As an Apple fanboy and longtime Macintosh consultant, it was a no-brainer that I was going to jump on the iPhone train very early. I can still remember the early days of the long lines and media coverage of the launch. When I first got the phone in my hands, I thought to myself that I was holding the future of mobile communications. This was how every phone was going to look and operate in the near future. That’s almost true today. I was so blown away by the functionality, design and sophistication of the device, I was certain my professional life was going to be made easier by this wondrous device. And for a while it was.
About two weeks later is when things started to get rocky in our relationship. It began with a simple cab ride down Park Ave. when I began dialing one of the techs that works for me in my company. I never heard a ring and the call never connected. I tried again and again, with no luck. As we stopped at a traffic light on 47th and Park, I noticed that I was getting no reception bars. None. I assumed this had to be a mistake. Here I was in the heart of New York City. This had to be a glitch or some other reasonable explanation. Much to my chagrin, I realized very quickly that this was going to be a struggle I would be enduring on a regular basis.
For all the wonderful and innovative things Apple put into the iPhone, choosing AT&T as the carrier that would bring the iPhone to the masses was an unfortunate decision. AT&T who had been lagging behind the other major carriers needed a quick shot to help revive the business. Essentially, they offered Apple the best deal of any other carrier. They paid Apple the most for the rights to offer the iPhone exclusively to their existing, and more importantly, new customers.
The AT&T celular network is marginal at best. It’s 3G coverage is inadequate at best. Deplorable is a more fitting description. There are numerous parts of New York City where there is absolutely no coverage. Yankee Stadium is an AT&T dead zone for example. T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint all have excellent coverage at the stadium and calls can be made with full bars. As the intrigue of the iPhone starts to wane and it becomes simply another smartphone in the sea of devices, the shortcomings of AT&T are more and more evident. After using all iterations of the iPhone since its introduction, I may not purchase the next model when it’s introduced. I am seriously considering moving to an Android-based device which operates on the Verizon network.
The real proof will be when AT&T loses the exclusivity of the iPhone and Apple can offer the device on other carriers. How many people will buy an AT&T iPhone when a Verizon model is available? I imagine a very small amount.
AT&T sincerely needs to re-examine their infrastructure and determine if they want to remain a player in the industry or simply concede the fact that people sign AT&T contracts because they are presently compelled to, not because they choose to.