Trying to Help AT&T Get Better in Boulder

Last week I complained about how miserable I was with AT&T.  I love my iPhone, but the AT&T service (both data and voice) is abysmal here in Boulder.  All my Blackberry friends on Verizon are happier, so I decided to try a Droid on Verizon.  After 24 hours I bailed and went back to my iPhone – the Droid just isn’t ready for prime time IMHO.

Thaddeus Arroyo, the CIO of AT&T Services, is on the National Center for Women & Information Technology board with me and saw my tweet (apparently via Facebook) whining about AT&T.  He reached out to me immediately and asked if he could help in any way.  I sent him a long note which has resulted in a call tomorrow with the senior regional area support executive.

So – I’ve got my issues and can clearly articulate them, but I’m looking for a longer list.  If you are a Boulder-area AT&T / iPhone user and you are having trouble with voice or data, please leave a comment here with some details for me to share.

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  • Tom

    frequent call drops when driving when coming into/leaving Boulder via any of the three main ways: 93 before the hill to eldorado springs road; hwy 36 just west of mccaslin; 36 north of boulder in the valley just to the north of the broadway/28th junction. And, here's the kicker: The stats regurgitated to me by "The Office of the president" of AT&T shows few call drops – total disconnect between my experience and there stats.

    also: frequent slow 4G, though I've never quantified it.

    • I'll second this comment Brad – I experience the same gaps heading into Boulder out of Superior. I'd also add now that I'm down in Broomfield, heading north on US 287 through Louisville and Lafayette toward Longmont you get the same dead zone where calls drop 100% of the time. I've had enough frustration as a frequent traveler of these routes 5 days a week that it's contributed lot's of bad will for me in the AT&T brand.

  • Brad, can you tell him that service from Alpine & 19th all the way north to Yarmouth is terrible. At Iris & 19th it is a dead zone. And that extends west to about Broadway, and east to about Folsom.

    Then there's Davidson Mesa… there's a new tower up there, not sure if AT&T's, but I've gone from 100% dropped calls down to about 50%. Still totally unacceptable.


    • Ditto on Iris & 19th. Also, Brad, you should ask what they actually do with AT&T's new 'Mark the Spot' app. I've given my feedback through that as well.

      • Re: Mark the Spot – I will.  The most ironic part of this is that it’s impossible to mark the spot when you can’t get service!  I had this happen today – the phone just spun for a while until I drove into a zone where there is service.

  • AT&T has Zero coverage in almost every foothills community. Nederland may only have a population of 1400 but Verizon works there and its a bedroom community for many tech workers. Also there is no AT&T coverage in Ward or Jamestown which again are small (but growing) populations and again where Verizon provides service. Look, there are T1 lines in all of these communities but no AT&T coverage? Sad.

    Thanks Brad for a place to consolidate AT&T whiny nils

    • MntAdmin


      I have a place just outside of Ward at 9k', and most everyone I know uses AT&T along Hwy 72 because of the coverage. My signals are very good, and I even tether to my laptop. In fact it's the reason I switched from Verizon to AT&T, to get the rural coverage via the longer wave (GSM 1900) vs. the 850/900 that Verizon's CDMA uses.


  • I'm in Lafayette, CO and have also lived in Longmont, CO, and I have been frustrated with voicemails showing up a few days late, getting text messages a few hours or even days late, and calls to my phone not getting through. Friends and family tell me they've been trying to reach me, and have been calling me, but my phone says no new or missed calls. I don't even give my cell phone out when I know people will actually need to reach me. How sad is that? Abysmal, AT&T.

  • Lots of dropped calls and spotty 3g coverage. Often times when people call my phone never rings, even if I have full bars. I have an old Samsung Blackjack that I used to use before I got my iPhone, if I put my SIM card in it I experience the same issues which would imply that it is a network issue, not my iPhone.

    Really hope Verizon gets the iPhone this summer, if they do I am switching and will never look back. I have totally lost all confidence in AT&T's ability to run a network.

  • I feel the same about the iphone. I love the device but the service isn’t up to the phone’s capabilities. Not to mention the hamstringing of the real potential of the device itself by ATT…tethering for instance or the availability of MMS.

    ATT’s 3G service in Boulder is abysmal. I can’t use my phone for anything at my house in N Central Boulder even on the Edge network. It’s a $100/mo paperweight. This is even AFTER ATT announced their upgrading of service in the Denver/Boulder area last month. The only way I can make calls if I am at home is to actually leave my home about a half mile east, north or south.

    I think ATT has had plenty of time (and additional income from the iPhone itself) to upgrade it’s networks and coverage area and to get everything that is supposed to work on the actually work as promised. ATT hasn’t done this. In addition, their customer service is almost as bad as Comcast (not quite reaching such lows yet) Always blaming it on too many iPhone users themselves (even if this is somewhat true). They never take responsibility or even say they are working on it.

