AT&T is Screwing the Pooch

September 18, 2012 by Gabe | [mmd] |

This post at Loop Insight about AT&T's record iPhone 5 sales caught my attention. Going by my acquaintances and Twitter searches, I'm seeing a large number of existing AT&T users switching to Verizon for the first time.

I've been with AT&T since launch day of the first iPhone. I've graciously paid AT&T about $9,000 in service fees since that first iPhone as a consequence of a perpetually renewed family plan. I live and work around Boston and AT&T has been inferior to Verizon but the iPhone was worth the weaker signal. It wasn't bad1 but it wasn't great.

This year, I am switching to Verizon. AT&T has proven two things with the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 upgrades:

  1. Their network investments are not competitive with Verizon.
  2. They still don't understand the iPhone.

I purchased an unlimited data plan for my iPhone because I didn't want to think about data usage. I just wanted to use my device when and how I needed to. I don't want to pay an additional service fee to tether my iPhone. I don't want to pay another fee to use the iPhone for FaceTime on the AT&T cellular network. This year, I would be paying for my "unlimited" bits three times with AT&T, regardless of how I used them. I just want a modern network that enables the technology Apple is providing. I'm an Apple customer not an AT&T customer.2

Verizon, in contrast, has invested heavily in LTE. I use Verizon LTE on my iPad and it has been extraordinary everywhere I have needed it. Verizon also provides tethering and FaceTime over cellular as part of the iPhone service package. From my brief investigation, the pricing is equivalent to AT&T without those features. While Verizon is still crapping on the english language by calling 2GB "unlimited", the limitations are obviously displayed when registering for a plan. AT&T decided to change the terms of the agreement after the fact. That's their right. It's my right to switch. It's also the right of a lot of iPhone 4 users that are at the end of their 2 year contract.

I will miss simultaneous data and voice when I leave AT&T. Verizon LTE does not support that option. At least once a month, I need to lookup something on the web while I am on a call. It's a sacrifice, but so is staying with AT&T.

Maybe this really will be a record iPhone release for AT&T. I'm betting Verizon will also have a record quarter. I suspect AT&T will also have a record quarter for shedding users to their competition and expunging the lead that three years of iPhone exclusivity granted them.

Sometimes it's not just about choosing the lesser of two evils.3 Sometimes it's about choosing the obvious option. AT&T did one thing right. They made my decision easy.

  1. It's not San Francisco bad, but it was worse than Verizon. My very first AT&T phone was a Treo, 7 years ago and I returned it in 48 hours because it was a turd and dropped calls. 

  2. The more you tighten your grip, AT&T, the more contracts will slip through your fingers. 

  3. Or the smarter of two idiots.