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Consumerist Says AT&T Site Won't Sell iPhone In NYC, Citing Network 420

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-a-bit-hinky dept.
cowp writes "A Consumerist tipster couldn't get AT&T's website to sell him an iPhone when he shopped using an NYC ZIP code, but could when he tried other cities' ZIPs. Consumerist asked an AT&T CSR and seems to have gotten confirmation that this is carrier policy: 'Yes, this is correct the phone is not offered to you because New York is not ready for the iPhone. You don't have enough towers to handle the phone.' Considering Apple's gadget is currently the most popular handset in the US, its exclusive carrier's inability/unwillingness to support the device in the country's largest market is pretty huge news. If this proves true, I'd expect curtains for AT&T's exclusivity deal when it comes up for renewal." If you're in NYC, can you confirm or deny this outlandish-sounding claim? Updated 20091227 1:03 GMT by timothy: Headline, now corrected, inaccurately named Apple rather than AT&T. Mea culpa.
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Consumerist Says AT&T Site Won't Sell iPhone In NYC, Citing Network

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  • There's been a lot of coverage indicating problems with iPhones in New York, including one Gizmodo piece saying a 30% dropped call rate is apparently normal [gizmodo.com].
    • by cheekyboy (598084) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:21PM (#30566888) Homepage Journal

      This from the most technological advanced country on the planet.....

      AT&T happy to take customers money, not willing to spend millions for a working network.

      • by dov_0 (1438253) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:26PM (#30566930)

        This from the most technological advanced country on the planet.....

        AT&T happy to take customers money, not willing to spend millions for a working network.

        I didn't see any mention of Japan in TFA?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 27, 2009 @09:35PM (#30567398)
          Many Americans seem to think their country is the best and most advanced in the world. They are brainwashed by the mass media's propaganda.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Says the man who repeats the mantra of the liberal, pinning all their problems on some abstract idea of a colaborative and archetypal villain named "the mass media". There is no collaboration amongst them, they are not trying to brainwash you, or anyone else, instead they are trying to appeal to you, to watch them. In this way, they are a reflection of you. When you understand that there are no super villain's, nobody cares about you, and it's extremely hard to organize a group to do ANYTHING in even the be

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aztektum (170569)

        You must be referring to either Japan or South Korea, right?

        • by jonoid (863970) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @09:26PM (#30567326)

          The same South Korea that took over two years to get the iPhone. And the same SK that still blocks any non-Korean approved unlocked phone from being used on their networks without paying a $300 "inspection" fee? And the same SK where the majority of domestic websites require Internet Explorer 6 (yes, 6) to function correctly?

          For those of you who don't know, South Korea is not a technological paradise. We have fast broadband but that's about it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by pnewhook (788591)

            No, that would be the *other* South Korea

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by RobertM1968 (951074)

            ...where the majority of domestic websites require Internet Explorer 6 (yes, 6) to function correctly?

            Well, that seemed to be the case in the US until just recently too... ;-)

          • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:48PM (#30568124)

            Yes, the South Korea that wanted strong (128-bit) encryption back when IE was the only browser worth mentioning, but 128-bit encryption couldn't be exported. They implemented their own encryption scheme as an ActiveX pugin, and open source browsers have been really slow about implementing a compatible form of that encryption system.

            To me, that sounds like a country that was quite tech savvy, but got screwed by US politics.

          • by ihavnoid (749312) on Monday December 28, 2009 @05:52AM (#30569392)

            The same South Korea that took over two years to get the iPhone. And the same SK that still blocks any non-Korean approved unlocked phone from being used on their networks without paying a $300 "inspection" fee? And the same SK where the majority of domestic websites require Internet Explorer 6 (yes, 6) to function correctly?

            For those of you who don't know, South Korea is not a technological paradise. We have fast broadband but that's about it.

