The Trouble With Cingular

For those who haven’t seen it, and are still wondering why so many people are down on Cingular as the sole iPhone wireless provider, read the recent Consumer Reports article:

The 20-city Ratings … also show the major carriers that generally ended up at the bottom for
service, according to our readers. Those include Cingular and Sprint.


  1. I would bet that this wasn’t so much a Cingular vs. Verizon et al decision, as it was a GSM vs. CDMA decision. The primary decision at Apple was probably to build a GSM phone so that they could have the broadest international coverage at the lowest development cost. Then they looked around and did a deal with the largest GSM carrier in the US. Pretty straightforward stuff, I think…

  2. I’m not sure how useful these reports are. For me it’s always dependent on what the coverage is like at home and at work. For me Cingular is the ONLY provider that works in those two places. For me I’m locked in. I have no other choice.1

  3. Fair point, Divesh. Sadly, however, the upshot is the same: iPhone/Apple ends up wedded to one of the least-liked wireless providers in North America.

  4. I’d like to pile on.
    I’ve had Cingular for 8 years because it’s the only carrier that provides reasonable coverage near my home. As long as all you need is basic phone service they’re fine, however, the second that ANYTHING goes wrong or needs changed (new phone, extra lines, service activation, billing problems) everything goes to He11. It is absolutely impossible for anyone, who hasn’t experienced it first-hand, to comprehend the absolute mind-bending Kafakaesque nighmare that is Cingular’s “customer service.” I actually broke a sweat just writing this 😉

  5. I’ve had very good luck with Cingular, over the past 7 years or so, through man phones. They’ve always been pretty good and efficient about customer service for me.
    The thing about phone companies is that they are HUGE, and while many people may get decent customer service, they are not very consistent. So if you are unlucky and end up in the hands of the incompetent service people, you will have a very different view.
    It would be nice if one of the big carriers really tried to get good service to 99.9% of customers. Maybe someday.