AT&T sucks & lies
I don't have a lot of experience with 3G as I have no iPhone. But I am gaining experience with my 3G iPad.
I am currently traveling on I 80 west of Lincoln, Nebraska. I am passing multiple cell towers. I can barely load a page. It takes minutes not seconds to load a map or get a weather report. My connection is showing AT&T at 2-3 bars but it has an E or circle (like a donut) after it. I don't know what those mean. While I would expect spotty coverage in lesser traveled areas this is a major east west interstate.
I keep thinking of all those bogus AT&T commercials bragging about their 3G coverage. I call bull*^%t.
What does E & the donut mean anyway?
The E means "Edge", which is the slower data method before there was 3G. So you in fact do not have 3G coverage where you are at. But, 3G is spotty in rural areas, it is mainly for larger towns and metro areas......
Don't tell that Seadog, he thinks AT&T is awesome. AT&T sucks monkey balls. Look at their nationwide coverage map. Notice all the blue that is "data coverage". Which, by the way, is not just 3G, but EDGE as well. Now zoom in and watch the 3G blue disappear and get replaced by the EDGE blue.
EDGE means that you are on the EDGE of 56k coverage.
It is almost given that AT&T sucks in most of the states. Personally, AT&T around my area doesn't suck and it actually surpasses that of Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile so I kind of lucked out there.
If you want to check the area coverage for 3G, go to the AT&T's website and see what area is covered and try to compare it to Verizon or Sprint. Verizon has more coverage area but their 3G speed is not up to AT&T's. Sprint also has good 3G speed but their coverage is the least of the three. From that point, you can decide whether you want to do myfi instead or not. You do pay a bit more that AT&T's but if it is that bad in your area, it's probably better to pay a little more and have a working 3G than paying $30 a month and have a pretty non-functioning 3G.
Coverage does not imply an AT&T owned tower. You could be roaming on someone elses network and not considered priority traffic. Also, travelling in a moving object will also affect data transfer rates as the transmission/reception signals are constantly moving as well.
I live on Long Island and have free wifi in almost all areas (Optimum Online subscriber and just about every street is wired with either Optimum or Time Warner). I was waiting at Laguardia Airport the other day and was watching a movie using the Netflix app and the 3G connection (the wifi at the airport is $7.50 per day). No difference in the movie playing from a wifi connection. Glad that I live where I do.:)
The E is for Edge and is slower than 3G.
The O that you see is GRPS and is even slower then Edge.
iPhone Tip: Understand Connection Icons in Status Bar | The iPhone and iPad Blog by Simon
In a moving car, you will surely have bad reception. Try stopping for a minute or so. Pull off at an exit or rest stop and try again. When you are moving, the angular relationship between you and the tower is constantly changing, thus making data transmission very hard. Much harder than phone.
As of a year ago, Wired magazine data did not agree...
Originally Posted by josun
Verizon Leads, AT&T Runs Last in Wired.comís 3G Speed Test | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
I personally think all carriers have a long way to go. If you are in rural areas, you can not rely on anyone having decent 3G service. AT&T is more upfront about their lack of coverage. They also operate a dual system which means their voice and data are handled separately. If there is a lot of voice traffic, Verizon will dump data users, while AT&T will not. Cell service is not as reliable as people might think. In an earlier life, I was a microwave technician for the military. Signal strengths are dependent on a number of parameters. A major example is when traveling through mountainous areas. Once you get off the major highways and cities, you will get very limited coverage. What I found irritating about Verizon is that they show coverage in many of the mountain areas of Colorado that I know for a fact that is not covered. I should know since I am in the areas on a regular basis, and Verizon is my phone carrier. AT&T is not any better, though they sometimes have coverage in areas not covered by Verizon.