            To be fair, the $300 inspection fee is for getting *any* device certified by the FCC-equivalent authority of Korea *for personal use*. To make sure that the device does't interfere with the government-authorized spectrum. You should blame (insert company name) for not doing the job for you, not the South Korean government. Hell, what kind of government authorize using non-certified devices in their soverign?

            Additionally, I use IE8 and firefox, and I had zero hiccups using IE8, and nearly zero problem using Firefox except on-line gaming sites (which merely is a Windows game installer) and banks (which require so many addons). Everything else is fine.

      • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @09:03PM (#30567182)
        Back in 2004, I quit my job and went on a roadtrip on steroids. I drove from Mexico to Alaska, down to Texas, up to the Dakotas, and finally back home to Massachusetts. I was an AT&T wireless customer and I was stunned at the lack of coverage. I could only talk near major cities if I were lucky. Even then, calls were being dropped every other call. Their coverage charts were such BS. I quit my service once I got home, and switched to another provider, experiencing only minor irritations on subsequent road trips.
        • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:20PM (#30567666)

          Back in 2004, I quit my job and went on a roadtrip on steroids.

          ... because you wanted to have the opportunity to road rage and 'roid rage simultaneously?

        • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday December 28, 2009 @12:20AM (#30568262)

          How far they have fallen. I used to be die hard AT&T. Between 93-98 I had an old Nokia TDMA cell phone with a freaking brick on the back for a battery.

          My talk time was like 3-4 fucking days. I forgot my charger one time on a trip and it lasted on standby and just a little bit of talking two weeks. I shit you not.

          I was once out on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere (probably 20 miles away from the interstate) and I was the only person with a cell signal. Made calls and everything. People were dumbfounded that I was on my cell phone considering how far away I was.

          2009.......

          I am ready to strangle people with iPhones on AT&T. It is such a joke. From Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Houston, and New York, I talk to people with crappy sound, disconnects within about 3-4 minutes (90% of the time), and pure constant frustration trying to communicate with these people.

          They still love the iPhone though.

          What I have learned is two things.

          1) How far you can fall in terms of customer satisfaction and real world coverage and performance. (Not flaming here, these are my direct observations).
          2) How much shit people will put up with for a shiny iPhone.

          P.S - The iPhone does not look that bad. Jailbroken and on TMobile or Verizon (hopefully soon because CDMA will finally be available) it might be pretty nice to work with.

      • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:09PM (#30567942)

        This from the most technological advanced country on the planet.....

        AT&T happy to take customers money, not willing to spend millions for a working network.

        You forgot the sarcasm tag I'm hoping. The US is not the most technologically advanced country in North America let alone the planet. While AT&T was slowly rolling out 7.2, your neighbours to the North were rolling out 21Mbps HSDPA on the incumbent GSM carrier. While Verizon was busy coming up with clever ads to attack AT&T, Canadian CDMA carriers were getting ready to launch a coast to coast 21 Mbps HSDPA network and launch the iPhone 3GS on their network making the iPhone non-exclusive in Canada. A lot of technology that you take for granted every day was invented in Canada. The robotic arm used to construct the international space station was from Canada.

        BTW. How is that LTE thing going for Verizon? Will we see come out before 2020?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 27, 2009 @11:46PM (#30568120)

          WTF? Seriously? Why do Canadians always bring up that arm as if it is the greatest piece of technology ever invented when it is sitting next to a $10 billion Orbiter and a $100 billion space station, which are some of the greatest marvels of technology ever invented?

          People really are dipshits with this "my country is more advanced than yours" idiocy. Advances in technology can only be compared with time, not locations. The rate of development of technology in the US is extremely high--but this doesn't mean that the technology is deployed there. Is a country like Japan more advanced than the US because it builds more hardware and software or is the US more advanced because it designs more? Or should we compare per capita?

          I think it is a foolish thing to even worry about. Only nationalists would really care. I care about the technology, not who is the most 'advanced'.

          The blue diode, the microprocessor, scramjets, the LHC--those are important. I don't give a shit which country gets the nationalistic props for being the most technologically advanced.

          • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday December 28, 2009 @02:08AM (#30568660) Journal

            The rate of development of technology in the US is extremely high--but this doesn't mean that the technology is deployed there.

            Therefore the country where it IS deployed is the more advanced. When I moved to the US from Europe I was amazed at how technologically backwards the place was considering the huge amount of tech development that goes on there. The amount and type of technology you encounter in everyday life is certainly far behind Europe and now living in Canada things are more advanced, but still not quite as much as Europe. Its true that some of the newest gadgets may get released in the US first but when it comes to applying technology to existing products (like the car) the US is surprisingly far behind.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by jo42 (227475)

            A real insult to a Canadian is to point out that almost 100% of Canada is north of Buffalo, New York...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adisakp (705706)
      When I visited New York last year, my iPhone was acting really weird. Heating up, battery dying quickly, not being able to see signal, calls dropping and very slow data rate. I thought my phone was screwed up because it was fairly new. As soon as I got back to IL, it went back to normal though. Then I saw the same problem with lack of signal / batter dying quickly when I went to big street fairs or events in Chicago that had tens or hundreds of thousands of people. At a couple events with maybe on 40K
  • Spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:11PM (#30566798) Journal
    Can we stop saying things like 'the most popular handset?' When we're talking about a market where no single handset has more than about 1-2% market share, saying 'the most popular' is entirely meaningless.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Everybody outside of the tech world knows what an iPhone is.

      Not everybody outside of the tech world knows what the E55, Hero, or GW620 are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by XPeter (1429763) *

        Everybody outside of the tech world knows what an iPhone is.

        Not everybody outside of the tech world knows what the E55, Hero, or GW620 are.

        True, but promisingly I've been seeing a lot of my non-tech friends carrying around new Android devices lately.

      • Re:Spin (Score:5, Informative)

        by mlts (1038732) * on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:43PM (#30567058)

        People are wising up though. The Droid's marketing campaign just hasn't gotten people into VZW's doors, it has spurred interest in Android devices in general. I've talked with people who see the Droid, find it interesting, but prefer T-Mobile, and end up coming out with a Samsung Behold, a Motorola Cliq, or a MyTouch 3G. People on Sprint find that the Samsung Moment offers one of the fastest processors. The only carrier that has no current offering is AT&T, but supposedly they will be offering a Dell Android phone. AT&T also has the iPhone, so just business common sense says that Android devices will be second fiddle to AT&T's mainstay.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Nyall (646782)

          Just to be a bit of a fanboy, but I got a Moment because it has an OLED screen. I was sick of my previous phone being unusable in sunlight. The slide out keyboard with primary number keys is also nice.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BlueBoxSW.com (745855)

          You might notice that AT&T commercials never promote the iPhone. They always promote some other smart phone.

          I'm sure they'll get into the Android game soon enough.

          And I look forward to the 4G iPhone in June.

          And Google's new phone.

          Boy, 2010 should be an interesting year.

      • by sjames (1099)

        But they know what a Crackberry is.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        While this is true, having my shop right next to a coffee and sandwich shop I get to see folks from just about every age and demographic and I'd say Nokia is is the most popular, but of course that is a range of phones and not a single brand. In fact the only demographic I've seen that seems to favor the iPhone over the Nokia here is the 19-21 year old college males, but then again they are also the ones more likely to be sitting there on a Macbook too.

        But everybody else, from the teenage girls to the bl

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by palegray.net (1195047)
      What the heck are you talking about? [wikipedia.org] <-- Note the pretty pie chart.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by schnikies79 (788746)

        That's global smartphone market share. Show a graph with global market share of ALL wireless handsets, not just smartphones.

        • Re:Spin (Score:5, Informative)

          by palegray.net (1195047) <philip@paradis.palegray@net> on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:27PM (#30566946) Homepage Journal
          Okay, from TFA, here's a graph entitled Top 10 Mobile Phones in Use [gawker.com].
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by ColdWetDog (752185)
            OK, so the iPhone is 4%, Raven64 said 1-2%. He's within 50% of the mark.

