Fanboys Want To Take AT&T Down

A post about Operation Chokehold popped up on (fake) Steve Jobs’ blog this morning. It seems some folks are just plain tired of AT&T giving excuses about their network. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when AT&T floated the idea of instituting bandwidth limitations for data accounts. Now, someone hatched the idea of organizing enough users to bring the whole network down by maxing their bandwidth at the same time.

We’re not quite sure what to think about this. Our friend Google told us that there’s plenty of press already out there regarding Operation Chokehold so it’s not beyond comprehension that this could have an effect on the network. On the other hand, AT&T already knows about it and we’d wager they’re working on a plan to mitigate any outages that might occur.

As for the effectiveness of the message?  We’d have more sympathy for AT&T if they didn’t have exclusivity contracts for their smart phones (most notably the iPhone). And if you’re selling an “Unlimited Plan” it should be just that. What do you think?

[Thanks Bobbers]

[Headlock photo]

81 thoughts on “Fanboys Want To Take AT&T Down

  1. The AT&T network services a huge amount of people. I mean, does this really have a chance to work? That said, I think that the people should instead try to get a law passed to make the cell frequencies free(at least as in beer), it would have a greater chance(in hell) of making a difference. Sorry if this comes off as antagonistic, i agree with their cause, not their methods.
    I personally hate those cellphone companies that limit features, and make data plans that are outrageously expensive. Now they’re limiting data? really?

  2. AT&T is the primary reason I don’t have an iphone. Their current advertising and legal shenanigans aren’t helping their case any either.

    IMHO, this is a dumb idea. AT&T will still have their users’ money and now have an excuse to hut a huge number of them off. A false advertising lawsuit might have some effect. But the best way to take action is just to not use AT&T.

    Yes, it will be painful to not have an iphone, but then, what steps might Apple take when their sales tank too?
    This is not a Guerrilla war, this is capitalism. If AT&T can find consumers willing to pay for a a lower quality network in exchange for a shiny toy, then that is just how the system works.

  3. I don’t think the way to endear everyone to your cause is to initiate a DDoS attack that could not only cause the provider issues but likely inconvenience hundreds of thousands of other users who would be sympathetic. At best, there will be no noticeable effect, which defeats the point and worse, as it indicates people who object to the new policy have trivial, insignificant numbers.

    If “successful,” this sort of stunt will make everyone else _beg AT&T for bandwidth limits_ so that this sort of thing won’t happen twice without costing the participants significant money.

    This doesn’t mean I support “unlimited” plans that are actually limited. Bandwidth should be commodity. Unlimited, cheap, everywhere. Providers should not sell what they cannot provide, nor mislabel their products.

    But this sort of response is childish idiocy that helps nothing.

  4. HEY i sent this story in to get more support please join face book grp if you have an iphone or tell your friends about it if they have one we are trying to get ATNT to give us what they are “selling us”

    ps hack a day i love that when i opened up the article there was a sprint commercial between the comments and the story

  5. unlimited means unlimited.

    I don’t see why the government allows these artificial person thingys to lie to consumers and get away with it.

    The next thing you know the gubb’mint will let someone put “grape” on a package of cereal without actually putting any grapes in the package. Nuts! that’s a bad example.

    Anyway, as soon as someone builds an open source smart anything that I can use with a flat-rate data plan that’s made available from a reliable carrier or carriers I am so ditching my tracfone.

  6. Can someone explain the mechanics of this to a networking noob? What sort of problems would this cause ATT? Wouldn’t software of some sort just say “nope, too much bandwidth” and slow it down or something? I don’t get why this would hurt the provider. I mean, its not like blowing fuses by drawing too much current, right?

  7. Gotta love Google Adsense. AT&T ad in the sidebar next to the pic of the guy giving a knuckle sandwich to said company.

    Why do people choose the AT&T/Apple combo over Verison/Google? Oh well.

    Pertaining to the article, the referenced article said that “3 percent of [AT&T’s] smartphone users are responsible for 40 percent of total data usage.” That seems a little ridiculous.

    I think what AT&T should’ve done is rig the system to drop the most prolific users’ calls/data transmissions first – they’re paying the same, but using more. And if those users move to a different network, who cares? They only make up 3%. Number of people complaining would go down as well.

  8. Jake: quoting from the article, “AT&T’s overtaxed data network has led to shoddy service.”

    THe system responds to overusage by dropping transmissions, which doesn’t PHYSICALLY hurt the company, but the people whose transmissions were broken get angry and complain. Or launch attacks on the company. THAT hurts the company.

