AT&T says their service doesn't work in buildings

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by daniels, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. daniels macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    I live in downtown Boston and I can rarely use my iPhone 3G in my apartment. I have never gotten a 3G signal inside my apartment and EDGE is either 1 bar or "No Service." If I can make a call it's frequently dropped. I just had my iPhone replaced for an unrelated issue and I had hoped that it was just a problem with the phone. It's not. When I called AT&T they said that my area should have full 3G coverage and recommended I get the SIM card replaced. I went to the nearest AT&T store and explained the situation to the guy there. He told me a SIM card wouldn't fix my problems. "AT&T doesn't work inside buildings. Sorry." Uh, excuse me? I asked him why anyone in their right mind would choose a company that doesn't work inside. He said that their signal isn't as good as penetrating through buildings as other carriers and that smartphones like the iPhone and Blackberry use a different signal which is even worse at penetration.

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I'm still within the first 30 days of my AT&T contract so I might cancel it but that's such a pain in the ass and I'm in love with this phone... when it works. My roommates all have Verizon and their phones work fine.
  2. manhattanmania macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2007
    yes yes, i got this too when i called and complained about the laughable service in manhattan w/ the first iphone. "cell signals can't go through buildings very well." they tried to play it off like it was all cell phones. and im like... yeah *** right. i get verizon service outside, inside, above ground, underground, elevators, tunnels, EVERYWHERE. ATT just SUCKS.

    with the iphone 3G i actually find it liveable though, not like the first iphone, where i ran away from ATT and never looked back. still no service underground, elevators, tunnels, etc, but in buildings above ground ive been okay.
  3. Opie macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2008
    It must be those big cities yall live in. Mine works fine in all buildings in Shreveport. Although we only have 300,000 people and NYC had 8,000,000. So that may be part of the problem. So many damn cell phones being used on those towers. Sorry to hear about the issues. Sprint is the only company i ever had that sucked inside and out. AT&T is jam up down here.
  4. daniels thread starter macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    What's weird for me is that I can get 3G perfectly on the subway underground. If AT&T works underground there's no way it shouldn't work in my apartment.
  5. w0ngbr4d macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    Findlay, OH
    Higher frequencies (3G, 1900MHz GSM) don't travel through buildings as good as lower frequencies (850 MHz GSM). I think the coverage stated for most carriers is outdoor coverage. You can get repeaters (Spotwave, etc.) to help with coverage indoors or you can go to a different provider that works better indoors or get a landline.

    I routinely get 1-2 bars on the inside wall at work and the building is made of concrete, granite and steel. Granted we don't have 3G where I live, but it all depends on your location and surroundings.
  6. lakaiordie macrumors 65816

    Jun 17, 2008
    i have aluminum shutters on my room window right now and my signal is the same as when they're not on. 3-5 bars.
  7. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    IMO, be logical, not emotional.

    A phone that you're in love with is absolutely useless when attached to a service that doesn't work for you. :confused:

    It shouldn't take you more than an hour to go over to (re)sign up at Verizon and have them port your AT&T number over, which ends your AT&T contract.

    IMO, this forum is full of people who are very bitter because they chose to keep their iPhone past the 30 days when they knew AT&T wasn't working for them where they live. Don't become another one of them! :eek:
  8. daniels thread starter macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    Yeah, I'm not going to spend $300 for a repeater. I expect my $300 iPhone to work inside as well as my friend's $50 junky Verizon phone.
  9. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    Poorer indoor reception is normal for 3G signals.
  10. cellocello macrumors 68000


    Jul 31, 2008
    Toronto, ON
    You know, it's a shame you guys don't have a little more choice with the iPhone.

    Don't get me wrong, neither Rogers nor Fido is all that great - but man, it just sounds like AT&T is a horror.

    The iPhone is a great phone ... I would hate to have to make a decision like this (service vs hardware).
  11. daniels thread starter macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    Yeah, I know. The main issue is cost. I'm sure AT&T will charge me a re-stocking fee for taking back the phone plus there's a new activation fee with Verizon and everything. And to make matters more complicated I sold my old iPod when i got the iPhone so I'd be looking at having to purchase another.
  12. valdore macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    I've been with AT&T/Cingular since 2002 and have never had such a problem. I've always just had regular Nokias or Motorolas or Samsungs though, but they've all worked inside.
  13. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Yeah, I hear ya, but IMO, having to pay another $36 activation fee over at Verizon might be worth the cost of actually having a cell phone that works inside for the next two years. If you had VZW before you switched to AT&T, they'll probably re-open your account without another activation fee. :(

    Apple dropped the restock fee they used to charge on the iPhone purchased at their retail stores because there's no way you can return it "unopened" (since they make you activate it in the store). Not sure if AT&T did as well.

    On the brighter side, if you end up with a VZW phone and have to repurchase an iPod, new iPods are supposed to come out on Tuesday. :D
  14. richg916 macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2008
    Have you tried turning 3G off completely and seeing what reception you get then? This was a suggestion from ATT to me. (their reasoning was that instead of searching for the 3G signal it locks onto the edge signal. Don't know if this is BS or not)
  15. NeoMayhem macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2003
    Isn't it ironic? More people are complaining about how much 3g sucks then they complained about the lack of 3g on the first iPhone.
  16. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    im just happy i've had nothing but a good experience aside from a few bugs and times I had to reset the phone.
  17. macdim macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2007
    It is science. Higher frequency=less signal through walls or any obstacle for that matter. Shorter waves just can't get through as well as longer ones can. Why do you think you can pick up random AM/FM radio transmissions from far away? Those a extremely long waves compared to cell phone radio waves. Now given all that, i still think you should some cell service in your building, depending on interference and materials used for the building.