            Pretty good for 'ol Slashdot. He's within an order of magnitude.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by master811 (874700)

              That chart is rubbish. They've grouped all the iPhones into one model, yet all the other phone makes are split up. Looks like Apple paid Nielson to do some fiddling.....

              • Re:Spin (Score:5, Insightful)

                by bonch (38532) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:54PM (#30567132)

                It says "iPhone 3G," one specific model of the iPhone. The other phones and their models, however, are grouped together. See the parenthesis?

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by LoverOfJoy (820058)
                  How different are those grouped models? I noticed there are four LG series each listed separately. Perhaps some companies have slightly different model numbers as part of a deal with other companies. I've noticed Walmart, for instance, often will get a unique camera that is really just the same as a differently numbered model but gets better pricing, maybe a different color and prevents someone else from entering into a price matching war with them.

                  I mean, they clumped the iPhone 3G 8GB with the iPhone 3
              • by diamondsw (685967)

                And where do you get that conclusion? Given that the 3GS was released midway through the period, and the 3G was MUCH more popular than the original (no app store with the original, as well as - of course - 3G), it's entirely plausible that the top phone on that chart is indeed the iPhone 3G.

                But the overall point is well-taken - while the iPhone may be a popular device, it's by no means #1 given the existing base of Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Other. Yet.

        • by diamondsw (685967)

          Why? This is about tower congestion, which has been overwhelmingly caused by data traffic. An iPhone can easily use the same data traffic in a minute loading a couple web pages that a dumbphone user consumes in a month.

          There's a reason smartphones are considered separately from "traditional" handsets - they function very differently, and are used very differently. Not all problems, issues, or marketshare battles make sense across the two groups.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)
            Note that for the purpose of market share calculations, smartphones and 'feature phones' are counted as different things. A 'feature phone' is basically something that would have been called a smartphone a couple of years ago (phones are often relaunched with small tweaks for the new classification when newer models are introduced). When people talk about the iPhone having a certain percentage of the smartphone market, they aren't splitting the market into 'things that are just simple phones' and 'complic
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Hey, your sig made you mod you up! It works!

      <foot />
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eil (82413)

      Can we stop saying things like 'the most popular handset?' When we're talking about a market where no single handset has more than about 1-2% market share, saying 'the most popular' is entirely meaningless.

      Assuming the figures are correct, the link in the summary [gizmodo.com] states that the top four have more than 2% each and the iPhone is #1. I think that qualifies as "the most popular," even if it doesn't have a majority on marketshare.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:14PM (#30566816)

    I live in NYC under a 114xx zip code and had no problems buying one in person at an ATT store. I bought it the weekend after Thanksgiving so it was about a month ago. Maybe they changed it since then.

    • by Giometrix (932993)

      I live in NYC under a 114xx zip code and had no problems buying one in person at an ATT store. I bought it the weekend after Thanksgiving so it was about a month ago. Maybe they changed it since then.

      Sounds like you're in Queens or the Bronx. Maybe the network coverage in insufficient in Manhattan only (maybe over saturated? though I'm not sure how cell towers work)

  • Are you sure the REAL reason isn't that New Yorkers are just not cool enough? That east coast vibe severely damps down on the cool, ya know.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:19PM (#30566868) Journal

    What are the exact implications of the iPhone's failure to make it there (NY) as opposed to making it anywhere else?

