good is a jazzy phone without a connection?"

    Cingular still is making promises. In April, the company said it would spend $ 945 million this year to upgrade its "West Region" network. Most of the money will go into California, "which will increase the company's service reach and will improve and enhance network quality for all customers."

    Further, Cingular says customers shouldn't worry about the arrival of T-Mobile. "Because both companies will invest in the maintenance of the network to meet their individual marketing plans, the customers' satisfaction level will remain unaffected," Cingular said in a prepared statement.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    Cingular started its Bay Area service in May 1997. If they haven't been able or willing to fix dead spots in the middle of Sunnyvale and Palo Alto in five years, why should I believe the situation is suddenly going to change now?

    My cynicism, in part, comes from Cingular's corporate parentage. SBC, the parent company of Pacific Bell, owns 60 percent of Cingular. Since taking control of Pac Bell, SBC has racked up numerous complaints for everything from excessively zealous marketing of services that consumers don't need to continuing screw-ups in offering DSL high-speed Internet access.

    I'm not saying that other wireless providers don't have dead spots. My Verizon Wireless phone, for example, doesn't get any reception when I'm sitting at my desk inside the San Jose Mercury News building or at the hair salon in downtown Los Altos where I get my monthly trim.

    But I do believe Cingular and now T-Mobile are offering distinctly inferior service.

    I wish I could be more encouraging.

    I'm a big believer in the value of mobile phones, for both safety and convenience. T-Mobile is offering attractive monthly rates, with more minutes per dollar than its competitors, and an interesting array of equipment that includes cutting-edge phone/PDA hybrids from Blackberry and Microsoft.

    Some people may be lucky enough to live and work in parts of the Bay Area where they won't encounter dead spots with Cingular or T-Mobile. If you want to see for yourself, T-Mobile offers a 14-day "evaluation period" during which you can cancel service without penalty; Cingular gives you 15 days. Just make sure to heavily test the phone during those 14 or 15 days in as many locations as possible where you'd expect to regularly make calls.
     
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  2. RBOCMAN

    RBOCMAN Junior Member
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    Verizon/Vodafone fans go through surprising lengths to say the same old hackneyed assertion that their competitors 'suck'. I can paraphrase the huge post above into "T-Mobile and Cingular Blow Just cause I'm STUCK with Verizon".

    T-Mobile has just entered the market, and according Wireline Buzz is set to absorb the majority of the AT&T diaspora and metropolitan new entry youth market by the end of 4Q 2002. So much so the Cingular Contract Management has been generating new service level metrics agreements so that this network sharing wont help T-Mobile more than Cingular.

    Verizon is a dinosaur in my opinion, it achieved growth through aquisition and is doing absolutely nothing to upgrade, innovate or otherwise in developing future wireless technologies.(Cingular/T-Mobile Intl/Sprint PCS) all donate genrously to R&D efforts.
    CDMA is set to be a distinct US standard with no global support. Even the Koreans are in moves to switch to GSM and 3GSM. Once that happens, the cell manufacturers wont be in the business of keeping verizon in business.
     
  3. aiwapro

    aiwapro Silver Senior Member
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    Why is this big long article being posted after the very much successful launch of T-Mobile. I have heard no complaints about T-Mobile coverage, and there are several users on here that switched from Cingular to T-Mobile, are are having no problems.
     
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I just think it's funny how people keep sitting T mobile as the reason for improvement when those customers use Cingular. Any increase in reception on that network has nothing to do with T mobile or Voicestream. I think Cingular would have network improvements for the sake of their customers. Any 'miraculous' network improvements in ca areas are not because of any agreements.
     

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