Opinion: 3 switcheroo makes Telstra seem like good value

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Opinion: 3 switcheroo makes Telstra seem like good value

Switch back - or I might switch off.

For the first time since moving to Australia I am thinking about switching my mobile phone service to Telstra - and it's not because of Cabbioke!

Having had five years with Vodafone and then switching to 3 in mid-2009, I have come to the conclusion that it might just be worth paying Telstra's ridiculous prices in order to get some reliable coverage.

Yesterday, 3 did a network switcheroo in my area - so now when its customers are not in range of its 3G network, the handsets try to connect with Vodafone's 2G network. Before this change, 3 had defaulted to Telstra's 2G network.

click to view full size image
Screenshot from my iPhone

For me, the switch has so far been a complete disaster. My mobile phone is about as useful as, well as a phone that has no service. The handset seems to be either in roaming mode or there is no service at all.

The strangest part is that area where there were previously no noticeable 3G signal issues - such as at the iTnews.com.au offices in McMahons Point (Sydney) - I now even have difficulties making a phone call without dropout. Or at my train station in Sydney's inner west, for that matter.

I'm not sure exactly what 3 has done and neither, it seems, do its customers.

Within hours of the initial story about the switch appearing on iTnews, readers claiming to be customers of 3 say they have not been informed about the switch while other say they have been able to roam on the Vodafone network for up to two months.

A quick look at the forums on Whirlpool indicate 3 customers have been experiencing service issues for months.

User drzeus claims to have been a satisfied 3 customer for many years. The user wrote: "Increasingly my phone spends at least 20 attempts every day searching, switching to VF, Roaming or No service like a Yo Yo... I spent 45min on the phone with 3 today only to be forced to reset the settings on my iphone 2-3 times and jump through hoops only to be told "it must be your phone as the computer shows that you *should* be within a 3 zone".

"I love 3 and have enjoyed their value plans BUT there is something stinky about the network changes thus far. Unfortunately tomorrow I will be walking into a Telstra shop....I hate the bastards but I have no choice," added drzeus.

Other Whirlpool users agree with drzeus and even suggest that the service issues might be a move to try and migrate users from 3 to Vodafone. It seems unlikely that this is the case but it is however very likely that 3 is losing customers because of its service issues.

I really don't care which network 3 uses to piggy-back my calls, as long as the service is reliable. If this is the kind of coverage I can now expect from 3, I will no longer require its services either.

The biggest question for 3 users looking to move is where to go. I earlier said paying Telstra's high prices might be worth it for the reliability but a few minutes examining the company's pricing plans has sent shudders down my spine and  into my wallet.

All it would take to make me switch is for another telco to recognise an opportunity to snap up some market share from a competitor and offer a special deal to migrate. I for one would be very willing to listen.

Have you experienced problems with th 3 network in the last 24 hours?

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