AT&T to fix iPhone reception problems, spotty service



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Posted on December 1, 2009 at 3:30 AM

DALLAS - As a device, most users agree the iPhone is phenomenal.

"If I had a baby in my hand and my [iPhone] and I had to drop one, I'd drop the baby," laughed iPhone owner Luisa Benton. "I'm just kidding. I wouldn't really drop the baby, but you know what I'm saying."

Benton loves everything about her device, but like some iPhone users, she has noticed dropped calls and spotty service.

"In certain parts of Manhattan I have a really hard time [getting signals], same in Chicago," she said. "Here, there's just like a couple of dead zones."

Apple and AT&T have faced complaints going back more than a year regarding reception problems and access to the 3G network from coast to coast, including North Texas.

One woman in Birmingham, Ala. even filed a federal lawsuit against Apple complaining of slow speeds and connection problems.

But, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based AT&T, which is the sole U.S. distributor of the iPhone, said only one percent of all its mobile calls ever get dropped, though she wouldn't say how many the iPhone specifically loses.

"It's a network problem," said Lynne Gregg, telecom analyst . "It's not experienced by all iPhone users,  just some of them in certain areas."

"I think the root of the problem is that there's been a wild success with the iPhone that has just driven incredible data usage," she said.

AT&T explained that data usage for e-mail, the Internet and "apps" have risen 5,000 percent over the last three years. Experts say that's taxing the company's mobile network.

The carrier said it's spending billions this year on upgrades to its mobile network, including 130 new cell towers in Texas and deploying next-generation 3G technology to increase the broadband speeds in six cities nationwide, including Dallas.

AT&T bragged that fewer customers are leaving its service and that it added more new accounts in the third quarter than any competitor.

AT&T suggested replacing SIM cards in problem iPhones and has even offered credit in some cases.

Apple did not return an e-mail or a telephone call to its corporate headquarters in California.

It remains uncertain when AT&T or Apple will resolve the existing reception problems in major metropolitan areas.

For some, like Benton, the iPhone remains a paradox - a stunningly high-tech device unable to always complete the most basic function of making a phone call.