AT&T should shut up about Verizon iPhone

AT&T Wifi Box in Starbucks store in San Mateo

I see over on Business Insider that AT&T’s PR boss is already bashing the Verizon iPhone that will be announced next week.

AT&T should shut up.

I still can’t use my iPhone in parts of San Francisco and at CES? AT&T was nearly unusable.

AT&T has absolutely NO credibility to bash its competitors. It has, simply, provided horrible service over the past three years and I’ll be very happy to leave it, even if top-end speeds are slightly slower.

Why am I happy to leave AT&T? Because it has proven unable to support us at big events. Yes, SXSW was pretty good. But the World Series? Unusable. CES? Unusable. Web 2 expo? Unusable.

They refuse to make the kinds of investments they need to make to keep our service up and running and now they are trying to bash Verizon?

Hello AT&T. Every Verizon phone last week at CES worked just fine.

You should shut up. Maybe after 40% of your customers leave because you mistreated us for so long your service will be faster. But it won’t matter at that point because you mistreated us for so long.

Sincerely, Robert Scoble, a guy who has paid you many thousands of dollars over the past three years to have your horrid service.

UPDATE: Oh, and now I see that Verizon is going to be offering iPhone/Verizon users unlimited data plans, in contrast to your lame 2GB cap. Screw you.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

94 thoughts on “AT&T should shut up about Verizon iPhone

  1. I love Scoble’s viewpoints. “My viewpoint is correct because that’s what I’ve experienced. Everyone else is wrong because I’ve never experienced what they have”

  2. It seemed to me that for years Robert answered the critique of the iPhone dropping calls with “talking on the phone is 5% of what I use it for” and now it seems that the other 95% has been a major pain because Robert has dropped data connections for years as well.

    So I guess I’m rewriting all of Robert’s defenses of and advocacy for the iPhone as “it’s the best for offline app usage” rather than its being a great all around CONNECTED smartphone.

  3. Very nice article! However it is not only AT&T – it is Verizon and Sprint – we as consumers don’t demand better service so we get what we voluntarily pay for…would be nice if someone actually developed a telephone company with service levels and customer service that would put Verizon, Sprint & AT&T out of business – what a concept -

    Again nice article

    JanSimpson

  4. I live in NYC area and carry two phones: an ATT iPhone and a Verizon flip-phone. I use the Verizon to actually make and get phone calls – there are too many places where ATT literally has no service (the NJ Transit tunnels b/w NYC & NJ) and Verizon has full 5 bar service.

    Having the two phones makes for easy side-by-side comparison and I can tell you that several times a week I have to pull out the VZW phone because I’m not getting phone service on ATT at all.

  5. I think the best part of the planned Verizon iPhone isn’t a better network (as lots of people are fine with AT&T – which is very good in the Seattle area), it’s pure competition. Two big firms fighting for customers means more choices and potentially better pricing.

      1. Any idea why non iPhone users on ATT don’t have nearly as many problems in SF as iPhone users do?

  6. Oh please! Don’t act like Verizon is innocent in all this. AT&T and Verizon have been attacking each other constantly for the last few years. While I don’t I don’t like some of the stuff that AT&T says and does I also feel the same about Verizon.

    Also, maybe I feel this way because, for the most part, my AT&T experience is very good. Most areas have great coverage for me and I’ve never had any customer service issues.

    I will say that I’m glad to see Verizon get the iPhone (if it really happens, I’m still skeptical) because it will free up the AT&T network a bit and create competition that will help the end user.

    1. Yes, Verizon is just as bad – I remember when they rolled out 3G – About as much misinformation then as now with their 4G plans. What they said and what they did were two different things. And their coverage maps are a big lie (or at the very least, misguided and inaccurate)

  7. Proud to be an Android guy! :) That said, I agree 100% and feel that an iPhone to Verizon is what is best for the consumer. I know quite a few people that would own an iPhone, but simply refuse to go with AT&T. These consumers are going to Android, and it has to be eating away at the Apple. (No pun intended on the logo!) LOL

    Why would one of the highest quality phones not want to be with what many consider the highest quality network? My brother is a professional entertainer who travels the country on tour, and he had so much trouble connecting before moving to Verizon, and is now extremely happy with his service. Sorry AT&T, but your exclusive run in about to end, and your company is going to need to up their game, or fade away. This move just makes sense.

