My Move Into the AT&T Hate Club

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 7, 2010 in Tech |

Moving into the AT&T Zone

A little bit over a year ago I purchased my iPhone — I was slightly late to the party so just a little bit after getting my first generation phone, Apple rolled out the next version. For the most part it was a speed bump so I didn’t resent AT&T for the two year contract lock in at that point. However by the end of 2009 still being stuck on the Edge network was wearing a bit thin for yours truly, but I still hadn’t entered “the hate club”.

My reason was that I had originally moved from Verizon. The wireless branch of Verizon never left me with an venom, however the landline division made me a man of wrath. In NYC Verizon has a monopoly on land lines which post-9/11 I came to believe in for reasons of safety. However getting Verizon to deal with a landline is like a short trip to hell: Granted the million year old hacked infrastructure may not be their fault, but Verizon’s “customer service” is terrible when put next to cable companies.

So I didn’t mind the move to AT&T, but like all deadbeats I should have known that there was no such thing as a good one — and in my humble opinion at this point all mobile carriers are bums to me at this point. And it’s with that in mind that today I joined the loyal order of AT&T haters. Here’s why:

So if you’re any type of geek you know that Google just rolled out their shiny new toy the Nexus One. If you’re working in the furthest reach of the tech space having a working knowledge of the latest is simple survival — so even having the option to play with a new toy can in fact be make-or-break at some point in he future. And when it comes to Android you want to make it a point to look at the official Google phone because unlike everything else it’s a good case study on how Google envisions their operating system to be used.

Now I knew upfront what the deal was: There was no way in hell that Google would be rolling out their flagship goodie with AT&T. Or at least that’s what I first thought — but then things seemed to slowly change. I then discovered early this week that the Nexus One came in two flavors: Locked to T-Mobile or Verizon, or better yet unlocked! Granted that the unlocked version is over $300 more, but that’s a small price to pay to get your hands on one.

But alas there was one catch: Even unlocked the phone wouldn’t play well with AT&T. For some reason AT&T has a different flavor of network, so you;d be out of luck. Well that was that I thought until CES today: AT&T had announced an end to the Cold War — they in fact were going to ship not just one but several Android phone.

I thought that I was in luck until I started to look at all of the phones listed: It seems like they’re rolling out every Android phone except for the Nexus One. It almost seems like they’ve done everything in their power to get as close as they could to carry the official Google phone but just couldn’t be bothered to go that extra inch. It was at this point I joined the AT&T hate club.

Of course the entire notion of be married to a carrier because of a hardware purchase seems to me to be a bizarre notion. Imagine if you would if your purchase of a new computer was somehow tied to your ISP contract. So you’d be sitting there thinking “I’d like to buy a new Mac, but I don’t know if I want to be stuck with my RCN contract in case I want to move to TimeWarner Cable”.

To me this is a sign of just how backwards the mobile carriers are — it seems like there’s a reverse in who should be the dominant players. To me as a techie the cell phone makers should be the dog and the carriers should be the tail, or they should be two different creatures that don’t depend on each other.

Perhaps this is a sign of the clash of cultures as computer companies move into the mobile hardware space and bump into the sleazy Soviet style of the mobile carriers. You quickly realize that there are no goof mobile carriers, only ones that are slightly less worse than the other one for the moment. As a consumer I’d hope at a future date this would sort itself out, although that may not be a good bet by what I’ve seen so far.

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