interrobang ()

Random Bursts of Ambient Noise

Skip to: Content | Sidebar | Footer

Stop Press

AT&T Suck Ass

10 October, 2008

A while back, I decided I wanted to upgrade to a BlackBerry.  I prefer to communicate in writing rather than on the ‘phone, but find that I don’t communicate as much as I should because I can’t be arsed to get off the sofa and walk upstairs to my study and log on to my PC every time I need to fire off an e-mail.  I reasoned that if I could check/send emails from the comfort of my armchair there was more chance of me doing it. Plus, I now get proofreading work assignments via email and I like to know about them as soon as they arrive.  Sure, I have my Sony Ericsson K790i checking my proofreading assignments every 30 minutes via IMAP4, but replying to emails – even just a one-line “I accept this job” – is still a pain (even with T9).  So an upgrade seemed in order.

I drew up a list of requirements I wanted from a ‘smartphone’: Push email, GPS, Wi-Fi, Web browser, and a camera.  Plus the ability to synch to Outlook (as synching between my HP iPaq, my phone and my PC is killing me – not to mention drowning me in duplicates).  A BlackBerry seemed the obvious choice, but there wasn’t a single model that provided all of my requirements in a single device, so I decided to bide my time (I’m not desperate…).  Lo and behold, a couple of weeks later, BlackBerry announced the Bold (a.k.a BlackBerry 9000).  This had everything on my wishlist plus more, and the initial reviews raved about it. So that was that.  I decided I wanted a Bold.  And when I decide on something I absolutely must have it.  Now.  (Obsessive/Compulsive?  Me??)

Unfortunately, this is where things unravelled.  The Bold was initially given a vague release date of “Summer 2008″.  This was back in May or June, so I reasoned I could wait.  But Summer came and went without the Bold appearing. A release date of August was rumored, but then this slipped to September; in September a ‘probable’ date of October was given, and now, in mid-October, there are rumors of a further delay until December!  In the meantime I’ve been hopping from one leg to another like a toddler in need of a pee, devouring reviews of how cool the Blackberry Bold is, but being entirely unable to get my hands on one.  In the meantime, the iPhone has come and gone, and RIM (manufacturers of the BlackBerry) have a whole slew of other Blackberry models (Storm, Javelin, Pearl Flip, …) lined up for imminent release.  So what’s going on?

It turns out that the Bold has been released – and to generally widespread acclaim – just not in the United States.  Canada has it (no surprise, as RIM is a Canadian company), England, Belgium, France, Germany and most of the rest of Europe have it, too.  Ditto South America.  Even Jamaica, Malaysia and India have it, for goodness sake, and they’re barely out of the third world!  So how come we don’t have it??  The answer is simple: AT&T.

AT&T have an ‘exclusive’ agreement to carry the Bold in the United States.  Rumor has it that it was actually AT&T who specifically asked RIM to make a 3G Blackberry especially for them (up to that point BlackBerry devices worked on the GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/CMDA networks, but not 3G).  AT&T think that their new(ish) 3G network is a better alternative [even though the Canadians are already embarking on a 4G network...], and wanted to offer a Blackberry that works on this.  Coincidentally, the new iPhone also uses the 3G network.  The iPhone is also (initially) exclusively available (in the US) on AT&T.  When the iPhone was launched, AT&T’s 3G network was revealed for the piece of crap it is.  The network was unable to cope with the sudden influx of several million iPhone customers (the majority of whom are probably teenage girls trying to download the latest Justin Timberlake video, rather than the more serious/business-oriented BB user base [to which I aspire] who just want to send e-mails and make phone calls), resulting in dropped calls and poor performance all round. (Although AT&T, with their bloody-minded, belligerent self-belief, have yet to admit that there was a problem at all…)

Given these problems, it’s no surprise that AT&T don’t want to suddenly unleash another couple of hundred thousand devices on their already burgeoning network.  Officially, there has been no announcement of a ‘delay’ (how could there be when there has been no official announcement of a release date!), but unofficially both RIM and AT&T have been pointing fingers at each other.  AT&T are claiming problems with the device, but every other network in every other country in which the Bold has been released have managed to support the Bold – even in India, where the underlying infrastructure is probably still based on tin cans and waxed string – so one can only assume that the problem is with the network and not the device.  Supporting this theory, AT&T’s vans have been seen out and about, frantically upgrading their 3G network in preparation for the Bold’s release.  AT&T were actually in the throes of upgrading their 3G network anyway, but stopped when they took over Cingular and needed the money to integrate Cingular into AT&T (something they have failed to do convincingly – the “new AT&T” is about as integrated as a cat duct-taped to a dog; something as simple as combined billing still necessitates talking to both billing departments separately [and you have to do it because they don't talk to each other...]).

