AT&T lashes out at Fake Steve Jobs' network knock-out threat

By Features IDG.net

Fake Steve Jobs is taking heat from AT&T over his protest campaign to shut down the carrier's 3G wireless network this Friday.

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Fake Steve Jobs, a well-known satirical blogger who jokingly poses as Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the Internet, got the ball rolling this past Monday when he posted a fake "memo" he claimed was written by Apple employees that urged iPhone users to "turn on a data intensive app and run that app for one solid hour" in an effort to knock AT&T's 3G wireless network offline.

"We will attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees," read the memo. "Send the message to AT&T that we are sick of their substandard network and sick of their abusive comments."

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An AT&T spokesman hit back at Fake Jobs yesterday and told the Cult of Mac blog that "there is nothing amusing about advocating that customers attempt to deliberately downgrade service on a network that provides critical communications services for more than 80 million customers." AT&T also called the planned protest "irresponsible and pointless."

Fake Jobs was unbowed by this public chastising as he vowed to continue with his protest plans while acknowledging that "irresponsible and pointless are pretty much all we do around here." On a more serious note, Fake Jobs explained that his position was that AT&T should not be blaming any particular wireless device for any of its network woes, since other carriers have comparable devices running on their 3G networks.

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"The appetite for bandwidth will be insatiable," Fake Jobs wrote. "The network operators that will prosper will be the ones that can keep up with the demand. The ones who don't will get left behind The fact that AT&T is already bonking, here in the first five minutes of a 60-minute game, is terrifying."

Fake Jobs apparently decided to launch the campaign after becoming incensed at a New York Times article that used an AT&T consultant as a source to claim that the iPhone was to blame for AT&T's 3G network woes. Fake Jobs accused the Times of "being spoon-fed articles by flacks and corporate sources" and of "ignoring reality altogether and making up fairy tales."

Customer complaints about AT&T's voice and data services have caused the company major headaches in recent months, as the most recent Consumer Reports survey showed the carrier has the lowest level of customer satisfaction in the United States. AT&T got its lowest marks in the survey for its voice services, as it was the only wireless carrier in the United States to receive below-average marks for its voice quality. AT&T also received subpar marks across the board for its customer service while receiving average marks for its text-messaging and data services.

AT&T was given a boost earlier this month when an independent study from network performance monitoring start-up Root Wireless showed that in areas where AT&T has 3G wireless coverage it is faster than any of the other major U.S. carriers. However, the study did not refute claims that the company only provides 3G coverage in major metropolitan areas and thus does not cover the vast majority of geographical regions in the United States.

AT&T's response to Fake Jobs marks the second time in recent months that the carrier has aggressively responded to a critic of its mobile data service. The carrier this fall unsuccessfully sued Verizon for alleged false advertising over its "There's a Map for That" ads that typically show AT&T users struggling to use applications on their mobile devices while Verizon customers happily watch live streaming videos. The ads then display maps that show the total geographical reach of 3G coverage for each carrier, with Verizon's map showing a far larger area of the country covered by its 3G service.

This story, "AT&T lashes out at Fake Steve Jobs' network knock-out threat," was originally published at NetworkWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in wirelessat Network World.

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