Wednesday, June 24, 2009

AT&T vs Verizon - The Big Battle

As most people realize part of owning the iPhone 3G S means switching to AT&T. Which for some people won't be an issue but for me is a bit of a big deal. You see I've with Verizon for basically 8 years. I have had VERY few issues and the phones I had were pretty decent. My first phone was a candy bar phone. It had a telescoping antenna, black on green screen, and it had good battery life. Since then, I've had 2 Kyocera's, a Samsung SCH-a930 (I LOVE this phone) and Motorola Q9m. Each was a step up from the other and each did a pretty good job (except the Q9m which is the one that disappointed me the most).

I don't visit a lot of places. As a kid I usually visited my grandparents in West Virginia, rarely did I go anywhere else. But WV presents an issue and a very good proving ground for wireless devices. You see WV is VERY mountainous and mountains are wireless signals BIGGEST enemy. What one tower can typically cover in a flat region is reduced majorly with mountains. You may have to add several more towers in mountainous region just to cover 10 square miles, and when you have thousands of nooks and crannies you have to start raising the density of towers in an area. This gets VERY expensive just to cover an area that MAY or may not actually benefit you financially. In many situations this is a financial loss. However, as a provider you must make sure that you fill these locations as your customers expect it. This is what I base part of my comparison on.

Parameters for the comparison:
-Signal locations
-Signal levels
-Speeds
-Customer Care
-Features/services
-Phones/devices
-Pricing
-Leadership/Future plans/advertising/other

I also need to mention that Verizon and AT&T use different technologies to achieve the same goal. Verizon chose Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and breaks that down into what is called CDMA2000 1x and Evolution-Data Only (EVDO). 1x is viewed as 2G when EV-DO is looked at as a 3G network. The system seems to work pretty well as I RARELY had a dropped call and data moved quickly enough. I think I could count the number of dropped calls on one hand, however, when I tethered my Q9m to my Mini 9 the data wasn't the fastest, usually around 600 kilobits per second (kbps).

Now tethering is when you connect your phone to a computer or network device and use the phone as a modem to supply a mobile internet connection. At my work we use a USB card that connects to the Verizon network and it works pretty well. I can connect the VPN and run several network intensive programs fairly quickly. I should note that on one occasion I ran a speed test while I had the On-Call laptop. With the speed test at Speakeasy.net I clocked a download rate of 1.2 Megabits per second (Mbps). That's moving but I haven't been able to duplicate that since so I chalk it up as a fluke. As for the latency, it varied. Latency was usually between 80 miliseconds (ms) and 200 ms which is pretty good.

AT&T has proved to be, typically, a little bit faster. As well, AT&T is a GSM provider which means you can use your phone all over the world. Most providers across the globe are GSM, which GSM also uses multiple networks. AT&T uses Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) for its 2G network. This is usually painfully slow. I've seen datarates as low as 100 kbps down and 18 kbps up... Thankfully, AT&T's 3G network is composed of several technologies. The iPhone uses High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) for 3G. HSDPA is quick and is usually on parallel with many land based Data Subscriber Lines (DSL). According to AT&T the HSDPA network is set to run at 3.6 Mbps but as many people will be quick to point out the iPhone 3G S also uses HSDPA rated at 7.2 Mbps. Despite the iPhone's hardware capabilities, most of the AT&T HSDPA network is only 3.6 Mbps.

I recently went on vacation to see my Mom and sister down in Virginia. Since I had my iPhone with me I was able to constantly make a comparison on signal levels and locations. For the most part I had signal with both providers as I traveled down the highways and back roads. On two occasions AT&T temporarily had a dead spot; once on 76 and once on Route 60 in WV. Both times I was on the EDGE network, however, Verizon did have at least 2 bars in both locations.

Coverage in the areas I go.

Cool phones on AT&T Verizon phones are lame. Verizon phones seem to suck hard as of lately. Phones that suck hard - Envy, KRZR
To me some manufacturers are getting bad rep because of crap-tacious phones - LG, Motorola. When talking to my Uncle, he mentions that the phones are built to a certain "specification." In a conversation with Verizon tech support, the opinion of the tech support agent reveled to my Mom that the phones Verizon has been turning out seem to be problematic. I've been seeing that the phones are crippled; many critics agree. In conversation this kills user experience. HTC Touch.

Verizon control/trust issues. Verizon is a dictatorship; Apple is Monarchy. Trust is the reason why I think the iPhone didn't make it to Verizon.


No comments:

Post a Comment