'Fake Steve Jobs' vs. AT&T's real-life phone service

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
AT&T continues to aggressively defend and promote its network, as the nation's second-largest wireless carrier has come under fire once again, this time from a satirical source.



As recently as this week, AT&T has been sending marketing text messages to its customers, notifying them when new cellular towers are installed in an area to boost reception. The company has been attempting to combat months of bad publicity that has centered on criticism of its network's performance since the launch of the iPhone 3GS.



But as AT&T has touted itself as having the fastest 3G network in America, executives with the company have also warned that mobile data hogs could have a higher monthly bill at some point in the future. The carrier has said that 40 percent of its network capacity is used by just 3 percent of smartphone users.



AT&T's perceived "threats" towards bandwidth-heavy users inspired Dan Lyons, under the guise of his comedic Fake Steve Jobs persona, to promote an "attack" on the AT&T network this week. Dubbed "Operation Chokehold," the coordinated effort suggested by Lyons asked users to run bandwidth intensive applications on their phone at a specific time, in order to "overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees."



The story gained some traction this week, and resurfaced once again days later after AT&T officials publicly commented on Lyons' satirical blog post. In an official comment to Cult of Mac, an AT&T spokesperson said:



"We understand that fakesteve.net 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."



Since AT&T made its public response, the number of Facebook fans for "Operation Chokehold" has grown significantly, from about 300 on Tuesday to more than 1,700 Wednesday afternoon.



The episode is another example of an item of bad publicity for AT&T steadily gaining traction. The wireless carrier has fought back in recent months with its own aggressive public relations campaign to convince its customers that it is working to improve its network. As Verizon eventually began lampooning AT&T with its "There's a map for that" ads, AT&T hired actor Luke Wilson to "set the record straight" on its network coverage.



This year AT&T said it will have invested between $17 billion and $18 billion in its wired and wireless networks. Among those upgrades are new cell towers intended to boost reception. Further down the road, the carrier expects to have its high-speed HSPA 7.2 upgrade completed in 2011.







One noteworthy exception to the bad publicity came on Saturday, when an article in The New York Times attempted to state that the iPhone hardware itself is the cause of dropped calls and spotty reception. AT&T is afraid to criticize Apple, author Randall Stross argued, so the company remains silent. However, the article was widely criticized for quoting the president of a network testing service that is a client of AT&T.



AT&T's recent tough talk on bandwidth use was portrayed last week as an attempt by the carrier to regain control of its wireless customers. iSuppli Corp said that services like iTunes and the App Store and their connectivity with the iPhone have made customers more tied to Apple than AT&T. Wireless carriers would like to regain that control from their subscribers, the analysis said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 91
    Anybody using their cell phone on AT&T's network during that hour will be declared a domestic terrorist and prosecuted as such...
  • Reply 2 of 91
    Won't this be an inconvenience to others who just doesn't care?
  • Reply 3 of 91
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...the number of Facebook fans for "Operation Chokehold" has grown significantly, from about 300 on Tuesday to more than 1,700 Wednesday afternoon.

    ...



    Yeah, but people who want to post to call the effort juvenile and selfish ALSO have to join the facebook page and are counted among that 1700.



    I think there are more mature users in our community than the handful who do stunts like this (it reminds me of college students at a small school in ohio who thought it was funny to flush their toilets in sync, and did great damage to the community's sewer system; fakesteve's written some funny stuff, sometimes even insightful stuff, but this idea belongs in the crapper)



    Besides--relative to ATT's plan to "incentivate" users to moderate their usage--why SHOULD i care if 3% of users, who are responsible for 40% of network traffic, pay a premium? If i watch six movies today at the local cineplex i pay more than someone who goes in and watches just one: If several dozen like-minded people tie up all the seats in those six theaters they prevent hundreds of others from enjoying a single movie. If i drive 750 miles around my town I pay more than the person who cruises only once to the convenience store, and if dozens of others are putting on miles like I am, we congest the city's streets and maybe prevent you, and you, from even getting to the convenience store. If i print 400 pages out of my all-in-one my paper and ink costs will exceed the costs of someone who prints a single sheet; it costs me more to build a 4000 sf home than a 2100 sf one; I pay more if I want to cool my house to 55 degrees F in the summer than someone who's happy at 72 degrees, and if thousands of others utilize that resource in the greedy, 55 degree way, they contribute to brownouts that could end up with some people not being able to use their a/c at all. Should someone be allowed to book 95% of the rooms in a hotel at a city i want to visit--and pay the same as i'd pay for a single room? AND in the process prevent me and hundreds of other people from enjoying accommodations at our destination? If there are 40 cabanas on the beach in st pete, should two people be allowed to occupy all of them for the price of a single cabana, and keep 38 people from also enjoying that amenity? Or in all these instances should those consuming more pay more?



