Business news from the Fredericksburg region.

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AT&T gets high marks

PSSST. I’m going to

tell you a secret.

AT&T doesn’t suck.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless both have good coverage in most of the Fredericksburg area. And competition is making them better, not just here, but across the country.

I became an AT&T customer about nine years ago, after butting heads with a Verizon Wireless rep at a Central Park store. It wasn’t really about Verizon Wireless, just some random guy. I called Verizon Wireless and they were apologetic, offering me a great deal if I stuck with them. But I’d already given George Bailey’s “In the grand scheme of things, I’d say you’re nothing but a scurvy little spider” speech from “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the store, so logic wasn’t going to cause me to change my mind.

Anyway, this was just before the AT&T merger with Cingular. And Cingular’s orange “Jack” logo seemed so bouncy, friendly and welcoming.

That’s right. I’m a typical consumer. I make decisions based on criteria similar to those applied by a single-celled organism. Jab me, or a paramecium, with a sharp object, and we’re both likely to jump to another carrier. Tell me, or a paramecium, that it looks like we’ve lost weight, and we’ll buy just about anything.

Paramecia reproduce both asexually and sexually, so an ad subliminally suggesting that one might get lucky if it buys an iPhone 5 or a convertible probably wouldn’t work. Fortunately, Americans do not reproduce asexually. If we did, we would

all be living in communes.

But I digress.

Your choice of carriers should be based on which one has the strongest signal where you live and where you work, not on a knee-jerk reaction to some conventional wisdom about AT&T. Both it and Verizon have problem areas, but both generally provide good service in our area.

As CNN Money put it earlier this year, AT&T had become “the most hated wireless carrier in America” because of dropped calls and spotty service—experienced in particular by iPhone users.

But without much fanfare, AT&T spent about $20 billion last year on network enhancements, and it’s made a difference.

A new online tool,, allows Fredericksburg area customers to click through to see the improvements over the last couple of years. According to AT&T spokeswoman Audrey Chang, they consist of 19 total upgrades, including one new cell site. The locations of and the nature of the improvements may be viewed using the tool.

Rodger Pulley, AT&T’s retail sales manager for the area, said, “What we’ve done over the past two years is similar to adding another lane of traffic, increasing capacity and reducing dropped calls.”

And that’s good. Paramecia may not date much, but they still hate dropped calls.

Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163

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