Another week, another chance to test 3G Internet radio outside of the metros. This time, I motored north and south on California's main artery, I-5. Given my experience in the Mojave, I was optimistic about the Central Valley. It is more heavily used and shoots like an arrow through flat farmland surrounded by hills and peaks. I thought that this corridor is worth at least the same level of 3G infrastructure investment as I-95 on the east coast.
I was wrong.
I expected spotty connectivity going through the Angeles National Forest beyond Santa Clarita. What I did not expect is that things got even worse past Grapevine.
After you get down into the Valley, the next three hours are pure IP hell, just enough tease to fill the buffer then go dark as soon as you start to enjoy the song. AT&T, Sprint, it didn't matter, both networks had very poor coverage. Someone suggested switching my iPhone to EDGE-only to keep swapping at a minimum, but that didn't help. So I hiccuped my way, teeth on edge, up what certainly feels like the fastest stretch of freeway in the USA.
Turning west at Los Banos, connectivity returned at Gilroy and performed beautifully for the remainder of my time all across the Bay Area.
The moral of the story: Internet radio in the car is ready for prime time in the metros, but not in the rural areas.