    Overall, I think they’ve deserved most of the criticism that they’ve garnered and they need to change. But for now, for iPhone users, there is no real recourse but to leave the iPhone and come back when it’s with another company. I’m waiting to upgrade until the exclusivity contract is no more. And I know I’m not alone…

  • Bob Spryn

    ATT is terrible in Broomfield as well. In Boulder its a little better, but still pretty bad. Unfortunate since its such a tech hotspot. Oddly enough my iphone seems to think it has 3G, only to cut out in the middle of a call, or get hung up trying to do some data work. I've resorted to edge almost all the time.

  • Brad – Denver service sucks just broadly speaking, but specifically — many neighborhoods have unreliable 3G coverage that quite literally comes and goes. I'm showing five bars at my new house right now — but no call over ten minutes goes without a dead drop. It's infuriating.

  • Shamir

    AT&T doesn't work inside my house at all, Verizon works great inside my house. That makes the choice really clear as a phone has to function as a phone first and applications platform is secondary. The iPhone would be great fun, I'd get one if AT&T worked in my house, but it hasn't ever worked in my house. I used to have AT&T service, but dropped it when I couldn't get signal in the house I moved into (it worked inside my house 3 blocks away just fine).

  • Very spotty coverage throughout Boulder, including the hill on 36 heading out of town, most of Iris, and 47th street of Iris all result in frequent dropped calls. Also, South Boulder road between Foothills and McCaslin is 50% deadzone last time I drove it. I heard a rumor that ATT has completed the Boulder upgrade which is quite disheartening.

  • Brad, I appreciate you taking the time to work with ATT on our behalf. But, I've been down this path before and not gotten any results.

    On 11/11/09, I received the email from ATT entitled "Great News – 3G Coverage throughout Colorado just got better!" touting how they had enhanced the network to "provide better in-building 3G coverage, fewer dropped calls and a better overall wireless experience".

    Given the experience I have at my north Boulder home (just south of Jay Rd between 28th and Foothills), I decided it was time to contact ATT on my own.

    The Great News email was sent on behalf of Jace Barbin, VP & GM Rocky Mountain Region. I used LinkedIn to contact him and tell him that the celebrating was coming too early for me and my neighborhood.

    Like others, I can not reliably use my phone at home. I can have 3 to 5 bars on the phone, but calls won't come through, people hear my garbled voice when I leave them messages, calls drop, calls won't connect on the first try, and even simple text messages often don't get sent out. These are regular occurrences. It's really ridiculous.

    I used to have Sprint here in Boulder for nearly 10 years before getting the iPhone on ATT. It was if I had stepped back in time to an era where dropped calls and spotty coverage were the norm.

    I will say that I got a response from Jace a couple days after I wrote him on LinkedIn. He was apologetic and said his guys were checking out the issues because it was strange for me to have them when I had 3 or more bars.

    I responded that I'd be happy to help them make service better in my area, that I was willing to participate with them in fixing this issue. Sound familiar? 🙂

    I sent that email a month ago and have not heard back, even though he said he'd "advise ASAP". Hopefully you'll get better results.

    One thing that got me was that in the email chain that Jace sent to me a Network Sales Support person told him "I have RF looking into it since this is *not* an area of high congestion and it *does* have good coverage."

    Their online maps also say that I should have good 3G coverage. But, I'm here to tell you that all these issues exist, regardless of what their internal stats tell them.

    ATT really needs to focus on the actual user experience, not what their coverage maps and other stats tell them.

    Brad, I'll send you the email chain so you can have the entire conversation.

    Ultimately, I wonder whether or not it's really possible for ATT to fix this problem nationwide without investing billions into their national infrastructure. Heck, even if they were on board with upgrading the network, wouldn't it take years to really correct the problem? I can't wait that long.

    I sure hope that Verizon or Sprint gets the iPhone this summer.

    • Jace Barbin is the guy I’m talking to tomorrow so this is super helpful data.

  • Like a lot of other people here, I live in North Boulder, on 21st and Oak (just north of Iris) and reception is terrible. There's no 3G at all, and voice is so spotty that I always just get a number and call people back on Skype immediately.

    • I also live in NB, and after talking to an AT&T technical support person (L2 or L3) they looked at the distance from the nearest tower and my house, and sure enough AT&T doesn't have a tower any closer than Jay and foothills area, so we are on the far edge of coverage and the downtown tower won't reach well either. I have above ground power lines in front of my house facing east (where the tower is) and basically can't use the phone. Prior to the 850 overlay I got "no service" or 1 bar, now I can see 5 bars but as soon as you pick up the phone and try to use it, it drops out badly. Still not usable. Until they put in a new tower, north boulder is fucked. Ironically, if you are in Dakota Ridge, you are OK…

  • Guest

    Me and my friend Tom both live in south Boulder, and both use iPhone with AT&T. The other day I sent Tom a text early in the morning, telling him I would meet him at the gym later that morning. I never got a text back from him. I saw him later that day and said

    Me: "Hey – I didn't see you at the gym, what gives? I sent you a text"
    Tom: "I got your text and texted back that I couldn't make it this morning"
    Me: "I never got your response" (we are sitting right next to each other at this point, many hours after the failed gym rendezvous)
    Tom: "I sent a response, see, look at my phone"

    I looked at his SMS log and sure enough, his iPhone thinks he sent a response to me. I never got it that day, or any other day in the future.