  9. This pretty much falls in my it has to get worse before it gets better category.

    If you don’t take the bad dog that AT&T is and rub its face in its own shit, it is never going to quit shitting on the living room rug.

    This is plain and simple incentive. If AT&T correctly responds there won’t be a need to repeat the same thing again the next Friday or perhaps even Monday morning when the stock exchange opens.

  10. Good call AT&T! Rather than increasing their bandwidth, AT&Ts response is to throttle their users.

    “Hey there, you seem to be using that nice service you paid for to its full potential, so we’re going to make you pay the same amount for LESS service! This way, we don’t actually have to improve our network, and can continue making WHEELBARROWS FULL OF MONEY from your monthly fees! Please enjoy our new commercials trying to explain away our lack of 3G coverage!”

  11. In my experience of telecos/ISPs, the word “unlimited” when applied to a service/package only lasts for 2-3 years. I recently switched ISPs to one which offers “unlimited” usage, this makes it the 5th ISP I signed up to an “unlimited” package as the past four have all turned around and cancelled the package & replaced it with a restricted one, or cancelled my account because I was using it too much… some even had “unlimited” as part of the package name.

    It’s like a long-term version of bait-and-switch and I’m getting fed up with having to switch ISPs every 2-3 years.

  12. Initiating a denial of service attack against your telecom is a pretty bad idea. It is against their terms of service to use their network to attack *anyone*, and in this case, the attack is directed at their clients. What sort of winner is going to attack AT&T with the account they pay for? It won’t be tough for AT&T to know who to suspend indefinitely for trying to DDOS them.

  13. @013

    Lack of it??? More like they were responding to Verizon Wireless’ commercials. What’s even worse is that that use the same graphics to try to prove that it was all a lie and that Verizon’s network actually sucks.
    If I remember correctly, they got the iPhone deal knowing fully well they couldn’t even support a 3g network( meanwhile struggling hard to maintain some scraphack of a 2.5g network). All well and good till iPhone users demanded full 3g support. Then it was back to scraphack a 3g network based on 2g and 2.5g protocols( read: this is why their 3g coverage sucks).

  14. @Rollyn01

    In AT&T’s defense, they shot themselves in the foot not classifying EDGE as 3g which it was theoretically capable of doing. EV-DO was theoretically capable of 3g speed (even though EV-DO rev 0 never did) and thus you have the situation with the ad campaign today.

    Verizon was very pro-active with their network upgrades and you have to give them props for that. Verizon also has to be pissed that they went with non-simultaneous data and voice which their standard can do but it’s too late to change it now.

    I’m ready for LTE personally.

  15. I just dropped AT&T today in favor of T-Mobile. I now have unlimited EVERYTHING for $80 a month, with better customer service to boot.

    Screw AT&T. Unlimited means UNLIMITED. Don’t sell it if you can’t deliver, and don’t blame the customer for using the product you sold them.

  16. @Ayin

    In their eyes, it’s worth the risk to get AT&T to start looking at the B.S. they are putting their customers through. Change don’t come easy unless the bottomline is affected. That’s why there are so many jailbroken iPhones. Irony is a funny thing.

  17. @anon

    Agreed. They could have when the route that Verizon took and advertise that they were experimenting with 3g networking( which I applaud Verizon for being so open about it with a gung-ho attitude towards upgrading). Instead, they were very secretive about it. Then again, I heard that they thought that 3g was a waste of time and money( maybe the cause for secret).

    So we have AT&T playing catch-up and telling everyone that they have already had 3g when they didn’t. Meanwhile, the other big three were hard at work actively upgrading. Sprint is expanding fast and furiously( still need to work on their CS issues and their selective hardware) and Verizon is on top( and yes, they still need to work on that voice/data intergration).

  18. Every iPhone user in America using as much bandwidth as they can at the same time to bring down the big blue ball? Yes please, I’d love to watch. I haven’t used any part of AT&T for nearly a decade thanks to their immoral operation.

