Updated: AT&T Causing Major Hiccup in iPhone Launch?

It seems increasingly clear that AT&T is even more of a weak link in the iPhone launch than people thought. But it’s not the Edge network that’s the problem, it’s that iPhones are glossy bricks until activated by AT&T, and that activation procedure seemingly has more holes than Swiss cheese.

Read on for examples:

  • Ryan McIntyre: Unwarranted credit denial
  • Brad Feld: Unwarrented credit denial
  • Tech-Recipes: Delayed email confirmation
  • Digg: ATT phone/web support is down
  • And I’m getting more and more similar stories via email

Further to my WSJ oped on Friday, could there be any clearer confirmation that the carriers are flailing and doom-bound? Getting this right and smooth was crucial to Apple, and you can be sure there are some exfoliatingly angry phone-calls between Sunnyvale and AT&T HQ this long weekend.

[Update] It gets better. In addition to locking out business customers from flipping their accounts to iPhone, AT&T continues to promote iPhone to the same customers. From an email a few moments ago:

Go to
AT&T Wireless “Business Customers” toll-free number (866 429 7222),
and listen to the hold message – they’re promoting the iPhone! 
Promoting iPhones to customers they won’t allow to use an iPhone.


  1. Oh, it’s worse than delayed email confirmations, unwarranted credit denials or web support being down.
    Did you know that customers on small business plans aren’t allowed to have iPhones? Seriously, no explanation from customer service other than “we can’t register this phone on this plan”.
    My boyfriend has to take back the iPhone he’s been wanting for months now. (And let me note: he wasn’t turned down for service because his boss hadn’t or wouldn’t authorize him getting an expensive new service plan. He’s the president of the company. He is the authorization.)
    AT&T just pissed of a good customer in a HUGE way.

  2. franklin stubbs says:

    Blood in the water!
    Google should buy Vonage and offer free calling for iphone users wherever there’s a wireless network. Hit you with a location-sensitive display ad while you’re dialing.

  3. I’ve been waiting more than 12 hours and this is all I have to show:
    “AT&T is now processing your activation. You will receive an email confirmation once your activation is complete.”
    I called the AT&T iphone support line and the lady said that the network is “jammed.” I asked her if she had a sense of timing and she said she had no idea. This sucks! Great foresight AT&T I could of predicated this….going on 15+ hours and no phone service. Btw I went to the at&t store and they said they couldnt activate the iphone, I could only do it online…

  4. Small business issues were certainly left unexplained (or in some hard to find place) pre-launch. As for credit problems – anyone with a credit fraud alert in their file would not be able to use this online activation process – is there a case of that happening here?

  5. We went to my neighborhood AT&T store this morning and although they had pictures of iPhones, and a kiosk with a screen demonstrating iPhone features, there was not a demo model to even look at, let alone buy. I wonder if they even supplied the AT&T stores, which seem to be staffed by morons, not up to the Apple staff standards.

  6. @ 2 – when I travel overseas instead of paying AT&T 99c in Europe, 2.99 in India, $ 3.49 a minute (not a typo) in Romania, or $ 25 for 1100KB download in Austria, I turn my PDA to WIFI only and try to find a hot spot and use Skype at 2c a minute.
    So Vonage or other VoIP would be fine – except try finding a free hot spot even in US when you travel. Many hotels/airports want $ 7 to 10 a day, and overseas much worse – Marriott in Romania wanted $ 35 a day, most hotels in India are $ 17 a day…and even on T-Mobile’s monthly hot spot plans it is 18C a minute roaming overseas…
    Without decent network speed VoIP calls are miserable – so you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. AT&T’s 2.5 G mobile network is not fast, and when you travel WI FI is more often than not, not free…

  7. AT&T runs (or manages) their own WiFi network in the US though. I’m shocked that they aren’t bundling access to this network in the iPhone package. AT&T could market it as their first “wireless double play”. Silly segmentalists.

  8. This is my favourite so far.

  9. I got the business account issue when trying to add the iphone to my business account. But being incredibly impatient and having to have this iphone working NOW i signed up for a personal account. Maybe that is the idea. Now I have a business contract, a contract for my wife’s phone, and now an iphone 2 year contract. ATT must love me.