1. HandsomePrince's Avatar
    AT&T: The most hated company in iPhone land

    By David Goldman, staff writer
    December 29, 2009: 04:36 PM EST


    Consumer outrage about AT&T's 3G service for iPhones is boiling over, but the dropped calls and spotty service reflect a greater lack of foresight in the wireless industry.

    Analysts say AT&T's problems would have happened on any network that carried Apple's iPhone because of the overwhelming amount of data downloaded by iPhone users. Over the past three years, AT&T's data traffic increased 5,000% because of the iPhone.

    "The challenges that AT&T has are being faced by a lot of operators around the world: Very rapidly growing usage coupled with dense populations," said Daniel Hays, wireless expert and partner at consultancy PRTM. "Would it have been different on Verizon? Probably not."

    AT&T accurately states that it has the nation's fastest 3G network but it "probably bit off more than it could chew," said Doug Helmreich, program director at consultancy CFI Group. "Now some of their customers are paying the price."

    IPhone users in New York and San Francisco in particular have been up in arms about frequent service interruptions. Earlier this month, AT&T's head of mobility, Ralph de la Vega, admitted at an investors' conference that the company's service in those two cities was "below our standards."

    It's not just New York and San Francisco iPhone users who are grumbling. An annual Consumer Reports study recently rated AT&T the worst in customer satisfaction in 19 cities across the country. (Rival Verizon Wireless rated No. 1 in the study.)

    In nearly three-quarters of the surveyed areas, AT&T was rated lowest for availability of service, frequency of dropped calls and quality of voice service.

    Verizon vs. AT&T

    Verizon has had a field day at AT&T's expense.

    "There's a map for that" commercials have poked fun at AT&T's smaller 3G footprint. And that has helped Verizon take market share, according to Piper Jaffray.

    But studies show that AT&T's network is actually faster than Verizon's, and Verizon's ad campaign may be a bit misleading.

    Four recent independent studies from wireless industry analysis firms Global Wireless Solutions and Root Wireless, investment bank Piper Jaffray and tech blog Gizmodo all concluded that AT&T's 3G network was the fastest in the United States.

    "We drove millions of miles across the country, and our data support AT&T's claim that it has the fastest 3G data network," said Global Wireless CEO Paul Carter.

    The map that Verizon shows in its ads is correct, but AT&T's 3G network still covers nearly 80% of the U.S. population, said Carter. And AT&T's non-3G coverage is also broader than its 3G network.

    With that kind of pedigree, analysts say AT&T was likely the best-equipped network to handle the iPhone.

    "For Verizon ... we still wonder if the network has the capacity and backhaul to support a device with an adoption curve of the iPhone," said Piper Jaffray analyst Chris Larsen in a client note.

    Perception vs. reality

    AT&T admits that it has had problems keeping up with the data demands of iPhone users, which has prompted the company to accelerate scheduled improvements in its network.

    "There's more work to be done and a sense of urgency to do it, but we feel like we're on the right track with our investments," said Fletcher Cook, spokesman for AT&T.

    In the next few years, AT&T said it would double its network speed, and Cook said AT&T has already improved overall network quality by 25%. The company has also deployed more than 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, which it says may help alleviate stress on its 3G network.

    PRTM's Hays applauded the Wi-Fi solution and AT&T's dedication to improving its network, calling them "critical levers in addressing AT&T's network performance issues." He expects AT&T to go even further, perhaps by integrating tiered data plans that would force iPhone users to pay for the data they download.

    Still, perception has hurt AT&T.

    AT&T's network is the No. 1 hangup for people who are in the market for an iPhone, according to a CFI Group study. The company's woes have even become the **** of jokes on late-night TV.

    "It was reported this week that Google would soon launch its own cell phone as a challenge to the iPhone," said "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers on Dec. 19. "Also a challenge to the iPhone? Making phone calls."

    The building frustrations led some angry consumers to take matters into their own hands. "Operation Chokehold," which took place on Dec. 18, was an attempt to overload AT&T's network by running data-intensive apps to try and send a message that consumers "are sick of their substandard network." The ploy failed.

    "Unfortunately for AT&T, when it comes to network quality, perception is reality and right now Verizon has a more positive public perception," said Larsen. "If AT&T can continue to show improvement in network throughput, it may blunt some of the impact."

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    12-29-09 11:41 PM
  2. stuaw11's Avatar
    A lot of that is a steaming load... Perception is reality? I think not.

    Id like to see these "surveys" of how they asked people about dropped calls in this "study." Were there any quantitative numbers? Beyond that, do people even know the difference when a call is dropped versus something like when they run into a dead zone? A lot of that sounds HIGHLY subjective to me without any actual dropped call data. Polling people isnt really a highly regarded scientific method, despite it being used by the media very often. ESPECIALLY in cases where its not black or white, there's a lot of gray in "satisfaction" and that can even change daily based on a good or bad recent experience.

    Second, how much of that "perception" is influenced by the media constantly slamming ATT? Believe it or not people start to buy into the media (ala Sprint a year or 2 ago everyone bashing it and it took a huge tumble) and TURN it into reality when its not. For the majority of customers the network works just fine more than enough of the time. You get the person out in boonieville who drops a call or 2 (which is normal on ANY cell carrier) and is brainwashed by the iphone/ATT bashing by the media and instantly screams "OMG ATT sucks its all the iphones fault!" Is it REALLY, or is it the brainwashing effect of the media that the person now blows it totally out of proportion?

    Sounds to me like people are turning little nothing into this whole blown out ordeal because they sway to where the media leads them. And since the media is into bashing ATT/iphone these days, people are on that bandwagon for now until the next big bash job comes around.

