AT&T Calls Operation Chokehold Irresponsible and Pointless. Fake Steve Calls AT&T the Same.


In response to Fake Steve's call for Operation Chokehold -- a flashmob event intended to overwhelm AT&T's data network -- AT&T has told Cult of Mac:

We understand that is primarily a satirical forum, but there is nothing amusing about advocating that customers attempt to deliberately degrade service on a network that provides critical communications services for more than 80 million customers. We know that the vast majority of customers will see this action for what it is: an irresponsible and pointless scheme to draw attention to a blog.

Fake Steve has responded thusly:

AT&T has a much bigger problem on its hands. The problem is that the wireless data explosion is just beginning. This 3% of AT&T users who are supposedly accounting for 40% of bandwidth use? Pretty soon that 3% is going to become 30%. [...] The whole point of having these mobile devices is to consume data. This is not just about the iPhone. There’s the Droid, and the Pre, and soon there will be the Nexus One and a zillion other Android phones. Plus all the tablets. This is the future. We are going to carry these devices and use them as our televisions, our radios, our newspapers.

And finishes with:

Go look at [AT&T's] financial statements and open up the Financial Operations and Statistics Summary and look at capital expenditures over the past eight quarters. I’m no math whiz, but it looks like capex has gone down by about 30% over the time period. Scroll down a bit to the Wireless section and check out data revenues — they’re up 80% over the same period.

Irresponsible? Pointless? Yes, that sounds familiar.

Valid arguments all around, then?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 49 comments. Add yours.

websyndicate says:

I have much better things to do with my time. I could care less about doing a DDOS attack on a good network where I live.

Earless puppy says:

Fake steve has lost my respect, I will no longer be amused by his stuff in the future...

Earless puppy says:

I know, let's have fake steve pay for the 4G LTE rollout... And @Fake steve, if my phone service goes down in that time slot, I'm going to sue you.

Tech Wimps says:

Techcrunch pulled their post. Those wienies.

j says:

His point is well made, and very truthful. his plain/stunt on the other hand is well stupid... although before we say something negative. its done every day by people who use the iphone an other smart phones with AT&T. AT&T needs to build a better network especially for what we as the consumers are paying for. hell i miss my iphone but i don't miss AT&T due to the service. the best thing is for the iphone to go to other services it will free up the network and give the consumers a option....

YourMobileGuru says:

Wow. AT&T must be scared to even comment on this.
The point Here is to cripple their data network but voice calls will still work on e911 - oh wait I was thinking of Verizon who uses two different networks for precisely this reason. Another epic FAIL on att's part.
No I won't be participating but I'll be laughing my @$$ off if this works as planned.

Dreadnutz says:

Great Point by fake Steve but his network attack is not productive, it just gives ATT a good reason to start charging by the MB ;-(

The Dave says:

The phrase is "I couldn't care less" you goddamn morons! If you say "I could care less" your effectively saying that you do care.

AT.T says:

AT&T already plans to start sharing by the MB. CEO Ralph De La Vega made it known. Those who use the iPhone more than other will pay more.

Dubzie says:

@ The Dave
I've been meaning to mention the same thing for ages. I mean, it's no big deal but it's majorly annoying.

Travis says:

What's an app I should download that's very Internet intensive?

Skexone says:

The point of the attack is most likely, in fact, to garner attention to his blog. Yea, his blog IS satirical, but it also plugs VERY valid arguements into the hilarity. The attack will most likely fail, as most people do not want to get singled out by AT&T or have service degraded, but the more it is talked about, the more important issues are brought to light in a tried and true way.

Travis says:

@ The Dave
I love how you tried pointing out that what people were saying was wrong, while you yourself used the wrong your.

adriandb says:

Would this work? Yes. Does everyone know it would work? Yes. OK, we all get it, let's move on.
The same would happen to any mobile network if you dropped a crap ton of iPhones on it. This isn't news and it isn't interesting. The service "issues" with ATT are sooooo over hyped it's nuts. AT&T has been framed as the MS of the 90s. And just like MS they don't have time to care because they're too busy counting their money. Service may be bad for some, but for the vast majority are there really serious issues?
I've had AT&T service since they were AT&T the last time and been is most major cities and lots of rural areas east of NOLA with almost no issues. Edge? Sure, but that isn't a major issue. Go to a concert or other large gathering and ATTs towers can't handle the strain, but they'll get that solved.
The bottom line is that people have found a new hated company and just like to bitch. If it's that bad ge on Verizon or sprint.
AT&T is the worst carrier in the US, except for all the other ones.