    I could go on too long (ok, maybe i already did). But i don't get it. If i'm lucky enough to have business or personal needs that i meet by using ATTs service so extensively that i join that 3% of over-consumers, I should be happy to pay for that privilege. And I shouldn't talk about knocking down everyone else's cabanas and unplugging their printers, just because I'm unhappy because i can't everything i want for the price i want. Fakesteve and his cohorts deserve a bums rush on this one.
  • Reply 4 of 91
    Honestly, with any statistical analysis, the top X% are always going to use more bandwidth than the other (100-X)% since not everyone uses the same amount, which means you can fiddle the numbers all you want to get what you need. Might I remind you that if everyone were to cut their bandwidth usage in 1/2, the statement would STILL be true, showing how stupid it is entirely. Rather, they want to selectively punish those at the top while not affecting those at the bottom (since they use far less than their fair share but pay the same).
  • Reply 5 of 91
    I only have anecdotal evidence, but it does seem everytime I'm at a large gathering (concert, football game, etc), my iPhone, running on AT&T 3G, has a really hard time maintaining a data connection, while my friends' AT&T Blackberry's pull up Facebook, and email photos, etc just fine.
  • Reply 6 of 91
    Wasn't there a planned MMS attack when MMS was finally enabled? That was supposed to bring down the network....I didn't really hear anything after the "attack". This will probably fail too.
  • Reply 7 of 91
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rtdunham View Post


    I could go on too long (ok, maybe i already did).



    Yes.



    Fake steve has a point tho... they sold people 'unlimited data' , those people can feel free to take advantage of that! They should not re-neg and say that now you have to pay because AT&T underestimated that people might actually use their cool new iphones. Your analogy is broken because if you paid for unlimited movies or whatever you were on about, you wouldnt want someone to stop you after a set amount.



    A better publicity move for AT&T in this era of crowd-participation, is to say "Please proceed with Operation Chokehold as it will be a good test of our network readiness" That would probably diffuse the bomb and make people have less animosity towards AT&T. But because they called it irresponsible and pointless, now I want to join in!
  • Reply 8 of 91
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post


    Honestly, with any statistical analysis, the top X% are always going to use more bandwidth than the other (100-X)% since not everyone uses the same amount, which means you can fiddle the numbers all you want to get what you need. Might I remind you that if everyone were to cut their bandwidth usage in 1/2, the statement would STILL be true, showing how stupid it is entirely. Rather, they want to selectively punish those at the top while not affecting those at the bottom (since they use far less than their fair share but pay the same).



    I'm not sure whether you agree or disagree with me. With the exception of the subjective "punish" in your final sentence, you seem to be agreeing those at the bottom "use far less than their fair share but pay the same." (substitute "charge more" for "punish" and see how it reads; and note that this change WOULD affect those at the bottom, IF it reduces consumption by the top 3% resulting in better network availability for the other 97%.



    maybe it's one of those cases where two people look at an elephant and describe it it quite different terms, depending on which end they're viewing from!



    peace

    terry
  • Reply 9 of 91
    Lemme get this straight. The network is choked to death with too much bandwidth use, and it's resulted in poor service.



    Dan's solution is to deliberately increase that effect? Yeah....Smart.
  • Reply 10 of 91
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post


    Honestly, with any statistical analysis, the top X% are always going to use more bandwidth than the other (100-X)% since not everyone uses the same amount, which means you can fiddle the numbers all you want to get what you need. Might I remind you that if everyone were to cut their bandwidth usage in 1/2, the statement would STILL be true, showing how stupid it is entirely. Rather, they want to selectively punish those at the top while not affecting those at the bottom (since they use far less than their fair share but pay the same).



    But what would be a more effective and efficient way to cut network usage by 40%, kicking out the top 3% of users or getting _everyone_ to cut back their usage by 40%? If it costs AT&T billions of dollars to build out the network to support the total bandwidth needed, it absolutely makes sense that those few people who are way, way, way beyond the typical user bear a fair share of the cost. I.e., they should pay 40% of the cost, not 3% as they are now. Also it's users like that who use their phones for crazy stuff that cause us all to pay so much more to get features like tethering.
  • Reply 11 of 91
    I'll be watching YouTube videos the entire hour for Choke Hold. I quite frankly get furious at AT&T routinely here in the Puget Sound area because they can't manage to provide adequate coverage and I have dropped calls all the time. Sure they are spending billions on their network. I don't believe them. Their service here sucks. I use AT&T simply because I am forced to use it if I want to use my iPhone unjailbroken.



    Call it juvenile all you want. Anything that forces that POS company to actually improve their network is something I'll support. We've asked, and asked, and asked again. Just how long do we have to "ask" before we start taking steps to publicly humiliate them? Something has to be done because they suck as a cell provider, and having gaps in coverage in metropolitan areas is something expected in the 1980's when things were just getting started (watch Lethal Weapon 1 for a chuckle when Mel Gibson has to stand on a freeway overpass to get reception), but here it is nearly 2010 and they can't manage to have decent cell coverage. Then there's the whole "Five Bars" thing. What a BS thing that is. Sure, you'll have five bars, and yet your conversation fade in and out, it gets choppy, and you wonder to yourself how they can say they have great coverage and five bars and still provide horrible service that sounds horrible. Sure they've invested billions. They are a bunch of liars, and they spent all that money giving their top idiots huge bonuses.



