AT&T Says Its Network Can't Keep Up With All The Cool Stuff You Can Do With The Smartphones It Sells

from the nice-touch dept

AT&T caught a lot of flak at the beginning of April, when it updated the terms of service for its mobile data network, banning all sorts of activities on it. AT&T later said the changes had been made in "error" and removed the new language, though it later reinserted language banning "redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers" -- a ban apparently aimed directly at the forthcoming SlingPlayer application for the iPhone, which lets users watch TV from their Slingbox at home on their mobile device. The app has now been released, but it only works over WiFi, not the 3G mobile connection, because AT&T says, in a nutshell, that its mobile network doesn't have enough capacity to support streaming-video services if they take off. So all those cool data applications Apple and AT&T tout for the iPhone or other smartphones sold by the operator? Just remember they exist only at the behest of the carrier; if they threaten to expose its network's shortcomings, they'll get blocked.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Brooks, May 13th, 2009 @ 9:36pm

    And, so...?

    Kind of a weird post here. Is the implication that, if an app like SlingPlayer were going to bring AT&T's network to its knees, AT&T has an obligation to not block it? Or that it's unreasonable for AT&T to not have a network capable of delivering streaming video to a huge number of devices?

    I'm not disagreeing with the article. For all I know, I agree with its point. I just can't figure out what the actual point is once you strip away the snark and innuendo and hinting and stuff. What's someone supposed to do with this non-information?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:33am

      Re: And, so...?

      AT&T should (a) improve it's network so it's able to support the devices it sells, or (b) not sell devices it's network can't handle. They're selling smartphones saying, "This device can do X!" and then quietly back-peddling and saying "our network does not support X".

       

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    Jerry Smyth, May 13th, 2009 @ 9:54pm

    i-Verse

    ..."because AT&T says, in a nutshell, that its mobile network doesn't have enough capacity to support streaming-video services if they take off"

    While it is true that AT&T's already clogged 3G pipes would burst into unusability if tons of people were watching Sling on their iPhones, that's only half the picture. The other half comes from the fact that AT&T's working on their OWN application code-named i-Verse, one that performs a similar task as SlingPlayer Mobile.

    http://gizmodo.com/5253135/network-use-not-the-only-reason-for-att-to-hate-3g-iphone-slin gplayer

     

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    Grady, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:04pm

    I think Carlo is trying to point out that AT&T doesn't have enough capacity to keep up with the functions and features of "smartphones" and instead of upgrading their service, they are just banning/limiting their current service.

     

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      Jesse, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:11pm

      Re:

      And furthermore, they are using those cool features as selling points...if only in an implied sense...selling points that they can't really support.

       

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    Bettawrekonize, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:07pm

    Personally I don't like the idea of increased bandwidth (which amounts to increased EMF) everywhere. I don't mind AT&T putting limits on this.

     

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      inc, May 14th, 2009 @ 3:55am

      Re:

      I don't want limits. If you don't like EMF just through out your phone.

       

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      donkeyofdarkness, May 14th, 2009 @ 4:27am

      Re: EMF

      I like EMF. It feels good :)

       

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      dvessel, May 14th, 2009 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      @Bettawrekonize
      Personally I don't like the idea of increased bandwidth (which amounts to increased EMF) everywhere. I don't mind AT&T putting limits on this.
      I could be wrong but I vaguely remember reading that having fewer cell towers spread further apart will emit a stronger signal by the phone. This kills battery life and increase EMF where it matters. If they upped the capacity correctly, there would be less bottlenecks and less EMF.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:19pm

    This only SCREAMS monopoly, before you laugh, yell and screem, let me make a case K?

    I have a choice in Cable Television,

    Satelite, Cable or U-Verse.
    and lets say i already have an I-phone w/ ATT

    So i now want to sign up, and mobile media is important to me. I want to be able to watch my DvR from anywhere as well as live television.
    If i choose cable or satelite, i will not be able to do it with an I-phone (lets say i'm law abiding and don't jailbreak) I will not have a choice to do so.
    however if I sign up with U-verse that offers I-Verse for I-Phone I can do it.

    Last I checked, microsoft got busted years back for making IE the only choice on their Windows software platform.

    Anyone seeing the similarities?

    I'm going to block your product from performing the way it was designed and intended to be used because your hardware is useable in conjunction with my direct competitor.
    Since your software is much slicker, faster and better then mine and i would not stand a chance given fair competition, i would just as rather say that since it's my software/hardware partner, I will bully my way so my own stuff works and yours just kind of works.

