AT&T Stops Pretending To Be The Network With The "Fewest Dropped Calls"

AT&T is no longer claiming to be the network with the “fewest dropped calls,” according to a company insider. The assertion was widely panned as a lie:

The ad campaign, which launched last March, was based on a Telephia report that actually noted AT&T Wireless (then Cingular) did not have the most reliable network in New York, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. A recent JD Power report gives that honor to T-Mobile in most markets. Similarly, a report from Consumer Reports placed Cingular/AT&T at the bottom of their rankings for reliability and satisfaction.

AT&T will instead boast that they have: “more bars in more places.”

AT&T Yanks ‘Fewest Dropped Calls’ Campaign [DSL Reports]
(AP Photo/Kathy Wilens)


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  1. philipbarrett says:

    Horrible reception in downtown Denver, somewhat amusing since across the street was the AT&T HQ building.

  2. Cowboys_fan says:

    I worked for t-mobile and if they have the fewest dropped calls, then that is scary. It is especially bad in new york, but what can you expect. They may be better in cities, but in the country, there’s lots of complaints.

  3. dasunst3r says:

    Most bars? How do they map their bars? Maybe something like this:
    0 bars -> 0%
    1 bar -> 1%
    2 bars -> 2%
    3 bars -> 3%
    4 bars -> 4% – 100%

  4. bombaxstar says:

    AT&T coverage is absoutely terrible around here. Actually, the only time I have a call dropped is when I talk to my boyfriend, who is on AT&T.

  5. dkush21 says:

    Anything AT&T touches certainly does NOT turn to gold but dust (for us, not them, that is)! Before SBC Yahoo was taken over by AT&T, seemed to me it was better and faster, also, I didn’t have any ads on my page. And their customer service is awful!!!

  6. Melov says:

    My calls get dropped a ridiculous amount

  7. acudoc says:

    I can’t hardly have one phone call without it getting dropped. Sometimes I have to make the same call 4 or 5 times. I had better reception on a cell phone 5 miles into the jungle in Peru than I get in Los Angeles with ATT

  8. yg17 says:

    And anyone with half a brain knows more bars means nothing.

    When I had Cingular, I would have full bars all the time, but calls still wouldn’t get through due to the network being overloaded. The number of bars measures the signal between your phone and the tower, but if the connection between the tower and the PSTN is overloaded, well, no calls for you. So it means they have a ton of towers. But all those towers are useless without the backhaul network to support them. Just like the “fewest dropped calls” BS (also had dropped calls aplenty), the “More bars in more places” is another attempt into deceiving customers into believing that AT&T is the best provider.

    And I can certainly understand why JD rated T-Mobile the best. Since I switched to T-Mobile back in December, I have only had one dropped call. And that was while roaming on AT&T in the middle of nowhere.

  9. LizS says:

    I’ve had Cingular/AT&T for a while. I used to drop calls all the time. I couldn’t go more than 5 minutes without dropping a call. I even switched phones a few times with no change. I then switched to a Blackberry in February and don’t drop calls anymore. The only thing I can think of is that all of my previous phones were Motorola. My sister still has a Motorola phone and she drops calls just as frequently as I used to and she’s also on AT&T.

    It really makes me wonder how many cell phone service issues are the phone and not the carrier.

  10. Melov says:

    @LizS: Yes but how do we know it’s not the carrier? Maybe AT&T places blackberry users at higher priority because most BB users are in the business class and are more likely to spend money.

  11. homerjay says:

    Why don’t they stop beating around the bush and just go with “AT&T- We’ve got the iPhone and little more to offer”


    “AT&T- We’ve stopped caring…for you”

  12. zl9600 says:

    I have had a great experience with AT&T overall. It sucks in some places. But where I live it’s great, I rarely have a problem. My friends in my area can’t get T-Mobile to work, don’t like Verizon.

    Just to keep things honest here: Not every cell company is perfect everywhere. There will be a ton of anecdotal stories here about how bad AT&T sucks, blah blah blah.

