On eve of reported Tablet launch, Apple stands behind AT&T

Despite complaints about data and voice service for the iPhone, an Apple rep said he is satisfied with AT&T service.

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Back in September, the New York Times reported that heavy use of the Apple iPhone, particularly in high-density metro areas such as Manhattan, was threatening to bring the AT&T network crashing to a halt. In the months since, AT&T has sought to alleviate network congestion. The results? Mixed, to say the least. (Happily, the company did introduce "Mark the Spot," a free downloadable application that users can use to report a dropped call or dead zone.)

Now, on the eve of the reported introduction of the Apple Tablet, which will likely employ the same 3G connection as the iPhone, Apple has reiterated its support for AT&T.

"AT&T is a great partner," Tim Cook, chief operating officer at Apple said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. "I think it is important to remember that they have more mobile broadband usage than any other carrier in the world. In the vast majority of locations, we think that iPhone customers are having a great experience from the research that we have done."

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Note the qualification: "In the vast majority of locations." This Brooklyn-based blogger can attest that many New York iPhone-owners are most certainly not having a "great experience." On average, one out of every two of our calls is dropped, usually after less than 15 minutes. Data works well in most places, but dead zones abound, and one can often find oneself walking a full city block before 3G service resumes. As one friend explained, "It's worth it to have an iPhone, because it's an iPhone. It's a cool thing." Still, that friend is now considering buying a landline for access to a better voice plan.

The timing of Cook's comments are particularly important. If Apple does launch the Tablet tomorrow, one of the first thing users will be looking for is reliable service. No one wants to fork over between $800 and $1,000 – the probable cost of the Tablet – for a spotty Internet connection. The onus, obviously, is on AT&T, but unless the company improves its service, Apple should consider severing its exclusive deal with AT&T.

Check out the device's specs and our iPad topic page.

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