    In Boulder I also occasionally experience incredible voicemail lag. I'll get indication of voicemail, listen to it, and realize the voicemail was recorded a full 24 hours earlier.

    Calls in south Boulder, but not central Boulder, are very often dropped. Especially on broadway between Greenbriar and Marshal.

  • So in Gunbarrel – near Jay & 75th the coverage is really bad. My neighbor returned an iPhone and dropped AT&T. I can talk on the second floor of my house when I have to. On the other hand, when I had Verizon service I was confident enough to lead conference calls from my office in the basement. The bad coverage continues from my home all the way down Jay Road to the Diagonal Highway and into Boulder. I start to experience reliable calls at Iris and 28th. If I stay on 28th Street to Pearl it seem to be safe. My office on the Pearl Street Mall has good coverage.

  • Brad-

    Not sure if this data is helpful for your call, but thought it worth sharing. I am *not* an iPhone user or an AT&T customer specifically because of the drop call issue.

    My phone must be a phone first. Period. The great apps and device user experience are a secondary consideration. Verizon's device selection may be dismal, but I always have a connection and never ever drop a call. Really.

    As I look for my next device (and possibly carrier) my dear friends have been patient and gracious to give me feedback more than once. The consensus is "If you need a phone, you need to choose an alternative carrier to AT&T in the Boulder area."

    If AT&T could resolve their drop call issues I would be on board as a new AT&T / iPhone customer in a heartbeat. And I know several others that would do the same.

    Net net – not only is AT&T not serving their current customers and may lose some, but they are missing expanding their business and gaining market share as well.

  • Great comment and consistent with the deep frustration I think everyone that uses AT&T in this area is feeling.

  • I live in downtown Boulder. Brad we have met in passing in the hallway a few times, but this is my first post on your blog.

    I have had a first gen iPhone since it was launched, and my wife has an iPhone 3G.

    The 3G has never really worked well on the 3G network. We disabled the 3G shortly after purchase. We had similar issues to what others are reporting — dropped calls and delayed voicemails despite apparent good signal. I used to toggle the 3G back on occasionally to test it, but eventually gave up.

    The Edge (2G) network and call performance has been adequate in the downtown core, but this is mighty faint praise as I believe there is a cell tower directly across the street. I do have coverage problems in Superior when I am there. (McCaslin / Coalton general vicinity)

    Like most people, I would jump to a different carrier in a heartbeat if that was a real option. I only stay with AT&T because I love my iPhone.

  • Hi Brad,

    Thanks for brining this up with AT&T. Although I haven't climbed as high up the chain as you and Jeff Herman, I have had similar communication experiences with AT&T. I was also very let down when we received the email that service had been improved.

    My personal gripes are as follows:

    * Unable to make calls from my home at 55th & Baseline so now I spend extra money every month for a digital phone line from Comcast
    * Observe that in most cases whenever getting more that 15-20 ft. inside a building my coverage drops off the face of the earth.
    * Time spent in Denver recently has shown that I flip in and out of Edge all the time, calls are garbled and dropped just as much as Boulder

    Finally, If my brother makes fun of me one more time for having the "shittiest phone on the planet" and "It's like you're paying to drop calls, not make them" I'm going to have to do something drastic to show my brother I really love him and switch networks.

    The news and rumors last week of AT&T asking people to be smart about when they do and don't use their 3G coverage to conserve it for others is, well, ridiculous.

    Best of luck to you and I can't wait to hear your results.


  • Brad,

    Check out what AT&T has to say about their service on your site:


  • Awesome.  I love when the ad flow gets ironic like this!

  • brad

    i literally smashed my iphone after yet another dropped call (intersection of 128 and 93), and got a droid the next day. The only regret I have is waiting so long to do that.

  • I recently lived at 23rd & Pearl St (currently, I'm on Kaua'i, which is a different ring of AT&T pain). It doesn't get much more central Boulder than 23rd/Pearl, yet I couldn't receive calls there. Sometimes, the phone would ring, I would answer, not be able to communicate, then call them back (sometimes require several attempts to connect), talk for a few minutes, and then get dropped. More often, I just got a voicemail hours later.

  • DaveJ

    Brad, did you see this article? It contradicts the conventional wisdom about AT&T vs. Verizon.

    • Stross’ article feels really weak to me.  I thought Daring Fireball (John Gruber) had a great retort.