An alternative theory that has been bandied about the forums (fora?) for the Bold’s delay is that AT&T are deliberately delaying the Bold so that the iPhone enjoys a longer honeymoon period, and they can milk that exclusivity as much as they can before switching to milking the Bold exclusivity.  I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. When RIM release a new device, they pass it to the carrier for testing, which usually takes a couple of weeks, before the device is given the carrier’s blessing and released to the public.  With the Bold, AT&T have been ‘testing’ it for several months.  RIM tweak the OS to make it work better with AT&T’s network, AT&T reject it for some spurious reason or other, and this cycle repeats ad infinitum.  Again, the device is sound – it works on other provider’s networks in other countries – it’s the network that’s the problem.  Now, I’m happy to wait a while to get a device that works 100% of the time, and as efficiently as possible, but damn!  If AT&T knew their current network couldn’t accommodate the Bold (and they should have known this from the iPhone debacle) then they shouldn’t have agreed to carry it.  Period.

RIM should have given it to another carrier, and I’m sure they’re now thinking the same thing.  Recently (and, tellingly, since AT&T started delaying the Bold) RIM have announced that they are giving the Blackberry Storm – the first touch-screen BlackBerry – to Verizon, and are giving both the Javelin (8900) and the Kickstart/Pearl Flip (8220) to T-Mobile.  Even perennial bridesmaid Sprint is getting a bite of the cherry with the new BlackBerry Curve 8350i!  All of these devices were announced after the Bold, but in all likelihood they will all beat the Bold to market.  If it wasn’t the fact that none of these devices completely meets my requirements I’d switch provider just to get one. In fact, if any other carrier in the U.S. gets the Bold before AT&T I’ll be beating a path to their door the day it comes out, and taking my home phone and family plan with me.  If it wasn’t for my pigheaded insistence on having a Bold, I’d have probably jumped already.  Truth is, I just don’t trust AT&T any more.  They talk up their 3G network but can’t deliver.  They announce the Bold but don’t make it available.  They advertise the capabilities of their UVerse offering, but it’s shit. AT&T: All Talk and no Trousers.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

 


Email This Post Email This Post

Print this post Print this post

Comments

  1. Neil says:

    I’m not so sure I agree.

    Orange have pulled the Bold here (http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2008/10/10/orange-pulling-bolds-to-fix-software-issues-atandt-smiles/) and I have had a Bold for six months and have had no end of problems with it resetting in the middle of calls. Although I am happy to admit that mine was an early pre-production model.

    So maybe AT&T are the innocent party? After all the do have the good judgement to sponsor the worlds greatest F1 team!

  2. Dirk says:

    Yeah, I heard about the Orange thing just after I posted this article. I know that there were some problems with the early versions, but apparently the latest OS versions are pretty stable. (Have you tried upgrading the OS?) Serves you right for getting your hands on a pre-production version. Git. I still hold out high hopes for the device, but have to admit that if the Javelin comes out first I may well just go for that. Bold or not, I still stand by my original premise that AT&T suck ass, though. Although that would be ‘arse’ for you, I guess…

  3. Jeremy says:

    So, I was reading your post, and I don’t disagree with a lot of it. I worked for Cingular Wireless/ AT&T Mobility during the first iPhone launch and for the course of about a year doing sales for them in a retail location. Their 3G network is pretty terrible for the most part. Dropped calls, drains batter life, etc. a big reason the original iPhone and RIM did not make devices on that network until now. If I had a customer who HAD to have long battery life and reliable service with a PDA it was a blackberry or nothing.. I blame AT&T for this, as I’m sure it’s their fault. One thing thought you mentioned that AT&T was in the process of upgrading their 3G network until they took over Cingular… What 3G Network and what cell phone company are you speaking of, to my understanding SBC purchased AT&T and they switched the name to AT&T because of global recognition. AT&T wireless which was was a completely different company then AT&T or Cingular was purchased by SBC/Cingular a LONG time ago and had been part of Cingular. Their crappy 3G network has nothing to do with the merger outside of a lot of focus on selling more “parent” or residential products like U-Verse. But for the most part I agree, AT&T’s 3G network is pretty crappy, and a lot smaller then Verizon’s.

  4. Neil says:

    It was applying the latest OS that fianlly bricked my Bold – now it is just a very attractive paperweight until RIM swap it out for me. It is a slick device though and a true iPhone rival.


Wishing I had a photograph of you


© 2017 interrobang (!?)
Powered by WordPress | Based on the Daleri Sweet theme by Andreas Viklund

Top of page