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AT&T Talks To Us About iPhone Hiccups, Extends Olive Branch
3.0 drops, EDGE iPhone users get extra three month upgrade window...
by Karl Bode 02:17PM Wednesday Jun 17 2009
Last week, we noted how one crisis management expert gave AT&T 24-48 hours to manage the bad PR they were getting from a series of iPhone 3GS launch missteps. In addition to being unprepared to handle new iPhone 3.0 functions such as tethering and MMS, the carrier took a lot of heat for the less egregious offense of not offering the new 3GS at the subsidized price point to older iPhone users still under contact. After our post, several AT&T reps reached out to us to express that the carrier has in fact been paying attention.

Click for full size
"We are listening closely on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, engaging customers and providing updated information through those channels," spokesman Seth Bloom tells us. "We’ve been anything but 'dead quiet.'"

Bloom directs our attention to a new iPhone FAQ that repeats the companies unexplained position on why tethering and MMS support are not yet available. Seth's also featured in several new videos aimed at answering some of the questions that have popped up since the iPhone 3GS was officially announced.

I asked AT&T if the delay if the lack of support for MMS functionality (available in the 3.0 update dropping today) was because they were waiting to get their announced 7.2Mbps HSPA upgrades into the field first. "We've said consistently since Monday that we will offer MMS later this summer -- and it's a systems issue, not network," says Bloom. "You're right that we have not given specifics on tethering other than to say we will offer it."

While communicating with customers via Twitter, Facebook and other channels is certainly great, critics (of which there were plenty last week) were more interested in seeing AT&T making some sort of concession. To that end, AT&T issued a statement today that extends a fig leaf to iPhone customers currently under contract who were annoyed that they couldn't get an iPhone 3GS at the $199 or $299 price point:
quote:
We’ve been listening to our customers. And since many of our iPhone 3G customers are early adopters and literally weeks shy of being upgrade eligible due to iPhone 3G S launching 11 months after iPhone 3G, we’re extending the window of upgrade eligibility for a limited time. We’re now pleased to offer our iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September 2009 our best upgrade pricing, beginning Thursday, June 18.
Giving iPhone 3G customers a three month break isn't quite the full subsidized offer critics wanted, but it's something. It's not a very big something, given that nobody who bought an iPhone 3G (which dropped last July) is going to fall into the eligibility window (Update: We've got new details on the qualifications for the new price here). Still, customers who are under contract don't have a lot of room to complain, given they did sign the contract under the terms AT&T put forth -- however annoying they are.

Click for full size
While AT&T has talked about some of their other problems, they really haven't necessarily explained them. AT&T's still crippling applications, and they haven't really explained the lack of support for MMS and tethering functionality. Why?

At launch, 29 global carriers not named AT&T were ready to support today's new 3.0 MMS functionality. Our guess is that AT&T's hodge podge of systems acquired from Ameritech, BellSouth and other acquisition deals require a lot of manual update work and duct tape to make MMS work seamlessly and correctly. AT&T's grown so quickly, they're likely still playing catch up and integration games.

Meanwhile, 22 partners in 44 countries -- AT&T excluded -- were ready to support tethering functionality as of today. It's pretty clear from past comments that AT&T's very worried about the impact tethering will have on the network, but so far, no matter how many times the question's asked, the answer is simply that tethering's coming "sometime." As in, post HSPA 7.2Mbps upgrades.

It's not a stretch to assume that these tethering and MMS hangups aren't honestly explained to customers because AT&T doesn't want to highlight the limitations or dysfunction inherent in AT&T's existing 3G network, which was already strained by the demands of iPhone EDGE and iPhone 3G customers. Those users already consume considerably more data than other smartphone users, and as of today, they now have video to play with.

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topics flat nest 

Bit00
Premium
join:2009-02-19
00000

1 edit

We will see if it hurts sales...

AT&T and Apple are obviously gambling that it won't. Meanwhile OS 3 was deployed about an hour ago and I read that stores are already selling out of their first shipment from pre-sales.

--
POKE 65495,1

BSD24
Tier 4
Premium
join:2008-04-30
Middleboro, MA

1 edit

Re: We will see if it hurts sales...

Apple should just open the availability of its phone to all or most cell phone providers. Like Sprint - they have the first 4G network that I'm sure would only help the Iphone as far as internet speeds, and of course it would help Apple's IPhone sales.
--
BSD

Bit00
Premium
join:2009-02-19
00000

1 edit

Re: We will see if it hurts sales...

