AT&T's iPhone Count Down

July 11 is AT&T's D-Day, as the new 3G Apple iPhone will go on sale, drawing hundreds of thousands of shoppers and gawkers to Apple and AT&T stores.

To prepare, AT&T--the exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone in the U.S.--has created an informational Web site and videos, upgraded its network and hired extra staff. "We are doing everything possible to make customers' purchasing experience quick and convenient," says AT&T spokesman Dan Gugler.

Since many customers are likely to be first-time AT&T subscribers or new to the iPhone, AT&T is trying to educate consumers ahead of the launch. It has posted answers to frequently asked questions, such as whether the phone can be used internationally. It also produced three how-to videos that describe, for instance, how customers who already own iPhones can give their old phones to friends and family if they buy a new one.

On launch day, AT&T stores will open one to two hours early to deal with crowds. Employees will distribute "checklists" outlining the different models, plans and accessories available. "There will be a lot of folks talking to customers, making sure they've thought about what they want to be ordering and what services are best for them," Gugler says. In a nod to the season, employees will also hand out bottled water.

Though Apple kept stores open until midnight last year, AT&T said it hasn't made a decision to extend nighttime hours.

Much has been made over the new iPhone's activation process, which will be done in stores just like other AT&T phones. The previous iPhone could be activated at home by logging on to Apple's iTunes--a system that drastically reduced waiting lines. AT&T hopes the new in-store activations will take between 12 and 15 minutes, on par with its other phones, Gugler says.

Behind the scenes, AT&T has been upgrading its network, in anticipation of an onslaught of new users. Its network currently supports fast, advanced 3G services in 280 markets across the country--a number that will increase to 350 by the year's end and continue to expand in 2009, according to AT&T.

On 3G, content can be downloaded at as fast as 1.7 megabits per second and uploaded at up to 1.2 megabits per second, says Bill Hogg, AT&T's president of wireless network services. AT&T is currently testing software that could increase the speeds up to four times, which the company hopes to make widely available within in the next few months, Hogg says.

The aim is to provide a comparable experience to wi-fi, even for those using bandwidth-heavy applications like interactive gaming or streaming video. "We've gone through and built a profile for what we expect subscribers to use, forecasted that and installed capacity to match," Hogg notes.

If, despite its plans, AT&T sells out of iPhones, as Sprint has with its heavily-publicized iPhone rival, the Samsung Instint, AT&T will let customers pre-pay and put their names on a waiting list.

AT&T confirmed the phone will cost $199 to $299 with two-year contracts, depending on memory capacity. It plans to offer the phones for $599 to $699 without a contract later this year.

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Palestinian Terrorist Resorts To Bulldozer Attack Killing 2

A Palestinian bulldozer driver plowed into a string of vehicles on a busy Jerusalem street Wednesday, killing two people and wounding dozens of others before he was shot dead by an off-duty soldier, authorities said.

The attack wreaked havoc and left a large swath of damage in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. Traffic was halted and hundreds of people fled through the streets in panic as medics treated the wounded.

"I saw the bulldozer smash the car with its shovel. He smashed the guy sitting in the driver's seat," said Yaakov Ashkenazi, an 18-year-old seminary student.

Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the bulldozer was driven by an Arab man from east Jerusalem who had a criminal background.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Israeli police referred to the attacker as a terrorist. The attack took place in front of a building housing the offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. A TV camera captured the enormous bulldozer crushing a vehicle and an off-duty soldier killing the perpetrator by shooting him in the head several times at point-blank range as onlookers screamed.

At the scene of the attack, a half-dozen cars were flattened and a third was overturned by an enormous Caterpillar tractor. A bus also was overturned and another bus was heavily damaged. Israel's national rescue service confirmed two deaths and the two bodies lay motionless on the ground covered in plastic. Local TV was reporting four dead.

A woman sprinkled water over a baby's bloodied face, a rescue worker stroked the hair of a dazed elderly pedestrian and a loved one raised the bleeding leg of a woman sitting outside the overturned bus.

Esther Valencia, a 52-year-old pedestrian said she barely escaped the carnage. "He almost hit me. Someone pushed me out of the way at the last moment. It was a miracle that I got out of there."

Sixteen-year-old Eyal Lang Ben-Hur was in a bus when the driver yelled out, "Get out of the vehicle! Everyone out!" People fled in a panic, he said, and the bus was hit an instant later.

Israel's national rescue service said at 22 people were wounded, with at least 14 people hospitalized.

Injured people sat dazed on the ground amid piles of broken glass and blood stains on the street. A baby had blood all over its face, and the driver of the bulldozer was slumped motionless over the steering wheel.

"Where's the baby? Where's the baby?" said one distraught man as he ran from the overturned bus.

Yosef Spielman, who witnessed the attack, said the bulldozer picked up a car "like a toy."

"I was shocked. I saw a guy going crazy," he said. "All the people were running. They had no chance."

At one point, witnesses said police attacked the perpetrator, after which the witnesses said he slumped over with his eyes closed. Then he suddenly lifted himself back up and continued his rampage, the witnesses said.

Hen Shimon, a 19-year-old solider, said the whole scene was a "nightmare."

"I just got off the bus and I saw the tractor driving and knocking everything down in his path," she said. "Everything he saw he rammed. He had a gun and started shooting at a police officer."

In a statement, police said a "terrorist" had carried out the attack but gave no further details.

The attack occurred in an area where Jerusalem is building a new train system. The project has turned many parts of the into a big construction zone.

During the second Palestinian uprising, which erupted in late 2000, Jerusalem experienced dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks. The city has been largely quiet in the past three years, though sporadic attacks have persisted. In March, a Palestinian gunman entered a Jerusalem seminary and killed eight young students.

In contrast to West Bank Palestinians, Arab residents of Jerusalem have full freedom to work and travel throughout Israel. Many Jerusalem Arabs work in the construction industry, possibly helping the attacker to easily gain control of a bulldozer.

About two-thirds of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents are Jews, and the rest are Palestinians who came under Israeli control when Israel captured their part of the city in 1967. Jerusalem's Arabs are not Israeli citizens but hold Israeli ID cards that allow them freedom of movement in the city and throughout Israel.

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