AT&T's new self-proclaimed "blogger guy" Seth Bloom has been tasked with damage control in the face of AT&T's recent wireless network congestion PR problems. While Bloom put a welcome human face on a company that's traditionally seen as anything but
during the iPhone 3GS launch, he's now being asked to play PR point guard on what's becoming an increasingly volatile public relations problem for AT&T. It's a problem fueled by high prices, poor connectivity, missing functionality, and slow speeds.
As we noted yesterday
, AT&T's finally given a September 25 launch date for bringing belated (an understatement) MMS functionality to the iPhone. To accompany AT&T's announcement, the carrier posted a new YouTube video featuring Bloom
that insists the carrier is listening to your complaints, with Bloom repeating the company's now familiar statement that they're busy upgrading both backhaul and tower capacity. Judging from the YouTube comments, people aren't exactly buying the "apology:"
The iPhone has been out for more than two years now, and I STILL can't tether my iPhone. If I bought a Blackberry today, I can use AT&T to send MMS and tether it to my computer, so why am I penalized for buying the iPhone. If AT&T can't keep up with the traffic, then you should let Apple market the iPhone to other carriers who can. What's the point of upgrading your network for future customers if when that time comes you don't have any customers left?
Says another annoyed user:
AT&T has gained millions of new customers since the introduction of the iPhone, saved billions of advertising and marketing dollars because Apple does their own iPhone ads an promotions, and AT&T has failed to use those profits to provide their customers with services available to every other customer not using an iPhone. You can't use SlingPlayer (available on Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones), Skype, or Google Voice on their network because of their failures.
Says a somewhat less elegant commenter:
Hey AT&T, $#@! YOU, I'm not paying you over $140/month to hear your bullshit excuses for not upgrading your shitty network!
AT&T could have done what most organizations or individuals who don't like criticism do: disable comments or remain mute. Other than that, there's only a few things AT&T can do to mitigate what's becoming an increasingly large PR stink: get the network upgraded as quickly as possible (which they say they're doing), and allow users to start tethering (which they say is coming, though they refuse to say when).
Most of our users clearly understand that upgrading a network is both hard and expensive, but with the kind of quarterly data and SMS revenues AT&T generates, that excuse was always a little thin. It's growing increasingly so for iPhone customers who can't complete calls on major U.S. interstates, or can't retain solid 3G connectivity while walking down fifth avenue.