Mobile data service in Asia – Verizon and 4G phones are a bad match

4G mobile phones are still being labeled as ‘next generation’ but I am already looking forward to the following generation since my Motorola Droid Razr with Verizon service is not only bad – it’s mostly non-existent.

Verizon is one of the mobile giants in the United States. It’s unfathomable that despite the fact that I paid an extra fee for an international data plan so I could receive mobile data in addition to making phone calls ($1.99/minute charge!) and sending ($.50 each) or receiving ($0.05) SMS texts. I was forewarned that it might be ‘spotty’.

In Tokyo I rarely was able to receive a mobile network signal, in fact I was walking back from being out using Google Maps when I lost the network and consequently got a little lost. The only way I could use the phone was via the hotel’s wi-fi connection. Which really only worked in the hotel lobby (yes I will be staying somewhere else next time). Like so many of us I have become so reliant on the phone that the idea of being untethered in a foreign country changes the way I have to conduct business.

While, in Tokyo, I called Verizon and they were diligent about trying to help but in the end blamed the difficulties on the 4G phone integration in Tokyo. Attention Verizon customers – in Hong Kong the problem is worse. There is no mobile data network signal available. I was warned about this before the trip as well and knew that I’d need to entirely rely on Wi-fi. For a guy like me on the move constantly living in a Wi-fi world is a big problem. Trying to log-on to Wi-fi networks all over a city like Hong Kong is a big pain. It knocked out consistent use of Google Maps in Tokyo and sometimes in Hong Kong (but strangely sometimes I get Google maps but not a mobile data signal, something that I am trying to figure out.

I can always send texts and pay or receive them and pay, or even make phone calls, and pay. Notice any pattern there? Verizon should be embarrassed at the lousy service they offer that I paid for. It’s not what you’d expect from one of the largest and most well-known U.S. Corporations. Verizon had to know what they were getting into when they partnered with Google/Motorola’s technology. I’ve heard that iPhones don’t have the same issues. Man I am I tired of hearing that.

I have found ways to use Skype via Wi-fi to make phone calls to the U.S. for nothing or next to nothing. There are limitations as for instance I cannot use Skype to call some China phone numbers. I met an associate today who gave me a handsome but inexpensive (as he put it) HTC phone for my trip into China tomorrow including minutes for me to use. Of course it does not work in Hong Kong.

Would things like these aggravate you as much as they do me? Am I wrong to expect and demand better?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver
This entry was posted in Best business practices, Business in China, China, Communication, Customer Experiences, Innovation, Living in the World Today, Mobile Communication, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Mobile data service in Asia – Verizon and 4G phones are a bad match

  1. Pete says:

    Verizon continues to use old (CDMA) technology in the states, and all their phones are based on it. It works great here, but the rest of the world has moved on (to GSM) and Verizon’s methods of providing international service are mediocre, at best.

    For regular international travel you really need either AT&T or T-mobile. There is really no getting around it.

    Like

    • markkolier says:

      Of course you are right Pete but it’s no less frustrating. It could have been handled so much differently – and better! Thanks as always for reading and commenting.

      Like

  2. GeoffreyD says:

    Mark,
    Thanks for this info, as I am weighing a choice between Droid Razr and Iphone 4S (choice btw those two only from my IT dept).
    I was in Tokyo twice this year for business, and though VZW’s 1.99 rate put a crimp on voice calls, I was able to make good use of 3G data, maps and other info. I did note seemingly random data outages or islands of non-reception, similar to what you described.
    Though our company is bound to Verizon for the time being, your info leads me to believe that the Iphone may be the prudent choice, with Asian and European roaming being a priority for me, not to mention the flux described by others with the upgrade for Razrs to Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

    Like

  3. GeoffreyD says:

    Mark,
    Thanks for this info, as I am weighing a choice between Droid Razr and Iphone 4S (choice btw those two only from my IT dept).
    I was in Tokyo twice this year for business, and though VZW’s 1.99 rate put a crimp on voice calls, I was able to make good use of 3G data, maps and other info. I did note seemingly random data outages or islands of non-reception, similar to what you described.
    Though our company is bound to Verizon for the time being, your info leads me to believe that the Iphone may be the prudent choice, with Asian and European roaming being a priority for me, not to mention the flux described by others with the upgrade for Razrs to Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

    Like

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