Sunday, January 3, 2010

Waiting for 3G

By Adam Shull (

Having an iPhone and not having 3G service for it is like having a Ferrari but not the keys.

At least that’s how Alex Roman of Paducah feels.

“You can still do all the same stuff on your phone but with the 3G it’s so much better,” Roman said.

But iPhone users, and other AT&T customers, in Paducah will have to wait a little longer for 3G to come around.

Paducah and the surrounding area does not receive 3G service from AT&T and won’t until sometime in 2010, according to Cathy Lewandowski, AT&T spokeswoman.

“We plan to launch 3G in Paducah in 2010,” Lewandowski wrote in an e-mail. “We’ve been working for several years to bring 3G to our customers in Paducah.”

Lewandowski said she couldn’t comment on exactly when the service will be available in Paducah.

She said part of the reason it is not offered now is because of Federal Communications Commission guidelines that kicked in after the merger of Cingular and AT&T Wireless in 2005.

“We would have launched Paducah sooner, but we were required by the FCC to divest part of our spectrum, at the time of the Cingular-AT&T Wireless merger, and we did not have enough spectrum remaining to launch 3G even though Paducah was high on our priority list.”

Cell phone companies pay for rights to use the finite spectrum of wireless frequencies, and the FCC regulates how much of the spectrum companies own as part of anti-trust laws.

The 3G service from AT&T is available in most major cities, and as close to Paducah as Hopkinsville, Madisonville and Cape Girardeau, Mo.

It takes its name from being a third generation telecommunications service. It allows people to download and upload photos and video via the Internet with their mobile phones at speeds consistent with a cable modem. It also uses a larger network of cell phone towers to prevent dropped calls and enhance the voice quality during calls.

Verizon Wireless began offering 3G service in Paducah in November 2007, according to Michelle Gilbert, Verizon Wireless spokesperson.

But the iPhone, created by Apple, is only offered on the AT&T network. The phone revolutionized the way people access the Internet and share multimedia data with phones, which is what drew Roman to the iPhone.

“I bought my first (iPhone) in early 2008,” Roman said. “I work at Regions Bank and use the mobile banking where I can go online (on the phone) and check my balance and send e-mails.”

Roman can access the phone’s functions without 3G, just at much slower speeds.

“Speed is the biggest issue,” Roman said. “When you go to Nashville (Tenn.) or Atlanta, which have 3G, the Internet works so much faster. It’s so much nicer.”

Some iPhone users in the area are particularly irked since their phones, costing between $100 and $300, are marketed to take advantage of Web applications and Internet browsing, functions that require longer download times if not operated on a 3G service. One iPhone model even carries the 3G title in its name, the newer Apple iPhone 3GS.

Matthew T. Patton wouldn’t have an iPhone without 3G service.

Patton, who lives in Philadelphia, visits family in Crittenden and Lyon counties.

“I travel home to Kentucky to visit my family several times a year,” Patton wrote in a message on Facebook.

“The lack of 3G service (on his iPhone) is incredibly frustrating when I’m there. It’s nearly impossible to conduct any type of data transaction like sending an e-mail or uploading a photo to Facebook.”

“Certainly, if I moved back to Kentucky, I think it would be impossible to have an iPhone since I’m so used to using it with a 3G network.”

The good news for Patton and local AT&T customers is that 3G is coming sometime in the next 365 days.

Lewandowski said AT&T will also either upgrade or install new equipment in the Fremont area and just southwest of Lovelaceville in 2010 to enhance cell phone coverage.

Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

(Source: The Paducah Sun, Jan. 2, 2010. Photo by John Wright. Used with permission).


Chris said...

I received a direct response from AT&T, via an inquiry I made to Rep. Ed Whitfield, regarding the lengthy delay in 3G coming to Paducah. The plan is to have it up and running by the end of this summer. You may see it sooner, when tests are run. EDGE is not that bad when it works like it is supposed to. I have a blackberry bold. When I'm getting speeds 150-250kbps, it's not the end of the world. The problem is, some cell sites are more taxed, and the priority goes over to voice. The Kentucky Oaks Mall area is absolutely terrible for EDGE service. Yet, west of Lone Oak, in Mayfield, and in southern Illinois up around Marion, and Carbondale, EDGE runs pretty good. Ping times and latency are also a greater issue on EDGE than 3G. The whole upgrade is done differently too. Verizon, via the cell tower technology they have in place, were able to upgrade their CDMA services much more rapidly. GSM and associated cell tower technology upgrades to 3G take longer physically. That's why you see the urban markets filled up, but the rural areas with AT&T still behind Verizon. AT&T is trying to get the population centers first. Anyway, that's about all I know up to this point.

Anonymous said...

