Steve Jobs Considered Dropping AT&T 'Over Half A Dozen Times,' Wired Reports

07/21/2010 10:05 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In the wake of Apple's "Antennagate," Wired has published an in-depth feature on the relationship between Apple and AT&T.

What was once a "groundbreaking alliance" is now a "loveless celebrity marriage," according to Wired's report.

The two firms' relationship has been a rocky one almost from the start, Wired finds. In 2007, mere months after the first iPhone's release, AT&T informed Apple that there was a bandwidth shortage: "Within just a few months, the first wave of iPhone customers was already sucking down about 15 times more data than the average smartphone customer and 50 percent more than AT&T had itself projected." Apple did not agree to curtail date usage while AT&T worked on upgrading the network. "Apple wasn't playing by traditional wireless rules," Wired writes.

The problem only got worse. An unnamed source present at several Apple/AT&T meetings told Wired,

We [Apple] consistently said 'No, we are not going to mess up the consumer experience on the iPhone to make your network tenable.' They'd [AT&T] always end up saying, 'We're going to have to escalate this to senior AT&T executives,' and we always said, 'Fine, we'll escalate it to Steve and see who wins.' I think history has demonstrated how that turned out.

Another Apple insider told Wired that "Jobs has discussed dropping AT&T at least half a dozen times." AT&T, meanwhile, blamed Apple's faulty hardware and software for dropped calls and connection problems.

So when will Apple and AT&T part ways? There has been nonstop speculation that a Verizon iPhone might be on its way. (The latest rumor predicts a Verizon iPhone will be out by January 2011). When asked whether there could be an advantage to bringing the iPhone to more than one carrier, Jobs gave only a vague, noncommittal answer:"'There might be."

Yet Jobs praised AT&T's work improving their network at the All Things Digital conference earlier this year, Wired points out. "They are doing pretty well, actually, in some ways, and they have some work to do in other ways," Jobs said. "They have the fastest 3G network, and it's improving. I wish I could say "rapidly," but I think it's moderate-rate improvement." For more details about the relationship between Apple and AT&T, visit Wired.com and read the full article, "Bad Connection: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown."