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Rumor — AT&T Losing iPhone Exclusivity Next Week 353

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-terminate-luke-wilson-now dept.
MojoKid writes "An inside source over at HotHardware reports that AT&T will lose their iPhone exclusivity on 1/27, coincident with Apple's upcoming press event next week, though it's not yet clear what other carriers will be stepping in to pick up the iPhone. For anyone who has followed the saga, you may notice that you haven't seen AT&T fighting to extend their original exclusive agreement as of late. In fact, they have spent most of their time fighting Verizon's negative ad campaigns. This may not be all that surprising. Inside of AT&T, word is that the iPhone is causing more trouble than ever before. On some level, having the iPhone is hurting AT&T's image. Do you remember hearing about AT&T's 'horrible network' before the iPhone? The iPhone itself doesn't really handle the switch from 3G to EDGE very gracefully, so calls that are in-progress tend to fail whenever 3G connections aren't optimal and the phone attempts to step down to EDGE. It seems that AT&T may finally be tired of taking the heat."
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Rumor — AT&T Losing iPhone Exclusivity Next Week

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  • Verizon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Salo2112 (628590) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:14AM (#30877960)
    If Verizon gets the iPhone, I'll be there next week.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:19AM (#30877982)

    The iPhone itself doesn't really handle the switch from 3G to EDGE very gracefully

    That's GSM's fault, not the phone's.

  • Verizon iPhone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chrisgeleven (514645) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:24AM (#30878014) Homepage

    My AT&T contract is up on July 12th. I tell you, I am going to have a very difficult decision on that date if a Verizon version of the iPhone hasn't been announced or released by then. While I love my iPhone, the AT&T service is just not reliable at all in my experience in New Hampshire, especially if you get out of the major cities. You pretty much have to be in a deep cave to not have a Verizon cell phone signal here.

    My thinking is if there is no sign of a Verizon version of the iPhone by July 12th when my contract is up, I may very well switch to a Nexus One or Droid. It is sure going to be tempting.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:24AM (#30878020)

    The iPhone itself doesn't really handle the switch from 3G to EDGE very gracefully, so calls that are in-progress tend to fail whenever 3G connections aren't optimal and the phone attempts to step down to EDGE.

    Given that carriers test phones on networks, it would not be the least surprising to learn that AT&T technical staff evaluated the iPhone (or already had experience with the 'modem' it uses), told management about the problems, and management decided what was more important was the couple of years of revenue from people who wanted iPhones regardless of the network.

    I've been a customer of AT&T since the "AT&T wireless" days (pre AT&T, pre "cingular", etc.) and I can count the number of dropped calls on one hand. I currently have an original iPhone, jailbroken/unlocked, on a very old AT&T Wireless account. $30/month for a regional plan = awesome (as is having one device to surf the web where I can get Wifi, play games, listen to music, and make phone calls.)

    Living in New England, I also haven't heard many complaints from 3G iPhone users. Seems to be mostly NYC where people are screaming (yes kids, NY and NYC are not "New England.")

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:25AM (#30878032)

    AT&T hates the iPhone now? Why?

    Perhaps because they know Apple does not intend to renew its contract with AT&T?

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:30AM (#30878064)

    Man you are dumb.

    For one the market share for iPhones is still much much larger then all the Android based phones out there. It is second only to RIM Blackberries.
    Most mobile application/web development is primarily tested for the iPhone So right now iPhone as more apps.
    The iPhone is the standard that all the other phones need to set the bar against.

    It isn't about features or technology it is about mindset. Right now the iPhone is still the winner (next year who knows bur right now they are the winner)

    AT&T got a lot of new customers just because people wanted the phone... For the most case this is opposite... People search for the plan they want and get the phone. If AT&T looses iPhone exclusivity it would really heart them. Well lets go with the other ones instead they may have better coverage or faster network. Spring G4 iPhone would be cool. Perhaps Verizon my have a cheaper Service. Perhaps t-mobile will allow tethering.

    Android is still second fiddle... I for one like to see it grow and give apple a good run for its money however you have to be an idiot to think the iPhone is irrelevant.

  • Re:Verizon (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TroyM (956558) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:35AM (#30878098)

    I can't see Apple going to the trouble to develop a CDMA iPhone when Verizon is already starting to deploy LTE. I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation iPhone is available on Verizon, but not next week.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:35AM (#30878104)

    Have you tried the HTC phones with the sense UI (which, by the way, has multitouch)?

    Serious question.