Sprint doesn't have a 4G network, not even close. ITU definition of 4G is 100Mb connectivity and 10ms latency with up to 1Gb locally.
--
POKE 65495,1

Cheese
Premium
join:2003-10-26
Naples, FL
kudos:1

Re: We will see if it hurts sales...

said by Bit00:

Sprint doesn't have a 4G network, not even close. ITU definition of 4G is 100Mb connectivity and 10ms latency with up to 1Gb locally.
While this may not be true as it came from Wiki

"Sprint announced it will be offering a 3g/4g connection plan for $79.99 it is only currently available in Baltimore."

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: We will see if it hurts sales...

Sprint's 4G doesn't come close to 100Mb/s. It's more like 10-15 at best.

Bit00
Premium
join:2009-02-19
00000

2 edits
They may try and market it as 4G or B3G, but it isn't. While certainly far from finalized, 4G (aka IMT Enhanced) throughput is supposed to be a 100Mb minimum with peak throughput of 1 gigabit which obviously no carrier currently has and LTE and similar technologies don't currently meet. Looking at device reviews, Sprint's 4G network is running around 6-7Mb. These upgrades are certainly welcome but for Sprint to call them 4G is way premature.

Like EDGE was dubbed 2.5G, these 7-15Mb networks are more like 3.25G.

--
POKE 65495,1

Voyager2K2

join:2001-10-04
Wayne, PA
said by Bit00:

Sprint doesn't have a 4G network, not even close. ITU definition of 4G is 100Mb connectivity and 10ms latency with up to 1Gb locally.
In Baltimore Sprint has a pseudo 4G network.
Leave them alone, they are smiling about it as they hemorrhage red ink and customers.
Wondering here where they are going to get the cash to enhance their network outside of Baltimore.
I will say that ATT DID upgrade their tower in South Philly last weekend.
At work we went from dial up speeds to some crazy fast speeds.
Kudos to ATT for that. Wish their towers in NJ performed as well.
That's another story......

kevin25a

join:2001-10-19
Livermore, CA
It appears that the authors of this article have incorrect information regarding the dates and details of the new upgrade program for existing 3G Customers. Here is what I received from my ATT representative today:

. Beginning Friday, June 19, iPhone 3G customers that purchased and activated their iPhone 3G in July, August or September of 2008 may become immediately eligible for the best upgrade pricing.

To be immediately eligible, these customers must meet the following criteria:

Purchased and activated iPhone 3G in July, August or September of 2008

Have an average combined monthly recurring charge of at least $99 per month (rate plan plus features) per line

Meet all other AT&T upgrade eligibility requirements (i.e. good payment history, be in good standing, etc.)

So, 3G customers are in fact eligible for the new pricing if they fall into this catagory. Most representatives do not have this in thier systems yet, and it will only show up on Friday the 19th.
--
DPC SRS, 990, Win98SE, ICS, Proxy Off, Tweaks applied

Bit00
Premium
join:2009-02-19
00000

3 edits

Re: We will see if it hurts sales...

The information is in yellow in Karl Bode See Profile's item.

quote:
We’ve been listening to our customers. And since many of our iPhone 3G customers are early adopters and literally weeks shy of being upgrade eligible due to iPhone 3G S launching 11 months after iPhone 3G, we’re extending the window of upgrade eligibility for a limited time. We’re now pleased to offer our iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September 2009 our best upgrade pricing, beginning Thursday, June 18.
These dates also appear in AT&T's press release
»www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=1574

--
POKE 65495,1

powerspec88
Premium
join:2007-03-11
Independence, MO

So does this mean

If we bought a iPhone 3G on launch day we get the cheaper price? Im 100% confused by this as it does say iPhone 3G users but i show i can't get the cheaper price till January 2010 (when i checked last week.)

NONONONONONO

@charter.com

Re: So does this mean

Only if your contract has run out. I really am tired of people pissing and moaning and missing a really simple concept. 3G users are under contract, a contract that doesn't permit them to upgrade to a new contract.

Even if it did, do you think people would accept what essentially is now 2+ whatever is remaining on their existing contract?

