I’m sitting here updating my iPhone and thinking.

I’m thinking that perhaps the iPhone 3G wasn’t exactly ready for the masses, just yet.   Mainly because I’m on my third phone right now and still having   issues related to connectivity.

The really strange part is that something changed during the last weekend of August, and nobody can seem to tell me what, why or how.

Let me give you some background:

I purchased the phone on July 11 – the launch date for the 3G.   I was pretty psyched that I managed to get in a relatively short line at the Apple store in Holyoke, MA.   As it turns out, I went straight from the Holyoke mall to the beach in Old Lyme, CT., so I never really knew if I had 3G coverage at home or not (even though the AT&T coverage map said that I’d have moderate coverage from my home).

So I went to the beach, and looking at the trusty AT&T coverage map for that location, it showed that I’d have moderate coverage for Edge and 3G coverage up the ying-yang.   Yeah, right.   If I stood on top of the cottage with my hands held out like an ariel antennae, then YES! I had great coverage.   Otherwise, NO DICE.   Not even from the beach, where I’d usually get a tower off of Long Island.

Here comes the fun part.   I called AT&T to discuss the whole coverage issue and they reiterate that there should be pretty good coverage (level 1 support uses the same coverage map as is published on the web)… plus the nice lady pushed some codes to the phone and put me on the closest tower, etc. and told me “it’s gonna be all right”.   Like a dope, I kind of bought her B.S. and went on my happy way.

But, that wasn’t the magic potion to make the phone work – I was sitting IN the house with my Mother-in-law’s crappy old Cingular phone with three bars and my shiny new iPhone with “NO SERVICE” plastered across the top.   This was bugging the crap out of me!

I made another call to AT&T and began to notice a trend: if I mentioned “I” and “Phone” in the same sentence, the AT&T rep would IMMEDIATELY transfer me to Apple Tech support.   They wouldn’t even talk to me!   This was the start of a frustrating couple of months.   You see, AT&T won’t talk about the iPhone and Apple won’t talk about AT&T.   Well, that’s not entirely accurate, AT&T isn’t really allowed or versed in the iPhone and Apple simply cannot access AT&T’s system.     It’s like hell on earth…

At any rate, they put me thru to Apple support and without batting an eyelash, the tech said “we need to replace the phone”.   A day later, the new phone arrived, I sent the first one back and guess what?   No change in service.

Okay, I thought, listen – the beach isn’t exactly the best coverage in the world (even though I could get bars on my mother-in-law’s phone).   I figure it’s not worth the fight.   I’ll wait until I get home.

So, we get home the last week of August (or next to last), and guess what?   I have 3G coverage right from my house!! Yeah! I’m thinking, this is cool!   When I’m too far from my Wi-Fi, I can slap on the 3G and have the world at my fingertips!   This is awesome.

Well, it WAS awesome until something changed.   What changed?   That’s a great question, because NOBODY – not AT&T, not AT&T, not AT&T or even Apple (did I mention AT&T??) can tell me if there’s a problem with the 3G network here in sunny Wilbraham.

At first, I thought it was related to the software update 2.0.2.   Mainly because as soon as I installed 2.0.2, the 3G connectivity went away.   Going thru the usual problem solving methodologies, you would look back to when the last time something worked and then go backwards from there (i.e. what did you do since it last worked to make it not work).     Well, logic tells us that if something worked before you put a software update on the phone, then it stops working, it must be the software update, right?

Well, not necessarily.   Apple tech support INSISTED that it was a hardware problem.   They even made me go to the Apple store to get a new phone.   This was a cool and fun and exciting trip too!

The Genius at the Genius bar (that’s what they are called, I’m not being facetious… yet) asks me what I did to diagnose the problem… at this point, I know what to do – I’m practically an expert on the iPhone… so I tell him and then he says, “well, you know, it could be a corrupt contact that’s causing 3G not to work”.   WHAT??? A corrupt CONTACT is going to cause my whiz-bang super phone to CRAP THE BED???   He had the balls to tell me to go home, reset the phone, then don’t put any email, contacts, apps, or anything on it and see if 3G comes back… Umm, I don’t think so.   I’ve been in the business a LONG time Sonny… and let me tell you what: I didn’t just fall out of a tree.   I have heard some doosies in my time, but a corrupt contact causing a piece of hardware to fail?   I’m not biting.   So, my good “Genius” gave me a new phone… my logic was that if his theory was correct, we needed to rule out my “old” phone having a hardware issue and the “new” phone would be at the factory default (with no yucky corrupt contacts) and I should be able to go home and voila! have 3G coverage.

Guess what?   NOPE.

Okay, so that didn’t work either.   And the phone was at the previous software version 2.0.1.   Well, I wasn’t going back to Holyoke and I wasn’t going to spend a ton more time on the phone with AT&T OR Apple.

Just then, I get an IM from my buddy telling me that version 2.1 was coming out in the next week and that it was going to address alot of issues with 3G, etc. and that I should wait and see.

Okay, I’ll wait and see… but in the meantime, I had to make one last call to AT&T to make a Network Quality Report on the 3G issues in my area.   I got over to a level 2 person at AT&T and she went and confirmed that the issue was not with AT&T but was with Apple!   She told me that she has 4 phones herself and that three kind of work, 1 has been replaced four times and they were waiting on the latest software update to see if that fixes their woes.   (FYI, I got a $30 service credit because 3G wasn’t working…).

So, now I have my shiny $30 credit and I’m anxiously awaiting the 2.1 version to come out.

2.1 comes out, I install it on my phone…

NO 3G at my home location!

I guess I was overly optimistic about this one, but I figured, it HAD to be a software problem!   So, I made a few more calls on my way out to James’ soccer game in Huntington, MA.   Spoke with a nice guy from Apple Tech Support, and he actually laughed out loud when I told him the story about corrupt contacts affecting 3G coverage (frickin’ Genius).   So, I’m trying to get a new phone out of this guy, just in case I could be so lucky as to have three bad phones.   He wasn’t biting.   Even though I ran down the gambit of all the things I’ve done (basically telling him what he wants to hear).   And don’t you know, he comes up with one that I never heard of before NOR have done yet: replace the SIM card.

He said if I hadn’t done that yet, then it MUST be the SIM card.

What am I to do?   He got me on that one, I can’t deny that I didn’t try that yet – and I don’t have a leg to stand on without at least pursuing that option.

So, after James’ game (we tied 1-1, so his team is still undefeated – yeah!)… I go to the AT&T store in Springfield.   They check coverage maps, submit Network Quality reports, and give me a NEW SIM card.   The tell me that I’m right on the fringe of the 3G coverage but I should get it, they tell me that it COULD be an outage, it COULD be that they are working on the tower (for more than two weeks??) and they tell me it COULD be that I’m just out of luck.

For the record, I got five bars 3G at their shop… went home – got a big fat ZERO.

Something has changed, I know I wasn’t hallucinating the 3G bars her at home… I just wish SOMEONE COULD TELL ME ANYTHING!!!

Note to AT&T:   I think you’ve gotten TOO BIG again and your right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing… GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER AND PROVIDE A LEVEL OF SERVICE THAT IS EXPECTED FROM A COMPANY OF YOUR SIZE AND REPUTATION.

I’ll be calling again to get this month’s service credit as well as a new iPhone (because now that I have a new SIM I need to know it’s definitely not a hardware issue).

Stay tuned!

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