    I work in a basement sometimes and the whole thing is lined with lead to prevent radiation leaking out. Do you think I get cell service down there? At home though, I get 5 bars of EDGE indoors at all times.

    AT&T shouldn't say their phones don't work indoors, but they can't guarantee anything.
  18. daniels thread starter macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    I talked to AT&T tech support this afternoon and that's basically what they told me. They've opened a case number for me and said they'll look into it.

    I tried turning 3G off and that hasn't helped. The tech support guy also told me to leave wifi turned off. I did that, it hasn't helped. I shouldn't have to turn off the iPhone's features for it to work properly though.
  19. Crunch macrumors 6502a


    Jun 26, 2008
    Crazy L.A.
    You either have poor AT&T coverage in your area period, or 3G and/or EDGE is all on 1900MHz on your area. The iPhone 3G is no champion in the RF dept. either. In fact, I've had AT&T for almost 10 YEARS, I've had tons of phones, and the iPhone, in the short amount of time that I've owned one, has had the poorest reception of any phone. I'm still trying to convince myself to keep it, and even after jailbreaking it, it's a hard sell. :rolleyes:
  20. SmartIndianKid macrumors regular


    Apr 1, 2008
    Honestly it depends where you live.

    At my own house, no cell phone company can reach some spots. AT&T and Verizon cover the rest of it pretty well with a bar.

    However, at Brown University, the situation is totally different. I would happily walk inside buildings, around campus, underground in various basements, and I would still have 4 to 5 bars. Meanwhile, my Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile compatriots would have the dreaded "No Service" icons appear.

    It all depends on where you live.
  21. PNutts macrumors 601


    Jul 24, 2008
    Pacific Northwest, US
    That is mostly correct. If you look at early coverage maps, you see main transportation lines covered well. They're also covering cities now, but it is location location location. For years the official position is that service is not designed to be used in homes/buildings. That may have changed with data $ervice$. In tunnels and underground, they use leaky coax to give/get signal.
  22. Jazhawk macrumors member

    Oct 16, 2007
    Las Vegas, NV
    Man I feel your pain! I live in Las Vegas As much as I want one I don't own an iphone for this very reason. AT&T is on some nonsense.

    I had two cell phones on my family plan until recently. Recently because I added two additional lines for my two younguns. My wife and I both used phones from CL. I attributed our dropped called to my assuming someone elses oh well. I lived with it.

    But the two phones I just added are brand spankin' new out the box. 140 bucks each. Day one, both dropped calls and single bars. Phones ride 3G for a bit then hand off to 2G then nothing. AT&T forces everyone to pay a premium for that whack service which is straight robbery.

    3rd day I headed to the Verizon website and caught a 3 day, online deal and got 4 VX 8550's with a two year contract. No rebates and No activation fee. I jumped right on it and man let me tell you, the clearest call quality I've had since the days of Cingular. Maybe better. No drops. Always a strong signal. In buildings, elevators, wherever. I'm done with AT&T. I rolled over my phone number and canceled them under the 30 days. Screw em. They suck. As far as your iPhone goes, return it or sell it on CL. Get a phone that works from Verizon and get an iTouch and have peace in your life again.

  23. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    I never get any bars of 3G service indoors but I'm always ok on edge to make calls at least. If you can't get service on either edge or 3G in your own apartment that phone should definitely go back to the store.

    I believe T-mobile is going to release the first Android based phone soon so you may want to wait for that. Android is supposed to be comparable to the iphone in terms of usability and will have a full web browser. Google will also have a version of an application store for it.
  24. daniels thread starter macrumors member

    May 13, 2006
    I can't wait for T-Mobile's Android phone though, my first 30 days of AT&T are almost up. Plus I only know one person with T-Mobile. If I switch it will be to Verizon. I've used Sprint before and hated it.
  25. 2002cbr600f4i macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2008
    It all just depends... Building construction and tower location has a LOT to do with it.

    My office just moved from one 4 floor office building to another one 2 buildings over (1/8 a mile down the road). I went from getting 3-4 bars 3G in the old space to BARELY 2 bars EDGE sitting next to the window and it quickly goes to No Service if I walk away from the window. NOBODY gets good service in our new building. We have a mix of Verizon, Sprint and AT&T users and none of us gets good solid 3G inside the building. The second I walk outside, Boom 5 bars 3G.

    It's gotten so bad that we're talking to the other companies in the building to petition the leasing company to put in Cell phone repeaters on each floor.

    In places like NYC where there are a lot of tall metal construction buildings, radio signals get bounced all over the place, echos are rampant, and shadows are everywhere... These big metal buildings act like huge Faraday cages that block out low-power signals like cell and GPS like crazy. Even windows in most big office buildings have metalic coatings on them that disrupt RF signals.

    Your best bet, assuming you can mount an antenna outside and run a cable inside, is to get a cell phone repeater unit. Check out ""

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