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO
It seems that AT&T offers handset upgrades earlier than 2 years for certain customers who pay more. It looks like I qualify for an upgrade in 18 months. I guess if I spent a lot more with AT&T (unlimited texting? higher minutes plan?), it's possible to be eligible once per year.

It's those customers that AT&T is giving a little bit of extra leeway for since this new upgrade is coming out sooner in the calendar year than last year's 3G model.

Most people I know are in the 18-24 month category. This doesn't do jack for them.
--
AT&T U-Hearse
Your funeral. Delivered.

BSD24
Tier 4
Premium
join:2008-04-30
Middleboro, MA

forget about at&t

Like i said - I have sprint, and would never switch to AT&T, they may have coverage more so than sprint 3g, althought I'm not certain, I think its Verizon 3G that has best coverage. But I do know its been reported that Sprint has the Fastest 3G, and they are the only carrier to already have 4G.
--
BSD

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: forget about at&t

I use both Sprint and AT&T - coverage in SoCal is similar on Sprint and AT&T, audio quality is much better on AT&T, data is similar.

'4G' doesn't mean jack right now, as I don't see any handsets that use it, or any meaningful coverage. Sprint needs to get its self an image, and stop bleeding customers to do well. Sprint has always been a step or 2 ahead in technology, but their TTM has rarely worked in their favor. Hopefully (for their sake) the Pre will help them get and retain customers.

I had Verizon Wireless in the past, and had nothing but problems (billing, dropped calls, almost ended in a lawsuit).

T-Mobile in SoCal is a very good carrier - period!
--
Canada = Hollywood North
DarnellP

join:2004-10-12
Las Vegas, NV

Re: forget about at&t

said by en102:

I use both Sprint and AT&T - coverage in SoCal is similar on Sprint and AT&T, audio quality is much better on AT&T, data is similar.

I'm curious about your comparison. Have you recently used a phone besides the Treo 800w as the basis for your conclusion. The only reason that I ask is because the voice quality on that handset seems to be very hit or miss based on all of the reviews that I've read.

SrsBsns

join:2001-08-30
Oklahoma City, OK

1 edit

Short sighted

This is both ATT's fault as well as Apple's fault. Apple wanted to try to force the mobile market into adopting a internet/email standard for communication on their own but eventually gave in because the market was not going to change because Apple willed it so. It's also ATT's fault because they were being short sighted about the products they provide as mobile phone transition into mobile computers. Its only natural they benefit from software updates that add new function as the PC world already enjoys. It's a system issue because ATT uses an archaic billing system. They cant figure out how to unblock MMS on all the iPhone accounts that they proactively blocked before the MMS feature was invented for the devices. At this time they have to unblock accounts one at a time by hand. Its a technical issue that would require great detail for me to explain.

drew
Automatic
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6

Re: Short sighted

As a half-baked DBA, even I understand this stuff is stored *somewhere* and should be able to be removed easier than that.

badtrip
I heart the East Bay
Premium
join:2004-03-20
Albany, CA

Re: Short sighted

said by drew:

As a half-baked DBA, even I understand this stuff is stored *somewhere* and should be able to be removed easier than that.
Believe me you be surprised how difficult even changing something "minor" could be depending on the system. Some systems were created by people who cant see past their nose. I'm sure AT&T has such a system.

Steimes
I make internets
Premium
join:2002-01-08
Belle Vernon, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by drew:

As a half-baked DBA, even I understand this stuff is stored *somewhere* and should be able to be removed easier than that.
I agree, I have removed much worse than codes from flat files and databases alike. Seems fishy, I would like to hear a better explanation on why this HAS to be manual.
--
Making procrastination an art form since Pluto was still a planet.

davoice

join:2000-08-12
Saxapahaw, NC

Re: Short sighted

AT&T's problem is it's not just in 1 system. It's in multiple places... and in a couple that aren't just big relational databases. Their mobile platform is a hodge podge of stuff inherited from: AT&T Wireless Services, Ameritech Mobile Communications, BellSouth Mobility, Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, BellSouth Mobility DCS, BellSouth Wireless Data, Pacific Bell Wireless, Pacific Bell Wireless Northwest, SBC Wireless, SNET Mobility, and Southwestern Bell Wireless.

Remember most of those markets were TDMA conversions, so they weren't pure GSM builds. That leaves some true legacy systems in play on the back-end.

They do a decent job of making it look like 1 big system to the end customer but on the back end there are a bunch of moving pieces.

