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Moving from ATT to T-Mobile

Posted on May 17, 2010 by Paul White

In the highly competitive world of wireless service anytime a customer moves from one carrier to another, people want to know why.  I have had a good run with AT&T, but the lure of faster devices, and a more stable network have finally driven me to switch.  In this article I will list of in detail my experiences, and hopes.

First let me start with the evolution of me the wireless customer.

Sprint Wireless1998 Sprint, Omaha Nebraska, First Cell Phone.

I got my first Cell Phone for Christmas ( Samsung sch-3500 )  and it was with sprint, and I was living in Omaha Nebraska.
The quality of the voice was excellent ( as is and still is with all CDMA carriers, sprint, verizon ).  However Omaha has lots of hills, and these hills in addition to having a basement bedroom were terrible for signal.  However Omaha has little choice for carriers.  The hills would require a carrier to install lots of towers to cover a small population of people, and most carriers are not willing to spend the money.  To this day you still can't get T-Mobile with a 402 area code.  ( at least last time I checked you couldn't )

Sprint Wireless2001 Sprint, Overland Park Kansas

Still with the same Samsung cell phone, and now living in a new town.  This town however is the world head quarters for Sprint.  Even though you would assume the area would be littered with towers, I have never lived in such a dead zone.  It was terrible.  However the unknown of what was on the other side of world ( different carriers ) kept me from switching.

T-Mobile Wireless2004 T-Mobile, Houston TX

Ok so I was still using the same cell phone with sprint. But now every carrier was giving away camera phones like they were toys.  My phone looked like a joke, and sprint's reception was still not that great in Houston.  If you were outside reception was good, if you went inside no more bars.  Finally after making some new friends it would seem that everyone in Houston for the most part used T-Mobile.  So I made the switch. I got more minutes, Much better signal quality, although the quality of voice was nothing like CDMA.

AT&T Wireless2009 AT&T, Pearland, TX

By this time everyone had switched to AT&T for the Iphone.  But I am not a fan of the IPhone.  I prefer sony, or phones running windows Mobile.  I had my eyes on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1i.  However when I got the phone I realized it would not work with T-Mobile's 3G data.  T-Mobile uses both 1700 and 2100 bands.  The phone did not support one of those bands so I switched to AT&T.  Granted the result was my bill went up by $30 / month, but HSDPA on AT&T was awesome.  For tethering HSDPA on AT&T was perfect.  Only downfall was if you are on the move, the signal quality was lacking. Also my house seemed to be a dead zone.  Not sure if this is due to AT&T or the phone it self.  But after a while it was too much.

T-Mobile Wireless2010 T-Mobile, Pearland, TX

Finally someone in the USA is supporting the HTC HD2.  The badest phone made to date.  So I found one on ebay for a good price, and bought it.  When it arrives I will be switching to T-mobile, as AT&T does not support 3G on this phone. 

New addition to Family requires family plan.

Another reason I am switching to T-Mobile is my wife has decided to stay home with our baby for a while before going back to work.  As a result she won't have the company cell phone.  So this means its time to get a family plan, and T-Mobile has the best deal for that.  Unlimited Minutes, Texts, Web ( 3G ) for two phones for $139 / month.  This is for a month to month no contract plan.  Only catch is you need to bring your own phones to the network, or at least buy one from T-Mobile at full retail.

Differences between T-Mobile and AT&T wireless

AT&T will have faster 3G speeds, but not by much.  1.8 Mbit down on AT&T vs 1.3 Mbit Down on T-Mobile.  But T-Mobile will have better coverage.  AT&T is popular with the I-Phone.  Tmobile is popular with BlackBerry.  T-Mobile makes their pricing clear and simple.  AT&T nickle and dimes you with addons.  Both carriers have user forums which seem to be pretty open for discussions.  T-Mobile's Tech Support is top notch. AT&T's tech support could use some work.  As long as I don't plan on going outside major cities, T-Mobile's 3G data will work great.  However if I wanted better nation wide coverage AT&T would be better. Of course is my concern was coverage no matter how far from civilization I am Verizon would be the best choice.  I am making my decision based on where I spend the most of my time.  In my case 99.9% of my time is in the Houston area.  For this reason T-Mobile is the best fit for me.

Once I get moved to T-Mobile I will do some benchmarking to test how their network compares to AT&T.  For those of you interested in getting my Xperia x1i with custom polished battery cover, I will be posting it on Ebay within the next week.

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Karthik | May 19, 2010 10:12 AM

Nice i think moving from one carrier to another carrier is easy in US. But things are very different here we have about about 11 major carriers and everyone provide their own range of services and products, Almost each and every single operator provides calls rates in per second basis and we have the lowest call charges in world. :)
Patrick Leong | Jun 10, 2010 5:36 PM
Hi Paul,

Do you have any update on T-Mobile's coverage in Houston area? I live in Sugar Land and am evaluating if I should give T-Mobile a try.

Paul | Jun 10, 2010 6:27 PM
With AT&T
Signal out and about was relatively good, and I got H coverage ( HSDPA ) in most places.
However the signal in my home was very poor.  I could maintain HSDPA if I left my phone sitting on my desk, and I could tether at 2.1 Mbits / sec down with 1.4 Mbits / sec up.  But one problem I got was frequent dropped calls, both in my house, and even when I was out and about.  The liked the HSDPA but I couldn't take the dropped calls issue anymore.

With T-Mobile ( now been with them about 3 weeks )
Signal for voice calls is good, and I haven't dropped any calls in my home ( big plus ).  But 3G ( inferior to HSDPA ) signal is very weak and I can't get a lock from within my house.  My phone will be sitting on my desk with 2 bars 3G. But then I pick it up and it immediately drops to Edge.  I get the feeling that the 1700 and 2100 bands ( used for 3G on TMO ) have trouble getting through walls, and trees.  When I leave my neighborhood I get full bars on 3G, and have no signal problems.  But the 3G transfer speeds are not very good. 800Kb/sec down at best, but usually its barely 500Kb/sec.  To put this into perspective I couldn't watch YouTube without constant rebuffering.  TMO is supposed to be getting HSDPA in Houston later this year, but there is no finite date yet.

If I had to pick a new provider based on the service I would go with verizon.  They cost a little more than the GSM guys, but they still have an unlimited data plan, and even though their data is not quite as fast as AT&T, they are way better than T-MO.  I am waiting to see what phones come out this fall.  This whole Touch keyboard thing with my HD2 is getting old. Next phone will definately be like my Xperia X1i, but with a bigger keyboard, bigger screen and more power.  Whatever you do, I recommend not getting locked into a contract.  All the networks are trying to make improvements, and there are some nice phones coming out this fall.  If you can, hold off til fall to see where things end up.  If you just want a phone that doesn't drop calls, TMO is pretty good.  But once again Verizon has the best of both worlds right now.
Dane | Jan 1, 2012 8:29 PM
T-mobiles htc sensation 4G is awesome.I get no dropped calls.I always have 3-4 bars.I get 6.41 mbps downloading speeds with uploading speeds of 2.74 mbps.I love the phone and service. Dane
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