Sometime ago, the FCC and the SDPUC decided in their infinitely finite wisdom that when Verizon bought Alltel, they should sell the South Dakota and other part of the business to AT&T in order to assure continued competition, etc.
Well, as in the old "Tonight's the night" joke, today was the day for us to transition from Alltel system to the AT&T system. For a company specializing in communications, the messages intentionally and unintentionlly sent by AT&T indicate the full potential of huge corporations with incredible resources bungling the most simple communications.
We decided on Samsung Rugby II phones since the old Alltel transmission protocol is not the same as that for AT&T. We got the replacment phones a few weeks ago. Instructions packed with the phone indicated that should we turn on those phones prior to today, neither the new phone nor our old Alltel phones would work anymore. Since then AT&T has sent text messages with a message on April 18 or 19th with something like, "On April 15, 2011, turn your phones off and on." That made no sense and contradicted previous dire warnings.
So, last night I charged the batteries for the new phones and made certain they were not turned on. The instructions for this morning were to turn both old and new phones on and carry both with you because the old would be "turned off" and the new "turned on". Now apparently what was to actually happen according to employee at the store formerly an Alltel dealer that the Alltel number would be "ported" to the new phone. The local store has been cut out of the AT&T system along with several other smaller stores in southern South Dakota. Even so the former cellphone store has had a nearly steady stream of anguished and irate former custormers who either failed to read the AT&T convoluted prose or totally misinterpreted it. AT&T should have indicated they would "authorize connection" for the new phone and "deauthorize connection" for the old phones or something other than "turn on" and "turn off" which most users are likely to associate with the phones off and on button.
Anyway, for the whole morning, NEITHER the Alltel phone NOR the AT&T phone would work. Then for awhile, the message, "Only emergency calls allowed" was on the phones. The signal strength is indicated as one bar compared to 4 bars for the old Alltel phones. On top of a hill in Winner when the phone actually worked for 15 minutes, turning my head would cause the signal to fade. It has been impossible again for this afternoon to connect either phone with a network. My son has one of the phones in Rapid City, SD and that has worked all day today.
I drew the cartoon below this afternoon. It seems appropriate today.
Samsung or AT&T included a CD in the box with the Rugby II phones. On it are labels indicating the Operator Manual and a software studio are on the CD. But nope, there is a 500 some kilobyte flash program with a nice photo of the phone and two web links instead of the actual pdf manual or the software.
I finally was able to download a version of the manual useable on PC computers with Acrobat Reader on them and also the "New Studio" program. I put those files on a CD with a simple menu system for viewing the manual, etc. on a CD. If you want it as a backup for the manual or for installing the software, let me know. For a couple bucks for mailing and packaging, I will send you the CD with the free software that is available from the Samsung site.
This transition and related communications have left much to be desired. AT&T's closure of several local stores on the windswept prairie have not sent a good message. AT&T not providing any service of any kind in some areas of western South Dakota is not a good message. Of course, while making some bungles in this transition, AT&T is hellbent on buying up another Cellphone provider. Perhaps regulators should remember the AT&T legacy of the land line days when it seemed to be synonymous with primitive service at the highest possible monopoly pricing.
The information included with the phones indicates AT&T pricing and marketing strategy. Every option that should be part on any package is priced at $2.95, $4.95 etc per month. It is the equivalent of buying a cow and paying an option price for each teat, each horn, each leg, each hoof, and also for the tail and tongue.
Perhaps over time service will improve, but today I am certainly less than impressed and certainly wondering what the FCC and the SDPUC were trying to prove.
Note added !0:30PM. I actually received one call on the phone today. Late this evening, I was able to again make a call on it. All afternoon, the phone would not complete a call and about half the time produced an "Emergency Calls Only Please" message. AT&T has managed to send a dozen or so text messages pushing more products for more charges however.
*** Stay tuned even if your idea of digital communications are puffs of smoke-- DougWiken