Wild  Bill sent me this Slashdot link this morning: AT&T Wireless Phone "Upgrades" Aren't .  A typical long and rambling /. discussion, with some valid points and a lot of noise.  Combine that with Peter O'Kelly's blog entry on the topic, and this article at Engadget, and a few things become clear:

  • There are a lot of people unhappy about AT&T's charade about this being an upgrade.  I can also tell this by the number of google searches I'm getting on the topic.
  • Universally, the new phones are a downgrade.  It's not just the SonyEricsson T226, but owners of other brands are also being "upgraded" -- to phones that offer, in some cases, way fewer features (like a camera phone being upgrade to a non-camera phone).
  • Most who have called AT&T on this have learned two things:  1) there's no flexibility in the offer.  You get the new phone.  If you want something else / better / different, you'll pay for it, with no special deals.  2) The new phone is technically not a replacement, as in you can keep the old phone and not send it back.
But is keeping the old phone really an option?  As vowe points out, the new phones introduce the 850MHz band for GSM service.  It seems reasonable to assume that, given the investment in "upgrading" everyone's handset, AT&T is not going to invest in further service upgrades at 1900 MHz.  Thus, the domestic service of the old phone will degrade over time (or at minimum, never get any better beyond the spotty service we get today).  Not good.  Wouldn't it have been easier for AT&T to just get with the program on 900 MHz or 1800 MHz?  Why introduce a fourth band, rendering all the "worldphones" in the world suboptimal on their way to useless.
What I'm really waiting for on this story is for it to hit the mainstream press.  /., Engadget, and the blogs are noisy, but until AT&T gets some really bad publicity, the situation is going to be what it is.  Then it will get worse for them, because apparently they erased the entire discussion on their own support website about this "upgrade", a rather Orwellian measure.
(Previous post: "an offer to refuse")

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