So I did a simple Google search and discovered a number of other people complaining about similar problems.
Of significant interest is this thread. Thats a Google cached version of this link, which has since been deleted. Obviously AT&T doesn’t seem to like to admit that people are having problems with this “upgrade”.
Gizmodo also has a posting about the matter. Most notibly is this statement:
As part of the new 850MHz GSM upgrade that is going on in many of their markets, AT&T has decided to proactively send out the T226 in markets where it feels the new phone will provide a “better experience” than the T68.
So in reality, the upgrade was AT&T’s decision, not Sony’s.
I’ve found a just a few other bloggers complaining about AT&T’s practices. It seems that AT&T continued to sell incompatable 1900mhz phones while rolling out their 850mhz network, and are just now cleaning up their mess.
And people wonder why AT&T was hemoraging customers and had to merge with Cingular.
Update: If you want to read the rest of that AT&T forum thread, this Google search should allow you to get to the cache of all the messages.
Update: I found another thread on their listserve. It sounds like some people have been getting upgraded to T616’s on an individual basis. Why has their phone support not been notified about this?