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August 20, 2003 06:00 AM

Broken: AT&T cell reception

Why does my AT&T cell phone drop calls for no reason? Today I was in the not-so-foreign location of Park Avenue and 65th Street in Manhattan. My call dropped off abruptly, after which the phone mocked me by showing a full four bars on the antenna display.
A cell phone might take pictures, send messages, check e-mail, feed the dog, and mow the lawn; but if it can't carry a phone call in midtown Manhattan, it's broken. Fix your coverage, AT&T.


The same can be said for Sprint PCS service in San Francisco. It's amazing that they don't have a service-hole reporting feature on the Sprint PCS website - they could let suckers like me tell them where they need to beef up coverage. As it is, I've emailed them about the various holes in their vaunted network and had no response. My contract is up this month, coincidentally the same month that number migration goes into effect. Verizon, here I come!

Posted by: redworm at November 3, 2003 06:11 PM

Verizon Wireless advertises 'caller ID' on their phones in the city where I live - Kalispell, MT. Unfortunately, if you want caller ID to work, you have to have a Missoula, MT telephone number. For calls from Kalispell exchanges, Missoula is a long distance telephone call.

Posted by: Doc Holliday at November 4, 2003 02:46 AM

I'm sure if they wanted to, they could easily record and track a log of dropped calls, as the service is aware of the sudden disconnection. The thing is, not enough people complain about it, so they don't bother to care.

Posted by: Josef at November 6, 2003 03:54 PM

Just to be clear, this PICTURE is broken. All it shows is that your battery is full. The signal strength indicator is on the left side for these model Nokias, and this is obscured by glare in the photo.

Posted by: Paul at November 13, 2003 04:18 AM

The city of New York is now setting up an 800 number which you can call to report areas in the city where your cell phone cannot get service. Of course, the entire idea of having a phone number to call to report when your phone is not working is pretty broken in itself, but at least it's a start.

Posted by: Dave at November 14, 2003 01:45 PM

yeah, what paul said - this picture is not helpful. the glare is positioned directly on top of the only reason the picture is shown.

Posted by: z1on0101 at May 8, 2004 05:06 AM

er...yeah that was a picture of the phones battery power at 4 bars and i dont think that has anything to do with the reception of the phone!

Posted by: memememememem at May 13, 2004 01:45 PM

ummmm... the bar that shows in that picture is battery. The antenna bar is obscured by glare. Maybe it has 4 bars, we can't know. "it's broke."

Posted by: lisa at June 30, 2004 06:48 PM

Where dis you learn to take pictures dumdum!

Posted by: Jack Meoff at August 29, 2004 05:05 PM

AT&T puts their pants on 3 legs at a time!!

Posted by: Pretzy at August 29, 2004 05:08 PM

AT&T puts their pants on 3 legs at a time!!

Posted by: Pretzy at August 29, 2004 05:08 PM

You might not be near a tower. You can go to and locate which towers are near you as well as look at what people say about reception.

Posted by: Stoky at October 23, 2004 08:48 PM

OK, first of all, if you get a dropped call and you have a full signal, it obviously does not mean you are having a coverage problem. There are other causes of dropped calls, even turning on a microwave can cause a dropped call. Second, there is a way to track dropped calls, If your call gets dropped, and you call the number you were talking to within 5 minutes, you get an automatic credit for 1 minute of talk time. Why is it that when someone has a problem with a cell phone its automatically a "coverage problem" Remember the average life of a cell phone is only between 1 and 2 years.

Posted by: adam at February 21, 2005 08:18 PM

The cell tower can only handle a certain number of calls at one time. It is very expensive for cell phone companies to increase bandwidth. They have two options: to give busy signals when the network is full (some people experience this with dialup internet access), or to randomly drop people to make room for new connections. This also accounts for static and choppy sound - they have reduced the bandwidth per user so low that most of the data is lost.

Posted by: seth at April 9, 2005 12:29 PM

Very nice site. Will sure visit again.

Posted by: John at November 25, 2005 03:59 PM

i hate when that happens i have a trackfone and i can walk around in a circle for 5 mintunes and in the exact spot that i couldnt get serive before i have full bars

Posted by: who cares at February 18, 2006 05:31 PM

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