After a ton of trial and error, I have a half-way decent solution to my nightmare scenario. Are you getting no cell service at the office and at home? Here is my fix for crappy AT&T cellular service.
This started with an incubator that I moved my startup into a few years ago. There was a 1-3 bar level of signal for my iPhone 4, and then on the 5 via AT&T. I tried everything except getting a booster antenna. It was on a major college campus so I was wondering if AT&T had some major coverage issues. I also wondered if it was the building’s science and tech engineering that made it impervious to signals.
The problem was so bad I managed to convince AT&T to let me out of my contract. Tip: If you are in a building most of the day for your job or home and you can’t get coverage then you can get out of your contract. It will take some back and forth over a few weeks or months, but you can make it happen.
The cure was Verizon, or so I thought. Verizon infuriates me every time I interact with them. AT&T did too when they lied to me about an upgrade to my service level that cost me unlimited data for two iPhones, but not in the way that Verizon does. For example: a few years back I moved and needed to change my Internet service address. Verizon tried to double my cost with no improvement. The new location was across the street from a Verizon building which added insult to injury as far as I am concerned. After significant frustration I decided to cancel and they switched me over to someone who offered to give me a net decrease in the cost of my Internet service through Verizon. I said no thanks. I do not wish to do business with companies that cause me unnecessary frustration as a customer. Anyway, I switched over to Verizon. Let’s just say that I was not happy with the call waiting user experience on the Verizon iPhone vs. the AT&T phone (e.g. you can’t switch over and hang up on the call you are on with Verizon, so you end up on two simultaneous calls with the same person you were leaving a voicemail with or whatever else.) so I got out of my Verizon contract and switched back to AT&T (that was surprisingly easy).
You are probably thinking that I had to be crazy to go for a phone that doesn’t work, but I just decided to use Skype’s dedicated phone number option and opted to go through 4 headsets until I got to one that I liked. That worked really well for me because I had a static IP address and a really fast Internet connection thanks to the incubator being on a campus that also happened to be a major Internet hub location. I could forward my calls to Skype.
Fast forward to our moving the startup out of the incubator into an office in a major downtown area a few years. I ended up with a bunch of new problems (e.g. four out of five calls attempted fail and nearly every call faded in and out). AT&T told me a bunch of lies (yes, literally) about what the problem could have been, but wasn’t. After an upgrade to a new iPhone model I figured this out after I got a really open and communicative guy form their tech support team who was really savvy about tech (most of the folks I spoke with were level 1 help desk people reading scripts – nice people, but not capable of really helping). It turned out that of 4-5 towers, one was up to date and it was blocked by a building. It was also having some difficulties. The block caused the phones in our office to alternate between the older out of date towers and the new one which caused us to get from 0-3 bars. The average number of bars was 1-2. One bar is not enough to make or sustain a call and the variance was frequent enough that we could not use our phones.
I started using Google Hangouts to make calls, but eventually got a 3G Micro Cell tower. AT&T sent me two before I got the one that worked, but it does work. It gets me 5 bars now even though I have to turn off LTE while I am using the tower. If you are not getting cellular service in your home or office then this could help you.
One tip that should help you avoid the time suck that I had to go through once I got the 3G Micro Cell tower is to do a web search for troubleshooting the 3G Micro Cell tower for your specific router. The AT&T tech support people do not have any idea what to do with your router even though the company has at least one article on how to solve this issue for D-Link routers on their website. I found it and solved my own problem after 2 hours on the phone with them telling me to power-cycle my router, modem and 3G Micro Cell tower over two days. So you can skip calling 800-331-0500 or 611 once you get them to send you a 3G Micro Cell tower. Just make sure they send you one for free like they did for me. You should NOT have to pay for duct tape on their crappy infrastructure in your home or office zip code.