  • phil swenson

    A bit out of scope, but I live in Denver and have to say I've been very disappointed with AT&T's service. I went from Sprint to AT&T specifically for the iPhone in 2007. It was a huge backwards step from day one. I live 2 miles from downtown Denver (Washington Park specifically) – not exactly in the boonies.

    I've made many calls to AT&T and have been told the following ("our map shows good", "Denver is very hilly, the tower on Lookout Mountain gets blocked", "our map shows your area as good, it must be your house", "we are doing upgrades in your area"). I have gone to several different AT&T stores to complain. I've been told the following: "you are near a national park, the federal government won't allow us to build towers near you", "you are in a historic district, the government won't allow us to build towers", "because of zoning laws, cell towers aren't allowed in your neighborhood."

    So 1)AT&T cell coverage sucks around the whole neighborhood. It's not my house! 2) verizon, tmobile, and sprint all work great. Sprint works in my basement! 3) everyone else says AT&T sucks around here, it's not just me. 4) there has been no improvement.

    Then I hear about AT&T microcell. Great idea. But it's not available. If I could just get that….I'd be happy.

    Why don't I drop AT&T? Two reasons: 1) I develop apps for the iphone 2) for everything other than making a phone call from home, it's awesome. I can put up with the spotty service around Denver, just give me a home solution!

    I predict a mass exodus once the iPhone is available on another network. I know people all over the country with iPhones and they all say AT&T sucks.

    You guys at AT&T are in for a world of hurt come 2010.

  • "I'm sick and tired of hearing things from uptight
    Short sighted, narrow minded hypocrites
    All I want is the truth, just gimme some truth"

    – 100% guarantee to drop your call on 36 over "The Hill" going in and out of Boulder. I need to plan my calls on my commutes so not to have to deal with it.

    – I too live in North Boulder and it's spotty coverage all over – many already mentioned and pointed out in the comments already

    Ask the question: If consumers had a choice of carrier with the iPhone, do they think we would stay with AT&T?

    Very interested in the recap of the conversation. Thanks Brad.

    • phil swenson

      I don't understand why the cell companies don't handle the high traffic drives. Tweak their system until none of the freeway drives drop.

    • I think some will stay and some will go (that pesky 2 year contract). If 30% of the network load dropped off AT&T, presumably the stability would improve and people would be happier as-is. If the stability doesn't improve after the load drops, then we have to point our guns at Apple too.

  • I find it amazing how hard Apple fans work to protect their devices.

    The device is – presumably – primarily a phone and if the phone is unacceptable replace it. Tmobile has the best coverage in Colorado. I can drive from Boulder to Winter Park without dropping a call. Verizon has good coverage too.

    If your iPhone apps are that precious – carry to two devices. Or compromise on the app side with Android or PRE. Trying to re-invent the network is a noble but foolish solution – success will be measured in years.

    It will be much easier to work on convincing your favorite apps to port to Android. You can start with your own app.

    The iPhone is a great phone, but it requires a network that clearly does not meet your needs. Personal tech takes a bit of adjustment (remember switching from WP to Word?). Perhaps 24 hours (which probably means 2-3 hours) was not enough time to evaluate the phone. You will find it clunkier than the iPhone, but you will find that works. You will also find numerous apps that you may like that Apple simply won't allow because they know better than you what you want.

    • I disagree Dave. For me, primarily the IPhone is a mobile computing device and I have dealt with the dropped calls for all the other goodies you get out of it. Having a smart phone is like switching from snail mail to email. It totally changes the dynamic of how you go about your day-to-day. And as much as it pains me to say it as a software developer, IPhone just has more and better apps than anything out there. But the functionality gap is narrowing and as soon as Droid is on it's 2nd or 3rd iteration, I'll switch.

  • Dave Ryan

    I'm on Verizon also, and I have to say I have terrific service in Denver and in Boulder. While this certainly not scientific research, I can tell you that I have almost daily calls with an iPhone guy in Boulder and another Verizon guy in Boulder. For the iPhone guy, our conversations are frequently, "Where are you? Should I call you on a land line?". The Verizon guy never has that problem. My wife also has an iPhone and her service has only gotten worse in the last few months, not better.

  • Dave G

    Thanks Brad. I'm back in the country and in the market for a phone and service. I've been waiting all year to get an iPhone. But, since I'm in Boulder often and I've heard Verizon coverage is better throughout the country, I'll hold off on the iPhone until I see a blog about how much improved ATTs service is or until iPhone is available with Verizon. Something tells me I'm not the first business ATT has lost to Verizon for this reason.

  • There is a Facebook group … The People of Boulder County vs. AT&T. Maybe we can get some people to chime in.

    The entire neighborhood over behind Ideal Market is a dead zone. There are many places in Boulder I don't even attempt a call.

    Good luck. I'm glad you have somebody's ear at AT&T.

