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Bandwidth-guzzling iPhone called "Hummer of cellphones"

post #1 of 146
Thread Starter 
While AT&T and Apple have remained silent on the absence of tethering and MMS with the iPhone, a new report provides insight on the effect an influx of bandwidth-heavy mobile users have had on the wireless network.

Digging into customer dissatisfaction with the AT&T network, The New York Times revealed that the carrier has struggled to keep up with demand as iPhone owners use more and more bandwidth. The report suggests that AT&T's reputation could be tarnished because, for some users, its network is unable to keep up with demand. The bandwidth issues have led to delays of tethering and multimedia messaging, much-anticipated features for iPhone users.

"The result is dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds as AT&Ts cellular network strains to meet the demand," the report, which compared the device to a gas-guzzling Hummer, states. "Another result is outraged customers."

The average iPhone user reportedly consumes 10 times the bandwidth of a typical smartphone user, but that is expected to change in the near future. The growth of the iPhone and its impact on the AT&T network has even led to lawsuits. As other mobile devices emulate the iPhone and also use more network capacity, the problem is expected to grow on all networks, not just AT&T.

Even John Donovan, chief technology officer for AT&T, admitted his company's struggles. "It's been a challenging year for us," he told the Times.

But in the face of demand, AT&T plans to spend $18 billion this year to upgrade and expand its 3G network. And the company has no plans to cap data use, whether solely through the phone or via tethering with a computer.

AT&T announced Wednesday that it had improved its 3G coverage in metro New York and New Jersey. The company expects to roll out nationwide improvements with HSPA 7.2 technology, with the upgrade to be completed in 2011. And 1,900 new cell towers are planned for construction in the U.S. this year as well. But expansion isn't so simple.

"As fast as AT&T wants to go, many cities require lengthy filing processes to erect new cell towers," the report states. "Even after towers are installed, it can take several months for software upgrades to begin operating at faster speeds."

Many analysts believe that when Apple's exclusive contract with AT&T expires in 2010, the handset maker will offer the iPhone on other carriers. The most obvious jump would be to Verizon, the largest carrier in the U.S., ahead of No. 2 AT&T.
post #2 of 146
i've had my 3GS since launch and I think one month i was at 1GB plus or minus a few hundred MB

just because of this article i think i'll turn my wifi off and try to hit 5GB next month
post #3 of 146
It's the network- no, it's the phone- no, it's the user.
post #4 of 146
They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.


18 million times $40 is....well, a lot. It's not like it was a surprise that iPhones can use the data network. AT&T was just banking on the fact that nobody would want to (based on old shitty smartphone designs). That's their own mistake.

"Fix your network with the HUGE F'ing pile of cash you have from the iPhone subscriber base!", is the only advise I have.

Sheldon
post #5 of 146
Obviously every carrier is going to need to step up, this is what every customer is going to be demanding from the new breed of smartphones. It is a testament to how much better the iPhone is than the competition that people aren't running from it based on my personal experiences with dropped calls, voice messages showing up without the phone ever ringing, text messages arriving days later, and random dead spaces. All the more reason to end exclusive agreements, let the carriers with the capability compete for the high-bandwidth customers.
post #6 of 146
I'm glad I live in Alabama. I have 3G and surf my iPhone like a computer. I have no problems and most of the time I don't turn on wifi the 3G is so fast. There aren't that many iPhones here so not much congestion. I was in Manhattan a few months ago and my iPhone was painfully slow so feel sorry for the people having to put up with that.
post #7 of 146
Internet tethering has been available in India from nearly day 1, it just MMS there are sorting out now. These issues have nothing to do with iPhone, but AT&T infrastructure. I just can not work this out, you know the iphone going to change the way people use a smartphone, you know people are going to use it more than their home computer, its going to cause large increase in bandwidth, but you are still behind the in the game.

