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Saturday, June 30, 2007

iPhone activation blues for TDMA customers

That's right kids. Falling under mass hypnosis yet again, I waltzed down to the Apple store in downtown SF at about 8PM last night to see if the hypothesis would be true that I could walk right in and pick one up instead of camping out overnight. Sure enough there was no line around the corner. The line I waited in had maybe 10 people and I waited maybe 5 minutes.

Tons of phones, no problems, people all around, San Francisco's finest outside standing guard just in case.

Then it's time to go home and activate this thing before going out for the evening. Ahh yes. This is where you get a nice reminder that AT&T is the provider for this phone.

So to give a bit of history, I've been holding out for quite some time for a phone that seemed worthy of giving up my old Motorola V.60c on the old AT&T wireless TDMA network but hadn't found a worthy successor so I just kept kickin it old school. TDMA's signal reach is much further and when I'd go camping I was the only one with a phone that worked because it also was cell compatible.

So basically I've been living in the cell phone "stone age". Everytime I'd decide to go on a "date" in a Cingular, TMobile store, etc, the folks that worked there would always remark "Wow I haven't seen that phone in YEARS. How about a nice crappy new phone that has a weaker signal strength that won't work in your apartment?"

"No thanks" I'd say as I'd walk out with my old tattered TDMA phone and wonder how much longer I'd have it around. I mean after 3+ years it's just starting to get a little long in the tooth ;-) The battery lasts about a day now with any sort of usage.

A few months ago AT&T gave me an ultimatum over a text message. "Upgrade or die." They are turning off the old TDMA wireless network in Feb. 2008. Hmm... well I guess I have no choice now. Hopefully they've got more GSM coverage than the last time I looked and hopefully it works in my apt.

So back to last evening. I got home, hooked it up to the mac that I purchased during my last "mass hypnosis" episode in Jan. 2006. I updated iTunes, hooked up the phone, and started the registration process. It all was going pretty smoothly until I reached the end. AT&T then informs me that more time is needed to activate my phone and that I will receive an email once it's completed.

"Sigh. They're not able to handle this volume." But I suspected that my being on TDMA might have something to do with it. I spoke with two representatives last night that ensured me that wasn't a problem and that it was just due to volume and that they were backlogged. "By 7AM EDT your activation will have gone through sir." What a pain but OK I guess that's the way it's gotta be.

Fast forward to this morning. No activation, no email, nothing. I call up again. Each time I called I made it a point to tell them I'm on the TDMA network because for some reason the person on the other end of the line doesn't seem to have that information. This time the woman says "Oh! Yeah that's gonna be a problem. Can you please hold?" After 10-15 minutes of holding she comes back, apologizes and informs me that they can't help me over the phone. I now need to go down to the AT&T wireless store where they will convert my account to GSM by giving me a fake SIM. Then I have to go back home and activate my phone. Fun. Why this can't be done over the phone I don't know.

Anyway for all you old TDMA users, all 1% of your in the AT&T customer base, be prepared for this nonsense when you finally upgrade. Unless you convert to one of the other carriers which almost seems like the least painful way to go. If that blackberry curve with wifi was ready to roll on TMobile I might consider that instead solely based on AT&T's crappy service.

Time for this caveman to get unfrozen down at the local AT&T wireless store.

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