    I don't care what they say. The actual real-world results speak far louder than any words their marketing department has to say.
  • Reply 12 of 91
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    why do all the at&t apologists always declare the amount of billions that the company invests in the network but never mention the Billions -- 12-13 a *year* -- that the company takes home in *net income*?



    "if you're looking for sympathy it's in the dictionary, between shit and suicide" (i know, i know).
  • Reply 13 of 91
    For those of us that need to make legitimate and important calls (possibly life saving calls), your little juvenile experiment will only cause harm for the rest of us. All I can say to you is get a good lawyer.



    Hey, I have an idea, let's get back at.....



    Dept of Transportation by all driving to work at the exact same time! Aren't we fed up with traffic jams! This will get them!



    Dept of Water & Sanitation by all flushing the toilet at the same time! Aren't we fed up with low water pressure? Yeah...this will work!



    Department Stores by shopping at the same time! Aren't we fed up with long lines! Hooray!



    What a joke.
  • Reply 14 of 91
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Charging extra fees to people who use YouTube or VOIP on their iPhones a lot sounds harsh. So does capping their ?unlimited? usage and cutting them off the ?net when they use too much. But AT&T NEEDS to "regain control of its wireless customers.? Apple has been bringing in tons of AT&T customers, and AT&T simply NEEDS to have the power to drive those customers away again. It?s how AT&T does business
  • Reply 15 of 91
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post


    For those of us that need to make legitimate and important calls (possibly life saving calls), your little juvenile experiment will only cause harm for the rest of us. All I can say to you is get a good lawyer.



    And with your proceeds, how about you put up some cell towers that improve coverage. It's obvious AT&T isn't doing anything to improve things.
  • Reply 16 of 91
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,157member
    Maybe he should do the same thing with other networks like Verizon and see what happens. We are all aware of AT&T network issues.
  • Reply 17 of 91
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jayparry View Post


    Fake steve has a point tho... they sold people 'unlimited data'



    Faux Steve doesn't have much of a point tho, because other carriers including Verizon impose the same restrictions and/or retain the right to terminate users who overuse their services. The FCC and/or the FTC should uniformly crack down on all of them for deceptive advertising... and so should Faux Steve. Merely dogpiling on AT&T doesn't win Faux Steve any brownie points for intelligence, but I'm sure it will win him lots of browser clicks and we know that's what Faux Steve values most because that's all he's good for.
  • Reply 18 of 91
    The thing I find most interesting is that it evidently only takes 3% of all AT&T smart phone users to purportedly have a marked impact on their quality of service. Naturally, AT&T would want to spin this as "not their problem" but it inescapably is (their problem).



    As a network provider, what would one expect to be the minimum threshold for service reliability? Like in construction, structures are rated for various loads and they are generally a multiple of a very high assumed maximum load. e.g. a floor might be rated at 3000 pounds although for a typical situation it might really only be expected to 1000 pounds. It just seems that AT&T should easily be able to handle 30-50% of their customers using their phones at maximum bandwidth without breaking a sweat. AT&T isn't even close, obviously.



    I hope Verizon is on the ball.



    bloop
  • Reply 19 of 91
    guarthoguartho Posts: 1,208member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post


    All I can say to you is get a good lawyer.



    You'd have to prove that everyone that happened to be using a lot of data during that hour was aware of the stunt and participating in it. How are you going to do that? With a whole lot of work scouring Facebook and message boards like this you might, just might, be able to stick it to what? 100, 200?
  • Reply 20 of 91
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jayparry View Post


    Fake steve has a point tho... they sold people 'unlimited data' , those people can feel free to take advantage of that! They should not re-neg and say that now you have to pay because AT&T underestimated that people might actually use their cool new iphones. Your analogy is broken because if you paid for unlimited movies or whatever you were on about, you wouldnt want someone to stop you after a set amount.



    They advertised unlimited, but had fine print, further reinforced in a fairly wordy contract. Not really fair, but that's what happened. Marketing is often about oversimplifying things to the extreme. It's a lot easier and faster to say unlimited than it is to say 5GB and have to tell you how many billion emails, million pictures & web pages, thousands of videos & all that it really gets you.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    Charging extra fees to people who use YouTube or VOIP on their iPhones a lot sounds harsh. So does capping their “unlimited” usage and cutting them off the ‘net when they use too much. But AT&T NEEDS to "regain control of its wireless customers.” Apple has been bringing in tons of AT&T customers, and AT&T simply NEEDS to have the power to drive those customers away again. It’s how AT&T does business



    I think it's a question of what they're really doing with the data to be considered a heavy user. If you just do YouTube, you probably have to watch a couple thousand videos to exceed your contractual limit.



    I do think a lot of the fuss about heavy users by ISPs is really about the ISPs wanting to traffic shape anything that's competing with services said ISP provides.
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