The Dual SIM challenge

by Colin Berkshire

I was very very hesitant when I decided to switch from Verizon to T-Mobile. I had been with Verizon for decades and they had a good (although declining) network. I perceived of T-Mobile as a third-tier company. (I would later change my opinion about this.)


So I decided to keep Verizon AND switch to T-Mobile. I bought a dual SIM iPhone 12 Pro Max and loaded one SIM up with T-Mobile and the other with Verizon. When driving my car I could actually see BOTH of the signal-strength gauges in CarPlay. And, I could immediately switch my data use from T-Mobile to Verizon and back. I could choose which network to originate calls on, and using Call Forwarding I could direct incoming calls to either SIM. I could truly do a side-by-side test.

Yes, there were spots where the Verizon signal was stronger and areas where the T-mobile signal was stronger. Yes, I would have a consistent spot on T-Mobile where the voice audio was garbled, and another area where it was Verizon garbling the call. But overall, I have to say that T-Mobile was more consistent, more reliable, more available.

The ginormous difference was data. What prompted me to leave Verizon was that it was increasingly difficult to watch YouTube videos on the Verizon network. Despite having unlimited data with Verizon, they just didn’t want to give me any. Speeds were incredibly slow, and my YouTube videos would be herky-jerkey (see related post). When I switched to T-Mobile the video would stream perfectly and without hesitation. In fact, the only time that I ever had a problem on T-Mobile was in one cell tower on one day…the data was zero despite having max-bars of signal. (The next day it was working, so I assumed they are having an uplink problem that got fixed.)

My conclusion is that at some point Verizon decided that selling off all of their towers (for $5 Billion) and then buying AOL (for $5 Billion) was a good idea. I don’t know how a corporation can come to such irrational thinking, but I suspect an MBA was involved. So Verizon quit wanting to be in the cellular business and started to be in the … AOL business. (I’m really not making this up…they really did swap ownership of ALL of their cellular towers for AOL…this sounds so stupid that it can’t possibly be true, but it really is what happened!)

So I’m a T-Mobile customer now and for the time being I am a happy one.

T-Mobile has the largest “Standalone 5G” network. (This means that not only are the radios 5G but the switching infrastructure is also 5G.) In contrast, Verizon and AT&T mostly have non-Standalone 5G which means they have 2G networks that had 3G bolt-ons added, and then 4G/LTE enhancements added, and then more patches, and then more bolt-ons. So they have 5G radios on top of what is basically an LTE network.

There is one thing about T-Mobile that makes me sad. John Legere was the rebel-rouser that took T-Mobile from an also-ran to being America’s forefront carrier. He dropped prices, ripped up contracts, and was intensely customer-centric. He hasn’t gotten the fame or recognition that he genuinely deserved. And, he’s gone. Out. So the suits are now in control of T-Mobile and there are signs that they are starting to do what MBAs do best: raise prices.

So we’ll see how this all goes. I’m hopeful. But I still miss John Legere…the un-CEO.