    Then you’ll run an anti-T-Mobile story and hear the same stuff.

    Verizon, Altel, and so on.

    But hey the pageviews are great.

  13. Pipes says:

    Just depends on where you live, I think.

    I have T-Mobile, and in my area of PA I never had a dropped call in over a year. Ever! Now that I just moved down to Raleigh, sometimes my calls are a little choppy.

    Go with what works for you. And be willing to pay more for good customer service, which I never thought AT&T provided me.

  14. Bourque77 says:

    I loved these commercials because every time me and friend watched him he always complained how bad the service was.

  15. azntg says:

    The only kind of people that benefits under “more bars in more places” are alcoholics. ;-)

    Ironically enough, I get the worst service and the most dropped calls whenever I try to call from my AT&T (ex-AT&T Wireless) to another AT&T number. Otherwise, I find that service is satisfactory.

  16. yg17 says:

    How about they use this for a slogan:

    AT&T: Your world delivered… the NSA

  17. amourtada says:

    It’s priceless when my calls don’t even go through half the time. They dial and ring, but the person on the other side doesn’t get it half the time. I even tried this on my home phone, such reliable service that it makes me cry. Oh how I hate you, AT&T.

  18. Buran says:

    All cell phone networks suck in different places. All of them drop calls. Big deal.

  19. AbstractConcept says:

    It’s true. I switched from Verizon to AT&T maybe 4 months ago, my service has gone down horribly.. More dropped calls in the first week then with 2 yeas on Verizon… but at least they don’t make you pay extra for using your own content with a usb cord.. For a few dropped calls it’s well worth it to me. Plus I have so many extra minutes from Rollover, but reception is not Cingular/AT&T’s strong point.

  20. TimSPC says:

    I never understood the fewest dropped calls boast. I’ve had both Verizon and Cingular/AT&T and I’ve never had a problem with dropped calls. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had a call dropped in the middle of a phone call. It seemed like a really lame thing to be bragging about.

  21. FLConsumer says:

    Anecdotal evidence of AT&T sucking? How about wide-spread confirmation of this fact? Had AT&T then Cingular for a work phone… sucked. Gotta love how their phones would show 4-5 bars but when it came time to connect the call, it’d drop down to 1-2 bars, that’s if the network wasn’t overloaded.

    I’ve had GTE/Alltel for the past 10 years. I’ve probably dropped as many calls on Alltel in 10 years as I did on AT&T/Cingular in one month. I’m not making this up. One of my AT&T bills shows over 100 dropped calls in a month and I wasn’t in Bumblef*ck, Iowa either. In the meantime, my Alltel phone works in many parts of the NYC subway. I was quite shocked to have it ring while I was on the 6 train heading downtown.

    The phone you use will affect your performance, but considering we’re usually stuck with whatever crap the cell provider sells us, they should make sure they’re not getting phones with piss-poor transceivers in them. I know for CDMA, Motorola & Nokia tend to have the best reception, while the Qualcomm chipset phones don’t like the Samsung, Kyocera, and LG phones. Been awhile since I’ve been on GSM (was glad to ditch Cingular), so not sure how things fare over there.

  22. OnceWasCool says:

    About time they dropped the lie. I just scream at the TV every time I see it. Thousands of dropped calls and call fails since the ad started.

  23. cryrevolution says:

    FLCONSUMER, I remember that. I have TMobile now (not much better btw) but when I had AT&T/Cingular, I remember the bars always being at like 4 or 5, then when you tried calling out they would always ALWAYs never fail drop to one or two, if lucky. It was so frustrating.

  24. AT&T has the worst coverage. There is no AT&T service in North Dakota. Or most of Minnesota. Or South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho. Anybody who lives in these state can’t get an iPhone- it sucks bad!

  25. jamar0303 says:

    @cryrevolution: At least mine consistently showed 1 bar (and sometimes only the antenna icon on my phone, which means “barely hanging on”, but I can actually still make calls) around Nashville.

