As AT&T Complains, People Notice That It Has Decreased Infrastructure Investments, But Wireless Revenue Is Way Up

from the ooops dept

Don’t mess with a fake CEO. That’s the lesson of the week. At the beginning of the week, “Fake Steve Jobs” (aka Dan Lyons) got a lot of attention for his rather funny fake phone call with AT&T boss Randall Stephenson where he tells him to fix his wireless network that has been receiving so many complaints from iPhone users. As that post got more and more attention, FSJ came back with another satirical idea: Operation Chokehold. The idea is that at noon Pacific time today (Friday, the 18th) iPhone users around the country should turn on the most data intensive apps they have and run them for an hour, to signal their displeasure with the problems with AT&T’s network.

Remember, this is a fake online persona who has blogged outrageous satire for years.

But AT&T apparently took it seriously, calling it irresponsible and pointless. And then, the FCC got into the game, again calling it irresponsible and warning of public safety concerns. Of course, all this has done is draw a lot more attention to the whole thing.

But even more interesting? It got people to actually look at the details of AT&T’s operations, and its “woe is me” position on its wireless network. Except… well, the numbers tell a story AT&T doesn’t want you to hear. Specifically, they keep making more and more in the way of money, but they’re spending less and less on investment in its wireless network. While there’s obviously a lot more that goes into those sorts of numbers, the numbers don’t make AT&T’s claims sound particularly convincing (Update: Email from AT&T PR wants to reinforce the fact that the numbers shown include more than just direct network investment, such as real estate, call centers and IT support. They also claim that the real numbers — the ones we don’t see — are going up, but provide no evidence. Of course, why AT&T reps don’t comment on this post and explain that to people… remains unknown). While we agree that creating a denial of service attack is not a good idea, AT&T’s response to all of this has only sunk the company in deeper. It’s making a ton of money, and its network sucks… and despite claims of fixing it, they’ve been spending less and less on the network. It seems like that’s a lot more irresponsible than worrying about a random fake CEO.

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Comments on “As AT&T Complains, People Notice That It Has Decreased Infrastructure Investments, But Wireless Revenue Is Way Up”

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57 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Positioning?

Is it now just common place for CEO’s of companies to play the victim or underdog card as a way to position themselves to further their interests? Is it now like football, where the Saints go into each game undefeated but always talking about how they don’t get enough respect, how good the other team is, and how they see themselves as the underdogs?

Just before they scorch the other team by 25 pts.? I mean, when is the last time a CEO of a major company came out and just said, “Hey, we’re really good. We don’t need any additional handouts, so keep your money/influence/laws/etc.”?

Michael (profile) says:

Amazing

I am still amazed that a company this big is complaining that they have too many customers using the product they sold to them too much and something should be done about it.

They sold an unlimited data plan. Sorry guys, can’t kick the guy that eats too much off the buffet line…Perhaps next time you should think about what you are selling a bit more, or add the capacity to support your customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Amazing

Well….. the amount of food a restaurant can serve is finite. So realistically, even though they are advertising it that way, it is stupid to expect that. Fortunately a person can eat only so much food everyday and it should be easy to fix a price.

Internet is altogether a different issue. Given that bandwidth has a limit it is not possible to serve infinite number of users and provide infinite amount of data. The optimal plan would consider congestion, speed needed and amount of data to charge the user (+ a monthly charge for maintainance). Unfortunately people in this country are too lazy to do such calculations. Also the data providers are greedy motherfuckers (I havent seen a single reasonable pay-as-you-go plan).

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Amazing

You made my point.

The restaurant has to consider the number of people that they can attract and the amount a person can eat. This is no different than the network provider.

What is happening is the restaurant owner suddenly has too many customers and they cannot support them all. A smart business person would recognize that this is the best “problem” they could possibly have had and they need to capitalize on it rather than complain and start limiting the food they serve to people who have already paid for the all you can eat buffet.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Amazing

Bandwidth has a finite limiter per second. The amount which can be in use at any given moment is finite. A well run FAST network should be able to service a simple data transaction in a matter of a very few seconds–which means your data request momentarily decreased the total available bandwidth by something like 0.00000000179%. After those couple seconds have passed, ALL the bandwidth is still there.

