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Operation Chokehold: Help Fake Steve Help You Hurt AT&T?


Fake Steve Jobs has had enough of AT&T and their "bastardly behavior over bandwidth usage" and so is launching a crowd-sourced, flash-mobbed, Rickson Gracie-style assault on their network called "Operation Chokehold":

Subject: Operation Chokehold

On Friday, December 18, at noon Pacific time, we will attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees. The goal is to have every iPhone user (or as many as we can) turn on a data intensive app and run that app for one solid hour. Send the message to AT&T that we are sick of their substandard network and sick of their abusive comments. THe idea is we’ll create a digital flash mob. We’re calling it in Operation Chokehold. Join us and speak truth to power!

TiPb commented on Fake Steve's previous, glorious AT&T flamefest and Ralph de la Vega's statements that lit the latest match in this particular powder keg.

Let us know how you feel about Operation Chokehold in the comments. Are you warming up YouTube, standing next to a cell tower, and just waiting to press "play"? Or is it just kicking a network when it's (quite often) down at this point?

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 61 comments. Add yours.

chrstphr.ross says:

Woo! lets crash our local towers so we can't communicate!!! WOOOT!
NOT!...are you mad?! This isn't like the gas price crisis where all the green thumbs can go a day without driving to dent the wallets of gas co. CEOs (didn't work mind you)...this most of our only ways of communication, and if we crash that, or even stall it, who knows how long ATT will take to fix it...
So count me out...

fastlane says:

No problems for me. Sucks to be them, I guess.

sfguy says:

How is that going to help? It's only going to give AT&T more ammunition to limit/throttle iPhone data usage since all customers are going to suffer. Upsetting non-iPhone users is only going to add validity to AT&T's argument that they need to 'contain' iPhone usage...

FateCreatr says:

this is a really stupid thing to do. it will get you nothing, it will mean that my legitimate access during that time might be compromised... we vote by where our $$ goes. assuming no real damage is done AT&T can sit back and laugh knowing that the only people who can stage this "protest" are those that are already paying them. Fake Steve Jobs has proclaimed himself a valid moron.

Ivoryplum says:

No thank you. I'll pass.
I barely ever have problems with AT&Ts network, and I've been with them for 6 years now. Now, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be constantly upgrading their network and improving it.

Michael Denney says:

Why? AT&T surely already knows their network data capabilities are not as good as they should be...
That's like me telling somebody that's burning to death that they are on fire...

Michael Denney says:

Actually it's like pouring gasoline on somebody that is on fire while telling them that they are on fire... yes... that's a better example.

zeagus says:

Lame, and lamers will participate.

sfguy says:

Actually, isn't a direct attempt to bring down a communication network considered an act of terrorism?

jasondeno says:

This is kinda dumb. If you're that upset, get a Droid and go to Verizon.

zach says:

Great idea! Up until FSJ came up with this unconventional approach, AT&T has no doubt been completely unaware of complaints about their network. There have been no newspaper columns, blog entries, support forums, or television ads attempting to make this point, so action is clearly necessary. Surely this demonstration will alert them to the issue, and they'll swiftly take action to make it all better.

Watchful says:

I think it's a really bone headed thing to do, aside from it being against the TOS to intentionally try to disrupt the network.
Just one of the many points on this issue floating through my head; let's say this is successful and the network gets overloaded and crashes/becomes unusable. What of some AT&T subscriber has an emergency and needs to dial 911 but can't because the network is down?
Also, I doubt if any other network would really be doing any better under the strain of the influx of all the data hungry iPhone users. Let's not forget that we as iPhone users have increased the load on the AT&T network by an unprecidented high figure (which I'm failing to recall right now). Let's be reasonable people!

chrstphr.ross says:

@Michael hit it on the a very hilarious fashion, LOL

iMuggle says:

this is a pretty stupid idea. let's hurt an already strained network so then we can pay for cell service we won't get.
brilliant idea. (or not)

Davie199 says:

I think it is brilliant! I think it would be a great time to seed some torrents and listen to some Sirius Sat radio all while tethering…

hermdog says:

I don't agree with this. I would hate to be responsible for someone not being able to make an emergency phone call and having someone hurt or die because they could not make a call. Also couldn't this be construed as a terrorist attack?

