The AT&T Saga
Well, I guess I should explain what on Earth happened to make me finally switch from the carrier that I’ve defended endlessly for years now. Because my recommendations to family and friends regarding cell phone services are about to change because of the experience.
For context: Prior to when the story begins, I had multiple issues where my phone(s) would randomly stop detecting the AT&T network, and I would need to call to get my SIM provisioned. That happened three separate times. Keep this in mind as you read.
In July this past year (2022), I got a new phone that had 5G capabilities. I didn’t have a phone plan that could use it – I was grandfathered in – nor did I have a 5G-capable SIM card anyways, so I just decided to forgo it entirely.
That may’ve been a mistake, as around a week later, my SIM card died. I immediately contacted AT&T Support for assistance wherein they essentially told me if I did not upgrade my grandfathered phone plan, they would not issue a SIM. In other words… I got the run-around: how lovely! Frustrated, I disconnected with them and went to go speak with my father. My parents upgraded my phone plan to the highest one, the one with 5G, and after a couple minutes – it was fine! …For a little more than 2 days.
Now it’s August, and I’ve completely lost service again. At this point, I’ve been without it I asked my best friend if she could run me over to our local third-party AT&T store so I could get this sorted. Three hours there, I had a new SIM card and all was okay. Service seemed more spotty than usual at first, but I chalked that up to being due to the utter pain that it was to move my number over to a new SIM.
But just over a month later, in early October, it broke again. Obviously, I’m frustrated, but I had one of my best friends staying with me at the time. So, I just decided to move my SIM card over to another phone I had around to see if that fixed it: it did. Once he left after a really relaxing and fun week, I attempted to call AT&T for the fourth time with my second phone and get told it’s a 6 hour wait. I’m fuming at this point, and in my head I’m thinking “I’m calling you at 2pm on a Sunday, and conveniently the wait to speak to one of your representatives is up until closing?” I call again, this time it’s an 8-hour wait. I gave up after 10 minutes on hold (of which I had hoped someone would just answer so I didn’t have to sit in a queue).
Feeling out of options, I decided to post about it on social media as a last resort. I don’t like doing that because I’m a pretty well-known guy in the tech world, and I don’t like feeling as if I may “abuse” my reputation in some way. (I don’t deserve special treatment.) But, I got a direct message from someone on the AT&T Social Media team directly asking me to reach out. The next day, I had a working phone again. I asked some questions regarding why this happened and basically got the runaround again. Sounds like they very quickly figured out who I was… but I’m not here to speculate.
It’s now November 22nd, 2022, as I write this to Blo(n)g(er), and I’ve been without phone service for around a week and a half. I’ve been able to use an iPhone (again) to bypass the issues. My conclusion, after several days of research, is this: the transition to 5G on AT&T’s network has been a nightmare. AT&T has also outright refused to replace or otherwise help folks with phones. And to others who may be experiencing similar issues (specifically moving from 4G LTE to 5G), and are now considering other options, you’re not alone. My mom and several friends of mine have reported similar issues, so I know it’s not isolated. (The fact that it isn’t isolated is the particularly scary part.)
Considering how many times I’ve had to go without service, I’m now in the same boat feeling the same way as many others: I’m done with AT&T. Which is unfortunate, because their coverage (when it works) works amazingly well. But, I can’t keep something that isn’t going to be work reliably 24/7. With that said, I was able to order a free SIM kit from US Mobile, who came highly recommended in almost every listicle and social media post I could find. They go through either the Verizon or T-Mobile networks for their coverage. Since Verizon is the second largest around here (with AT&T being the largest), I’m opting to go with that SIM card (Warp 5G) for service on the Unlimited Premium plan. (I’ll make a separate post about why I went with Unlimited Premium as the plan sometime down the road…)
It’s not ideal, I haven’t always had the best luck with Verizon or T-Mobile, but Verizon has done a lot of work expanding on their network where I live… and they’re at least reliable. Oh, and if all else fails: Wi-Fi Calling exists. And at this point, I’ll consider all of that a win at this point. (I’ll report back on US Mobile once I’ve had enough time to put it through the paces… Fingers crossed.)