  26. SOhp101 says:

    I always wondered how AT&T was able to claim this w/o getting in trouble… everyone I know who has AT&T has had horrible reception.

  27. FLConsumer says:

    @cryrevolution: I’ve never had T-Mobile, as they’re very up-front in this area about where they do & don’t have coverage and they didn’t have coverage in the areas I needed, BUT, I’ve heard their customer service is usually customer-friendly.

  28. yg17 says:

    @FLConsumer: T-Mobile’s customer service is something other companies need to learn from. Their CS is awesome; not something that can be said about most large corporations

  29. maevro says:

    I love AT&T / Cingular. My girlfriend had nothing but problems with Verzion here in NYC so she switched to AT&T and she is much happier. I used to use Sprint and Nextel and they were the worst.

    I would consider T-Mobile once they get their 3G network up and running. AT&T’s UMTS and HSDPA service in NYC is amazing. The only time I lose a call is when I get into the elevator in my apartment building.

  30. Moosehawk says:

    Actually, I recently just went back to AT&T. My contract ended so I decided I would try out T-mobile first. No service, anywhere. They claimed in was the phone so I tried a Nokia. Same thing, except this time the phone’s interface completely sucked!

    Sprint wanted me to pay $170 to try out their network. No thanks.

    Verizon is too expensive.

    Went back to AT&T. Nice phone, service everywhere.

  31. nan says:

    When I had them I figured that the reason they touted having the fewest dropped calls was because they rarely connected in the first place..

  32. craiggers says:

    Here on Long Island AT&T has excellent coverage, better than Verizon in my experience. Sprint is good too and it’s T-Mobile who can’t get their act together. I’ve never had problems with customer service with Verizon or AT&T.

  33. clamman says:

    I know a lot of folks hate AT&T— but I can count the number of dropped call I’ve had with them over the last 3 years on one hand…

    I often start a call leaving work in Boston, and talk continuously for my hour long commute home with no drops…

    I’ve tried all the major carriers- switching every year or two years as my contract expires, hoping to find a reliable signal– Cingular, then AT&T has been the only one that has ever worked in my house.

    I rank them as follows:

    T Mobile

  34. beyond says:

    Their slogan should be

    “AT&T…because you have no other choice.”

  35. not_seth_brundle says:

    @FLConsumer: @yg17: I switched from T-Mobile to AT&T because of an incredibly customer-unfriendly (and T-Mobile-unfriendly, actually) decision on T-Mobile’s part. To try to make a long story short, I had T-Mobile phone service through a family member’s plan, so I was paying them $10/month, and was not under contract. I had T-Mobile Blackberry service through work, on a different device, with about 4 months remaining on the contract. Paying about $37/month for data.

    Around this time, the Blackberry Pearl came out, and I finally felt it was a device I could use for both phone and data. So I called T-Mobile to try to order it. What I wanted to do was get off the friend’s & family plan onto my own phone plan, and sign a new 2-year contract for voice and data, and pay them around $200 for the Pearl. So they were looking at 2 years of at least $80/month from me, v. the 4 months of $37/month that was the status quo.

    Thing is, they wouldn’t waive the ETF on my existing Blackberry contract. Even though I was just going to substitute it with a new contract. Even though I was going to be giving them a lot more money for a lot longer. It was cheaper for me to let my data contract run its course than to pay the ETF, so that’s what I did, and got the Pearl from AT&T.

  36. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    Who’s surprised here. I will also no I have no problems with Cingular except for the cost of incoming text messages (they charge for both ways 15¢ a direction). On the other hand. 99% of my calls are to other Cingular and AT&T customers getting the free member to member discount.

  37. mikecolione says:

    The quality of reception is affected by the phone you are using.

    Someone mentioned blackberry earlier, most of their phones have great reception and call quality, not because the user spends more money, but because blackberry actually makes sure the phones are working before they send them out.

