AT&T is constantly dinged for its network. If you are in a really large U.S. city or out in “the middle of nowhere” you’re probably going to have to rely on txt messages more than you should. Data and voice in these areas are not network strengths.
For many network quality is where the carrier choice begins and ends – and that makes complete sense. What’s the point of spending $1,000+/year on a communication device if you can’t, you know, communicate with it?
After two and a half years as a small business customer managing a fleet of 25 iPhones (now 33), I feel like I have to give AT&T some credit despite its network woes. Two reasons.
Small Business Key Contact
There’s a good chance you’ve had to setup, change, dispute a charge, upgrade or cancel a mobile phone plan with a carrier. Across the board, this activity ranks up there with going to the dentist. Rarely is it accomplished by a single phone call. It seems like you can do everything online, except what you need to do. Call center agents seem to have never used the carrier’s services. Exhausting. Now take that experience and scale it by 25 or 50 – the number of lines a small business telecom manager must coordinate if the company or organization provides its employees phones. An entire industry has sprung up to help harried IT departments deal with the crazy. Having dealt with multiple-line accounts on several other carriers I can say without hesitation that these services can provide real value.
With AT&T I’ve never needed to resort to this kind of management service. The “Small Business Key Contact Center” with its dedicated number has been able to deftly handle any issue I’ve had in the past 2.5 years. Apparently AT&T values small business customers. Whether dealing with a lost/stolen device, adding new lines, changing user names, upgrading devices or whatever I’ve thrown at them they’ve quickly responded with expert knowledge and reasonable answers. Our mobile devices – all 33 – were easy to setup and are now on auto-pilot. I spend very little time administering them. Exactly what I want to see from any vendor.
Hard to believe that, in the U.S., the amazing iPhone was only available on one carrier until Feburary 2011: AT&T. (It is now available from Verizon with rumors of additional carriers coming this fall.) We may never know the terms of the iPhone agreement signed between AT&T and Apple, but we do know it changed the smartphone landscape in a way that was not possible with any mobile phone manufacturer contract to that point. Let’s give AT&T credit for being willing to take a risk. Not something you’d necessarily expect from America’s original phone company, after all.