OP says:

I have never had problems with Bellsouth, Cingular, AT&T etc ever. Been a customer for almost 10 years and I enjoy my service. If you don't like AT&T, then switch.

Angel says:

Why are we still talking about this? Fake Steve is a loser.
Why don't we overwhelm and see how he likes it? I'm sure only he would notice or care if his site crashed.

Slogger says:

Where are all the public safety and critical communications advocates when iPhone users are experiencing continual dropped calls, calls going directly to voice mail (phone never rings) and text messages not delivered for days. Those are all valid, measurable failures iPhone users experience regularly that iPhone users believe are critical communications. ATT's response is to blame iPhone users, pay the shareholders, and to not invest in the critical communications infrastructure. So someone proposes a DDOS to get attention to these issues, and somehow its childish, self serving? Calling ATT customer service and filing FCC complaints have been irresponsible and pointless schemes in getting iPhone users service needs met. Maybe something else will work.

Chrisr says:

I like ATT I don't see the problem

dloveprod says:

So far this month I have used 232.41 MB of Unlimited data. The other person on my account that has an iphone has used 114.75 MB of Unlimited data. Our minutes start over on the 23rd of this month. I wonder how much data is everyone else using. If they can't handle it, let go of the exclusivity, be responsible.

fastlane says:

@Fake Stave:

This is the future. We are going to carry these devices and use them as our televisions, our radios, our newspapers.

No, we won't unless THEY make that possible first. :roll:

chrstphr.ross says:

@ Angel....that would be awesome. we should all get some e-mail bots and just overload the guys inbox...
Although Fake Steve has it right that ATT has made money, he's wrong about them not doing anything with it. Since I've got my iPhone there's a new tower upgrade in my area that's allowed for 3G where I live and upwards a 30+ mile radius of that 3G. My network has never been better.
Face it Fake Steve, you're an idiot for trying this. You'd have a better chance with having breakfast with the President (which happened this week) than getting enough people to do this to cripple ATT's network.

Scottae316 says:

@Slogger, you ask where are all the public safety and critical communication advocates? Simple, MOST AT&T SUBSCRIBERS IN MOST MARKETS DON'T HAVE PROBLEMS WITH SERVICE. In those markets that there are problems, AT&T should continue to upgrade and add service to its network.

vanityeverlastingbonet says:

Whoever is agreeing with at&t r idiots...This fake steve is on point...They obviously going to rise prices still so why the f#$% not...

websyndicate says:

So can he get in trouble for launching and heading this DDOS attack on a network. Wouldn't you get in trouble if you were going something like this to a government or military site. Cant this lead to some type of consequences?

jk says:

about as stupid an idea as trying to prove gun control is needed by shooting yourself in the foot.

sting7k says:

Guh, I hope apple anounces the iPhone will be on tmobile or something at wwdc so all these cry babies will get off my network and stfu.

Yobad says:

Let's all ddos attack fake steves blog at the same time as those other idiots are trying to bomb AT&T! Haha.

OP says:

This should be against some sort of law. Surprised the FBI isn't stepping in.

Yobad says:

regular ddos attacks are illigal... And taking down a comm network is too. So if he actually does this he is breaking two laws. And I'm sure justice will be served :)

jasondeno says:

If only there was some way to combat this problem already... Oh wait, there is. Capitalism!
Like I said yesterday- switch carriers if you're that upset. Trust me, they'll get that message.
I think Fake Steve has developed a fake sense of cause.

sting7k says:

Thank you Jason D for pointing out what the real solution. The only thing any of these companies will ever listen too is the $$$.

Vanityeverlastingbonet says:

Haha @ these young liberals screaming the FBI should be involved and should this be against the law.... We all get it u hate freedom of speech and seriously take ur head out if apple & AT&T arse for a second.