  8. The only places where I see poor service reports are SF and NY. Do you think that Android phones out-number iPhones in those locations? If not, it is unclear what the effect of a large rollout on Verizon’s network will do to the service in those locations. What do I see outside of those locations? AT&T’s 3G network is much faster than any of the competitors and even beats my Sprint Overdrive (on 4G) in every location I have tried it. The other thing you will lose with Verizon is the ability to talk and surf at the same time until there is an LTE iPhone. Puts a damper on a bunch of really good use cases.

    1. Well, we’ll see. I’ll keep my AT&T phone for a number of months because of contract lock in. But generally I’m on wifi when I’m surfing the web anyway, except for when I try to cover conferences and/or press events, where AT&T is usually useless. It’ll be good for both networks, I imagine, to have some spreading out of the users but most of the people who bought iPhone 4′s are locked in for another year or two on contracts.

      1. I think there is a ton of pent up demand and Verizon is likely to see a huge influx of iPhones in those areas. As you say, the switchers probably won’t until the next rev of the iPhone on Verizon.

  9. Funny, I don’t hear much AT&T bitchin except for you geeks in high-density areas (the usual SF, NYC, conferences). My Verizon data experience outside Mpls is dismal or mixed at best unless close to a major city or on the freeway. It’s not just that you can’t get 3G, many times you barely get 1X.
    So, I’m not as confident as ya’ll that Verizon will be able to handle it. Will be interesting to see how it shakes out.

      1. MPLS = Minneapolis — I’m in a western suburb, not the boonies.
        Right now I’m showing 1 bar 3G, 3 bars 1X
        ———
        Was in SW MN (still not the boonies, just small town farm country) couple weeks ago. Verizon 1 bar 1X. AT&T 3 bars 3G

  10. I am just so grateful to finally get the option to own an iPhone here in Southwestern Wisconsin. There is simply no GSM coverage here, yet, I can’t go anywhere without a full deck of 3G bars on my Verizon phone.

  11. I am just so grateful to finally get the option to own an iPhone here in Southwestern Wisconsin. There is simply no GSM coverage here, yet, I can’t go anywhere without a full deck of 3G bars on my Verizon phone.

  12. I’ve been an AT&T subscriber and iPhone user for several years (in NYC). I left Verizon for AT&T just to get my hands on the iPhone. I immediately saw the difference in network quality after the switch, but I couldn’t go back to a “lesser” phone after my initial iPhone experience. Over the years, I received tons of e-mail and snail-mail from AT&T about the money and time they spent or were planning to spend to improve service in New York. Lots of false hope; service continues to suck today. I share Robert’s distrust in anything AT&T has to say regarding service improvements. Their time is up.

  13. I’ve been an AT&T subscriber and iPhone user for several years (in NYC). I left Verizon for AT&T just to get my hands on the iPhone. I immediately saw the difference in network quality after the switch, but I couldn’t go back to a “lesser” phone after my initial iPhone experience. Over the years, I received tons of e-mail and snail-mail from AT&T about the money and time they spent or were planning to spend to improve service in New York. Lots of false hope; service continues to suck today. I share Robert’s distrust in anything AT&T has to say regarding service improvements. Their time is up.

  14. I don’t have nay problems with my iPhone 3GS in the Albuquerque area. The Internet speeds meet my needs and I rarely drop a call.

    1. Wonderful. Nice to hear, except that most of the world’s tech press and geeks lives in either New York or San Francisco area and we’re the ones who really need this kind of service.

    2. Wonderful. Nice to hear, except that most of the world’s tech press and geeks lives in either New York or San Francisco area and we’re the ones who really need this kind of service.

  15. I can’t wait for everyone to dump AT&T. Not that I have any problems with my service in Philadelphia where I live but it can only get better. Verizon will nickle and dime you for all you are worth. That’s why I got rid of them years ago. And the notion that the Verizon network will be able to handle the influx of traffic simply because they have a ton of Android phones is laughable. Add all the iPhones to the Android phones and you are going to get problems. Have fun at Verizon. I’ll stick with my trouble free AT&T service.

    1. I just said this above…

      Verizon uses CDMA and from the research I’ve done, it can handle data users better than GSM. Yes, GSM is there for speed, but CDMA is more robust.

      1. Have they worked out the whole using data while on the phone at the same time thing? If not, Apple is going to have to add a disclaimer onto all those commercials where they show people using the voice and data connection at the same time.

        1. THAT will be a legitimate complaint! If AT&T wants to take swings at Verizon, this is the way to do it, not talk about network speed. A slow network is still faster than one that doesn’t work at all.

        2. THAT will be a legitimate complaint! If AT&T wants to take swings at Verizon, this is the way to do it, not talk about network speed. A slow network is still faster than one that doesn’t work at all.

          1. More often than I thought I would be actually. That’s not the point though. It’s one of Apple’s selling features in their advertisements.

          2. Another example – Spend some time north of Mpls in a very popular vacation area – Brainerd Lakes – and Verizon data is rarely 2 bar 3G, usually just 1 or none.

            Oooops, how did this post as a reply here – Should be down a few :-(

      2. Have they worked out the whole using data while on the phone at the same time thing? If not, Apple is going to have to add a disclaimer onto all those commercials where they show people using the voice and data connection at the same time.

      1. I don’t have a two gig data cap. Verizon will get rid of those unlimited iPhone plans soon enough. It’s just bait to lure people in. And Verizon isn’t any cheaper for international roaming.

      2. I don’t have a two gig data cap. Verizon will get rid of those unlimited iPhone plans soon enough. It’s just bait to lure people in. And Verizon isn’t any cheaper for international roaming.

  16. Other question my wife asks is: If this is just a Iphone 4 CDMA version and next July we see a Iphone 5 for GSM…do they release the Iphone 5 then or does Verizon wait until next January for that?

  17. At this point..I’m not sure it’s even worthwhile for AT&T to try and fix their network as it seems the race is to 4G. Spend millions fixing an old standard or spend millions to get their 4G up faster?

    1. You are probably right there, but then I won’t believe a thing AT&T says. Why? The CTO told me in an interview that AT&T’s service would be able to handle all the iPhones. He was lying then, and I won’t believe a damn thing he says about 4G.

    2. A lot of the issues that AT&T have are not only related to the phone-tower technology. The tower also has bandwidth to connect it to the main data network.

      You can add 4G technology from the phone to the tower, but if you don’t upgrade the rest, you’ll still have issues around slow data connections.

      AT&T need to update their network holistically. With the same 3G technology, here in Qu├ębec we’re getting 2-3 times the download bandwidth on the Rogers and Bell networks.

  18. If I lived in SF or NY, I most likely would have to change provider as well. Luckily, living in NW Ohio, I’ve had great AT&T service. Question: (If you’ve answered this elsewhere, which I’m sure you have, link?) Not ready to move to an Android device yet? That Motorola Atrix is looking pretty slick.

    1. The Motorola is pretty cool, but I still like iPhone OS better than Android. Android is coming on strong, though. Maybe by the end of 2011 I’ll switch that too! Of course, that’s assuming that Apple doesn’t do anything cool and new this year. Not a good assumption to make. :-)

      1. I agree. I like iOS better right now as well & have no real reason why to switch to Android. Back on topic… I think Verizon will have no problem handling the onslaught of new iPhone users. Verizon uses CDMA and from the research I’ve done, it can handle data users better than GSM. Yes, GSM is there for speed, but CDMA is more robust.