  19. are you people really that naive? unlimited means unlimited? Unlimited has NEVER EVER EVER in the history of advertising meant unlimited. EVERY isp has some cutoff point at which they say, hey thats just not reasonable. almost every cellular carrier caps its unlimited data plans at 5GB/month. Comcast caps its cable accounts at 250GB/month, I know this because I’ve been cut off for breaking it. And I admit to agreeing with there logic that there is no legal legitimate use of residential service that would exceed that amount. While I agree that unlimited should mean unlimited, I am realistic enough to know this is nothing new. if there was such a thing as unlimited service, how would a denial of service attack ever have any effect? quit whining and grow up

  20. heh
    on sprint, i use 1+ gigs EVERY month
    on a fairly basic smart phone, a palm centro(ie, treo 690)
    considering how many phones can stream FLVS from youtube, bandwidth usage is high on any phone
    even 3gp streams take their tole

    another point…
    just to load hackaday main page once without cache is nearly a megabyte!

  21. @Mark Baier

    If unlimited, in advertising terms, doesn’t mean unlimited, why use it? Couldn’t they just as easily stated the cutoff? Unlimited means unlimited. If you can’t do it, don’t advertise it. If they had stated the cutoff instead, they would be in a better position. Their customers would know where they stand in making an informed decision and can’t claim ignorance when they go over.

    TOS doesn’t help because you can’t define in advertisement what you redefine in a contract. That’s called bait-and-switch false advertising. It’s kind of illegal I heard.

  22. my point wasn’t that its ok that advertisers lie, I agree that it sucks that there is no unlimited service. my point was that advertisers always have and always will lie, just like politicians, its what they do for a living. Verizon’s ads do the same thing, they compare att’s 3g map to vz’s total coverage, not vz’s 3g coverage. if they compared apples to apples they may still win but it wouldn’t look nearly as impressive. If you really believe that some carrier is giving you truly unlimited data coverage, I have this great bridge for sale, it’s in Brooklyn, you’ll love it

  23. Try living in the UK – all our broadband providers limit bandwidth-per-month, as well as packet-shape traffic to the point where most things hardly work, and then have plenty of downtime on top of that due to “unforeseen circumstances”
    All our mobile phone companies tie the phones to exclusive contracts.

  24. @Mark Baier

    I don’t really care about what the marketing departments put out, what I am concern about is the difference between the advertised service verses the actual service given. If there is none, as in what is advertised is what is given, then I can make an informed choice based on the facts. I can also connect better with the provider of the service because I know that they are honest about what they can actually do.

    If they don’t match, then it’s bait-and-switch tactics. This only serves to distance the provider and their customers( if they sign up for the service). This article shows what happens on the extreme end of this.

    This is going to end up costing AT&T time and money. That will then be mitigated to the other customer that they have. These customers will either switch to another provider due to cost increases or they may just demand that they try to prevent it from happening again. Either way, their bottom line will be affected and they will have no chice but to change the way they do business. If they don’t, bye bye AT&T and hello to whoever buys them out in a hostile takeover by to falling stocks( which is a very real possibilty given the current state of the economy).

  25. Those networks are designed to withstand New Year’s Eve, where literally millions of people are texting and making phone calls at the same time.

    If the fanboys really manage to generate some serious traffic (which I doubt) traffic management will kick in and downgrade their connections. Phone calls are always scheduled to be more important.

    AT&T network management does probably not even care about this issue.

  26. Unlimited has not meant Unlimited even since the dark days of Dial up … and yes it sucked back then as well

    I used to get hassled by Earthlink for being logged in more than 23 hrs a day ….. and running an NT 4.0 Server on my residential connection as well

    Yes I am that old ……

  27. I just checked that I have been using my 3G data plan (384 kbit/s for 9.80 EUR/mo) for over 1.2 gigabytes of transfer just this month and my operator isn’t complaining. Many people I know use 3G data as their only connection to the Internet.

    It’s insane to market an “unlimited plan” if the operator does not have the capacity to see it through.

  28. Hey guys – there is a better way: vote with your money. Yep! Your cash. NOTHING sends a better message to the idiots in charge.

    If you continue to bandwagon on the latest shiny thing because “it’s exclusive to AT&T” then you get what you paid for. Or not. You know – going in -that this is the service they will allow (NOT what you pay for), and that’s that.

    BUT – should you show restraint, and skip over that neat toy because you know – you KNOW – AT&T’s going to rip you for it, *then* you send a message. In this case, you send TWO messages: AT&T’s bottom line sags, as does Steve Jobs’ and Apple’s sales. Do you think that either company wouldn’t notice?

    A DDOS attack is *very* temporary. A drop in profits is a stain forever. But the real question is this: Does the geek world have what it takes to make informed decisions, and eschew that which _looks_ cool in favor of that which _works_.

    From what I’ve seen, I think not.

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