Print 68 comment(s) - last by albus.. on Dec 23 at 2:22 PM

  (Source: Wrestling World)
Customers are planning to push the network to the brink in wake of threats of fines

AT&T caused an uproar last week when it announced that it was considering fining its customers for "overusing" its "unlimited" service.  The network has been plagued with problems, with poor geographic coverage and high dropped call rates in major cities across the U.S.  Customers, though, have expressed frustration that the carrier is looking to punish them for its own data network shortcomings.

Disgruntled AT&T subscribers are heeding a battle cry from an unusual source: blogger Daniel Lyons, a Newsweek and Forbes magazine writer that goes by the alias "Fake Steve Jobs".  In an in-character post, Lyons called on AT&T's smartphone users to blast the network with requests on December 18 at 12 noon PST (3 p.m. EST), to punish it for its threats of fines. 

He writes, "FWIW, many of you probably know that Woz and I got our start by selling boxes that hacked the old phone system back in the 1970s. I hate these idiots more than you can imagine. The idea of spanking them like this just gives me tingles all over."

His post details about the planned strike:

Subject: Operation Chokehold
On Friday, December 18, at noon Pacific time, we will attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees. The goal is to have every iPhone user (or as many as we can) turn on a data intensive app and run that app for one solid hour. Send the message to AT&T that we are sick of their substandard network and sick of their abusive comments. The idea is we’ll create a digital flash mob. We’re calling it in Operation Chokehold. Join us and speak truth to power!

Since the post, thousands have commented on blogs and the recently created Facebook page for the insurgent operation.

Now an AT&T spokesperson has blasted the operation.  He criticizing the movement writing, "We understand that is primarily a satirical forum, but there is nothing amusing about advocating that customers attempt to deliberately degrade service on a network that provides critical communications services for more than 80 million customers. We know that the vast majority of customers will see this action for what it is: an irresponsible and pointless scheme to draw attention to a blog."

The spokesperson voiced doubts, though, that the protest can do much of anything.  He points out that the Facebook group currently has less than 1,000 fans.

Update: Wed. Dec. 16, 2009 1:32 pm

Our article previously contained a quote from an AT&T spokesperson stating that the planned operation was "totally irresponsible".  Turns out that while the spokesperson indeed wrote that in an email to Cult of Mac, the quote was off the record and not meant for attribution.  The official statement, however, is correct.

AT&T's spokesperson also took issue with the fact that we called its plans with the iPhone a plan to "fine" customers who use too much data.  We've requested more details on a Q&A session on exactly what these plans are, but until then we're sticking to the current wording, which mirrors that widely reported on other sites, such as Engadget and Gizmodo.

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Irresponsible customers or compant....
By SoulBlighter on 12/16/2009 8:02:44 AM , Rating: 5
I blame, 200% on att regarding their sub standard network. I and my dad are in one of those people who were with cingular and att for 8 years till last March when we started having signal issues in our single story home in remote in belle plaine mn (It was EDGE not even 3g). After talking through customer service several times, some of those suggested we should go out in open order to send and receive calls. Eventually we terminated the service with att and switched to T mobile. I wonder what their R&D team is doing, Iphone isn't something which came in few months. Its been there for years now. And its their engineers and planning and development team to blame, who never took necessary actions to upgrade their network with increase demand iphone. I feel sorry for all those who are with ATT and having issues and cant terminate their service due to service contract. It will take at least one or two years for ATT to upgrade their network.

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By rudy on 12/16/2009 9:19:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes the iPhone has been there a while but when you consider that iPhone users were largely new to smartphones they really did not stress the network. Now days more of them use their phones for more services and a plethora of useless apps has them really loading the network. But you are correct in that years have passes and ATT should have used the money they were making off the iPhone subscribers to build out their network faster. But that isn't how ATT does things why anyone thought they would change is baffling.

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By mcnabney on 12/16/2009 10:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
You are missing something there.

