The Military’s Biggest Problem With The iPhone: AT&T’s Lack Of Service

The Military’s Biggest Problem With The iPhone: AT&T’s Lack Of Service

After testing the iPhone for the field in an attempt to find the best smartphone for use by servicemen on the battlefield, the United States Army has a number of problems with the iPhone when it comes to use in warzones, and one of them seems to border on stamping the iPhone’s application with a 4F.

What was the condition that caused the Army to declare the iPhone to be a flatfooted wuss potentially unsuited for combat? The easily shattered glass front and back panels? Antenna attenuation issues? Nope: those things can be fixed with a case.

Here was the real problem: AT&T does not provide service in Iraq, Afghanistan or any other battle locale where the iPhone 4 was likely to be used. Heck, they couldn’t even get a signal in the New Mexico and Texas areas where the iPhone 4 was tested.

Despite these problems, the military is still planning on going ahead with “limited deployment” of the iPhone 4 in the field later this year, so that soldiers in the field can text GPS coordinates, send pictures of their surroundings, or file common reports directly from their phone. Hope they intend to stick to wars held within AT&T’s web of coverage.

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  • macgizmo

    Why should the military be any different than everyone else?

  • joewaylo

    The military can still use the AT&T based iPhone in other countries if they can afford the mega whopping phone bill per device, plus not get cut off by AT&T when they call in Afghanistan or Iraq using (name that country’s carrier).

    Just be sure data roaming is off or else they’ll be paying $1s and $00000000000000s a month.

  • BrianVoll

    So… Switch carriers? I heard Verizon has the iPhone now.

  • Jdsonice

    I think Verizon is less likely to provide international coverage since CDMA is pretty much used in just a handful of countries.

  • Jdsonice

    Is the lack of AT&T coverage or lack of GSM coverage in general in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

    AT&T would have agreements with various providers in those countries and charge anyone and everyone exorbitant rates for the privilege of using the service.  

  • Larry Davis

    AT&T doesn’t have service in Europe and the iPhone is doing quite well there.  This article makes no sense.

  • ???? ??

    This article makes little sense. Obviously ATT is not in Iraq. I have been deployed there and it is simple they do use GSM phones so if you can work a roaming agreement or create your own private military GSM Network then problem solved.

  • swengoodwood

    Just goes to show how screwed up Americans are. Just buy Unlocked iPhones direct from Apple and put a local Iraq or Afghanistan SIM card in it, just like all the Camel Jockeys do. Probably about a third of the cost of AT&T in the US with Unlimited 3G thrown in too.
    Simple Solution. Americans are so programed to live in a closed loop world where Big Brother controls their every move, that they don’t even think of how to operate in a Technologically Free (Rest of the World) Zone.

  • Bob Forsberg

    Military buys direct from Apple and drops in local SIM cards. Do some research before rambling on about something you obviously know very little about. I used an iPhone is Iraq and Afghanistan without a hickup off and on for over 3 years. The military doesn’t buy standard commercial service plans or 2 year contracts for telephones.

  • mai duc chung

    The usual idea is that you would use NFC to set up the link between the two devices and then do an automatic hand over to a different protocol for doing the actual transfer of data – eg Bluetooth,iphone 5

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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