While I admittedly don't usually have many good things to report when it comes cellular network coverage, capacity and availability in the U.S. I have a real praise for a change this time. With some time to spare after a week of meetings I drove out from San Diego in the direction of Palm Spings, preferring the small roads and enjoying the countryside. When stopping for lunch at one of those traditional family run highway restaurants a dozens miles away from the next town I was surprised that I could find good 3G coverage from AT&T inside.
Even more surprising was that I could get connected with both my penta-band UMTS Nokia N8 as well as with my tri-band 3G USB stick. In other words, AT&T has deployed UMTS 1900, despite the very low population density. If using the 1900 MHz band for 3G was done on purpose or not is another question but it has served me well while being there. Here's a link if you want to see the location for yourself. The pictures on the left show a typical cellular installation along the highway of which I've seen quite a few. It's an Ericsson mini-RBS, probably 2G only. And it must have been there for a while already as there was still a Cingluar logo on it next to the current AT&T globe.