"It's abysmal, really."
I am currently located a stone throw from the City in London, on the south side of the Thames and it is virtually impossible for me to use my iPhone for anything else but as an overly priced hand-warmer.
The situation is the following, since June 2009, all iPhone users in the area are boasting full 3G reception on their devices, yet no calls can be made, and SMS, Voicemail and emails never reach the devices. To add insult to injury, in these recurrent scenarios, the iPhone gets very hot and actually drains battery faster than the USB cable can charge it! Which means that I get a very hot block of plastic connected to my computer during the day, and a phone with no battery when I am back at home.
Some iPhone users have banded together and formed a defence committee and are trying to get O2 to fix this issue but so far O2 isn't acknowledging the issue and won't try to fix it. What it is doing though is proposing to buy-back the contracts of the most vocal users, how nice.
I paid for a service I am not getting, and I will not let the provider (O2) weasel its way out of it.
What really irks me is that in days of bad weather, when lots of people telecommute, or after tea time, when everyone's off at the pub, the service works wonders. Which seems to indicate that the infrastructure (or the radio bandwidth? Some radio engineer please correct me here!) is not adequate for the device concentration, and don't tell me the 3G tower logs can't show this to the provider (O2 UK).
The issue might actually be broader than initially thought, as seen from the last three paragraphs of this Arstechnica article about iPhone 3G meltdown in the US.
It looks like no-one wants to point-out the elephant in the room : O2 UK iPhone coverage sucks, and it might very well be unsolvable if it's a 3G protocol flaw.
iPhone screenshot courtesy of James S.