From the research I did, there are a lot of parameters involved. There's the phone, the CDMA vs GSM issue, whether the phone is trimode or not (here, to get reception in rural areas, you absolutely need a trimode phone. The most recent phones don't seem to be trimode though), the number of towers, the number of obstacles for reception, etc., etc. etc.
So when somebody says he/she has bad reception, it could be due to various reasons. And trying to identify the problem isn't easy for the poor customer who simply tries to get a decent phone service... :rollseyes: Companies are not always helpful for that unfortunately.