On Sunday, I decided the iPod Touch was no longer doing it for me. I mean, Wi-Fi internet in your pocket is great, but the games of finding a Wi-Fi Hotspot were becoming tiresome. So I decided to take the plunge, buy my way out of my Verizon contract, and get an iPhone.
This was no small undertaking from a financial perspective, because to buy your way out of a Verizon contract you must pay a prorated portion of a $175 fine. In my case, it was $145. Add the $399 iPhone and the $36 activation fee, and its a costly endeavor. Certainly, it was an endeavor that I didn't want to undertake without performing due diligence.
The first thing I did was jump online and check out the AT&T coverage maps. For road trips into Iowa, particularly when I drive home, there would be a 45-minute zone where I would have no coverage. I'm not talking roaming, I'm talking no service at all. What's more, there's huge swaths of Nebraska and Iowa with no service. Not just little pockets -- huge areas, in some cases entire counties, with no service. Worse yet, my neighborhood was classified as having "Moderate" coverage, meaning I would have a good signal on my deck or in my yard, but not inside my house.
That's kind of a problem when your cell phone is your only phone.
So I went to my nearest AT&T store to ask questions of a real person and to find out if I was reading the map correctly, because as Dick Herculanum can attest, I'm not very skilled at map reading. The salesperson was surprisingly friendly -- I say surprisingly because I'm used to dealing with the idiots at Verizon. When they couldn't adequately convince me that I would have service, they gave me the option of buying a prepaid phone so that I could try the service out at all the places I go to. This would only set me back a fraction of my potential iPhone costs, so I went for it.
Disappointingly, inside my house, the phone fluctuated between one bar and no service. In the basement, nothing. Upstairs, one bar, sometimes nothing. On my deck, facing south with an open view both east and west, I could pull in two bars and the occasional three. In my driveway, facing north, same deal.
I drove out to the office, at 114th and Dodge, to see how things were there. Full power, even inside the building, so that was good. Midtown, around Dundee, the phone was back to having no service. Block to block, it fluctuated between two bars and nothing. Downtown, around Creighton, same deal. Downtown, around the Old Market, full power strength.
But since it didn't work inside my house, this was a problem. Clearly, it would not make any sense to buy an iPhone if I couldn't even use it inside my house -- I'd have to put in a landline, something I vehemently oppose. So I was out the $40 I spent on the prepaid phone, but at least I didn't drop $600 to find out my sweet iPhone wouldn't work in my own house.
Seriously, how AT&T can say they have "More bars in more places" is beyond me. I hate Verizon, I hate their crappy neutered phones and I hate their pricing structures, but you have to give them credit, their phones always have a signal. I've only been one place anywhere in the U.S. where my phone didn't work -- on the Subway in NYC. And that was only because we were underground, with massive amounts of concrete between the phone and the towers.
I officially hate AT&T and their crappy service, which is preventing me from buying the iPhone I so desperately want to purchase. I mean, I want to give them my money. I'm practically begging them to take my cash! All they have to do is install some damn towers by my house. Not that difficult, guys.