The iPhone can be a great utility for your law practice, it can help you stay mobile, and it can be used during client meetings to help clarify a client’s situation. That said, does bad network coverage cripple its usefulness?
Because we use Skype for actual phone calls, the only time I use my iPhone to make a call is if I am dialing in through Skype. One problem with Skype is that it needs a Wi-Fi connection. If I am out and about, Skype is no good.
For lawyers who use an AT&T number as their business number, I have heard mixed reviews. Many people complain that AT&T’s coverage is flat out bad. In cities with lots of iPhone users, when tons of iPhone users use the internet, it can drag the network to a dead stop. That is a serious problem. Even if you do not live in a iPhone crazed city, users complain about bad coverage in certain areas. If that happens to be your office, you are in trouble.
Fortunately, there are some solutions. One, AT&T sells 3G Microcells for $150. Connect the Microcell to your existing internet connection, and you effectively create a mini-AT&T tower that up to four iPhones can use. AT&T claims they will offer some form of rebate or service discount to users who buy a Microcell. I think it is nice that there is a solution, but I think it is ridiculous consumers have to pay for it. Fortunately, I have good coverage, so count me out.
A cheaper, and more practical solution is to use another phone service over Wi-Fi in your office. Google Voice is one option, and so is Skype. The latest rage is Toktumi (say it outloud). Toktumi costs $15 a month after an initial trial. The advantage, however, is that Toktumi can make calls over Wi-Fi or the AT&T network. Meaning you can save lots of minutes when you are in a hotspot.
AT&T’s coverage may not be perfect, but there are some workable solutions.