JimmyD#IM says:

Well... FSJ makes some good points. The stunt is silly. Nobody ever plays these game, ie: If nobody buys gas on Tuesday, it'll show the gas companies who's in charge!
As much as I love my iPhone (and I don't have the problems others seem to have), if it came down to it, I'd move to a different provider (tho, they all have their faults) and get a new device. They just keep getting better and better.
All the Mac fanatics (I use PC and Mac... and am happy-ye-annoyed with both.) say how flawless Apple products are, but isn't AT&T a massive, nasty virus that Apple can't seem to fix?

Rick says:

People defending AT&T are total blind loyalist. Don't you see the problem? We are paying high premiums for our phones and services yet not always getting the service we paid for in return. Yes we can leave carrier but sorry I'm locked in and just leave. What fakeSteve has done is bring major attention to AT&T shortcomings. Let me ask you this. You live in a areA where AT&T has no or very shady coverage. You pick up ya beUtiful iPhone 3gs. Paid good money and the damn high premium for ya browsing. Your the avg Joe Not some obsessed phone techie like most here including myself. When Joe complains do you think he should get a breAk on his bill month to month, 100 something dollars? Think AT&T will prorate? Lol. Or when ya get us constant drop calls. Will they prorate you then as well? They gladly take ya money as they should. But we made a deal. You provide me with device we agreed on and I'll pay you your monthly bill.

Rick says:

Sometimes it takes something as drastic as fakeSteve has done to bring change. We will reap the benifits when dust settles

sting7k says:

@Rick, I'm sorry but if you know AT&T has crap service where you live why would you even consider buying a phone on their network? Yes the iPhone is amazing and great but there is only one person I see to blame when you knowingly buy something that might not work very well; yourself. You have 30 days to test the service and phone and return it. If you kept the phone after that and already knew about the problems then you have just told AT&T that you don't care because you are still giving them money.
I don't buy Sprint phones because I know their serive sucks where I live. I left Tmobile because of their poor service in my area. Lucky me that AT&T has excellent service in MD and around DC. I get the service I pay for, the only place I ever lose service is on the DC subway; and Metro has a deal with every carrier now to have service and AT&T will have full service system wide by 2011.
I would very much like Verizon Fios service, but I can't get it. I don't go and still pay Verizon for service I can't get so why does everyone insist on paying AT&T for non-service and then think complaining on the internet will solve it. THE ONLY thing they will ever listen too is your $$$$, take it else where and hope that the iPhone comes out for another carrier. I have ZERO sympathy for everyone who just got the iPhone for the fact that it is the iPhone without considering their service needs and they just HAD to have the Apple phone.

Lolipopjones says:

Actually what Fake Steve is calling on is a wireless version of a DDOS attack which is illegal.
Now i think we have a misunderstanding. My opinion from watching this whole debacle and being in the wireless industry for year. At&t when they got the iPhone never imagined the Data strain the device would pose on their network. My impression though is this they had stopped expanding their network and started fixing affected areas. However, i do not believe all the issues the iPhone users are having is at&t. Why? All other Smartphone users on their network are not reporting the same issues. When that happens it means their is a device issue but here is the real kicker.
At&t does not control the warranty.... Apple does. If you have issues with your phone you go to apple not At&t which means Apple can just deny the issue and throw it back on At&t. Do i think that is the case? Absolutely, Apple sales that device based on reputation of being the best most trouble free device on the market. Its like the drop calls incident.... people were willing to believe the Apple Tech over the At&t Tech over drop calls.... The At&t tech can see when a tower drops a call but the Apple Tech can't.... so you are gonna believe the Apple tech who's job is to tell you "there is no problem with the device"?