    It is absolutely brilliant. I was certain that it would be some trashy vendor attempt at being unique, to be quickly disabled, however it is actually extremely decent.

    The "Android is a geek's phone" meme is baseless. It is only true from the perspective of "if by geek we mean people who aren't just mindlessly following the crowd".

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Suki I (1546431) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:38AM (#30878122) Homepage Journal

    Was thinking the same.

    This bit from the post: he iPhone itself doesn't really handle the switch from 3G to EDGE very gracefully, so calls that are in-progress tend to fail whenever 3G connections aren't optimal and the phone attempts to step down to EDGE. It seems that AT&T may finally be tired of taking the heat.

    That is enough for me to delay my purchase until I see something really good.

  • Re:AT&T Sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:41AM (#30878132) Homepage Journal

    I was there for the switch to 3G in OH and though the service is fast, the batteries don't last (heh); my phone(s) would be dead with very limited surfing.

    The batteries don't last in a lot of EVDO phones either. That's the fault of stupid phone manufacturers who switched radio chipsets without bothering to improve battery capacity or power consumption in the rest of the phone.

    The real problem seems to be that AT&T has very limited 3G coverage, while their EDGE network has very good coverage. Unfortunately, as you allude to, they had to degrade the EDGE network for the 3G iPhone. The 3G-EDGE failover problems actually have nothing to do with the iPhone and everything to do with GSM. This has never worked very well, not even in other dual band phones. EVDO to CDMA fails over pretty seamlessly, though in the very early days of EVDO back around 2005 or so, several phones (like the Moto Razr) had problems failing over as well.

  • by Ibag (101144) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:59AM (#30878256)

    Well, if we're going based on anecdotal evidence, I've been an AT&T customer since they merged with Cingular, and while I can't remember how the network was when I was living in New England, since I moved to Chicago, I haven't had a call over 20 minutes that didn't get dropped at least once. I don't have an iPhone, just a regular non-smartphone, so it's not just NY and it's not just iPhones.

    (as for why I am still a customer when they suck so hard if I don't have an iPhone, a family member gets a discounted family plan through work, and everybody else in the family has an iPhone, but I would change carriers if there were not extenuating circumstances.)

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slack_justyb (862874) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:01AM (#30878274)

    It isn't about features or technology it is about mindset.

    Oh how right you are about that. However, the point you bring up in you post directly runs opposite of the point that you are trying to make.

    The biggest thing about cell phones is that most people change out phones every two to three years. The iPhone is no different. I've seen many of friends ditch the iPhone after their contract was up. It's no different than when I ditched my LG last year as soon as my contract was up. People's "mindset" as you would call it is to junk the phone they've got every time their contract is up. iPhone is no different. It's not about apps or technical merit. It's about advertising. Right now Apple has got word of mouth on their side and Google is doing its best with their TV ads to counter that. AT&T dropping the exclusive part of iPhone sounds like Apple try to make their phone more like the Driod. Everywhere. Beside, the iPhone has shown how shit the AT&T network is and AT&T is fighting an uphill battle with that. So, yeah I think the honeymoon between AT&T and Apple is over, burned, and now they are tossing bricks at each other. Soon we may see them fighting over custody of the kids but who knows?

    So, I would not say that Apple has a better phone because of apps, or what have you. They just have better marketing. Also, most apps are tested for the iPhone because it has the most market share at the current time, but some, it is a slow growing trend, commercial API for cellular devices are becoming cross API. Think of it like the toolkits that people like EA use to code for PS3 and XBOX 360 at the same time. Eventually that's exactly what we will see in the mobile market. At that point it is pretty moot about the apps issue and who is building what for what.

    When it come to cellphones be damned the technical merit. Most people buy whatever looks cool on the TV. You'd be an idiot to think otherwise.

  • by JAK (6169) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:03AM (#30878282)
    Regarding the dropped call when switching between 3G and Edge: I can't speak to the underlying cause, but over the past few years I've had a Palm Treo and a blackberry that did this constantly (Dallas area was especially bad). From my personal experience, the iPhone seems to do this less than these older phones.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:03AM (#30878284)

    In what way is that "GSM"'s fault?

    As far as I understand it, the older version of the EDGE protocol that's being used on many a tower doesn't include a procedure for passing in a call that was being handled by 3G, so it just drops.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:04AM (#30878300)

    As far as the iPhone goes, I'd MUCH rather have a Nexus One if I was in the market for a fancy smart phone.

