AT&T Wireless President Tells iPhone Users To Use WiFi…. WTF?

From the “I can’t believe this made it to print” department comes this little quote in a Business Week interview. AT&T Mobility President Ralph de la Vega was interviewed by them and this somehow made it to print:

Industry analysts have been figuring that AT&T would inevitably move from its $30-a-month, unlimited data plan for iPhone users to a “tiered pricing” model that charges according to usage. De la Vega says that no such move is imminent. “There are things people say I said that I didn’t say. We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing,” he says—repeating the last part for emphasis.

Instead, AT&T wants to craft “incentives” that would compel iPhone owners to reduce demands on the company’s overworked 3G cellular network. The most obvious solution is to get them to switch to wireless Wi-Fi networks whenever possible.

That’s right iPhone users. AT&T who’s core business is cellular networks wants you to use WiFi whenever possible. Now, that seems like a really dumb thing to say. But it actually becomes clear why he’s saying that later on in this interview:

Other critics say AT&T isn’t investing nearly enough to keep up with rising iPhone traffic. The company’s overall capital spending is expected to drop to $17 billion this year, from $20.3 billion in 2008, although a spokesperson says the company has shifted “billions” of dollars to its wireless network.

So, AT&T isn’t spending the cash that they need to so that they can keep up with iPhone traffic which would allow them to make more cash. As a result, they’re forced to tell users not to use their network. Makes sense to me why they tell users to use WiFi which makes them absolutely no money. Using that logic, perhaps we should skip the iPhone on AT&T’s network altogether and just get an iPod touch and a copy of Skype. I bet that would make Mr. de la Vega really happy.

And with apologies to Steve Jobs, there’s one more thing:

He dismisses talk from rival carriers that say they’re having no problem taking care of iPhone users. Orange Telecom, for instance, says it’s easily serving two million European iPhone users. In response, de la Vega says AT&T’s network serves more than 24 million devices via its 3G network, including BlackBerries and wireless modems for laptops. “We’ll add two million in a quarter,” he says. “Other carriers are just getting a glimpse of what’s coming.” Analysts figure there are around 12 million iPhones, in particular, running on its 3G network.

I would disagree. Rogers Wireless in Canada who until very recently have had the iPhone exclusively to themselves have  none of the issues that AT&T has. I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that they from all reports have invested in their network capacity quite heavily and not because they don’t have the same level of iPhone usage as AT&T. That’s also true when it comes to many of the European cell providers who have the iPhone. Perhaps AT&T might want to look around and compare what they do vs. other providers out there?

I think it’s time that Apple ditch AT&T and move the iPhone to someone else who has a clue. Stuff like this from AT&T proves that they were the wrong choice for the iPhone in the USA.

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