Good luck my US colleagues :-)

Just to add salt to the wound for US colleagues, I pay Rupee 499 (USD 10-11) a month for 250mb of data plan, which is way more than enough for me. Intotal I pay roughly US$20 for mobile and data plan, no 2 year contract. Yes we pay the full price of the phone, but with cheaper plans, you get that back versus your system very quickly.

Soul
post #8 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post

They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.


18 million times $40 is....well, a lot. It's not like it was a surprise that iPhones can use the data network. AT&T was just banking on the fact that nobody would want to (based on old shitty smartphone designs). That's their own mistake.

"Fix your network with the HUGE F'ing pile of cash you have from the iPhone subscriber base!", is the only advise I have.

Sheldon

Thank you.
I've never seen any utility bill this high- ever. It's almost double my electric bill!
I know I have a premium product and therefore pay a premium service but I'm paying for unlimited MMS. Where is it?
post #9 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphdaily View Post

I'm glad I live in Alabama. I have 3G and surf my iPhone like a computer. I have no problems and most of the time I don't turn on wifi the 3G is so fast. There aren't that many iPhones here so not much congestion. I was in Manhattan a few months ago and my iPhone was painfully slow so feel sorry for the people having to put up with that.

manhattan...alabama........manhattan....alabama... Hmm....lol
post #10 of 146
Let's all be sympathetic for poor AT&T WIreless, who apparently just wanted to pocket our money instead of spending it to upgrade their infrastructure.

Mobile Safari is not Pocket IE. In the 3 years I've been using company-issued WM phones I think I've used the browser on them maybe 4 times-- and those were desperation moves, and the experience was so bad I wanted to take the stylus and gouge out my eyes each time.

The idea that people would actually *use* a usable mobile browser was apparently beyond AT&T's reckoning. They will be in seriously deep doo-doo once Verizon gets their hands on the iPhone in a year or so.

~Philly
post #11 of 146
eventually around the world, slow internet will be an issue of the past
post #12 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post

They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem.

I assume you are on the enterprise plan? I only pay 30 a month.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I've never seen any utility bill this high- ever. It's almost double my electric bill!


I'd like to switch to your electric company because I don't get that low rate for my monthly electric bill. I am at 12 cents a kilowatt however............
post #13 of 146
I think a Formula 1 race car would be a more appropriate analogy if you want to discuss bandwidth usage. iPhones use up a lot of bandwidth (just like a F1 car uses up tons of gas per mile), but you also get magnificent performance, speed, handling, ergonomics, telemetry, and precision.
post #14 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by carloblackmore View Post

I think a Formula 1 race car would be a more appropriate analogy if you want to discuss bandwidth usage. iPhones use up a lot of bandwidth (just like a F1 car uses up tons of gas per mile), but you also get magnificent performance, speed, handling, ergonomics, telemetry, and precision.

Excellent!
post #15 of 146
1. It will be interesting if, once tethering is enabled, it will force Verizon to lower their data charges (currently $60/month with a 5 GB cap). A lot of folks have stayed with Verizon because they dislike ATT, but tethering could be the last straw that gets them to switch. I know it would tempt me. Maybe I'll use it as a barganning chip to try and negotiate a lower rate for Verizon's mi-fi card and just get a touch.

2. So is the bottleneck in ATT's network the wireless link (cell tower to iPhone) or their backend infrastructure? Sounds like it might be a bit of both.

3. Imagine how much more bandwidth would be used if Apple allowed Flash and Java applets to load and run in Safari! (I'm assuming it doesn't bother downloading them if they can't be run.)
post #16 of 146
Since the beginning of this semester 2 weeks ago me and many of my friends have been experiencing many dropped calls during morning and early afternoon hours within our university campus. The problem seems worst during the 10 minutes between classes. AT&T was always excellent in our area but I guess they are really having trouble keeping up with demand. The good news is their 3G coverage approaching our town and now just few miles away vs. 30 miles early this summer.
post #17 of 146
oh poor, poor telcos.
are those evil users trying to actually use what they pay for?

awwww....
post #18 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post

They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Thank you.
I've never seen any utility bill this high- ever. It's almost double my electric bill!
I know I have a premium product and therefore pay a premium service but I'm paying for unlimited MMS. Where is it?

