10 Reasons Why, ATandT, Verizon and All Wireless Carriers Disappoint

News Analysis: AT&T and Verizon Wireless might be battling out over their real coverage right now, but when it comes time to evaluate these companies and other wireless carriers, disappointment usually follows. Compared with wireless services overseas, the U.S. looks like a third-world country in terms of wireless coverage, 3G access, Internet connectivity and phone quality.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T are mired in a lawsuit over ads depicting the relatively poor 3G coverage AT&T has compared with Verizon Wireless. AT&T says it's an unfair depiction of its coverage. But the complaint has nothing to do with its coverage, per se, or anything Verizon Wireless says in the ads.

Instead, AT&T doesn't want Verizon Wireless to color those areas where there isn't 3G coverage in white or black. The company contends that it does provide data in those areas, it's just slower than 3G. It believes that by coloring those areas white, viewers might believe that there isn't any data coverage.
Whether or not AT&T will win its suit against Verizon Wireless remains to be seen. But when it comes time to evaluate this situation, one thing is abundantly clear: The wireless service of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and every other carrier disappoints their customers. They fail to provide users with an experience that truly matches desire.
Here's why:
1. Coverage Is Subpar
Regardless of carrier, wireless coverage is not where it should be. I can't tell you how many times I've been traveling while on the phone, only to lose a signal in the middle of the conversation. Worst of all, I'm not alone. The vast majority of "coverage maps" don't provide real, actionable data on what kind of coverage to expect. There are a slew of "dead spots." Admittedly, coverage is getting better. But it's not even close to where it should be.
2. Draconian Plans
Is it really necessary for wireless carriers to charge around $175 whenever someone wants to get out of a contract? I don't think so. It's a great way for carriers to keep consumers in contracts, but it's also limiting the amount of options those same users have in the marketplace. On the enterprise side, companies sign multiyear deals with carriers. Those deals make it too difficult for companies to get out. That needs to stop. Having more options is better for everyone, including the carriers.
3. Data, Please
Although all the major carriers provide data services, it's 3G networking that most users covet. And as Verizon Wireless' ads have shown, AT&T is one of many carriers that aren't living up to customer desire. High-speed networking over 3G is a key selling point for many consumers and companies. More and more mobile phones are able to access the Web. Until the major carriers improve their 3G networks, users will be hoping for more.
4. Give Us Good Phones
Unfortunately, the vast majority of mobile devices in carrier stores just don't quite match expectations. Granted, that might be partly a vendor issue. But it's also a carrier problem. No matter where a user shops for a phone, he or she will find the same basic devices, featuring the same menu system, basic functionality and little else. The iPhone is an exception, not the norm. And that's only available from one carrier.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...