How Tap Inspect & This Home Inspector Survived the AT&T Outage of 2015

On August 4th of 2015 much of Kentucky, Tennessee and also parts of Georgia and Alabama lost AT&T voice and data service. This was not an isolated temporary event. This was widespread outage that lasted for several hours. For all of us that depend on mobile communications to do our jobs we were essentially off the grid and we had no idea how long it would last.

If you have read some of my other posts you know that I use AT&T for my iPhone carrier. The main reason for this is as a home inspector, I need the ability to use both voice and data at the same time to complete my home inspections. Unfortunately on August 4th neither my voice nor my data service was working and I was a little upset.

I had been doing a home inspection and had already collected most of the data, taken my photos, and completed my comments on my iPhone through the Tap Inspect app. Usually all this information ‘magically’ synchronizes with the Tap Inspect servers while I am doing the inspection but not that day.

At that point of my home inspections I typically grab my iPad, polish off the language and go over the report with my client. I love the amazement on their faces when they see the PDF on my iPad, watch as I publish the report, and then get the email notification on their own phones for them to pickup their home inspection report.

On August 4th I was out of luck. Or so I thought…

A little while back we wrote about 5 Reasons not to buy a WiFi only tablet. I follow our own advice and bought an LTE iPad. I bought a Verizon iPad.

There has been more than one time I have been in areas and had poor signal. Call me paranoid but I figured that if AT&T was bad in an area I could always use a Verizon iPad. If Verizon was bad, I still had my AT&T iPhone. I could always use the hotspot feature from the other device to connect to the internet.

On August 4th, AT&T service was very bad. Thankfully I had my Verizon iPad. I connected my iPhone to the iPad’s hotspot, synced with the Tap Inspect application, and finished up with the iPad, and amazed my client as usual.

So, how did I survive the AT&T outage? Simple, I used my Verizon iPad.

How Buying my Next iPhone Got Very Complicated

iphone-6It’s that time again for me. Time to get a new phone. Argh.

My iPhone 5 has served this home inspector well for the last two years but is now showing its age. The battery doesn’t seem to last as long and it has its share of dents and scrapes. This is not to say my iPhone is useless. It’s considered in ‘Good’ condition. I can get $80 by selling it to Gazelle but I am much more likely to hand it down to one of my kids.

Gazelle also offered to pay me $100 if my iPhone was unlocked. This got me asking some questions: “What is an unlocked phone and should I just buy one this time around?”, “Should I go with another 2 year contract or just pay full price for the phone?”

This seemed like a simple question but the answer has gotten more involved than I had ever thought. Keep in mind, I only was looking at getting a new iPhone. Over the course of the next few posts I will be sharing my journey and hopefully save you the heartache and headaches I went through.

My first step was to list what I needed from my new iPhone. Not just the hardware but also the services I needed as a home inspector.

Talk on the phone and also have Internet at the same time. There have been a number of times that I put someone on speaker and open another app or web browser so I can look something up at the same time. AT&T has this but Verizon does not.

I need a mobile hotspot or data tethering.  There are many times I need to connect my laptop to the internet while out in the field doing home inspections, especially to use the Tap Inspect home inspection app. Many smaller carriers like Cricket prohibit this so I need to stick with major carriers like AT&T or Verizon.

When I upgrade again I will sell or hand my old one down to one of my kids. It would be great if this phone would work on any carrier not just the one I got it from. At my daughter’s home, only Verizon seems to work and AT&T has no signal.

I have decided that I need AT&T service so I can talk and use Internet at the same time, use my mobile hotspot to connect my laptop and be able to switch to Verizon or another carrier when it is time to hand this phone down.

Sounds simple but boy was I wrong.

Next time: Why Won’t Your AT&T Phone Work on Verizon?

Stay tuned.