AT&T Wireless is trying to have it both ways. As everyone knows, the success of the iPhone from Apple has been rather huge. Apple signed a deal with AT&T giving them exclusive rights to being the service provider. However AT&T has been doing a less than stellar job holding up their end of the deal. My evidence on this is purely anecdotal and observational as I don’t have the iPhone but I know many who do. They complain about all manner of things with relation to spotty service, limited coverage, and slow processing of data on the AT&T Network. Apple has remained largely silent about this because really, they invented the product (iPhone) and AT&T should be responsible for the service! At least, so far as I can tell that’s how it should be.
But now AT&T seems to be trying to take from one hand and give back to the other. I heard this somewhere last week on television; while I can’t access the full link (the story was first broken in The Wall Street Journal) it is easy enough to find blog posts which talk specifically about this same news I saw on CNBC. AT&T thought about “tiered pricing” for their customers because the AT&T Network can’t handle all the data usage! AT&T has also said that the company will “give customers incentives to limit their use of its wireless network for surfing the Internet or downloading mobile applications.”
I’m sorry, what? In case there are any people in the world who don’t watch ANY TELEVISION NETWORK AT ANY TIME OF THE DAY OR NIGHT, Apple and the iPhone is quite famous for its ever expanding line of “apps.” An app for every occasion. AT&T has benefitted from that in the increased usage from their customers. At the same time AT&T has been running this series of aggressive ads featuring Luke Wilson attacking claims that people can’t get service in certain locations. Among claims Wilson makes on behalf of the company is that AT&T covers 98% of America, that AT&T has the fastest downloading speed that AT&T is far superior to Verizon, and that AT&T voice and data coverage can be best represented by a collection of postcards from every place where AT&T service is available. Remember these commercials?
This while AT&T big brass is telling its customers to lower their usage? To use instant messaging lingo: WTF AT&T? It appears that AT&T would like to have its hand in both pies at the same time; boasting of its vastly superior voice and data network all the while recoiling in horror at the fact that its customers actually use their network! I was surprised when I first heard that AT&T would be carrying the iPhone for exactly this reason; AT&T had been out of circulation for years; I had figured that maybe AT&T had been tinkering with their wireless network for the years of their dormancy and that maybe AT&T wireless were poised to reestablish themselves as the ‘Ma Bell for the 21st Century. Sadly, I was wrong as AT&T appear to be no closer to figuring things out than before; with the AT&T wireless network sent whimpering off into recoil.
Apple’s exclusivity deal with AT&T is up shortly so soon customers will have their choice of service providers. While I don’t know if they’ll be any better (as I don’t know the technical’s of what it takes to have an App for every occasion) I do know that other carriers, Verizon being one of them, are chomping at the bit to give this Apple device a whirl. All this with Apple and the iPhone only holding such a small percentage of the mobile market (again, anecdotally, I heard 1%)? Imagine how overloaded AT&T would be if they actually had a much larger piece of the pie?