Verizon or AT&T in NYC?
March 3, 2008 4:19 PM   Subscribe

What's the best wireless phone service for the NYC area? I'm as fed up with Verizon as the next guy, but my limited experience with an iPhone in Manhattan left me with dropped/missed calls and very intermittent access to maps, etc. (unless already cached). Putting aside fun features that usually work, and imagining your life depended on receiving or making a phone call, which network would you choose?* *Please speak from experience with a carrier and nevermind the silly games they play (e.g., crippling bluetooth, etc.); I simply need a service that doesn't miss or drop calls.
posted by whoiam to Technology (16 answers total)
I used to work in an office with about forty employees whom we reimbursed for using their personal mobile phones for business all over Manhattan. We considered seeking a contract with a single provider to reduce costs and surveyed our employees to determine which carriers had the best service quality.

Every carrier came in last. Manhattan is just a really challenging place in which to provide wireless service because of the buildings, the interference, and the high data traffic.

I remember that we wound up thinking T-Mobile would be the best value for our business, but we never got a single contract because some providers definitely worked better at some of our major clients' buildings.
posted by gum at 4:36 PM on March 3, 2008

While their data services are disappointing, I've had very good telephone service with T-Mobile since back when they were called Voicestream.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:36 PM on March 3, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting that you had good service with Voicestream, JaredSeth. I think they were the ones who, when I called customer service about dropped calls, asked me if I was in, near or between tall buildings. I started to ask whether they serve Manhattan, but the call was dropped. No joke.
posted by whoiam at 4:48 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, gum. I certainly didn't expect a response from someone who'd already conducted a survey!

I realize the interference in Manhattan makes service difficult. OTOH, I can make calls from under ground at the 57th street station using Verizon.

I suspect the most sleazy network (IMO) is also the most reliable, and I'm bummed about patronizing a company I dislike for a service I need.
posted by whoiam at 4:57 PM on March 3, 2008

Well I'll admit my recollection of the Voicestream days may be a bit fuzzy but I can't remember the last time I had a dropped call that wasn't caused by going underground.

My wife and I are both on T-Mo and her experience jibes with mine, including the dissatisfaction with their data network...if they'd do something about that, I'd be able to recommend them without any reservations at all.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:03 PM on March 3, 2008

I've had both - and, in my experience, Verizon is significantly better for voice than AT&T (then Cingular) in Manhattan.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:17 PM on March 3, 2008

I've worked and contracted for various providers for a while now. While I don't ever plan to be a Verizon customer because of their crippling and other crap, I do believe their network to be the best constructed and best maintained. They take reliability very seriously.

At the other end of the scale, T-Mobile is held together by bubble gum and paperclips. But they seem very flexible and they're doing cool things with UMA (called hotspot@home in their marketing blurb) that have the potential to make up for less-than-pervasive coverage.

I'm a Detroit boy, no experience in the Big City other than as a visitor, during which time both my personal Nextel and my work Verizon phone both performed admirably.
posted by Myself at 7:08 PM on March 3, 2008

I hate to give such a non-answer, but like gum said, they all are capable of sucking equally depending on where you are exactly. Between my friends, family and myself, we've experienced all the major carriers (I personally had T-mobile in the past, and currently have Sprint via Virgin) - and we all have different horror stories. I dropped T-mobile simply because my apartment was in a dead spot where I couldn't reliably make/receive calls. My current service is OK, though tht might just be because I happen to never try to use it in a Sprint dead spot. An unscientific poll would show that people had the fewest problems with Verizon as far as dropped calls though.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 7:10 PM on March 3, 2008

I have AT&T and while I do hate the company itself I can't complain about their service at all. A lot does depend on the phone you use as well. I previously had a Sony Ericcson z520a and had dropped calls all the time but when I got a Razr v3xx I have been much happier and it also has 3g which has better call quality and better range. 3g is still spotty even in Manhattan for me but I usually do have a 3g connection. Also check out the Howard Forums for a great resource on phones and service providers. Phone Scoop is another site to visit for phone reviews.
posted by thenuts at 8:37 PM on March 3, 2008

Verizon sucks least.
posted by Caviar at 8:37 PM on March 3, 2008

Sprint here. Rarely dropped or missed calls. Maybe a dozen in almost 4 years.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:52 PM on March 3, 2008

Oh shoot. Just re-read your question. Nevermind!
posted by unknowncommand at 8:53 PM on March 3, 2008

I have AT&T and can't talk on the phone in my apartment. Service has been fine in Manhattan, but the second I get to Brooklyn it's like I fall off the face of the earth. I had the free phone, then upgraded to a Razr equivalent-ish with no improvement. Essentially if I get a call at home I have about 3 seconds to 1 minute to tell you I'll call you when I get outside. Arg! It makes me crazy just thinking about it.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 9:13 PM on March 3, 2008

Sadly Verizon is your top provider in NYC when it comes down to the quality of your calls and your connection. I would switch away from Verizon in a heartbeat if not for this.
posted by cazoo at 9:15 PM on March 3, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, all.

I suppose for now I'm stuck with Verizon, because network reliability is my primary concern.

The Howard Forums are indeed a good reference (thanks, thenuts), especially for anyone who isn't familiar with the little games each carrier plays with its customers.

All replies are very much appreciated!
posted by whoiam at 11:02 PM on March 3, 2008

I'm actually a moderately happy Verizon customer. I rarely have problems in NYC using either my cell or my EVDO card. As for the "crippling", you can get phones that aren't crippled. For example, I've had a series of Windows Mobile phones with Verizon that are easily "uncrippled" with freely-available software patches. I'm really happy with my Samsung SCH-i760 ... except for right now, when I'm out of the country.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:14 AM on March 4, 2008

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