Mike says:

Yeah, this is about as dumb an idea as I have ever heard in my life. Dislike AT&T? Get another phone. You knew this when you signed up. The potential benefit to frustrated users? Absolutely zero. Nothing. No gain.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I have a friend who got so frustrated with his sporadically working refrigerator that he he punched the fridge… and naturally broke his hand. He was in a cast for two months, and needed physical therapy to be able to write normally again. I always thought this was the stupidest, most counterproductive display of outrage I'd ever heard of. But Fake Steve Jobs is suddenly in the running…

Bob Kersey says:

Stupid idea. What does this do other than clog the network. Think it will hurt ATT or the users?

Angel says:

I rarely have any issues with AT&T.
Fake Steve needs a new job... or something to keep him occupied.

icebike says:

People here seem to forget this is FAKE Steve, who should never be takes seriously.
FS often attempts to put into words what he believes Real Steve is thinking, in the most preposterous way.
Calm down every body.
There is a story on PC World ( ) that the iPhone's dodgy radios are to blame for much of the black eye that AT&T is getting. Dropped call rates in high use markets like NYC are said to be almost non-existent for other ATT 3G users:

According to Paul Carter, president of Global Wireless Solutions, the results of its extensive, nationwide testing of the different wireless networks show that AT&T's network, contrary to user claims, is vastly superior to competing networks. "AT&T's data throughput is 40 to 50 percent higher than the competition, including Verizon."
The implication is that the AT&T network is phenomenal...unless you use an iPhone. Roger Entner, senior vice president of telecommunications research at Nielsen, claims that the iPhone has engineering flaws with the chipset connecting to the AT&T wireless towers, resulting in inferior voice and data reliability.

Like @SFguy, I think Fake Steve, even if posting this tongue in cheek is setting himself up for legal problems.

jbrandonf says:

I'm protesting right now without crashing the whole gotdamn network..
..I'm giving my money to Sprint.

DustinAe says:

i say we all turn our phones off for an hour just to piss fake steve off. Plus it will counter all the mindless sh1ts that do try to clog the system.

zeagus says:

There is a Facebook group for this and I've seen folks spamming about it on various forums before I saw Fake Steve mention it. It's not his idea, though he is probably getting it way more visibility.

Scottae316 says:

Thats right bring down the network and what will it do? It will give AT&T the grounds for limiting iPhone data usage. I have no problem with AT&T where I live, my problems is they're overcharging, but I want an iPhone so I must pay. Trying to clog their network will only cause more problems than it fixes.
Fake Steve, do us all a favor, go ahead and run your iPhone continuously and download huge amount of data so that AT&T can say you are trying to damage their network and cancel you. Then go to Verizon and see what kind of data service you get.

Jim Termyna says:

I think it's a bad idea. What happens to people who need emergency services - like - ambulance - fire department - police - doctors ?

siddfinch says:

Is it me, or is this just a waste of time? Unlock your phone or go get a different phone on a different network. Quitchyerbitchin'.

Hugh says:

As a former Firefighter/Paramedic is Fake Steve that nut's. People do use their phone's for emergency calls. Homeland Security maybe knocking on his door.

Waffles says:

This is nothing like boycotting gas for a day, that didn't work because people just went the next day, there was no disruption in gas consumption.
The point of this flash mob isn't to bring down the network, it's to bring to light the weakness of the network. If the network does go down on Friday, the people who participate in this idea won't be blameless, but neither will the company that built such fragile infrastructure.
Either way, this is all very interesting.

Greg Braddock says:

I actually think this idea is quite immature. I've been with AT&T forever and can never remember this amount of complaints about anything until the emergence of the iPhone. I have very little to no problems with AT&T service and cant wait until another network picks it up so all of the complainers can jump ship and realize that they had a good thing going on.
I can tell you that I will be one pissed off puppy if a bunch of complainers with nothing better to do crash the damn network and I can't make a friggin call or send an email.

zeagus says:

"If the network does go down on Friday, the people who participate in this idea won’t be blameless, but neither will the company that built such fragile infrastructure."
If it handles normal to heavy load fine and only goes down under a concerted effort to disrupt, then the word fragile is entirely nonsensical in this context. The iPhone brought a nearly 5000x increase in data traffic on ATT and sure there are problems, but VZW was down in most of four states the other day without that much data traffic. ATT has more smartphones, especially more data hungry smartphones than any other carrier.

mattwlk2 says:

After reading all these comments, I can see where FS is coming from, but at the same time, this is NOT how this should be handled. This will 1) Clog the network for people who need it for legitimate reasons, and 2) give ATT all the more reason to limit the iPhone's data. This is a dumb idea, but AT&T probably knows it's not everyone trying to bring down the network, just stupid ignorant people who don't realize how good they have it. It's all fun and games to pick on AT&T, but I reality we all know it's the best company for Apple's product to flourish in. Would you really want a vPhone? With terrible, limited data?

Gmachine says:

Um.…no. I actually don't want to give AT&T MORE of a reason to cap data. If I was to boycott. I wouldve done the opposite. DON'T use data and relieve Strain on the network. This would probably get a better reaction than by crippling it. Crippling the network is only going to cost us already scarce service. And money and time.

ddx says:

There is nothing interesting in this at all, this is just a different form of a DDoS attack.
By the way it is illegal to attempt to bring down any line of communications, Fake Steve is an idiot looking to land in some hot water real fast.
The only thing this does is make certain that there will be a clamp for iphone users (most every carrier now has a 5GB cap, its surprising the iphone didnt have such a cap)

Jestation says:

This isn't a great use of anybody's time but let's not forget that at&t put themselves in this position because of their greed. They wanted ALL iphone they got it, problems and all. I don't have any sympathy for them or their issues.

Sopralto says:

Idiot idea, period. I have never had a problem with AT&T and really don't understand all the complaining. No one made you buy an iPhone.

afrocane says:

LMAO @ 36 comments not supporting this lame idea .... some folks need to get a life or a job or even get a phone with another carrier if you dont like AT&T
i heart At&T ... they sell my favorite phone

KiltBear says:

Acknowledging all the "terrible" things about this idea, what it will do is increase coverage of this issue. The crux of "the problem" this action is supposed to highlight is that AT&T has sold something that it is incapable of support, and yet people continue to get charged for it.
Essentially AT&T needs to be shamed (for so many reasons) and Apple needs the incentive to move away from them as a sole provider. This may make that happen sooner than later.

chrstphr.ross says:

I merely meant that this is as pointless as that gas strike. No one is going to do it cause it's purely lacking all common sense.

Chris says:

This is just stupid and lame you people have to get lifes or even a real job...

websyndicate says:

Okay this is retarded. We should think about emergency services. I have no problem with my service and if services is your bottom line issue and need to have 100% perfect get a different carrier like verizon.

Goober McGee says:

Sure - give AT&T hard and public proof iPhone users are to blame.
I'm all for protests but some of you chowderheads need to realize a knee-jerk reaction like this might feel effective (in that 7 year old tantrum way) but will likely work against everyone.

Kairo says:

The problem is those Verizon "map for that" adds do highlight those areas that do not have 3G service (which was displayed in AT&Ts store when I bought my first iPhone in June 2007). What I can't fathom is why someone, who is so adamant about having 3G service, purchased an iPhone in the first place. (It's like you consciously purchased a flight to Detroit and were pissed when the plane did not take you to California.)
If my primary interest was 3G service, I would have bought a phone on a provider that offered 3G service in my area. It is as simple as that.
If these idiots who continuously have a problem with their service then leave AT&T and go to whatever provider actually WORKS for you, rather than complain and attempt to take down a network that you were stupid enough to sign-up on.

