So am I going soft? Me, one of AT&T’s regular critics for its outrageous international roaming, for its patchy 3G, then exaggerating its 3G reach in its ads…but at many times on the 4.5 hour Southwest flight yesterday where I signed onto its Row 44 “wi-fly”, I could not wait to get on the ground and onto the AT&T network.
Only 4 of us on the flight were on the service (I walked about the plane and asked anyone who had a laptop open). So, not enough to cause contention issues. Each was unhappy with the service.
It started off surprisingly well. I ran a ping on Speedtest.net and the download speed was 1.8 mbps. Not bad. Yahoo Maps give you an interactive location, altitude etc. Cool.
The upload speed, though, was snail like - less than 200k. And it went downhill from there. Pages were taking minutes to load. Firefox froze a couple of times. Oh well, write off the $ 10 fee.
But I decided to switch to my PDA and paid another $ 6 (yes, lower fee than for laptops). Much better. I could check all my mail accounts – multiple ISPs. I could use Twobile to post tweets - about 70% of attempts. I could track the Rays -Yankees on the ESPN site. But (not surprisingly) the YouTube client would not connect to its servers. Same with AT&T’s Cellular Video.
Though Southwest specifically says VoIP is a no-no , I tried to fire up Skype. The app would not load. Google Voice: called my daughter – she could hear me. I could not. So we switched to its SMS back and forth.
I had a Twitter conversation with Karen Auby of Plantronics during the flight. Her experience on Virgin’s wi-fly is a lot more pleasant.
Overall, though the words “poor man’s Jetblue” kept popping in my head. I mean for most of the decade satellites have allowed its passengers to watch live TV – and here I was squinting into a PDA and finding out every few minutes whether Jabba Chamberlain had thrown a ball or a strike.
Wi-fly better get good in a hurry.
So, back on terra firma, I fire up Bing Mobile on my PDA to help me navigate, and I get on a call. Few minutes into the call I notice the maps are not painting. I have moved out of AT&T’s 3G coverage and of course when you are downgraded to its Edge coverage you cannot walk and chew gum at same time.
Oh, because I am in the wilderness where I should be grateful for any coverage? Yes, the wilderness called I-880 which cuts through the heart of Silicon Valley. And all the negative feelings towards AT&T came rushing back…