A slow crappy network takes nearly a minute (or longer) to service a simple data transaction. Fact of the matter is–AT&T could fix their bandwidth woes by increasing the speed of all available connections.

Lobo Santo's Ugly New Pet says:

Re: Re: Re: Amazing

A very basic DDoS is created by having many different computers requesting information at the same time. The nature of many systems is that when too many requests are coming in, the system spends more time handling the queuing of requests, and stops actually processing data.

A simple data request is never a simple data request. Just think of you average web page, with graphics, text, iframes, and the like. I didn’t check, but my quick guess on techdirt is that the front page generates somewhere around 100 requests to build the page. If there are too many requests, the system cannot handle both the requests and moving the data. It isn’t just their connected (upstream) bandwidth, but also their radio bandwidth from each tower.

Think of it this way: downtown, single cell tower covering a small 5 block area, 50 people doing gps mapping, 200 people getting their mail, 200 people surcing the web, a few people listening to web radio, someone doing google maps, etc… wow, those request counts sure do pile up fast.

Good luck with your quest to understand wireless 3g networking.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Amazing

Why are network providers any different from anyone else? When a website gets too much traffic they get a better connection. It would be the absolute dumbest thing they could do in that situation to tell their readers to stop visiting them.

If their system can’t keep up with the demand then get a better system. They exist and they’re already in play in competitors.

So if AT&T can’t support your hypothetical 450 requests at once and Verizon not only can but can support 450 more, AT&T can’t bitch at their customers.

Good luck with your quest to understand basic business… and networking… and economics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Amazing

It is unlikely for somebody to request one packet. The connection is likely to be long term (eg. downloading a large file or watching a movie etc). I agree that ATT needs to update their infrastructure. At the same time it is perfectly reasonable for them to advertise their network speeds as 10Mbps while they have only 1Gbps at their base station and serving a 10,000 customers.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Amazing

They should be able to advertise it if they think they can really support it.

However, if they find they cannot support it, they should not complain to the customers – they should fix the infrastructure issues preventing it – or stop calling it unlimited and stop calling it that fast. And they should certainly not be going to congress looking for a hand out and some changes to the law to make it possible to continue to let the infrastructure lag behind the customer demand.

submetropolis (profile) says:

Ford did

I mean, when is the last time a CEO of a major company came out and just said, “Hey, we’re really good. We don’t need any additional handouts, so keep your money/influence/laws/etc.”?

Ford did. They didn’t take any handouts from the government during the first two “stimulus” packages. I only point it out because like you said it’s a rarity!

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Ford did

“Ford did. They didn’t take any handouts from the government during the first two “stimulus” packages. I only point it out because like you said it’s a rarity!”

They certainly did that with the auto bailouts, you’re right! But doesn’t Ford, like most auto industry firms, take a hell of a lot of money from the govt. in the form of subsidies and the like?

Either way, the bailout refusal was a great move. I think they built a ton of goodwill there. Though I’ve always been a fan of Ford….

shmengie (profile) says:

wha-huh?

“To purposely try to disrupt or negatively impact a network with ill-intent is irresponsible and presents a significant public safety concern… [T]hreats of this nature are serious, and we caution the public to use common sense and good judgment.”

FCC spokesperson, you got some ‘splaining to do!

no, seriously, in the event of a national emergency, i think everyone would stop using their fart apps and try to call their friends and families, which would dangerously use all of att’s bandwidth, which is a significant threat. oh, wait, you mean voice traffic doesn’t use 3g? so, when the aliens invade, i can use my fart app and still make calls?

awesome.

:) says:

Irresponsable? I don't think so.

If it that network can’t coup with its traffic and they don’t invest in more people will wait until a tragedy like 9/11 or katrina happens again so all lines are occupied again and don’t work?

This is a joke from a blog but if people think about it.

AT&T is knowingly putting people at risk by not investing in their network in the name of profits and have the nerve to say others are irresponsible.

They know the network won’t handle massive data(super oversubscribing and low investment in infra-structure) and still when tragedy strikes they will put the blame elsewhere.

Brooks (profile) says:

Well...