    • by iamapizza (1312801) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:25PM (#30566928)
      Clearly, this is a devastating experience for aforementioned individual, as they are unable to procure an iphone. In fact, there is a potential that an entire city may be denied the presence of the iphone. Here at slashdot, we feel their pain.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      New York is only the biggest single city in the US, the densest city in the US, and (since we're talking about technology items here) one of the more affluent cities in the US. It's essentially the ultimate real-world stress-test for something like a cellular telephone network.
  • Fix the headline? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shag (3737) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:21PM (#30566882) Homepage

    Summary makes it clear it's AT&T that isn't selling the iPhone in New York City. Headline says it's Apple, who last time I checked have iPhones for sale in their New York City stores. :)

  • by Bourdain (683477) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:30PM (#30566962)
    ... and both my phone (an at&t blackberry) and my coworker's iphone cannot make or receive calls indoors (despite having an allegedly strong signal of -80 or higher)
  • by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:31PM (#30566976) Homepage

    No iPhone for You!

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:41PM (#30567048)

    Not because it's the best phone available, which it might or might not be depending on who you ask, but because there's a guy in Cupertino with a black turtleneck, a borrowed liver, and a really shitty attitude who owns the exact same phone I do, and who has the power to make it suck less.

    Even if he has to stare down AT&T to do it.

    What other phone manufacturer can go to bat for their customers like that?

  • Fix the title (Score:3, Interesting)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Sunday December 27, 2009 @08:52PM (#30567108) Journal
    The title says Apple wont sell it (which is wrong they most certainly will) the ARTICLE has the real culprit, AT&T, which is really who wont sell it. My coworker couldnt get a iPhone for her girlfriend at all from AT&T in the NYC area, but had no problems with Apple selling it to her.
  • Don't bash AT&T (Score:5, Insightful)

    by astrashe (7452) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @09:16PM (#30567270) Journal

    This is responsible -- they don't have enough towers, and they shouldn't be selling any more phones until they build more capacity.

    It's not any different than not selling additional seats on an airplane that's already full. No one would blame an airline for not overbooking. I don't think we should blame AT&T for doing the right thing.

    As a New Yorker with an iPhone, I hope Apple follows suit and stops selling iPhones to New Yorkers until the network is robust enough to provide decent service.

    Failing that, I think they should waive early termination fees for NYC users.

  • Money well spent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @09:37PM (#30567414)

    AT&T's choices:

    1. Sue Verizon and produce new commercials with Owen Wilson to combat PR damage.
    2. Increase network capacity.

    Did they choose wisely? I think not.

  • by Toe, The (545098) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:15PM (#30567640)

    Maybe that CSR just watched A Few Good Men [entertonement.com].

    AT&T: You want coverage?
    Consumerist: I think I have the towers.
    AT&T: You want coverage?
    Consumerist: I want the iPhone!
    AT&T: You can't handle the iPhone!!

  • by idiot900 (166952) * on Sunday December 27, 2009 @10:36PM (#30567766)

    Weird. I live in Manhattan and lots of people have iPhones.

  • My prediction. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archeopteryx (4648) <benburch@pobo x . com> on Monday December 28, 2009 @12:38AM (#30568334) Homepage

    In late January, when every pundit expects an Apple Tablet rollout, what will be rolled out is another Apple phone - perhaps not called an iPhone - which is not tied to the AT&T network.

  • by BearRanger (945122) on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:12AM (#30568458)

    Not all AT&T phone reps are equally versed in what's going on, as Consumerist later admits on their site. AT&T will sell you the iPhone in their stores throughout NYC. They won't sell you the phone online within NYC. Apparently this is because of fraudulent resales as people order the phones online, take delivery and then ship them overseas. Skipping out on the contracts in the process, as they never intended to honor them in the first place.

    I wonder why NYC has more of a problem with this than other locations. Large transient international population I suppose...

  • I only take issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Monday December 28, 2009 @08:06AM (#30569810)

    with the AT&T reps manner of presenting this, trying to make it sound as if the problems is the caller/potential customer's fault.

    Its not that "you (the caller, or New York residents) doesn't have enough towers", its that "We (AT&T) don't have enough towers (in New York)"

    My suggestion to the caller, would be to make their next question something along the lines of "So when will AT&T be putting up more towers then?" I mean heck, its not like they even have to build actual *towers* - there are skyscrapers all over the place to stick cells on top of or out the windows at lower floors.

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