Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another reason to hate EDGE

Monday there were widespread reports that AT&T’s EDGE network crashed. AT&T claims it’s not because of the iPhone (and the estimated 500,000 new data users that suddenly showed up on the network in a 24 hour period). Perhaps it’s because of the “Fine Edge” network improvement.

AT&T snared the iPhone in hopes of improving its reputation and winning high-margin customers. So far it doesn’t appear to be holding up its end of the bargain. One estimate said only 1/3 of prospective iPhone users were already on AT&T, which means the other 2/3 must be really p-o’d.

iPhone users also had trouble activating their phones, but since AT&T and Apple aren’t being candid about their customer support nightmare, getting an accurate overall picture has been difficult. One report I heard (e.g. this WSJ story) is that AT&T had particular problems (could just be routine LNP delays) moving people from other service providers — again aggravating exactly the sort of new customers AT&T most wanted.

I would sure love to see a survey of iPhone user satisfaction with their device, Apple’s service and AT&T’s service. Also with a breakdown of their former carrier and phone maker.

Overall, this suggests that Apple is paying a price for its immaturity in the mobile phone industry. Running a mobile phone network is a complex operation where some firms are better than others. As Apple has found out, network services can’t be bought and sold the same way as plastic cases or power supplies.

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