    As for other phone models it depends which area of the country your in because there are different equipment providers used depending which market your in. If the tower (cell station, switch, etc) is Nokia, a nokia phone will work the best.

    As for the fewest dropped calls, It was an overall statement regarding the tests nationwide, not in one particualar city. LA may have tons of dropped calls, but it could have been off set by Orlando having none. Which led to the findings of the fewest dropped calls nationwide.

  38. Cowboys_fan says:

    @not_seth_brundle: So basically you wanted t-mobile to first give you $200 to cancel your contract, then give you a discount on the pearl, so you could start a new line (where effectively you could have 15-30 days to return the pearl, cancel the new line, and screw them over)?
    “So they were looking at 2 years of at least $80/month from me, v. the 4 months of $37/month that was the status quo”
    Until the next BB comes out(or yours breaks), and you want to pull this stunt again.
    I’m not suggesting these were YOUR intentions, but if it worked for you, 15 other people would pull scams like that(and always try) to get out of contract, or to simply get more stuff free/cheap.
    I think any company would have done the same. Try calling AT&T and tell them you want the iphone and a new line and see if they’ll waive your current contract.

  39. consumer_999 says:

    I’ve always been amused by these “fewest dropped calls” types of claims (I think Verizon has one too, most reliable or something like that).

    They’ll say 99.9% call success. Wow, sounds great! But some quick math will tell you though, that at 2 billion calls handled a day, that’s 2 million flubbed calls daily. Doesn’t sound so great when you put it that way.

  40. not_seth_brundle says:

    @Cowboys_fan: If I have to return the Pearl within 14 days, then I don’t see what that plan would have gotten me. Tricking them into waiving the ETF, I guess? If that were their concern, they could have said they’d waive my ETF after the cooling-off period for the new phone/contract had lapsed.

  41. Cowboys_fan says:

    @not_seth_brundle: It just doesn’t work like that(tmobile policy). I’m not saying its right or wrong, it’s just their position. If you only had 4 months left, I don’t see why they wouldn’t just give you that same price, without having to cancel and all that extra crap. If I were your csr, I likely would have matched that same price on your work account, but everybody is different.

  42. Havok154 says:

    I ended up going to Verizon after having to always borrow my g/f’s phone to make calls. Cingular had the worst reception I had seen and it didn’t help that they overcharged us every month, forcing us to call every time to get a credit back.

  43. Coder4Life says:

    I remember I had AT&T (Cingular before), and I tried to cancel their service because where they claimed to have 100% coverage, I would have dropped calls on the major freeway systems liek I35. I called 3 times and my phone call was dropped.

    So when I finally went home and dialed their c.s # and she asked me why I was dropping their service.

    MY answer: “Well, your service has dropped my calls 3 times in the past 20 minutes while trying to call customer service, so I AM NOT DROPPING YOUR SERVICE”

    Her response: “Sounds like a good reason, I am sorry to hear that”


  44. Transient says:

    I call b.s. – AT&T isn’t about to back down on the questionable study. They’ve just picked up a new slogan to go with their rebranding efforts. People think of the “fewest dropped calls” ad and they think Cingular. Can’t have that, can we?

  45. Yourhero88 says:

    I’m a bit miffed by the response here. I love Cingular, having even preferred it over Verizon and T-Mobile. As far as i’m concerned, no wireless carrier is perfect, but they are indeed the lesser of many evils.

  46. needler529 says:

    I’m commenting on AT&T. We didn’t have many problems with Cingular. Now, we can’t use our phones if it’s cloudy outside. We have been customers for 8 years, I’m ready to go elsewhere. This is the first time I had a physical problem with my phone. I went to the storefront that we purchased the phone, they were very helpful, telling me how to call AT&T and request a replacement. Well, calling AT&T was a joke. I was told that since they had never heard of the problem I was having, that the phone wasn’t defective and I would have to buy a new phone. And I have insurance on the piece of junk! Sorry AT&T, we’re leaving the plan as so as our present contract expires. AT&T and their employees don’t care about anything except themselves.