So I’m one of the suckers who bought an iPhone (love it) and got stuck on AT&T (hate it). I was on a one hour conference call yesterday that my phone dropped three times. So I want to be clear that I think AT&T is incompetent, poorly managed, and operating on the borderline of fraud (they promise phone service, but it does not function like any phone service I’ve ever had before).

All that said, this FSJ post is a pretty good example of how tone and good writing can convey the opposite message from what the words and graphs actually say.

Take the section that reads “I mean look at the last three quarters. Like the surface of a pond on a windless day, right? Weirder still, over those three quarters, AT&T’s revenues actually grew by about $700 million. And still, net profit stayed almost dead flat.”

That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it. Snarky and sarcastic and… hey, wait. It’s actually saying that revenues went up but profit didn’t. And if you look back to the charts, it’s clear that that $700m revenue growth, in fact, went into capex. So the problem here is… they’ve reduced profit margins as revenues have grown so as to invest more? Isn’t that kind of the opposite of the vibe you get from reading the piece?

And, wait — should capex be linked to total subscribers, or subscriber growth? I mean, if you have 10 subscribers join in one month, and then 2 per month from then on (so you go from 10 to 12 to 14), you’ve (presumably) already built out capacity for the first 10 when they join, and don’t need to buildout capacity for 12 and 14 new users in subsequent months. Sorry if my writing’s not clear there. I mean, it’s silly to compare capex to total subscribers (proxied by revenue); capex should be linked to growth, or derivative, of subscribers.

I think AT&T has dropped the ball big time, and should have spent far more on buildout than they have. I would cheer an FTC investigation of the company’s failure to provide the service they promise. But this financial “analysis” is really just internet blowhardism dressed up with charts.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Well...

Agree. I looked at that data, and I saw a different story. Where Gizmodo and Mike are saying “ATT is spending less and less on investment in its wireless network”, what I see is that they are spending OVER $3B PER QUARTER!

Gizmodo conveniently takes the “first Christmas” after the iPhone launch as the baseline, and complains that construction and CapEx have been below that ever since. So what. To take a single outlier and complain that subsequent quarters are lower is bubkis – but to fail to note that every quarter had been over $3B starts to look misleading. In fact, the average CapEx per quarter is $4.542 Billion…not too shabby. Can Gizmodo really impugn AT&T because its CapEx fluctuates?
(http://www.att.com/Investor/Growth_Profile/download/master_Q3_09.pdf)

Further, the wireless data revenues chart shows that revenues were near $2B every quarter. Didn’t Gizmodo just get through complaining that CapEx never surged much past $3B? Wait a minute, Gizmodo, each quarter AT&T is spending an average of $4.542B, but only earning near $2B in data revenues? So what’s all the fuss about? I though the premise of the Gizmodo complaint was that AT&T was failing to invest in their data network in response to the popularity of the iPhone, and yet the data Gizmodo shows supports the opposite conclusion. It sure looks to me as though AT&T IS investing in the future. WTF Gizmodo?

Here’s some other data, from AT&T. http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=13235
Yeah, it’s their PR babble, but it seems a lot more credible than the Gizmodo interpretation of the numbers:

– 3G is increasing from 350 major metro areas to 370 this year. Remember that in 2004, they were struggling to have 3G in FOUR CITIES!!! And people are complaining that they don’t invest in the network?!! Source: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20040218/222459.shtml

– AT&T is adding more than 2,100 cell sites this year.

– AT&T is upgrading their 3G to HSPA 7.2Mbps from the existing 3.6Mbps.

Look, I’m an AT&T user, and my calls get dropped too. I can’t believe how long it takes from when I hit the send button to the call actually being placed. I have less than a bar of coverage at my house, which sadly is about 50 yards from one of the busiest Interstates in the country, I580. I switched my laptop modem from AT&T to VZW because of slow performance. There is lots of room for improvement in AT&T’s network, sure. But the ARE working on it. Who reading this can claim that the company you work for offers the perfect product/service, that couldn’t possibly be better? Or do you have room for improvement, too? Don’t we all?

