My T-Mobile phone picked up Cingular at home today!
I live in an area where there are AT&T Wireless towers, Cingular towers, and T-Mobile towers. Yes, I know AT&T Wireless is supposedly merged with Cingular Wireless, but the towers are still different and will be for some time. While AT&T Wireless has had the ability to use Cingular towers nationwide for several months now, the reverse hasn’t been true until very recently, and even then, it may still not be true everywhere.
My T-Mobile phone, when travelling, has been known to pick up Cingular towers. These are areas where T-Mobile provides no native customers. In California, my phone shows Cingular, but that’s because of the joint-venture now operating those towers in CA, which were originally owned by Cingular.
At home, however, I have never had any expectation that my T-Mobile phone would work on either AT&T Wireless or Cingular towers. Why? Becuase all three carriers have native coverage here and there’s little reason/incentive to allow roaming. While it does provide more seamless coverage for the end user, it does cost the provider more money for their customers to “roam” on other networks.
When I went over to my in-laws house, who has a T-Mobile prepaid account that I set up for them eons ago, their phone was showing Cingular! I asked if they had switched over to Cingular, and they said no, but it had been showing that on and off. So I went home this evening to check my T-Mobile phone and sure enough, I was able to lock onto Cingular.
While there is no guarantee, I hope that a proper Cingular SIM will be allowed to use T-Mobile’s network in this area. Why? There’s a spot where Cingular has very weak or no coverage in Port Orchard, but T-Mobile has excellent signal. If I can roam on T-Mobile with my Cingular SIM (which is still on it’s way to me), then I can probably drop my T-Mobile service.
I can’t lock into T-Mobile with my AT&T Wireless SIM at home, and I don’t expect that will change anytime soon.