For those of you who follow me on Twitter or have seen my updates on Facebook, you have probably felt my pain in recent weeks as I’ve discovered AT&T’s poor Edge service in Blacksburg. When we moved to a larger city (with more than 25,000 college students), we presumed that our iPhones would not miss a beat. How wrong we were.

For the past three weeks, we’ve had intermittent Edge service – all while continuing to pay the same fees. Yesterday it wasn’t just Edge (data/internet) that was down, but our phones all had “No Service” on them for most of the day. We finally got bars back sometime after 11:30 p.m. Eastern.

One thing that has occurred to me during all this time is the simple importance of communication. AT&T is a company that sells communication, but it does an extremely poor job of it. Rumor has it that they are upgrading their service here in preparation for a fall 3G service. However, I think they would earn customer appreciation and loyalty if they would learn to do what they sell: communicate.

I would suggest a simple text message to customers in the Blacksburg area. Their Twitter account, ATTNews, would also be a good place to share updates and outages. As it is, we’ve heard nothing, and in searches on the internet could not find a single place where they post news and information about location issues.


This is a great lesson for all of us in positions to impact our organizations. The importance of proactive communication cannot be overstated. Telling folks ahead of time – or in an unexpected situation – what is going on will reduce overall frustration. If we had known that work was being done, or that they were aware of the issues, we would have felt a lot better.

As it stands, it’s easy to understand why AT&T is earning the ire of millions of customers. I regret that for them, because they were visionary enough to see that the Apple iPhone could be a HUGE revolution in the communication industry. Yet, they seem to have embraced it more for what it brings them financially than allowing its technology and others to reshape the future of the industry. The companies that make things possible for their customers (in addition to making money) will earn the loyalty and blessing of tech geeks like myself.

More bars in more places? That’s true in Blacksburg, but only because it’s not a dry county.

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