AT&T isn't really making that much money off of the iPhone surge. In order to get and maintain the exclusive they have given a huge chunk of data revenue to Apple. That is one of the reasons why Verizon passed on the iPhone in the beginning. Because they didn't want to be left holding the bag. If you are really pissed about AT&T's service the only thing that will negatively impact them is leaving as a customer. Putting up this 'roadblock' is kind of like a bunch of junkies complaining to their dealer. It isn't like you are going to stop being a customer, so why should they care.

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By leexgx on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By croc on 12/16/2009 5:40:49 PM , Rating: 1
leexgx makes joke. HAHA. 'Rest of world' laughs.

By leexgx on 12/17/2009 10:45:43 AM , Rating: 1
still true thought (i can make jokes can't i)

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By muhahaaha on 12/16/2009 11:56:01 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, if you are having crappy service from AT&T, you can terminate your contract due to the fact that they are not providing the promised service.

And they can't make you pay a termination fee if they are in breach of their own contract.

do a little digging on to find out how to accomplish this.

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By mcnabney on 12/16/2009 1:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
It can be very difficult to do that. You can't just say "I think your service sucks" and cancel. It can be done, but you really have to prove it.

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By quiksilvr on 12/16/2009 6:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
Actually its quite easy. All you have to do is run on your phone in that area and relay that information back to AT&T.

Or you could just not pay and don't answer their calls :P

By lecanard on 12/17/2009 2:09:52 AM , Rating: 1
AT&T may drop calls more often and have worse coverage with 3G, but speed isn't the problem. AT&T's 3G is significantly faster than Verizon and the others.

In fact, if you live and tend to stay in an area AT&T does cover, switching would just give you slower 3G.

By awaken688 on 12/17/2009 11:33:49 AM , Rating: 2
That would do wonders for your credit score...

RE: Irresponsible customers or compant....
By rs1 on 12/16/2009 5:56:29 PM , Rating: 3
I agree, it was totally irresponsible of AT&T to sell "unlimited data" plans to millions of people if they do not have the capacity to actually provide that level of service.

They sold it, so now they have to deal with it. And I doubt complaining about "irresponsible users" is going to do anything to increase their network capacity.

By SunAngel on 12/17/2009 12:00:53 AM , Rating: 2
This can be a good thing. If your unhappy with the service and AT&T changes the terms, they must allow you to cancel the service without penalty (early termination fees). And this will not happen until the bulk of their subscriptions are about to expire. Consequently, if another carrier will allow the iPhone on their system, here is the opportunity to hit the road and switch over. But, I kinda feel like if AT&T is truely overloaded and the iPhone is marginaly the cause, then shouldn't that overload other networks if people switch over?

By jrollins006 on 12/16/2009 8:39:21 AM , Rating: 5
I for one will be doing this. AT&T has pissed me off time after time, maybe this will show them how angry their customers are.

RE: well
By seamonkey79 on 12/16/2009 8:42:16 AM , Rating: 5
They'll probably use it as justification to start the fines ASAP.

RE: well
By jrollins006 on 12/16/2009 9:01:23 AM , Rating: 2
I suppose thats true.

RE: well
By jwdR1 on 12/16/2009 2:05:41 PM , Rating: 1
Hehe, If they get this implemented in time, they might make their profit margins for the next 5 years on that one hour alone! :)

I want to know if I have an emergency during that hour and can't access 911 because their network is down, who do I sue, AT&T or the guy that instigated this?

RE: well
By geddarkstorm on 12/16/2009 2:30:54 PM , Rating: 1
What, will you be sending a text message to the 911 dispatcher? The voice network is a different beast.

RE: well
By Uncle on 12/16/2009 2:57:51 PM , Rating: 5
No one, go borrow a phone other then att. Besides if their back bone was up to snuff, Att could handle it. Call this a test of their system, I hope Att takes advantage of it, because they sure as hell wouldn't ask for a test like this, so all their excuses wouldn't fly if their system collapses. In a real life scenario such as earthquake or terrorist activity, wouldn't you like to know that their system could handle all the emergency callers.

RE: well
By grath on 12/16/2009 8:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
If I were them I would just disable data services that afternoon for the entire network to stop it from happening at all, blame the interruption on the flash mob, and dare us to prove otherwise.

