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Cellphones Wireless Networking Hardware

AT&T 3G Upgrades Degrade 2G Signal Strength 210

Timothy R. Butler writes "Much to the chagrin of owners of various 2G cell phones on AT&T Mobility's network, including the highly visible (and originally highly expensive) first-generation iPhone, we have discovered that AT&T has been quietly adjusting its network in ways that degrade 2G network performance as it has sought to build out its next-generation 3G network. Many of the phones affected, including BlackBerry devices, are still well within their two-year contract period."
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AT&T 3G Upgrades Degrade 2G Signal Strength

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  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:48PM (#26313935) Homepage Journal

    Its the way people do business now.

    Sad and immoral, but true.

  • by Grand Facade ( 35180 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:01PM (#26314045)

    Not really planned obsolescence, appropriating resources for the new revenue stream forsaking existing customers.

    This to me seems worse as they are stealing services paid for by existing customers, instead of just letting their stuff expire as obsolite.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:15PM (#26314141)

    Hey guys, marketing mismatch.

    AT&T's "2G" network was the pre-GSM TDMA network. The iPhone works on the 3G GSM network.

    What is happening here is degradation of the stronger 900Mhz spectrum of the 3G GSM network which has twice the distance but half the capacity, because north america's UMTS runs on the 900Mhz band, so they can't expand the UMTS without degrading this.

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Elsan ( 914644 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:18PM (#26314159)
    Those hipsters won't know because the mass media won't advertise this. Even then, will they care? Most people don't even know what 2G is. Unless a big campaign is started, there's not gonna be much happening.
  • Re:Why so serious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kinjin ( 1340519 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:42PM (#26314319)

    Normally I would agree with your premise.

    "Edge users are equivalent to VHS users. The technology has moved on, you need to move on or deal with slightly degraded service"

    That isn't really a valid analogy. If VHS players suddenly couldn't fast forward, rewind, or record, and could only play some parts of a tape, then yeah. That's not the case here though.

      In this case there seems to be a large group of people still under thier original contracts. INAL but sounds like 1. Breach of contract (Degraded services) 2. Bait and switch (oh if you want it to actually work properly you need to upgrade to G3) 3. Fraud (Offering and contracting services you have no intention of providing - which is where the purposely degrading comes in)

  • Re:Why so serious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:45PM (#26314343)

    Edge users are equivalent to VHS users. The technology has moved on, you need to move on or deal with slightly degraded service.

    Except my tapes don't stop working in my VCR just because the VCR company started phasing out VCRs.

  • Re:Why so serious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:47PM (#26314357)

    What evidence do you have that ATT's current customer base is primarily 3G? ATT especially has been a laggard in 3G deployment; I would guess that most of its current paying customers are on the losing end of this decision.

    There is still a business argument that it is better to prepare for the future than to support the past, but it's a questionable one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:57PM (#26314423)

    No it's not. I have Verizon, they kept analog in FANTASTIC shape right until the analog shutdown date. I mean, they surely did reduce the number of analog channels, but they counted analog in their call drop and fast busy stats, so they made sure to keep *enough* analog channels to keep service in good shape, urging people to get a new phone but not forcing them into it by destroying their service.
              They rolled out EVDO without harming existing service.. in rare cases (i've read about on howardforums) where they misaimed some antenna or whatever, they found out within a few days and reaimed it how it was supposed to be. They made sure existing services were not reduced, and often improved service a bit (tweaking antenna aims etc. while they were already there.)

              They bought 700mhz spectrum for LTE so they will not have to bother existing service for this either.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @06:02PM (#26314459) Homepage

    It seems like this would be fine, if there were an open market. But to lock user's phones into a particular network, lock users into multi-year contracts, then downwardly adjust service, seems a little dodgy.

    I don't doubt that shifting spectrum to 3G is the right way to go... I'm just not convinced that now is the time and this is the way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @08:15PM (#26315409)

    Ah, but the courts have ruled that they can still step in and force a class action lawsuit even with arbitration clauses in the contract, so don't give up hope. Judges *HATE* being told what they can and cannot do like that.

  • Re:NYC (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @09:37PM (#26315961)

    The simplest explanation for that is that there are more people using EDGE in your area, and AT&T hasn't increased capacity to handle it.

  • Re:Why so serious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neomunk ( 913773 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:17PM (#26316685)

    Then you should have stopped selling 2G service when you knew you weren't going to support it properly, but that would be denying a potential income stream. Or you could have at LEAST warned customers that they were going to be locked in to a contract that won't provide the services as advertised (oh, they might be within the contractual fine print, but it's not what the guy on TV told you it was going to be), but that would be bad PR. So the sneaky underhanded method works out the best... for you (as a representative of AT&T).

    Caveat Emptor is good advice for consumers, but it makes a really nasty corporate business plan.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer