SXSW ’09: First, Some Bitching Re: AT&T

Written by Music, SXSW '09

My second day in Austin was the first official day for SXSW. I’m going to begin with a little bitching this morning, but it has nothing to do with the festival. Overall, the music has been completely thrilling so far.

First I’d like to address my friends at AT&T. There are approximately 150,000 people in town for SXSW. I’d say conservatively that 100% of them have cell phone. Let’s say, being conservative again, that 5% of those are iPhones. That means that 7,500 people are depending on AT&T, not only for cell service, but for internet access. I’d suggest that the number is much higher than that.

Last week there was a lot of bitching from attendees at SXSW Interactive that AT&T was not delivering the service that they needed. Remember, those people were leaders in technology. AT&T responded by agreeing to boost its service in downtown Austin by 15%. I don’t know whether they really did it or not, but the improved performance was not in evidence in downtown Austin yesterday.

I rely on my iPhone for three things when I’m out and about. Primarily, I am posting on Twitter for Popdose. My objective is to deliver on the spot reporting from the venues. I was able to do this for the early part of the day yesterday, but at some point I could no longer access the internet. As a newcomer to Austin, I also rely of the mapping function of my iPhone to get me from one venue to another. Again, no internet, no directions.

Maybe it’s time for AT&T to wise up. It’s not like SXSW is a well kept secret. It’s obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that this festival brings a great number of people to downtown Austin each year. There is plenty of time for planning. There are no excuses.

For those who are following along on Twitter @popdose, I hope to have better luck today. But if you don’t see the posts, now you know what’s happened.

On to what really matters. My music post is coming up next.