The iPhone 4 may be breaking sales records, but AT&T's service issues sound like a broken record. Can we expect AT&T's network to get any better soon? Don't count on it.
After forgiving AT&T's missteps, frustrating connectivity issues may cap the end of my iPhone allegiance. When I called AT&T, I was offered an apology.
Actually, AT&T has been sorry a lot lately.
Apple and AT&T are apologizing for the pre-order system failures amid the crush of 600,000 or so consumers who clamored over the new iPhone. Not only were consumers having difficulty getting onto the pre-ordering pages, but there was also the security breach that directed users to complete strangers' accounts exposing personal information.
Earlier this week, AT&T apologized for the security vulnerability that exposed 114,000 iPad 3G owners' email addresses. The FBI is investigating the circumstances.
On Friday there was a widespread southeastern wireless data outage with failures reported from Louisiana to right here in the Triangle over several hours. Again, AT&T apologized.
AT&T wireless data subscribers felt ambushed by the company's surprise announcement on data caps and new pricing plans. AT&T is allowing users keep their current "unlimited" plan, but without tethering. Just days before, the company jacked up its early termination fees. Something Verizon did earlier. Well they were not so apologetic here, but they did respond to widespread criticism.
In December, comments from Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets made the headlines when he deferred blame to iPhone users for the company's poor service issues casting them as data gluttons. This was during the map wars era when AT&T and Verizon ads battled each other on TV.
This week I've been vacationing with my dad and grandmother on the coast of S.C. at North Litchfield Beach. Apparently, we are just beyond the 3G coverage enjoyed in Myrtle Beach just a few miles north of us. That would not seem to be a big deal. There is EDGE which is slower, but functional and I have over two years experience with an original iPhone over EDGE.
Yes, I'm on vacation, but I'm a Tech Junkie blogger and a work-a-holic. My smart phone is an indispensable tool ...until this week that is. AT&T's network has rendered my iPhone a glorified iPod touch.
Here is a summary of what I've experienced:
"Searching...," networks droping in & out
"No Service," not even voice service
Voice only reception
Varying EDGE reception with connection failures even with 5 "bars"
This week may be a deal killer. GPS has been useless since the maps cannot be downloaded. Checking email is a roulette affair and basic apps like weather or searching are inoperable. Frustrated and puzzled why even with 5 bars of reception, basic smart phone services are neutered I called AT&T...on my Verizon mobile. By the way, even though my VZW is not a smart phone, it will tether over Verizon's EV-DO 3G network and it has rendered 5 bars of reception and somewhat reliable if not convenient computing connectivity.
After a few minutes of rebooting and tower voodoo with a courteous and ...apologetic AT&T representative, I noticed absolutely no improvement.
I made the call Tuesday which was as you know the day the new iPhone pre-sales began. Already, before the device is even on the streets, AT&T found itself overwhelmed. Judging from the pre-orders, it appears AT&T's burdens will grow. It also has an increasing number of iPad 3G users sharing its network.
A few months ago, AT&T released an app called "Mark the Spot" for iPhone users to report coverage issues. After a couple of days of trying, I have yet been able to connect well enough to download it.
Even with those 5 proud bars of reception displayed , it took dozens of attempts of running the SpeedTest.net app to finally get several connections capable of rendering results. I was peaking at 3 kb/s. Yes, THREE and it should be well over 100 kb/s.
I was very much excited about the iPhone 4 especially since I have a humble 3G. My disgust over network issues this week made me halt my pre-order ambitions. What good is the device if I can't connect? Amid all the sexy spec and features, it needs a reliable network most.
There are a number of compelling Android devices on the market and the soon to arrive Droid X and Droid 2 look even more tempting. With Verizon's high speed LTE network around the corner, it is tempting to hold steady until the right LTE device for me arrives.
So what would you do? Take a leap of faith and go for the iPhone 4? Defect to an EV-DO Android? Hold out who know how long for a blazing LTE device?