  • Hi Brad,
    I recently started a Facebook Group:

    The People of Boulder County vs. ATT

    Withing a few weeks the group grew to 145 local members.
    The idea is to leverage the voice of collective to "inspire" a response from corporate.
    Would love to collaborate with you on this.
    Here is our group:

  • The north side of Mapleton Hill, just a few blocks from downtown, is pretty much dead. Guaranteed dropped call, failed calls, usually zero data, and over half of my outgoing txt messages fail on the first try – inside or outside.

  • culturalops

    To iterate what many have relayed, there is really bad coverage in North Boulder. I am currently at 15th & Iris andusing the work "spotty" would be an understatement. I have never placed a call in this part of town, that was 10 minutes or more and it not get dropped. When I do opt to turn 3G off, and use the Edge, calls seem to be a tad better, but then still many times the phone will switch somewhat schizophrenically between Edge and GPRS. And to quickly add fuel to the Denver fire; when I do work in downtown Denver, I have many of the same issues and frustrations. I plan on ending my contract very soon and using my iPhone as a sweet looking paperweight.

  • Drop so many calls they say it is a feature.

    Voicemails won't play, will get them days after they have been left.

    Calls forwarded directly to voicemail.

  • I live near North Boulder Park, an area which AT&T rates as "best" in 3G coverage on their map. Instead, I get no coverage at all. However, my phone tells me there is anywhere from a 1-3 bar 3G signal, sometimes a 4-5 bar Edge signal. But I cannot make a call or receive a call. If the phone rings, which it sometimes does, sometimes doesn't when someone calls, it drops the call immediately when answered. If I try to make a call, it drops it after one ring.

    When someone leaves a message, I get notified but the phone cannot connect with the voicemail system. So I cannot get my messages unless I go to another part of Boulder.

    This all takes place at my home. If I walk a block toward Broadway, near the hospital parking lot, a signal picks up. If I walk out into the park, a signal picks up. If I go up 9th Street toward the Mapleton Hill neighborhood, a signal picks up. But near my house, it's a dead zone. AT&T lied on their map.

    Getting an iPhone has forced me to get a landline for the first time in years. Does AT&T want to pick up that bill for me?

  • I also have countless problems with AT&T here in Boulder. While I also have issues downtown, I live 3 miles up a canyon and when I first moved here (a year ago) my service worked perfectly fine. About 6 months ago it started deteriorating and now I can't use my phone hardly at all at my house. This sucks.

  • phil swenson

    Brad, I have a question for AT&T. Since they can't solve their coverage problems, why are they lagging on other solutions? Why can't we route our calls over WiFi like TMobile has for the past 2 years? Why is it taking so long for MicroCell to roll out?

  • Kate

    I switched from Verizon to AT&T because I really needed the iPhone functionality for my job…ha. I can barely use the phone at all. I probably use about 10 minutes of talk time each month because the service I get with AT&T is SO bad. I live in north Boulder (Linden & Broadway to be exact) and I can't use my phone in my house at all.

    I hate that I have to pay $170 a month for two cell phones that don't even work, but I'm locked into the contract and I can't even lower the price I'm paying by choosing a package with fewer minutes. Or, for that matter, a cheaper texting package. In what world does it makes sense to go from 200 text messages for $5 to 1500 for $25+? Where is the middle ground?

    Another complaint – phantom charges. I switched to AT&T in March and I've called them about my bill more times than I can even count. I've had $20+ tacked on to my bill in text messaging fees…when I pay an obscene amount for UNLIMITED texting. It's obvious that AT&T is counting on their customers not thoroughly reading over their bills to make some extra money.

    I also find the "conserving 3G" thing to be laughable. Conserving 3G? I don't even USE 3G. I don't need to be paying $30 a month for a data plan when I use WiFi 99.9% of the time. I have 3G turned off at all times because otherwise my iPhone shows me "no service" just about everywhere in Boulder. I bought the iPhone 3G, not the iPhone EDGE. At this point I'm just about ready to take my iPhone to Tmobile. I don't care if the 3G isn't compatible, since it's not like I'm using the 3G anyway.

  • Trent

    I don't really care much about AT&T coverage in exotic locations, I mostly just want it to work along the 6 mile route between my office in downtown Boulder and my house in East Boulder. Sadly, in that short 6 miles, there are two dead zones (where my iPhone will actually go into ROAM mode).

    The first is from approximately 20th & Pearl to 26th & Pearl, which must be the same dead zone @bracken noted above.

    The second is the north side of Valmont Butte (61th & Valmont).

    There's been a lot of discussion lately about AT&T possibly charging heavy data users additional fees. I'm not a heavy data users, but I would happily pay an additional fee to be able to use my iPhone as a cell phone between my office and my house.

