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Apple Considered Ditching AT&T over Network Quality Problems

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

A new book about the smartphone wars has revealed that a frustrated Steve Jobs reguarly considered ditching the company's exclusivity agreement in the USA with AT&T and switching to Verizon Wireless.

When Apple launched its iPhone, it initially attempted to secure exclusive deals in each country with just one mobile network -- although that didn't last very long in most countries, it lingered in the USA due to the long term agreement signed between AT&T and Apple.

However, neither side had really predicted the massive surge in data consumption that the iPhone would generate, both in terms of user actions, and the background data that smartphones regularly consume.

AT&T's network was famously struggling to cope, and it was expected that it could take the company around three years to fully upgrade its infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Apple was continuing to release devices with every higher levels of data consumption which just added to the problem.

A new book by Fred Vogelstein, of which an excerpt has been published by Reuters reveals that the situation came to a head in 2009 when the exclusivity agreement expired.

The book reveals that Steve Jobs had "considered dropping AT&T and switching to Verizon more than half a dozen times, but concluded the move was too risky."

The main risk was that there was no proof that the Verizon network would perform any better, even though it was mopping up Android smartphone sales. There was also the hardware difficulty that Apple was still struggling to get its air-interface working and they simply couldn't fit a CDMA chipset into the phone chassis.

Apple engineer, Bob Borchers said. "But every time we had that conversation, it always came down to the fact that the technology challenges were too high to warrant doing the work."

It was around this time that an increasingly defensive Steve Jobs threatened to destroy Android through the patent wars that have engulfed the smartphone market in recent years.

Apple no longer signs exclusivity agreements.

On the web: Reuters

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Tags: apple iphone  at&t  verizon wireless  USA