July 29, 2002 3:55 PM PDT

AT&T Wireless owns up: We drop calls

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AT&T Wireless executives made a rare admission Monday: A portion of the carrier's wireless telephone network not only drops calls, but drops them at a rate below the quality standards the company sets for itself.

AT&T Wireless Vice President Greg Slemons said the dropped-call rates during peak hours--right after 5 p.m., for example--were below acceptable levels in New York and in one other market, which the company declined to name. He said AT&T Wireless missed its goal of completing 99 percent of calls in the two cities by less than one percentage point.

"New York continues to be a challenge," Slemons told analysts during a conference call Monday.

Carriers don't often talk about dropped calls, a big issue for customers and usually the top complaint made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to the FCC. Consumer groups generally say that at least two percent of all callers can expect to lose their connection at any given time of day.

"A lot of carriers aren't being as frank as we are," said AT&T Wireless spokesman Ritch Blasi.

The portion of AT&T's wireless network that doesn't meet the company's quality standards uses a technology known as TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access), which is among the oldest of the cell phone standards. It also is part of more than half of AT&T Wireless' current telephone network.

Slemons said the carrier has no plans to remove TDMA from its network despite its under-achieving dropped-call rates. Other carriers, like Cingular Wireless, plan to replace TDMA portions of their networks, saying the time has come for it to be replaced by better technology.

"There is no plan afoot to move away from TDMA; (we) have a high degree of confidence in it," Slemons said. "The TDMA network is still strong and will be in the future."


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I am sick of hearing ATT only drops calls around New York its the entire country. I live in New York City Area and fly all over US. An I drop calls everywhere its not a New York problem its a pandemic problem with ATT and its senior engineering team needs to provide real solutions. Its clear that ATT needs new senior management team to solve this pandemic problem with ATT network design. Nobody drops more calls than ATT!!!! I drop calls in Syracuse-Corning-Elmira-Binghamton New York, I drop calls in Fort Myers-Jacksonville Florida. I drop calls in Seattle and I drop calls in Nevada. I can't stand it nobody drops more calls than ATT. Its clear that the standard ATT sets is to Low. With Verizon I drop a call once a month or maybe every 6 months. Its something thats rare. With ATT I drop calls hourly depend on how much I talk. With a one hour phone call I will surely drop 2 or 3 times. I'm sick of hearing ATT talk about solving this problem.

They clearly make more money if they drop calls an its sucks up more minutes because they round up to nearest minute. Ie if they drop a call in the first 15 seconds of a minute they round it up to the full minute. This adds up and they make more money. See its by design so they can charge more money. Its sucks but this statement is almost true.
Posted by heritage10 (3 comments )
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I agree with all of the above. Its 2009 and more dropped calls than ever. I live in NYC and a new costumer to ATT. I knew it was bad going in but I justified it because i wanted the iphone for all the reasons that make it a smart phone.
Its so funny that ATT's marketing campaign is "Fewer dropped calls".
Fewer than what????????
Posted by sHeart (1 comment )
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I have been a Cingular, now AT&T customer since 1998. Since the change from Cingular to AT&T, I have a ridiculous amount of dropped calls. I drop just about every call I make. I live in San Diego, California and didn't have this problem when it was Cingular. Also, the coverage of AT&T is appalling. In places where I get no bars, my friends who have Verizon get just about full bars. AT&T also has the WORST customer service I have ever dealt with. Be careful if you have their Nationwide 450 plan as well. I had this plan for 4 years until I noticed they weren't honoring the unlimited mobile2mobile minutes included in my plan. They were restricting my free mobile2mobile minutes to only daytime hours (6am-9pm) After 9pm they started taking the minutes out of my 5000 night & weekend minutes. I went back and forth with customer service, insulting and rude supervisors for weeks without any resolution. I ended up having to cancel that account and joined my parents' family talk plan to resolve the issue. If I wasn't paying only $9.99 for my service, I would have canceled my service with AT&T and switched to Verizon. AT&T is a racket.
Posted by Nitegoat (1 comment )
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