Rick says:

@sting. Except verizon fios will let you know service on available in your area. You cannot recieve service no matter how much you begged them to install. Does att do that. Sometimes problems occur after 30 days as u have a valid point. What then? Just saying. It's a lot of money to pay every month for not always reliable service

Dennis says:

I don't think Fake Steve is doing anything illegal. Fake Steve is a satirical fictional character, and the website has a miniscule following compared to other media outlets. What did Fake Steve say two weeks ago? Almost none of us has any clue, I bet.
Fake Steve doesn't have millions of followers to support him and do his bidding. But the real Steve Jobs does. That's what's so funny about this bit of satire. Fake Steve is acting out a conflict that has been implicit in the relationship between Apple and AT&T for some time. That implicit conflict has been referred to in blogs and tech magazines multiple times. Apple has been portrayed as a godhead, AT&T as the Empire. Apple doesn't just have fans, it has fanatics; it inspires loyalty and belief through its design ethos. AT&T is the secular capitalist state, motivated by the desire for money; a part of the maintenance of its ability to make a profit is the maintenance of its image, just as much as the quality of its services.
The Verizon ad campaign (the one about the "maps") initiated this action on the part of Fake Steve. AT&T sued Verizon not on the basis that the maps were inaccurate, but on the basis that they were misleading. Any argument on that basis implies that real and potential AT&T users are not very intelligent and need to be protected. At the same time, AT&T started blaming its network troubles on a small portion of its users (something they did during the first iPhone 3G firmware upgrade fiasco, when AT&T blamed the people who didn't upgrade their firmware) while hinting at taking measures to stop them. Those measures included re-education and incentives to change user behavior -- the kind of talk you use when you're policing a state and dealing with criminals.
I think the combination of those factors make it appear that AT&T is an irresponsible governance that is trying to hide its shortcomings by panicking its population with the fear of financial penalties and trying to deflect blame to a minority element of the population. And if there's one thing that Fake Steve hates, it's an irresponsible governance that interferes with the success of the iPhone.

Dennis says:

I forgot to mention, the funny element of this (IMO) is that the real AT&T is responding to Fake Steve. Let's say that there is a certain amount of data network activity that would make the network noticeably unreliable for a large geographical region. The only reason iPhone users would deliberately use their iPhone to achieve this goal is not because they're fans of Fake Steve, but because they already blame the real AT&T for something or other. That's the only way in which Fake Steve's 'call to arms' is a real life threat to AT&T.

Bob says:

Fake Steve is a Dick. at&t works just fine for me going on six years now. No 3g at my house but no one has 3g at my house and Big Red can't even get a signal at my house.

vanityeverlastingbonet says:

People again are lying bout 3g work so well in their area...I live in 3g haven and i get dropped calls continuously so stop with the freaking lies...

icebike says:


I don’t think Fake Steve is doing anything illegal. Fake Steve is a satirical fictional character, and the website has a miniscule following compared to other media outlets. What did Fake Steve say two weeks ago? Almost none of us has any clue, I bet.

Two weeks ago, fake steve was not advocating a mass attack on a carrier.
Now fake steve feels obligated to defend himself, or his alter-ego-self. Gone is the pretending to channel Jobs, now he's channeling himself channeling jobs.
In any event, whether he has done anything illegal is not a call you get to make. You won't know until there is a perp walk, or a law suit.
Given the (probably excessive) terrorism laws on the books these days, this was a foolish thing for him to do, even if he continues to pretend to be a comedian.

Virtuous says:

AT&T deserves to get spiked. Their financial statements expose their greed.

JimmyD#IM says:

Yet Apple allows the AT&T virus to spread.

Jaredkaragen says:

Why not ddos fake steves site thru the AT&T network???
steve is giving an idea... Show me the smoking gun in his hand by suggesting something.
Won't hold in court without evidence!

Dennis says:

@Icebike: I hear what you're saying about the way things are going these days. And I never claimed to be in a position to decide who is doing what and so forth, just what I think. Satire should be protected speech, and there's very little way anyone can say "When I read the 'Fake Steve Jobs Blog,' I thought the real Steve Jobs was telling me to use my iPhone in order to bring down AT&T."
I don't agree that Fake Steve is saying anything much different about AT&T than he has said about Steve Ballmer or anyone else. What is the character Fake Steve supposed to say when Real AT&T tries to marginalize him? Real people going after fake people is always a mistake (e.g., VP Dan Quayle going after "Murphy Brown" for having a child as a single mother).
But again, I hear what you're saying. Who knows what will happen.