    Are there legit problems in overloaded cities like NY and San Fran? Sure! No one will deny that. But I HIGHLY doubt the network overall across the country is THAT poor all of the sudden without the huge iphone base like in those big cities with millions of people in and traveling through them. Sounds like a lot of jump of the ATT bashing bandwagon when even the smallest problem arises because thats what's "in" right now. Now all the sudden the network is the poorest in the land across the land because of the iphone, even in 1000 person cities where there may be 50 iphones? I really doubt that. Again, sounds like a lot of hot air going around here playing the blame game to the easy target right now dished up by the media.

    The TRUE reality is ATT continues to bring in 1 mill+ customers a quarter so people are obviously still getting ATT service for whatever reason they have. Thats reality, perception is all of this media nonsense and "studies," and I do use that term loosely since none are ever produced to us with any statistical data or method of collection. Theres a lot of subjectivity in polling people, instead of actually getting dropped call stats in different areas or something concrete to base such a huge conclusion off of. People's opinions arent exactly the best judge of the quality of anything when there is true evidence out there that can show the true answer in near black and white

    I personally live in a big city in the Miami area, so tons of people and iphone users, and I dont have these earth shattering issues with ATT. Do I get the occasional dropped call or call failed? Sure. Does life go on? Sure does. All of the carriers seem to perform well here overall. In no way would I rate ATT last in this area, Id say its pretty dead even between them. Its really not this huge end of the world thing people make it out to be, but of course like I said before, bashing ATT is easy because thats whats "in" right now when its just normal dropped calls like any other carrier has too.

    Personally I couldnt care less what people say or the media says, I use what works for me, and everyone should take that advice too and stop worrying about these little battles. If it doesnt work for you leave, but I dont see people leaving ATT the past few quarters, in fact more like a million or more in adds. So they must be blow hards or just all talk in the end. Thats true reality, which perception has nothing to do with or else ATT would be losing customers as fast as Sprint has the past 2 years or so.
    Last edited by stuaw11; 12-30-09 at 01:37 AM.
    12-30-09 01:16 AM
  3. stevo82's Avatar
    As a worker for AT&T let me first start off by saying, I personally dont like the iphone, never have, probably never will...hence I'm on crackberry! But people can hate on the darn thing all they want, verizon can keep showing their map for that commercials and people can do all the surveys in the world....BUT where I work I see iphones sold in mass amounts DAILY!! Literally about a thousand a month and thats from just one store. Want to know what I also see on a daily basis? A customer who walks in and says "hello, I'd like an iphone, here's my verizon account number, can you port over my number?" Its crazy, as much as people hate the iphone and/or at&t, I havent seen any decline in the amount being sold, or the amount of people switching from other carriers.
    12-30-09 02:12 AM
  4. stuaw11's Avatar
    Of course

    The bottom line is that ATT isnt slowing in terms of iphone sales or adding customers every quarter. A smear campaign like VZW launched only works if it actually PREVENTS the competition from continuing to add big numbers of customers, which isnt happening. So I would call that ineffective.

    Id also call the media's attempt to smear ATT ineffective for the same reasons- ATT continues to add iphone users and general ATT customers.

    Bunch of overblown nonsense if you ask me since, as I said, I live in the area of a big city- Miami (and work smack dab in the middle of downtown), which is just as "trendy" as San Fran or NY (South Beach area etc) and there are PLENTY of iphone users and ive had VERY few problems since getting ATT about 10 months ago.

    Again, Im not trying to deny NY or San Fran are having problems, but more to prove that these problems DONT exist everywhere or in every big city.

    In fact NY shouldnt be a shocker:

    1 New York New York 8,363,710
    2 Los Angeles California 3,833,995
    3 Chicago Illinois 2,853,114
    4 Houston Texas 2,242,193
    5 Phoenix Arizona 1,567,924
    6 Philadelphia d[›] Pennsylvania 1,540,351
    7 San Antonio Texas 1,351,305
    8 Dallas Texas 1,279,910
    9 San Diego California 1,279,329
    10 San Jose California 948,279
    11 Detroit Michigan 912,062
    12 San Francisco California 808,976

    NY has more than TWICE the population of the #2 largest city, and almost 8 times most other big cities in the top ten largest in the US. Is it really a shocker theyre overloaded? And saying "well other carriers work in NY" isnt a fair assesment if you dont know how many customers each carrier has in that area!!! What if there are 3 million ATT customers, 1 million VZW, 500k sprint, and 500k tmo, and others? Its a lot easier to throw the stone at the glass house here when they could be carrying many times the weight of the other carriers.
    Last edited by stuaw11; 12-30-09 at 02:02 PM.
    12-30-09 01:51 PM
  5. mofoahh's Avatar
    Its true Im in new york and i had quite a few number of drop calls, therefore i switched back to tmobile after a few months. I happily paid the termination fees.
    12-31-09 10:52 AM
  6. stuaw11's Avatar
    Well the point I was trying to make is you dont know how many people are on each carrier in the area.

    there is more to network congestion then coverage. Im sure all the carriers have NY (the city) pretty much blanketed. Its just how many people in that small area are using each carrier. Im sure much less on Tmo, a logical guess seeing as they have 1/3 the customers, so prob less dropped calls.

    So I dont think its fair necessarily ATT gets all the crap they do. If they carry 3 times the customers (hypothetically) its not as easy as people make it seem to support everyone in such a small area. Towers can only carry so many people and NY is especially hard to put up towers and very expensive to do so.
    Last edited by stuaw11; 12-31-09 at 11:26 AM.
    12-31-09 11:24 AM
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