Today started out like any other, which is to say, the AT&T connection on my cellphone was somewhat working, depending on where I was positioned in my apartment. It sucks, but things like this are a fact of life that AT&T customers have grown accustomed to in cities like San Francisco and New York. But this afternoon I started getting an abnormal number of messages from friends over email, IM, and Twitter because they apparently couldn’t text or call me. I tried to use my phone, and sure enough, no dice.
Calls are working sporadically, but the AT&T data network in San Francisco seems to be completely borked right now. There is obviously a lot of talk on Twitter about this right now. Everyone, it seems, has the same problem, “Could not activate cellular data network.” I should mention that it’s raining in San Fracisco today, so perhaps that’s to blame. I know how hard it is for AT&T to be reliable on a regular day, so rain is apparently completely out of the question.
This outage comes just a couple days after AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega made comments that the company was hard at work on improving the service in cities like San Francisco and New York. Talk about bad timing. His comments were also controversial as he said things like, “What’s driving usage on the network and driving these high usage situations are things like video, or audio that keeps playing around the clock. And so we’ve got to get to those customers and have them recognize that they need to change their pattern, or there will be other things that they are going to have to do to reduce their usage.” The emphasis is mine there.
To be blunt, as paying customers, with contracts, we don’t need to change shit. What we need is a reliable network. We’re all paying around $100 or more a month for a service that remains unbelievably unreliable. Blame the iPhone, blame whatever — that doesn’t change the fact that we’re still paying for a service, and all-too-often, you’re not delivering. It’s unacceptable.
Speaking of timing, Fake Steve picked a perfect day to take his shots at AT&T, it seems.
I’ve reached out to AT&T for comment on this, and will update if and when I hear back. Though it clearly won’t be over the phone.
Update: You know the situation is bad if AT&T has yet to respond (normally they are very quick with that). Here’s something that someone in San Francisco (who apparently has phone service to make a call) was able to get:
Just got off the phone with AT&T — data + SMS in San Francisco is down. It will take 24 to 48 hours (!!!) to fix.
A day to two days of no data or SMS. Fuck you very much AT&T.
Update 2: Okay, an AT&T rep has finally gotten back to me, here’s what they had to say:
We are seeing a hardware issue in downtown San Francisco that is causing some degradation in service. GSM and EDGE voice and data services are still accessible. Our experts are aware and working to resolve as quickly as possible.
Update 3: AT&T has just reached out again to say that services should be restored shortly:
AT&T has fixed the hardware issue and data services are quickly returning to normal. Speeds should be back to normal within about a half hour.