So don’t delude yourselves for another second that AT&T doesn’t invest in their network. Or that they “just don’t care” and are showering in your money while they ignore the network. Yes, they make money. But they also are aware of their problems, and invest heavily in improving their network. If you seek to criticize AT&T, there are legitimate ways of doing so, while still being correct. No need to create BS.

And for those of you who think Verizon is fantastic and AT&T is abysmal, stop buying the VZW marketing spin. VZW does have a better network, as is often independently tested. However, the differences in quality are not big. JD Power and Consumer Reports both support this. VZW would have been just as overwhelmed by the iPhone if it had been them.

You people are funny, in some respects. You are complaining that your data speeds are not fast enough, that you have dropped calls, that “anytime anywhere” Internet is too expensive, or that it doesn’t improve fast enough. Did you even have a #$@# cell phone 10 years ago? Did you have any mobile Internet 4 years ago? This stuff is all new. It’s had phenomenally quick deployment, improvements, and innovation within the decade, and somebody must have built those networks. Yet everyone here is pissed off because it’s not unlimited, flawless, fiber-optic-speed-while-mobile connections. Demand more from your carrier, sure. But be realistic and understand some facts first.

Isn’t some part of you amazed and thankful for the incredible things we can do, while mobile, that didn’t even exist at the turn of the century?

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Well...

You know, I forgot to mention that AT&T, in response to customer demand for better wireless data networks and better access to fast data in many places, bought Wi-Fi hotspot operator Wayport for $275M in cash in 2008.

Why? So they could let their cellular data subscribers also connect to (free, no additional cost) Wi-Fi in those 20,000 Hotspots. They quickly offered it to iPhone subscribers.

Source: http://www.digitaltrends.com/lifestyle/att-buys-wi-fi-hotspot-operator-wayport/

I won’t hide the fact that AT&T bought Wayport in the hopes of alleviating some of the data demand that iPhones (and other data devices) were putting on their cellular networks by shunting that traffic off to Wi-Fi. But doesn’t that constitute an investment AT&T made, out of their box, which offers increased coverage, increased options, and faster speeds to their mobile data users?

Wayport was charging between $3 for two hours of WiFi and $30 per month. That’s now included in your AT&T data subscription, no extra charge. Send your thank-you letters c/o Ralph de la Vega…but something tells me you won’t.

This very popular meme that AT&T doesn’t invest or try to solve mobile data challenges is just such ill-informed rubbish.

Ben (profile) says:

...and I wouldn't have known

I, for one, wouldn’t have known about the FSJ “call to arms” (or is the iPhone processor not an ARM?) without the reactions by AT&T/FCC resulting in this post.

People, and companies especially, need to consider their responses quite carefully and very few seem to be learning that lesson. You’d think that by now they’d have heard of the “Streisand Effect”

daddycoy says:

AT&T is a manopoly

I was a long time customer with bellsouth, and now at&t has bought them out,even the service techs dont like at&t,but thats who there stuck working for, a job they once loved now they hate. at&t IS against net neutrality, if net neutrality isnt passed, there gonna charge us more, cap services like hulu and youtube etc, and if it isnt passed every isp in america will be able to, for those who havnt looked in net neutrality i advise you do. Let yourself be heard

daddycoy says:

Re: Re: AT&T is a manopoly

ok so SBC bought AT&T, SBC is using AT&T’s name to be a manopoly then, is that what your saying? AT&T’s moto lets charge the customer more, and dont spend money to make our networks better to give our customers more, im a AT&T customer ive seen the stuff there doing, ive been throttled on Hulu, there devious, and there buying everyone out, i say lets bring the competition in and drive these devious idiots out.

Chris (profile) says:

Profits flat

AT&T has flat profits despite the horrible recession and loss of hundreds of thousands of land lines. Why? Because they have increased network (DATA) growth across the board.

However, they aren’t investing any more than they ever have in keeping up with demand. Customers are coming on board for the first time or upgrading from feature phones to smart phones and AT&T doesn’t invest in making that experience better.

Frankly with the shrinking land line buisness I would expect them to have extra capacity in that area allowing at least a modest growth in wireless investment to keep up with demand and address areas not blanketed with 3G.

AT&T is failing their customers. That’s the bottom line. They need to make an investment or free the iPhone from their grasp early by allowing off-contract customers to unlock their phones.

