Those expecting a Verizon Wireless connection to Apple’s big launch event today were sorely disappointed. Instead, Apple – which now boasts itself as the largest mobile device company in the world – announced a “breakthrough” deal with AT&T.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained how the new iPad will get its 3G connectivity. AT&T will supply a $15 monthly plan for 250 MB data or a $30 unlimited data plan with no contract – it’s prepaid, and AT&T is throwing in the free use of its Wi-Fi hot spots to boot.
Given the amount of bad publicity surrounding AT&T’s network in some markets as of late, one could only wonder: What were they (Apple execs) thinking? Why add another device to an already hobbled network?
I asked an AT&T spokeswoman about AT&T’s confidence in being able to provide adequate network capacity/resources for the iPad, and she could only defer to a company statement. Basically, AT&T says it has a great relationship with Apple, is delighted to be chosen as the 3G provider for the iPad and has been leading the nation in smartphone mobile broadband usage for close to two years now. In short, AT&T believes it’s got the fastest 3G network and will continue to increase network speeds through 2010 and 2011 in advance to going to 4G.
AT&T’s earnings call is tomorrow morning, so perhaps we’ll hear more or get an update about its situation then. Earlier this week, the carrier put out a release saying it has certified more than 370 wireless specialty consumer and M2M devices, such as eReaders, netbooks and digital photo frames, for use on its network. AT&T provides the connection for the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble nook. Clearly, the carrier isn’t worried about supporting all these devices or it surely wouldn’t be adding the iPad. Of course, consumers will use these devices differently than an iPhone.
Apple COO Timothy Cook also gave a vote of confidence to the carrier in the company’s earnings call this week, saying in the “vast majority of locations, we think that iPhone customers are having a great experience from the research that we have done. As you know, AT&T has acknowledged that they are having some issues in a few cities and they have very detailed plans to address these,” he said, courtesy of the Seeking Alpha transcript . “We have personally reviewed these plans and we have very high confidence that they will make significant progress towards fixing them.”
That might not go far toward placating customers who are fed up with their network connectivity problems. Meanwhile, the world will continue to speculate about when the iPhone or something like it from Apple will hit the Verizon Wireless network. There seemed to be some pretty solid information leading up to today’s event. But it didn’t happen. Now we’re all left to wonder: When and where?