Brian says:

This is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever seen in my life. Not only does it do nothing but hurt the wrong people (as mentioned in previous comments), but it just doesn’t prove a thing. There isn’t a single service provider of any type that can handle every single user at max capacity without problems. If you did this with your cable Internet, your connection would take a crap. If every person used their landlines at once, the switchboards would be overwhelmed. If every person in your city turned on all their faucets an flushed all their toilets at the exact same time, there would be problems.
People are massively ignorant if they think any network should be able to support every user sucking it dry. If you truly want that, expect MUCH higher bills. The only way service providers can possibly make a profit is to oversubscribe the system. I’m not defending AT&T’s network. It can obviously use some work. This is just the most idiotic idea ever.

AlexG says:

I'm definitely in!!!!!

chrisr1975 says:

ATT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!! I don't see the problem with their service here in Atlanta

Chirpstuff says:

In the end, AT&T wins. You'll have to pay for your excess usage.
Who ever made this up, is a total dumbass. Get a life.
If yo take the towers 'down', people who need to use it can't. Imagine you need to phone 911 and you can't, because some idiot thinks it's a good idea to screw around with cell towers. Dumbass.

Josel says:

This is a stupid. The proponents did not think about other users who will be affected as well. Whoever thought of this at TIPB or TUAW should be guillotined.

keyboard says:

Same here bad idea I never had problems with AT&T so I'll pass

Earless puppy says:

Yeah I want my bill to go up december 19th and I have don't care if my phone doesn't work for 3 hours after... STUPID CHILDISH IDEA,

Earless puppy says:

And let's not forget about the 911 calls that won't work... If the AT&T network fails during this, I hope it's your mom fake steve that needs 911 help and can't call....

SpiceRak2 says:

A better idea might be to petition for increased services or a reduction of fees based on the quality of service. How about talking to the press? Rallies? Class Action suit? Anything with a logical goal and potentially favorable outcome.
I'm just saying that there are many ways to get a message to a company that don't involve sabotage nor leaving.

E Pow says:

Stupid, stupid, stupid idea!!!!! I barely get any signal already. Why in HELL would I want to help shut down a network and make it even harder to get a signal. Stupid, stupid, stupid idea!!!!!

Caleb says:

That is an awesome idea! I love it! Wish something like this would take place in the east coast! Love my iPhone, truly dislike my service!

obee1 says:

I don't get it. So...we send the message that they're right and that iPhone usage can shut down their network. What exactly is this supposed to do to help make our point that our data usage shouldn't be limited?
Here's a suggestion for AT&T, don't FORCE all iPhone users to have an unlimited data plan and offer some lower cost, sensible plans (not something ridiculous like just 30MB). Encourage and reward people for helping you out. If you want unlimited data, your price stays the same and it's really unlimited. If you use less, you pay less.
That's the message that I want to send to AT&T, and this protest idea won't send that message.

Horqua says:

Count me in! ATT is charging us premium prices for less than premium service and then threatening us because we use what we pay for. If they can't manage the fire they created, we'll all get burned.

Adam says:

I was going to go into a long explanation of numbers and figures about actual data usage compared to Blackberry BES and iPhones but as I read on the fanboys are out in full effect. So basically fanboys, step back from the notion that the iPhone created high data usage, and haters, step back from the dooming the AT&T network idea and actually think about what you would do without your precious iPhone for hours while the network is brought back up. I like my iPhone and really do want a better option for a network, but that's just it. AT&T has no reason to upgrade their network until their exclusivity ends. They just sit back and collect our cash because they can. Come on Palm Pre on VZW. January can't get here fast enough.

Mark says:

Silly, childish and counter productive. Since when is fake Steve acting like a teenager?

Tony says:

E911 will still work if data is clogged.. this is a great idea.

kbduvall says:

Let's not forget that telecommunications companies lease/trade/share fiber/backbone space with other telecom companies all the time.
In areas where the data is heavy, but not heavy enough to take out the towers, this could clog their fiber links potentially causing throughput issues with other carriers or ISPs as well.