Anyone able to get a definite date from AT&T on when they plan to go live!?! EDGE is about to kill me!!!

Chris said...

There is no definite date. The general time frame is this summer. I've heard we could see the signal as early as May or June. AT&T won't set that in stone though.

Ryan said...

Just got off the phone with AT&T tech support after having trouble making & receiving calls today (probably due to the storms). The representative actually volunteered that the tower in my home area (Herrin, IL) has an estimated 3G activation date of 7/15/2010!! It sounds like southern Illinois coverage will be quite expansive--from Carbondale & Murphysboro to Marion & Herrin then north to Benton & West Frankfort, covering a large part of Jackson, Williamson, & Franklin counties. I work in Paducah, so I asked about you guys as well. Sounds like 3G may be turned on at some of those towers by the middle of May 2010! The greater Paducah area should have good coverage (Paducah, Lone Oak, Reidland, Heath), in addition to Hwy 45 south to Mayfield. For those of you who occasionally drop calls on Hwy 60 heading west of the airport towards Kevil, the rep confirmed that AT&T is planning to build a new tower on Hwy 60 in that general vicinity as well. From what I gather, the transition to 3G should be nearly complete in both the Carbondale/Marion IL and Paducah KY population centers by the time school goes back in session for fall semester!!!

Anonymous said...

Anyone been able to see 3g yet? Still have Edge every time I've check in Paducah...

I'm hoping the poster above was correct on his dates and 3g should start popping up...

Harkle said...

After an email inquiry yesterday to an AT&T executive, 3G signal will be turned on in mid August in Paducah. I was hoping for 3G before iPhone 4 launch June 24th but I guess we can wait another 2 months!!

Anonymous said...

Next month in July you WILL have 3g.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right. Edge is driving me crazy I have the iPad 3g and the iPhone 4. I need 3g...Edge is soooooo slow!

Anonymous said...

It's July 3G. We will all believe it when we "see it". I wonder if any new towers will be around the Calvert City area. Terrible reception for me and with the plants in that region it is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I have heard from 2 sources that 3g will be enabled in July and have been told from a reliable source it will be in 2 weeks!! Trust me I have and iPhone and iPad and want this very badly. I have to believe unless something really bad goes wrong, it will be in enabled in paducah this month.

Anonymous said...

It's July, and there is still no 3G in Paducah. I don't plan on renewing my contract with AT&T which ends very very soon. I'll switch to Verizon where there is already 3G in place. I bought this phone because I was told that they would have 3G in Paducah soon. (That was 2 years ago). AT&T sells the network they "wish" they had.

Ryan said...

Well, for all you AT&T doubters out there, I've got some good news. Herrin, IL (Carbondale/Marion market) has 3G as of this morning. Turned the phone on shortly after 7 am--and voila--3.5G is showing up! Other account phones also show 3G. Granted, this is about a week or two later than expected here, but they are still meeting their overall goals of 3Q 2010 & prior to commencement of SIU fall semester. Not sure if this is the "big" switch yet, as I have yet to see an official press release and they may still be testing. But it's here, nonetheless. Given everything I've been told, I would imagine 3G for Paducah is just around the corner--as you are on a similar timeline to southern Illinois. 3G--FINALLY!!!

Anonymous said...

I got new info today that said 3g in paducah was going to be lit up on Aug. 9th...We shall see. Hope so!

Anonymous said...

7/30/10: Noticed the 3G symbol on my Blackberry Bold. I was in Carbondale, IL, and I thought, "Oh, I had taken out my battery pack and restarted my phone. I must have not turned off the 3G feature. No wonder my battery has been dying sooner. It has been searching for the non existing 3G network." I wasn't thinking. Then I thought, "Hey maybe Carbondale has 3G!", "Oh, what am I thinking!" I then thought. "Maybe Carbondale has it. Forget Marion. I wonder how long it will take for Marion to get it." 7/31/10: I noticed the 3G symbol again but in Marion and I called the local AT&T store and they told me that they launched 3G from Murphysboro to Marion and up to Benton. Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adam Shull said...

This is Adam Shull from The Paducah Sun, the one who wrote the article above.

AT&T has an announcement planned this week concerning 3G coming to Paducah/McCracken County.

Check for more.

Anonymous said...

Hope we find out how this will affect 3G in Metropolis, IL, if at all.

Anonymous said...

Adam, that works great *IF* you have a subscription to the Paducah Sun

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:
Adam here again:

The Sun's website now has free Web updates available, subscription or no. It's a new feature, and one we used to release some of the info on the 3G update.

Just in case anyone hasn't heard by now, AT&T announced 3G coming to Paducah on Aug. 16. They said surrounding counties will receive 3G service by November.