Monday, March 28, 2011

Things AT&T could do to pacify me

So AT&T is going to destroy - as in "buy the assets and customers of, with no intention of keeping anything going" - T-Mobile, and frankly what they've announced thus far is pretty bad. As you probably know from my blog entries on the subject, I'm pretty upset about it. I'm hoping the FCC or DoJ will prevent the purchase from happening, but I'm not exactly optimistic.

AT&T is very unlikely to keep me as a customer if they go ahead. Here's what they can do to change that.

1. Adopt a culture of openness

As I've said before, T-Mobile is virtually the only real open network at the moment. Systems like Android would never have happened if T-Mobile didn't open the door for it. AT&T needs to stop locking down its handsets. Owners of Android phones should have the same rights to manage their handsets that customers of T-Mobile have/had.

2. Don't punish customers who prefer to buy their own phones

T-Mobile recognized some time ago that some customers would rather buy their devices outright rather than buy subsidized hardware and pay through the nose while being locked to a contract. While some carriers do accept this fact, it tends to be all or nothing - you either buy into their way of working, or find a different carrier.

I'm a subscriber to T-Mobile's Even More Plus plan. I've always bought unlocked hardware, except for our most recent phones, which were still bought unsubsidized. Because I did that, I pay about $10 less per month, and I don't have to worry about contracts - which, ironically, means I'm more likely to stay with T-Mobile (no "I'm finally out of this constraining contract! I'm free!" moment...)

AT&T needs to offer the same deal

3. Nobody likes overages. Deal with them properly.

What happens if you go over your alloted data quota on AT&T? On AT&T, you get charged for it. On T-Mobile, they reduce your available bandwidth, but you can still use your phone, and you don't have to worry about an unexpected and obscene bill next month.

Guess which I prefer?

4. Get decent customer service

AT&T has a reputation, and it's not a good one. T-Mobile has always been helpful, friendly, and itching to get the right thing done. I don't think I need to say more.

5. Do the right thing

T-Mobile's customers are going to get the short end of the stick, especially those of us with 3G/"4G" phones. At the very least, replace those phones with genuine equivalents - phones that are as open, as feature full, and as advanced, as the ones that shutting down the 3G frequencies will kill, and when AT&T does this, they need to do so for free - that doesn't mean "We'll replace the phone for free... if you take out a 24 month contract on a new AT&T plan", that means "Everything stays the same, you get a phone that works on your network, and you don't lose anything in the process."

That's what I want to see AT&T do. It's not what I expect them to even think about doing.

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