Only hours after posting information that indicated iPhone owners would receive free access to AT&T's public wireless hotspots, the company pulled all references to the service from its Web site.
By 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, the page dedicated to AT&T's subscriber plans for Apple's iPhone has been stripped of all mention of Wi-Fi hotspot access.
Earlier in the day, the AT&T site noted that "Access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots" was included in all iPhone subscriber plans, with additional details that spelled out the extent of that access. "Unlimited Data (e-mail and Web), 200 SMS text messages and access to AT&T's more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hot spots, including Starbucks* all for use in the US. *Wi-Fi available at US company operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hot spot [emphasis added]."
Hours later, all of that WiFi info had been scrubbed from the site.
An AT&T customer service representative was unable to explain the change during a 15-minute telephone conversation, during which he repeatedly left the line to query his manager.
The removal of references to free WiFi is sure to confuse iPhone users and potential customers even more. On May 1, iPhone users discovered that they could use AT&T's wireless access points in Starbucks coffee shops and other locations, including some Barnes & Noble bookstores, by entering their iPhone telephone number.
Within 24 hours, however, AT&T had turned off the free access; users reported that they were being asked to enter a username and password to access hotspots they had used for free the day before.
Earlier today, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel issued a blanket "no comment" when asked about the Wi-Fi information on his company's iPhone page.
AT&T is Apple's exclusive network partner in the US, and in exchange for handling all iPhone accounts, shares subscriber revenues with the computer and consumer electronics maker.