On a recent trip to Central Oregon and specifically Bend, Oregon, I was perplexed as to why my Nokia E71 would not come out of ‘Offline’ mode.Â Thinking it was an issue with the phone or my account, I looked into when I returned home.
After looking at the coverage map for the Bend area (a metropolitan area of about 150,000 people in the central part of the state), I did see that Bend is in the covered area for AT&T service, as seen in the screenshot below.
However, I noticed the link above this map that says “GoPhone” and clicked it.Â I’m a pre-paid AT&T customer, meaning I use the “Pick Your Plan” option to avoid a yearly service agreement.Â Clicking the GoPhone gave me this map, which doesn’t include the Bend area.
Why would AT&T do this to their pre-paid customers? I imagine at least some pre-paid customers are those who are trying out AT&T to see if they like the service.Â If the coverage areas are separate and not as broad, AT&T may lose out on some customers who don’t like to be treated indifferently.
So why the difference in coverage areas?Â My guess is that AT&T doesn’t have towers of their own in the region specified above and are using a peer carrier to make calls.Â Using a peer carrier costs AT&T by the minute and I imagine they don’t make a good profit margin on service in these areas, making it illogical to give pre-paid customers coverage in these geographic areas.
One note – I’ve used T-Mobile pre-paid before, and T-Mobile doesn’t treat their pre-paid customers any differently with respect to coverage areas.Â T-Mobile pre-payers have access to the entire T-Mobile network without restriction.