Operation Chokehold pits iPhone users against AT&T

December 18, 2009 6:49:09 PM PST
iPhone users protested Friday against mobile service provider AT&T, demanding better service. They sent their protest message using the company's own network.

San Jose iPhone user Nick Santos-McMillan says he is tired paying for dropped calls and slow data service.

"People are paying a lot of money for it and it's unfortunate that they are taking advantage of customers and not giving them what they really are paying for," he said.

He is not alone. He joined a national online movement that hoped to strain AT&T's 3G network by simultaneously logging on for one hour at noon Friday.

"Operation Chokehold" has been brewing for days on the Web after a prominent blogger suggested the idea.

Peter Serven of San Antonio decided he had enough of AT&T and took that message viral. He created the Facebook page and website. He spoke with ABC7 via Skype.

"Operation Chokehold is basically a bunch of iPhone users who are banding together and basically want to send a message to AT&T saying that we're kind of fed up with the bad service that they provide," he said.

A spokesperson for AT&T would not appear on camera, but told ABC7 by phone that there was "no impact at all today. No impact anywhere. No cell sites impacted."

iPhone maker Apple did not return our calls requesting comment.

Barron's tech columnist Eric Savitz says AT&T is partly a victim of the iPhone's rapid success; the infrastructure just has not been able to keep up.

"It's been a problem that's been building for a while," said Savitz. "There are a lot of people who aren't happy with the fact that you can only use an iPhone on AT&T. They would like to see other choices."

Savitz has been keeping tabs on Operation Chokehold's attempts today, and says it does not appear that they did anything to slow service on the network.

"Certainly, it didn't have any direct impact in terms of preventing anybody from using the network," he said. "But it does highlight a real problem that AT&T has right now."

That attention is good enough for Operation Chokehold organizers.

"The whole idea behind this was to send them a message, and whether or not anything happened to the service, we've definitely done that and been successful," said Serven.

Currently the iPhone is only available through AT&T. Frustrated users want the right to use the network on any carrier.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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