Mobile phones in Seattle

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Mobile Phone Service

Disclaimer. Please bear in mind that these are excerpted/digested from uw-cs.grads newsgroup posts relevant to choosing mobile phone service. These messages do not represent anything beyond the personal opinions of the posters at the time of writing, and your experience might vary. (Feb 2004)

service availability in Allen Center

Since signal strength is a function of service provider and handset, please note your phone make and model with your report.

  • AT&T: if you're new to mobile phone service, consider AT&T's prepaid plan. its 25cents/min, but if you barely use it, it's only $3.33/month. and, you can route your email to SMS for free, so it's like a cheap blackberry. (it's 10cents/sms to send). a good deal since AT&T has the best coverage in the allen ctr. [kepart, sep 2004]
  • Verizon: works on Floors 1 and 6 (at least) [kasiaw]; also on Floor 4 and atrium [lizhang]
  • AT&T: works fine, but weak signal [amol]; "performs very well...even some signal in parts of the upper basement" [spencer]; no signal in most of building [sbfan]; great (analog/AMPS) reception throughout building [karthikg via sbfan]
  • AT&T GSM: 2--3 bars in Floor 4 office, up to 1 bar in breakout areas, no signal elsewhere. Now roams on Cingular (for free), gets reception in a few more places in the building. This experience comes from using a 1900Mhz phone, phones with 850/1900 should do better. [aliu]
  • T-Mobile: "nothing but horrible Allen and throughout Seattle" [antoine, Feb 2004]; "no reception inside the [new CSE] building" [kgajos, Feb 2004]; "With a T610 handset, I usually need to go to the 6th floor landing or Jaech to get signal. Signal seems fine around town, and if you travel in Europe, you can call cust. service to unlock the handset for free." [yasuhara, Sep 2004] I use T-mobile and have no trouble with reception (unless I'm in the basement of the medical center, which is despressingly common). [Peter Mork, Dec 2004] T-mobile works great in Allen center, no problem at all in 4th and 5th floor offices. [Tian Sang, June 2005]
  • AT&T is now Cingular, and it still holds true that the old network gets great coverage and the new network gets awful coverage. [Lillie, Oct 2005]


The following is excerpted from a bunch of email responses collected one faculty member about Sprint...

  1. No Sprint coverage around my office or in the EE lab on the west wing. Scarce coverage on upper floor the catwalks seeing the Atrium. No coverage as soon as you enter the Atrium through the main entrance. Ok coverage around Seattle and the US.
  2. It's horribly awful. I get decent coverage on the sides of the buildings, when the windows are open and that's about it. I can talk on my phone in my current office, but couldn't in my 4th floor Atrium office last year. And, it's horrible dealing with them. But I think that's a fairly universal complaint (Cingular is supposed to be bad as well).
  3. I can't tell you anything about service in Allen, since I left the department the year before the move. Sprint never had great coverage in Seig, but around town, they serve me well. That said, their customer service is awful. I originally was on a plan that let me go month-to-month after the first year and change anything I wanted to at that point. After a couple years, I went abroad for six months and put my coverage on hold to keep the number (at a cost of $5/month). When I returned, I had to sign a new contract. When I changed my service recently, I had to sign a 2-year contract again. If I want to change plans, I can do so, but my two years will start again.
  4. Don't mess with them...they have the world's worst customer service and are difficult to deal with. My experience with their coverage is that it is also bad (but it is an old data point). I'm happy with my att gsm phone. It works in the building, although the quality of the signal varies from bad to mediocre.
  5. doesn't work in the allen center. i've found it works in most cities, unless there is a mountain blocking it (had this problem in L.A.).
  6. Coverage is not as good in the Allen Center: I get signal on the third floor but can't hold a conversation. It's fine on the fifth and sixth floors. I never had a problem with coverage around town or anywhere else I went.
  7. i use sprint pcs. i find that it works well everywhere except the allen center. the only time i can get reception is when i am near a window.
  8. I had Sprint PCS until a month ago, and it was terrible. No reception in the building (except a few parts of the 6th floor) or on large parts of campus. It was also bad over in Redmond, at the Microsoft campus. (It worked fine in St. Louis and Houston, though.) I switched to Cingular and have much better coverage now.