East coast iPhone 3G users report data service outages
2:18 pm EDT September 3, 2008 - A rapidly growing number of iPhone 3G users are complaining to AT&T's customer service forums today of spotty or completely unavailable 3G data service on their devices, often with one or even zero bars reported.
Callers to AT&T's customer support lines were informed this morning of a major service issue affecting iPhone customers on the US East Coast. Some were apparently told the issue would take 24 to 48 hours to fix, although the carrier gave no word as to the cause of the problem, or where it was centered.
Reception issues appear to be centered around 3G service -- specifically, the ability for the handset to send and receive data using UMTS. Some customers say they were able to get some service once they set their phone back to EDGE mode (2G), though a few complained about having to do this manually. Why couldn't the phone know to choose whichever service was providing the most bars at any one time? the customer asked -- although not quite that politely.
The first reports of problems, although sporadic, came at about 1:00 pm EDT yesterday. Many of the users reporting problems were in the Boston area, though others hailed from New York City, Long Island, throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, DC and surrounding cities. A few reports spread as far west as Chicago and St. Louis. The level of posted complaints rose sharply by this morning.
The weather does not appear to be to blame here, since reception issues appear to be weighted toward the northeast US, which has thus far escaped the brunt of recent storms.
This morning at about 10:30 am, an AT&T moderator told customers on those forums that the issue had been resolved, and advised those still having problems to contact customer support (1-800-331-0500). While some customers, including a few from Boston, reported restored service, others claim service is still poor, and BetaNews was able to confirm receptivity problems continued in the Baltimore area as late as 1:30 pm Wednesday.
One AT&T customer reported being advised by customer support that he would receive a $25 credit for unavailable service, but to call back the moment that service was restored in order that AT&T could effectively pro-rate it.
As one Boston customer wrote early this morning, "Service interruptions should be on the front page of the [AT&T] Web site. Bandwidth has been dropping and dropping, AT&T seems to have no trouble with the sudden influx of cash, but it cannot handle the sudden demand on services to match. Why are we paying more for 3G service when it is worse and slower than EDGE?"