An Open Letter to AT&T

An Open Letter to AT&T

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Dear AT&T,

As a longtime Cingular Wireless customer, I was cautiously optimistic when you merged with them in 2004 thinking that you would be bringing superior service and a better network. For most of my contracts with you, I have had very few issues. With many people saying that your customer service was less than stellar and having frequently dropped calls, I rarely experienced such issues.

In 2009, I took the leap and purchased an iPhone 3GS when it was introduced. I paid the $30 a month for Unlimited Data in addition to paying for my voice plan and an allotment of text messages. I think when the dust settled, I was paying around $80 a month for phone service (just my phone).

In 2011, I get wind that you're starting to throttle the download speeds of the unlimited users. That was troubling. What's the point of paying for something that's unlimited and then it gets slowed to a point to where it's not worth the effort to use the phone? I still get a chuckle about the guy who sued you over the unlimited throttling and won. Another issue that surfaced was that you were charging people for the privilege of tethering other device(s) to their phone for internet service. So, I'm paying for data that I should be able to use however I see fit and have a phone that has a tethering feature included, but you want to charge me to use it? Even if I had gone to one of your tiered plans for data, I would still have to pay extra for the tethering service. Really?

When Apple introduced iMessage in iOS 5, I'm actually shocked you didn't find a way to monetize that feature seeing as how it was going to cut into your text messaging business.

It was recently announced that the new iOS 6 was going to include the ability to use Facetime over not only WiFi, but also 3g/4g networks. You initially said that you were going to “evaluate” the offering, which is code for “we're going to find a way to charge our customers for using it.” Sure enough, you announced that customers can use Facetime over the cellular network if they upgrade to one of the tiered mobile share plans. The unfortunate thing is the tiered pricing is atrociously expensive. So again, I'm at a loss. Data is data, so why does it matter how I'm using it? You haven't yet started charging me for any of the apps I use that require your data, so why would Facetime be any different?

I guess it comes down to one thing: Greed. Apple is revolutionizing the mobile phone industry by offering innovative products and features, yet you're restricting how people use those devices and features. If you recall, you were the first carrier to offer the iPhone to the masses, and now it seems you're the first carrier to limit the usage of those features. For shame. I can only imagine how the late Steve Jobs would be feeling.

Fortunately for a lot of us that are more technologically aware, there are ways around your restrictions. I know plenty of people who tether their devices to their phones without you being the wiser. And I venture to say that once iOS 6 is released, it will only be a matter of time before someone finds a way around the Facetime issue. You know, they do have apps for that.

In closing, as a customer who has now satisfied the requirements of the contract I signed when I purchased my 3GS, I will definitely be exploring my carrier options when I buy the new iPhone next month. I guess it's a good thing your acquisition of T-Mobile didn't go through. We the consumers would have been abused even further.

Jarrod

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