A Verizon and AT&T test ahead of iPhone announcement 

For Bay Area AT&T customers who endure spotty and slow cell phone coverage, today’s expected announcement that the Apple iPhone will become available to Verizon Wireless customers could not come soon enough.

Ahead of the expected announcement today, The San Francisco Examiner took to the streets of The City to conduct an unscientific experiment, comparing the signal strength between an AT&T iPhone and a Verizon BlackBerry Tour.

Bay Area iPhone users have borne the brunt of dissatisfaction with AT&T service. The company, which has recently announced expansion plans for cell service, has admitted that the high level of smart-phone use in and around San Francisco results in slower service.

Today, Verizon is making an announcement at 8 a.m. Numerous media reports, including from The Wall Street Journal, have said the news is that the iPhone will be available on the Verizon network.

The results of The Examiner’s test show that in most downtown locations, AT&T trailed Verizon’s coverage with one less bar. However, the farther west one traveled, the larger the difference in coverage. At Ocean Beach and along Great Highway, for instance, AT&T shuffled between two and three bars out of a possible five.

Despite the poor service AT&T users report, they have flocked to the iPhone. The device debuted in 2007 exclusively on AT&T and has been big business for the phone company. AT&T activated 11.1 million iPhones in the first nine months of 2010, according to the most recent figures available.

AT&T customers, however, may not immediately flock to Verizon just for the iPhone, according to industry analysts.

“There won’t be a mass exodus,” said Charles Golvin, a principal analyst for Forrester Research. “The initial sales will all be from existing [Verizon] customers.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Will you make the switch to Verizon?

Those iPhone users interviewed are split about whether to switch cell phone providers.

I haven’t thought about jumping ship, but I just moved here and AT&T’s coverage is horrendous.
— Megan O’Meara, 31, The City

I will not switch. I do not think Verizon has good reception. When my parents come to town, they cannot use their phones. I have some problem areas, but I think it’s less than Verizon.
— Emily Amata, 28, The City

Absolutely. I have been waiting almost two years for Verizon to get it. I love the iPhone. I almost dropped AT&T for a Verizon BlackBerry because the coverage was so bad.
— Chris Guiffre, 42, Boston

I used to have T-Mobile and I’d have to hang my phone over the door to get reception. I know a lot of friends who have to do that with Verizon. I moved to AT&T for the iPhone, and I love it.
— Daniel Brewer, 28, The City

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