Edit: ok, n/m. just got off online chat with T-Mobile.

Evidently the Nexus one couldn't figure out what network to use so we had to go in and manually force it to 'i-Wireless' because t-mobile doesn't have a deal with at&t in this area anymore. Which is what was breaking the connection and confusing the nexus. Kinda weird, but glad it's fixed.

Lesson for all you kids out there: If your phone says you have zero bars in an area that you clearly should, go in and manually force it on to a network in the settings. It should get accepted by someone.