    What is it about the Nexus One that's got people so worked up? As best I can tell it's a great piece of hardware with a UI that's (admittedly by Android fans) only about 95% as good as the iPhone. It's manufactured by a company that doesn't really have any experience making phones, and could easily get out of the business, leaving you high and dry.

    In any case, it's about 180 degrees out of sync from the iPhone release schedule. I plan to wait til the next iPhone comes out before I make any decisions about what phone to buy.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:07AM (#30878306)

    By next week many people may have signed up with AT&T whom, had they known, would have waited to check for better deals / a preferred carrier.

    Don't hold your breath though. The situation in the UK after the iPhone recently became non-exclusive is a bunch of remarkably similar deals [moneysavingexpert.com], the only notable exception being that Tesco offers a 12 month contract.

  • Re:Droid vs iPhone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:23AM (#30878404)

    Sounds really nerdy but I have a friend who works for a bank and he also has a droid, before he got it if he was in his server room on the phone I could hear the noise from all the servers and other equipment...Not with his droid, it sounded DEAD quiet.

    May be it has this this chip [audience.com] which is doing wonders on Google's Nexus One.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crossmr (957846) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:27AM (#30878424) Journal

    The whole point of this is not everyone wants to pay $500 for some phone. It wasn't that long ago that even low end phones would have been several hundred dollars without a contract that is how we got into this.

  • by purpleraison (1042004) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:49AM (#30878642) Homepage Journal

    My contract is set to renew, and I wanted to get a new iphone 3gs, and the ATT site doesn't even offer the iphone as an option.

    I suspect that not only did they lose exclusivity, they may not even be worthy of distributing iphones anymore.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:14AM (#30878894)

    Because people would rather have the instant gratification right now and make future self suffer by paying $700 for the same device spread over a couple of years. No matter how you swing it, it is cheaper to buy your phone outright. In the early 1990's all phones were cutting edge and expensive, these days companies can literally sell phones for $15 and still make some profit.

    I live in the Philippines (Australian, not that this matters) I pay $25 USD per month (Smart) for completely unlimited data with tethering. No caps. My N97 cost about $520 USD outright. 200 kilobytes per second downloads are not uncommon, though perhaps not as regular as I'd like either. You can buy an unlocked iPhone here for about the same price. If you don't quite want cutting edge, then you can opt for stuff a little older - the Nokia 5800 costs about $270 and does practically everything the N97 does. I think the only difference is the lack of an FM transmitter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:39AM (#30879132)

    I live in Atlanta, where AT&T Wireless' headquarters is located. Before it was AT&T, it was Cingular -- and it was always terrible.

    I have a friend who took a picture of him holding an AT&T branded phone in front of AT&T's headquarters. No bars. His friend with Verizon, and his other friend with Spring, held their phones. Full bars.

    This was before the iPhone.

    The iPhone is not the cause of AT&T's poor network, The iPhone exposed the poor network.

    Nevertheless, while living in England my wife and I owned iPhones on O2's network. I will say I had a much better time running it in EDGE mode than 3G, so I would not be surprised if the transition between 3G and EDGE was a problem. (It always seemed to have more problems when I would dip in-and-out of 3G coverage. This was the 3G phone.)

    Still, while I am excited about the iPhone coming to other networks, I'm no fool. The iPhone will expose other networks' flaws. The only question is whether those flaws are as bad as AT&T's.

  • by shableep (1042634) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:47AM (#30879242)
    I haven't seen much talk about this, but it seems pretty potentially ground shaking to me that they could use something like this GSM/CDMA chip that has been in testing since 1998 [qualcomm.com]. Even though some articles suggest availability [nexus404.com] of the Qualcomm chip wont be until 2011, do any of you think this shines light on the possibility of Apple pulling something like this off early?
  • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @11:59AM (#30879358)

    Are you just trolling? It's right on their front page as the 5th flash advertisement. If you click on it it goes to:
    http://www.att.com/wireless/iphone/ [att.com]

    They also have a "quick link" in their menu right to the iPhone 3Gs page.

  • by DarkDust (239124) <marc@darkdust.net> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:01PM (#30879376) Homepage

    People don't want them here in Europe, either, at least on the countryside. People don't care about them in the cities, I think. At least I never heard somebody even talking about these towers here in Munich, except if the reception is bad.

    There was a very funny story a few weeks back here in Germany (I'm citing off the top of my head, maybe I don't get it 100% correct, sorry for that): A company erected a new cell tower and people began to complain about health issues like headaches that they directly blamed to the tower. After a few weeks there was some kind of meeting between the people and company officials where the people demanded that the tower gets switched off immediately because of their health problems. Turned out the company switched the tower off three weeks before said meeting due to some technical problems :-) Fine example of a negative placebo, IMHO.

