Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

When AT&T's network crashes, it's iPhone users who complain

September 3, 2008: 2:47 PM ET

According to AT&T, the outage that took down a major data network across much of the northeastern United States overnight Wednesday was brand agnostic -- any wireless device using its EDGE network was affected.

But by all accounts, it was mostly iPhone users who complained -- vociferously -- in e-mail messages, in Twitter postings, on Apple and AT&T forums.

At DSLReports.com, where many of the early complaints were posted, there were message from the occasional BlackJack II and Nokia N95 user. But headline was "iPhone Users Greeted With Morning Outage," and that's who weighed in the loudest.

"This is insanity," wrote "WildGod" at 10:23 a.m. from Brooklyn. "I never thought I would miss Verizon and my Treo as much as I do now." (link)

iPhone owners, of course, make more demands on their cellphones than most users. But they also have a long history of complaints against AT&T, the iPhone's exclusive U.S. carrier since June 2007, for slow and often inconsistent service.

Last week in San Diego, the second class action suit in as many weeks was filed against Apple (AAPL) and AT&T (T) for failing to deliver the "twice as fast" network speeds promised in the iPhone 3G promotional material. (See here and here.) The latest suit draws heavily on reports suggesting that heavy iPhone use is pulling more power from AT&T's antennas than its network is prepared to provide. See Roughly Drafted for more detail.

According to AT&T spokesman Brad Mays, last night's outage was caused by a "routing issue" that affected "some wireless data," but not voice calling, text messaging or Blackberry e-mail.

Service was restored by 11:56 a.m. EDT.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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