'Operation Chokehold': Did iPhone Protest Against AT&T Succeed?

iPhone users share protest's progress online, AT&T said no impact.

ByABC News
December 18, 2009, 12:04 PM

Dec. 18, 2009— -- At high noon Pacific time, iPhone users across the country pulled out their big guns in a coordinated protest against AT&T.

To sound off against what they say is inferior service, thousands of iPhone users planned to use their most data-intensive applications during the same hour to crash -- or at least cripple -- the company's wireless network.

The campaign started as a joke earlier this week, when Newsweek reporter Daniel Lyons, who writes the popular blog, "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs," posted a satirical memo encouraging iPhone owners to participate in "Operation Chokehold."

But the stunt grew into something of a grassroots campaign, as blogs, Twitter users and media reports spread the word. A Facebook group for the protest attracted more than 4,000 members and a Web site gave "Operation Chokehold" a dedicated online presence.

So did it work?

Well, it's hard to tell.

On Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, iPhone users documented the protest's progress, letting others know that they were streaming data-hungry YouTube videos, Pandora songs and more.

But results were mixed. Some users reported slow download speeds and difficulty accessing the 3G network. But others said they had no problems at all.

The founder of the Facebook page and Web site, Peter Serven, a 21-year-old Web designer from San Antonio, Texas, said it was a huge success.

"The goal is to send a message to AT&T," he said. And, noting a steady stream of Facebook comments from protest participants and a spike in traffic to the campaign's Web site, Serven added, "It was a pretty strong message."

But when contacted by ABCNews.com, AT&T had just this to say: "We saw no impact."