  19. Verizon on iPhone will (or rather should) be a wake-up call for AT&T. So far, people did not have a choice. Save the recent past, if you needed a good smart phone, AT&T was the only choice. So, AT&T did not care a bit about customer service, network, and other things. Now with iPhone and several other great Android handsets available on Verizon, there is no doubt in my mind that AT&T will face the consequences.

  20. Same thing in New York… both at work (close to Grand Central) and home, BAD reception. Dropped calls. I keep hearing that if Verizon had to deal with the volume that AT&T has because of the iPhone they would suck too… I somehow doubt it. There are enough smartphone users on Verizon.

  21. The only time I have ever had trouble on AT&T with an iphone is in places I would normally have trouble getting a signal (like football stadiums/driving through West Texas storm chasing).

    What is your take on the statement that it is difficult to add cell towers in certain areas? For example when Jobs said it takes 3 years to add a cell tower in SF:

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/07/16/apple_says_it_takes_3_years_to_get_a_new_cell_tower_in_san_francisco.html

    What will the impact of extra iPhone users be on the Verizon network?

      1. Maybe Verizon put them in before SF laws got tougher. I hear there are laws requiring new cell towers not to be visible to people down on the street. Some ascetics garbage about keeping the original architectural feel of the building.

        I do happen to know that AT&T the last few years is spending Billions (with a B) of dollars on new 3G cell towers and back-hauls each year and have engineers working all over the place trying to get them up as fast has they can.

        AT&T had a mess of people testing the iPhone on its network before it came out but they were just unprepared for the usage patterns that iPhone users ended up having.

        It will definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next few months.

        BTW: coverage for my iPhone in the Chicago area used to really suck but has greatly improved started around the middle of 2010.

  22. Robert, it’s not just you. My colleague/cameraman @adammaras couldn’t use his iPhone despite consistently having 4-5 bars, and I had no problems with my 4 year old backup BlackBerry Pearl.

  23. I still argue that AT&T’s issues are regional rather than network wide. I have next to no issues in Houston. Also, Verizon stinks in rural areas. I know this because I switched from Verizon to AT&T because I could rarely complete a call when I lived in Simonton (a town about 35 miles west of Houston and about 10 miles south of a major freeway).

    The iPhone moving to Verizon won’t really solve much. It just means that Verizon is going to have a similar issue of congestion that AT&T battled.

    1. Michael: that might be true, but at CES? Sucked. At World Series? Sucked. At many other events I’ve attended lately? Sucked (they fixed it at SXSW, which demonstrates they CAN fix their issues, but refuse to make the investments needed).

      1. It’s bad to make generalizations about networks because it varies so much locally. At my old house I got stellar reception on T-Mobile but Verizon was painfully slow. But where I live now, I can get a consistent 1.5mbs down while T-Mobile can barely connect to Edge.

      2. Do you know if Verizon brought in portable cell sites like AT&T did for SXSW this year? If so your argument holds no water.

      3. One thing that intrigues me is what happens when there are lots of iPhones around…

        Last year at WWDC, I went to the beer bash and pulled out my iPhone thinking I’d MMS a picture of the band to a friend of mine. I did not have high expectations and, sure enough, I couldn’t even get service. But also figure that there were probably somewhere in the realm of 5000 iPhones in a very compressed area. Not a typical use case.

        Most of the times I’ve had problems with my iPhone area situations like that–lots of people in a small area. I’m wondering if that has something to do with it.

        I’m normally down here in the Los Angeles area and I have no problems with AT&T.

    2. Michael – not my experience my man. I have a Droid Incredible, and my family lives in rural Bristol, NY (40 minutes south of Rochester). I don’t have problems. Zero. All (I mean almost Literally All) of my friends back home that live around Bristol have Verizon. There are basically never any service problems.

      Verizon may stink in Some rural areas…but overall, I don’t think AT&T is even in the same ballpark when it comes to providing good service. Not even close. Rural, urban, etc. Verizon is number 1, and number 2 is insignificantly far behind.