I work frequently at McCormick Place in Chicago (largest convention center in the US) and I know from repeated experience that AT&T selectively disables data service within the convention center on the days of a trade show. The day before, or the day after, works just fine. Early in the morning of a show day, before anybody is there even, data service is completely dead, yet voice is fine.

When I realized this, I went and read the fine print of my contract, and theres nothing in there that prohibits them from doing this or guarantees data service coverage in any way. Theres a nice vague clause in there gives them a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. Im SURE in this case its because of a shady deal between AT&T and the convention center, such that exhibitors and attendees cant use their mobile broadband and are forced to pay for extremely overpriced union controlled wifi or hardwire access.

So if they can turn data on and off that easily to a specific location without disrupting phone service, why not do it to the nationwide network for an hour or two? Its hard not to describe this flash mob as a DDOS attack, and thats certainly a far better reason to kill data than union bribery.

RE: well
By wetwareinterface on 12/17/2009 8:45:05 AM , Rating: 1
I for one will be doing this. AT&T has pissed me off time after time, maybe this will show them how angry their customers are.

how about a different kind of mass protest that will actually show them how mad you are...

stop giving them money and go elsewhere if you are dissatisfied. nothing says "make some infrastructure improvments if you want to stay in business" like customers leaving due to dissatisfaction. everyone acts like the iphone is the best thing to ever happen to cel phones. it's a crappy phone to start with, sure it's a half okay pda, but as a phone it's crap. it's large, awkward to talk and hear at the same time, and expensive.

for a pda it lacks features, like a keyboard that doesn't require you to have to use the backspcae function constantly to erase the mis-interpreted key presses.

for a web browser it's actually pretty good, if you never want to go to anything using flash.

if you really require a touch screen large format pda phone and need 3g data and the ability to take it to another state, get a droid and go on verizon. it has a keypad, flash, and the same array of apps. sure the iphone has more apps but they're all duplicates of the same thing. how many tower defense games do you really need or noise making apps that simply play back samples.

Missing some info
By jeffbui on 12/16/2009 8:06:39 AM , Rating: 5
Guys, Apple Genius Considers 30 Percent NYC Call Drop Rates Normal, did you forget?

RE: Missing some info
By Brandon Hill on 12/16/2009 8:10:13 AM , Rating: 3
Just for you, the link is actually in there :-)

RE: Missing some info
By 3minence on 12/16/2009 11:03:10 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder what drop rate for Verizon or other carriers is in NYC? For those of you who haven't been there, NYC is like a being in a triple canopy jungle, only made of concrete. I'm surprised any signal gets through there at all.

RE: Missing some info
By Omega215D on 12/16/2009 12:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
It seems that there are cell towers on every block. Not noticeable unless you're really looking for them. Then there's the Empire State Building that is the mother of all antennas/ cell towers in NYC.

After making the move to Verizon I've been getting signal in plenty of subway stations where when I had T-Mobile or ATT all my phones gave me the slash on the antenna icon in those same stations. My brother left ATT a few months ago because he was getting fed up with not having a signal in his apartment (He had different phones but none made much of a difference). Now on Verizon he may only get a bar or 2 but he can make or take calls without it dropping.

Unlimited data plan?
By Calin on 12/16/2009 8:48:11 AM , Rating: 5
You are free to use it whenever and wherever you wish. Let AT&T request for a change in the "unlimited data plan" contract, so people could refuse the change and abandon the service.
Remember that (at least at start) iPhone owners paid more for their unlimited data plan that other phone owners paid for their unlimited data plan.

RE: Unlimited data plan?
By dxf2891 on 12/16/2009 10:36:11 AM , Rating: 5
My point exactly. We entered into a binding contract in good faith that stated "Unlimited data plan." And before all of you begin to blast me about small print clauses, there is this thing call consumer expectation liability. In short, if you knowingly mislead a consumer and bury the truth in fine print (i.e. advertise as unlimited data plan but state that the data is limited in fine print) there consumer has an expectation of the former and not the latter. The law is setup to protect the consumer for "advertised expectation." Comcast is currently facing litigation for this exact same thing, in as where they advertised unlimited access, unlimited download and locked people into contracts and then began to limit download amounts and points to the fine print of their contracts. So far Comcast has remained silent on the filing here in the Midwest. I think they are weighing if they want to chance this thing acheiving a class action status.

