(Note: this is a post from 2000; a more up to date comparison of cellular carriers can be found at the Wirelessnotes.org Cellular Carrier Comparison page.)

Subject: Re: BAM or Sprint in DC
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2000 13:47:05 -0800

all4cell@att.net wrote (regarding acarrier on who to go with in the DC Metro

>Skip them both and go with AT&T. I've been with AT&T for 2 years and
>have had great luck. No roam NY to Richmond, no LD for  Ocean City to

Assuming your call delivery works...(I'm assuming this is referring to one
of AT&TWS Digital plans...)

AT&T uses other carriers in many parts of Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to fill
in where it does not have it's own digital licensed coverage. However, they
are either so reticent to allow calls to be delivered to these other
networks and/or have such poor integration with these networks that you will
be lucky if you can receive (and sometimes place) calls when off of the AT&T

BAMS more or less owns the entire network and has extensive digital and
analog coverage from VA, to DC, throughout DE (some small gaps along US-301
on the Delmarva at the MD/DE line heading south to JCT US-50, as well as
needs some work along DE-1 15 miles south of Dover at the US-13 split),
eastern/northeastern PA, all of Jersey, NY Metro, etc...

Most of their call delivery problems have been resolved and features and
services (like Caller ID, text messaging, etc) work uniformly well
throughout their systems.

Unforutnately, BAMS still insists on segmenting it's Northeast market into
small territories which if you leave (roam out of) incurs roaming charges. A
DC customer will start paying roaming just 30 miles north of Baltimore once
they pass Havre de Grace on I-95. Additionally, BAMS charges toll calls even
within some home/extended home markets, such as a Philly customer who goes
to Atlantic City who receives a call in the Atlantic City market.  BAMS
needs to unify its markets into one large market where home rates apply,
unlimited off peak, no toll delivery, etc. I currently get unlimited
incoming on Nextel anywhere (and no toll charges) and with Sprint the first
incoming minute free with no toll delivery charges and large local calling
areas, and BAMS has some catching up to do in this area.

If you need extensive roam-free and toll-free coverage BAMS Single Rate East
is a better alternative to any AT&T Digital Plan in the Northeast
coverage-wise and in terms of pricing is equally if not more competitive. I
think BAMS still offers first-incoming-minute free in their markets in the
Single Rate East coverage area (CHECK THIS!!), so overall go with BAMS.

As to Sprint -- hey, I have a Sprint phone, and they have their uses (first
incoming minute free with no toll delivery charges), but Sprint as it
currently stands is good for just about that and their nationwide pricing
and that's about it -- otherwise they are a joke and incompetant. They are
an OK backup phone used to reduce your primary charges and good as a "pager"
(ie, someone calls you, you can take the call for free for the first minute
and then either talk and pay/use up your plan's allowance) or call back, but
as a *primary* phone Sprint is a joke and nothing you'd ever want to rely
upon, even in the NE Corridor. They have such a poorly implemented system
with frequent coverage drops (even when standing still), poor Qualcomm CDMA
quality (CDMA is pathetic enough when the signal is good -- callers can TELL
you are on a digital cellphone -- and unuseable in poor coverage areas), and
their failure to implement a system whereby their digital network hands off
to an analog roaming partner's makes the phone more of a toy with decent
rates than a real phone which you would ever want to depend on. If I were
stuck, or lost, I'd take BAMS (or AT&T) over Sprint any time.

(While sitting on hold waiting for Sprint's customer service to come on the
line, they play an ad for Sprint's "Roadside Assistance" which REQUIRES that
you have the Sprint phone to call for help...I always chuckle and say to
myself "Well, there's a service that no one will ever be able to use..." !
:) )

(Again, Sprint has it's uses, but as a PRIMARY phone, forget it...unless you
stay on I-95 all the time and don't go a few miles in either direction where
the coverage fails, you are wasting your time and setting yourself up for a
lot of frsutration. Examples of poor coverage right along the I-95 corridor:
NJ-29 east of west of I-95 in Trenton drops either way once you get more
than 2 miles off the I-95/NJ-29 exit; CT/NY line at I-287 and up to the
Hutch has 2 coverage drops in less than 4 miles)

> Right now if you sign up for 200, 300, 500 min. per month they
>give you 200 extra minutes per month for 6 months. On 700, 1200 and
>2000 they give you 500 extra minutes per month for 6 months. Plus you
>can add off peak unlimited at any time for $4.99 a month. MCI's pretty
>good too. I've been doing this for almost 3 years in this area if you
>interested in service email me w/ your phone # I'll help you out.

Basically paying AT&T for mediocre service on it's
(since they have to eat the roaming charges that way) network will
disappoint anyone who needs to rely upon the phone for receiving calls or
placing calls off of the AT&T network. A friend of mine drives to Philly
regularly on the NJTP (which is NOT I-95 in most sections) and I-95, and in
both cases, once you get out of the NY system (which is getting better) and
before getting to Philly, callers get fast busies, voicemail and generally
can not get in touch with him, and he has a hard time making outbound calls.

BAMS is simply the best in terms of coverage a reliability in the DC Metro
area and from Norfolk to Boston (some A-side exceptions in CT, and SNET on
the B side is decent if you prefer to use them; higher roam rates will

BAMS could do a lot better for itself by providing a single unified market
of ITS properties from DC to Boston and up the Mid-Hudson Valley (and
eventually they will have to do this as the competition gets better; why not
make a little less revenue now and solidify their user base?) on standard
digital rateplans (and not the Single Rate where they eat charges on
off-BAMS network roaming).

Good luck!

(This post and other cellular and CDPD related posts is also available at
http://www.wirelessnotes.org )