The constant wrangling between AT&T and Verizon Wireless can get on my nerves. It makes me, and I’m sure a lot of people out there, root for the “other” carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile USA. T-Mo and Sprint make for good underdogs in the carrier wars. After hearing Sprint’s recent the-worst-is-over report to investors, I’m increasingly intrigued by what’s up Dan Hesse’s sleeve.
The Evo from HTC, and its corresponding 4G service, is in my humble opinion the first device that comes anywhere near the iPhone in terms of features. I also like the idea of paying a lot less per month for my service (I currently have an iPhone through AT&T). The lower prices at T-Mo and Sprint are a verifiable stone-cold fact that neither AT&T nor Verizon Wireless can deny, although they’ll gladly try to justify that extra per-month charge with their “bigger, faster” arguments.
I like what I’ve experienced on Sprint’s 4G network the couple of times I’ve tested it in Las Vegas (Madison, Wis., doesn’t yet have the service). VZW and AT&T are, of course, busy trumpeting LTE as the end-all for network speeds, but judging by what the analysts are saying, I’m just not so sure about anything that comes out of that camp lately. And what’s with AT&T’s recent retreat to an HSPA+ strategy?
When it comes to network claims, I’m of the believe-it-when-I-see-it persuasion. I’ve seen WiMAX, as well as a pretty impressive HSPA+ demo from T-Mo at CTIA this spring, and they’re both a long way from what I’m getting on my 3G connection from AT&T. Perhaps AT&T saw the same T-Mo demo I saw?
Anyway, as I write this, I’m looking at my iPhone, which is dutifully pushing out a couple of news alerts from CNN. This addictive little gadget has seriously tied my hands in the way of moving to another carrier. While the Evo impresses, the iPhone creates dependency, and for better or worse, I am utterly dependent on the Apple-branded smartphone UI.
After listening to a webcast of Sprint’s investor conference today, I had a moment where I tried to imagine the end of iPhone exclusivity in the United States. I tried to imagine walking on over to my local Sprint or T-Mo store and picking out a reasonably priced plan and a subsidized iPhone that will suffer fewer dropped calls and actually maintain a 3G connection when I’m in San Francisco.
My bliss was brought back to earth when I realized that there are AT&T executives having the same visions, only they call it a nightmare, and not a blissful dream. I’ve resisted any kind of bashing of AT&T for a long time, as I’ve seen equal ups and downs in quality of service from friends in the Verizon camp.
Still, I want believe that there should be choice in my wireless future, but when I can see clearly in mind’s eye the droves of customers fleeing AT&T when the iPhone goes elsewhere… Well, let’s just say that I’m less than optimistic that I’ll be switching to another carrier with my iPhone. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t see a Sprint or T-Mobile-branded Apple device in my hand anytime in the near future. Heck, I’m not even holding my breath for a Verizon Wireless version.