  • good luck. My 8 year old asked "what does your phone use to run the apps?" (this is an 8 year old, mind you), and I said "android," She said "what did your other phones use?" Which resulted in a discussion about the hardware (handsets) versus the OS, and she landed on "oh HTC is the phone itself and now you are on android instead of windows mobile, I get it." (again, I'm astounded not as a proud father, but in the way that digital natives just roll with the flow, and "get it." She continued "uncle Mark has a blackberry and an iPhone, is that because the iPhone's network stinks (stifling the urge to say "sucks" which would have resulted in parental ire)?" I said "whatever gave you that idea?" She replied "everybody knows that the AT&T network stinks, but they keep their iPhone for the apps, and use other phones for the stuff that's important, like calls and email…" "dad, do you think that Sprint will ever get the iPhone? – or is your android HTC good enough? I like the apps so far, and the phone works a lot better than your last one…"

    Perhaps your AT&T Regional Rep needs to talk to your nieces and nephews instead of you. Or us. May be a more direct line to the marketplace sentiment, if not to the myriad things they're not doing well.
    Or just refer him to Dan Lyons:


  • Karl

    Brad, If you're still looking for service problems (and are willing to pass on Denver specific ones), please point out the Bermuda Triangle of calling drops at 8th Ave and Lincoln and the one right near the MCA at 15th and Wewatta. I can also confirm the problem on 36 going over the hill. Like one of the other posts, I also regularly hang up calls and call back on the land line. And don't even get me started on the service in costal Maine – uggggly.

  • I understand us wanting to vent our frustrations, but when the poor performance of the network is commonly known (see, e.g., late show host Jimmy Fallon sawing away on the joke about iPhones being just like the iPod touch, but with a phone on the AT&T network–making them just like the iPod touch), why is someone from AT&T soliciting feedback? When the performance of your product is a national joke, you no longer need individual customer feedback. Anyone for starting a feedback list on Ford Pinto gas tank design?

    Imagine instead that NOT fixing the network is the most rational decision in the context of the complexities of running and selling access to the phone network. As far as AT&T is concerned today, the iPhone is working. My family pays $180/month for phone service to AT&T only because of the iPhone. I am still paying it; I will still be paying it next month. Let's be frank: most of bought the phone, not the network. I think the iPhone is working. When there are ample real alternatives to the iPhone, the network may start working too.

  • Michelle B

    Calls drop all the time since I transitioned to the IPhone — particularly when driving into 36 from Denver. Also dropped calls near Flatirons Mall. Not a fan.

  • Andy

    Thanks Brad. 2 key spots: 1) The neighborhoods in Palo Park and Four Mile Creek (near the soccer fields) are abysmal. 2) The hill coming over 36 into Boulder drops my calls 99.9% of the time. Going the other way it's about 50%. Clearly there is a tower hand off gap issue.

    If AT&T doesn't fix these before Verizon picks up the iPhone, they can guarantee a lost customer (I'm willing to buy a new iPhone just for them too)

  • Dropped 2 calls & "no internet service" at lunch in Denver today (Lowry neighborhood)

    AT&T, I was to understand our arrangement was I pay you ~ $100 a month and you were to let me make calls & text from areas covered on your service map. Lately (For the last 5+ months) this has not been the case.


  • Some analysts and reports have suggested the phone itself is the problem (a bad chipset, etc). The thing I don't buy about this is that my 1st generation iPhone did not work AT ALL at home in north boulder, but I switched it to TMO (gave it to my wife) and it works great. call drops are non-issue for her. I suppose it could be a combination of an overloaded network/tower infrastructure that can't do call hand-offs, or flawed 3G/EDGE switching but this is not an issue for other devices and other networks.

  • Walter


    Just got an iPhone as a gift and playing with it.
    Service in the foothills north of Boulder is pretty much zilch.
    Can predict a drop call coming within tens of feet at the top of 36 heading into Boulder.
    My customers have noticed the degraded call fidelity since the switch.
    Voicemail and text message arrivals have a random temporal shift

    True story of lunch in downtown Boulder with my wife:
    Me: What happen? Why were you late?
    WIfe: What? I sent you a text about being held up for 10 mins.
    Me: What text?
    Wife: Look here, I sent it. Is your new phone turned on?
    Helpful iPhone chiming in: Ting! New text incoming.
    Wife and I: POS.


  • I am highly skeptical that it’s the device, especially given the performance on jail broken phones on other networks.

  • Jim Pollock


    My personal pet peeve are the 5 drops I get every morning and every evening commuting from Boulder to Golden.

    The funny one is Hwy 93/128 intersection. Always drops during the 1/2 mile north, always again during the 1/2 mile south of the intersection. During evening rush hour their is often a car or 2 parked 100 yards east of 93 on 128: last reliable spot for conversation before driving out 128 to Superior/Broomfield.

    Here's my Boulder-Golden Drop List:

    HWY 93 at Marshall: Lat/Long: 39.93475, -105.236857
    Often drops

    HWY 93 at HWY 128: Lat/Long: 39.928925, -105.234475
    Always drops 1/2 mile to north, again 1/2 mile to south

    HWY 93 at Hogback: Lat/Long: 39.856783, -105.232544
    Often drops during descent along hogback, south of Hwy 72 intersection.