They are playing a dangerous game and they are going to pay for it in the end. No company is immune to poor customer service for long and the telecoms across the board are about to learn this lesson.

People are dropping land lines like never before. People are searching for low prices, unlimited plans, and fair contracts.

Across the board consumers are feeling the pinch of inflation and stagnant or decreasing wages. Even the wealthy are not immune.

In a time where discounts are steep in other sectors the telcom industry is running things as a status quo with a slew of anti-consumer issues from increasing ETF’s (Verizon), fighting network neutrality (AT&T), failing to invest properly in networks to meet capacity needs (AT&T), charging data fees for accidental key presses (Verizon), making getting and leaving voicemail tie up extra time (Everyone), charging separately for SMS and DATA (everyone), rediculous prices for going outside of minutes/data/texts plans (everyone), etc.

At the same time, they seem to make some consumer friendly moves. T-Mobile has allowed any phone to go PAYGO on their network. Verizon allowed the Droid to be left very open. AT&T ceded marketing on the iPhone to Apple and let them really control their product.

What I wonder is why don’t they just do what is right for the consumers? What does doing right look like? Why does it scare them?

Well back in 2007 Google came to the table and said it should look like this (in reference to the 700mhz auctions):
* Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
* Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
* Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
* Open networks: Third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

In other words, the telcom providers would be reduced to dumb pipes where they get a cut on everything that flows through. Seriously? Why is that so scary? Because it allows competition.

Why is competition so scary? Because it wrecks their chokehold.

I say operation chokehold is a go. For 15 minutes, I’m watching youtube.

Screw them.

Murdoch's #37 fan says:

Re: Profits flat

That Google stuff is their standard surface appeal of “do no evil”. Now that they are working on their own phone, it is clear that their move isn’t motivated by “do no evil” but “open the door so we can run you out of business”. Google will once again leverage it’s incredible financial clout to come into a market and sell at a loss (or often free) a product which then puts others out of the marketplace.

Oh yeah, the Google wireless network will BETA for 7 years.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Profits flat

Google will once again leverage it’s incredible financial clout to come into a market and sell at a loss

I’m sorry, you’re probably a troll, but I’ll bite. Do you *really* think that it costs $0.15 to send a text message? C’mon, consumers have been fleeced regarding wireless plans. Google hopefully disrupt all the needlessly expensive markets. Oh, you want to sell Turn-by-turn GPS software for $99? Funny, we can give it away for free by crowdsourcing the data. You want to charge $120 for an Office Suite? Odd, we can put it in the cloud and get rid of the plethora of features 3% of users need, and give it away for free.

What’s that? You want to charge $0.15 for 120 characters of text *and* require a data plan? Funny, we can not only make that into data, but we can turn those pesky “wireless minutes” into data too.

It sucks for Verzion and AT&T, but it’s awesome for the consumer. Seeing as I’m a consumer, I’m okay with that. What are *you*?

Oh yeah, the Google wireless network will BETA for 7 years.

..and AT&T’s network is clearly out of Beta, right?

DocMenach (profile) says:

Re: Re: Profits flat

Google will once again leverage it’s incredible financial clout to come into a market and sell at a loss (or often free) a product which then puts others out of the marketplace.

Oh yeah, the Google wireless network will BETA for 7 years.

Actually Google doesn’t sell things at a loss. They are good at figuring out ways to do things without charging the end user, while using that free product to make money. It’s not selling at a loss if you are making profit hand over fist. The only reason it puts others out of business is because those others are unable to adapt to a changing marketplace.

Oh yeah, and Google’s Beta version will have more features and be less buggy than other companies final product.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Profits flat

“They are playing a dangerous game and they are going to pay for it in the end. No company is immune to poor customer service for long and the telecoms across the board are about to learn this lesson.”

Unfortunately, in this country at this time, you are incorrect. They will continue to lobby to our politicians to be allowed to continue with their horrible business model and get monopoly rights to allow them to treat their customers poorly.

Giving the customer what they want does not matter if you have lobbying power (and the telecoms do) look at the movie studios, record labels, American auto makers, banks, newspapers, etc. They don’t have to provide the service and products people want at a reasonable price – they just run to congress to get a hand out and some laws to make it possible for them to continue business without providing the customer anything better.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"As AT&T Complains, People Notice That It Has Decreased Infrastructure Investments, But Wireless Revenue Is Way Up"

Of course! You don’t expect the CEO “not” to get paid for his stupidity, do you? Stupid is, as stupid does. The CEO is a Moron! Sure.. Blame the technology and the users for tasking a network that your unwilling to properly invest in.
You can only BullS**t your customers for so long.
So close your eyes, and when you open them, maybe all of your customers will have switched to a company that places a little more value on their customers than you supposedly do. ;p

Anonymous1 says:

So where is that idiot “industry analyst” who claimed that there was no way AT&T could have predicted growth in the smart phone market? *crickets*

They can predict it now, it’s patently obvious, and was then (5 years ago), despite his arguments. Yet even NOW that it is obvious, AT&T STILL refuses to invest properly.
Oh they do, of course, they just can’t provide any DATA.
Pretty funny for a company whose buisness IS data. LOL….

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Right here, my man.

And you can read my comment above explaining that the entire premise of this thread is wrong. AT&T IS investing heavily. Documented with links. So there’s your DATA.

Is AT&T perfect? Heck no. Did they forecast correctly prior to iPhone? Obviously not. But they ARE investing. All this BS claiming they don’t invest is just a backlash to their imperfect network. So go ahead and complain about the dropped calls, but don’t erroneously claim they aren’t spending Billions to fix it.

BTW, I never said “that there was NO WAY AT&T could have predicted growth in the smart phone market.” I said they learned NOT to expect things to be successful. Too many big mobile data product launches in 1999-2007 failed, teaching them not to expect success. They weren’t going to invest Billions on the hope for the’next big thing’. But there were plenty of ways they COULD have predicted growth.

For example, they could have listened to this smart Techdirt analyst who predicted as much one day prior to the iPhone’s launch. This guy nailed the future impact of the iPhone before it was even in the market: http://www.techdirt.com/feature.php?sid=200706293

But what do I know…just some idiot “industry analyst”. I’m sure you have a better grip on this than I.

LOL and crickets right back at ya.

spaceman spiff says:

AT&T and the iPhone

You’ll have to pry my wife’s iPhone out of her cold, dead fingers. She uses its data capabilities all the time – Google Maps, traffic reports, email, etc. We have been noticing lately that there are significant periods when the network doesn’t, and that’s here in Chicago, considered by some to be a premier metropolitan area. If their service continues to fall into the crapper, I’m sure we will be looking for other providers for the services that we are paying for.

Stan Pouv says:

FSJ is a joke, people

You’d think AT&T would know Dan Lyons (the Fake Steve Jobs) has no credibility. C’mon, we’re talking about a guy who bashed bloggers in his day job at Fortune for being foul-mouthed and anonymous while secretly writing a foul-mouthed anonymous blog under someone else’s name. The only way he could get a book published was by imagining he was someone else and channeling his own ignorant arrogance while cussing like a sailor.

He’s the Joe Klein of tech reporters, and oddly enough they work for the same magazine now.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Me. And, wow, he doesn’t have a lot of patience.

At 10:09AM he calls me out.
By 12:47PM he’s the cock of the walk because I didn’t respond yet. I guess I got scared off by “Anonymous1”. Heh.

Anon1, Dude, I have this thing…called a job…selling expert services to the telecom industry – and no, not just carriers, and never to AT&T (so far).

Sorry if I can’t get back to your comments every time. Please be patient, leave your message at the beep, and I’ll pwn you as soon as I get back.

BTW, Mike, I disagreed with you on this one, too. I think the Gizmodo interpretation of that data is poor. And I think their conclusion of “AT&T isn’t investing” is just downright wrong…although very popular. Have a look at my comment and see what you think.

And get back to me within 2.5 hours, or Anon1 will get impatient.

Anonymous1 says:

@Mike Masnick:

His name is Derek Kerton. He’s a registered user, and he said this on the AT&T “bait and switch story”:

“And of course they owe it to their customers to improve the network to deliver quality service. And a look at their 2008 Annual Report shows they, in fact, ARE responding, having spent $20B on network upgrades in that single year. To act like they are sitting idle and screwing people over is to ignore the facts. Maybe $20B isn’t enough, maybe it’s adequate, but it sure as heck isn’t nothing.”

