We’re in the midst of full-on location war is raging this year at SXSW in Austin, Texas this year. But actually, someone has already won: AT&T.
Yes, despite my concerns, I’m happy to report that the network has been incredibly stable over the past several days. In fact, it’s the best I’ve ever seen AT&T’s network perform — anywhere. Over the past three days I haven’t dropped one call, haven’t missed one voicemail, haven’t been missed any text messages, and the data is flowing freely, allowing my iPhone to actually work.
The fact that AT&T is actually working like a network you pay $100-a-month for is notable because last year at the same conference, AT&T suffered a complete and utter meltdown. Strained to the point of pretty much continuous failure under the weight of smart phones (and yes, the iPhone in particular), AT&T had to hustle to bring in backup systems to get the network at least somewhat working over the last few days of the interactive part of the conference last year.
This year, as I detailed last week, they had an elaborate plan of action in place before the conference. And it appears to be working perfectly.
While I’m thrilled that I can actually use my iPhone this year, AT&T’s success in Austin also makes me wonder: why on Earth can’t they do this in San Francisco? Or New York City? Sure, those cities are much larger than the relatively small amount of ground they have to cover in Austin, but why not just bring in more of these Cells on Wheels (the so-called COWS), or do any of the other tweaks they’ve done here?
AT&T has said it has been doing things throughout the past year to try to fix the network in these cities, but despite some mild improvements here and there, most will agree, the overall network is still awful. Hell, even AT&T agrees. But whatever they’re doing in Austin is working to perfection. Yes, it’s a temporary solution, but who cares? Put this temporary solution in place in San Francisco and New York until you fix the underlying problems.
Obviously, AT&T has likely run through every scenario for fixing its network in these cities, so I can only guess it’s a question of money. The problem is that now that we know AT&T is capable of fixing its network, they’re going to have a much harder time saying something like, “we’re working on it.” Just do it.
AT&T, you done one hell of a job in Austin this week, shutting me up in the process. Now shut me up about the rest of the network too. Please.
[photo: flickr/dl the huntress]