AT&T reportedly has to pay between $5 billion and $7 billion to make its 3G wireless network competitive again. That must be quite a shock, considering that AT&T seemed to be on the top of the world since it got its exclusive U.S. rights to sell the Apple iPhone. But competition and development are cut-throat in the high-tech world, and AT&T will have to spend big just to compete with Verizon.
Me? I chose neither. After a terrible experience with a different carrier (which shall remain nameless but unfortunately is still in business), I switched to T-Mobile something like seven or eight years ago. I haven't regretted it. I upgraded to the the G1 smart phone from T-Mobile when it first came out and was very happy with it. My only complaint about it is that it started seriously dying in the past couple months, and I finally had to drive a stake through its heart this past week.
People might call me stupid, but I ordered another phone from the same manufacturer -- HTC -- and stayed with T-Mobile. (Long story; I was just out of the warranty period for another G1, and I was too early to be able to upgrade within T-Mobile's existing plans.) But I stuck with T-Mobile because its service has been great, and the phone that lured me was the new Google Nexus One. It's a beaut. I adore it. Phone calls, Google services, music, video, photos, apps galore. Unlimited texting and internet use. And the interface is friendly. The service is super-fast (I get all four bars in parts of my house where I used to barely get one bar). I could go on, but I can see your eyes starting to glaze over.
Is T-Mobile perfect? No, certainly not. But they've taken good care of me, and I have not had any horror stories about them to share (unlike my previous carrier, which again shall remain nameless so all you can guess is that it wasn't T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon). Now, mobile phone companies are like airlines: Everyone has very different opinions about them based on their individual experiences. I have no problems with United; I've heard other people rant about how much they hate United. I have ranted about US Airways; friends have raved about how perfect it is. So I'm sure there are T-Mobile haters out there, just as there are people who hate AT&T and Verizon.
But you know what makes a huge difference? I had two phone calls with customer service at T-Mobile in the past week. Each time I spoke to someone (a different person each time) who was very helpful, friendly and sounded like they were doing customer care instead of customer service. They were able to answer all of my questions. I don't know where they were; they sounded like they had southern accents, so I'm imagining Alabama or something, but then again they could have been a couple helpdesk people in Mumbai doing really good Southern U.S. accents. If so, then they get kudos for that, too.
We've all had experiences where a technology or service wasn't working, where the directions for troubleshooting were impossible or didn't address our problem, when the people on the support line were indifferent, hostile, or unhelpful. Businesses should know that these phone support people -- who likely are paid way below their real value to a company -- can make or break a customer relationship. It's a good place to invest at least some of that $5 to $7 billion that any big company has to spend to upgrade its "system."