RE: Unlimited data plan?
By MonkeyPaw on 12/16/2009 11:03:47 AM , Rating: 2
It's really quite funny how often these big communications companies (AOL, lol) forget what happens when you offer "unlimited" plans. Not only to you increase traffic from current users, but you gain a decent number of new customers who plan to use that feature excessively. Once you make something "all you can eat," your demand will increase substantially. Maybe ATT wasn't convinced the iPhone would be as huge as it is?

Wild idea
By bug77 on 12/16/2009 9:12:08 AM , Rating: 3
If you don't want your customers to access more than X GB/month, how about actually selling X GB/month plans?

RE: Wild idea
By dagamer34 on 12/16/2009 10:14:01 AM , Rating: 2
Because then they couldn't call it "unlimited data" in their advertising. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

RE: Wild idea
By kattanna on 12/16/2009 12:34:51 PM , Rating: 2
They want to have their cake and eat it too.

now tell me.. who would just want to look at the cake? you get cake cause of course you want to eat it!

RE: Wild idea
By leexgx on 12/16/2009 1:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
still most unlimited plans are really infact 1-3GB limited plans any way

Tmobile uk is very fare on how they limit the pay monthly plans, its 2gb if you have an Google phone but thats only unforced if you do it 2-3 billing dates or blow way past it the in the first month (they just limit the data rate to 2g/GPRS speeds for the remainder of that month, if you keep on doing it they punish with an 1 full month with 2g speed)

Orange mobile UK is an Joke calling 500mb an unlimited plane lol, on phones

RE: Wild idea
By Sazar on 12/17/2009 10:55:30 AM , Rating: 3
Obviously the cake is a lie :(

If all the users affected jump on-board, this could be a lovely little class-action I would think :)

Such a big hubbub about nothing --
By kidboodah on 12/16/2009 12:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
Look at your data usage on your bill. If you're under 5gb of usage..then AT&T isn't talking about you!

They're targeting extreme users. Most people use less than 1gb. All this whining and "online flash mobs" from people over something that isn't even targeted at them.

By mcnabney on 12/16/2009 2:00:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it is hard to imagine a person being able to use more than 5GB over a smartphone within 30 days. These are probably the jokers that figured out how to tether their device and are doing Bittorrent or something. AT&T's network is just too slow and bogged down to be able use that much without deliberately running Aps without reason.

Almost bought an iphone
By Xavier434 on 12/16/2009 8:29:14 AM , Rating: 2
I would already be the owner of an iphone, but I am not and it is primarily due to AT&T's crappy policies and substandard network. In fact, I recently learned that my wife had actually purchased one for me as a surprise gift just a couple months ago but she decided to return it after I informed her about all of the BS that so many customers are dealing with.

I am a patient man when it comes to the purchasing of my technology and there is plenty of competition rising up even as I write this comment. I will wait just a bit longer before making my decision, but I can ensure AT&T and Apple that unless some big improvements are made in regards to AT&T's network and how they treat their customers I will not be buying their product.

Very comparable competitors will be hitting those shelves sooner rather than later so they better act if they want to remain on top for a long time because I know I am not alone. The iphone itself is a fine product too so it really is a shame. It would be a very wise business decision for Apple to start playing more hardball with AT&T.

AT&T logic
By djc208 on 12/16/2009 9:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
The spokesperson voiced doubts, though, that the protest can do much of anything. He points out that the Facebook group currently has less than 1,000 fans.

Maybe that's because advertising you're going to do something the company doesn't want you to do isn't the smartest idea.

By Josh7289 on 12/16/2009 9:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
I hate Verizon, but I can imagine the iPhone selling really well on Verizon's network.

