Our new home is in the heart of Durham; it’s urban-without-skyscrapers, in a city that’s part of a high-tech triad of municipalities, adjacent to a university campus that has a long-standing cordial relation to Apple. Our AT&T coverage map shows us in the middle of the “best” signal strength, and they even submit that this neighborhood benefits from 3G service. We are perplexed to discover, then, that our cell phones report “No Service.” That’s none — not even the faint cup-and-thread signal that we usually got in a rural area of Princeton.
As we read further, it turns out that the coverage map is not meant actually to reflect the map “may include areas served by unaffiliated carriers, and may depict their licensed area rather than an approximation of their coverage [my emphasis]. Actual coverage area may differ substantially from map graphics [my emphasis, again], and coverage may be affected by such things as terrain, weather, foliage, buildings and other construction, signal strength, customer equipment and other factors.” Well, I knew that architectural features and terrain matter, but this house rests out in the open, not folded into the valleys that hide outer Princeton from cell towers. And since architecture does matter, we tried our phones down the road at Clay and Sarah’s house, and we got no signal there, either.
Last trip to Durham, I don’t remember having been shut out, so this may be a transitory effect. We hope. But getting no signal at all from our contracted carrier would make this a very large headache.