ThoughtPiece: An Open Letter to AT&T

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CingularRight now you must be feeling pretty good. You have a legendary brand name, the best marketing, the best devices, and soon you will have a magnet to attract people into your stores called the iPhone. Speaking of marketing, you seem to be everywhere. Last weekend while engaging in my usual ritual of watching sports on TV, I turned on a NASCAR race and I saw an AT&T car; I turned on the NBA finals, and it was being played at the AT&T Center.

You were smart to transition to a GSM network years ago. This is by far and away the most popular format in the world, which guarantees you the best selection of phones. You certainly get most of our beloved BlackBerry models first.

However, there’s one piece of the puzzle missing, which keeps you from totally dominating the U.S. wireless market.

That missing piece is quite simply the quality of your network. Certainly it’s not bad and in many areas is very adequate. But it’s not great PR, for instance, when David Pogue, the respected technology editor of the New York Times, mentions your network as a weak point in his otherwise impressive review of the new BlackBerry Curve.

For most of your history, no matter what your product, AT&T used to be synonymous with the highest quality. Today, in the U.S. wireless market you largely lack that reputation; that mantle belongs mostly to Verizon Wireless.

What you need to do is invest heavily in making your wireless infrastructure second to none. I realize this is an expensive and complex proposition, and indeed you may already be doing this. Consider just how much an advantage you would have if it were known for having the best service coverage, or at least equal to the best? AT&T could dominate the market in a slam dunk. No longer would Verizon outperform you each quarter, as more customers would move to AT&T for the better selection of equipment, as well as to escape having every feature crippled by the carrier.

So come on, AT&T. Give us a network worthy of those great BlackBerry devices you carry.

  • MooseBerry
    I love the at&t devices, but not the service! I use Verizon for my cell and at&t for my BB8300. But, when VZW gets the Pearl2...bye bye at&t, and that's a shame. AT&T, BUILD OUT YOUR NETWORK!!! Stop dropping calls and improve the hand off between cell towers. Verizon cripples their phones and yet has the lowest churn because of their network quality (and their cs is better too).
  • Wonko the Sane
    I think there will be a big improvement when the TDMA shutdown is implemented (at least by 2/08). AT&T is in a bind. The can either i) spend a bunch of money on new cell towers and antenna space that will be redundant or ii) wait until the TDMA infrastructure is available to beef up the GSM network. My guess is that AT&T has decided to deal with the slings and arrows until the TDMA infrastructure is freed up.
  • Mistermix
    So true. The ONLY thing keeping me on Verizon is the quality of their network. Unfortunately, I think Verizon is well-aware that the quality of their network is the clincher for most of their customers, and that fuels their extortionate impluses. Prime example: crippling GPS in the 8830 so we'll buy their locator service.
  • Tony

    Expand in Door County!!! We have all the tourists in the world come to our county. Many business people from Chicago ons summer homes in this beautiful place. I commute from Sturgeon Bay to Sister Bay (30 miles) each day for a tech company that has stood its ground and will not move to a big city since the work we do can be done anywhere with cable/T1 web and a phone.

    With 10 employees each with Blackberry's (Cingular is our carrier owned by AT&T) so we can do our work even while enjoying a beautiful day with our family grilling out yet I cannot even have a 5 minute conversation on my way to or from work without dropping the call because of all the dead spots. Sometimes I wish we would have gotten Trio's with Cellcom so we would have reception.

    Nextel just made improvement so their coverage is 100% better from a year ago why cant AT&T. I hope someone important from their company reads this article and puts some pressure in the right places so this can be fixed soon.

    (Sorry about the ranting I have needed to get this off my chest to anyone who may care and do something)
  • Eric
    Like Verizon says,"It's the network." I have used Sprint, Cingular, and Verizon in the last two years and, by far, Verizon has the best coverage.

    Yes, I hate Verizon's phones. Pretty happy with the 8703, but how long did I have to wait for it? Their consumer phones all look like crap. The crippled Bluetooth too! All very annoying. If only some other carrier had better service, and good phones, I would be there in an instant.
  • Karl
    We just switched from Cingular to US Cellular at our workplace because of the poor coverage in Wisconsin.
  • jason
    I moved away from Verizon 6 years ago because of customer service issues and price to AT&T, became Cingular, now back to AT&T. I live in the middle of my city. In 6 years reception still hasn't improved, to talk on the phone at my house I need to stand in the middle of my back yard and hope for a cloudless day. . .
    I miss Verizon's signal, but none of the other stuff that comes with it.
  • happiicamper

    Very well said! :)

    at&t customer
  • Ryan Schmidt
    EXACTLY what I have been thinking lately. Nice post because this is soo true. Hopefully AT&T will pay some mind to this because I would love to switch from Verizon to take advantage of AT&Ts great devices. But, as it stands, I refuse to switch from perfect service to terrible just for a device.
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