It's not insurmmountable... but w/ AT&T also being tied w/ all the SBC merger stuff, the integration guys already have their hands full. And much of the heavy lifting is outsourced. The brain trust who could have done it stateside has been steadily gutted.

We all know from Uverse that AT&T/SBC is a tightwad. In this case their tightwadism and lack of available onshore human resources directly affected a product roll-out and end-users.

}Davoice
k1ll3rdr4g0n

join:2005-03-19
Homer Glen, IL
said by Steimes:

said by drew:

As a half-baked DBA, even I understand this stuff is stored *somewhere* and should be able to be removed easier than that.
I agree, I have removed much worse than codes from flat files and databases alike. Seems fishy, I would like to hear a better explanation on why this HAS to be manual.
I third that, I have had to come up with some interesting solutions to scrape and process data. I would really doubt that they aren't using a database to store customer information. It can be done through a script or program, its just how creative they want to be. Let me tell you database or no database a little perl script with regular expressions can make that year long project turn into seconds.

Perhaps this is the reason why they need to charge $20/month for texting, $30/month for unlimited internet and another $30/month for 5GB of tethering. They need money to hire all the teens that will be clicking a button on a screen that says "MMS Enable".

ninjatutle
Premium

join:2006-01-02
San Ramon, CA
I swear iPhone users are the biggest crybabies out there.

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2U4hyT0gIM

S_engineer
Premium
join:2007-05-16
Chicago, IL

Re: Short sighted

they just don't approve of the Alliance!
--
BF69~~~Please stop suffocating gerbils!

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: Short sighted

Hmm.. rotate the deathstar (AT&T) a bit, and the AT&T Deathstar and Apple Deathstar look similar.
--
Canada = Hollywood North

BOGBS
Premium
join:2004-05-11
said by ninjatutle:

I swear iPhone users are the biggest crybabies out there.

(youtube clip)
Tell me about it..

Every other AT&T customer has to wait an extra few months if they want to take advantage of upgrade prices. Is 2-3 more months of waiting really going to kill you? If so, be like every other customer, and pay full price.
rgarbin

join:2007-07-22
Jenkintown, PA

Why the fuss over MMS?

Why is it that I could send MMS via my Treo over AT&T, but I can't send it with an iPhone? How is it that I could easily hack my Treo to tether my MacBook over AT&T, but it's such a big issue with my iPhone? Aside from the fact that the iPhone is more a computing device than a phone, I don't know why they hamstrung these two features.
majortom1029

join:2006-10-19
Lindenhurst, NY
kudos:1

Re: Why the fuss over MMS?

Att denys it but it is due to there network. Regular phone and smart phone users dont send many mms messages but iphone users will. Just by who designed the phone and its features puts a huge strain on the att network.

They enable mms without being ready that would add a ton of video traffic to their network.

Att wouldnt have had this problem if they shared the phone with Verizon but they wouldnt have had the influx of customers either from being the only iphone carrier.

verolom

join:2002-03-23
Reston, VA

1 recommendation

Funny thing

Tethering and MMS has been available to other phones offered by AT&T Wireless for many years. Why is the iPhone special?

dadkins
Can you do Blu?
Premium,MVM
join:2003-09-26
Hercules, CA
kudos:18

Re: Funny thing

said by verolom:

Tethering and MMS has been available to other phones offered by AT&T Wireless for many years. Why is the iPhone special?
My v3 Razr will do it.
--
Think outside the Fox... Opera

ToxicDrew
Premium
join:2001-09-24

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Funny thing

said by dadkins:

said by verolom:

Tethering and MMS has been available to other phones offered by AT&T Wireless for many years. Why is the iPhone special?
My v3 Razr will do it.
My iPhone tethers from my wallet into AT&T's bank account Yeah there's a app for that lol
--
dream your dreams with open eyes and make them come true...

davoice

join:2000-08-12
Saxapahaw, NC
B/c Apple bet that customers would just use email to send photos and such and did not build MMS functionality into the first generation iPhone.

Like FireWire being left out of the new laptops, Apple made a calculated bet concerning what customers would use/want/accept.

Now they've had to go back and add MMS functionality to their product.

That would be great if AT&T hadn't hard coded an MMS block into iPhone customer accounts. Existing iPhone IMEI's are all set to block send/receive of MMS mesages b/c AT&T customers were complaining about friends' messages being lost.