    ATT is deathly affraid of competition, especially by sling (a competitor to their product, I-verse (in development)

    Further more, ATT realizes that if it's own I-Verse is successful and does indeed get people to start watching tv on their phone (many have tried and failed, i.e. Mobi-Tv) that hey, in order to ensure OUR customers get better service, we will prevent you from using a competitors product... they are calling this a way to preserve their network

    I think another large corporation got in trouble because it started to NOT BLOCK, but throttle the downloads of it's users from a specific service to preserve the integrity of their network

    FCC (F'ing Clueless Controlfreaks is what i call them) slaped the wrist of said corp and said how dare you prevent users from utilizing the service in the way they see fit...

    All in all, if ATT truely comes out with I-Verse and it infact does what I-slingplayer would have done, I could see as little as the FCC stepping in and as large as content producers and distributers getting butt hurt and seeking leagal action...

    Maybe i'm just a paranoid f**k
    but, come back when it happens so i can say i told you so

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:22pm

      Re:

      I failed to mention, that in a previous post to this, it linked to another blog talking about the development of I-Verse which is essentially ATT's own sling player that can connect to their boxes and load content to phones directly. This is still in development and not in use yet

       

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    IanK, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:48pm

    I don't really get it. Is it only the iPhone's version of SlingPlayer that's limited? The Blackberry version can be used over 3G....

     

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      Derek Kerton (profile), May 14th, 2009 @ 6:42am

      Re:

      ATT (through their partnership deal with Apple) has a great deal of control over what an iPhone can actually do. iPhones are great, but don't ever kid yourself that it's an "open" device. There are overlords. The device OS limits the permissions that apps have to use the phone's data connections, specifing, for example, that VoIP apps or Sling apps ONLY use the Wi-Fi.

      This is different for Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Android, Symbian, and others. These other platforms are truly open, in that if you hook it up to your PC, you can install any programs you wish, whether AT&T likes it or not. These programs then use the TCP/IP stack in the OS, no questions asked.

      Thus, I have had Slingplayer on my WinMo phones for about 3 years. Though it may go against my ToS (which AT&T reserves the right to change as they wish), I can still Sling away. Maybe someday I'll get a nasty letter.

      By the way, I don't see this as so sinister as Carlo. Yep, AT&T is controlling the iPhone users, but AT&T and Apple offer the iPhone as a subsidized device, and a whole product which includes the app store. If you don't like the product offered, buy something else. Suggestions that there is no competition on this issue are ridiculous (Android, WinMo, Symbian, Limo, RIM, etc.)

       

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    Techsupoort, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:28pm

    TV from their Slingbox at home on their mobile device. The app has now been released, but it only works over WiFi, not the 3G mobile connection

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 12:43am

    And there lies the reason I use cell phones for PHONE use only!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:30am

    the problem is not what AT&T allows on *it's* network. The problem is the exclusive contract tying Apple's hardware to AT&T's service.

    It would be like Toyota only allowing you to use Shell gasoline and Toyota approved roads.

    Hardware/service tying needs to be broken in court. And the bastards doing it need to be bitch slapped.

    I don't understand why we end up having to do this over and over again. We had to do it with trains, cars, and computers. Now we have to have the same f-ing case for portable computers acting as phones.

    It's like every generation forgets what the previous generation did. What a stupid species...

     

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      mike, May 14th, 2009 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      not stupid, just greedy.

       

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      Derek Kerton, May 14th, 2009 @ 5:30pm

      Re:

      No, it would be like Shell giving you a half-price Toyota on the condition you only put Shell gas in it. You accept the subsidized Toyota, you accept the deal. Take it or leave it, but don't whine to DC.

      I would be on your side if there were no competitive options, but there are multiple carriers, and multiple phones, and multiple smartphone OSes. So if the consumer doesn't like the deal Apple/AT&T offer, you are free to "stick it to them".

      Clearly, though, the consumer does like that iPhone deal. In a free country, consumers choose that option, among a market with many competitive choices. I see greed and control issues with AT&T/Apple, yes. But I see no justification for any kind of gov't trust-busting.

       

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    Heavydevelopment, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:40am

    @Bettawrekonize

    "Personally I don't like the idea of increased bandwidth (which amounts to increased EMF) everywhere. I don't mind AT&T putting limits on this."

    How's the fit of that tinfoil hat?

     

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    heavydevelopment, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:56am

    "I don't really get it. Is it only the iPhone's version of SlingPlayer that's limited? The Blackberry version can be used over 3G...."

    This is the funny part. AT&T claims that the iPhone is a computer and that it is somehow magically different than other smartphones: "redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers". The irony is that Windows Mobile OS is just as much a computer OS as OSX on the iPhone.

