AT&T improving their network or rationing data: take your pick
As Lewis Carroll recommended, I like to think three impossible things before breakfast. So, apparently, does AT&T.
Witness the dueling news reports which surfaced today. On the one hand, the Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T is aware that their customers prefer the customer service experience of being dipped in honey and strapped to an anthill, if industry-wide customer service rankings are to be believed, and they're working assiduously to improve their network—especially in New York and San Francisco.
On the other hand, Reuters reports that Ralph de la Vega, the head of AT&T's consumer services division, told investors that AT&T's problems stem from the issue that you—yes, you—don't understand the concept of a megabyte. Oh, and you're a wireless data hog. “We need to educate the customer," De la Vega said. “We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data. We're improving all our systems to let consumers get real-time information on their data usage.”
Silly me for thinking this, but I note that if you buy an iPhone, you're required to purchase an unlimited data plan. And most rational people see that word "unlimited" and think, “well, if I'm already paying for it…”. De la Vega predicts that charging for data is an inevitable upcoming move to protect AT&T's network—and never mind how their customers might respond to it. This isn't the first time that De la Vega has made noises about controlling iPhone data usage, either; he made a similar comment at this year's CTIA conference in October.
Call this reason #348 why iPhone users consider AT&T to be among the top reasons to consider switching to an iPod touch. It's hard to believe that AT&T truly understands what it'll take to provide decent customer service, when at least some of their corporate effort is dedicated to “educating” consumers to not use the services they're being forced to buy. Perhaps that's why so many iPhone owners are licking their chops waiting to switch to T-Mobile, Verizon, or tin cans and very long strings, just as soon as the Apple exclusivity deal expires.
Note to AT&T: customers who are clamoring to leave your service are likely to have long memories. Just saying.
If you're wondering what the other two impossible things are, I'm personally still reeling from the idea that AT&T has the fastest nationwide 3G network, which apparently no one can reliably connect to. That leaves one more, but hey, it's still only midday. I have confidence in AT&T's ability to provide before breakfast tomorrow.