NEXTEL is better than T-Mobile, but still kinda sucks.

I mentioned previously that Anne and I have been looking for a mobile phone service and had signed up with T-Mobile on their assurance we would get a decent signal at home, but we didn’t and they weren’t able to resolve the issue so we ended up turning the phones back in yesterday and then signing up with NEXTEL at the suggestion of my parents. As it turns out NEXTEL is an improvement over T-Mobile at the house, but only slightly so. Indoors we manage only one bar most of the time and zero bars more often than we’d care for, but going outside bumps it up to two bars on average and even when we have zero bars the phones don’t go into SEARCH FOR SERVICE mode all that often. In comparison the T-Mobile phones we had spent 90% of their time at the house unable to find the service at all and going outside didn’t really improve things until you got close to the freeway some 5 miles away whereas the NEXTEL service improves dramatically within a couple of miles of the house. At this point I think we’re going to have to declare my in-laws house a previously unknown MYSTERY SPOT that blocks cell phone signals in an almost supernatural manner.

At this point I’m thinking we may end up sticking with NEXTEL even though it’s more expensive and sticks you with a 2 year contract despite the fact that the service is only marginally better at the house than T-Mobile is. My reasoning for this is two-fold: First, it seems that the service is decent enough to receive text messages on the phone, if not carry on a complete conversation, as we both received two text messages last night letting us know they had successfully transfered our phone numbers from T-Mobile to our NEXTEL phones. Secondly, being NEXTEL we have that nifty—and highly annoying to everyone around us—walkie-talkie feature that may be enough to overcome the problem with the signal strength. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I’m hoping that it uses short bursts of data that don’t require a constant connection to maintain like a normal cell phone conversation does. If I’m right then the weak signal strength at the house may not be a huge issue as folks can either text me or use the walkie-talkie function to get a message through, but I’ll need to test these things more before I know for sure if it’ll work decently enough.

The other big test will be a trip up to my folk’s place this weekend. I’m going to be making a day trip up to set up their replacement printer they’re getting from Canon and it’ll give me a chance to verify that the coverage up there is decent. I fully expect it to be as my folks use NEXTEL themselves. The T-Mobile service was just as bad at their place as it was at home so that was one more reason not to keep it. We have 13 more days to decide if we want to keep the NEXTEL service before we’re locked into the contract and so I have some time to experiment a bit before making a final decision, but I’m beginning to think we’re not going to find anything that’ll do any better in the area and the service elsewhere, including here at work, is pretty good. This time around I got a camera phone as well so now I may be able to test out the moblogging features of ExpressionEngine, though I’m not sure I look forward to trying to key up an entry of any length using the numeric pad of the phone.

7 thoughts on “NEXTEL is better than T-Mobile, but still kinda sucks.

  1. The Mystery Spot!

    I’m not sure what that has to do with the phones, but I’VE BEEN THERE!  My dad took me there when I was a kid. 

    Cool beans.  If I remember correctly, it was a most dizzying and impressive illusion.

  2. Les,

    Sorry to tell you this, but I have NEXTEL and I am in the process of ditching them.

    When I lived in NYC it was great, but I have moved out to PA now and I am lucky if I get any service what-so-ever in my house, or on my property…

    I called Nextel to ask if I can cancel for this reason (my contract expires in July) and I was told “Sure, for $200 in early cancellation fees…”

    Here’s the kicker… Sprint owns Nextel now. I can switch to Sprint for free.. and because they dont service my area, I can break the contract with Sprint for free… but I have to buy a new phone and all that crap.

    I *tried* explaining all this to the NEXTEL customer service robot.. er… rep and she laughed and told me that it is not Nextel’s fault that I moved and that I should not have moved to a location that Nextel does not service… (?!?)

    Well, they are getting the $200 to disconnect me now and I am switching to Verizon. The coverage is better and the family share plan is amazingly priced …

    I may have a used nextel phone shortly if you want it LOL

  3. I had the same problem with T-Mobile several years ago and bitched & complained a LOT because I got it so people cold call me when I was on the computer at home.  I didn’t leave becasue I was only paying $19.95 a month and couldn’t get a better deal. Last year my phone quit charging and instead of getting a new battery I upgraded to a better phone and voila! Now I have great reception at home. Turns out it was my piece of crap Motorola phone. My Nokia works just fine at home and everywhere else I’ve had it in town.

  4. Have a lot of relatives in Michigan who finally settled on Cingular because it has the best coverage (Ann Arbor/Jackson, Metro Detroit, Oscoda/Tawas). Might be worth a look.

  5. Nowiser, there’s a few Mystery Spots scattered around the country. We’ve even have one here in Michigan.

    John, I already know that Verizon’s coverage at the house is just as crappy as T-Mobile’s and NEXTELs because when I was freelancing for Compeople they supplied me with a Verizon phone. At this point the only other option I can think of would be to try Cingular.

    QM, the T-Mobile guy suggested that I try a different phone as he was certain we should get decent coverage. He said the phones we had gotten when we signed up were dual band and that perhaps we needed a quad band phone. With only a day or so left before we could get out of the contract, though, I wasn’t keen on playing around with a different phone.

    Neurotwitch, I’m debating whether to give Cingular a try or not. The NEXTEL reception at the house has actually degraded over the last day or so. When I had the T-Mobile phones they told me that if I couldn’t get on a T-Mobile tower that I should be able to use any Cingular towers nearby as they had a roaming agreement with them, but it turns out that’s only in areas (such as North Carolina) where there’s no T-Mobile towers at all. I did do a manual network scan with the phone both at the house and up at my parent’s place and the ONLY tower I could see in either place was a Cingular tower so that makes me inclined to give them a try except that my brother-in-law supposedly uses Cingular and he has to go outside to make a call. Or so my mother-in-law says, I’ve not had a chance to speak with him about it myself.

  6. There are also two mysteries in otherwise benighted California- the “Mystery Spot” near Santa Cruz and “Confusion Hill” in Piercy.  All of these mysterious spots are either genuine gravitational vortices caused by buried alien spacecraft, or simply illusions caused by tilted buildings- dear reader, you may decide for yourself which it is.

  7. grin  The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is like 20 minutes from me.  Been there once.  Interesting.  Mostly made me dizzy and light headed. 

    Oh, and my cell phone actually worked there.  lol

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