      1. What’s your experience like with a non-iPhone device on AT&T? I dropped more calls on AT&T with my iPhone than with any other device I owned (Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and BlackBerry). And I’ve been on AT&T since they were Cingular so I’ve been with them a while.

        Also my father who drives all over the southeast part of the state for his job working on natural gas compressors (some of them in, literally, the middle of nowhere) has zero issues with his Motorola flip phone.

        1. I had a Samsung on AT&T and it had some of the same call dropping problems than my iPhone did. The one on T-Mobile, though? Nope. Plus, I really don’t care about voice all that much. For me I +need+ data. AT&T wouldn’t work from the hall at CES this year or last, but T-Mobile and Verizon worked fine.

        2. My experience was similar: I’ve also been with AT&T since it was Cingular. I never had the problem of a large number of dropped calls until my iPhone. Not with BB, Nokia, Samsung – just the iPhone.

    3. Verizon has 100% better service in rural areas in Alabama than At&t. So that must be the opposite for you. I honestly can’t wait to switch so I can get better service.

  24. Do you think the onslaught of new customers to Verizon (if indeed 40% of AT&T iPhone users change to Verizon) will crowd out the Verizon network and make ‘our’ service poor? I love Verizon (have a Droid) and almost never have service problems.

    I do NOT want that to change.

    1. That’s possible, but at CES there were a VERY high number of Blackberries and Android devices on Verizon and Verizon never burped. So, past experience is, yes, Verizon will deal. And if it doesn’t? Well, then, I’ll be the first to tell you it’s sucking.

      1. Only thing is that according to most reports, iOS gets more web traffic than any Blackberrys or Android devices. Not sure if this makes a difference on Verizon’s network honestly, but definitely should make things more interesting.

        1. Actually it depends on what reports you look at..
          Old news was Iphone, newer news is android, new news is that windows phone 7 kills plans withing a week. Now if killing more bandwidth is what crowns the kings. We already have a king Arthur in winmo7.

      2. Know what European carriers do for big events such as 3GSM, the World Cup, etc? They have trailer-borne and van-portable cell sites that they simply set up streetside at popular venues. These link up via Microwave or even wireline broadband and add density to the frequencies they serve, increasing aggregate bandwidth. I have not once — not ever, not for any event — seen a US or Canadian carrier taking such steps to ensure service quality. They buy this same gear but keep it parked at the depot for use exclusively in disasters / emergencies.

        1. Ian – AT&T did this for SXSW last year, and it worked very well (compared to the year before when the iPhone was just an expensive pice of bling).

          I attend a ton of Tech conferences, and AT&T generally fails to make proactive moves. And in major cities like New York, Chicago, SFO, and tech cities like Austin and Boston, they pretty much suck most of the time.

          Rob

        2. 2009 SD Comic Con AT&T was absolutely dreadful. Couldn’t use the Iphone as a phone much less to use any kind of data. 2010 was very different. They did deploy towers and did make a difference. I was able to livestream this year in Hall H.

    2. Robert, the “karma metric” of early 2010 is: What percentage of AT&T customers terminate in the first three month of Verizon offering the iPhone? I hope its >30%. That would be business impact commensurate with the consumer pain.

      HOWEVER, THE REAL QUESTION IS: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DISRUPT THE AT&T EARLY TERMINATION POLICY? ($325 minus $10 for each full month of your Service Commitment). http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/articles-resources/early-term-fees.jsp.

      I’m interested in YOUR THOUGHTS on Quora — http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-way-to-disrupt-the-AT-T-early-termination-fee

    3. I think the real questions should be, did people have problems before the iphone came out?
      Did people with willy nilly cellphones complain, or is it that smart phone users are less forgiving?
      If anyone has any historical data that they can share it would be nice to see.

  25. Don’t hold back, Robert. Tell us how you really feel. :)

    I’m lucky that in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale AT&T has no problems. Verizon, especially now with the unlimited iPhone plan rumors floating around, might be loving this.

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