Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wireless Contract Policies on Network Coverage

Do you receive great network coverage from your wireless carrier? If you have signed up for a top wireless network then you will probably have great mobile phone reception. But if your location has a lot of weak or dead spots then your mobile phone experience may be unpleasant. After all a wireless phone is useless as a communication device without network coverage.

The system of radio communications antennas owned or used by your service provider defines the area of service coverage that affects your cellphone. The reception quality you get largely depends on your location and the network design of your carrier.

However, you might not be aware that the coverage or the availability of service is also stated in the wireless contract you signed to get your mobile phone plan. It is important that you see what your wireless contract says about service availability before you sign it. Otherwise, you may not have the right to complain about coverage after you have signed it. Let's take a look at some wireless contracts and see what they have to say about coverage or service availability.

The Service Availability and Access/Coverage section of AT&T's Terms and Conditions states that,
AT&T does not guarantee availability of wireless network. Services may be subject to certain equipment and compatibility/limitations including memory, storage, network availability, coverage, accessibility and data conversion limitations. Services (including without limitation, eligibility requirements, plans, pricing, features and/or service areas) are subject to change without notice. When outside coverage area, access will be limited to information and applications previously downloaded to or resident on your device. Coverage areas vary between AT&T BroadbandConnect, EDGE and GRPS. AT&T BroadbandConnect only available in select markets. See coverage map(s), available at store or from your sales representative, for details. AT&T BroadbandConnect download speeds only available on the AT&T BroadbandConnect network. Actual download speeds depend upon device characteristics, network, network availability and coverage levels, tasks, file characteristics, applications and other factors. Performance may be impacted by transmission limitations, terrain, in-building/in-vehicle use and capacity constraints.
This statement from AT&T clearly indicate that they do not guarantee the service of a wireless network at all times. A device may not be able to connect to AT&T's network due to a variety of reasons including terrain, capacity constraints and other factors. This statement also points out the importance of looking at coverage maps. Look at your carrier's coverage map to find out if you'll have optimum coverage in your area.

Let's now check out the Network coverage policy of another wireless network. The Coverage; Where Your Device Will Work section of Sprint Nextel's wireless contract states that,
Our coverage maps are available at our stores and on our website. The specific network coverage you get will depend on the radio transmissions your Device can pick up and Services you've chosen. Our coverage maps provide high level estimates of our coverage areas when using Services outdoors under optimal conditions. Coverage isn't available everywhere. Estimating wireless coverage and signal strength is not an exact science. There are gaps in coverage within our estimated coverage areas that, along with other factors both within and beyond our control (network problems, software, signal strength, your Device, structures, buildings, weather, geography, topography, etc.), may result in dropped and blocked connections, slower data speeds, or otherwise impact the quality of Service. Services that rely on location information, such as E911 and GPS navigation, depend on your Device's ability to acquire satellite signals (typically not available indoors) and network coverage.
Sprint Nextel's Terms and Conditions stresses that coverage is not available everywhere. If you are unlucky, then your location may fall into the "gaps" of Sprint Nextel's wireless network. There are also uncontrollable factors that may rob you of a good reception such as geography and weather. You can also get an idea of the quality of coverage in your area by looking at Sprint's coverage maps.

Now let us look at the "most reliable network" and see their take on coverage or service availability. Veriszon Wireless' Customer agreement says that,
Wireless phones use radio transmissions, so we can't provide service when your phone isn't in range of a transmission site used to provide service. Even within a coverage area, there are many factors, including network capacity, your phone, terrain, proximity to buildings, foliage, and weather, that may impact availability and quality of service.
If the "most reliable network" can't provide service all the time then, coverage is really not available at all times. Even Verizon can't overcome a lot of the factors that may affect the quality of reception. Well, it's not yet an exact science as these wireless contracts tell us so we may have to wait for new technologies that can overcome these obstacles.

The wireless contracts tell us that as of now, coverage or perfect reception is not guaranteed. You can't really complain about having no coverage in your area because no network has complete control over factors that may affect your reception. I hope this post on coverage will give you some useful info.

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