Count me in
By Randomblame on 12/17/2009 1:07:04 AM , Rating: 2
I pay a 30 dollar a month "smartphone tax" with at&t in addition to the 15 dollar a month internet usage bill. I'm paying quite a bit of money each month to use my device (an lg incite which I have grown to loath) to view anandtech and engadget on the go.

Now I shall be opening up skyfire on the 18th and watching you tube for an hour. It is time to undo you at&t! For years you have been taking customers money and putting only a fraction of it into your infrastructure. Thats bad business.

By roostitup on 12/19/2009 3:53:17 AM , Rating: 2
No impact...EPIC FAIL!

iPhone IQ
By albus on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: iPhone IQ
By albus on 12/16/2009 8:26:47 AM , Rating: 2
ignore the grammar ;)

RE: iPhone IQ
By lukasbradley on 12/16/2009 9:19:11 AM , Rating: 5

RE: iPhone IQ
By Xavier434 on 12/16/2009 8:31:26 AM , Rating: 5
I agree that voicing yourself with your wallet is a more effective approach, but unfortunately a ton of people with iphones are locked into sticking with AT&T. Especially those who have not jail broken their phones.

RE: iPhone IQ
By GaryJohnson on 12/16/2009 9:43:52 AM , Rating: 5
Speaking as a pre-iPhone contracted AT&T smartphone user, I can't fathom how any iPhone user could be even remotely as pissed as I am about the quality of service. I've had 0 to 1 bar of signal on 3G anywhere in my area since the day the iPhone came out. I've had to force my phone into "GSM/Edge" mode just to make phone calls. 3G here wasn't great before the iPhone, but it was at least usable.

I'm also pretty ticked that they don't have an Android based phone.

My contract is up in February and I'll be picking up a Droid on Verizon.

RE: iPhone IQ
By Chaser on 12/16/2009 10:42:11 AM , Rating: 2
You wont be disappointed. I went from a 3G to a Droid and I couldn't be happier. I do like a lot about the iPhone, but the things I dislike about it is: iTunes. I hate iTunes, Why Sprint battles back and forth with PRE to use iTunes is beyond me. iTunes constantly tries to hijack your computer with constant annoying attempts at installing a bunch of crap: Safari, Quicktime, and other tipbits that took me almost an hour to fully remove. The good news is when you connect a DROID to any computer PC or MAC its recognized as an external storage device and you can copy and paste music, videos, and photos to your heart's content from as many computers you have and DROID catalogs everything, downloads the album art etc.

Freedom at last.

RE: iPhone IQ
By GaryJohnson on 12/16/2009 12:12:59 PM , Rating: 4
The good news is when you connect a DROID to any computer PC or MAC its recognized as an external storage device and you can copy and paste music, videos, and photos to your heart's content from as many computers you have and DROID catalogs everything, downloads the album art etc.

My existing WinMo works that way also. But it's heavy, slow, and the GUI is cumbersome. I've demoed a droid and it beats it hands down in those categories.

If you can't drag and drop files from your PC on to your phone and have apps on the phone that can read those files, then it isn't a smartphone.

RE: iPhone IQ
By Slyne on 12/16/2009 2:39:46 PM , Rating: 3
It's funny, I am on the other side of that battle: I have Quicktime on my computer, and the Apple updater constantly tries to install iTunes (and yes, Safari) which, for reasons which are mine, I don't want.

I'm not against being offered a choice, especially of free software, but all I'd ask from Apple is that their OTHER apps not be preselected along updates for the app I do want on my computer. Call me grumpy, but I don't like being pushed.

RE: iPhone IQ
By quiksilvr on 12/16/2009 6:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, here's what you do:
1) Uninstall Quicktime from your computer
2) Install this:
3) Then this:

RE: iPhone IQ
By Chaser on 12/17/2009 10:45:03 AM , Rating: 2
I like QT ALT. I wish it would work at replacing the Facebook page that constantly nags me to install Craptime. The only work around I have is disabling the audio alert when someone IM's me from within FB.

RE: iPhone IQ
By quiksilvr on 12/16/2009 11:39:23 AM , Rating: 5
0 to 1? But...what about all these postcards?