Aren’t you two brilliant. How can anyone argue with your logic that slower bandwidth should cost less than faster bandwidth, regardless of the medium in which it is sent?
post #19 of 146
Making calls is impossible with AT&T, so what do they think people are going to do with this product?
post #20 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

Aren’t you two brilliant. How can anyone argue with your logic that slower bandwidth should less than faster bandwidth, regardless of the medium it is sent.

Maybe you should learn how to write a sentence- "slower bandwidth should less"?
LESS THAN WHAT???
post #21 of 146
So why doesn't AT&T offer a voice-only plan yet? I don't want to pay for data (Wifi is fine for my specific needs) so I wouldn't be using up their precious bandwidth.
post #22 of 146
tehehe...apple makes a product that increases usability (e.g. - the browser is finally usable) and somehow that makes iphone the bad guy...they've had phones out for years that had browsers on'em...they've just sucked...so AT&T have had plenty of time to predict and upgrade their systems.
post #23 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by applestud View Post

manhattan...alabama........manhattan....alabama... hmm....lol

lol
post #24 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

tehehe...apple makes a product that increases usability (e.g. - the browser is finally usable) and somehow that makes iphone the bad guy...they've had phones out for years that had browsers on'em...they've just sucked...so AT&T have had plenty of time to predict and upgrade their systems.

Neither. It's the users fault now - always on their iPhones , all day, on AppleInsider!
post #25 of 146
It's more like a motorcycle that gets used everyday for everything compared to a Hummer that sits in the driveway.
iPhones are used more, so they use more...
post #26 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

So why doesn't AT&T offer a voice-only plan yet? I don't want to pay for data (Wifi is fine for my specific needs) so I wouldn't be using up their precious bandwidth.

It would be nice, but they are subsidizing the device by a reported $400. That will not cover the cost of just a voice-only plan. If they did have a less subsidized model and/or sell the device at cost they could do that, but there are also business reasons for them not to engage in such a maneuver. Starting Sunday, all AT&T phones under the category of smartphone will be required to have a $30/month data plan. Note that AT&T is not the first or the least to require data plans for a smartphone. This is becoming a more common event in this category and I dont expect it to change anytime soon.
post #27 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post

They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.


18 million times $40 is....well, a lot. It's not like it was a surprise that iPhones can use the data network. AT&T was just banking on the fact that nobody would want to (based on old shitty smartphone designs). That's their own mistake.

"Fix your network with the HUGE F'ing pile of cash you have from the iPhone subscriber base!", is the only advise I have.

Sheldon

Hey, don't even fret...you or ATT. Once the ATT/Apple contract is up and Verizon(hoping) gets the phone, ATT's network should be back to normal...that is once everyone bolts to a better network
post #28 of 146
Same story in the UK.

O2 have always had a poor network for data but since the iPhone 3G was released, its performance has nose-dived.

They simply don't have enough capacity in major urban areas. With my last carrier, I didn't witness a single network outage in 18 months. With O2, I've experienced a dozen in the space of a month. Add that to non-existent 3G coverage, even in London, and it makes me wonder what's the point of having such a powerful device in my pocket when I can rarely use it?

I can't wait for O2's exclusivity to end.

(Currently, I'm having problems receiving SMS and using data, despite having allegedly full EDGE signal strength.)
post #29 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

Note that AT&T is not the first or the least to require data plans for a smartphone. This is becoming a more common event in this category and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

Really- how would you know Verizon will be changing their policy or Sprint with their Blackberries? AT&T keeps ading insult to injury by piling up more and more crap smartphones on the network and then blaming it on the iPhone. AT&T needs to look right into their own mirror.
Are you an AT&T rep?
post #30 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

It would be nice, but they are subsidizing the device by a reported $400. That will not cover the cost of just a voice-only plan. If they did have a less subsidized model and/or sell the device at cost they could do that, but there are also business reasons for them not to engage in such a maneuver.

