I think I should have guessed something was wrong last fall, when i accidentally left my iPhone in the car overnight. the next morning, when i realized what i had done, i secretly wished that my window had been smashed in and my iPhone taken.

Rock bottom came two months later, when I dreamed that my iPhone was stolen … and i woke up bummed that it didn’t actually happen.

Don’t get me wrong, i love my iPhone. It’s arguably the best thing that I have ever owned. it’s just not a phone — because for it to be a phone, i’d have to occasionally get AT&T coverage within the borders of Washington, DC.

It turns out that my problem is a mixture of the science behind AT&T’s network, and location-location-location. The range of each cell tower shrinks as more and more people us that particular tower. In DC, all the towers are on the beltway. When the network gets busy, the coverage retreats from the center of the city towards the edges … which is exactly where I don’t live.

So, once the new version of the iPhone came out (and another gazillion people started using AT&T’s network) my reception went from spotty to non-existant.

When I walk around Mount Pleasant on an average day, I get limited, spotty access to AT&T’s vinatge EDGE network. I’ll average about two hours of cell coverage a day in my house, but more often than not those tenuous bars disappear as soon as I try and make a call.

In Columbia Heights, I don’t even get that … my phone tells me I’m roaming. Last week, I actually ducked into the Columbia Heights metro station because I needed to make a call. As far as i can tell, the best chance of getting a signal up here is to go underground.

To date, my only hope for salvation comes because Gizmodo.com is giving away a new Google Android if you write in to them and tell them why you deserve one. Which I did.

I need it because I’ve had 36 dropped calls in one day … because I regularly get voicemails a week after they are sent and text messages the following morning … because I now give my wife’s cell phone number out to friends and family … because I can’t stand the thought of riding out the last 6 months of my current phone contract.

So far, they have had 12,000+ comments, so I’m guessing i’m not going to be first in line to win. Either way, my contract with AT&T is up this summer, and once it expires, i’ll be long gone.

It turns out that it doesn’t matter how great your phone is, if your network blows chunks.

PHOTOS: Street in Mount Pleasant, DC by Chambo25 via a Creative Commons license; Darth Phone image courtesy Gizmodo.com.