Now that AT&T has finally greenlit MMS for the iPhone, maybe it's time we gave the company a break.
For years, AT&T's iPhone customers have endured dropped calls, slow connections, and crippled service, especially in crowded areas such as New York and San Francisco. And for this, customers pay a higher rate than most other phone users. If you own the iPhone, hating AT&T is practically written into the two-year service contract.
I think AT&T's getting a raw deal. The company has to shoulder the complaints of people who use their data plans way more than anyone else, sucking up bad blood while other carriers are viewed as knights in shining armor. Oh sure, let's fantasize about a Verizon Wireless iPhone, but are we sure that Verizon can handle iPhone users, and the ten times more traffic they consume than other smartphone owners?
When PC World looked at customer service complaints for wireless carriers in pre-iPhone 2007, network and service issues weren't even on the radar. It would've been hard for any carrier to predict the issues that a wildly popular smartphone would cause, and the negativity those issues would create.
The problem is that customers want more network-choking services, such MMS and tethering, and the capability to use apps like Slingplayer to their full 3G potential, even though service can barely keep up as is. This would be the epitome of having your cake and eating it, too.
Then, there's the issue of Google Voice and the user of VoIP applications. Yes, AT&T blocks VoIP over 3G on the iPhone, but it'd be foolish to think that any other carrier would behave differently.
To a certain extent, it's fair to blame AT&T for dropping the ball, as the company is just now getting to the network upgrades that make the iPhone more reliable. But it's hard to blame the company for wanting to see how the iPhone panned out before committing to expensive infrastructure changes. In any case, AT&T is spending $18 billion this year to expand and improve its 3G network.
When all is said and done, iPhone users are still in love with their phones, to the point that Apple ranked highest in customer satisfaction on smartphones this year, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
So maybe it's time we gave AT&T a little positive reinforcement. Yes, it's great that the carrier is finally adding MMS, and that improvements to the network are on the way. Keep it up.