@tmobile Fail July 24, 2013
I want to love T-Mobile
I've been a T-Mobile customer on and off for 10+ years. They have always had excellent customer service, very good and fair pricing, and reasonable coverage in big cities.
For 18 months, I used an iPhone (I bought it as a homage to Steve Jobs just after he passed away.) I went with Verizon and was happy with their coverage, although their prices were insane.
When the iPhone 5 came out and Verizon rebalanced their bandwidth from 3G to LTE, the 3G data speeds dropped to 200K-500K just about everywhere in San Francisco.
I did an experiment with T-Mobile where I bought a TMO SIM card, used it in my spare Nexus 4 along with my iPhone and tested coverage. 4 months ago, TMO had excellent data and voice coverage around San Francisco. And with TMO's $60/mo plan, I saved $70/mo vs. Verizon. I switched.
Lighting up LTE
A month or so ago, TMO started lighting up LTE around San Francisco. I switched from my Nexus 4 to an HTC One and the HTC One was showing LTE rather than "H" for the data coverage.
Sadly, during the light-up, TMO messed up their coverage.
First, unless there's an LTE signal, the data is pretty much useless. It's either LTE or Edge and Edge is dog slow. To make matters worse, TMO seems to have throttled their Edge service so there's no way to receive email or send a tweet while on Edge service.
Second, TMO's voice coverage has gotten significantly worse since the LTE light-up. There are horrid dead zones around San Francisco: Hayes Valley, Fulton Street around Divisidero, my office (541 8th St.)
Yes, when TMO's LTE works, it's blazingly fast. But that's about 20% of the time and the rest of the time, there's no useable data signal. No data at SFO, no data on the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk (even with 4 bars of coverage), no data in most places I've traveled in San Francisco outside of my place near the beach.
So, I'm trying an experiment. I bought an AT&T "Go" SIM and signed up for the $60/mo plan. It's pretty much the same as TMO's except you get 500MB less data per month. Plus, it's pretty clear that AT&T is throttling the Go plan… the data rates seem much slower than TMO's (although AT&T seems to block SpeedTest so I don't have a handy apples-to-apples speed comparison.)
So, the choice seems to be slow but reliable service with AT&T or fast but spotty service with TMO. This makes me sad. I'd love to support TMO, but can't live with the breakage they've caused since the LTE light-up.