Daniel Eran Dilger
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AT&T defends its iPhone network via YouTube outreach

Daniel Eran Dilger

AT&T has published a YouTube response to the mounting complaints about its network to explain the issues involved and assure subscribers that it is working hard to address the massive new demand related to iPhone use.

AT&T defends its iPhone network via YouTube outreach
The video segment (shown below) introduces “Seth the blogger guy,” who describes the explosive new growth in data demand and outlines the investments AT&T has been making, including spending between $17 to $18 billion on upgrades scheduled for this year on top of the $38 billion invested over the past two years.

Standing in front of a picture of the iPhone, the AT&T spokesman says, “we’re proud that we’ve enabled the smartphone revolution.” At the end of the segment, he adds the assurance, “we have heard you, we are on it, and we will use this hard won experience to lead the industry into the future.”

The segment also reiterates the previous announcement that AT&T’s MMS service for the iPhone would become available later this month. “We’ve been working for months to prepare the radio access controllers in our network to support this launch. That means calibrating base stations all over the country, and frankly that’s a very time-consuming process. MMS for the iPhone will be coming on September 25th. We wanted to make sure that when MMS for the iPhone launches, the experience was great. We wanted to get it right.”

  • JohnWatkins

    While I applaud that they are (saying that they are ?) upgrading their network, I have to say, “Shouldn’t they have been working on that before now?”

  • Brasscat

    It seems that they are indeed upgrading — as I’ve heard more than one person wonder why their calls aren’t dropping anymore — especially in known dead zones. I think the impact of the iPhone on AT&T network is probably an order of magnitude greater than we mere mortals expected it to be. So THIS TIME I’m giving AT&T a pass.

  • ShabbaRanks

    Why couldn’t AT&T roll out MMS immediately when O2 in the UK did it very close to announcement day? As did a lot of European networks.
    Is there a fundamental difference between where North America and Europe are at with mobile networking?
    Honestly, I’m asking.

  • NilsKoll

    MMS was first introduced in Europe in 2002, so O2 didn’t have to do much/anything to support it on iPhone.

  • http://www.adviespraktijk.info Berend Schotanus

    Monopolists are notoriously bad in anticipating the future. Monopolists are notoriously good at explaining their shortcomings. That’s true for Microsoft. That’s true for AT&T.

  • http://www.adviespraktijk.info Berend Schotanus


    Is there a fundamental difference between where North America and Europe are at with mobile networking?

    My impression is that the European mobile industry is more competitive than the American.
    We should remember that the origins of the GSM standard goes back to the 1980’s when Europe was in a deep economic crisis. A lot of thinking has been done in that time about why America was more successful than Europe. Economically Europe was hopelessly divided, every country protected it’s own domestic supplier and there was virtually no competition. In order to regain global competitiveness the project of a unified European internal market was started. Defining a new digital cellphone standard was part of this wave, trying to achieve a unified but competitive market, more or less to the American model.
    One of the ways telecom operators could defend their markets was by integrating hardware to their services. This was a big complaint: everything connected to a telephone line, including faxes and answering machines, had to be purchased from the state company at unreasonable prices while they were unable to follow the pace of innovation. So in order to regain competitiveness the paradigm of separation of hardware and service was born. First step was that the state companies were forces to allow third party answering machines and faxes on their networks. Second step was that the telecom service was opened for competition as well.
    I’m not saying European market regulation is without issues but I think the mobile phone business is a relative success. Switching between providers is relatively easy and the ability to switch service without acquiring new hardware is very helpful to that. Because switching is relatively easy providers have to do more effort in satisfying customer needs.

    On my recent trip to the United States I purchased a 1 month T-Mobile data subscription in order to use my iPhone data functions on the road. So I could avoid excessive roaming costs while still using my existing hardware. T-Mobile didn’t have 3G and didn’t have coverage in rural area’s. But even then I was extremely satisfied with the possibilities an iPhone with data access offers to a tourist.
    So it’s not only that unlocked phones are better for competition. I’ve actually seen it worked in America.

  • gus2000

    In America, we established cellular networks using whatever standard each company chose, because that’s how a free-market works. Unfortunately this “Free” market now results in customers getting locked-in to CompanyA because their phone won’t even work on CompanyB’s network.

    Europe created a public-funded backbone and settled on a common standard early on. This allowed real competition between providers based on service, instead of dangling a cheap carrot (like a “free” handset) to pull customers into a technology trap. Europe mandated number-portability in 2002, over a year earlier than the US, and before that your number did not belong to you.

    To further enslave their customers, the US phone companies would hide the cost of the phones by selling them all for $1 and hiding the price in the fees. With all phones equally worthless, the handset makers were at the mercy of providers to push their phones, so they would happily cripple useful features to prevent people from not incurring further telecom fees. The iPhone has helped restore value to the handsets and move us away from the “all handsets are equal” lie.

    Back to AT&T, I don’t understand why they need to update their networks to use MMS with the iPhone; it’s like needing to upgrade your phone line to use a fax machine. But I do know they have spent great effort to build out their networks, which is great news. Now if I could only get commitment-free tethering…

  • duckie

    I can’t speak for other European countries, but as a UK resident I can tell you that there was never any “public funded backbone” here, and certainly no pan-European one. The network operators were allocated frequencies from an extremely expensive government auction and each built their own networks. They do however share cell towers and as you say agreed to use the common GSM standard, although this didn’t get implemented until the mid 90s. The networks also still offer “free” phones with your contract and always have done (although you’ll have to pay extra to get a really good one). The subsidised hardware model is used in just the same way here as in the US. So, no nirvana then, but the lack of competing incompatible cell technologies is certainly a plus. And yes, MMS is basic and commonplace here and predated 3G so I can only imagine that AT&T believed the Apple story that they wouldn’t need to configure for it since every iPhone user would be sending pics by email.

  • http://www.adviespraktijk.info Berend Schotanus


    Europe created a public-funded backbone and settled on a common standard early on.

    I think it’s more about regulation and standardization than about funding. Cellphones have always been considered profitable and more an excuse for governments to extract money from (like the auction mentioned by duckie) than to invest in.
    So it’s the regulatory framework that matters. For cellphones the regulatory framework worked out not too bad here in Holland (as opposed to many other government interventions that are pure crap, especially when government funding is involved. The prospect of government money tend to make people blind and greedy). Setting up a good regulatory framework is not easy. The best example of what a good regulatory framework can do is in my eyes the iPhone App Store.