Is my POOR RECEPTION due to my old phone or the service?

I use ATT for my cell phone service. I live in Chicago. I have had my Sony Ericsson phone for 8 or 9 years (yeah, I know...but I've taken very good care of it and it's very small and easy to use and I don't think there's anything wrong with it).

So...that is my question. Has cell phone service changed so much (new networks - 3G, 4G) that my phone is not working well because of that...OR, has my phone just somehow developed "bad reception" in its older age...OR, does my provider's coverage just suck where I am using my phone?

I wouldn't think that the antenna would "wear out" over time...

Is my phone not able to work as well with the new technology of the current networks? Is the signal different enough that my phone is having problems?

I don't want to buy a new phone just to have crappy ATT reception in the same places with the new phone.

Thanks very much for any help you all can offer.

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Clarification Request
which model handset are you using?

Just want to verify it has both 850/1900 GSM frequency bands and is not euro-tri band. You phone is likely GSM only or perhaps a GAIT phone like I used to use w/ ATT before they shut off TDMA.

Some parts of Chicago are tough with some network changes happening at times. Indoor coverage is no longer good at certain locations, and other places now have a usable signal that formerly did not exist Wink. There's also the possibility that the cell site (=tower) closest to you is being worked on/upgraded/etc.

Best method to test out the service is to borrow a friend's (newer) handset, that includes 3G frequency bands and insert your SIM to test the difference in person. Testing out two different handsets would be even better- sometimes ATT stores will let you do this.

Another place to check on coverage in your neck of the woods is Plenty of Chicago folks in the ATT forum to commiserate with there.

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More info...

Thanks to everyone for the help. My phone is a (don't laugh) Sony Ericsson T226.
It's so small. I love it.

And it sounds like I need to make some friends then borrow their phones. I'll work on that. Ha...

My reception has always been bad in my apartment (my current place and my last apt) but I find that my calls are being dropped constantly when in the car - all over the city. Not just in a spot or two. Maddening...

Thanks again and thanks for the suggestion.

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This sounds more like the coverage is simply poor...

...where you need to use the phone around Chi-town.

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Phone used in many neighborhoods...

West Loop, West Town, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Bucktown, North Center, Lakeview, etc... Sucky in lots of spots.

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The answer to your question can be both. The antenna on your device might be worn out, no matter how great you took care of your phone. At&t has bearable service, just bearable and is nothing short of excellent. You should run a test. Try to find some friends with At&t service providers and bring them to your house and see if their reception is any stronger then yours.

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First I've heard of this.

While we do see RADAR antennas wear out, most of that is due to the moving parts. These cell phones usually have no moving parts in the antenna and finding a worn out antenna is something I've never seen.

Is there some IEEE or other paper on this to read?

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You're nose is growing(!) (n/t)


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Have you.....

.....asked At&t if the IRDB is up to date in your phone/account? If it is not up to date you may not be receiving the optimal signal to the phone. It can be easily corrected, but call them from another phone # to troubleshoot.

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AFAIK GSM doesn't use mobile-side IRDB

That's all on the network side now, unlike TDMA was before ATT switched over to GAIT, then GSM. And FWIW, when Cingular/ATT removed the manual network selection, reception got even worse for me on my trusty 'ol Nokia 6340i Sad.

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Unless something dramatically changed....

......At&t was using the IRDB with all GSM phones and it was always part of the troubleshooting process while I was still w/ At&t CS in 2009.

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Maybe I am remembering it somewhat incorrectly

Perhaps either her handset or SIM is old enough now that the OTA updates didn't always make it. Maybe that's why her reception has been marginal all along.

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You guys are all so smart...

I did borrow a co-worker's iPhone (3) and the reception was still sucky where I normally have trouble with my phone. When I called my sister from my apt, she did say that the borrowed phone sounded better there...
I have read that US Cellular has the best call quality in the Chicago area. Do I really want to switch? What if they suck, too? I've been with ATT since I got my first cell back in...1997 I think?... (not that it matters...loyalty-wise, I just don't have any experience with other service providers).
Btw, can you define the following?...
Trying to increase the ol' knowledge base...
Thanks again.

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it can be both

it can be both, both can create problem your device or your network, is your friends around you using the same network facing problem ?? if so the network might be problem or else it is time to change your mobile

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It takes some experimenting to get it all right

I've lived in Chicagoland since ~1994. That said, my cell service has gotten better over time, but's it's still not perfect everywhere. ATT has certainly improved for me though. Trial and error is to be expected for evaluating any of them, especially living in more densely packed parts of the city where there are more obstacles to good signals reaching where they need to. Big buildings (etc.) can block useful signals from reaching inside your apartment, and it is also a function of how close you are to the closest cell site. And this goes for all the carriers, including USCC. There are places around Chicago where they also have less than useful service. YMMV (=your mileage may vary). The trial period when you sign up for service is when you need to actually test it out thoroughly. Normally this is between 14 and 30 days depending on the carrier (see their web sites for this info). US Cellular is definitely cheaper than ATT though.

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OTA = Over The Air - process where cellular company sends updates automatically to a phone

IRDB = International Roaming Database - set of codes that determine which cellular providers that your cellular company will allow a customer to roam on (send/rcv calls/data/messages) when off-network.

GSM = Global Standard for Mobile Communications - method of cellular network (At&t and T-mobile in the US)

GAIT = a retired cellular network which was used during the transition from the older TDMA network to GSM

TDMA = Time Division Multiple Access - a retired cellular network introduced prior to GAIT and GSM.

FWIW = For What it is Worth

IEEE = For example......

I understand that most of use chronic posters use a lot of these acronyms and not everyone knows what they mean. Don't hesitate to ask if you don't know what it is.

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