People were trying to send iPhone users MMS messages and lacking MMS ability, the messages would just pile up and go nowhere. Hence the AT&T block.

So the answer is shortsightedness... both on the part of Apple and on the part of AT&T.

}Davoice

verolom

join:2002-03-23
Reston, VA

Re: Funny thing

As far as I know there is no confirmation mechanism for MMS just like SMS. If i send an MMS message to an iPhone I do not get a response that the message was not delivered.

Whatever the reason, I agree it is a result of shortsightedness,

gigahurtz
Premium
join:2001-10-20
Palm Coast, FL
Reviews:
·Bright House

Yes, we understand..

that other phones can do these simple features. No need to continue to remind us

Tethering is not so important to me but MMS would be a nice feature to have, however, if AT&T plans on charging for it than I am not interested. My bill is high enough as it is.

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

Must be bandwidth concerns

It must be bandwidth or billing concerns, because if you know how to manipulate your iPhone, you can get tethering working right now with no jailbreak.

drew
Automatic
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6

Re: Must be bandwidth concerns

I can do that with my Moto Q9C easy-peasy. They have stopped neutering the "Internet Sharing" application in WM6.1 lately.

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

AT&T and Apple ought not be conspiring against you!

Why should Apple and AT&T (using the public's airwaves) be able to legally put the screws to your freedoms and wallet? You can buy a computer and use it on any provider's Internet service, so why can't we do this with any phone that won't harm their network?

If we had wireless freedom of choice, iPhone would be dual-mode (it would work on Verizon, too) and the carriers wouldn't limit how bad-assed the iPhone could be by controlling the App Store.
--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- District of Columbia -- KJ7RL

••••
hurfy
Premium
join:2002-08-06
Spokane, WA

What do you mean they didn't explain it?

"and it's a systems issue, not network"

They did explain it.....

They can handle it but are having issues with BILLING (enough?) for it....

majortom1029

join:2006-10-19
Lindenhurst, NY
kudos:1

Re: What do you mean they didn't explain it?

I bet they are lying. 40 million iphones (even if it ends up to be half that) all being able to send mms messages all of a sudden would put a huge strain on the network.
tommy122

join:2001-03-10
Raleigh, NC

iPhone and AT&T

I think that Congress, the FCC or whoever has the authority should do some "trust busting" and break up these exclusive arrangements between cell phone manufacturers and carriers. A person should be able to buy a cell phone of their choosing and use ANY carrier. If you think about it, it's like buying a car and because of some exclusive arrangement, you could only gas it up at a Exxon station. My thinking is that if I buy an iPhone, it's mine, I own it, and Apple and AT&T should not be able to maintain any form of control. Apple is way too arrogant and they need to be brought down a notch or two.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Well

I can't be annoyed at iPhone users on contract who want to upgrade because AT&T never offered a 1 year contract option. If they did and people still chose the 2 year contract, then I would be on AT&T's side. Seriously though, iPhone contracts are extremely unfair. You're not even allowed to sign up for 2 year contracts in Europe.
mruksurf
Premium
join:2004-08-21
united state

MMS - Should I Be Upset?

What is MMS? The US and its form of governance is being given away, something I find very upsetting. I need to know more about MMS so I know whether I should be upset about it as well!

"There is never enough for those for whom enough is too little"

UseTheForce

@nmci.navy.mil

Comes down to a (mindless crybaby) customer issue?

Why did people who want MMS run out and buy the original iPhone which did not have it (or a number of other basic cellular phone features they want)? People mindlessly rushing to buy any product without assessing its capabilities against their needs are really throwing away a very powerful influence they have over equipment and service providers!

It's particularly annoying right now because it seems at&t's online account manager is responding slowly, probably because of all the iPhone groupies pre-registering to buy yet another overpriced increment of excrement!

FastiBook

join:2003-01-08
Newtown, PA

att

Step back & get proper perspective here. This device is changing the world. All most nothing worth doing is easy. To pull the world kicking & screaming into the next room along the hallway of technosocietal evolution isn't easy.

More than that though, is the idea that in each country, 2 companies are doing it all alone. Apple & a mobile provider.

This is the essence of "think different".

Sit back & enjoy the ride & be glad you weren't born during the 1300's.

- A
--
LETS GO METS!