    HWY 128 from 93 to McCaslin
    3-4 voice/data drops along here.

    Jim Pollock

  • Jim Pollock

    I also had Sprint for 7 or 8 years before iPhone/ATT. Signal would ALWAYS ALWAYS drop on 36 heading out of Boulder towards Denver right as you crest the Marshall Mesa peak. I had that one nailed to within 100 yards.

    I religiously called Sprint 5-8 times per year for 6 years about that drop. Several times I was told it was the first time anyone had reported it. Heh heh. One time, I got a call the next day from a field engineer on his mobile phone from the spot. He verified that there was a dead spot and said they would tweak the signals to fix it.

    Continued to fail the the next day and all days after til I switched to ATT. Which drops there too. 😉

    Jim Pollock

  • Bart

    There is an app now to help ATT identify trouble spots called 'Mark the Spot' Download it and lets all give them tons of data in Boulder

  • I’ve been using it.  The irony is that you can’t actually mark the spot until you are back in a “spot” that you can connect!

  • Pingback: The Barking Seal » Blog Archive » Wake up AT&T: Prayer is not an effective capacity planning and service assurance method()

  • Hi Brad,

    Thought I'd check in to see if you plan to make another post as a follow-up or if we should be monitoring the comments section for updates from your conversations with AT&T.

    Happy Holidays,

  • Check out my faux Onion headline:

    AT&T breaks up another perfectly good couple

    "He always sent my calls right to voicemail", states the area woman. "I swear to jesus I'd get a text around 7pm asking if I wanted to have lunch. AT&T makes me look like a bigger asshole than I actually am." states the local area man..

  • Ok – that’s a good one!

  • Eddie

    I only read the first comment, but have a similar experience with calls being dropped driving in and out of Boulder. But even stationary I get dropped calls. I was sitting in my house, where I get 5 bars and dropped three calls in a row with my friend on a landline. Sitting at my desk, I normally have no problems. It doesn't seem to be connected with WHERE I am. I just get dropped calls all the time for no reason at all. Driving, walking, sitting down. Two minutes into a call after I just spoke to someone else for an hour with no problem. Why? This makes no sense to me.

  • Often have issues with service in Boulder, particularly with 3G. Often my phone won't ring and can't place calls unless I switch to Edge, and even so I experience frequent drops even if not driving…

  • I will echo all of the comments here and add that I just got off the phone with "Ashley" in customer care via the 888-388-6480 service line. This was a follow-up conversation following my having been sent a replacement SIM card from AT&T to attempt to address my high level of dropped calls. I'm still nursing a Palm Centro, in part because I am not under contract to AT&T any longer and had a stash of 2000 rollover minutes until AT&T 'expired' them last month.

  • The new SIM card makes no difference and AT&T remains oblivious to the well documented (here) and anecdotal (talk to AT&T sufferers in Boulder) fact that their service is intermittent at best. The excuse Ashely offered was to the effect that 'our records don't indicate that there are any significant numbers of people experiencing the dropped calls you mention.'

    I suggested she visit (or drive down 36 and attempt to maintain a phone call into Denver).

    AT&T = Fail.

    Dear Verizon, please prepare for the onslaught of converts when iPhone exclusivity ends and AT&T goes the way of Sprint.

  • Just received this message from Nicole Kennedy, Social Media Manager, AT&T:

    We always appreciate feedback from our customers, in fact if you are still interested I can look into connecting you with our network folks for a ride along so you can show us exactly where you are experiencing issues. If that is not convenient for you, send me the addresses and I can forward them on to our network team.


    So, who's interested in participating and either riding along or providing the locations where calls are being dropped?

  • Wow, thanks for all the feedback about At&T I was just about to head out to buy a new phone because I thought my Verizon coverage in Nederland/Boulder was lacking and heard AT&T was the way to go, but not after reading this, I think I will stick with Verizon – thanks!!!

  • Because I fully expect ATT to drop a call on my iPhone 3GS 16gb which is only ONE week new, on the drive out of Boulder going up highway 36 at Davidson Mesa at the crest of the hill, I ALWAYS tell people that I will call them back when they drop. The tough thing is that I have also tried going EAST from Foothills up Table Mesa toward McCaslin in hopes that my call won't drop, but the cut the road makes through the rock formation there drops calls too. There are several places through Boulder that seem to consistently drop calls. Another one is south on 47th street, south of Jay road in N. Boulder. It seems odd that calls drop so close to the tower, as I thought that there was an AT&T tower at NE corner of Jay Road and 28th street. (in the back of the church parking lot.) Does anyone know of a Boulder Map which shows detailed coverage info or shows where the towers are (The Dream would be to ONLY drive routes through BOULDER that are LESS LIKELY to drop important phone calls.) I have had AT&T for over a decade, and it used to be that I could drive from N. Boulder, south on Broadway, and south on highway 93, and ONLY drop a call at the highway 93 merge onto I70 at golden (ALWAYS DROPPED THERE), and then pick the call back up when continuing south on C470 to South on Wadsworth, past Chatfield Dam near the Lockheed Martin plant. Now, that might represent 5 or 6 REDIALS…and associated apologies for me using a cell service that just isn't as reliable as others out there.

