iPhone Frenzy Not An Option For Some Parts Of The Country


Friday, June 29th 2007, 3:33 pm
By: News On 6


WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) _ For 21-year-old Kelsy Martin, two words _ ``incredibly disappointed'' _ sum up how she feels about living in an area where the new iPhone can't be used.

AT&T Inc. is the phone's exclusive carrier, but the company's wireless network only covers eastern Wisconsin and the Madison area in the southern part of the state, leaving people like Martin deprived.

``I do want one,'' she said. ``I have nearly every other Apple product that I can get my hands on. IPhone is just all of them put together. Being in Wausau, it is just not possible. All my friends are all quite disappointed.''

Apple Inc.'s newest gadget combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and wireless Web browser. People camped out at Apple and AT&T stores in most parts of the country in advance of the iPhone debut Friday.

But not where Martin lives. Or in Vermont, which also has no service. Coverage is limited in other states, too, like the Dakotas and Alaska, said Chris Bauer, an AT&T spokesman for Wisconsin.

Fletcher Cook, another AT&T spokesman, said the network that's used by the iPhone _ billed by Apple as the most user-friendly smart phone ever _ reaches roughly 270 million out of the 300 million people living in the United States. The network is available in more than 13,000 cities and towns and in areas along 40,000 miles of highways.

Cook said AT&T is continually expanding the network, but there was no timeframe for when it would be available for more of Wisconsin.

AT&T customers can roam on other networks of other carriers if they leave their service area, but new customers must live in communities AT&T serves, he said.

Martin, who will be a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall, is a loyal Apple customer. She owns a MacBook laptop and an iPod Nano.

She only learned a couple of months ago about the coverage problem for the iPhone in Wausau, about 140 miles north of Madison.

``The ads for it started in January so immediately I wanted one,'' Martin said. ``I was drawn to it.''

She wasn't fazed by the gizmo's price tag: $499 for a 4-gigabyte model and $599 for an 8-gigabyte version, on top of a minimum $59.99-a-month two-year service plan with AT&T.

Martin, a communication arts major, said she hopes to be in Minneapolis by this time next year and then she'll buy an iPhone.

``It is going to be tough, especially seeing people at Madison. I am sure a lot of my friends will have them. I am going to want to steal it, or at least test it out,'' she said, laughing.