    I myself, am trying to get AT&T to mea culpa as to the real reason they won't let the Slingplayer on 3G. I have emailed back and forth with their customer service people asking them to demonstrate why I should stick with my iPhone contract and not get an iPod Touch while moving my phone to a carrier that has a better call and data network--since it apparently can't handle much. We'll see how it goes.

     

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    bob, May 14th, 2009 @ 3:34am

    Grease My Network

    AT&T: Give me more money!
    Customer: Deliver what you promised.
    AT&T: Give me more money!

     

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    Thomas, May 14th, 2009 @ 5:54am

    Confused

    I thought AT&T would WANT people to use their services. I guess they are more interested in raking in obscene amounts of money, raising rates, and changing terms of service rather than actually providing service to their customers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    AT&T, the new AOL

     

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    Nicholas Overstreet (profile), May 14th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    What is AT&T doing with all their money???

    With how much money AT&T is making off the outrageously over-priced iPhone contracts, there is no excuse for this.
    AT&T is refusing to improve network infrastructure, and this will come back to bite them in the butt, hopefully sooner than later.

     

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      Rick Chou, May 14th, 2009 @ 2:52pm

      Re: What is AT&T doing with all their money???

      I agree. Instead of putting more and more limits on how we can use our smartphones, I wish they would just find ways to increase their bandwidth to accomadate all the smartphones they are selling. Where is all that money going?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Before buying phone:

    customer: Does this work?
    AT&T: Oh yeah, sure

    After buying phone:
    customer: This feature does not work, Sorry about that, but due to over use of our networks, we have banned that from working.

    ITS ALL BULLSHIT!
    If I had bought an iphone , I would be sueing them!

    They always say it works, yadda yadda until they have your contract for service and then point out in the small print that it is either not included, or cost a forture to use etc.

    Its the same with so-called unlimited internet plan that LIMITS its use.

    Total Bullshit to sell !

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:02am

    If 4 customers were using a Slingbox hit the same cell tower, that cell tower would be brought down. This is true for Verison's EdVO also.

    Cell towers just can't handle that much video throughput.

    On another note, I know a guy that can broadcast his Slingbox out on the web to multiple people and I have seen him do it. If he wanted to, he could sign up for Pay Per View events and then sell subscriptions to others. This is of course illegal, but he could do it.

     

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    Sully, May 14th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Apple's leverage on AT&T

    AT&T says it's network can't handle new iphone apps. Stevie J. replies, "maybe Verizon's can" balltwist*

     

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    keturn, May 14th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    about that video service

    So, uh, this Get Video On Your Cell Phone ("CV")feature that's advertised as part of my AT&T plan and shipped with my phone is a thing they don't support? Or is banned under their ToS?

     

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    Dana King, May 14th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    The Money Pit

    They don't have money to keep their network current or expanding with all the money they get.

    I pay approx $85.00 a month for unlimited(LOL) data and a 450 minute plan. I have 4K+ roll over minutes, so I know I am not taxing their system to death.

    They get about $1020 a year from me for service I am not using to it's fullest, so if you take the average user, they may have a lot of money coming in that in theory should be applied to expanding their network.

    I am thinking about changing to a pay as you go plan since the only thing I use a lot on my phone is Data and do not want to pay for minutes I don't use. Boost for example has a 50.00 a month all you can eat plan. Beats the hell out of AT&T for the 80.00 a month I pay, and now they are complaining that there is not enough bandwidth for all the phones on their network.

    Some execs need to get their salaries reduced

     

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    batch, May 14th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Don't worry!

    They'll make streaming tv available, through the existing network, as soon as they can provide a U-Verse program and charge you extra! Don't worry!

    In the meantime, make sure to buy the crippled Slingbox player for your phone so you can go sit on the couch and stream tv to your phone! You can tell yourself you're saving electricity by not turning on the tv and totally pretend you aren't a stooge!

     

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    Keith, May 14th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    What about MobiTV?

    Hey, AT&T's best-selling app is apparently MobiTV, which is a full-on streaming TV service. Their 2nd-best is XM Radio Mobile, which is streaming radio. So it's a little disingenuous to state that their network won't support these services, since they already do, and they're quite popular to boot.

     

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    Rick, May 14th, 2009 @ 2:46pm

    glad I left AT&T

    Well, I'm glad I returned the three iPhones I bought for my family before the 30 days were up and stayed with verizon and sprint. Next...to intall a T1 line in my office and get rid of my $256 a month Time Warner Bill for business users.

     

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    NetworkElf, May 18th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    Another reason to avoid AT&T

    I've never liked them, never will and will not own an iPhone until it's offered somewhere else. Maybe not even then, considering how nutty the app store appears to be.

     

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