    I wonder if there would be a way to have an interactive google map that folks could tack a pin in places where calls are dropped…and optionally share their cell phone hardware i.e. which phone being used, and location. To help provide the ATT engineers with a live hot spot map maybe in red showing high concentrations of drops. Which hopefully would give them the actionable data they need to have them fund more towers in the right places to fix the highest priority issue map locations.

    Incidentally, I cannot have a business conference call from our offices in DENVER near 16th street mall and curtis street (which incidentally is a short walk from the ATT store. Because I can only get a signal to hold for about 6 or 7 minutes on a fully charged iPhone 3gs both 32gb and 16gb models. We are up on the 23rd floor, and maybe that is the problem. We look down on the clock tower over there…

    Does anyone have any success stories to share? I love using the hardware…

  • jamie

    multiple dropped calls, delayed voice mail delivery, unable to dial out, text / voice messages vanish, can't connect to voice mail, overall it is terrible service. I went to the at+t store, they gave me a new sim card, and when i mentioned that everyone i know that has an iphone thinks the coverage is terrible, the salesperson got all defensive and said that he'd "never had any problems with his iphone." then suggested that i head to the apple store for a diagnostic test. unbelievable. having come from verizon, this is a joke, and probably an illegal one at that.

  • ahmet

    Hi, very nice, but still get detailed information about those who want to become a look at our site can mp3 dinle

  • I've been similarly frustrated with AT&T's service in this area. I will admit that they did make a huge improvement in about October '09, network-wide in the Front Range, and that I now get strong 3G coverage in all kinds of places I didn't before.

    Still, though, there are annoying issues, like call drops on certain roads every day, and outgoing call failing 5 times in a row, even when my iPhone shows 5 bars of 3G. Go figure.

    I have become a big fan of AT&T's Mark the Spot app, which allows me to report to them, via the iPhone's GPS and Maps, exactly where I have call problems and what the nature of the problem is. If you don't have the app yet, I'd recommend it. Go to the App Store and download it now, since the more of us that report problems, the sooner they'll be able to correct problems in chronic spots.

  • i don't like helping people:P

  • Larry Heck

    Hi Brad,

    My attorney sent me to your blog to peruse your collection of seed document links. I couldn't help but comment on your and other Boulder denizens search for solutions to the "I love my iPhone, but I hate AT&T saga".

    Not sure anyone is following this thread anymore, but here are some Seattle Area AT&T + iPhone and AT&T + iPad coverage solutions.

    Here's my latest "Rube Goldberg" inspired solution set, as of 4-15-10:

    1. Last week I bought an iPad to solve the small display problem which periodically hinders my use of the 120+ apps on my beloved, now worn out iPhone. Like you I won't give up my iPhone!

    2. To solve the AT&T 3G problem which the iPad will no doubt share with my iPhone, I am exchanging the Verizon Wireless USB dongle I now use for online access for my dell laptops with a matchbox-sized Verizon Wireless-supplied "MiFi" device (wireless router + 3g access point) which purportedly will allow up to 5 of my wireless devices access to the Verizon3G network, including my iPad. I plan to "velcro" this device to the iPad. Hopefully, this means no AT&T 3G service required for 3G access by my iPhone/iPad! This comes at no additional cost to me as long as I stay under my 5GB/mo download limit.

    3. To solve my AT&T dropped call problem, I capitulated. I found and re-activated, on a month-to-month basis, my old Verizon Motorola "Q" phone. I'll keep the iPhone, but reduce it's data plan. When I can't get service, I'll use my old Verizon phone for voice only communications.

    Anyone have a better set of ideas!

    Larry Heck

    • God – it’s so crazy that we are resorting to this kind of stuff to fix the crappy AT&T service.  Someone there should be listening.

  • Tyler

    My wife and I have AT&T. We want to upgrade to iPhones but with the service being so bad we are debating whether to change providers all together. Get horrible service, it comes in and out, and usually if we lose service we have to turn our phone off and then back on to try to get service again.

  • Pat

    My phone does not work in my house either. It is insane as I have a local software company and we have iPhones as we do development but we may have to move to Verizon for our wireless as both me and another cofounder cannot use our phones in our house.

  • Edd

    i installed the ATT micro cell in Dillon, CO where the proverbial mountain almost totally blocks any coverage at my home. The micro cell works flawlessly and provides service within about 150 ft. range which satisfies my needs. I was fortunate to have a skylight directly above the location of the micro cell so it could connect with satellites to enable 911 service. The only drawback that I notice doesn't affect me…just my non-ATT friends because, understandably, the ATT micro cell only connects to a maximum of 5 ATT customers only at one time. I have been asking ATT for this for years!

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