  • Re:Uh, excuse me? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by j741 (788258) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:27PM (#30880326) Journal

    Here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada I have zero network (Rogers wireless) connection problems with my iPhone, however when I took that same phone to Houston, Texas, U.S.A. (with data roaming turned off) it connected to the AT&T network for roaming and my phone calls were routinely disconnected at random. Sometimes I would be only able to say hello and speak a few words before the call would be lost and I needed to redial. This pissed me off something fierce. I'm not surprised people are not happy with the AT&T network in the U.S.A.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:32PM (#30880404) Homepage
    Actually, Tmobile's new unlimited plans do provide a break to those who pay up front. Their plans are $10/mo more with a subsidized phone with a 2 year contract compared to paying for the phone and having a month-to-month plan. If you look at their phones and the amount of the downpayment with a subsidized plan, it's clearly a better deal to just buy the phone and go MTM.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by kramerd (1227006) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @02:52PM (#30881360)

    You suck at math.

    The G1 with a 2 year plan is $50 down (initially, it was $200, but the phone cost $550 then, as prices have dropped, so has the prepayment). Add in the 10 bucks a month for 2 years and the total is 290 (200 + 10*24). Buying the G1 without subsidy is between $400 (from t-mobile) and $470 (amazon). Whoops, its at least $100 cheaper (on the phone itself) if you don't buy the phone outright.

  • "in a cave": true (Score:4, Interesting)

    by raddan (519638) * on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#30881794)
    I can confirm this. I was winter backpacking with my father last weekend in the White Mountains of NH. Normally, with AT&T, I get no cellphone reception whatsoever there (with the one odd occurrence of 5 bars near Wildcat-- but I suspect that both Mt. Washington and Wildcat have antennas on them), so upon reaching the parking spot in Franconia Notch and confirming that I had no signal, I just left the phone in my Jeep. However, that night at our campsite at Kinsman Pond, my father realized that he had forgotten to leave his phone in the car. For fun, he flipped it on, and, hey-- three bars! My mom was treated to a MMS picture of a deep woods winter wonderland. My dad has Verizon.

    When you consider that the trees around us were covered in nearly a foot of ice and snow, and we were sleeping in a shelter with several feet of snow on top of it, we really were in a cave. Amazing.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @06:15PM (#30883354)
    Uh, yeah. It is pretty universal that GSM phones do not work inside hospitals even in the ER waiting room. They block GSM phones because they are known to cause problems with their equipment. If you have to make a call, step outside and make a call. CDMA phones do still work inside hospitals because they use different air interfaces and frequencies.

    I get signal almost everywhere on my iPhone on Fido but I could not get any signal when I was waiting to get admitted to the ER.

  • Re:AT&T Sucks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgenman (325138) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @08:51PM (#30884740) Homepage

    Do you remember hearing about AT&T's 'horrible network' before the iPhone?

    As a longtime AT&T customer, I've always had problems on AT&T's network, but they weren't terrible enough to warrant worrying about. GSM coverage over California started out pretty spotty outside of major population centers, with roaming charges (or no coverage) throughout large swaths of driving between the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. When launched, their internet access services were just spotty and terrible.

    Later on, I picked up a 3G compatible handset, and it was losing coverage throughout major areas in Boston. The airport, MIT, and other major spots had no or minimal 3G of which to speak. You'd walk down the street and pass through a couple of 3G zones, a couple of normal zones, and genearlly keep bouncing back and forth.

    From that, i picked up a 1st generation iPhone. Edge was slow, but it basically worked. And it worked fine throughout most of Boston, with a few dropped spots between large buildings.

    When the 3G iPhone rolled out here in Boston, coverage was miserable. You could still walk down a street for 15 minutes, and pass through a couple of 3G zones, and a couple of edge zones. And the phone would cling tenaciously to 3G, meaning spotty 3G connections were prioritized over Edge connections. Finally, they threw a switch, upgraded Boston, and since then the 3G network has been stable and nice.

    I know a single case is not real data, but in my experience the problem was that AT&T seemed to upgrade their network to quiet complaints, rather than anticipating need and building out in advance. The iPhone just happened to bring a lot of demand to a network which at the time had better marketing than infrastructure. And it did so in a way that grabbed press headlines in a way that previous problems just couldn't.

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