I carry three cellphones. Even I don’t know why I do it. Part of it could be purely academic – to do the research-to write posts like these.

But anyways, I have an ATT Treo 750, a Verizon Wireless Razr V3M and a Sprint-Nextel Treo 700p.

So given the strategic advantage of having all these providers and being as mobile as I am- lends me in a position to rate the network coverage of each of these carriers. And the reason I am writing is because it would surprise not a few people.

So here goes…

ATT Mobility (Formerly Cingular Wireless): Worst Coverage. By Far. Both Data and Voice is pretty bad. I know ATT has a shaky EDGE network – but the places where I roam – New Jersey/New York (Manhattan) – I can very ambiguously state that ATT has more holes than any of the other providers. I get absolutely no coverage at home, decent coverage on the Turnpike, no coverage in the tunnels leading into Manhattan and most surprisingly, pretty spotty coverage in Manhattan itself. Especially inside buildings and bars.

Verizon Wireless:
At least in the Northeast, it lives up to its network promise. Very robust coverage all over New Jersey and New York. Only provider to actually work in the tunnels. Only ding is that when I take the train, data coverage leads a little to be desired. But overall, very very impressive in the Northeast. In other parts of the country, I have yet to encounter a hole – but then I dont use this phone very much so I cannot comment. But having used it on the Acela Express on the Boston-Washington route – I can say that its network is pretty blanketed and uniform. Very impressive.

Sprint-Nextel: Absolute surprise. By far, the best data network you will get from any network provider in the United States. Most mature EVDO deployment in the Northeast. They are going to EVDO Rev A now – even faster. Voice coverage is comparable to Verizon Wireless in the Northeast. I would say the voice quality on the Northeast corridor line is actually better than Verizon Wireless. Great network. Only problem is, Sprint only offers roaming in the tunnels. And there is not seamless roaming handoff. Your call will get disconnected as you get into the tunnels. But great plans, devices and most of all – absolutely great data network.

So based on my experience, if I were to rank the three carriers based on overall customer experience, I would say Sprint-Nextel would tie with Verizon Wireless ( Verizon Wireless – marginally better voice, Sprint-Nextel hugely better data). ATT Mobility comes last in every category.

Stay away from ATT Mobility. Their “Lowest Dropped Calls” campaign doesn’t hold up in the Northeast – I would call it blatant untruth.

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