Leslie Cauley did a pretty lousy job of informing the public with her piece "AT&T flings cellphone network wide open" in Thursday's edition of USA Today. Even by USA Today's low standards, Cauley really mucked up her explanation of AT&T's non-announcement. In the very first paragraph of the puff piece, Cauley writes:
"Starting immediately, AT&T (T) customers can ditch their AT&T phones and use any wireless phone, device and software application from any maker ? think smartphones, e-mail and music downloading. And they don't have to sign a contract."
That's simply not true. Your Verizon Wireless device will not work on AT&T's network. Neither will your Sprint or Helio device. Neither will that Amp'd Mobile phone you wish you hadn't bought. And neither will that snazzy next-gen phone from Korea.
AT&T runs on GSM, so you can't use "any wireless phone" on their network - only GSM phones. While this may seem like obvious nitpicking to the hardcore geeks reading this, it's a distinction lost on most mainstream cellular customers in the US - i.e. The kind of people who read USA Today.
I'm not even going to get into the fact that all AT&T has really done so far to make their network open is to proclaim, "We're so wide open!" You could run an unlocked GSM handset on AT&T before the announcement and you can still use that same handset. It's not like AT&T announced they'll be unlocking iPhones or magically converting your VZW device to run on their service. It's not really like they did much at all beyond jumping on the "Open" bandwagon.
But shame on you, Leslie Cauley, for misinforming the public. And shame on you, too, USA Today for allowing her to do so. If my Mom calls tonight asking how to use her VZW phone on AT&T, I'll be blaming you. Oh wait, my Mom wouldn't be caught dead reading USA Today. Never mind, then ...
Read if you dare, AT&T flings cell phone network wide open from here.