RE: iPhone IQ
By bjacobson on 12/16/2009 11:45:54 AM , Rating: 1
Steve Jobs told me I don't need more than 2GB of bandwidth for my mobile phone. In fact, apparently nobody does.

RE: iPhone IQ
By Pneumothorax on 12/16/2009 10:03:53 AM , Rating: 3
I Assume you're talking about other countries... As the last time I checked all US AT&T customers are FORCED to buy the so-called "Unlimited BS" plan.

RE: iPhone IQ
By invidious on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: iPhone IQ
By invidious on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: iPhone IQ
By GaryJohnson on 12/16/2009 2:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
It's not really unlmited apparently; the unlmited is a lie. Please refer to the first paragraph of Jason McSelfReferencer's article.

RE: iPhone IQ
By Targon on 12/16/2009 7:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
This goes back to the old attitude that just because there is something called freedom of speech means you can say or do anything, no matter what harm may come from it. When a very small number of people use a truly excessive amount of bandwidth, that in a way can be considered abusive.

Now, some people may claim that bandwidth issues are limited to AT&T, but ANY ISP will run into bandwidth issues, and when it comes to wireless technologies, it is quite a bit harder to increase the bandwidth compared to land lines where the maintenance infrastructure is already in place.

And, that touches on another issue, which is that Verizon is the local land-line telephone company in many places, so the maintenance structure is in place. Since AT&T was forced out of the residential phone service industry years ago, they don't have quite as large an infrastructure team currently out there in the field.

Adding more bandwidth to every tower so that it can process more data at once may sound simple, but you have to wonder if Verizon would have been able to cope with the data demands of these max-usage customers without dinging them without warning. Remember, Verizon LOVES to throw little fees at customers on their bills, and they assume that most customers will not notice. That is how Verizon pays for their maintenance, by dinging customers here and there.

RE: iPhone IQ
By Reclaimer77 on 12/16/2009 12:23:40 PM , Rating: 4
Sorry but I fully support this guy. Rising up in a firey anger of protest is the only thing that ever got anything done.

AT&T's claim of this not being "responsible" is a cop out. Because they also viewed people using what they were rightfully paying for as also "irresponsible". SO screw them.

RE: iPhone IQ
By Chaser on 12/17/2009 2:22:54 PM , Rating: 2
Imagine if a cable company marketed an "exclusive" service, oversold contracts into it and now, be still my beating heart, can't support the services they sold and intend to punish people that use it as a result over overselling it in the first place.

Good luck with that AT&T. Your lucrative deal with Apple may also be your demise as people flock to other networks in retaliation of their own. What's an ETF for the peace of mind of having a service that's fair and reasonable.

RE: iPhone IQ
By albus on 12/23/2009 2:22:29 PM , Rating: 1
...the protest didn't seem to do too much to AT&T's network...

By roostitup on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
By mcnabney on 12/16/2009 1:57:18 PM , Rating: 5
I'll see your anecdotal evidence and raise you one troll.

By Sazar on 12/16/2009 2:13:16 PM , Rating: 5
Come on mcnabney, I haven't dropped a call in the last 5 minutes on my 3G iPhone. It obviously means that everyone else's service is the exact same and therefore implies AT&T has the best servi... oops, dropped call. BRB :(

By roostitup on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
By Sazar on 12/17/2009 10:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
If you hate Mick this much than switch Tech blog sites and quit posting here mate.

Honestly, we take the good with the bad with good ol' Mickey here, more of one, less of the other but it always gives us something to talk about :D

And honestly, if the iPhone/AT&T dropped call issue wasn't so widespread, it would have gone away already and been just an urban legend. The fact is, Apples product is a great little device, but has been rendered one of the worst PHONES on the market, simply because so many calls are dropped.

By SerafinaEva on 12/16/2009 7:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, here comes the mad troll again crying. But but I will leave this site if Mick keeps posting, lol yet he's still here. Dude, just admit it, Dailytech is your source for news, you love it. That's why you're always here, and commenting. And you should take your own advice, if you don't like it, then leave.

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