To his credit, he did say AT&T was caught off guard (previous to the part of his post I quote above), but he also said to act like AT&T is screwing people is ignoring the facts. He was dead wrong, if anything in this post is to be believed. Thanks.

Anonymous1 says:

@Derek: Sure would. Of course, since bandwith restrictions are inherent in all data, they may have wanted to thought that out before touting how amazing their network was, and making the selling of unlimited data plans a focus of that.
Many people have commented to me one of the main reasons they went with AT&T were those unlimited offerings. AT&T has been extremely hypocritical, and full of BS, during this entire process so far, IMHO, and will continue to do so.So YES one solution would be the stopping of unlimited data plans, but it seems inherently a backwards step for the entire industry if they do. It would be tantaumount to Benz developing the car, and then throwing it in front of a pack of horses, to be destroyed, or throwing it across the train tracks, intentionally, because they weren’t satisfied.
That anology isn’t exact, but in other words, it would be possibly the dumbest move ever.
Feel free to support that option.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You should start viewing in threaded mode, and attaching the comments to the right threads to help everyone with continuity.

Hey, bro, I was the first – believe me, the first – to say that they should not advertise unlimited if they didn’t intend to offer it. I criticized the Sprint Vision flat rate offering in 2002. If you can’t really offer flat-rate, don’t claim it. And wireless carriers can’t – the spectrum resources are too scarce, and the capital costs are high.

So why is going back to tiered services so regressive? If it’s what they should have claimed at the first, then isn’t it still right today?

BTW, I’m not advocating reneging on existing contracts with customers, a deal is a deal. I’m just saying a carrier could offer a capped plan for new sales and renewals.

If they lose too many customers, then that’s the market speaking, and they will have to either remove caps, or lower their prices for their various tiers of service. We could actually have lower priced data plans than we do today for many customers with limited data appetites. I see that as likely, sound economics, and good for customers and carriers alike.

Clueby4 says:

How about an injuction (like AOL in the 90s)

Dose anyone remember the injunction placed on AOL for essentially the same thing? IE overselling capacity.

And while some may obtusely claim, over selling capacity is a common technique, the AOL injunction serves to demonstrated that that such a technique is at best a dubious gray area and at worst fraud.

:) says:

AT&T the shame of wirelless worldwide.

350/5 = 70 per centers deployment per year.
2009 = 20 centers.

Deployment fell to half in 2009.

Number of customers added to the network in 2009 till the third quarter.
http://www.theiphoneblog.com/2009/10/22/att-q3-2009-financial-results-32-million-iphones-activated-40-customers/

3.5 million new user divided per 2100 new towers = 1666.666666667 user per tower no wonder calls fall all the time.

AT&T SEC financial report filings
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/sec?s=T

In other markets the iPhone don’t have those problems are Europeans and the Japanese more capable then AT&T?
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/sneak-peek-of-fcc-national-broadband-plan-gets-mixed-reviews.ars

Super populated regions like Tokyo don’t see 3G dropped calls, Japan is aiming at 100Mbps in 2015(See link above)

So, one must wonder how is that other can do better and AT&T can’t?

The network is not even completed and they reduced expending already. Maybe because they are suffering losses in other places in their business still they are not investing as much on the network as they should.

They didn’t finished the job and customers are paying for it.

Joe (profile) says:

What happened?

I thought Apple was going to change the game? When the iPhone was first announced, Steve said that it would turn the cell phone market completely upside down. Then they made an exclusive deal with ATT for their phone. In the short term, yeah, that might have made sense to ensure you got you R&D money back, but at this point, why is the phone at the very least not quad-band and available on TMo? Or even better, on all the major US (and world-wide) carriers?

Yeah, they’ve got a kickass phone, but they’ve partnered with a really shitty provider and left room for anyone to steal their market. Android is on at least the other 3 providers already and making a lot of waves. It’s still no iPhone, but it’s close and it’s good enough to get people to leave ATT. The only part of the game they seem to have changed was giving the market to Google…

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