Currently they are complaining about too much data usage from iPhone customers. Either they make money with the data plan, or they lose money with the data plan. If they make money, they are obligated to build out their network so that the customer gets their money's worth (which seems debatable these days). If they lose money, they will have to raise the price, find some other way to offset the loss, or offer service without the plan.

I'm willing to pay a little more up front to offset the $720 I wouldn't be paying for a data plan (which is more like $900 after fees and taxes), but that's not even an option at this point.
post #31 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

So why doesn't AT&T offer a voice-only plan yet? I don't want to pay for data (Wifi is fine for my specific needs) so I wouldn't be using up their precious bandwidth.

If you pay the no commitment price ($500 for the 3G) you can.
post #32 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by carloblackmore View Post

I think a Formula 1 race car would be a more appropriate analogy if you want to discuss bandwidth usage. iPhones use up a lot of bandwidth (just like a F1 car uses up tons of gas per mile), but you also get magnificent performance, speed, handling, ergonomics, telemetry, and precision.

Better than the Hummer analogy for sure. But its a bit like saying your laptop is a real bandwidth hog. It all the depends on the services you choose to access and use. The iPhone allows users to access lots of services and as such it facilitates the usage, but to call it a Hummer? Hrmph... At least an F1 car is a thing of beauty and efficiency (if you wanna do 500 laps fast!, that is.
post #33 of 146
For the world to move forward and a telco to stay relevant these networks will need to be capable of many times more capacity still. Quit whining and get building!
post #34 of 146
I just placed a call to AT&T asking them where my MMS and tethering services were. Three rungs up the ladder and no one has an answer.

I urge all iPhone users to call them and demand to know where these promised services are. Their lame "we are working to be able to provide the best experience" means nothing.
post #35 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

If you pay the no commitment price ($500 for the 3G) you can.

Is that for the 16 Gb? How much is 32 Gb - $600?
post #36 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

If you pay the no commitment price ($500 for the 3G) you can.

If they offered the 3GS for that I would jump, but not the 3G. I want it primarily for the hardware improvements.
post #37 of 146
Not sure how the iPhone is like a Hummer. Hummers do use more gas, but only because they are huge honkin' pieces of metal that are bigger as a whole, and wider than your regular sedan. And people pay the premium for the perceived 'safety'. All to deplete those precious fossil fuels that fund the world. And they still only get you from A to B.

iPhones might use more bandwidth, but not to use it simply because they can waste it. Applications, downloads, music, telephony are all functional features of why you would use it. AT&T and others better beef up their network quick before Apple goes exclusive with one who can handle the future. The other cell phone clients might whine, but wouldn't they much rather be upgraded to an iPhone and get what everyone else already has? Maybe they're just jealous.
post #38 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomkarl View Post

I just placed a call to AT&T asking them where my MMS and tethering services were. Three rungs up the ladder and no one has an answer.

I urge all iPhone users to call them and demand to know where these promised services are. Their lame "we are working to be able to provide the best experience" means nothing.

I work across the street from their store, I'll go in there at lunch and demand to know!
post #39 of 146
It's the carriers' problem.

The demand for iPhones is rididculously high. It's another iPod phenomenon. It's up to the carriers to clean up their act.

The good news is that here in Canada, we'll be getting some competition over the next six months. Although there is a possibility of a Bell-Telus merger (reliable source I have at Rogers), the CRTC is perfectly fine with that due to the impending rise in competition. There will be other providers coming into the game with what would appear to be a fresh perspective on the challenges the big carriers face today.
post #40 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomkarl View Post

Their lame "we are working to be able to provide the best experience" means nothing.

I prefer "We have changed all the phone-tree menus to serve you better".

Any time a large corporation says "...to serve you better", I think they are mispronouncing 'the CEO's golden parachute package' as 'you'.
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